Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Stand By Me-Neta Jackson

Stand By Me

Neta Jackson

Thomas Nelson, Mar 13 2012, $15.99

ISBN: 9781595548641

University of Arizona pre-Med student Kathryn Davies attends the Midwest Music Festival in Illinois. Following the Resurrection Band concert, Kat has given her heart to Jesus. She knows she must tell her family who will go ballistic as her DNA imprint says medicine; but she enjoys working with kids as she did with ESL students. She plans to transfer to Chicago Crista University to major in Christian Ed.

Three years later, Kat and her school friends attend the SouledOut Community Church, a multi-cultural place of worship where she meets elementary school Principal Avis Douglass. Kat’s mouth gets her in trouble with Avis and others as the student’s tendency to say what she thinks is grating. However, what divides the pair is their path to God as Kat is flamboyant while Avis is reserved. Still they share estrangement from loved ones; Kat from her family in Phoenix and Avis from her MIA youngest daughter.

The first SouledOut Sisters contemporary urban inspirational tale is a great story starring a strong cast especially the lead females who on the surface seem polar opposites but share two essential elements: their love for Jesus who they pray stands with them and the estrangements. Using real social issues like dumpster diving, racism and HIV, Neta Jackson provides her Yada Yada fans with a powerful tale.

Harriet Klausner

Bond Girl-Erin Duffy

Bond Girl

Erin Duffy

Morrow, Jan 24 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780062065896

Alex Garrett always dreamed of taking Manhattan by storm; not song as the latter is Sinatra’s gig whiles hers is Wall St. having just graduated from the University of Virginia in the class of 2006. She feels great about landing a position on the “Street” and getting an apartment in the West Village. Besides no sleep due to the noise of the city that never sleeps, Alex is treated as a female tyro by her office. Instead of trading, she fixes her boss’ spreadsheets, and takes food and drink orders from the males in the office. Although bored, she survives due to a wicked sense of humor. Ultimately Alex begrudgingly earns respect from her colleagues and begins to date a huggable even as the financial tsunami threatens to drown the Street.

This is a fascinating look at Wall St. just prior to and during the Great Recession crisis. The storyline starts breezy and satirical focusing on the pitfalls of a single female newcomer living in the Big Apple and working the Street. When Alex gets her break she spins into Putt’s Law of Failure recommendation to fail big so you can keep your job by learning from your mistakes. However, though timely and entertaining, the trials and tribulations of the newcomer in Manhattan is a typical amusing chick lit with the tsuris level relatively low considering what is going on the Street.

Harriet Klausner

When A Scot Loves A Lady-Katherine Ashe

When A Scot Loves A Lady

Katherine Ashe

Avon, Feb 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780062031662

In 1813 London, Lambert Poole ruined Lady Katherine “Kitty” Savege. She pretends to still want him but instead she wants to learn his secrets. She attends a masquerade where she sees Lord Leam Blackwood back from overseas and is attracted to him; as he is to her. Kitty drops her plans to destroy Poole until the rat threatened her brother six months ago. She gives information to the Home Office about Poole’s illegal dealing. He flees to France to live in poverty.

In 1816 Leam informs Colin Gray he quit the Falcon Club as he plans to spend time with his son in Scotland. Gray asks him to perform a last mission to learn whether member Captain Jinan Seton also quit and to look into French activity in Scotland. Wyn Yale accompanies Leam. A blizzard strands Kitty and her friend Lady Emily Vale at an inn. Also stopping due to the weather are Leam and Yale. Leam and Kitty recognize each other and the attraction remains strong. David Cox comes to the inn to stay until the snow melts. He flirts with Kitty which make Leams jealous. Kitty and Leam play strip cards before making love. Later a sniper wings Kitty, but gets away; she demands the truth from Leam.

This entertaining Regency is a wonderful historical as the romance seems real while the suspense enhances the plot. The lead couple and the support cast are fully developed. Although I personally do not like local vernacular, but the use of the Scottish brogue adds authenticity to the engaging tale. Although the climax is a bit weak, sub-genre fans will enjoy this exciting nineteenth century romantic suspense.

Harriet Klausner


Secrets of an Accidental Duchess--Jennifer Haymore

Secrets of an Accidental Duchess

Jennifer Haymore

Forever, Feb 1 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780446573153

A Marquis used to easily bedding the women, Maxwell Buchanan is frozen in place for the first time in his thirty years of life when he sees the angel Olivia Donovan for the first time. Leonard Reece catches him staring at the beautiful fragile Olivia for ten minutes. Competitive with Maxwell, Leonard who failed to persuade Olivia into a tryst bets him he will not succeed either. Though he knows he should not accept the wager, Maxwell agrees on a hefty bet over his seduction of his angel.

The middle sister, Olivia knows her siblings, Jessica and Margaret (See Confessions of an Improper Bride), are overly protective of her ever since she suffered from malaria as a child in the West Indies. However, though she still looks frail, Max soon learns quickly that Olivia has a steel backbone, which amplifies his desire for her. As he falls in love with his angel, he fears for the safety of the three Donovan sisters especially his angel when they rescue an abused spouse that enrages a psychopath who targets them for their intrusion.

The second Donovan sisters’ historical romance is an exhilarating tale that grips the reader from the moment a spellbound Donovan can’t take his eyes off of her and never blinks until after the final confrontation. The storyline is fast-paced as the Marquis learns the mouse he has a tendre for is actually a lioness.

Harriet Klausner

With This Kiss-Bella Riley

With This Kiss

Bella Riley

Forever, Mar 1 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780446584227

In Emerald Lake, New York, innkeeper Rebecca Campbell hosts the wedding of her Lake Yarns’ friend Andi Powell to Mayor Nate Duncan (see Home Sweet Home). This happens to be a difficult time for Rebecca as she forced her fiancé Stu Murphy to end their engagement as she wants a love like Andi and Nate share rather than just a nice friendship. Since he is generational family and she decided to hide his secret, she is blamed by the townsfolk except for her Lake Yarns’ Knitting group for the end of their relationship.

Stu’s younger brother Sean returns home for his sibling’s wedding after being away for almost two decades following seeing something that broke his heart when he was fourteen. To his chagrin, Sean finds himself attracted to his sibling’s former fiancé. Rebecca feels the same way about him. Neither wants to make that first move as secrets keep them apart.

The second Emerald Lake contemporary romance is an engaging story of secrets estranging a family. Second chances surface but the Murphy family and Rebecca must dive into the opportunity; which means having confidence that your loved ones will keep you from drowning in a sea of distrust and encouraging you into swimming in a sea of love. Fans will appreciate this engaging family drama.

Harriet Klausner

Last Chance Beauty Queen-Hope Ramsey

Last Chance Beauty Queen

Hope Ramsey

Forever, Feb 1 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780446576086

English Baron Hugh DeBracy comes to America with a plan to build a textile machinery factory. U.S. Senator Rupert Warren wants the plant in his home state of South Carolina. He sends his aid former Watermelon Queen Caroline “Rocky” Rhodes to escort the aristocrat around the state; especially since Lord DeBracy considers her hometown of Last Chance as his last chance to avoid a marriage of money.

Hugh needs to purchase land, but the locals never sell to carpetbaggers. However, Ricky’s mom Ruby considers an exception as she knows her daughter could lose her job if the deal falls through and besides the pair are obviously attracted toe on another. However what clinches the deal for Ruby is his earthly behavior at the Watermelon Festival.

The third Last Chance contemporary romance (Welcome to Last Chance and Home At Last Chance) is a zany, jocular and over the top of Sassafras Mountain frolic. The lead couple is a nice pairing while the townsfolk are an amusing eccentric crowd. Timely with the textile industry having left the state, fans will enjoy riding the Rhodes to Last Chance.

Harriet Klausner

The Twelfth Insight: The Hour of Decision-James Redfield

The Twelfth Insight: The Hour of Decision

James Redfield

Grand Central, Feb 9 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780446575942

Now in the final countdown year, on December 21, 2012, the Mayan calendar predicts the world as we know it will end. Wil and his best friend receive an odd segment of an ancient manuscript; other fragments are also being released around the globe to chosen ones who have displayed a potential enlightened soul. Wil and his buddy know they need the rest of the document to understand how to use the mind and spirit to achieve universal contentment and harmony though deployment of the twelve integrations. As the enlightened 144,000 converge in the spirit of synchronicity and integrity to reach the plateau of world unity theyt must contend with powerful political and religious leaders; fanatics who prefer the status quo as well as preventing a nuclear terrorist attack.

The fourth Celestine spiritual thriller (see The Celestine Prophecy, The Secret of Shambhala and In Search of the Eleventh Insight) is a fascinating uplifting tale. When the focus is on the integrations, readers learn the steps that James Redfield recommends while the protagonists and other chosen struggle with world leaders who oppose any downgrading of their status. When the storyline turns to the terrorists it loses some momentum as this feels forced. Still fans will enjoy Mr. Redfield’s enlightenment re the Mayan doomsday prophecy.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Way-Kristen Wolf

The Way

Kristen Wolf

Crown, Jul 12 2011, $25.00

ISBN: 9780307717696

In 7 A.D. Palestine, the young boys taunt handsome seven year old Anna for looking more like a boy than a girl. Her mother Mari explains that she a boy and a girl. When Mari gives birth to a stillborn boy, Anna’s dad Josef filled with anger and grief stones elderly healer Zahra to death while his daughter watched in horror. Three years later, with her dad still raging and Anna looking even more like a boy than a girl, the child wonders why a dead son is worth more than a living daughter. Josef beats his wife who soon dies and sells Anna as a boy to a visiting shepherd.

In the desert the Sisters secret sect abduct Anna from the shepherds. In their caves, they mentor her in the ancient belief "The Way," which releases dormant power within her. When the Sisters become endangered, the inner Circle sends Anna on a journey to spread the word of the Way among the people. Taking advantage of her male looking physique, she begins her missionary work, which places her at odds with the priests and the Roman overseers. By 33 A.D. in Ancient Palestine, word spreads about a Healer who walks amongst the people helping the downtrodden but refusing any gifts; while betrayal and redemption battle to claim their souls.

This is an intriguing coming of age retelling of the Jesus story starring a flawed heroine who has doubts that she is the one to spread the word of the Way to the masses as she has always been the outsider. The support cast like Judas is shone in different lights than the typical renditions. Fascinating, fans will enjoy the “truth” of Anna’s journey.

Harriet Klausner

Colorado Fireman-C.C. Coburn

Colorado Fireman

C.C. Coburn

Harlequin American, Mar 6 2012, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373753994

Only having returned home in Spruce Lake, Colorado a week ago,, firefighter Adam O’Malley enters the burning apartment to rescue a an elderly woman and eighteen month old Charlie. The boy’s three older siblings were taken outside by the babysitter. However, Adam learns that Molly remains inside. Though Molly is a dog, Adam goes back in and rescues the canine. The widow working mom Carly Spencer, a masseuse at the Spruce Lodge Spa, thanks the firefighter who just wants to catch his breath. His mom offers the apartment over the stables to Carly, her four kids and the dog to the shock of Adam; who happens to be living there.

Adam and Carly are attracted to one another. However, he has a secret that he concealed from everyone that keeps him distant from relationships while she has doubts about having another firefighter in her life and that of her kids as her late husband Michael was one in San Diego. When Carly is charged with arson, Adam intercedes.

The latest contemporary romance (see The Sheriff and the Baby and Colorado Christmas) is a warm second chance at love O’Malley drama. Neither of the lead couple wants to fall in love, but they cannot help themselves as they do. The two extended families add depth to their romance especially mom who brings humor (and aggravation if you ask Adam) to this wonderful tale.

Harriet Klausner

Cowboy to the Rescue-Trish Milburn

Cowboy to the Rescue

Trish Milburn

Harlequin American, Mar 6 2012, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373754007

Merline Teague, proprietor of the Vista Hills Guest Ranch in rural Texas, interviews Brooke Vincent for the position of a cook. Mrs. Teague remarks that the applicant’s résumé is thin, but will give her a trial of cooking for the family. If that works out she will also cook for the guests who can number upwards of forty. The food is so good that Merline’s son Simon jokingly proposes. Brooke Vincent is hired while she laments that Brooke Alder no longer exists.

Another Teague son, Ryan was a loner before he served in the Iraq War; now he is all but a hermit except for his family. However, he feels more than just attracted to the new cook, Ryan senses a fellow wounded warrior. Ryan also knows he cannot compete with Simon who is interested in the new employee. Brooke hopes hiding on the ranch will eventually force publicly squeaky clean lobbyist Chris Franklin to stop stalking her since she no longer resided in Arlington though she misses her family in West Virginia. However, no one walks out on Franklin who will use any tool including threatening the Teague clan and Brooke’s extended family including her young nieces to force her to return to him.

The latest Teagues of Texas (see The Cowboy’s Secret Son) is a tense romantic suspense starring two hurting souls and a psychopath. Readers will appreciate love healing the protagonists even as she fears she owes him the truth at the cost of her job, haven and him. Fans will relish this exciting taut thriller as readers anticipate that Franklin is coming for Brooke.

Harriet Klausner

Upgunned-David J. Schow


David J. Schow

Dunne, Feb 14 2012, $26.99

ISBN: 9780312571375

Elias McCabe had sex with his best friend Clavius’ ex-wife Nasja and took pictures of her naked when a man holding a very formidable looking gun enters the photographer’s loft. Elias considers that Clavius might be annoyed for his banging his mentor’s former spouse, but soon realizes otherwise. Gun Guy escorts Elias at gunpoint before taking him to meet his teammates Cognac and the Professor, and a dead Dominic Sharps who made the news whenever LAPD was involved. The photographer’s assignment is to take shots of Sharps seemingly having sex and afterward Elias will leave with ten grand. However, if he opens his mouth Gun Guy will reuse Sharps’ body bag.

During the shooting, Elias video records the event without Gun Guy knowing what he did. When Elias finds out what Gun Guy has used the shoot for, he places his video version of the encounter on the Internet where it goes viral and destroys the blackmail scheme. Raging Gun Guy begins killing those who were involved while seeking Elias, who hides on a New York movie set. Elias knows flight is impossible from this ruthless maniac so he must fight but a shoot to him is a photo gig not a gun gig.

This is a super satirical noir starring an antihero who is comfortable with shooting porn but not shooting guns. His adversary Gun Guy is terrific as a violent stranger who gets mad and even. With a biting mocking of fictional violence and an even more acerbic masticating of the American obsessive quest for the perfect look at any cost, fans will anticipate the High Noon encounter between the porn photographer and the Gun Guy.

Harriet Klausner

The Preacher-Camilla Lackberg

The Preacher

Camilla Lackberg

Free Press/Simon and Schuster, Feb 7 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9781451621778

In Fjallbacka, Sweden, police detective Patrik Hedstrom is on vacation spending time with his eight months pregnant mate Erica when the call comes from Superintendent Mellberg. A six-years old boy exploring the mouth of the King’s Cleft discovered the corpse of a naked lady. Patrik arrives in time to get his boss away from contaminating the crime scene. When Forensics lifts the body, they find the skeletal remains of two more victims. Mellberg asks Patrik to lead the investigation as his other detectives, Martin lacks experience and Ernst lacks imagination; Martin resents not getting a chance to lead and Erne rages over the Kid getting another case.

Patrik believes the older skeletons are female teens, Siv Lantin and Mona Thernblad, who vanished in 1979. The autopsies affirm that each victim was tortured in a deliberate simmering manner until death provided relief. The latest deceased is identified as German Tanja Schmidt. Time becomes precious when a young girl vanishes without a trace while evidence points to the Hult family.

The keys to this strong Swedish police procedural (see The Ice Princess) are the profound look inside the souls of the key players to learn what motivates each them; including negative incentives and the discerning glimpse into group dynamics when time is running out. Using flashbacks to 1979 to tell the tale of the Hult evangelical healers who are involved in the present day investigation enhances the overall tension. Although Erica’s sister Anna’s domestic problems with her ex add to the look at what moves people, this subplot takes away from an otherwise taut Swedish whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Witchful Thinking- H. P. Mallory

Witchful Thinking

H. P. Mallory

Bantam, Feb 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780345531452

Almost thirty, fortuneteller Jolie Wilkins gave up on dating after the last few losers were deader than the reanimated she has brought back from beyond. Her self-image is pitiful; however, that was when she was just another mundane human trying to eke out a living. Her world spun off its axis when Rand the Warlock entered her shop. Soon afterward, she becomes a witch resurrected from the dead by Mercedes. Jolie is proclaimed the Queen of the Underworld of vampire, werewolf, fae, and witches; she has no earthly or other plane understanding of why or how it happened except some ties back to 1878 where she almost killed Rand.

Even more confusing for the new royal is Rand the hunk seems to want her. Throwing her already out of control life further into chaos is Sinjin the vampire who desires her Highness while vowing to protect her. Not used to one man coveting her let alone two, Jolie cannot make up her mind. However, Jolie has no time to ponder choosing one as a deadly paranormal species threatens genocide of her subjects even while she begins to learn governance is not a matchbook cover endeavor.

This is an engaging urban fantasy starring a self-deprecating heroine and two hunks who vie for her affection. The storyline starts off a bit choppy as the backstory (from self-published E-books) is provided. Once the game is set, Witchful Thinking turns into a wonderful amusing thriller as the paranormal seem real in the Mallory mythos. Wisenheimer Jolie makes the tale as she struggles with two males wanting her, preventing ethnic cleansing by malevolent mobsters, and learning governance of four conflicted species (like post Tito Yugoslavia).

Harriet Klausner

Eye of the Sword-Karyn Henley

Eye of the Sword

Karyn Henley

WaterBrook, Mar 13 2012, $9.99

ISBN: 9780307730145

In Camrithia, King Laetham completes the ceremony that makes Trevin a comain military leader. At the same time, Dregmoorian Prince Varic arrives at the castle with a peace proposal that Laetham considers as a means to end the raids from his neighbor to the east. Varic offers to marry Princess Melaia, who Trevin loves. Daughter of a late angel, Melaia tells her father that she will wed Trevin only, but after she obtains the three missing harps that will restore The Wisdom Tree.

Laetham sends Trevin on a mission to find the missing comain; while Melaia asks him to bring back the harps; one of which is possessed by the Dregmoorian Secondborn Benasin. Trevin loathes leaving her with Varic, the sly treacherous heir to the Dregmoorian throne. Still he leaves on his missions to prove his worthiness to his beloved Princess and himself. On his horse Alamarin who once had wings, Trevin’s journey begins when his steed leads him to Eldarra Prince Resarian and the Golden. As Varic tries to kill him, Trevin’s horrible deeds while working for the Dregmoorian FirstBorn Lord Rejius, haunts him.

The second Angelaeon Circle thriller (see Breath of Angel) is an exhilarating quest fantasy starring an honorable champion who’s driven by his love for the princess and his obsession to for redemption. The storyline is action-packed from the moment the vile Varic and the tense Trevin meet and never slows down until the readers learn why the Dregmoorian heir wants the newest Camrithia comain dead. Though it behooves the audience to read the first tale to better understand the complex Henley mythos, fans will enjoy walking and riding in a realm where the Angelaeon interact with people and often rule.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Show Dog: The Charmed Life and Trying Times of a Near-Perfect Purebred-Josh Dean

Show Dog: The Charmed Life and Trying Times of a Near-Perfect Purebred

Josh Dean

It Books, Feb 7 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780062020482

Using Jack Australian shepherd and his retinue as a fascinating entrance into the dog show world, Josh Dean writes a delightful look into why so many people invest so much money, emotion and time on these events. His career starts with Jack appearing to be a future superstar. Over the year we get to know him and his human team up close and personal as Jack is the ticket to help us on the outside understand what motivates so many people to participate. This includes the support elements like training, breeding, hairstyling, etc.; as Mr. Dean states that these shows keep some purebred breeds alive. Occasionally attendees like me see chaos when watching a dog show, but Mr. Dean explains it is very structured and how the lay person can better observe what is going on. Jack wins first prize as he turns Show Dog: The Charmed Life and Trying Times of a Near-Perfect Purebred into an enjoyable romp.

Harriet Klausner

Time Out-Jill Shalvis

Time Out

Jill Shalvis

Harlequin Blaze, Feb 21 2012, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373796731

In Santa Rey, California, Rainey Saunders is the junior sports coordinator at the beleaguered North District Rec Center. At the same time that Rainey and her BFF Lena run a car wash to raise some funds, on the news the Sacramento Mammoth players and their thirty-four years old coach Mark Diego and the Anaheim Ducks got into a brawl at a seedy bar after the latter team won the Stanley Cup over the former team due to a controversial call. Lena dates their boss, Mark’s brother Rick’ while Rainey remembers when she was sixteen and offered herself to Mark who rejected his friend’s advances with a life misconduct.

Mark and two of his players arrive at the rec center as the coach and his Ducks’ counterpart make their inane fighters do community service. Rainey’s seditious heart stops as she knows she still wants the rat, but she never forgave him for the humiliation. However, as he hangs around coaching the girls’ softball team, he realizes he is in love; she has been in love with him for over a decade. He plans to score the goal of his life winning the trust of his woman.

This is a charming second chance at love sports romance starring two likable protagonists and a strong support cast especially rec teens at the rec center. Fans will enjoy this fun tale as Mark prays Rainey will release him from the penalty box so that they can heat the ice with their love.

Harriet Klausner

Have Me-Jo Leigh

Have Me

Jo Leigh

Harlequin Blaze, Feb 21 2012, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373796755

A member of the Manhattan trading card women St. Marks Lunch Exchange, socialite and charity foundation CEO Rebecca Thorpe has tried three hunks but none give her the sizzle. She sees the card of retired NYPD detective Jake Donnelly, who was injured on the job, and likes what she sees and reads.

While she is Manhattan and he is Brooklyn, Rebecca and Jake have in common is neither is interested in a long term relationship; both want a one nighter or three. They have the best sex of their respective lives. Meanwhile Rebecca targets affluent William West for a large donation to her charity. Jake is stunned as even with major cosmetic surgery, West appears to be a high roller drug trafficker he busted years ago who vanished while on bail. Meanwhile he rationalizes why he must stay with this woman he is falling in love with. He needs to keep her safe from a nasty person pretending to be an honest businessman.

The second It’s Trading Men! contemporary romance (see Choose Me) is an enjoyable New York City frolic. The lead couple seems to be total opposites except in bed as she is a 1% upper class Manhattanite and he is a 99% middle class Brooklynite. Their romance is wonderfully developed to slowly evolve from just lust with the impetus to keep them together long enough for the evolution to occur coming from West.

Harriet Klausner

Protector-Catherine Mann


Catherine Mann

Berkley, Mar 6 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425246993

Ever since her uncle was murdered in front of her eyes as a child almost two decades ago, Jolynn Taylor stays away from her father’s mob world. However, when her dad Josiah suffers a heart attack, Jolynn goes to spend some time with him on his “home” a cruise ship the Fortuna currently docked in Genoa.

In Nellis AFB, although it rips at his soul, Captain Chuck Tanaka informs his superior officer Colonel Scanlon that he lost his edge since the enemy tortured him. Scanlon says instead of a desk job until his Air Force commitment ends, Chuck will go undercover as a blackjack dealer on the Fortuna with the chance to destroy the terrorist cell that kidnapped him and other military members. Scanlon and “Ice” Berg have his back. His assignment is to get close to the daughter. After a klutzy introduction, Chuck realizes someone wants Jolynn dead. Attracted to her, Chuck breaks cover to protect her.

The latest Dark Ops romantic suspense is a terrific thriller in which the need to protect the damsel in distress supersedes the romances (Scanlon meets his woman too). The storyline is fast-paced from the first clumsy move until the final confrontation. This is another winner with readers anticipating the melting of Ice soon.

Harriet Klausner

Nightborn-Lynn Viehl


Lynn Viehl

Signet, Mar 6 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451413215

The High Lord of the Immortal Darkyn wants the alleged scrolls that contain the secrets to immortal life and the maps that lead to Templar treasure buried in the early fourteenth century. He sends his best warrior Korvel to France to obtain the scrolls.

As he drives the worst road in France, Korvel is warned others are making an attempt too. Soon he is attacked and hurt, but defeats his enemy, but is aware more await him. His quest leads Korvel to Simone, the daughter of the scroll’s guardian. She seeks them too in order to return them to safety. As they team up with killers pursuing them, they begin to fall in love, but Simone fails to inform her new partner that once she obtains the scrolls, she is to kill Korvel.

The first Lords of the Darkyn romantic urban fantasy is a great entry inside the magnificent mythological world of Lynn Viehl. The storyline is fast-paced from the first assassination attempt until the final confrontation as readers will wonder whether Simone will complete the mission as ordered. Fast-paced, fans will appreciate the opening act in the new trilogy due to the strong protagonists who make the Viehl realm exciting to visit.

Harriet Klausner

Eternity’s Mark-Maeve Greyson

Eternity’s Mark

Maeve Greyson

Kensington Brava, Mar 1 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758273390

On Jasper Mills, veterinarian Hannah MacPherson grieves the death of her husband though he died in Iraq four years ago. Frustrated by her lack of response to the missives he sent to the stubborn Hannah that she inherited a Scottish castle, dragon-human Taggart de Gaelson arrives in Jasper Mills to bring her to Taroc Na Mor. Though wary, she goes to Scotland with Taggart.

He and his race need her to save his breed as she is the last sacred guardian of the Draecna magical dragons who guard the portal between worlds. Hannah is a whisperer who talks with animals. Taggart believes her uncanny skill will bring out the hatchlings from their eggs. However, she soon finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the bitter war between brothers.

This is an award winning entertaining romantic urban fantasy starring a stubborn American and a desperate hybrid. The romance seems too stereotypical as a woman in mourning for several years attracted to an outsider wanting to disrupt her life is a sub-genre staple. However, the dragons waging an inbreeding dark good and evil civil war with the Yank tilting the edge to one side makes for an exciting thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Bloodrose-Andrea Cremer


Andrea Cremer

Philomel, Jan 3 2012, $18.99

ISBN: 9780399256127

Bellicose Calla knows if she is to be the Alpha of her pack, she must prove her leadership skills in combat and choose a mate. Ren and Shay vie to be that male. However, Calla makes it clear to both competitors and her pack she will not select anyone until the Keepers and their magic are defeated.

Calla also shows her loyalty when she protects her brother Ansrel, stripped of his essence, from those who want to kill him for being a traitor. However, it is what she prays is the final battle that she focuses on; a war Calla does not expect to survive and if she does she knows she will live with regret of having led brave warriors to their deaths; though she feels she had no choice.

The final Nightshade fantasy (see Nightshade and Wolfsbane) is an exciting thriller starring a heroine who was forced to detach her feelings for others in order to lead her side in war as she knows she will leave brothers and sisters in arms dead and maimed. A stunning twist adds to the realism that people die in war. Andrea Cremer provides a shocking but strong finish to an intriguing trilogy.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, January 27, 2012

By The King's Design-Christine Trent

By The King's Design

Christine Trent

Kensington, Feb 1 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780758265906

In 1812 Leeds, Annabelle Stirling runs her successful cloth making dress shop. Her wastrel brother Wesley and her fiancé Clive Pryce join the Luddites who destroy her new gig machine as immoral. Angry at the double betrayal and believing the Luddites worked for her rivals, Belle demands the authorities do something; they ignore her rants.

Fuming, she heads to London to make her case with the leadership, but the Prince Regent who she meets acts no differently than what she met in Leeds. Architect John Nash takes her under his wings as his mentee while she and cabinet maker Putnam Boyce are attracted to one another. Meanwhile Wesley gets involved with a high level assassin abduction plan.

The latest Christine Trent historical (see A Royal Likeness and The Queen’s Dollmaker) is an engaging Regency story starring a likable protagonist who enjoys her shop vocation; which makes the twin betrayals that much more hurtful. The storyline is driven by undeterred Belle’s need for retribution as she makes a wonderful lead holding the plot together. While the Luddite movement anchors time and place, other historical facts slow down what is overall a strong early nineteenth century tale.

Harriet Klausner

Leaving Lancaster-Kate Lloyd

Leaving Lancaster

Kate Lloyd

David C. Cooke, Mar 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780781405089

In Seattle, Esther informs her thirty something daughter Holly that she received a letter from her grandma begging for her to come home as she needs her. Holly, whose dad died in Vietnam, is a bit taken aback with the news as Grandma Anna is dead. She is even more stunned when her mom sadly says she will hate her. Esther tells Holly, who she knew desperately wanted relatives for years that she lied to her all her life; her mother and her brothers still live in the Lancaster area.

Her BFF Dori agrees to manage Esther’s Amish Shoppe while mother and daughter are away as reluctantly Esther decides to go home to Lancaster County. Holly accompanies her as she wants to meet her grandma, her five uncles and aunts and cousins. They stop at the home of Mennonite Beth Fleming before finally meeting the family. Ass Holly enjoys her time with her kin; she meets and falls in love with Beth’s son Zach.

This is a wonderful refreshing Amish tale that focuses on the complications of second chances. Esther makes the tale work with her trepidation of seeing her mom and brothers (who are all heading to Big Sky Country) after abandoning her family, her community, her religion and her lifestyle decades ago. She prays for forgiveness from her kin especially her Mommy Anna and her daughter. Readers will relish the prodigal child’s return accompanied by her adult offspring.

Harriet Klausner

The Woman Who Loved Jesse James-Cindi Myers

The Woman Who Loved Jesse James

Cindi Myers

Bell Bridge, Jan 2012, $15.95

ISBN: 9781466473461

In 1864 Missouri, a fire and brimstone Methodist Minister’s daughter Zeralda Mimms and her cousin Quantrill’s Raider Jesse James meet at the wedding of her older sister Lucy to Bowling Browder. Each is attracted to one another and he boldly kisses her. Jesse returns to the fighting. When the war ends, wounded Jesse goes to Zee’s home to heal. As she nurses him back to health, they fall in love. They become engaged and she learns her future husband is a robber and rumored to be a cold blooded killer. She prays that their marriage and their children will straighten out her beloved husband, but that hope is not answered.

The Woman Who Loved Jesse James is a fascinating biographical fiction that looks at the famous outlaw through the eyes of mostly his adulating beloved wife in a world still suffering from the ravages of the war and the consequential agony of defeat. Because of Zee’s loving filter, Jesse comes across as heroic rather than a cold blooded killer. She needs to believe in the goodness rather than the wickedness of her mate who she knows is tender with his family. Well written, readers will enjoy Cindi Myers fine nineteenth century look at Jesse James through his spouse’s loving perspective.

Harriet Klausner

Death of a Kitchen Diva-Lee Hollis

Death of a Kitchen Diva

Lee Hollis

Kensington, Mar 1 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780758267375

In Bar Harbor, Maine, Island Times Editor in Chief Sal Moretti offers his office manager single mom (of fifteen year old Gemma and thirteen years old Dustin) Hayley Powell the position of writing the food and wine column with the nonagenarian reporter retiring. She agrees and her column proves successful with its unpretentious Maine earthiness, which angers her rival at the Bar Harbor Herald prim and proper British aristocratic Karen Applebaum.

However, Karen is found dead with her face buried in a bowl of Hayley’s clam chowder. The police consider Hayley their only suspect and soon Officers Earl and Haley arrest her. She makes bail and with her BFFs investigates the Death of a Kitchen Diva.

This is an amusing culinary amateur sleuth starring a delightful beleaguered protagonist. The breezy storyline is fun to follow as the war of the recipes turns deadly. Although the sub-genre is loaded with similar entries (see Diane Mott Davidson), sub-genre fans will enjoy this entertaining regional whodunit as Haley seeks out a cold blooded killer whose recipe includes the soccer mom taking the fall.

Harriet Klausner

The Sound of a Scream-John Manning

The Sound of a Scream

John Manning

Pinnacle, Mar 6 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9780786027637

Orphan Daphne May has spent her life cloistered at Our Ladies School for Girls. Now at twenty-two years old, she leaves the convent where she met only one male in her life Father O’Donnell to ride the train to her first job as a governess in Point Woebegone, Maine. No one from Swallowtail meets her at the station, as promised. Instead a stranger takes her to a nearby inn.

Daphne is taken aback by a clown before she enters the ladies’ room to find a waitress with her throat slashed. The gruesome homicide has the townsfolk angry and anxious. Meanwhile Daphne struggles with the behavior of her eight years old charge Christopher whose grandfather was a serial killer wearing a clown costume. When the psychopath kills several more times, Daphne wonders whether somehow she was the spark that ignited a dormant serial killer.

The bloody storyline is an exciting thriller with an interesting late twist that ties the tale together. Daphne is a terrific damsel in distress whole local Gregory Winston tries to be her knight in shining armor. Although the plot is very typical of the suspense sub-genre even with a fascinating spin re the killer’s identity, fans will enjoy The Sound of a Scream in gothic aptly named Point Woebegone (no relationship to Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon).

Harriet Klausner

Born Wicked-Jessica Spotswood

Born Wicked

Jessica Spotswood

Putnam, Feb 7 2012, $17.99

ISBN: 9780399257452

By 1896, The Brotherhood established a harsh Christian theocracy in which the prosecution of witches is a major endeavor. Practitioners are condemned to death or worse: the prisons ships and the asylums. Additionally when a female turns seventeen, they must marry or join the Sisterhood.

Cate Cahill’s mom died trying to produce a male offspring. Her mother made her make a death bed pledge to care for her two younger sisters, but Cate is running out of time as in six months she must choose. Adding to her dilemma is the three Cahill siblings are closet witches, which makes her courtship by Paul McLeod a going nowhere relationship and her dalliance with Finn Belastra possessing even less staying power. As Cate reads her mother’s missing diary, she realizes her time problem worsened with a terrible fate that dooms the trio; forcing her to peruse banned books in an attempt to keep her and her sisters safe while townsfolk suspect them of wickedness. Then Sister Elena arrives to help them.

Born Wicked is an exhilarating alternative New England historical fantasy starring a courageous but increasingly desperate heroine. Her sisters and Elena are top notch characters while their late mom comes across as full blooded also through her diaries and her daughters’ observations. Although the males seem thin, fans will enjoy Jessica Spotwood’s engaging witch hunt.

Harriet Klausner

Forbidden-Syrie James and Ryan M. James


Syrie James and Ryan M. James

Harper Teen, Jan 24 2012, $8.99

ISBN: 9780062027894

In Southern California, sixteen years old Claire hopes this time she and her mom stay in one spot so she can makes friends at the Emerson Academy that she attends on a scholarship. Her nomadic mom has them relocating seemingly even before they can open their bags. At the school Claire meets new student Alec, an angel attending school for a bit of R&R though if caught by the Elders he will be executed for desertion. He explains to her why her mother constantly is on the run; as Claire is a half-angel, a hybrid species considered an abomination by the angel Elders.

Alec and Claire fall in love while Helena begins sending visions to Claire with a warning to tell no one, not even her beloved, of her psychic powers. Unable to resist Claire reveals all to her friends. When her life is threatened, Alec risks his to keep her safe.

Although angels are a large population in the paranormal romance subgenre (see His Dark Bond By Anne Marsh), team James provide an entertaining teenage romantic urban fantasy. The storyline is fast-paced while the antics of the heroine are fun to follow as her hormones war with her brain. Although the support characters are out of the genre’s typical casting mold, Alec is a unique individual who is wary and in love. Readers will enjoy Claire’s coming of age not so angelic Los Angeles joy ride.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Heart Echoes-Sally John

Heart Echoes

Sally John

Tyndale, Mar 1 2012, $13.99

ISBN: 9781414327877

Teal Morgan-Adams knows to the second when her world ended as NPR announced the time over the radio while she crawled on one of the Los Angeles parking lots known as a freeway. The ground began to shake while the announcer warns people to get out of traffic; Teal wonders how even as the overpass crumbled.

Meanwhile her husband River worries about his wife “Xena the warrior” even as his teenage stepdaughter Maiya, who he loves in spite of her obsession to know who her biological dad is (mom refuses to tell her), would laugh about any tremor. However, the worst earthquake he has ever seen in his forty-two years pins him under bins in his garage with his cell phone out of reach. Teal barely survives the road collapse but saw the horror of so many apparently dying. However, tragedy in her hometown of Cedar Pointe, Oregon forces everything to a head.

The latest Side Roads (see Desert Gift) family drama is delightful tale starring engaging protagonists and a strong support cast. The storyline loses some of its zing as the entertaining earthquake subplot becomes overwhelmed by the aftershock in Oregon. Still, fans will enjoy Teal’s homecoming as her daughter and husband put enormous pressure on her.

Harriet Klausner

Beneath a Meth Moon-Jacqueline Woodson

Beneath a Meth Moon

Jacqueline Woodson

Nancy Paulsen/Penguin, Feb 2 2012, $16.99

ISBN: 9780399252501

Fifteen year old Laurel is filled with remorse as she feels she failed her loved one especially when she turned to meth to numb the pain of death. Having kicked the habit, encouraged by her BFF Kaylee who she let down, she writes an elegy to cleanse her soul and hopefully regain her life. Her downward spiral began when Hurricane Katrina killed her mother and grandmother who remained in the family house when the storm swamped New Orleans.

Her father, her younger brother Jesse Jr. and Laurel obtain temporary shelter in Jackson, Mississippi before moving to Galilee, Iowa in order to start over. Laurel seems to adapt well as she becomes BFF with Kaylee, becomes a cheerleader and dates basketball team captain T-Boom. Still the teen grieves her matriarchal losses; so T-Boom introduces her to “the moon,” which numbs the depression. However, she soon needs more and more moon until she becomes an addict begging people for loose change on the city streets.

This is a great tweener-teen cautionary tale that makes a powerful case that Beneath A Meth Moon the addicting drug takes over your mind and body as you only live for more meth. Laurel’s observations of going to hell and back (she is writing the elegy so she obviously has survived her self-inflicted ordeal) are brilliant as her recollections are dark, choppy and filled with memory gaps. Jacqueline Woodson provides a powerful warning to her tween-teen audience that meth may allow you a moon walk or two but will incarcerate you with a desperate need for more.

Harriet Klausner

A Texan’s Honor-Shelley Gray

A Texan’s Honor

Shelley Gray

Abington, Mar 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781426714634

In 1874 the notorious Walton outlaw gang is infamous for cold blooded murders as much as they are for their robberies. Gang member Will McMillan plans to end the killing spree of his violent compatriots soonest though he knows how difficult this will prove to be as he expects he probably will not survive.

The gang stops a train in Kansas. Those who are not immediately killed are held hostage including the only solo female Jamie Ellis. She quickly realizes that the outlaw Will is the only reason she has not been harmed so far. Undercover Will needs to stay in character if he does not wish to be exposed although that keeps him at risk when the law catches up to them, but saving Jamie takes precedence over saving his life though he sadly knows she could never love a violent man like him.

The second Heart of a Hero thriller stars an honorable man who rode with the title character of A Texan’s Promise. Fast-paced, readers will enjoy the romance between the “outlaw” and the hostage as Shelley gray provides a fabulous Kansas post-Civil War thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Head Race-R. Lee Nathans

Head Race

R. Lee Nathans

Hudson House Publishing, Sep 23 2011, $12.95


ISBN: 9781587761850

Medical director of the Doubestrover Township Community Health Center in New Jersey, single mom Dr. Audrey Epstein raises her twelve year old daughter Lainie and her away at a nearby college Josh alone ever since their dad Ben was murdered. She has problems at home with her tweener and at work with another state inspection and in the Newark Star Ledger where reporter A. J. Amoreaux accuses her staff of improprieties. On the bright side Bradford Lecoyne Eccleston IV gives her a large pink diamond as an engagement ring.

Craig Boseman believes the world owes him. He collects a check from the state due to a fake back injury, but that is not enough as he had to move back in with his disgusting mom. His cousin Dennis’s friend Bill Hartick tells Craig they can make a fortune robbing a clinic. Instead the trio abducts Audrey and a colleague Tim. When the local police chief investigates, the mayor tells him to stop wasting money as the pair of pain in butt missing persons are obviously decamped lovers. The media following the mayor’s lead drops the story while only Brad searches for his missing fiancée.

Bias disclosure: I was hooked with the mention of Jerome Avenue, spaldeen and sewers as my husband was all-neighborhood in stickball. This is a dark humorous satirical tour of New Jersey in which R. Lee Nathans mocks the media-big business-government complex that has Ike turning in his grave. The entertaining storyline is fast-paced though it rotates between several subplots starring an ensemble cast besides those above and the suspense comes late. Readers will appreciate Head Race as the audience will learn that avarice lowlifes come from all classes.

Harriet Klausner

Victims-Jonathan Kellerman


Jonathan Kellerman

Ballantine, Feb 28 2012, $28.00

ISBN: 9780345505712

In her apartment, the victim fifty-six years old Vita Berlin was mutilated with her guts placed like a precious necklace around her neck. The only clue to the horrific murder is a strange note with a question mark on it left inside a pizza box that adds eeriness to an already unnerving homicide. LAPD homicide detective Lieutenant Milo Sturgis leads the investigation. His friend and frequent police consultant psychiatrist Dr. Alex Delaware assists on the inquiry. Both men who have seen too much violence over the years are particularly shook up by this gruesome killing.

As they work the case, several additional similar murders occur. They find a link at the mothballed Ventura State Hospital; a place that at one time housed mentally troubled people with the worst head cases locked away in the Specialized Care Unit. Alex interviews psychiatrists who worked with the victims, but all hide behind a wall of privacy.

The latest Delaware-Sturgis police procedural is an entreating serial killer thriller as mildly mocking Miles is off his feed bag with this case. The storyline is fast-paced with a deep spotlight shining on when the mental health care system fails. Although the ending feels off kilter and Delaware has worked vicious serial killing cases with and without Sturgis (see The Butcher’s Theater), fans will enjoy the latest buddies’ whodunit as their usual quipping is subdued by the brutal homicides.

Harriet Klausner

Legend-Marie Lu


Marie Lu

Putnam, Nov 29 2011, $17.99

ISBN: 9780399256752

The Republic of America has twenty million citizens and seems to be at constant cold and hot war with its neighbors the Colonies. The laws are strictly enforced regardless of economic and social placement though the elite have all the special advantages and privileges.

From a highly prominent affluent family, fifteen year old June is mentored to become a member of the inner most military leadership. However, her fast track to the top is derailed when her brother Captain Metias is murdered while officially hunting for criminal teenager Day, the number one most wanted person in the Republic, who, in spite of security video cameras all over Los Angeles, his face remains a mystery. Commander Jameson claims Day killed June’s sibling. She vows to avenge her brother’s murder.

Although the High Noon encounter goes the way one would expect even with a fascinating twist, this is a superb futuristic dystopian police procedural. The storyline is fast-paced as readers will appreciate the teenage chess match between the elusive felon and the obsessed soldier; as checkmate is an intriguing spin. Marie Lu provides a fabulously exciting thriller starring two teens from polar opposite sides of the track.

Harriet Klausner

Lenobia's Vow-P. C. Cast & Kristin Cast

Lenobia's Vow

P. C. Cast & Kristin Cast

St. Martin's Griffin, Jan 31 2012, $12.99

ISBN: 9781250000248

Today Lenobia is the horse mistress of the House of Night in St. Louis and Zoey Redbird’s favorite teacher. She and her mother were servants in 1788 at the Chateau de Naverre in Evreux, France. Her father the baron seduced her mother, impregnated her and cast her and their offspring aside. That child Lenobia looks identical to her spoiled half-sister Cecile.

When Lenobia is sixteen years old, the legitimate daughter dies from ague. Leonia’s mother arranges for her daughter to masquerade as Cecile in order for her to marry an affluent aristocrat. The plot works perfectly as Lenobia and other unmarried young ladies travel by ship to New Orleans to marry rich French aristocrats. While traversing the Atlantic, evil sorcerer Bishop Charles recognizes and announces the fraud as he coveted her back in France and plans to make her his mistress. A nun protects her and she decides to go to the cargo hold on the last level of the ship where she meets Quadroon Martin in the stables. She falls in love with him and the Percheron horse that his employer bought. He sent Martin to go to France so that he could take care of them over the long sea voyage. n The Bishop soon makes his move to rape Lenobia using all means available to him while Martin vows to keep his beloved safe.

The latest House of Night Novella (see Dragon’s Oath) focuses on the teen years of a secondary but popular character. Readers learn what shaped Lenobia’s present mysterious life as the child is the adult even if two centuries have passed. At sixteen, Lenobia displays the same traits she shows as a teacher: courage, honesty and inner strength. She wanted to be happy, but her choices were limited to be or not to be until a third option was offered. This is an engaging biographical fiction as the Cast crew entertains their fans.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank: Stories-Nathan Englander

What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank: Stories

Nathan Englander

Knopf, Feb 7 2012, $24.95

ISBN: 9780307958709

This insightful anthology focuses on living Jewish in a modern fast food world; yet the themes of conflict (modernization and assimilation vs. tradition, anti-Semitism, and grief, etc.) are universal. These excellent eight entries were published previously over the past five or so years but not in one place.

“What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank” stars two married intoxicated women discussing the Holocaust as the secular Jew says the Nazis are the culprit while the orthodox Jew says it is now with assimilation leading to mixed marriages.

“Sister Hills” focuses on a settlement in Samaria over four decades ago in which the heroic Jews build their city, but their rigidity in a changing world leaves everyone in peril.

The students decided an eye for an eye when they confront an anti-Semitic bully in “How We Avenged the Blums,” but now feel haunted with what they did.

He indulged in “Peep Show” porn in Times Square, which gave him pleasure until everyone even the strippers became rabbis lecturing him.

"Everything I Know About My Family on My Mother's Side" has a different tone; that of a cherished memoir.

“Camp Sundown” in the Berkshires hosts seniors who believe one of them is a concentration camp guard who deserves swift justice.

The Author would do book tours to lines out into the street; now no one shows up except one elderly “Reader” who demands he read.

“Free Fruit for Young Widows” who pass down from generation to generation tales of surviving the Holocaust, but the survivor is not the same soul that she was when she entered the death camps.

Harriet Klausner

History of a Pleasure Seeker-Richard Mason

History of a Pleasure Seeker

Richard Mason

Knopf, Feb 7 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780307599476

Piet Barol leaned in his recent adolescence that he is a pleasure magnet to most women and many men. He knows his charm comes from his late mom as his dad is a grim university administrator. Thus Piet uses his looks and gracefulness to obtain whatever he desires.

In 1907 in Amsterdam, Piet becomes a tutor to preadolescent mentally ill piano protégé Egbert Vermeulen-Sickerts. Heeding the advice of a footman, Piet avoids the daughters of his sexual abstemious employer but the wife is fair game. However, while almost everyone in the household adores Piet, he has one key adversary, Daughter Louisa, who strips away his charming veneer with a look of scorn. However, he begins to understand his student’s issues as the martinet father brings the wrath of rigid strictness to his son.

This is an intriguing morality tale starring a fascinating protagonist who is not so much a pleasure seeker but a pleasure giver who wants to do right by his student and help others with their tsuris. The key cast members are fully developed as they anchor time and place, and enable the reader to better understand the title protagonist. Although the ending serves only the purpose of setting up the further adventures of the pleasure seeker in South Africa, fans will enjoy his Dutch escapes as The Netherlands in the Queen Wilhelmina Era come to light.

Harriet Klausner

If You Know Her-Shiloh Walker

If You Know Her

Shiloh Walker

Ballantine, Feb 29 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780345517555

Nia Hollister knows logically the law caught the killer Joe Carson who brutalized and killed her cousin Jolene six months ago in Ash, Kentucky. She saw his corpse, yet her instincts scream at her that something is not right. To obtain closure, she heads to Ash.

The only negative with her quest in her mind is in Ash is Law Reilly who she obsesses over as much as finding who killed Joely. Law reciprocates her attraction and goes up in her mind when he does not scorn her theory but actually supports her assertion. As Nia scrutinizes the police report and other related public documents, Law fears for her safety from an unknown enemy watching her. He will soon learn that sometime paranoia is justified when her room is haphazardly searched.

The final Ash romantic suspense is a great finish to a strong series. The overarching whodunit os brilliantly resolved while the romantic subplot takes a back seat to the increasingly dangerous investigation. Although it behooves the audience to read the previous novels in order (see If You See Her and If You Hear Her) as they build up and directly lead to this suspenseful climax, Shiloh Walker completes the fabulous Ash saga with another super entry.

Harriet Klausner

Run From Fear-Jami Alden

Run From Fear

Jami Alden

Forever, Feb 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780446572811

Two years ago in Seattle, former Green Beret Jack Brooks saved the life of Talia Vega from a serial killer. Talia was part of fifteen minutes of notorious fame and she still is unfairly trashed on the Net.

She relocated in the Bay area with her teenage sister Rosario. At the restaurant where Talia works, Jack enters, which brings back the bad times in her mind. He explains he is in town for a few weeks helping his boss at Gemini securities. When Jack meets Rosie’s friend Kevin, he warns the douche bag that these siblings have met enough creeps. However, Talia soon will be grateful for Jack’s return into her life as a psychopath decides to complete the Seattle nightmare.

The latest Jami Alden romantic suspense (see Beg For Mercy and Hide From Evil) is a pulse pumping taut thriller that grips readers from the first threat to the final confrontation. The lead couple is an interesting pairing as both have survived the baptism of fire. The support cast augments a terrific tense tale in which the romantic subplot is palatable but it is the viable threat from a madman that takes center stage.

Harriet Klausner

A Parliament of Spies-Cassandras Clark

A Parliament of Spies

Cassandras Clark

Minotaur, Jan 31 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312595746

These are chaotic times in England under the unsteady rule of King Richard II and the viable threat of a French invasion. In these dangerous times, Abbess Hildegard prefers to rusticate in prayer.

However, though she insists she has no skills, York Archbishop Alexander Neville orders the nun to come with him to the Parliament meeting at Westminster in London, where she will be his spy; a role she is extremely uncomfortable with. Before they leave York, Neville assigns her a short clock to investigate the murder of Martin his saucier drowned in a wine vat filled with water and barley. The road to London is filled with violence as Hildegard thinks no place not even near the monarch is safe in these dangerous divisive partisan times.

This is a great medieval historical thriller as murder, mayhem and politics converge in fourteenth century England. The storyline is fast-paced as a power struggle that makes Machiavelli seems like an amateur manipulator. Timely, readers will relish Cassandra Clark’s strong entertaining Abbess Hildegard tale (see The Law of Angels).

Harriet Klausner

Darkness Bound-Stella Cameron

Darkness Bound

Stella Cameron

Forever, Feb 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781455500154

After two years as a couple and a few days married, Chris died. Fourteen months later, his grieving widow Leigh Kelly decides she cannot live in their home filed with too many memories. She moves to Chimney Rock on Whidbey Island.

Former Special Ops soldier Niles Latimer and his werehound Team are diligently watching the newcomer to keep her safe from rogues assaulting women. However, he also senses Leigh possesses something unique that could prove her compatible as life mate for a werehound. Nile realizes she knows nothing about her DNA or the existence of werehounds as he and his Team vow to protect her while the evil enemy senses who she is too and pledges to take her.

The first Chimney Rock romantic urban fantasy is a superb dark thriller in which Stella Cameron creates a deep mythos that feels genuine; inside of a fast-paced good and evil battle for Leigh. Loaded with chilling action, a strong lead couple and two camps of werehounds and other ilk, sub-genre readers will enjoy a visit to mysterious Whidbey Island where the paranormal is the normal.

Harriet Klausner

Bridge of Dreams-Anne Bishop

Bridge of Dreams

Anne Bishop

Roc, Mar 6 2012, $26.95

ISBN: 9780451463814

Siblings Lee and Glorianna Belladonna along with Michael the Musician and others removed the darkness of The Eater of the World from Ephemera (see Belladonna). However, though Ephemera is balanced now, the world remains a perilous place as affirmed when bellicose wizards arrive. Lee stops their threat to disrupt the balance, but ends up in an asylum in Vision, a city also facing dark peril.

The Vision Shamans fail to prevent the dark plague from spreading. Lee understands what they face and offers his assistance and those of his family in Ephemera, Glorianna and their cousin Sebastian. However, the proud protectors of Vision eventually may acquiesce to his offer, but time is running out.

The third Ephemera fantasy is an entertaining tale with an incredible vivid description of the Bishop mythos and a wonderful self-sacrificing hero who risks his life again to save a city of strangers. The storyline starts slow with an inordinate amount of time on what happened in the previous entries (see Sebastian). However, once the protagonist jumps into the frying pan to save Ephemera and then into the fire to save Vision, Bridge of Dreams accelerates into a super-fast-paced exciting thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, January 23, 2012

Wicked Edge-Nina Bangs

Wicked Edge

Nina Bangs

Berkley, Mar 6 2012, $15.00

ISBN 9780425245491

The Council of Justice finds Passion the angel guilty of too much impish behavior as her appeal is that she just wanted to bring life to their tedious existence fails to move the judgment board. Passion can deal with her punishment to wander the Earth as a mortal in order to save human souls; however, she feels the Council was cruel and non-angelic when they made Hope the whiner her heavenly contact as once a day having this irritant in her mind can make anyone consider evil thoughts.

Her assignment takes the “human” Passion to the Castle of Dark Dreams where any form of sexual fantasy occurs. However, the virginal temporarily fallen angel meets Edge playing the role of a demon. She realizes how wicked he truly is by his aura, but rationalizes even a demon can be redeemed while Edge insists he just wants to bang the virgin demonic style.

The fifth erotic Castle of Dark Dreams romantic fantasy (Wicked Edge, Wicked Fantasy Wicked Pleasure and My Wicked Vampire) is an enticing wicked tale starring an interesting pair; as she is a virginal angel and he is the sinful demon. Their forbidden romance makes for a terrific paranormal star-crossed lovers’ thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Darkness Undone-Jessa Slade

Darkness Undone

Jessa Slade

Signet, Mar 6 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9780451236265

To earn his wings as a League of Talyan Bookkeeper, Sidney Westerbrook leaves London to study why Chicago contains an exorbitant level of otherworldly combat. Though he preferred research from a distance, he knows field work is an inconvenient truth of his mission. However, the Chicago League Chief Liam Niall refuses to allow him to join their night patrol on his first evening in the city; suggesting he adapt to the time change first.

Thus Sidney goes out on the town alone. However, Westerbrook realizes the stupidity of his actions when two feralis attack him. His shoulder injured, he expects to be a mangled corpse only a female talya warrior intercedes as Alyce Carver is not bound by strict League rules as a rogue battling evil ferales solo. They are attracted to one another, but Sid is a London based Bookkeeper and Alyce is a rogue unaffiliated talyan ,and is expected to mate with one of her kind.

The fourth Marked Souls romantic urban fantasy (see Seduced by the Shadows, Forged in Shadows and Vowed in Shadows) is an exciting paranormal with a fascinating unexpected but plausible twist. The story line is fast-paced with the well done gender spin of the heroine saving the helpless male in distress. Although Alyce garners much respect for her dedication and empathy for her loneliness, Sid fails to do likewise as understanding him comes late. Still this is another dynamic thriller in the super Slade mythos.

Harriet Klausner

The Affair-Alicia Clifford

The Affair

Alicia Clifford

St. Martin's, Mar 132012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312376277

Famous author Celia Bayley received critical and fan accolades for her poignant passionate look into human relationships. She came from an upper middle class background, married World War II hero Frederick as a teen back sixty-five years ago in 1944 and raised three successful children with a happy home. Now the extended family gathers for her funeral.

Newspaper profile author Jenny Granger asks Celia’s children if she can write the family sanctioned biography of the great late writer. They allow her access to Celia’s diaries, notebooks and letters. They shock the reporter and the deceased’s loved ones as they paint a different picture of her. Naive Cecila’s love match with over a decade older Frederick was a sham as he broke her heart early on, but for the sake of her children and 1950s culture created the facade of a happy home. Even more stunning is years later the sophisticated Celia met the grand passion of her life who was not Frederick.

The Affair is a stunning character study as Celia made a sacrificing choice for the sake of her children. Incredibly profound, fans will ponder whether destroying a legend with the truth will set everyone free when already knowing the truth sets everyone somewhat free. As each of her loved ones (and the author) looks inside their hearts and souls, they wonder what happiness means to them and whether they have what they desire in their respective relationships. The Affair is a thought provoking winner that will have reader doing the same inner SWOT analysis of what we want in our lives.

Harriet Klausner

Saving Hope-Margaret Daley

Saving Hope

Margaret Daley

Abingdon, Mar 1 2012, $14.99


In Dallas, teenager Rose knows that Kate Winslow, manager of the Beacon of Hope School, will be disappointed in her for borrowing the van. However, she feels she has no choice as her BFF Lily frantically called her from the “Nowhere” Motel where both have had to turn tricks for pimps. Rose believes once she returns with Lily, Kate will forgive her though she will admonish her.

Kate is despondent with worry when Rose fails to return to the school. Texas Ranger Wyatt Sheridan is assigned to find the girl, but what he learns upsets him as Rose seems to have vanished inside what increasingly looks like human trafficking ring. Matters turn even uglier when someone abducts Kate and his daughter Maddie is threatened to make the Ranger back off.

The key to this terrific contemporary romantic suspense is that the romance takes a back seat to the investigation. The storyline is fast-paced while placing a deep spotlight in child trafficking that at times overwhelms the plot. A touch of inspirational and a stunning late metaphoric twist enhance the exciting Men of the Texas Rangers investigative thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Wedded in Scandal-Jade Lee

Wedded in Scandal

Jade Lee

Berkley, Mar 6 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9780425245934

Robert Percy knows that one of his recurring missions is to learn what his dad purchased whenever the earl is in his cups. This time the viscount explores the drunken entrepreneur’s latest acquisition a coal mine.

Lady Helaine Talbott was forced to become the seamstress Mrs. Mortimer, half owner of A Lady’s Favor, due to her vanished father “the thief of the ton.” She visits her BFF widow Lady Irene hoping to arrange a business deal as their acquisition expert. Grieving Irene accepts the mercenary role of shopkeeper as that gives her hope to find her lost zest for life.

Mrs. Mortimer next visits Robert as the dressmaker for his sister Gwen’s wedding to collet payment as his man of business sent her to him; he accuses her of being a con artist and threatens her with the constable. Soon afterward Robert comes to her shop. He interferes with her assisting a customer, but realizes she is a lady though why she works in trade is beyond his understanding until he learns who she is. Falling in love, each knows they have no future together except as his mistress as he has spent a lifetime avoiding a hint of scandal and she has spent her adulthood dealing with the sins of her father.

This Bridal Favors “wicked” historical romance is a superb gender war as the protagonists engage in a delightful battle of the wits. She forces him to make a paradigm switch about the business acumen of a lady while he forces her to fully grasp how far she has fallen as five years ago they could have had a future together.

Harriet Klausner

Chasing Midnight-Randy Wayne White

Chasing Midnight

Randy Wayne White

Putnam, Mar 6 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780399158315

Marine biologist Doc Ford seems like a mild amiable person who enjoys studying sea life and providing fresh or preserved specimens to schools and labs nationwide from his Sanibel Island base. In his other life, Doc is a brutal agent working for the American government by cleaning up dire ugly situations.

He and his friend Tomlinson attend an eastern waters caviar productivity improvement conference hosted by vicious Russian black marketer Victor Kaslov on Vanderbilt Island. Attendees come from China, Iran and Turkmenia etc., but Doc diligently focuses on Kaslov in order to obtain some Intel. While Ford goes underwater to inspect the Russian’s yacht, six eco-terrorists crash the conference. Just after their assault, an explosion knocks out the electricity and jamming electronic communication on the island. The party crashers demands must be met or one hostage every hour will die until at the stroke of midnight, everyone still breathing will die in an explosion. Doc realizes how precarious the situation is; his goal is simple to get his friends and himself off island, but the execution is impossible as this group acts more like the Russian’s deadliest “capitalist” rivals than environmental extremists.

This is an exhilarating Doc Ford thriller as the meek marine biologist and the ruthless agent makes him seem like a sea version of Clark Kent-Superman. Tomlinson is his usual Zen-self driving Doc crazy, but who though not brave turns competently hyper with ideas when facing danger. He actually is the one who provides the twists to another fabulous Doc Ford tale as he battles to keep alive his friends from cut throat competitors with no business ethics.

Harriet Klausner

Question of Trust-Laura Caldwell

Question of Trust

Laura Caldwell

Mira, Feb 20 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778313212

In Chicago, Bristol & Associates criminal attorney Izzy McNeil and her boyfriend Theo Jameson move into her place together until his new house is ready once his mortgage is approved. However, soon after he arrives at her home, someone breaks into her abode.

Not long afterward, the Feds arrest Theo charging him with fraud at his firm HeadFirst software he co-owns with Eric. While Izzy defends the Cortadero Mexican drug cartel family, her boss Maggie Bristol represents Theo. As Izzy wonders about Theo’s anomalies like his mortgage request being rejected and his inability to put up the $50,000 bail money when his firm has made a fortune, Cortadero stunningly demands her firm stop their defense of her boyfriend.

The latest magnificent McNeil legal thriller (see Red Blood Murder and Claim of Innocence) has a loose sense of déjà vu that the beleaguered heroine notices (see Red Hot Lies). With her father back in her life after years of not being there for her, last year's Sam fiasco (see Red Hot Lies), and now the Theo incident; Izzy wonders whom do you trust when you cannot trust a loved one. This is a terrific twisting tale.

Harriet Klausner

Wicked Edge-Nina Bangs

Wicked Edge

Nina Bangs

Berkley, Mar 6 2012, $15.00

ISBN 9780425245491

The Council of Justice finds Passion the angel guilty of too much impish behavior as her appeal is that she just wanted to bring life to their tedious existence fails to move the judgment board. Passion can deal with her punishment to wander the Earth as a mortal in order to save human souls; however, she feels the Council was cruel and non-angelic when they made Hope the whiner her heavenly contact as once a day having this irritant in her mind can make anyone consider evil thoughts.

Her assignment takes the “human” Passion to the Castle of Dark Dreams where any form of sexual fantasy occurs. However, the virginal temporarily fallen angel meets Edge playing the role of a demon. She realizes how wicked he truly is by his aura, but rationalizes even a demon can be redeemed while Edge insists he just wants to bang the virgin demonic style.

The fifth erotic Castle of Dark Dreams romantic fantasy (Wicked Edge, Wicked Fantasy Wicked Pleasure and My Wicked Vampire) is an enticing wicked tale starring an interesting pair; as she is a virginal angel and he is the sinful demon. Their forbidden romance makes for a terrific paranormal star-crossed lovers’ thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Darkness Undone-Jessa Slade

Darkness Undone

Jessa Slade

Signet, Mar 6 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9780451236265

To earn his wings as a League of Talyan Bookkeeper, Sidney Westerbrook leaves London to study why Chicago contains an exorbitant level of otherworldly combat. Though he preferred research from a distance, he knows field work is an inconvenient truth of his mission. However, the Chicago League Chief Liam Niall refuses to allow him to join their night patrol on his first evening in the city; suggesting he adapt to the time change first.

Thus Sidney goes out on the town alone. However, Westerbrook realizes the stupidity of his actions when two feralis attack him. His shoulder injured, he expects to be a mangled corpse only a female talya warrior intercedes as Alyce Carver is not bound by strict League rules as a rogue battling evil ferales solo. They are attracted to one another, but Sid is a London based Bookkeeper and Alyce is a rogue unaffiliated talyan ,and is expected to mate with one of her kind.

The fourth Marked Souls romantic urban fantasy (see Seduced by the Shadows, Forged in Shadows and Vowed in Shadows) is an exciting paranormal with a fascinating unexpected but plausible twist. The story line is fast-paced with the well done gender spin of the heroine saving the helpless male in distress. Although Alyce garners much respect for her dedication and empathy for her loneliness, Sid fails to do likewise as understanding him comes late. Still this is another dynamic thriller in the super Slade mythos.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Kill Shot-Vince Flynn

Kill Shot

Vince Flynn

Emily Bester Books/Atria, Feb 7 2012, $27.99

ISBN: 9781416595205

One year ago Mitch Rapp completed the CIA special ant-terrorism training. With the support of his now handler Irene Kennedy he is a lone wolf who has left a trail of corpses around the globe. The blood does not disturb him as he believes devoutly these killers deserve retribution as you live and die by the bullet. The Lockerbie mass murder still motivates him into the revenging grim reaper he has become as killing these monsters proves therapeutic.

His current assignment is to assassinate a Libyan in Paris, which he does. Before Rapp can leave, Samir Fadi and cohorts burst into the room with machine gun firing to kill the solo ghost who stalks them. Rapp takes a bullet but escapes. Samir is shocked that the enemy got away and his brother died in the assault. The French gendarme finds nine corpses in that room while the CIA denies any responsibility for the deadly incident.

Unlike his agency’s leaders depending on heavenly intervention, Rapp’s former trainer Stan Hurley knows a liability must be eliminated before the local authorities capture him. However, Rapp refuses to die or be caught while a betrayal high inside the agency leaves him hanging alone.

Bloodily over the top of the Eifel Tower, the direct sequel to American Assassin continues Rapp’s early years with the CIA in another action packed thriller that takes off explosively in Paris and never slows down until the final bullets are fired. The hunter becomes hunted by an avenging Muslim and his former teacher, but it is the betrayal that leaves Rapp in peril. With the next tale seemingly set up by the betrayal, fans will enjoy Vince Flynn’s latest super suspenseful Rapp entry.

Harriet Klausner

Deader Homes & Gardens-Joan Hess

Deader Homes & Gardens

Joan Hess

Minotaur, Feb 14 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312363628

Bookseller Claire Malloy and police lieutenant Peter Rosen return home to Farberville, Arkansas after spending their odd honeymoon in Luxor, Egypt (see Mummy Dearest). However, first order of business is finding a place to live as the married couple and her teenage daughter Caron need more space.

After a week of failure hunting for a house without Peter who is busy working but with Caron, Claire finds the perfect home in Hollow Valley. She goes to close the deal with realtor Angela Delmond, who drove her to this house, but following a phone call the woman vanished; stranding Claire. A second shock occurs when Claire goes inside to get her purse and sees octogenarian Moses Hollow drinking Bordeaux. Nattie Hollow-Brown soon arrives and takes Angela to a nearby tavern for her to make a call. Later, Angela cannot find the realtor whose office hides something seemingly sinister and she learns the owner Winston died under mysterious circumstances; his lover Terry of Key West says the house is not for sale. When Terry dies, Claire knows she must catch a killer if the house is to belong to her and her family.

The latest Malloy amateur sleuth (see Closely Akin to Murder) tale is a zany regional whodunit as one learns that even with a recession realty is a killer market. Deader Homes & Gardens is fast-paced with a breezy amusing tongue in cheek undertone starting with the jocular opening refrain of “… my kingdom for a house.” Fans of the series will wonder what next will happen to anyone associated with the house not for sale in Hollow Valley.

Harriet Klausner

Stay Close-Harlan Coben

Stay Close

Harlan Coben

Dutton, Mar 20 2012, $27.95

ISBN: 9780525952275

Ray Levine was once a highly regarded photographer until the incident that shattered his life occurred almost two decades ago. Fortyish, he now is a despondent sham paparazzo posing as such for his celebrity craving clients.

Megan Pierce has come a long way from the incident that changed her seventeen years ago when she buried that wild life in a shallow ditch. Now she is a bored suburban soccer mom with a teenage daughter Kaylie and a younger son Jordon; her spouse is nice Dave whom has no idea who the woman he has slept with for the past sixteen years really is; including her real name Maygin.

Police Detective Jack Broome remains haunted by the cold case he failed to solve though he knows his torment comes from watching what has happened to the missing’s person wife and children as their house is an untouched tomb. The spouse Sarah Green still leaves her husband Stewart’s slippers out for him while their kids Susie has been arrested for DUI twice and Brandon was busted for possession. Jack investigates the disappearance of Carlton Flynn and has found other similar husbands-fathers vanishing without a trace. Three people tied together with what happened to Stewart seventeen years ago will learn whether the truth sets them free.

With Bolitar taking a well-deserved time-out, Harlan Coben provides a superb stand-alone thriller. The key is the ensemble cast connected by the incident in which none of them is able to move on passed what happened though they disguise their trauma with seemingly “normal” behavior. Action-packed hooking appreciative fans, this is a taut suspense as the past has returned to shake up the lives of three people going through the motions of living.

Harriet Klausner

Born to Darkness-Suzanne Brockmann

Born to Darkness

Suzanne Brockmann

Ballantine, Mar 20 2012, $26.00

ISBN 9780345521279

The United States is spiraling into third world status as the Great Depression II wreaks havoc on most people due to policies that legalized unfair practices leading to the wealthiest doing great while everyone paid the price. For much of the increasing poor there is only one commodity they can sell: their preteen daughters. The Organization has created Destiny from the hormones of pre-puberty females; the affluent love the elixir that allows those with money to buy the perfect physical specimen at the cost of their mind.

The Obermeyer Institute opposes the sale of girls as a commodity and by extrapolation are against the use of Destiny. However, groups like the Organization own the media and the politicians so Obermeyer is considered by most a place for crackpots. With nowhere to turn, banished former Navy SEAL Shane Laughlin joins OI though he believes the media portrayal of lunatics especially the “Greater-Thans” philosophy to deploy otherworldly powers for the common good. He changes his mind when female Greater Than scientists half his size kicks his butt in. Shane and Greater Than Michelle “Mac” Mackenzie had shared a one night stand before he joined OI as a test subject. In Boston, they attempt to rescue a young girl sold for her hormones who appears to be a Greater Than.

Noted for Breaking the Rules of romantic suspense with her Troubleshooters saga, Suzanne Brockmann provides a powerful enthralling and dark paranormal thriller as the extraction of young female hormones is a capitalist commodity exchange item. The gripping premise extrapolates trends in economics, politics, journalism and pharmaceutical to paint a dark soulless future. The prime romance between the protagonists and a gay relationship enhance an exciting fast-paced rescue mission.

Harriet Klausner

Shatter-Michael Robotham


Michael Robotham

Mulholland/Little Brown, Jan 26 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780316187428

Clinical psychologist Dr. Joe O'Loughlin teaches part-time behavioral psychology at the University of Bath. He lives with his beloved family in Somerset. His wife of two decades Julianne is a successful executive while both adore their daughters, twelve years old Charlie and three years old Emma. The only bight to their idyllic life is Joe's deteriorating health due to Parkinson's disease diagnosed four years ago.

The cops come to the campus to get Dr. Bruno Kaufman to talk down a potential jumper on the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Bruno sends his friend Joe to the scene. A middle aged naked female ignores everyone around her including Joe as she frantically talks on a mobile before leaping; her last worlds to Joe was he would not understand. Student Darcy Wheeler arrives at Joe’s home insisting her mom Christine would never commit suicide. Joe begins to realize the psychological pattern of a leaper does not fit Christine. When a similar suicide occurs, police Detective Inspector Veronica Cray leads the investigation. Joe and his friend retired Detective Inspector Vincent Ruiz join the inquiry.

Shatter is an exciting psychological thriller as a master of mind manipulation successfully breaks the will of single confident females. The latest O’Loughlin thriller (see Suspect and The Night Ferry) is fast-paced with a cat and mouse contest between the psychologist whose wife wants him off the dangerous case and the villain a virtuoso playing with emotions. As readers learn why, Michael Robotham keeps the suspense tropospheric in anticipation of a showdown between the protagonist and the antagonist.

Harriet Klausner

Fall from Grace-Richard North Patterson

Fall from Grace

Richard North Patterson

Scribner, Mar 20 2012, $26.00

ISBN 9781451617054

On Martha’s Vineyard, internationally famous writer Benjamin Blaine is found dead at the bottom of a cliff overlooking the sea. Ben’s estranged son Adam returns home for the first time in a decade to attend his dad’s funeral. Others expected at the burial are the deceased’s widow Clarice, their other son gay Teddy, his mistress movie star Carla Pacelli and Ben former girlfriend Jenny Leigh.

Ben thinks someone pushed his larger than life father off the edge. He knows the revised will is a powerful motive for those who gained wealth and for those who lost wealth. Carla receives $10 million; Jenny gets $1 million; Adam inherits $100,000; and Clarice and Teddy were left out of the new will with each obtaining nothing. Using what he learned as an agricultural envoy in Afghanistan, Ben investigates.

This is a great thriller filled with stunning but plausible twists as Ben’s training and experience in duplicity comes in handy when dealing with the extended Blaine clan. As the protagonist uncovers secrets he wished he never knew, readers will relish his exhilarating investigation. Fall from Grace will be on most short lists for mystery of the year.

Harriet Klausner

Force of Nature-C.J. Box

Force of Nature

C.J. Box

Putnam, Mar 20 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780399158261

In the Saddlestring, Wyoming area Joe Pickett and Nate Romanowski are friends though the former knows the latter has concealed something from him. In 1991, Nate was assigned to a Special Forces unit when the “Five” led by Lieutenant John Nemecek did something terrible. He walked away, but knew one day they would come for him. That day of reckoning arrives when a gutted Large Merle tells Nate in his last breath: “The Five. They’ve deployed.”

Nate understands no one stands in the way of Nemecek’s rising political career especially those who witnessed the atrocity. He knows the tactic Nemecek uses to kills those on that infamous patrol. His goons will get at him but won’t go directly; instead they terrorize friends and family. The Five will assault the Pickett family. Upset for what has come to his friends and concluding there is Nowhere to Run, Nate believes that the only way to defeat the enemy is outside the law, but doubts his game warden friend can walk the crooked path. Joe has his friend’s back though he prefers not going “rogue” but a High Noon confrontation with Nemecek’s minion is imminent and he must choose between life and the law.

With a nod to the movie Red, bestselling author C.J. Box has written a fresh fantastic Pickett thriller (see Cold Wind) as fans of the series finally learn what recurring support character Nate has hidden though numerous books. The villain has a powerful network in Wyoming and Idaho that informs him who is where and identifying their loved ones so he can arrange their deaths. It is Nate’s turn through the Pickett clan is a Force of Nature that is not to be trifled with. Each book in the series is better than the one before.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Finding Our Way Home-Charlene Ann Baumbich

Finding Our Way Home

Charlene Ann Baumbich

WaterBrook, Mar 13 2012, $13.99

ISBN 9780307444738

Sasha Davis left Wanonishaw, Minnesota on a scholarship to Juilliard when she was seventeen years old. Twenty years later after starting on the road to becoming an international star as the principal dancer at the Boston-based Mid Central Festival Ballet, Sasha’s career ends in a horrible accident. Depressed, she returns home to allow herself to have a self-pity party as she cannot lift her legs without immense pain; her career is over and perhaps her marriage to her dance partner Donald Major too as she refuses to see him and he refuses to visit her.

Sasha finds encouragement from her optimistic caretaker big boned nineteen years old Evelyn Burt, who has family issues of her own, but refuses to let them get her down though she knows she will have to choose between loved ones. However, the former prima ballerina’s comfort comes from the snow globe of a dancer that her mother gave her when she started the odyssey.

Readers will enjoy this contemporary character study in which Charlene Ann Baumbich enables the audience to understand what each key player, especially the disabled dancer, thinks. Although the audience learns rather late the cause of the estrangement and why the teen feels trapped, patient fans will enjoy the latest wonderful Snowglobe Connections saga (see Divine Appointments) as two female opposites forge a sisterly bond that helps both of them.