Friday, March 30, 2012

The Good Father-Diane Chamberlain

The Good Father

Diane Chamberlain

Mira, Apr 247 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9780778313465

In Carolina Beach, North Carolina, twenty-three year old Travis Brown is a single dad raising his four year old daughter Bella alone; as he has since her birth. Desperate to bring in some needed income since the dearth of construction jobs in the area, he takes on a risky illegal job in Raleigh; leaving Bella with thirtyish Erin, whose baby daughter recently died in an accident.

Not far away, Bella’s mother Robin regrets her decision four years ago. She struggles with adapting to being the fiancée of charismatic Dale running for the mayor of Beaufort. Robin, Travis, and Bella each in their own way focus on what they respectively believe is the best for the toddler; not grasping by doing so they feel a bit better about themselves.

Rotating perspective between the three prime adults, The Good Father is an engaging character study as the trio want to do what is best to the child who ties them together. Readers learn the past and present and future hopes of the prime trio (and to a lesser degree game-maker Mike) as each is fully developed with doubts and trepidations but encouraged by Bella to be better than they think they can be. Although the ending is over the top of Mount Mitchell, fans will agree “nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina …” (Carolina In The Morning by Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn) with Diane Chamberlain as our hostess.

Harriet Klausner

Last Will-Liza Marklund

Last Will

Liza Marklund

Atria/Emily Bestler Books, Apr 10 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9781451606928

In Stockholm, Evening Post investigative reporter Annika Bengtzon covers the Nobel Prize gala. American assassin “Kitten” arrives at the event. Using a silencer, she shoots five people, killing Karolinska Institute’s Nobel committee chair Caroline von Behring and Israeli prize winner Aaron Wiesel.

As Annika tries to call in her story but cannot get through as the lines are jammed, Detective Inspector Q interviews her about the woman with the cold yellow eyes who pushed her and stepped on her foot. He also bans her from disclosing what she knows about the shootings during the investigation. Behind schedule to leave the “North Pole”, the Kitten races to her escape locale before her cohort exits without her. Meanwhile placed on paid leave by her editor, Bengtzon investigates starting with the Karolinska Institute.

The second Annika Bengtzon investigative thriller (see Red Wolf) is an exciting but confusing tale. The storyline provides insight into the Nobel Prize past and present through Bengzton’s inquiry as readers learn of scientific intrigue to garner the awards. Fans of Scandinavian noir will enjoy the intrepid reporter’s Nobel prize investigation.

Harriet Klausner

A Deeper Darkness-J.T. Ellison

A Deeper Darkness

J.T. Ellison

Mira, Apr 17 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9780778313205

In DC, former major Eddie Donovan is meeting his wife Susan and their two daughters (Ally and Vicky) for a stroll along the Tidal Basin to see the cherry blossoms. However, their fun ends when Eddie receives call. Not long afterward two Metro cops arrive at their home in McLean to inform her Eddie was shot dead in an apparent carjacking.

Eddie’s mom Eleanor calls Dr. Samantha Owens, head of Forensic Medical for the state of Tennessee. Sam used to date Eddie when she attended Georgetown medical school. That seems like a different life as now Sam buries herself in her work to numb the grief of the deaths of her husband and children due to flooding. Though she hesitates to deal with the violent death of another loved one, Sam travels from Nashville to DC to perform a second autopsy. She finds anomalies that lead her to believe the motive for the homicide had nothing to do with a carjacking. Following notes left behind by Eddie, Sam finds a string of murders in Afghanistan and the States as a killer observes her investigation.

With Taylor Jackson taking a respite (see So Close The Hand Of Death), J.T. Ellison introduces her myriad of fans to another super heroine starring a depressed woman who still is in the early stages of grief. Sam is a terrific protagonist as her flaws (crippling grief) and skills (mentoring the staff on forensics practices) humanize her. The whodunit is top rate as Ms. Ellison provides another powerful investigative thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Silenced-Allison Brennan


Allison Brennan

St. Martin’s Apr 24 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781250005953

Seven years ago as a high school senior Lucy Kincaid met a seemingly nice man on-line. When they finally met in person, he proved to be a psychopath. He attacked her, but she survived while her molester died (see Fear No Evil). Since her assault, her ambition has been to become an undercover FBI agent exposing cyber predators. Her dream is about to become true as she has been accepted to attend the FBI Academy.

As she waits for the training to begin, Lucy works with her mentor agent Noah Armstrong; investigating the murder of Wendy James a high-priced call girl linked to Congressman Crowley. Lucy’s analysis of the murder scene proves correct, but only angers Noah’s boss, Supervisory Special Agent Matt Slater who does not want an untrained wannabe in the field. Assigned to a different case, Lucy concludes her investigation of the murders of several call girls and a social worker is linked to the James homicide. With her private investigator boyfriend Seth Rogan helping her, Lucy seeks the connection, Ivy, before the killers murder her too.

The latest Kincaid-Rogan investigative thriller (see Love Me to Death) is an action-packed thriller from the moment the heroine alienates Slater and never slows down until the final confrontation. Lucy has come a long way since her assault as she has strong instincts, but still lacks confidence about her skills that Slater plays on to demoralize her as he thinks she is unworthy. Readers will enjoy Silenced as Lucy struggles to ignore her doubt and follow her gut.

Harriet Klausner

Hunted- Rebecca Zanetti


Rebecca Zanetti

Kensington Brava, Apr 24 2012, $14.0

ISBN: 9780758259271

Moira Dunne the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter witch deploys quantum physics to move around in time and space. One century ago she had a one night stand, but though she immensely enjoyed the tryst that was in the “past”.

However, Moira is unaware that her rendezvous with Connlan Kayrs turned out to be much more when he marked her as his mate. He has patiently waited decades for her to mature before Conn can claims Moira as his. Now Conn is back in a stunned Moira’s life as he insists he needs her and by the way her family’s support against a vampire clan creating a customized virus to attack the mates of the undead.

The third Dark Protectors romantic urban fantasy (see Fated and Claimed) is an engaging thriller that moves forward the overarching theme of a pending war; which is a two edged sword as the motive for the paranormal hostilities is not very lucid. The action-packed storyline is fast-paced as Conn claims the witch he is fated to mate with while betrayal leaves their relationship and their family and friends in peril. Sub-genre fans will enjoy Rebecca Zanetti’s exciting novel as the vampire and the witch prove absence makes the heart (and other body parts) grow fonder.

Harriet Klausner

Blue Magic-A.M. Dellamonica

Blue Magic

A.M. Dellamonica

Tor, Apr 10 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780765319487

In Indigo Springs, Oregon, arrested Sahara Knax is on trial for treason. Her former best friend, Astrid Letherwood struggles to end the wild spread of magic into the mundane world caused by her discovery and subsequent abuse by Sahara of the underground blue Vitauga River. Astrid understands why her late father hid his use of magic and his source though she was his apprentice; as she saw how easily power corrupted Sahara; turning her ex buddy into a megalomaniac. Others, including the government, demand to use the echantments for their personal desires and needs.

As she attempts to return the world to its natural balance, Astrid has only one person she can rely on to help her. Ironically hostage negotiator Will Forest was her jailer, but now is her biggest ally as love and understanding changed their relationship. Now all they have to do is first rebuild the world and then rebuild a family.

The sequel to Indigo Springs is a profound psychological urban fantasy that explores the impact of a new source of power, magic, into a technological world previously governed by the laws of physics. The heroine is superb as she tries to make things right but finds second and third order effects that convolute her efforts. Readers will appreciate A. M. Dellamonica’s thought-provoking thriller as magic may be one person’s nirvana but someone else pays the price (sounds like the American corporacy).

Harriet Klausner

Chicory Up-Irene Radford

Chicory Up

Irene Radford

Daw, May 1 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780756407247

Pixies are alive and well with a tribe residing in Ten Acre Wood. Many of the nearby human townsfolk of Skene Falls know Pixies exist and are responsible for their beautiful gardens. The Pixies banished Thistle Down from their community and soon afterward a magical spell changed her into a human. She and Dick Carrick fell in love and will marry as soon as a judge issues Thistle a birth certificate.

While the couple waits, there is trouble amongst the Pixies as the tribes are at war against each other egged on by the magic of the fairies who still want possession of Ten Acres Wood that hybrid Haywood Wheatland failed to obtain for them (see Thistle Down). Though young and inexperienced, Chicory knows a civil war will lead to the destruction of the Pixies replaced in the woods by the fairies. He and his followers form their own tribe living in the attic of Dick mother. Thistle Down returns to Pixie to end the belligerency, abate the out of control energy, and insure a new king is selected. Dick fears he is losing his beloved so he turns in to a Pixie due to Chicory’s magic. He enters the fray to insure Thistle Down’s back is covered.

Human or pixie, Thistle Down is a wise conscientious person who fulfills her obligations by going the extra kilometers. The Pixies bring plenty of amusing havoc unless you happen to be the human whose life is disrupted by the mischievous tribe. Filled with magic, intrigue and romance, readers will enjoy the latest entertaining lighthearted Pixie Chronicles woodland fantasy. Irene Radford is one of my favorite authors.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, March 29, 2012

I Am An Executioner: Love Stories-Rajesh Parameswaran

I Am An Executioner: Love Stories

Rajesh Parameswaran

Knopf, Apr 10 2012, $24.95

ISBN: 9780307595928

These fascinating nine tales provide wonderful Kafka twists to “Love Stories.” All the entries are well written with intriguing protagonists (not all human as a frustrated in love tiger stars in “The Infamous Bengal Ming” and an elephant writes her autobiography with footnotes in “Elephants in Captivity”) giving readers insight into the foibles of love. In “The Strange Case of Dr. Raju Gopalatahan”, CompUSA fires Gopie who takes out a shingle and becomes Dr. G. In the title story, the executioner pleads with his beloved that he is a bureaucrat doing his job, not a psychopath. Savirtri shows how much she loves her husband Ravi when she prepares for their Thanksgiving weekend with him lying dead on their floor. With the “Narration of Agent 97-1702’ investigating Subject 243-66328 and love in the future “On the banks of Table River (Planet Lucina, Andromeda Galaxy, AD 2319)” fans will appreciate this anthology’s amusing metaphysical satirizing of love.

Harriet Klausner

No Longer A Gentleman-Mary Jo Putney

No Longer A Gentleman

Mary Jo Putney

Zebra, Apr 24 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781420117233

In 1803 Paris, English Lord Grey Summers enjoys a tryst with Madame Camille Durand when her husband Ministry of Police high level official Claude Durand catches them together. With the Treaty of Amiens expired, instead of deportation or even the guillotine, Durand is locked away in a dungeon in Castle Durand.

In 1813, Lord Kirkland discusses the Summers disappearance with one of his best agents Cassie Fox, who lost her family and her faith during the Reign of Terror. Cassie accepts the difficult mission of “Rescuing Grey.” She succeeds in getting him out of the cell and castle, but they must cross enemy territory and the Channel. However, even in London they are unsafe from Durand and from their hearts as both survived harrowing experiences that has left their hearts shattered.

The latest Lost Lords Regency romantic suspense (see Nowhere Near Respectable, Loving a Lost Lord and Never Less than a Lady) is a super historical due to the protagonists who suffer from PTSD. Although Durand is over the top of the Tower of London and the Bastille as a monster, sub-genre fans will appreciate Mary Jo Putney’s enjoyable tale.

Harriet Klausner

Too Tempting Too Resist-Cara Elliott

Too Tempting Too Resist

Cara Elliott

Forever, Apr 24 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780446584562

Lord Connor Lynsley gave his employee Sara Hawkins ownership of the Wolf’s Lair when the former married (see Too Wicked To Wed). Just turned thirty, frequent customer Lord Gryffin Dwight wonders if his best friend’s happiness has left him feeling like an aging wastrel.

Lady Eliza Brentford enters the men only brothel gambling den in an attempt to prevent her brother Harry, Lord Leete from leaving the family impoverished. Raging, she immediately meets Harry’s role model Gryff. Harry invites Gryff to a house party, which he accepts but conceals his agenda to explore the estate. One kiss and handcuffs leave Gryff and Eliza in need, but as she falls in love she fears her heart will break when the rake leaves her for his next conquest.

Though protagonists are similar in tone as the first tale, the second Lords of Midnight historical romance is a fun story starring an impudent ripping skin heroine and a rake ready to retire from debauching,. Readers will enjoy aptly titled Too Tempting To Resist at any time, but especially when she is handcuffed in his room.

Harriet Klausner

Truth Like the Sun-Jim Lynch

Truth Like the Sun

Jim Lynch

Knopf, Apr 10 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780307958686

In 1962 young Roger Morgan ambitiously wants to make Seattle the in place in the Pacific Northwest. He successfully creates the Seattle World's Fair.

As the fortieth anniversary of the landmark World’s Fair is coming, septuagenarian Roger decides he wants to become the city’s mayor, which means defeating the incumbent. At the same time Seattle Post-Intelligencer decides to do a series of articles on the Fair and the symbol of the city that was created as part of the 1962 gala, the Space Needle. Reporter Helen Gulanos investigates the Fair and the "Father of the Space Needle". However, she begins to find corruption, bribes and other shady behavior on the part of Seattle’s golden boy including implications of a role in the cold case murder of a person ready to testify against Morgan. However, she has skeletons too involving libel charges that Morgan plans to deploy if necessary.

This is a super thriller that effortlessly moves back and forth between the Cold War era World’s Fair and the age of the Dotcom bubble bust in Seattle. The story line focuses on the backroom political dealings fueled by ambition that makes Lady Macbeth look like Mother Teresa. Although money in politics naively seems deemphasized (in fairness years before the Citizen United ruling), fans will enjoy the simmering release of information as we wonder whether Roger is an enthusiastic idealist or a brutal realist.

Harriet Klausner

Stolen Prey-John Sandford

Stolen Prey

John Sandford

Putnam, May 15 2012, $27.95

ISBN: 978-0399157684

Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension chief Lucas Davenport is determined to find and arrest the thin man and big woman who robbed him of $500 at an ATM and broke his wrist. He assigns his best detective Virgil Flowers to track down the pair. St. Paul leaders want Davenport’s team to locate the Naiads of the North valuable bronze statue before it is melted to sell as ore.

The case that garners media attention happens when the police are called to the affluent Brooks family home in Deephaven. A husband, wife, two daughters, and their dogs are tortured and murdered. The father Patrick owned Sunnie software that would make an ideal money laundering locale. .Three Mexican thugs come from their country searching for their missing 22 million. At the same time a computer gamer and his female accomplice tries to convert money into gold. Nothing comes together, but Davenport and his team diligently work the cases.

Nobody writes a police procedural better than John Sandford consistently does. The glimpse into Davenport’s home life humanizes the super cop; as does his need to incarcerate the two thieves though he will learn revenge can turn humorously horse sh*tty. The prime murder mystery is a cleverly devised serpentine whodunit that twists like a Mobius band. It keeps readers up late to learn what happened.

Harriet Klausner

The Impossible Cube-Steven Harper

The Impossible Cube

Steven Harper

Roc, May 1 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451464507

By 1857, the “clockwork plague” disease turned people into brainless zombies. A few of the inflicted become short-lived mechanical geniuses creating technological advances. England and China emerged from the calamity as superpowers, with both using clockwork geniuses to push their country to the top. However, in England a cure for the clockwork plague zombie syndrome was discovered but the government’s top secret Third Ward rationalizes that deploying it to save lives will destroy the kingdom as China would still have its mechanical gurus. They try to hide the cure in The Doomsday Vault, but Lady Alice Michaels and Gavin Ennock steal the elixir and begin releasing it while agents of the now defunct Third Ward led by Lieutenant Susan Phipps chase them in France.

Phipps and her goons (Glenda Teasdale and Simon D’Arco) catch Gavin who has caught the plague thanks to Alice’s late Aunt Edwinna. Alice, Click the Cat, Feng and Dr. Clef rescue Gavin. They flee to Luxembourg for supplies while on their way to China where they hope to find a cure for the clockwork mechanical genius syndrome before Gavin and Clef die. Using the new wireless communication technology invented by a clockwork genius, Phipps pursues the traitors.

The second Clockwork Empire steampunk alternate historical is an exciting adventure thriller that starts off with action and never slows down until a confrontation in the Ukraine. Fast-paced, readers will enjoy the escapes of the Bostonian and the lady as she is apt to rescue him even more than he does her. With a nod to Jules Verne’s Five Week in a Balloon (though an African crossing), readers will appreciate Steven Harper’s exhilarating trek across the European continent.

Harriet Klausner

The Master of Heathcrest Hall-Galen Beckett

The Master of Heathcrest Hall

Galen Beckett

Spectra, Mar 27 2012, $16.00

ISBN: 9780553807608

The old king of Altania is dead, and the coronation of his heir has been delayed by competing political and mage leaders coveting power. The Ashen see the chaos as an opportunity to overwhelm the kingdom, but the power brokers squabble over their role in the new government rather than insuring what is best for the country.

Ivy Quent feels euphoric over her husband the mage’s recent endeavors and her own in Evengrove. However, she will soon conclude her optimism is an illusion when her extended family is in peril from those willing to cause a civil war while an external threat intensifies; all for a little more power. Pregnant, Ivy tries to keep her family safe while dealing with betrayal. She finds allies in the mage Rafferdy and illusionist Garrit of the Theatre of the Moon.

The third Quent dark fantasy (see The House On Durrow Street, and The Magicians and Mrs. Quent) super thriller with several stunning bit plausible twists. The key to this entry and its predecessors is the Beckett mythology feels genuine due to the fascinating eccentric cast and the title abode. Ivy is a brave fabulous heroine who earns the respect of the audience. Galen Beckett scores the hat trick with her third entertaining Mrs. Quent quirky thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Silence of Mockingbirds: The Memoir of a Murder-Karen Spears Zacharias

A Silence of Mockingbirds: The Memoir of a Murder

Karen Spears Zacharias

MacAdam/Cage Publishing, Apr 1 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 978-1596923751

In 2008 in Corvallis, Oregon, three year old Karly Sheehan was beaten to death. Shawn Wesley Field, the boyfriend of Karly’s mother Sarah Sheehan was convicted of the toddler’s murder. Using available electronic and written documents and interviews with Karly’s father David, reporter Karen Spears Zacharias, a one-time friend of the mother, tells what led to the tragedy while making a case that society failed to protect Karly.

This is a sad but engaging “memoir of a murder” of a little girl though the entry lacks the full depth of what happened as Ms. Sheehan and Mr. Field refused to participate. Thus the account is based on public records and commentary from Mr. Sheehan, officials and the community as well as the author’s knowledge; the latter is a two-edged sword as the author seems too personal with her condemnation of the mother). Additionally though a tertiary participant, Ms. Zacharias injects herself too much into her account of what went wrong as if she is writing a fictional family drama in which she is a key character. Still true crime readers will want to know what caused the tragedy that apparently most people believe was avoidable and led to a law based on the premise that adults must protect children

Harriet Klausner

The Beginner's Goodbye-Anne Tyler

The Beginner's Goodbye

Anne Tyler

Knopf, Apr 3 2012, $24.95

ISBN: 9780307957276

Thirty something Aaron works at the family publishing firm that prints the Beginners self-help series. He is happily mattered to older Dorothy, a doctor whom he met when she was working on a medical book published by his company. Aaron believes life is good in spite of a useless arm and leg until a tree crashes into their home killing Dorothy. The widower struggles with his grief.

Aaron moves back into the house he grew up in that sister Nandina owns in Baltimore. He begins seeing and hearing Dorothy’s ghost though he knows that is probably a PTSD defense mechanism for him to deny she has moved on; he also realizes his perfect view of their marriage ignored cracks. Burying himself in his work, Aaron realizes the guidebooks on moving on in life are generalities as grief is customized.

This is an engaging character study of a man who struggles with loss until he begins to understand that the whole (of one’s essence) equals the sum of all the parts (including the onetime microscopic). Complex as the audience learns much about Aaron, Dorothy and their marriage, as love does not denote happiness and camaraderie, as it can be destructive as well as constructive. Aaron’s surreal path to enlightenment never quite gels as he seems more childlike rather than a thirty-six year old widower mourning the tragic death of his wife. Still readers will enjoy The Beginner’s Guide to coping with grief.

Harriet Klausner

Invitation to Scandal-Bronwen Evans

Invitation to Scandal

Bronwen Evans

Kensington Brava, Apr 24 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758259219

In 1809 Kent, although he knows he does this to prove his father’s innocent of a treason charge, Rufus Knight, Viscount Strathmore thinks what sacrifices he does for his country as he plots to capture the notorious smuggler “Dark Shadow.” Rheda Kerrich plans one more shipment before the Dark Shadow fades into local mythology. However, her final mission falls apart when she becomes trapped by a barrel of French brandy. Rufus finds her pinned down and helps her up.

Attracted to Rhe, he plans to seduce her while continuing his hunt for the Dark Shadow. Rhe feels likewise about the viscount, but knows her loyalty is to save her family from disgrace and her village from poverty during these difficult times. As he begins to uncover the identity of the Dark Shadow, Rufus and Rhe fall in love, but her persona stands in their way.

This is a fabulous Regency romance (see Invitation to Ruin) starring two strong individuals. Both strongly believe in honor and loyalty, which ironically may keep them separated as each has other people to care about. The internalized conflict between different loves makes for a strong Napoleonic Era tale.

Harriet Klausner

Kiss The Bride-Deirdre Martin, Christie Ridgway and Laura Florand

Kiss The Bride

Deirdre Martin, Christie Ridgway and Laura Florand

Kensington Brava, Apr 24 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758272881

“Early Bird Special” by Deirdre Martin. Dane Fine is in Palm Beach working on opening of an upscale boutique while staying with her grandparents in their retirement community. They believe their granddaughter and Josh Green the landscaper are a perfect match, but her next assignment is Paris.

“Wedding Ink.” by Christie Ridgway. Wedding vows writer Charlotte Bond reluctantly agrees to the bride Audrey Langford’s demand that she attend with the best man Luke Harper. A year ago after a fight he fled to Qatar on an engineering project.

“All’s Fair in Love and Chocolate” by Laura Florand. Food blogger Eloise “Ellie” Layne goes undercover in Paris to learn the secrets of French chocolatier Simon Casset. Although he knows who she is, he loves kisses.

These are three entertaining contemporaries starring nice lead characters who learn what love is.

Harriet Klausner

Naked Angel-Logan Belle

Naked Angel

Logan Belle

Kensington Aphrodisia, Mar 27 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758261625

Performer Mallory is ecstatic as her new burlesque club The Painted Lady opens tonight. While she performs on stage, her boyfriend of four years Alec proposes. However, he also added a stipulation that she stops performing.

Though it hurts her deeply, costume designer Gemma knows she is frozen tundra in bed. Encouraged by a dominatrix, when she meets the married financial backer of the Painted Lady, Gemma proves she can be equatorial hot.

Nadia left the stage as a ballerina due to an injury, but takes to the stage of The Painted lady. Men love her show except the one she secretly loves who owns the ballet company.

The third Club Burlesque erotic tale (see Fallen Angel and Blue Angel) is a wonderful contemporary that intertwines the three sexcapades subplots into a cohesive engaging albeit torrid novel starring three fine couples.

Harriet Klausner

Shadow And Betrayal-Daniel Abraham

Shadow And Betrayal

Daniel Abraham

Orb, Mar 27 2012, $17.99

ISBN: 9780765331649

A Shadow In Summer. The city-state Saraykeht depends on the magic of detained Andat spirit, Seedless, compelled to do the biddings of the sorcerer Heshai-kyo as long as his owner lives, but once his possessor perishes, he dies too. The Galts Empire conquers everything in its path except for Saraykeht in spite of the powerful thrusts of the invincible military. Using trade as a means to get small forces inside the city, the Galts plot the murder of Heshai-kyo, which subsequently would lead to the demise of Seedless and ultimately Saraykeht. Teacher Milah-Kvo catches student Otah Machi sneaking out of the city and suggests his pupil become a black robe bodyguard to an andat and its owner. As Otah learns about the assassination, Seedless works to destroy the mind of Heshai-kyo.

A Betrayal In Winter. In Machi the realm is ruled by the Khai and when a new leader is needed the ruler's sons fight to the death to win the throne. The last one standing is the new Khai. The Khai has more than three sons; he has given them to the poets who keep the cities at peace and bring in wealth from other countries. Otah Machi, the sixth son, refused to take the brand, rejected the post, and has made a life for himself as Itani Naygu a courier loved by inn keeper Kiyan. When the eldest son is murdered, the two younger sons go into hiding while the people (commoner and noble) believe Otah was behind the assassination.

This omnibus collection reprints the first two terrific tales in the superb Long Price Quartet fantasy saga. Fifteen years apart, the powerful cast makes everything in this strange magical world seem plausible and exciting.

Harriet Klausner

Blood Secret-Sharon Page

Blood Secret

Sharon Page

Kensington Aphrodisia, Mar 27 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758250957

Though irate at her foolish brother, Lucy Drake knows his gambling debts are a family obligation requiring repayment. Lucy has no money to make remittance, but has one item of value, her virginity. She offers her body to the man holding her brother’s markers Sinjin, the Duke of Greystone. He accepts her terms of a fortnight but conceals his real agenda from her.

Greystone has two causes, which Drake unwittingly abets. A vampire, he plans to seduce the information as to the whereabouts of kidnapped nephew taken by her father. Once he rescues his blood, he will fulfill his vow to kill shapeshifting dragons like Lucy Drake. Fourteen nights later, Greystone finds he craves more with Lucy.

The latest Blood Deep heated historical romantic urban fantasy (see Blood Deep, Blood Red and Blood Rose) is a fabulous paranormal thriller as the male protagonist hates that he thinks “I love Lucy.” He must decide between his heart’s oath and his heart’s desire. Fans will enjoy this fine entry as the vampire and the dragon shifter face dilemmas that could end tragic.

Harriet Klausner

Shadow And Betrayal-Daniel Abraham

Shadow And Betrayal

Daniel Abraham

Orb, Mar 27 2012, $17.99

ISBN: 9780765331649

A Shadow In Summer. The city-state Saraykeht depends on the magic of detained Andat spirit, Seedless, compelled to do the biddings of the sorcerer Heshai-kyo as long as his owner lives, but once his possessor perishes, he dies too. The Galts Empire conquers everything in its path except for Saraykeht in spite of the powerful thrusts of the invincible military. Using trade as a means to get small forces inside the city, the Galts plot the murder of Heshai-kyo, which subsequently would lead to the demise of Seedless and ultimately Saraykeht. Teacher Milah-Kvo catches student Otah Machi sneaking out of the city and suggests his pupil become a black robe bodyguard to an andat and its owner. As Otah learns about the assassination, Seedless works to destroy the mind of Heshai-kyo.

A Betrayal In Winter. In Machi the realm is ruled by the Khai and when a new leader is needed the ruler's sons fight to the death to win the throne. The last one standing is the new Khai. The Khai has more than three sons; he has given them to the poets who keep the cities at peace and bring in wealth from other countries. Otah Machi, the sixth son, refused to take the brand, rejected the post, and has made a life for himself as Itani Naygu a courier loved by inn keeper Kiyan. When the eldest son is murdered, the two younger sons go into hiding while the people (commoner and noble) believe Otah was behind the assassination.

This omnibus collection reprints the first two terrific tales in the superb Long Price Quartet fantasy saga. Fifteen years apart, the powerful cast makes everything in this strange magical world seem plausible and exciting.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Ultimate Allergy-Free Snack Cookbook: Over 100 Kid-Friendly Recipes for the Allergic Child-Judi and Shari Zucker

The Ultimate Allergy-Free Snack Cookbook: Over 100 Kid-Friendly Recipes for the Allergic Child

Judi and Shari Zucker

Square One, Nov 1 2011, $15.95

ISBN 9780757003462

Although the target is kids, this cookbook serves as an easy to use guide by adults as it contains much more than just recipes. The first chapter provides detailed information on offending foods, cross contamination (I am well aware of reactions due to this), and precautions to take at home and outside like at school. A table involving eight common allergens is easy to follow and very enlightening as sometimes the offender is hidden in a product you would not expect to contain that ingredient like the peanut protein may be in pie crust. The second chapter includes what to stock in the kitchen with advice on using cold-pressed fats instead of heat processed and steps to thoroughly washing fruits and vegetables. Finally there are, as advertised in the title, the healthy snacks recipes targeting allergic children, but also can be used by adults and allergy-free children. Although our allergy free adult child (hope I have not caused a kunahara) no longer lives with us, we tested a few of the recipes; (OMG over a dozen tasty sugar free smoothies) as Judi and Shari Zucker provides an easy to use cookbook that adults as well as children can make and enjoy the snacks.

Harriet Klausner

The First Warm Evening Of The Year-Jamie M. Saul

The First Warm Evening Of The Year

Jamie M. Saul

Morrow, Apr 24 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780061449727

Voice over freelancer Geoffrey Tremont enjoys his New York City singles lifestyle when he receives a registered letter from attorney Frank Remsen of Shady Grove, New York. His client Laura Stevenson wants him to act as her estate executor. Geoffrey remembers her as Laura Welles who attended Juilliard while he went to Colombia before she moved to Paris twenty years ago as a jazz musician. Curious he calls Frank who says she did not want him to see her like she was just before she died a week ago.

Stunned while thinking back to why they drifted apart, he goes to Shady Grove where Geoffrey meets Laura's best friend widow Marion Ballantine. He falls in love with her with the way she warmly welcomed him. However, he has a Manhattan girlfriend Rita and she has Eliot Wooten though attracted to the man whom she previously seen in a caricature owned by their mutual late friend.

This is a warm character driven romance starring two protagonists struggling with their shocking instant attraction to one another. Each has a significant other and some baggage with hers being much more serious than his. Although there is no action, fans who relish a profound insightful psychological relationship drama will want to read The First Warm Evening Of The Year, wondering how it will end.

Harriet Klausner

Overseas-Beatriz Williams


Beatriz Williams

Putnam, May 10 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9780399157646

In 1916 in Amiens, France, a woman waits outside a church for British Army Captain the Honorable Julian Ashford. When he leaves the church, she calls his name. He turns to her without any recognition of who she is as she keeps saying to herself don’t faint before falling into his arms.

In 2007 in New York City, Wall Street analyst Kate Wilson meets billionaire investment genius Julian Laurence at a meeting. Though she is pretty and intelligent, he could have any woman in the world. To everyone attending the meeting including Kate, Julian seems to have fallen in love at first sight. Kate feels the same powerful pull; so she wonders why he abruptly ends their relationship just as she is accused of leaking him proprietary information. Julian has been waiting since 1916 for the woman who saved his life to during the trench warfare to catch up to him while modern day Kate struggles with his WWI British officer’s sentiment re women.

Mindful of Somewhere In Time by Richard Matheson, this is a great time travel romance that deftly moves back and forth between 2007 and 1916. The protagonists are fully developed, which enables the audience to ignore plausibility and enjoy a tender love story that defies time and much more.

Harriet Klausner

Deadly Negatives-Russell Hill

Deadly Negatives

Russell Hill

Pleasure Boat Studio/Caravel, May 15 2012, $16.00

ISBN 9781929355846

In California, photographer Michael McSwain visits Bill Fosberg’s camera shop. Both are throwbacks to an era when a camera used film. Nonagenarian Bill worked for the San Francisco Call Bulletin and was a combat photographer in WWII; while Michael shoots B&W portraits.

Michael is euphoric when he notices a classic Leica M3 camera, which was made between 1954 and 1966. Bill says a friend’s widow brought it in so he can sell it to a thirty-five years old dinosaur smelling of dark room chemicals. The camera belonged to Aaron Sturgis who made history with his photos. Inside the original box, Michael finds hidden negatives. He visits Aaron’s widow Emma, who pleads with him to destroy the negatives before they destroy him. Unable to resist, he develops the film in his dark room. To his horror Michael realizes Sturgis captured American atrocities in Viet Nam to include a young soldier turned wealthy politician. Emma’s daughter Olivia persuades Michael to team up with her in a blackmail scheme, but psychopathic Skinner makes a move to extort the money but hides his agenda while thugs continue to assault Michael.

Deadly Negatives is an exhilarating hard boiled amateur sleuth thriller from the moment the “messenger” visits Michael at his home and never slows down until the final confrontation. Action-packed while also displaying a fondness for a by-gone era, readers will enjoy Michael’s escapades to learn the truth about what happened in Viet Nam decades ago that has made him a target of dangerous people.

Harriet Klausner

The Columbus Affair-Steve Berry

The Columbus Affair

Steve Berry

Ballantine, May 15 2012, $27.00

ISBNL 9780345526519

Columbus pleaded with Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand to fund a fourth trip to the New World, but they refused for four years until suddenly they agreed. Suspicious, he and his friend de Torres make it to Jamaica where they pray no one finds what they hid.

Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist Tom Sagan cannot accept how far he has fallen in disgrace since he filed a report on a war crime eight years ago that subsequently was proven false. He lost his family, his friends, his vocation and now he considers his life. Tom never reconciled with his late wife or deceased father after each cut him out of their life. The one that hurts most is his daughter Alle who demanded he leave when he showed up at the funeral of her mother and his ex-wife two years ago.

As he has a gun to his head, a man taps his window showing him a picture of a bound Alle. Zachariah Simon informs Tom, Alle is his prisoner and if he failed to cooperate she will be raped. Simon orders Tom to dig up the body of his deceased father, a devout Jew as he believes that the disgraced reporter’s renowned archeologist grandfather left him with Columbus’ secrets that would rock the world.

This is an exciting action-packed over the top of the Wailing Wall thriller that readers will struggle to put down. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment Simon shows Tom his IPad displaying the threat to Alle and never takes a respite until the final confrontation. Fans will be hooked as Simon seeks much more than just Columbus’ secrets while Tom seeks his daughter’s safety as redemption means little to him anymore.

Harriet Klausner

The Blood of Heroes-Joseph Nassise

The Blood of Heroes

Joseph Nassise

Harper Voyager, May 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN 9780062048752

The war fought in the trenches was the most brutal in history as men died to move the front inches. It became even more vicious when deadly gas was released onto the battlefield. However, the Germans, knowing they are losing, turn the combat evil when they deploy the ultimate weapon T Leiche; the “corpse gas” that reanimates dead soldiers to return to the western front. By late 1917, the Kaiser and his army of dead appear heading to victory.

His superior officers assign American Expeditionary Force Captain Michael “Madman” Burke with his artificial “clockwork” arm to rescue his estranged half-brother, legendary American ace Major Jack Freeman; captured behind the lines. Burke assembles a small team consisting of his top aide Sergeant Moore, big-game hunter Clayton Manning and Tesla protégé and supernatural expert Professor Dan Richards. To reach the prison where Freeman is held, the quartet must travel across land controlled by the shamblers, undead soldiers and other monstrous German creations. If they miraculously reach the prison, they will learn why the brass sent them on a suicide mission.

The first Great Undead War historical urban fantasy is a fabulous fast-paced thriller that never slows down throughout. Filled with action, readers will wonder what harrowing stuff Joseph Nassise will next toss at his heroes. The military gadgets enhance the fun of a terrific steampunk paranormal historical military thriller mindful of Lester dent’s Doc Savage.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, March 26, 2012

Fat Is The New 30: The Sweet Potato Queens' Guide to Coping with (the crappy parts of) Life-Jill Conner Browne

Fat Is The New 30: The Sweet Potato Queens' Guide to Coping with (the crappy parts of) Life

Jill Conner Browne

Amazon Publishing, Mar 20 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781612181400

Living up to its title, Sweet Potato Queen Jill Conner Browne uses humor to guide her readers dealing with life’s dreck (I’m from the south Bronx; not south of the Mason-Dixon). Ms. Browne provides insight on using proper manners when coping with economic woes as recessions, depressions and inflations are life cycles that require the wage earner and the unemployed to hide our feelings since the 99% we belong to prefer to suffer in private. Very critical to your well-being is to celebrate your birthday with a smile and allow others to pretend they revere you on your personal holiday as like all “The Holidays: Horrifying Tales of Human Sacrifice” (ours) is expected. Learn to reengineer the bad (as my husband says slice off the empty part of the cup so it is filled) or at least have fun by using psychologically accepted defense mechanisms like watermelon muses. Well written with funny anecdotes, no sane reasonable person can deny that Fat Is The New 30 is a fun guide as to how to cope with crap.

Harriet Klausner

The Reason Is You-Sharla Lovelace

The Reason Is You

Sharla Lovelace

Berkley, Apr 3 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780425247129

Except for visits to her widower dad, Dani Shane never planned to return to Bethany, Texas as she knew she was the nutcase who did not belong. However, having lost her position as a graphic designer in Dallas due to downsizing, she and her sixteen year old daughter Riley move back home to live with Dani’s Pop.

Dani is taken aback when she sees Riley chatting with her childhood friend Alex. As a teen she wanted him, but he was too old for her; and besides he has been dead for over four decades. She did not anticipate Riley inheriting her ability to see ghosts. Though she still is attracted to him, Dani’s first concern is easing Riley’s awareness of ghosts and how to conceal her unwanted gift so she is not labeled crazy. She obtains work at the Bait-n-Feed. Distracted, Dani rear ends Jason Mller’s BMW. She says she will take care of the damage, but he is nasty. He follows her to the store where she learns he is the A-hole owner of Bait-n-Feed. Dani revises her original opinion of Mr. Miller as she soon finds herself attracted to her boss and her ghostly BFF.

The Reason Is You is a wonderful paranormal family drama starring a beleaguered heroine who wants to keep her teenage daughter safe from the anguish and ridicule she suffered. Her life is complicated enough from ghost morphing through walls, but made more convoluted when she feels fickle for falling in love with two males. Readers will enjoy Dani’s homecoming as she learns life is the rose as much or more so as the thorn.

Harriet Klausner

Act of Terror-Marc Cameron

Act of Terror

Marc Cameron

Pinnacle, May 1 2012, $9.99

ISBN 9780786024957

In freedom of information databases, Jericho Quinn works for the USAF Office of Special Investigations; in reality the President deploys him as an “other government agent” (OGA) who works those scenarios in which the finesse of the security agencies fail and a hammer is needed; he and his OGA operative peers are the hammers.

Terror strikes have frightened the nation leaving many dead from suicide bombers and most people panicking. Allegedly loyal Americans like the Deputy Director of the CIA and a cop go on a mass murdering spree. The pending wedding of the vice president’s daughter poses a great target for terrorists. Security will be at its highest to include Quinn and OGA, but he is also on the government’s anti-terrorist assassination list.

With collateral damage an occupational hazard, the latest Quinn OGA thriller (see National Security) is an exhilarating and gory over the top of the Washington Monument thriller. Although the key players are stereotypical, the fast-paced storyline will excite fans who enjoy action, action, and bloody more action as Jericho terrorizes the terrorists.

Harriet Klausner

Last Rites-Lisa Desrochers

Last Rites

Lisa Desrochers

Tor, May 8 2012, $9.99

ISBN: 9780765328106

Still raging over Luc Cain the demon turning traitor and becoming human (see Personal Demons), King Lucifer continues to send Hell’s minion to collect the soul of Frannie Cavanaugh. However, she has some powerful protectors from Heaven as well as Luc formerly from Hell; Gabe the angel came to collect her soul, but defends her fiercely. She also has a guardian angel, her twin brother Matt who died in childhood.

Lilith killed her BFF Taylor and did something to Luc; Matt has also been destroyed. Before more family and friends die; Fannie must gain control over her magic. Time is running out on the teen who just wants to matriculate at UCLA instead of being the foci of a war between Heaven and Hell.

The third Personal Demons young adult romantic urban fantasy (see ORIGINAL SIN) is a terrific thriller as the heroine remains the rope in a swaying soulful tug of war. Action-packed with a cheeky protagonist keeping the exciting paranormal romantic storyline focused as she struggles with who to trust since Lilith entered the fray. Readers of all ages will enjoy Frannie’s frantic fight to keep her soul on earth until she collects social security for a few decades.

Harriet Klausner

Wishful Thinking-Gabi Stevens

Wishful Thinking

Gabi Stevens

Tor, Apr 24 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780765365057

The Council condemned the three Godmothers (Aunts Lily, Hyacinth and Rose) as traitors. Meanwhile the trio continues their transition quest to find new godmothers (see The Wish List and As You Wish). They select weaver Stormy Jones-Smythe of Carlsbad, California, raised by wizards but uninterested in her talent.

The Council orders Hunter Merrick to allegedly protect the newest godmother, but his job is to watch her to insure she does not act seditiously. They are attracted to one another, but their loyalties are divided as she owes her allegiance to the Godmothers and him to the Council. Stormy believes the only way for her have the godmothers and Hunter in her life is to expose the insidious plot against her mentors. However, her beloved is pledged to prevent her from investigating who has framed the godmothers.

The final Time of Transition fantasy is a terrific timely thriller starring an intrepid heroine who may not want to be a godmother (just like her predecessors in the previous novels), but seeks to expose those behind the war on fairy godmothers. Hunter is caught between his heart and his pledge as he must prevent his beloved from her inquiry while he wants to help her with her probe.

Harriet Klausner

White Horse-Alex Adams

White Horse

Alex Adams

Atria/Emily Bestler Books, Apr 17 2012, $19.99

ISBN: 9781451642995

Thirty years old custodial worker Zoe Marshall cleans cages and floors at a pharmaceutical research center. Her biggest problem is to avoid naming the subjects of the experiments, mice. She is pregnant but her boyfriend vanished. Now the president announces that mankind is becoming extinct.

Stunned and realizing over the past year plus, she lived in a bubble while family, friends, acquaintances and fellow workers died from this plague, Zoe panics. She decides to see the world and begins an odyssey into the apocalypse; unaware that the White Horse has claimed victory with few left for conquest.

White Horse is an amazing apocalyptic thriller in which events rotate between before and after. Zoe is wonderful as a frightened individual on The Road (Cormac McCarthy) who finds a terrible world spiraling to death yet meets pockets of resistance by caring people helping one another survive. She learns during her travails what made humanity unique is compassion for the nurturing of others. Her lesson learned becomes her mantra that when one person defies the end with a kindness, hope remains alive for others.

Harriet Klausner

Banner of the Damned-Sherwood Smith

Banner of the Damned

Sherwood Smith

Daw, Apr 3 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780756406776

Emras the Scribe always adhered to the three rules of her profession: do not interfere; keep the peace; and tell the truth. Now she writes her defense as she stands before the judges who determine whether she lives or dies. She scribes that she tried not to interfere; meant to keep the peace; and tells the absolute truth. She begins her story when she was fourteen working as a kitchen servant when a scribe teacher invited her to test for the Fundamentals.

Childless Queen Alian the Second of Colend names her sister Princess Lasthavais as heir to the throne. However, Princess Lasva’s euphoria ends with the announcement that her sibling is carrying the heir. Despondent over her loss and with no future at home, Princess Lasva leaves the kingdom. She meets Prince Ivandred of Marloven Hesea whose kingdom’s royal mage has dealings with Colendi’s enemy, magical Norsunder. Attracted to Marloven, Lasva also is in awe of what he and his subjects can do especially with magic. They marry. Queen Alian, worried about her sister, sends well-regarded Emras to protect Lasva, but the scribe arrives too late.

Four centuries after the fantastic Inda fantasy (see INDA, THE FOX, KING'S SHIELD and TREASON'S SHORE), Sherwood Smith returns with another superb complex thriller. Filled with action, the story line is told from the point of view of the scribe who strictly makes a case that she tells the truth with this document though she may have crossed the line re rules one and two. Readers learn of Sherwood Smith’s theory of relativity as new perspectives on previous key events (scribed in the Inda fantasy) surface. Fast-paced yet profound, Banner of the Damned is a terrific tale.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Last Romanov-Dora Levy Mossanen

The Last Romanov

Dora Levy Mossanen

Sourcebooks, Apr 3 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781402265945

In 1887 she was born an orphan in an ancient forest near the Romanov Palace. Still alive in 1991, Darya Borodina Spiridova has seen so much change in her hundred and four years especially in beloved Russia. She remembers how the Royal family adopted her as one of them and their advisor Rasputin the “Mad Monk” proclaiming she will be the cause of the Romanov downfall due to her paranormal gift granted by the Ancient One. Seeking redemption, Darya believes that can only come if she locates the long lost Last Romanov. On her journey for salvation, she looks deeply into her past focusing on her role when the Revolution and subsequent executions happened.

This is a great tale that provides the audience with a deep look at the end of the Romanovs though the quest of a centenarian as the Soviet Union disintegrates. Engaging from the moment readers meet Darya, Dora Levy Mossanen writes a wonderful mystical historical as the road to redemption has plenty of detours and roadblocks; many of which are created within one’s mind.

Harriet Klausner

The Shoemaker’s Wife-Adriana Trigiani

The Shoemaker’s Wife

Adriana Trigiani

Harper, Apr 3 2012, $26.99

ISBN: 9780061257094

In the Italian Alps, seven years old Ciro Lazzari is numb with denial as his grieving recently widowed mother places him and his older brother Eduardo in a convent before vanishing. At the same time Enza Ravanelli lives nearby while raised in a warm poor family.

As teens, they meet when Ciro digs the grave for Enza’s sister. They are attracted to one another, but he observes scandalous behavior by the priest so the father exiles him and his sibling to Little Italy in New York where Ciro becomes the shoemaker’s apprentice. Soon afterward Enza is also forced to go to America where she finds work in Hoboken. When they meet in Manhattan, they realize they still remain attracted to one another. However, he fails to act on his feelings before being shipped overseas to fight on the western front. While she obtains work as a seamstress at the Metropolitan Opera House a reflective and despondent, Ciro prays he can go home soon to correct his greatest mistake; failing to ask his beloved to marry him.

This is a super historical epic thriller that grips readers with a welcoming of immigrants who have brought so much to this country but also contains a profound message in which living denotes overcoming what you lost. The early twentieth century storyline is brought alive by tidbits like the type of combat in WWI and the power of the Church in Italy (and to a lesser degree in New York and New Jersey. Readers will appreciate the escapades of two immigrants seeking the American dream.

Harriet Klausner

Through The Night-Janelle Denison

Through The Night

Janelle Denison

St. Martin's, Mar 27 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312372316

In Las Vegas, as part of her job as executive hostess at the Onyx Hotel, Valerie Downing watches for high rollers as you want to do whatever to get them to stay at the hotel where they would spend a lot of money. She observes Chase Pierson, who fits her classification in every way, as he has quite a crowd watching him play craps. She offers him comp at the hotel, but he explains he already has that; Val is stunned to learn owner Steven Wilkes approved Chase’s free room.

However, though each has the hots for the other, Valerie rejects sleeping with a client while Chase accepts it’s a matter of time before she does. The Reliance Group leader Caleb Roux tells Val that Steven hired Chase to find a Capone relic; he wants Val to help with her clairvoyant abilities assisting Chase’s psychometric skills.

The latest TRG romantic suspense (see Night After Night and Into The Night) is a fast-paced tale starring two interesting lead characters who focus on the boudoir much more than the case. Still readers will enjoy this engaging thriller eve with the protagonists lacking depth.

Harriet Klausner

Three A.M.-Steven John

Three A.M.

Steven John

Tor Books, Mar 27 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780765331168

Over fifteen years ago, a lethal pandemic breakout left millions dead; scientists failed to find the cause. Soon after the mass deaths, a fog engulfed the city; but this thick mist has never dissipated. No one can enter or leave the city as the fog is like a giant prison.

In spite of excessive use of alcohol and drugs to numb his overwhelming sense of hopelessness, having not seen the sun since he was twenty eight, private detective Thomas Vale, wakes up every morning at 3:00 AM. He never deviates from that time even though he could use more sleep and rarely has a reason to get up that early. He visits Heller to collect money owed him but accepts instead a tape of “Shoppin” (Chopin), Rebecca waits for Vale at his sh*hole office to retain him. Two to three weeks ago someone murdered Samuel Ayers. The police arrested Fallon Samson who she insists is innocent. He takes on the case though he assumes that Samson killed Ayers. His simple investigation twists into something more precarious involving the disease and the fog.

The atmosphere is thick as readers will feel they wander in the fogged bound city in which residents have given up on the present and future with survival the only objective and holding on to precious personnel relics from before as a token of what was lost. Thomas is a delightful hard-boiled detective though his opponents seem inept. Rebecca is more of a stereotyped of the femme fatale cotton candy rather than a full blooded slick user. Readers will enjoy this exciting noir as paraphrasing Carl Sandburg’s Poem Fog, “… It sits looking over harbor and city on silent haunches”, but never moves on.

Harriet Klausner

The Wolf Who Loved Me-Lydia Dare

The Wolf Who Loved Me

Lydia Dare

Sourcebooks, Apr 3 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781402263460

In 1820, affluent ducal daughter Lady Madeline Hayburn has become wary of males as fortune hunters seem to do anything to force her to marry them. During a full moon, Maddie is shocked when she sees her new neighbor Mr. Weston Hadley turn into a wolf. However, Maddie is not half as stunned as Weston is that he carelessly let someone see him shift.

He believes they have no choice except to marry, but he expects her to decline his offer as he knows Maddy runs from the impoverished lords and besides beauty never marries the beast. Instead, Maddie accepts his offer but demands they immediately elope to Gretna Green. As they head to Scotland, there is plenty of pursuit and not all on her side.

The latest Team Dare Regency romantic fantasy (see Taming of the Wolf, Never Been Bit, It Happened One Bite and In the Heat of the Bite) is a bewitching historical. The storyline is a beguiling Lycan rendition of Beauty and the Beast with plenty of humor (mostly from the potential “mother of his mutts”) and danger (even her father who loves and spoils Maddy wants to cut off Weston’s head).

Harriet Klausner

Untouched-Sara Humphreys


Sara Humphreys

Sourcebooks, Apr 3 2012, $6.99

ISBN: 9781402258466

Most people including her family believe Amazonian Kerry Smithson suffers from an obsessive germ phobia. That is far from the truth as her fear of touch has to do with severe pain and a look inside the brain of the other person that enables her to determine whether they are evil.

Recently she was assaulted in spite of her size; so her BFF Samantha (see Unleashed) hires Inferno Securities Dante Coltari to protect Kerry as she goes to New Orleans on a modeling gig. They meet at Samantha’s wedding where Dante the Amoveo informs Kerry she will one day dance with him as he realizes from his dream walks that Kerry is his mate; however to avoid a breakdown she has erected barriers that prevent her from dream walking. Dante knows what attacks his beloved, but not who while the Punisher is also at the wedding for both of them. To her shock his touch brings peace and pleasure rather than pain and torment.

The second Amoveo Legend urban fantasy is an action-packed thriller starring two fascinating protagonists though her lack of knowledge is similar to Samantha. Filled with action as a deadly stalker hunts the lead couple, readers will enjoy the escapades of the Tarzan bodyguard and the no longer Untouched heroine while waiting for that first dance to occur.

Harriet Klausner

Enraptured-Elisabeth Naughton


Elisabeth Naughton

Sourcebooks, Apr 3 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781402262128

Being a hybrid daemon-Argonaut Orpheus is a pariah. Scorned because of his daemon blood, Orpheus has become a rogue who lives down to the image others have of him. Ironically, he is also an Eternal Guardian whose duty is to protect those same people who loathe him. Orpheus is on a personal quest to rescue his twin brother Gryphon from the hell of Tartarus.

Zeus sends Siren Order Skyla to destroy Orpheus. When she meets him he is in his daemon form so she attacks until she sees the inscription on him that proclaims him to be an Eternal Guardian; daemons cannot belong to that elite warrior group. He explains his mission starting with retrieving an orb that the Pantheon of Gods and the Underworld daemons crave possessing; she joins him. On their trek into hell, the vivacious siren and the morbid hybrid become lovers, but she conceals from Orpheus her agenda to kill him.

The latest Eternal Guardians romantic fantasy (see Marked and Tempted) is an exhilarating thriller that stars seemingly personality opposites in love. The fabulous Naughton Greek mythology is vivid and deadly as wary Orpheus believes you are safer amidst your enemies rather than your allies; his beloved will prove him correct.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Paris in Love: A Memoir-Eloisa James

Paris in Love: A Memoir

Eloisa James

Random House, Apr 3 2012, $26.00

ISBN: 9781400069569

In December 2007, Fordham University Professor Eloisa James’ mom died from cancer. Not long afterward, she is diagnosed with the same disease. Having read several memoirs written by stricken individuals, Eloisa feels ready to live for the moment. She persuades her Italian-American husband Alessandro to spend a year in Paris accompanied by their two children (eleven years old Anna and fifteen years old Luca). They take sabbaticals from their teaching positions, register the kids in a French école, and leave the Jersey burbs to become An American family in Paris. Paris In Love follows the quartet’s escapades in France.

This is a warm compassionate memoir that provides insight into a family but it is the City of Lights that steals the show as Ms. James eloquently provides an intelligent witty tour of the restaurants, museums, and much more. A talented historical romance writer Ms. James displays her skill as readers will appreciate her candor as she provides the audience insight into her and her family loving Paris.

Harriet Klausner

Taming an Impossible Rogue-Suzanne Enoch

Taming an Impossible Rogue

Suzanne Enoch

St. Martin’s, Mar 27 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312534523

Her marriage to Stephen Pollard was arranged just after heir birth. However, not once over the years did the marquis visit her. As he waited for her at the altar, Lady Camille Pryce decides she does not want to wed such an indifferent man. Instead she jilts him and knowing her family will disown her for the scandal she flees to the women run Tantalus Club, a gentleman’s gaming house unfit for a lady.

One year later frustrated and still embarrassed Pollard asks his cousin Keating Blackwood to persuade Camille to marry him. When Keating meets Camille his mission changes from assisting his relative to wanting to bed the runaway fiancée. They become lovers, but he knows he needs more. However, Keating is caught in a bind as he owes his beloved the truth, but when he provides it he loses her trust; his delay may take that choice out of his hands.

The first Scandalous Brides Regency romance is a wonderful tale due to the protagonists who understand what a salacious relationship between them means to their already scandalized reputation as each knows they lose nothing (except their respective hearts). Fast-paced throughout fans will enjoy visiting the Tantalus Club (see A Beginner's Guide to Rakes) as the rake and the runaway fiancée fall in love.

Harriet Klausner

Run Wild-Lorie O'Clare

Run Wild

Lorie O'Clare

St. Martin’s, Mar 27 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312534561

Growing up in a family of bounty hunters Natasha King understands the danger of the profession, but it must be in the DNA as she joins her kin at Los Angeles based King Fugitive Apprehension. Her mother Nadine deserted her when she was little and her father George the con artist has not been around for years. Her uncle and aunt (until she vanished a few years ago) raised her alongside her cousins.

She receives a call asking where her father is; when she responds she did not know the man hung up. Soon afterward, Sheriff Trent Oakley of Weaverville, California calls asking the same question; followed by requesting she meet with him if she wants to help her father. In Weaverville, he explains to Natasha that her dad is the prime suspect in the Trinity Ranch killing. As they fall in love neither quite trusts the other as her father remains the toad in the road.

The latest Bounty Hunters family affair romantic suspense (see Play Dirty, Stay Hungry and Get Lucky) is an action-packed thriller from the moment Trent calls and never slows down as the tough sheriff and the even tougher bounty hunter work the case together while falling in love. Though very minor, his failure to identify himself until she asked who he is when he called pushes readers from the excitement, but quickly rebounds when the goes to meet him. Sub-genre fans will appreciate Natasha’s turn as the lead with her proving she has the King mettle.

Harriet Klausner

Dark Eyes-William Richter

Dark Eyes

William Richter

Razorbill, Mar 15 2012, $17.99

ISBN: 9781595144577

Crying Mrs. Ivanova informs young Valentina Mayskova that the American Stoneman couple has adopted her. Called Wally, Valentina cries for her beloved Babushka before leaving with her new parents for the United Sates. She is raised in affluence in New York, but at fifteen Wally runs away.

One year later, Wally heads to Brighton Beach to learn more about her heritage. At the Miszic & Sons store, she receives a folder with her name on it. She finds the first clue to locating her biological mother Yalena since she left Russia. However, a friend with Wally’s fake ID as Wallis Stoneman is brutally murdered even as Wally searches for Yalena. At the same time her viscous birth father Klesko searches for the jewels stolen by her mother. As a mob boss, he has no compunctions about killing his daughter; just visit the morgue to see what he and his thugs will do.

Dark Eyes is fabulous suspense thriller that takes readers all over the Big Apple. Although why Wallis left her home is never explained adequately as she would visit her now divorced mom from time to time, Dark Eyes is loaded with action from the moment the teen takes the train to Brooklyn and never slows down until the anticipated confrontation between father and daughter on the mean streets of New York City.

Harriet Klausner

Hot Under Pressure-Louisa Edwards

Hot Under Pressure

Louisa Edwards

St. Martin’s, Mar 27 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312534400

After a decade as the cook on a Navy submarine, Chef Henry Beck expects to easily win the Rising Star Chef competition. However, his confidence is shaken when the opponent is Skye Gladwell, the hippie whom he married and deserted a decade ago.

Beck is further flummoxed with his need for his wife. Never forgetting when he failed her at her neediest moment, she demands a divorce; instead he counters with a cook-off challenge she can’t refuse. If she wins the contest, he will sign the papers, but if he wins he gets one last meal of a condemned man, her. A desperate Beck hopes to find a Recipe for Love (see Can’t Stand the Heat).

The third Rising Star Chef (see Some Like It Hot and Too Hot To Touch) heat in the kitchen (and bedroom) romance is an entertaining tale starring two flawed individuals with a tragic history. Fast-paced, fans will enjoy the competition between spouses as Beck knows he is on the toughest strife of his life, winning back the trust and respect of his wife.

Harriet Klausner

Temptations Rising-A.C. Arthur

Temptations Rising

A.C. Arthur

St. Martin’s, Mar 27 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312549107

Two years ago, a strange cat like creature saved the life of Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department officer Kalina Harper from an assault. Confused by what happened, she still dreams of this beast, but has never told anyone about what she saw.

Her boss assigns Kalina to go undercover at Reynolds & Delgado law firm seeking connections between partner attorney Roman Reynolds and a South American drug cartel as he sends plenty of money to South America. Like all the women in the office, Kalina is attracted to Rome, but is unaware that as a jaguar he saved her life two years ago. However, his concern is with whom murdered Senator Mark Baines and his daughter three weeks ago as Rogues apparently have moved into his Faction as they have in the other zones too. Though he knows he must ignore Kalina to focus on the Rogues, Rome finds he cannot ignore her as he begins to believe she is his mate.

The first Shadow Shifters romantic urban fantasy is an exciting thriller as readers will feel the Arthurian paranormal DC world is genuine. Fast-paced with a courageous heroine struggling to accept what she is learning and a strong leader unsure whether to tell her the truth that residing amidst purebred humans are shifters.

Harriet Klausner

A Temptation of Angels-Michelle Zink

A Temptation of Angels

Michelle Zink

Dial, Mar 20 2012, $17.99

ISBN: 9780803737266

Sixteen-year-old Helen fell asleep to the sounds of arguing in the family library when her frantic mother awakens her while it is still dark outside. Her mom gives her strange directions to go to a house before sending her child through a hidden doorway in her bedroom that the teen never knew existed. As her house burns with her parents inside, a shocked Helen flees to the address her mother admonished her to go to for her safety.

Brothers Darius and Griffin Channing welcome Helen into their London abode. They explain to the stunned teen that she, like them, is responsible to protect the planet as Keepers are descendants of an angel species. The siblings further explain they are the last ones as an assassin has killed all the others and targeted Helen before she can be skilled. If their kind becomes extinct so will the earth.

Although this exciting young adult fantasy starts confusing due to the introduction of a horde of characters forcing readers to need a scorecard, once the Zink mythos and cast is established, the storyline turns into a fast-paced High Noon thriller. Helen is terrific as she has no time to grieve due to the demands of gruff Darius; she also has two men attracted to her, Griff and her childhood friend Raum. Vengeance may be the Lord’s domain, but the three remaining Keepers (the parents of the brothers suffered the same fate as those of Helen did) claim it as theirs.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Wedding Beat-Devan Sipher

The Wedding Beat

Devan Sipher

NAL, Apr 3 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 9780451235794

On New Year’s Day in New York, wedding columnist Gavin attends a party he hates as everyone attending is tied to medicine. The only positive is when he sees her across the crowded room. Escaping to a patio, he is surprised to meet Melinda who asks if he has a bungee cord so that they can flee the lunacy without walking through the gauntlet. As they chat while strolling in the moonlight, New York style, he is attracted to Melinda but fails to get her last name, phone number or email address.

After kicking himself in the butt for being an idiot, Gavin tries to locate Melinda with the information he knows about her. This leads him to other women, but no Melinda. His paper assigns him to cover a wedding in which Melinda is the bride to a groom whom Gavin feels is unworthy of her.

The Wedding Beat is an enjoyable intelligent character study of a romantic seeking a woman he fantasizes over. The support cast is solid as most add sarcastic humor like his dad who has his son divorced even though he never married. Although the final coda weakens the impact of a strong bittersweet love story, readers will enjoy the quest of the wedding reporter who works on a paper filled with Pulitzers.

Harriet Klausner

The Second-Last Woman in England-Maggie Joel

The Second-Last Woman in England

Maggie Joel

Felony & Mayhem, May 16 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781934609996

In May 1953, Great Britain is filled with energy for the future as the coronation of Queen Elizabeth is coming. Mr. Cecil Condor Wallis watches the gala from his home in South Kensington on his new television set. Family and friends are there also; as he and his wife Harriet host a coronation party. At precisely the moment that the newly crowned ruler steps on balcony at Buckingham while the thousands at the scene sang God Save the Queen and many more watching on TV, Harriet shoots Cecil six times. It took a jury forty five minutes to convict her. She was The Second-Last Woman in England to be hanged.

Nine months earlier, Mrs. Harriett Wallis looked forward to the future. Her spouse has a good paying prestigious job and their two kids are well behaved. It started when she hired Miss Corbett as a nanny to Anne and Julius. As she meets the kids, Inspector Harris arrives to talk with Cecil about Mr. Rocastle who worked at the same firm; he vanished after apparently embezzling funds. This is the beginning of the end for Cecil and Harriet Wall even while everyone is increasingly euphoric.

This is an enjoyable historical thriller that opens up with the murder followed by what led to the homicide. Harriet is like the rest of the country as life has begun to return to normal after the Depression and war, and the pending coronation brings fervor of renewal. Although the storyline never matches the opening psychological suspense, fans will enjoy reading this engaging tale wanting to know why.

Harriet Klausner

White Lies-Jeremy Bates

White Lies

Jeremy Bates

Oceanview, May 7 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9781608090488

In a torrential downpour, Katrina Burton drives the curving road through the cascades to Leavenworth, Washington where she has been hired to teach high school English. Feeling sorry for a soaked hitchhiker, she picks him up though her brain screams not to. However, she becomes frightened by his drunken nastiness so she lies about her destination before throwing him out of her vehicle.

At Leavenworth High School, Kat meets her hitchhiker Zach Marshall, who also teaches there. Fearing Zach, Kat begins spinning a web of lies while he manipulates her and others. At the hardware store, Kat and Jack Reeves meet. He comes to her faculty party that Zach maneuvered for her to host at her rented cabin. Attracted to Jack, Kat feels he may be able to liberate her from her nightmare. Jack roughs Zach in a confrontation at the party that the intoxicated latter caused. Soon afterward, Jack loses control and in a rage kills the elderly owner of the cabin Charlie. He demands Kat help him cover-up the death.

Filled with suspense, the heroine learns Sir Walter Scott’s mantra (in Marmion): “Oh what a tangled web we weave; when first we practice to deceive”. – Fast-paced, the tense thriller grips readers as the beleaguered Kat learns to obtain background checks on males if she lives long enough to meet another man. Although readers will need to ignore their plausibility meter, White Lies is an exhilarating taut tale.

Harriet Klausner

Vengeance is Mine-Douglass Mackinnon

Vengeance is Mine

Douglass Mackinnon

Threshold Editions, May 1 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9781451640977

Two decades ago in Moscow’s Lubyanka Prison, KGB Colonel Vladimir Ivanchenko tortured and killed pregnant Irena for giving test information from the Sary Shagan Proving grounds to her American boyfriend CIA operative Ian Wallace. Ian was tortured and in chains when Ivanchenko brutally murdered his beloved and their unborn. Shocked and filled with remorse, Ian escapes from the cell, Moscow and the CIA.

In Boston where Ian works as a private investigator, CIA agent and friend Phil Andrews approaches him with a Glock out to tell him that the Firm needs his help. They want him to baby-sit an Ivan scientist defector Barkagan as the Russian Mafia has sent to Boston their top international assassin former KGB Colonel Vladimir Ivanchenko. His partner will be Kathy Donahue, but this is one mission he personalized.

This is an exciting thriller starring an interesting protagonist who prefers the cold of the field rather than the desks filled with politically correct suits. When the storyline focuses on what happened twenty years ago, and the present day Ivan protection and the Vengeance Is Mine solo theme, the plot is terrific. When Ian pontificates with a zillion conservative talking points, the flow is disrupted as these asides mostly are not interwoven into the action. Still even coffee drinkers will root for the “Dirty Harry” hero to kick KGB Mafia butt.

Harriet Klausner

Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders-Gyles Brandreth

Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders

Gyles Brandreth

Simon & Schuster/Touchstone, May 8 2012, $14.00

ISBN 9781439153734

In 1892, suffering from exhaustion on account of his publisher demanding he respond to all the letters sent to Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wonders if fame and fortune is worth the cost. Needing R&R, Holmes takes a ten day respite at a spa in Homburg, Germany though the notes to Holmes come with him. When the popular writer enters his hotel, he encounters Oscar Wilde who should be in Mayfair not in the foothills of the Taunaus Mountains.

Oscar offers to assist Holmes with the letters that came with Arthur on his respite. The pair finds much more than correspondence as some of the envelopes postmarked Rome contain a severed finger with a papal ring and a hand. Realizing that Doyle has been macabrely requested to come to Rome, he and Wilde travel to Italy to learn why and who owned the ringed finger.

The latest Oscar Wilde amateur sleuth (see Oscar Wilde and the Vampire Murders, and Oscar Wilde and the Nest of Vipers) is an entreating whodunit that has the protagonist and his Watsonian sidekick investigating Vatican murders. Fast-paced from the moment the two Brits meet in Germany, fans will enjoy this entertaining late Victorian whodunit although the denouement is not quite as strong as the jaunty journey getting to the solution.

Harriet Klausner

Red Cell-Mark Henshaw

Red Cell

Mark Henshaw

Simon & Schuster /Touchstone, May 1 2012, $24.99

ISBN 9781451661934

When the CIA mission in Venezuela turned ugly, field agent Kyra Stryker is reassigned to a desk job at Langley in the Red Cell unit. Her transfer doubles the number of agents working there. Kyra finds her new associate Jonathan Burke an unwelcoming acrimonious visionary strategic thinker. His record is impeccable when it comes to analysis as his suggested outcomes are always correct; but his gruff lack of political correctness alienates the politicians running the agency, the White House and the Congress.

In Taiwan, a raid on mainland spies turns ugly, angering the Chinese government and people. China prepares to retaliate with an all-out invasion without any trepidation that the American navy will do anything even though The USS Lincoln aircraft carrier is in the Taiwan Strait. CIA Director Kathy Cooke assigns her Red Cell duo to uncover out why the China leaders feel immune from any American retaliation. To do so they need information from in Beijing, Chinese CIA spy Pioneer who cannot help as he under vigilant watch. Stryker and Burke know they need to get him out of China safely in order to prevent a war.

The key to this great espionage thriller is the three governments (politicians, military officers, spies and analysts) make the escalating hostilities seem genuine. Fast-paced from the opening scene in Venezuela followed by nineteen days of super action, fans will enjoy the confrontation over Taiwan. Red Cell will be on most lists as one of the best espionage thrillers of the year.

Harriet Klausner

The Hunt-Andrew Fukuda

The Hunt

Andrew Fukuda

St. Martin’s Griffin, May 8 2012, $17.99

ISBN: 9781250005144

Seventeen years old Gene feels he is the last of his species in the wild as he hides amidst the master race that craves his. He follows his late dad’s rules such as avoid sports that make you sweat as they don’t perspire, but also knows his father failed in his diligence only once. He is a heper who if found out will be eaten by his “friends” without an afterthought.

The government sponsors its rare "Heper Hunt" though Gene wonders why since the few if any survivors are either lab rats or cattle. His trig teacher puts him on the spot, but Ashley June as he calls the girl in front of him saves his neck. Soon afterward he and Ashley June are chosen by the lottery as hunters. Gene is concerned he will be caught as this is not riding a horse drawn school bus or avoiding beautiful girls with fangs; instead he will spend four days in a fish bowl environment; training at the Heper Institute of Refined Research and Discovery. Worse he is attracted to Ashley June who he assumes will know the truth.

The Hunt is a fascinating thriller starring two fabulous protagonists trying to stay alive in a world in which they are red meat for the vast populace that surrounds them. The storyline is fast-paced and filled with chilling action. Although the dystopian Fukuda world lacks sociological depth re the prime species and the hunted, fans will appreciate joining Gene as he tries to avoid becoming the prey of The Hunt.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, March 22, 2012

More Forensics and Fiction: Crime Writers Morbidly Curious Questions Expertly Answered-D.P. Lyle, M.D.

More Forensics and Fiction: Crime Writers Morbidly Curious Questions Expertly Answered

D.P. Lyle, M.D.

Medallion Press, Apr 1 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781605423944

This is a fun educational compilation of answers to specific medical and forensic science questions crime writers have posed. The entries are entertaining though at times gory when responding to queries such as “What would a gunshot to the liver look like …?” or “What would happen if my character is stabbed in the femoral artery?” Divided into five parts with each containing a multitude of Q&A, mystery writers, publishers and readers will relish the latest collection by Dr. Lyle. My favorites are the historical ones like “How were comas treated in the 1500s?”, “How was CPR performed in 1949?” and “How was epilepsy treated in the 1940s?” Whether it is the coroner trying to solve questions in the 1930s and 1912 or the whimsical issue “Could DNA from spontaneously combusted vampires reveal their age”?, More Forensics and Fiction is a terrific guide, but likes its predecessors (see Forensics and Fiction: Clever, Intriguing, and Downright Odd Questions from Crime Writers, and Murder and Mayhem: A Doctor Answers Medical and Forensic Questions for Mystery Writers, this is an engaging reference book.

Harriet Klausner

The Reverend’s Wife-Kimberla Lawson Roby

The Reverend’s Wife

Kimberla Lawson Roby

Grand Central, May 1 2012, $24.99

ISBN 9780446572477

Though he knows he has sinned Reverend Curtis Black has decided to divorce his third wife Charlotte after he learns she has slept with two men in the past year. He will end their relationship once their son Matthew graduates from high school. In the meantime, he behaves friendly towards his spouse in public, attending to his 2000 plus flock, and caring for his three children (married Alicia from his first wife, Matthew from Charlotte, and little Curtina from an affair).

However, he underestimates Charlotte’s resolution to remain married to him. Not only does she try to atone for her transgressions, she makes it clear she will do whatever it takes to remain Mrs. Black even though the Reverend has told her he forgives her sins but cannot forget those affairs. Even more so Charlotte also needs Matthew to forgive her, but the teen cannot. However, another congregational member Sharon Green has plans to become the fourth Mrs. Black and has offered seductive sin to the Reverend as her ticket. The Black marital crisis publicly explodes at a Deliverance Outreach.

The latest Reverend Curtis Black extended family drama continues the difficulties of people of deep faith in God remaining on the righteous path in a world filled with temptations. Character driven, The Reverend’s Wife is an entertaining tale though the see Love, Honor and Betray theme has been done many times over in this series.

Harriet Klausner

Butterfly's Child-Angela Davis-Gardner and Giacomo Puccini

Butterfly's Child

Angela Davis-Gardner and Giacomo Puccini

Dial, Apr 10 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780385340953

In 1895, American Lieutenant Benjamin Pinkerton and his new wife Kate travel from Illinois to Nagasaki. There he learns that his geisha Cio-Cio-san committed suicide (see/hear Madame Butterfly by Puccini). Benjamin and Kate takes her three years old son Benji back to the States with them, but hide his heritage by introducing him to their rural neighbors as an orphan they adopted.

Over the years Benji works hard on the farm, but never forgot his samurai roots or his beloved birth mother. He yearns to one day return to Nagasaki where he hopes he will find his kin and they will welcome him home. When his geisha matriarchal background surfaces the townsfolk treats him with scorn. He leaves for the Japanese communities in California before seeking his biological family in Japan.

This terrific historical follows-up what happens to the key surviving protagonists from Madame Butterfly, especially her son. The storyline is character driven by Benji’s search for identity, Kate’s descent into insanity and Benjamin’s inability to cope so turns to alcohol. Puccini would be honored with this deep second act.

Harriet Klausner

To Love You More-Wayne Jordan

To Love You More

Wayne Jordan

Harlequin Kimani Romance, Mar 20 2012, $6.25

ISBN: 9780373862559

At the Lodge School in Barbados, George Simpson asks Rachel Davis out; she refuses saying he is a player. He tells her he will prove he is not as he plans to marry her one day. They become an entry. Several years later George ends their engagement as he is not ready to marry before leaving for Australia on a fellowship; unaware the love of his life carries his child. Rachel leaves the island married to her older boss Edward St. Clair who agrees to raise her child as his on Antigua where his new job is located. When George learns what she did, he rages about Rachel’s quick turnaround.

Thirteen years later, widower Rachel returns to Barbados as a prosecutor; George is a partner in a private law firm. They meet in court where he suffers the first defeat in his legal career. Rachel is concerned how George will react when he sees Gregory, who looks just like him. After a court case, a young man stabs Rachel with a knife; George saves her life. As she heals at the hospital Rachel knows she still loves the man who dumped her; scared by her assault, he knows he has never moved passed the biggest mistake of his life. Now George meets Gregory.

Though the storyline of a man unaware of siring a child has been done many times, Wayne Jordan keeps his latest Barbados romance (see the Knight saga) fresh with a strong support cast and two delightful protagonists who make the trials and tribulations of love inspiring. Fans will enjoy this second chance at love romance, Barbados style.

Harriet Klausner

Powers of Arrest- Jon Talton

Powers of Arrest

Jon Talton

Poisoned Pen, May 1 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781590589991

Having had a tumor removed from his spinal cord (see Pain Nurse), former Cincinnati homicide detective turned police public information officer Will Borders uses a cane to walk. Taking a walk on the Miami University campus, former Cincinnati Memorial Hospital Pain Nurse Specialist turned Professor Cheryl Beth Wilson sees a crowd including cops around two of her now dead students; a third student Noah is the prime suspect. Homicide detective Dodds asks Will to investigate a cop murder similar to that on the campus; and also tells his ex-partner to date cute Cheryl Beth. Will says he is a cripple so cannot do either, but will make inquiries on the homicide.

Though she knows better, Cheryl Beth investigates by thinking what her former patient would do. Her effort leads her to Will. The pair shares an attraction and deep abiding loneliness. They become lovers with hesitancy about their future. Meanwhile the serial killer observes the amateur sleuth and the crippled cop with glee, bragging about creating “deathscapes” starring the duet.

The second Cincinnati Casebook mystery is a superb whodunit starring two wary wounded warriors and a vile violent villain. Fast-paced, readers will enjoy the sensational sightseeing of Cincinnati with Cheryl Beth and Will as our tour guides.

Harriet Klausner

Fatal Induction-Bernadette Pajer

Fatal Induction

Bernadette Pajer

Poisoned Pen, May 1 2012, $24.95

ISBN: 978-1590586129

In 1901 University of Washington Electrical Engineering Professor Benjamin Bradshaw believes he is a sure shot to win the competition to create a telephonic system that will transmit music from the Seattle Grand Theater to homes throughout Seattle. Bradshaw finds Ralph’s abandoned wagon behind his house. He ponders where the peddler of miracle elixirs (and maybe deadly poisons) and his daughter went, but his musings are interrupted with news that President McKinley was assassinated.

The police show no interest in a missing child or a potential homicide case. So curious and unable to accept the national tragedy as real, Bradshaw tracks the trail left behind by the girl who the professor thinks may have witnessed a killing. As he enters the Tenderloin section, Seattle’s seediest side, he concludes to save the child’s life, he must do something drastic. Thus Bradshaw modifies his contest entry to catch a murderous predator.

The second Professor Bradshaw historical amateur sleuth (see A Spark of death) is a superb whodunit in which Bernadette Pajer uses the assassination of the president to anchor her storyline in 1901. Part of the fun is observing communication technological breakthroughs and the hero conjecturing what will come over the next century or so. The mystery is strong, but that supports a powerful poignant period piece as Ms. Pajer escorts her audience to Seattle circa 1901.

Harriet Klausner