Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Greatest Lover Ever-Christina Brooke

The Greatest Lover Ever Christina Brooke St. Martin’s, Dec 31 2013, $7.99 ISBN 9781250029355 At the Duke of Montford’s ball, an irate Earl of Beckenham shows his fiancée Lady Georgiana Black her hair given to him by taunting libertine Lord Pearce who claimed this as his token of affection prize. He believes her claims that she has no idea how this miscreant got her hair, but Montford and Georgiana’s father agree that with her reputation for eccentric behavior she needs to rusticate in Gloucestshire while the Earl has business with Pearce. Georgie begs him not to duel or she will end their engagement. Montford reacts by saying her father is now responsible for her well-being. Six years later, twenty-four years old Georgiana is on the shelf rejecting any interest in her while soon to come into a large inheritance. She also ferociously protects her younger sister Violet hoping her sibling will avoid her missteps. When she learns that Violet attends a scandalous masquerade gala, Georgiana follows her. There she meets Beckenham who recognizes her in spite of her mask though this is their first encounter since they ended their betrothal. Though both remain attracted to each other, she refuses his advances while Pearce has plans to destroy Beckenham through his adversary’s love for Georgie. The second Westruther Regency romance (see London’s Last True Scoundrel) is an engaging historical starring two stubborn protagonists whose relationship collapsed due to a lack of communication and an adversary who plays their obstinacy like a puppeteer. Fans will enjoy the rematch as Christina Brooke provides a wonderful second chance at love if the heroes can learn to first trust one another. Harriet Klausner

Badlands-Jill Sorenson

Badlands Jill Sorenson Harlequin HQN, Dec 31 2013, $7.99 ISBN 9780373778348 The 8.5 earthquake that devastated San Diego trapped eight months pregnant Penny Sandoval along with convict Owen Jackson. She went into labor and he delivered the baby and kept mother and child safe until help arrived (see Aftershock). Her grateful father Jorge used his political connections to get Owen free and subsequently hired him as a security specialist. Five years later at the San Diego Convention Center, Jorge is about to become the first Hispanic-American nominated by a major party as their presidential candidate. The honor meant Secret Service so Owen is relegated to babysitting Penny and her child Cruz. However, as Penny is about to introduce her mother to the Republican Party delegates, an alarm goes off. Owen’s convict brother Shane paying off a debt to the Aryan Brotherhood and his nastier partner Dirk incapacitate the bodyguard with a taser. They take injured Owen with them as they kidnap the single mom and her son. Driving into the Badlands, they demand two million in ransom delivered by her father. In spite of his sibling being one of the kidnappers, Owen knows they must escape into the barren wilderness if they are to survive as Dirk will never let them go after he completes his hidden agenda mission. The third Afterfall romantic suspense (See Freefall) is an action-packed novel that never slows down from the moment the abduction occurs until the final confrontation. Fast-paced throughout, the key to this taut thriller is that survival supersedes love as Owen risks his life to protect the mother and son he cherishes, and Penny likewise to keep Cruz safe. Readers will appreciate the harrowing trek in the Badlands. Harriet Klausner

Monday, December 30, 2013

A Gentleman ‘til Midnight-Alison DeLaine

A Gentleman ‘til Midnight Alison DeLaine Harlequin HQN, Dec 31 2013, $7.99 ISBN 978-0373778362 Katherine Kinloch was an English countess until Barbary pirates took her after Captain James Warre sunk the Merry Sea with her on it leading to her abduction. By the time she finally escaped while pregnant, Countess Katherine no longer existed. Instead she stole a ship and became the successful infamous Corsair Kate, pirate captain of the Possession with a rare mixed crew of Moors and Brits. In 1767, James’ ship goes down near Gibraltar with the rest of his mates dead. Mother of a blind daughter, Kate pulls him out of the sea over the objections of her crew. He recognizes her but she fails to identity him. Each is stunned by the attraction; and soon the pair heads to London where for the sake of her child Katherine claims to be the Countess of Dunscore whose cousin has lived luxuriously as; thanks mostly to James’ brother Baron Taggart who stole his sibling’s title. A Gentleman ‘til Midnight is a delightful fascinating Georgian romance due to the strong complex lead characters who share a tormented pivotal moment that shaped their lives ever since. In London, Corsair Kate must regress back to helpless Countess Katherine with no power if she is to regain her estate for her daughter; while James must deal with family loyalties that tear him apart. With a strong cast of supporting strong women, fans will enjoy the return of the prodigal aristocrats to English high society. Harriet Klausner

Dark Heat-Donna Grant

Dark Heat Donna Grant St. Martin’s, Dec 31 2013, $7.99 ISBN 9781250043788 “Dark Craving.” In Dreagan, Scotland Green Dragon King Hal knows first-hand that the curse prevents any of the monarchs from falling in love; so he wonders why his heart soars ever since he met visiting American Cassie Hunter through her missing brother Dan’s Great Dane Duke. “Night’s Awakening.” Red Dragon King Guy is a powerful warrior until he meets the mortal PureGens executive Elena Griffith a Londoner in a cave in the Highlands; she has him thinking seditious thoughts fueled by desire. “Dawn’s Desire.” Blue Dragon King Banan accepted the curse as a sad reality until he meets PureGens secretary “Plain” Jane Holden. “Passion’s Claim.” Banan and Guy have found love, but each feels the curse remains but modified as they consider breaking their own hearts by releasing their respective beloveds Jane and Elena to return to a normal mortal life. This enjoyable “Dark Kings” romantic fantasy collection contains three reprints and a new follow-up tale (“Passion’s Claim”). Each entry is exciting and well written, but in the anthology format the thematic repetitiveness of the stories is obvious and a major thread as to whom the enemy is dangling hopefully for near future tales. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Plain Murder-Emma Miller

Plain Murder Emma Miller Kensington, Dec 31 2013 $15.00 ISBN 9780758291721 Fifteen years ago Rachel Mast left her Old Order “Ah-mish” community in Stone Mill, Pennsylvania to go corporate. She proved very successful but never found happiness so she recently quit. Though Rachel understands she can never go back to the Old Order, she returns home with a plan to turn her quaint village into a popular tourist stop by opening the Stone Mill House Bed & Breakfast with an Amish gift shop. Eight months ago, prominent English businessman Willy O’Day vanished without a trace. Though there is plenty of conjecture, no one except for his twin George seemed to care what happened to him. Rachel’s upset cousin Mary rushes into the gift shop needing her help as the body of Willy has been found in her dat Aaron Hostetler’s cow pasture, which makes him the prime suspect. Adhering to his faith, Aaron rejects council or defending himself in spite of his concerned niece begging him to do so. Knowing someone must defend Uncle Aaron, Rachel doning traditional garb, investigates the murder. Plain Murder is an entertaining Amish amateur sleuth in which the focus on the heroine’s internal lifestyle schism enhances her inquiry as her relatives will only speak to her about the homicide if she adheres to specific conditions they demand of her. Though there is some sub-genre stereotyping like Rachel’s relationship with police officer Evan Parks, fans will enjoy the protagonist’s effort to keep her uncle out of prison by uncovering the identity of the killer who buried O’Day in a shallow grave on Aaron’s property. Harriet Klausner

An Unexpected Grace-Kristin von Kreisler

An Unexpected Grace Kristin von Kreisler Kensington, Dec 31 2013, $15.00 ISBN: 9780758291943 In a heavy rain, her BFF Cristina drives Lila to work in downtown San Francisco. In the car, Cristina shows Lila a photo of Grace the abused Golden Retriever who needs a home. Lila refuses to adopt Grace, because twenty-five years ago a dog attacked her leaving her afraid of canines. They call a canine truce and head to their different floors in the Crockett Building. At Weatherby and Associates Public Relations, Lila begins a typical day until she hears a fellow employee pleading with someone when shots are fired. Rampaging janitor Yuri Makov kills seven people and wounds three including Lila before committing suicide. At San Francisco General, Dr. Lovell tells Lila she was lucky as she received only flesh wounds, but psychologically she cannot get rid of Yuri pointing his gun at her. After leaving the hospital Cristina takes Lila to her home in Mill Valley where the other roommate Grace frightens her as much as the newcomer scares the dog. Neighbor Adam visits Grace who is elated every time he shows up. As Lila slowly emotionally recovers so does Grace with each soon learning to trust the other; while Adam hopes both heal quickly so they can become a loving trinary star. An Unexpected Grace is a poignant contemporary due to the mentally wounded lead female and a very wary canine; while the male protagonist’s romantic role feels more of a distracting requirement. The moving character driven storyline focuses on the changing relationship between the hurting leads with Adam and to a lesser degree Cristina acting as the connectors between the troubled woman and the anxious dog. Readers will appreciate Lila and Grace helping each other heal. Harriet Klausner

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Zane Presents: Little White Lies-Cole Riley

Zane Presents: Little White Lies Cole Riley Strebor Books/Simon and Schuster, Nov 26 2013, $15.00 ISBN: 9781593095185 In Brooklyn, seventeen year old African-American Melvin is the star of his high school basketball team. He knows his future is in hoops so he avoids the neighborhood illicit action though the pressure on his succeeding is immense. However, after a particular bad stretch with a terrible court performance, his father’s condemnation and his girlfriend using him, depressed Melvin, ignoring his gut telling him not to go, attends a party. At the party Melvin awakens from being drugged only to find blood all over him and the police accusing him of leading a gang raping of two white girls. Though he knows he did not commit the heinous assault, the police him keep hungry, frightened and depressed while his public defender fails him until Melvin cracks and confesses to the delight of the media and politician Representative Crudele whose daughter was one of the victims. In prison with no hope of getting out, Melvin tries suicide, but survives. As years pass with Melvin still behind bars, Rose the reporter looks into the case and finds major holes. With a nod to Morris’ The Thin Blue Line, Cole Riley condemns American justice being color blind especially towards urban poor African-Americans. The tense storyline is at its best when Melvin as a victim loses when he goes up against the media-government complex and when the plot focuses on his hopeless feelings while incarcerated. Though the ending seems unlikely, readers will appreciate this profound look at being an impoverish Black facing a system that assumes his race and social class classify him with a presumption of guilt who (without assets) must prove his innocence beyond a reasonable doubt. Harriet Klausner

Hunted-Elizabeth Heiter

Hunted Elizabeth Heiter Mira, Dec 31 2013, $14.95 ISBN 9780778315841 Working at the Virginia FBI Behavior Analysis Unit, profiler Evelyn Baine became a Fed after what happened to her BFF as a child. Her cold demeanor turns off her peers, local law enforcement and victim’s family members, but she is one of the best at solving cases so is in demand. Evelyn currently leads the investigation into the Bakersville Burier serial killer who buries his female victims in the nearby woods leaving only their heads exposed. However, this brilliant murderer knows Evelyn pursues him and has plans to greet her with a special gravesite. The first Evelyn Baine police procedural is an entertaining serial killer tale due in part to the unlikable unique heroine who’s colder than the tundra (think of a more clinical matter of fact than the early TV version of Kathy Reich’s Bones). There is too much explicatory telling instead of active showing and the culprit needed either more time or no time as his brief interludes feel intrusive rather than macabre fascinating. Still, fans will enjoy this cat and mouse thriller as the antagonist plans to show the protagonist who the cat and trapped mouse are. Harriet Klausner

Friday, December 27, 2013

Killing Cupid-Laura Levine

Killing Cupid Laura Levine Kensington, Dec 31 2013, $25.00 ISBN 9780758285034 When freelance author Jaine Austen received the job offer from Joy Amoroso to create a brochure and more for the latter’s Beverly Hills-based Dates of Joy matchmaking service, the writer was ecstatic with the upbeat work and the hope of finding happiness by Valentine’s Day. However, Jaine quickly becomes disillusioned with her termagant tyrant of a boss as Joy viciously rips her employees, misleads with net photos of “hired guns” (models), and makes empty promises of finding love to clients paying thousands for romance. When Joy hosts a Valentine’s Day singles mixer, someone murders her. Jaine knows she is one of many suspects among clients, workers, family and others. Since she has had success in solving homicides (see Death by Pantyhose and Death of a Neighborhood Witch), she investigates who killed the false Cupid. The latest Austen whodunit is an entertaining clever whodunit with an intriguing mystery somewhat distracted by too much sidebar humor including Jaine’s overindulgences. Still series fans will enjoy the heroine’s hunt for the truth (and Valentine sweets). Harriet Klausner

I Take You-Nikki Gemmell

I Take You Nikki Gemmell Harper Perennial, Dec 31 2013, $14.99 ISBN: 9780062273413 In London former model Connie and hedge fund manager Cliff are married. However, they have little in common except both love the good life that his wealth provides and sex. When Cliff becomes paralyzed from a skiing accident, they turn to S&M for release. Eventually bored with her spouse who she never loved, Connie turns to Mel the Notting Hill gardener for satisfaction that Cliff cannot fully provide her any longer. This heated affair turns to love; while raging Cliff threatens his wife that he will destroy her as he proclaims to Connie he owns her. Nikki Gemmell’s latest look at relationships between a woman and her husband and her extramarital lover (see The Bride Stripped Bare and With My Body) is an engaging erotica that overdoes the twenty-first century retelling of Virginia Woolf’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover. The storyline focuses on Connie’s choice between love and money though readers will know long before the protagonist decides who she eventually selects. Harriet Klausner

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Just Like Heaven-Lacey Baker

Just Like Heaven Lacey Baker St. Martin’s, Nov 27 2013, $7.99 ISBN: 9781250019233 The death of their beloved grandmother shook her six grandchildren. While one of them never left Sweetland, Maryland, the other five come from different parts of the country to attend her funeral and adhere to her wishes, which left each of them an equal share in her B&B and with a dog to care for (see Homecoming). Prosecutor Preston Cantrell places a local ad for someone to adopt his Labrador puppy Coco so he can return to Baltimore. Heaven Montgomery arrives wanting the pup. After interrogating her, Preston takes her to meet Coco only she and the Lab fall into a pond. Preston delays his return to Baltimore to get to know Heaven better. She in turn thinks he is arrogant. Still the research chemist needs Coco as part of her recovery from a lab explosion that left two of associates dead and her suffering from PTSD. As Preston and Heaven fall in love with each other and with Coco, an adversary kidnaps the scientist and her canine. The second Sweetland romance is an engaging contemporary starring two likable protagonists and a precocious dog who at times steals the show from the adults. The suspense subplot comes across as undeveloped while the relationships between the lead pair and respectively with their canine fun to follow though unlikely either would place their careers on hold for a stranger even factoring in that Heaven remains emotionally troubled. Harriet Klausner

Twilight With The Infamous Earl-Alexandra Hawkins

Twilight With The Infamous Earl Alexandra Hawkins St. Martin’s, Nov 27 2013, $7.99 ISBN 9781250001399 In 1826 Lord Chillingsworth, Frost, muses that he is the last man standing single among the seven Lord of Vice friends who were confirmed bachelors just six years ago. In 1821 Emily Cavell’s sister Lucy died in her arms after committing suicide due to Frost. Now she tries to rescue young Katie from a brute who turns out to be her stepfather when the aristocrat she loathes intervenes over her objection though he kindly insures the girl is properly taking care of. As Emily and Frost become better acquainted while falling in love, she begins to doubt her late sister’s death bed accusation that he ruined her. Confessing to him what she never told her parents or younger brother, Emily and Frost investigate what happened that led to Lucy killing herself. The final Lords of Vice historical romance (see Dusk With A Dangerous Duke) is a delightful late Regency as the previous leads return for the end game. In spite of falling in love Frost’s roguish charm remains consistent with the same haughty naughtiness (though redirected) that he displayed throughout the series. On the other hand, Emily does not seem real as she too abruptly changes from hatred to love in a beat of the heart. Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Mandarin Gate-Eliot Pattison

Mandarin Gate Eliot Pattison Minotaur, Dec 24 2013, $25.99 ISBN 9780312656041 Former Beijing investigator Shan Tao Yun learned the hard way about being too diligent when pursuing corruption at the highest levels of the government; his reward was exile to a Tibetan gulag. Still in Tibet, which he love due to the people, Shan works alongside unregistered Buddhist monks as a government irrigation and sewer inspector. Unofficially he thrives on protecting the Tibetans from their Chinese overlords like keeping unregistered Monk Jamyang safe from an egregious bounty hunter. To his horror Shan watches his close friend Lokesh shoots and kills Jamyang. They go to honor Jamyang by adhering to his wishes to treat every shrine as the last shrine. However Shan observes Public Security Bureau and People’s Armed Police at the site of a ruined convent. Unable to resist though he knows the consequences of his folly, Shan makes commentary on the homicide “scenes” of two mutilated males that he believes are Chinese and a shot in the chest Buddhist nun were posed together with her at their feet far from the site of their deaths. Shan knows he must solve the case before the PAP’s “green apes” viciously punish everyone in the nearby village turned into a prison camp. The seventh Shan mystery (see Lord of Death and Prayer of the Dragon) continues to show the oppression of the Tibetan people especially when it comes to justice. Encouraged by PSB Lieutenant Meng, Shan returns to his previous occupation as he investigates the homicides but aware he must be careful with how he does so or face the reeducation wrath of Governor Colonel Tan. Readers will appreciate the protagonist’s latest albeit unofficial case. Harriet Klausner

The In-Between Hour-Barbara Claypole White

The In-Between Hour Barbara Claypole White Mira, Dec 31 2013, $14.95 ISBN 9780778314752 In his apartment on Central Park West, bestselling author Will Shepard grieves the accidental death of his beloved son Freddie. Unable to write or sleep, Will also poorly deals with his father Jacob who keeps asking him to have Freddie call him as the octogenarian’s Alzheimer has wiped out the memory of his grandson’s death. Will constantly lies to his dad that Freddie will call him soon. After several weeks in Orange County, California, veterinarian Hannah Linden comes home to Saponi Mountain in North Carolina still seeing her screaming adult child Galen tied to a gurney. Hannah feels hopeless as her son wants to commit suicide. When the Hawk’s Ridge Retirement Community informs Will they plan to toss out Jacob due to his illness compounded by alcoholism, Will comes home to North Carolina where his dad immediately demands to see Freddie. While renting a cabin that he shares with his father from Hannah, Will and the vet forge a friendship out of the tsuris that engulfs both of them. Soon they fall in love, but to Will and Hannah family needs come before their shared desire yet each knows they can rely on the other for needed emotional support. The fully developed extended cast makes this tale into a powerful family drama that focuses on the impact of the illnesses on loving caretakers; as readers will feel the immense pressure on the lead pair to cope emotionally with what to do for their ailing beloved relatives. Although the romance goes as expected, readers will appreciate the relationship between Will and Hannah with each understanding the demons they both face when it comes to doing right by his dad and her son. Harriet Klausner

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Spider-Jennifer Estep

The Spider Jennifer Estep Pocket, Dec 24 2913, $7.99 ISBN: 9781451689013 In downtown Ashland, thirty years old Gin Blanco opens up her Pork Pit with her usual anticipation someone someday will kill her for her activity as the assassin Spider. In what is a quiet day, her lover Owen Grayson notices Gin is more tense than normal. When a delivery man arrives with a box, Gin reacts as she did with the last package courier who lies in the freezer awaiting the disposable talent of head cook Sophia Deveraux. She demands he tell her what is inside the box; but he insists he does not know. Realizing the frightened person sees her as insane restaurant owner Gin Blanco; she relaxes a bit and over tips him before cautiously opening the package after closing the restaurant. Inside are black roses with a card saying “Happy Anniversary”. She tells Owen what the flowers symbolize. Starting when she was thirteen, the previous Pork Pit owner Fletcher Lane taught Gin and his son Finn the art of assassination. When Gin was twenty, she went out on an easy mission that turned ugly. Now her past has returned, but the adversary faces a field tested veteran not a naïve rookie. This Elemental Assassin prequel is a strong entry as readers see the traits of super Spider but also the lack of experience and maturity; as Gin makes enthusiastic rookie mistakes. Action-packed and consistent with other books (see Heart of Venom) in the series that occur later in the heroine’s timeline, key players who influenced her life (like her teacher and his son) add depth to the exciting thriller. Fans will appreciate reading about a pivotal moment in the transition of Gin into Spider. Harriet Klausner

Real As It Gets-Reshonda Tate Billingsley

Real As It Gets Reshonda Tate Billingsley Kensington K-Teen, Dec 31 2013. $9.95 ISBN: 9780758289551 In the slums of Brooklyn ailing Bev worried about her at risk son Travis so she sends him to live with his wealthy uncle in Miami. At the same time Travis’ cousin Maya, the leader of the Miami “It Clique” and TV star of celebrity gossip Rumor Central, sees an image of former Miss Teen Miami Savannah Vanderpool stoned and looking like hell at the S.I. cover reception. Stunned as getting high seems out of character for Savannah, Maya learns the model used K2, a synthetic more powerful than Kush or meth. At Miami HS which both cousins now attend, Maya objects when Travis begins seeing her BFF Sheridan and warns her ex Bryce to keep his distance. However, Travis worries about his mom’s health as she refuses charity from her brother. To pay her enormous medical bills, Travis begins dealing while Maya tries to get him to stop for his sake and because students like the smart Lin Vo have become brain damaged by K2 usage. Though I have doubts with what happens to Travis after his poor choices, the third Rumor Central teen drama (see You Don’t Know Me Like That) is a strong entry that looks deeply into the high school drug problem. In many ways Travis steals the show from his superstar courageous cousin as this exciting tale makes the downside of the drug scene as Real As It Gets. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Zoo-James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

Zoo James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge Vision/Grand Central, Dec 17 2013, $10.00 ISBN: 9781455525157 Biologist Jackson Oz observes a growing trend in which male animals from a wide variety of species become aggressive attackers of humans. He develops the Human-Animal Conflict (HAC) hypothesis in which he ponders whether the underlying cause that has changed the behavior of even docile pets into violent aggressors could be some form of modern day technology sending out “signals”. He heads to Africa to test his HAC theory, but upon arrival male lions charge at his vehicle with him inside. Barely escaping, Oz rescues ecologist Chloe Tousignant from dozens of attacking alligators. The two scientists try to warn the world, but leaders choose self-preservation proclaiming Oz to be a nutcase with a wacko concept. As Oz and Chloe continue their research, he modifies his theory to include animals working as a cohesive assault unit propelled by industrialization; concluding with mankind will become the hunted if radical changes don’t occur now. After a slow unnecessary early interlude in the sack and throughout too much explanation rather than action, the environmental premise with its deniers makes for an engaging save mankind in spite of itself thriller. Oz comes across as brilliant but fickle while Chloe is never developed beyond being an adulating sexual sidekick for the hero to love and rescue. Overall Zoo is an entertaining tale that could have been a great cautionary parable. Harriet Klausner

The Tenth Circle-Jon Land

The Tenth Circle Jon Land Open Road, Dec 24 2013, $16.99 www.openroadmedia.com ISBN 9781480414792 Black ops Blaine McCracken and Johnny Wareagle return home after successfully destroying an underground nuclear facility in Iran. However, in the States, Reverend Jeremiah Rule sprouts hatred attacks on Islam that he calls evil and blames it for everything wrong in the world. Raging with fire and brimstone, Rule encourages his supporters to take action against these wicked Muslim monsters protected by the duplicitous sinful American government. An affluent secret cabal supports the Reverend in his fiery loathing; but is ignorant as to his plans to deploy a special weapon of mass destruction used in the late sixteenth century on Roanoke Island and in 1872 on the Mary Celeste. Blaine, Johnny and others have no time to rest on their Iranian laurels as they must prevent the Rev. from devastating the globe with his WMD. The latest exhilarating faster than light Blaine McCracken black ops thriller (see Pandora’s Temple) uses the premise of a WMD as the cause behind the two famous historical mass disappearances. Over the top of Fenway’s Green Monster (to the delight of us fans including we Yankee rooters), readers will appreciate the efforts of Blaine and company to keep Rule from changing America and the world into a hellish Tenth Circle. Harriet Klausner

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Law Man-Kristen Ashley

Law Man Kristen Ashley Forever, Dec 17 2013, $8.00 ISBN 9781455599226 In Denver, uber-reticent Pierson Mattress and Bed sale clerk Mara Hanover rates from a distance her neighbor Detective Mitch Lawson as a 10.5. Though wildly attracted to him, thirtyish Mara knows nothing will come of it as she considers herself no better than an inflated 2.5 with her rotten Iowa childhood mooring her with the belief no one would ever desire her; even her one relationship with a 6.5 ended when he sought a 9.5. Mara settles for dreams that the Law Man would shower her with love. A leaky faucet sends Mara next door for help, but Mitch walking up the stairs offers to look at it. Mara reacts like an idiot but thanks him for fixing the leak and pays him back with her barbeque chicken pizza, but becomes heartbroken when he cannot make it because of a 9.75. Mitch takes Mara to pick up her single dad cousin Bill’s runaway children, scornful nine year old Billy and fearful six years old Billie, whose respective moms deserted them. To her sputtering shock, Mitch pushes his way into Mara World. The third Dream Man romance (see Mystery Man and Wild Man) is a fabulous contemporary summed up by the title character when he concludes that his beloved cannot accept him being nice to her while turning into a spitfire when he is nasty towards her. Though the traumatized kids and a narcotics mystery enhance the deep storyline, Mara with her negative self-esteem brings freshness as a unique lead female to an engaging tale. Harriet Klausner

Reaver-Larissa Ione

Reaver Larissa Ione Grand Central, Dec 17 2013, $8.00 ISBN: 9781455526970 Reaver was once the battle angel Yenrieth, but his less than heavenly roguish actions led to memories of his past eradicated from almost everyone including himself and his offspring the Horsemen. Still considered a loose cannon lunatic by the craziest berserker battle angels, Reaver will risk anything even disobeying the Archangels or losing his wings on a mission he believes is heavenly. His self-assigned quest is to enter where angels dare not go: hell to abduct Satan’s greatest capture. Harvester became a Fallen when she sacrificed her wings to go undercover in hell. However, after a millennium in Satan’s chamber of horrors working against the prince of evil, she has been exposed as an enemy agent who will spend eternity tormented with a craving for angelic blood. Reaver enters the evil domain knowing he will remain inside Satan’s torture chamber forever, but his gut tells him to take a chance on rescuing Harvester, although both remains ignorant to the bigger crisis than escape from hell. The latest Lords of Deliverance (see Lethal Rider and Rogue Rider) is a great ultra-dark romantic fantasy filled with action as the rogue Reaver is “… willing to march (head dive more descriptive) into Hell for a heavenly cause" (The Impossible Dream). However what makes this entry superb is the transformation of Harvester during the overarching plot of the last few thrillers; that change also makes it imperative for newbies to read the earlier novels to better understand the courage of this doomed volunteer. Series fans of Larissa Ione’s dark Demonica realm will relish this strong stark saga. Harriet Klausner

Friday, December 20, 2013

Dead by Wednesday-Beverly Long

Dead by Wednesday Beverly Long Harlequin Intrigue, Dec 17 2013, $5.50 ISBN: 9780373697397 Following the death of her older brother due to gang violence, Carmen Jimenez dedicated her life to helping troubled pregnant teens. Police officer Robert Hanson investigates a serial killer targeting male teens every Wednesday for the past four weeks. He and Carmen met three months ago when she was the maid of honor and he the best man at their respective BFFs’ wedding. Their solo dance was heavenly but he wanted more and she was afraid. A victim of bullies at high school, Carmen’s brother Raoul makes a new friend Apollo who helps him deal with his tormenters. Realizing her sibling has changed and concerned that Raoul was turning to the gangs; Carman asks Robert to be a big brother to his sibling. Though his time is limited and he rationalizes that Raoul gives him an inside to teen boys, Hanson knows he agrees because this is his chance for some time with Carmen. When she learns the dark secret her hero fails to tell her, their relationship collapses at a time the killer targets the Jimenez siblings. This is a strong romantic police procedural that provides a deep look into the subculture of gangs especially the motives including being a bullying victim why so many join the violent lifestyle, and the impact on families by teen pregnancy. Readers will know the identity of the serial killer early on, but not care as Dead by Wednesday needs a warning label to wear seatbelts due to a faster than the speed of light storyline. Harriet Klausner

Gone-Mallory Kane

Gone Mallory Kane Harlequin Intrigue, Dec 17 2013, $5.50 ISBN: 9780373697373 Two years ago in New Orleans, someone abducted infant Joshua Powers. Ever since his distraught mom Marcie sees her missing baby everywhere while the child’s depressed dad Joe, who like his mate blames himself for their baby Gone in an instant, believes his estranged wife has become unhinged. He has not seen his spouse in a year since the last time she claimed she found Joshua. When Marcie knows again she has seen her Joshua this time in a car, she turns to skeptical Joe with the auto tag rather than the cops because he has access as he works at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Deciding to appease her while proving her wrong again, Joe is shocked when they find Joshua taken by deranged childless Rhoda Sumner who was tender and caring with the child. However, before the bereaving family can become a happy unit again, they learn that Joe is the illegitimate son of affluent Con Delancey; making Joshua the monetary target of Rhoda’s odious boyfriend Howard Lelievre. The latest Delancey Dynasty (see Dirty Little Secrets, Special Forces Father and Star Witness) is an exciting action-packed Bayou suspense due to the powerful key cast. Readers will sympathize with the adult Powers as each separately struggles emotionally with what destroyed their family and surprisingly empathize with mentally ill Rhoda in spite of her snatching “her Joshy” while hoping she gets the help she desperately needs. Harriet Klausner

Thursday, December 19, 2013

My Secret Fantasies-Joanne Rock

My Secret Fantasies Joanne Rock Harlequin Blaze, Dec 17 2013, $5.50 ISBN: 9780373797868 Miranda Cortland loved the Pacific and working at her friend’s Melrose Tearoom. When she became a paparazzi favorite as the “Nebraska Backstabber” of the Gutsy Girl reality show that led to vandalism and contact from her sister Nina’s odious ex-husband Rick Barrow; Miranda concluded it is time to flee Southern California. Seeing an ad on Craigslist, she buys land in the Sonoma area from rancher Damien Fraser. Her plans are to open a tearoom and write a steamy romance. Miranda becomes tongue-tied when she meets Damien who soon becomes the star of her novel. Damien detests her TV infamy almost as much as he hates his attraction to the needy woman. As they fall in love, vicious reality arrives in ranch country. The metafiction of extracts from Miranda’s steamy novel brings a delightful freshness to this fun heated Forbidden Fantasies (see No Desire Denied by Cara Summers). Though the invasion of Miranda’s past occurs as expected, readers will appreciate the reticent Cornhusker and the loner rancher falling in love in reality and in her fiction. Harriet Klausner

Texas Outlaws: Jesse-Kimberley Raye

Texas Outlaws: Jesse Kimberley Raye Harlequin Blaze, Dec 17 2013, $5.50 ISBN: 9780373797844 Jesse James Chisholm knows first-hand that the sins of his late famous outlaw father pass on to the child; as his dad robbed banks so the citizens of Lost Gun, Texas assumed he and his brothers inherited his felonious gene. Considered a pariah by most residents, Jesse left town to become a bull riding champion. He comes home for just about the only person who could bring him back to Lost Gun; the marriage of Pete Gunner who saved him (and his siblings) when he was a teen. The downside of coming home is seeing Gracie Jones, who twelve years ago dumped him. He recalls her being the bad girl equal to his bad boy, but now Gracie is a respectable conservative mayor-elect. Neither desires that their attraction remains stratospheric as love proves very powerful. The first Chisholm brothers’ Texas Outlaws is a heated second chance at love romance starring two fascinating protagonists working on their respective images while dealing with torrid desires. Although the action slows down at times, sub-genre fans will enjoy the son of a bank robber and the newly elected mayor struggling with quenching the inferno that binds them. Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Sinners' Garden-William Sirls

The Sinners' Garden William Sirls Thomas Nelson, Dec 17 2013, $12.99 ISBN: 9781401687380 In Benning Township off the thinnest part of Lake Erie, Andy’s father abused him. The violence left the teenager with visible scarring on his face and even worse inside his soul. He loathes everyone especially his mom Judi who failed to protect her son from his brutal father. Judi holds herself culpable over how messed up her child has become because she failed to intervene when her husband battered their son. Having done time for a crime, Andy’s Uncle Rip also believes he let down his nephew by not confronting the abuser and not being there for the child when he was needed. He vows to rectify his mistake by helping his angry resentful relative heal. Andy begins hearing strange messages on his iPod that he believes come from God. Meanwhile a “Summer Santa” breaks into homes but does not take anything; instead he drops off gift cards that the occupants desperately can use. Concerned Police Officer Heather Gerisch fails to catch the elusive B&E bandit who breaks the law and she fears sets a bad example with the break-ins even while simultaneously doing good deeds. When a lovely garden mysteriously appears at the closed steel mill, Andy, his mom and uncle believe heaven is sending them the Word that regardless we are his beloved children. This strong Rust Belt allegory grips the reader with an underlying message of forgiveness and second chance redemption; summed up by true believer Pastor Welsh telling Andy and readers that even when people desert God, the Lord never leaves anyone. With their hurts, flaws and lack of faith, the protagonists seem genuine even in a dying town’s miraculous resurrection of hope. Harriet Klausner

Tempest's Course-Lynette Sowell

Tempest's Course Lynette Sowell Abingdon, Dec 17 2013, $12.99 ISBN: 9781426752766 Though there is an odd stipulation that she live in Grey House while restoring the century and a half old Mariner's Compass quilt, textiles conservator Kelly Frost needs the work to prove her competency so she accepts the commission in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Coldly greeting Kelly upon her arrival at the nineteenth century whaling Captain Gray’s home is army veteran Tom Silva, the caretaker suffering from PTSD after a haunting incident. As Kelly restores the quilt, Tom slowly warms up to her. Kelly finds and reads the journal of the Captain’s wife Mary, who filled with remorse and guilt, explains her reason for creating the Mariner's Compass quilt. When Tom learns of his family’s secrets, he and Kelly feel a connection to the Gray family. Someone wants them gone using seeming accidents to drive the pair out. In spite of his military time and her foster child upbringing, both want to believe a third unknown adversary is behind the events as neither accepts the person they love would harm them. The latest Quilts of Love inspirational romance (see Aloha Rose by Lisa Carter and The Christmas Quilt by Vannetta Chapman) is an engaging tale due to the reluctant to embrace love lead couple as their initial hardness leaves them unsympathetic; though they grow on us. A twisting mystery and a deep look at mid nineteenth century New Bedford (through the journal) enhances the entertaining storyline. Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Happily Ever After-Lori Wilde

Happily Ever After Lori Wilde Forever, Dec 17 2013, $8.00 ISBN: 9781455549924 “ADDICTED TO LOVE”. Jilted for the second time, frustrated Rachael Henderson disfigures the Valentine, Texas billboard as happily ever after is a fairytale. Her first crush Iraq War veteran turned town Sheriff Brody Carlton arrests her for defacing public property. The court gives Rachel community service; while she sentences herself to set up an Internet site for Romanceaholics Anonymous so they can save each other from the addicted destruction of romanticism. The townsfolk are irate; at least the Austen crowd and those who sell the concept of romance in Valentine; although some cynics toast their new heroine. Brody, who lost a leg in Iraq, thinks the woman he is falling in love with is overreacting to the rejections; as he believes she has not found the right groom until now. “ALL OF ME”. Struggling to cope with the death of his wife Aimee two years ago, architect Tucker Manning leaves for his self- imposed exile to Salvation, Colorado. He hopes to grieve in peace at the lake house his father-in-law Blake gave him. Houston attorney Jillian Samuels arrives to find Tucker there. She insists the lake house is hers as her beloved mentor Blake meant for her to inherit the Salvation home. Jillian and Tuck reach an agreement to co-share the house for now until they can come up with a more suitable arrangement. Both are stunned by the attraction each feels from the first encounter. Whereas Tuck feels betrayal of his beloved Aimee; Jillian takes a chance on love if he allows her. This reprint of two charming Wedding Veil Wishes tales are amusing lighthearted fun with strong protagonists though All Of Me also contains plenty of pathos. Harriet Klausner

Happy New Year, Baby Fortune-Leanne Banks

Happy New Year, Baby Fortune Leanne Banks Harlequin Special Edition, Dec 17 2013, $5.50 ISBN: 9780373657872 As she and others celebrate New Year’s Eve in Horseback Hollow, Texas, Stacy Fortune Jones feels blessed with her six-month old daughter Piper. She appreciates her family showering her baby with love though there is a spat between her resentful brother Chris and their mom Jeanne due to the latter refusing to accept any money from her sibling James. Stacey has mixed feelings about her ex-fiancé Joe who dumped her (to her relief) when she told him she was carrying his child as the rat makes no time for his offspring (to her chagrin). Lately Stacy finds herself distracted by thoughts of her friend’s older brother Colton Foster. Noticing how mature Stacy has become since becoming a single mom, Colton is attracted to her too. However Colton also remains reluctant to pursue his neighbor as he fears the impact on their close friendly family relationships and besides has doubts about raising a child at this time especially since Piper scares him more than a charging bull. This Fortunes of Texas: Welcome to Horseback Hollow contemporary is an engaging ranch family drama. While there is some family feuding, the romance between the longtime friends is straightforward and sweet with the baby serving as an endearing chaperone. Harriet Klausner

The Quaker And The Rebel-Mary Ellis

The Quaker And The Rebel Mary Ellis Harvest House, Jan 1 2014, $13.99 ISBN 9780736950503 In 1861 on Virginia’s Bennington Island in the Ohio River, Dr. Porter and Mrs. Augusta Bennington hire Quaker Emily Harrison as a governess to their two daughters. Emily explains to Augusta that she is engaged and as soon as her fiancé returns from DC, she will marry him in Marietta. The governess also declares she adamantly opposes slavery though concealing from her slave-owning employer that her late parents worked the Underground Railroad. Not upset with the brazen woman, Augusta replies that she, her sister and her nephew Alexander Hunt are Quakers too. Emily struggles between loyalty to the Bennington family and a need to help runaway slaves. She also is attracted to slave owner Alexander in spite of his lackadaisical uncaring nature; refusing to take a side in the conflict. Alexander reciprocates her feelings but hides from Emily that he is “the Gray Wraith” trying to help slaves without using a gun. The first Civil War Heroines’ romance is an exciting historical starring two protagonists driven by their Quaker faith to assist runaway slaves. Though transitions are choppy, Alexander and Emily cleverly change due to the horrors they witness. Vividly written, readers will appreciate the insight into Quakerism during the battle of Middleburg, the blockade of Richmond, the courageous efforts of the Underground Railroad and the secession of West Virginia (from Virginia) providing a strong backdrop to a fabulous War Between The States drama. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Everyone’s Time To Cook: How To Start A Love Affair With Cooking-Robert Blakeslee

Everyone’s Time To Cook: How To Start A Love Affair With Cooking Robert Blakeslee Square One Publishers, Inc., May 30 2013, $24.95 ISBN: 9780757003790 The title accurately describes the premise of this wonderful easy to use cookbook that is divided into two major sections: “Getting Started” and “The Recipes”. Though Square One Publishers calls “Getting Started” as “Cooking Class 101; I would differ as this category is a delightful descriptive remedial Cooking Class 099 that uses pictures and easy to understand text with tips to introduce the reluctant novice to the kitchen. “The Recipes” are divided into fourteen categories that are similar to many cookbooks but with the additions of numerous pictures and simple step by step instructions. My husband learned to cook in a Bronx JHS; my daughter-in-law is a superb chef; I have known my way around a kitchen for over four decades. None of us are ideal candidates to test Robert Blakeslee’s underlying principle. So I asked my son, whose résumé consists of peanut butter and microwaving compounded by a deep need for overwhelming detail, to make for the four of us a day after Thanksgiving meal. For breakfast, he made from scratch excellent pancakes and so-so coffee (admitting he didn’t follow the book by reverting to how he always made coffee). He also baked a tasty pumpkin pie. Though anecdotal, my son said this was an easy to use book in an enabling style that he wishes would be applied to other milieus; and promises us Christmas dinner a la Blakeslee. PS: like all good guests we left him the dishes. Harriet Klausner

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Doctor And The Dinosaurs-Mike Resnick

The Doctor And The Dinosaurs Mike Resnick Pyr, Dec 10 2013, $18.00 ISBN: 9781616148614 In 1885 as John L. Sullivan comes from the east, emaciated dentist Doc Holliday cannot enjoy the boxing festivities since his entire focus in on his next breathe while dying from Consumption at the Leadville Sanitarium. The once deadly shooter’s companion Kate Elder has begun auctioning off his dental equipment as he has less than a week left. While Doc wheezes, Theodore Roosevelt and Apache medicine man Geronimo sign a treaty that allows whites to enter the previously forbidden West. However the ink is not dry on their pact when two bitter rivals Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh arrive in search of dinosaur bones. Neither adversarial paleontologist cares about the fact that where they dig might upset the local population as long as they achieve greater finds than the other. When both desecrate holy burial grounds, irate Comanche medicine men angrily inform Geronimo they will reanimate dinosaurs to dine on these despicable miscreants. Fearing the medicine men may lose control of the dinosaurs leading to unintended consequences of the beasts feasting on their respective tribes, Geronimo offers Holliday a deal he cannot refuse. In return for one year of good health, Doc, using any means necessary, rids the west of these two odious desiccators. The latest Weird West fantasy (see The Buntline Special) is an enjoyable thriller even with a thin storyline based on the real “Bone Wars” feud between Cope and Marsh. The cast is strong; especially Doc with his graveyard humor adding fun to an engaging clash between the American worship of the manifest destiny of science and the tribes’ belief in the cultural heritage of their magic; with dinosaurs uninterested in either human tenet. Harriet Klausner

Elementary: All-New Tales of the Elemental Masters-Edited by Mercedes Lackey

Elementary: All-New Tales of the Elemental Masters Edited by Mercedes Lackey DAW, Dec 3 2013, $7.99 ISBN 9780756409593 The second “All-New Tales of the Elemental Masters” collection (see Elemental Magic) contains nineteen very short stories; with most occurring outside of Victorian England. Tanya Huff returns to Nova Scotia (see Elemental Magic’s "Tha Thu Ann") in “Arms of the Sea” as Marie struggles with what happened to her and her dad. The “Fire’s Daughter” by Elisabeth Waters focuses on “to thine own self be true” (Shakespeare). Diane Paxton leaves "A Song of the Sea" (from the previous compilation) to a “Fire Song”. Readers return to Jody Lynn Nye's La Parfumier Rupier (see Elemental Magic’s "Air of Mystery") in “Air of Deception”. Mercedes Lackey ends the collection with a strong trek “Into The Woods”. With a sense of newness caused by the most contributions set outside Victorian England and includes few weak entries, readers will appreciate the latest entertaining Elemental Masters expansive historical fantasy anthology as many of the same writers from the opening act provide fans with a return engagement. Harriet Klausner

Friday, December 13, 2013

Lost Covenant-Ari Marmell

Lost Covenant Ari Marmell Pyr, Dec 3 2013, $17.99 ISBN: 9781616148119 Several months have passed since teenage orphan Widdershins and her god Olgun, of whom no one else reveres, fled Davillon. During their journey, the former relatively successful thief and failed ex tavern-keeper learns that the family of her deceased savior Alexandre Delacroix is in trouble from the machinations of a rival house. Feeling she owes a debt from when she an urchin called Adrienne Sati before and during the time kind Alexandre removed her from the streets; Widdershins decides to protect the Delacroix house. Thus she and the tiny god inside her investigate the insidious plot. The late Alexandre’s family distrusts his adopted daughter, which makes her efforts more dangerous to her, Olgun and the Delacroix clan. This Widdershins thriller (see Thief’s Covenant and False Covenant) is an entertaining investigative fantasy due to the schizophrenic-like antics of the protagonist. Though there remains plenty of magic, the fun is with Widdershins’ debates with her deity and her (and us) hearing people’s casual phoniness and transgressions. Fast-paced with humor from a persistent suitor and satirizing hypocrisy, readers will enjoy Widdershins to the rescue of those who scorn her. Harriet Klausner

The Fifth Assassin-Brad Meltzer

The Fifth Assassin Brad Meltzer Grand Central, Dec 10 2013, $10.00 ISBN: 9780446553988 National Archives archivist Beecher White became part of the Culper Ring, established by George Washington to protect the presidency, after he and his high school crush Clementine Hadrian got involved with a GW artifact (see The Inner Circle). Recently the unknown Knight has assassinated church dignitaries by copying presidential murders. Beecher investigates the serial killings. His findings leads him to an improbable hypothesis that he and historians would have believed impossible not too long ago; the archivist concludes the four successful POTUS assassins amongst the over twenty attempts seem to have “worked” together. Additionally, Beecher assumes the current religious murders are practice for the mysterious masked wearing Knight to target the current office holder; though the archivist believes the death of the malevolent president is not necessarily a bad thing. The second Beecher White tale (see The Inner Circle) is an exhilarating conspiratorial thriller that uses real presidential history as a critical backdrop. Although there are too many jumping in and out of subplots (especially distracting is the hero’s childhood flashbacks), readers will appreciate the adventures of the activist archivist attempting to prevent the fascinating (in a macabre way) deranged Fifth Assassin from succeeding. Harriet Klausner

Carolina Gold-Dorothy Love

Carolina Gold Dorothy Love Thomas Nelson, Dec 10 2013, $15.99 ISBN: 9781401687618 In 1868 South Carolina, Charlotte Fraser returns to her ruined family owned Fairhaven with plans to produce rice there just like her late Papa did; though she thinks thankfully without the slaves he used. Charlotte lacks funds so will need a source of income to pay workers, repair the war damaged plantation and purchase equipment. She also has proof of ownership issues especially with the Yankees using the new law to claim the land. Nicholas Betancourt struggles to find documents that prove he is the legal owner of Willowood Plantation. Charlotte meets Nicholas soaked daughters (nine years old Marie-Clare and six years old Anne Louise), whose rowboat overturned. She cleans them up and feeds the ill-mannered ragamuffins before escorting them to their father. Upset with their disobedience and concerned for their safety as unchaperoned run-arounds, Nicholas hires her to tutor his children. As Charlotte falls in love with the three Betancourt’s, they return her feelings. However, Nicholas’s search for his ownership proof uncovers secrets about Charlotte’s family that devastate her dream. Inspired by nineteenth century rice farmer Elizabeth Waites Allston Pringle, Carolina Gold is a deep historical romance with the emphasis on Low Country Reconstruction during a time when deeds have vanished, thieving carpetbaggers thrives, and former slaves and slave-owners compete for employment. Character-driven by the lead “family” and containing a strong support cast, fans will relish this insightful tale that focuses on surviving the Civil War’s aftermath. Harriet Klausner

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Vintage Club-Darin Gibby

The Vintage Club Darin Gibby Koehler Books, Dec 1 2013, $18.95 www.koehler.com ISBN: 9781938467653 Reggie Alexander knows he comes a long way from his impoverished life as a DC orphan thanks to affluent Walter and Sherri Trudell who gave him shelter and sustenance from the street violence as one of their “projects”. Now married with a wife and son in Rockville, Reggie takes the o-dark commute to his work in Washington as a bureaucrat at the Patent Office. Reggie’s safe family façade collapses when someone murders Walter; as the philanthropist’s associates at the Vintage Club believe he killed his savior. Not long afterward, Reggie’s wife and son vanish while he goes into hiding to avoid the assaults on him that emotionally take him back to his brutal childhood before the rescue. What Reggie is unaware of is that the Vintage Club members seek the Last Supper wine of immortality and think he killed Walter for it. This Brownian thriller is an action-packed tale that removes a young man from his heavenly middle class existence and places him in hell with the return of his childhood PTSD; turning Reggie into an unconfident David facing presumptuous billionaire Goliaths. Though transitions are choppy (hazard of first books), fast-paced with fascinating interpretations from the bible, fresh use of customized nanotechnology, insight into patent law, and child trauma haunting the adult; readers will relish this engaging novel. Harriet Klausner

The Past And Other Lies-Maggie Joel

The Past And Other Lies Maggie Joel Felony & Mayhem, Dec 7 2013, $14.99 ISBN: 9781937384753 In 1981, sixteen year old Charlotte Denzel quietly takes a chair from the kitchen into her upstairs bedroom with none of her family noticing. On her tippy toes, Charlotte stands on the chair while knotting a school tie around the ceiling light fitting and another around her neck. While Charlotte’s younger brother Graham and her parents eat, her older sister Jennifer goes to get her to join them. Jennifer cuts them saving her sibling’s life but thinking how to explain the waste of ties to their parents. Later Charlotte denies this happened while Jennifer insists it occurred. In 1924, the sisters’ grandmother Bertha is planning to meet Mr. Ronnie Booth in Hyde Park, but someone told her angry father. She thinks it must be her friend Elsie as her sister Jemima did not know of her rendezvous and Ronnie would not have told anyone. Jemima calms their dad by agreeing to chaperone Bertha. In 1926, Jemima gives birth to Ronnie’s baby while raging Bertha seethes over her sibling’s betrayal. In 1945 Caroline goes to visit her boyfriend Clive, but her sister Deirdre tells their mom who follows her. When her mom is trapped in Nazi-bombed rubble, Caroline realizes her dad wants his wife to die. Focusing primarily on sisterly relationships between three generations from the same family, this brilliant drama comes across as an interrelated thought-provoking tri-story saga. The powerful premise is based on relativity re how each interprets the critical personal events that cleverly keeps the readers shifting who we emphasize with as new interpretation of the facts and lies surface. Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Death By Misadventure-E.E. Smith

Death By Misadventure E.E. Smith Phoenix International, Nov 16 2013, $3.99 www.phoenixupub.com ISBN: 9780989935609 In 1947, War Widow Alexis J Smith is late for work as a conductor of “Discreet Inquiries because she learned of the blood splattered on two floors of the building where her office is. When she finally arrives, Lexie’s secretary Sandy tells her boss that she has a client with apparently plenty of money waiting for her. Mrs. Kate Farraday offers the sleuth a lot of cash to find her missing husband Frank who vanished a year ago with their baby Daisy and a lot more if she kills him. Lexie is taken aback as she failed to recognize Mrs. Farraday until the woman said she is her 1941 Sacramento High School friend Katie O’Toole and Frank is the boy Lexie loved six years ago. Believing Kate’s tale of woe is false and fearing her old buddy will find a gun for hire, Lexie decides to locate Frank in London to warn him of his mad mate’s murderous plot. In England, Lexie obtains help from Harry of "The Yard" as she locates Frank at haunted Old Vicarage Inn with Kate trailing the American gumshoe. This opening act is a terrific historical mystery in which E.E. Smith captures the dreams of high school seniors a few months before Pearl Harbor and life in California and mostly London after WWII ended. Although minor I could not accept Lexie failing to recognize her BFF Katie even with an affluent make-over. Still readers will enjoy spending the 1940s with the heroine as our guide to post-war England, which enhances an excellent investigation made stronger by vivid flashbacks and a stunning twisted motive. Harriet Klausner

Electra-Kerry Greenwood

Electra Kerry Greenwood Poisoned Pen, Dec 3 2013, $24.95 ISBN 9781464202131 The long war is finally over with the destruction of Troy although the surviving losers secretly begin construction of a new city. Many like Hector paid the price with their lives; others like Cassandra the seer have become prisoners; and some like weary Odysseus are unable to go home to Ithaca as puppets manipulated by the Gods venture on another quest. To the victors go the glory thinks elated King of Men Agamemnon as he sails home to Mycenae. However, his years away has led to his wife Queen Clytemnestra seeking comfort with Aegisthus, nephew child murdering Atreus, and not wanting her liege back in her life to take away her power accrued in his absence. One of their daughters Electra sees how much her mother prefers her father go back to war. When Clytemnestra kills Agamemnon, Electra expected the spousal murder and vows to avenge her sire’s death; though has an even more powerful reason to assassinate her mother the Queen. The final Delphic Women Greek mythology (see Cassandra and Medea) is a superb retelling of Electra that brings freshness by the title character having a viable second motive to commit royal murder and a fascinating where are the winners and losers now that the fighting ended. Readers will appreciate this strong rendition (and trilogy) as Kerry Greenwood provides a fabulous mythos. Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Take Over at Midnight-M.L. Buchman

Take Over at Midnight M.L. Buchman Sourcebooks, Dec 3 2013, $7.99 ISBN 9781402258190 Since her personal goal is to become a military helicopter pilot, Chief Warrant Officer Lola LaRue diligently performs her tasks while serving in Afghanistan. When she learns of her assignment to Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR), the CW2 is ecstatic. As she arrives at SOAR’s dumpy home base in Bati, Pakistan, Lola meets her teammates and quickly draws blood which “certifies” her as a Black Adder. Lola and “Crazy” Sergeant Tim Maloney hit it off, while Sergeant Kee treats her with scorn. Though thoughts of Tim constantly intrude, the newcomer concentrates on her dangerous missions in order to prove her worthiness as a female SOAR female pilot to her role model Major Emily Beale. Besides Lola rationalizes that crazy Tim comes from a large loving family and she comes from a whorehouse. The fourth Night Stalkers military romance (see Wait Until Dark, The Night Is Mine and I Own the Dawn) is a fabulous soaring thriller. Although nicknamed Crazy for a reason, Tim is similar to previous series male heroes in love; while Lola brings freshness with her horrible past impacting her relationships as the child is the adult. Filled with seemingly realistic action especially in the sky, in-fighting politics and a wonderful romance; readers will enjoy this entry. Harriet Klausner

1920: America's Great War-Robert Conroy

1920: America's Great War Robert Conroy Baen, Dec 3 2013, $25.00 ISBN 9781451639315 In 1914 Southern France, the British Expeditionary Force’s dejected soldiers sit in mud as their officers surrender to the Germans. Their only solace is the French suffered worse at the Battle of the Marne when their ally’s army collapsed in its entirety while these brothers in arms remain defeated but intact. The German western front has become quiet too as the powerful army is devastated the Russians. The Kaiser owns Europe as the world’s only superpower. By 1920 Russia remains embroiled in a long-running terrible civil war and almost all the rest of Europe allied or totally consolidated under German rule. Kaiser Wilhelm II knows the only threat to his dynasty is the United States with its incredibly growing economy. The Germans also know militarily their foe is weak as ailing President Wilson believes in peace so spends little money on an offensive fighting force. Not wanting to risk that a White House successor will prove formidable by using the industrial complex to create a powerful modern day military, the Germans persuade Mexico to join them in a blitzkrieg through California and Texas with plans for their ally to annex what was once their territory. Though there is similarity to Robert Conroy’s 1901, the major differences include changed invasion locale with Mexican support; the motivation to defeat a sleeping giant before it awakens vs. colonization; and the blitzkrieg victory in Europe. Filled with action and real persona like an overbearing Churchill, this fast-paced alternate history uses the Battle of the Marne as the key pivotal moment to change our reality. Although the aftermath of the climactic Battle of California seems abrupt, readers will enjoy Mr. Conroy’s exciting tale. Harriet Klausner

Covenant with Hell: A Medieval Mystery-Priscilla Royal

Covenant with Hell: A Medieval Mystery Priscilla Royal Poisoned Pen, Dec 3 2013, $24.95 ISBN 9781464201950 In 1277 Prioress Eleanor and Brother Thomas leave Tyndal on a pilgrimage to the shrines of Walsingham Priory. Just after they arrive in East Anglia, Thomas finds the corpse of the prioress of Ryehill Sister Roysia. She obviously fell from the priory’s bell tower but in her hand is a piece of torn cloth. As word spreads that a nun committed suicide and with rumors of King Edward I coming to pray for God to declare his pending invasion of Wales as holy, Prioress Ursell wants to avoid scandal so she quickly states Sister Roysia’s death as an accident. However that cloth Roysia grasped leads Thomas and Eleanor to conclude it came from the person who pushed the prioress from the tower as she grabbed on to it to keep from falling. As they investigate, the two pilgrims soon find evidence that an assassin plots to kill the monarch. The latest Brother Thomas and Prioress Eleanor medieval mystery (see A Killing Season and Sanctity of Hate) is a great historical investigative thriller as late thirteenth century royal (secular) and religious England comes alive. The super inquiry by the protagonists and taut suspense make Covenant with Hell one of the best entries in this strong series. Harriet Klausner

No Dawn For Men: A Novel of Ian Fleming, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Nazi Germany-James Lepore and Carlos Davis

No Dawn For Men: A Novel of Ian Fleming, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Nazi Germany James Lepore and Carlos Davis Story Plant, Dec 3 2013, $14.95 ISBN: 9781611880731 In 1938, with an aura of invincibility Germany deploys its annexation plan. The Nazi leadership expects that Britain, France and eventually the United States will try to thwart their victory march as they did in WWI, but will fail due to their super soldiers. Britain becomes concerned with rumors that Germany possesses a weapon making their military invincible. To prove this valid or not, they persuade novelist Professor John Ronald Reuel Tolkien to visit Berlin where the Nazis relish his children’s tale The Hobbit as the author’s homage to the master race. Undercover as a Reuters’ field correspondent, agent Ian Fleming uses Tolkien’s popularity to learn the truth about this new type of soldier who allegedly can’t die. No Dawn For Men is a great historical that pays homage to Fleming and Tolkien while the two writers (poetic license by me as Fleming is years from his first Bond novel and likewise is Tolkien re the Lord of the Rings trilogy) discovers first-hand Nazi Germany’s super soldiers. Action-packed from the onset and never slowing down, fans of the two great authors and readers who appreciate a unique superbly-written 1930s thriller will enjoy this unique tense war drama. Harriet Klausner

Monday, December 9, 2013

Alien Research-Gini Koch

Alien Research Gini Koch DAW, Dec 3 2013, $7.99 ISBN 9780756409432 While completing Operation Sherlock A-C Ambassador Jeff Martini was named to fill the vacant New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District seat (see Alien In The House). His wife Kitty Katt-Martini remains the A-C Ambassador, a position they shared. Protestors spoil breakfast with her daughter Jamie and their friends by a garbage assault on their limo followed by the new leader of Club 51 in her face telling her that the aliens and their human Quislings will soon die. Kitty returns to the Embassy only to learn some Congressional reps want the FBI to launch an inquiry into the events at Gaultier Enterprises and Titan Security. However she has no time to react to that undesirable news as A-C Embassy Security Chief Walter from his training site contacts Kitty with the fact that he and his staff are in trouble. The situation turns further dire when the impossible occurs with the hacking of the highly protected Centaurion files culminating with the destruction of the in-house data. Kitty knows that only the legendary rumored to exist Chernobog the Ultimate could have performed this task. Although the trademark cultural misunderstandings humor is much less than normal in this darker than usual entry, readers will enjoy the latest Alien science fiction (see Alien Diplomacy). Once again the size of the cast expanded making the need of a Cecil De Mille sized cast scorecard a necessity while the paranormal rescues feel overused. Still series fans will appreciate this exhilarating thriller as Kitty Katt and company face several dangerous attacks. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Leave Tomorrow Behind-Judy Clemens

Leave Tomorrow Behind Judy Clemens Poisoned Pen, Dec 3 2013, $24.95 ISBN 9781464202049 Bucks County, Pennsylvania veterinarian Carla Beaumont insures the safety of the animals at the annual 4-H county fair. Assisting the vet with her endeavor is her friend dairy farmer Stella Crowne who arrives with her fiancé Nick, an MS sufferer. Stella hopes the fair will allow her a respite from Nick’s pushy sister Miranda demanding to host the wedding of the century for them. Following a concert starring country-western performer Rikki Raines, Stella watches the female singer and Mr. Gregg argue. Since Stella also exchanged heated words with Gregg over his daughter’s animal entries, she commiserates with Raines. Not much later, Stella uncovers Raines’ corpse in a pile of manure. Not trusting the police to conduct a thorough investigation especially since their not so subtle inclination is to go after the person who found the body and having solved homicide cases before (see Different Paths); Stella makes inquiries into the murder of the singer. The latest Crowne amateur sleuth (see THE DAY WILL COME) is an engaging whodunit as eccentric Stella remains an extremely opinionated judge and executioner based on her first impressions. Her snap judgments often lead her into mistaken conclusions and fabulous red herrings for readers. Miranda adds comic relief at the same Stella being Stella (with a nod to Manny) works the case her way. Harriet Klausner

Prince of Shadows-Tes Hilaire

Prince of Shadows Tes Hilaire Sourcebooks, Dec 3 2013, $6.99 ISBN 9781402284885 Because of his special skills that some claim comes from the darkness, Valin is a loner amongst the Paladin Warriors. He met his dark soul mate Gabriella the succubus-vampire during the rescue of Karissa but he believes he lost her forever (see Deliver Me From Darkness). However, Valin realizes his grief was wrong when he recognizes his beloved in spite of her disguise. He fears other Paladins will kill his Gabby before he can keep her safe; as she is a vampire albeit unique since she can go out in daylight. Wanting to believe that Gabby is in the Light fighting against demons and her species, Valin goes to join her as she and Aaron the gifted human battle vampires. Instead of welcoming her mate, a dying Gabby flees from Valin as Paladins and Vampires cohabitating is taboo on both sides. Bennett the Paladin tells Valin to forget Gabby as their mission is to ally with the humans and protect the Null. Valin must choose between his heart’s desire for his mate and his brain’s belief in the better good. The third Paladin Warriors romantic fantasy (see Deliver Me From Temptation) is an exciting star-crossed thriller starring two wounded warriors; with each struggling between a deep need to remain in the Light but fearing the encroaching Dark taking their respective souls. Character-driven though filled with plenty of action, sub-genre fans will relish this entry as love will either heal this pair or kill them. Harriet Klausner

Saturday, December 7, 2013

How Should We Live?: Great Ideas from the Past for Everyday Life-Roman Krznaric

How Should We Live?: Great Ideas from the Past for Everyday Life Roman Krznaric BlueBridge, Dec 1 2013, $22.95 www.bluebridge.com ISBN: 9781933346847 Philosopher Roman Krznaric seeks answers in present and past civilizations as to “how we should live”. He breaks down his response into four broad equal yet hierarchal categories (Nurturing Relationships, Making a Living, Discovering the World, and Breaking Conventions) with each containing three supportive elements. “Nurturing Relations” opens with an intriguing look at “Love” starting with the transformation over the centuries of St. Valentine and introducing six underlying themes while exploring the “Great Ideas from the Past …” like how the ancient Greeks and other cultures dealt with this feeling as compared with contemporary treatment. Likewise Mr. Krznaric does the same with “Family” and “Empathy” as well as the elements in the other three categories. This is an interesting philosophical look at comparative cultures, past and present. The inclusion of descriptive anecdotal examples adds fascination especially as to how a belief changes over time while also making it easier to understand the various key premises. However, that leaping about between time and place also limits the depth provided to each discussion; as the book is an intriguing but very expansive response to the title question. Hopefully, Mr. Krznaric follows up with deeper treatises (perhaps separate extensive books on each of his four categories) as even his broad brush provides readers with a thought-provoking comparative analysis of how various civilizations lived and what we should consider adopting. Harriet Klausner >

Reel Stuff-Don Bruns

Reel Stuff Don Bruns Oceanview, Dec 3 2013, $26.95 ISBN 9781608090969 At the filming of a TV episode of Deadline Miami, Moore or Less Investigations Skip Moore and James Lessor work as guards. In the hot Miami sun, over the objections of director Randy Roberts, actor Jason Londell rejects the use a stuntman. He leaps off scaffolding as scripted only to splatter as not scripted to his death. Jason’s upset costar Ashley Amber claims the late actor loved her and insists his wife Juliana killed him. Ashley hires Moore or Less Investigations to determine whether Juliana murdered her beloved though the sleuths believe the victim died in a horrible accident or a suicide; still she is a paying client, so they take the case. James remains in Miami to monitor the investigation and seek clues amongst the show. Skip and his girlfriend Emily Minard travel to Hollywood with her pretending to be a wannabe hoping that Juliana the agent takes her on as a client. Em proves that besides brains and beauty, she can act as she becomes an overnight star. The latest Stuff mystery (see Hot Stuff and Too Much Stuff) is an amusing murder mystery as the two stooges cause separate havoc in Miami and Hollywood with the California setting as the prime locale once they split up. The investigation is fun but thin while fans of the Stuff duo will enjoy their cross America antics and the homage to movies and TV shows. Harriet Klausner

Shannivar: The Seven-Petaled Shield-Deborah J. Ross

Shannivar: The Seven-Petaled Shield Deborah J. Ross DAW, Dec 3 2013, $7.99 ISBN 9780756409203 Though heir to the magical Seven-Petaled Shield, Zevaron knows he is man without a country. He loathes Cinath of Gelon who led the violent annexation of Zevaron’s kingdom Meklavar. When Zevaron encounters Cinath’s niece Danar, the heir to the empire, he agrees to protect her as she and others journey to a meeting of the threatened independents; his motive is not just because he has a debt to her father, but mostly to anger Cinath. Zevaron and Danar traverse the Azkhantian steppes where the nomadic clans gather to join the opposition to Gelon’s brutal expansion. When a late arriving clan arrives with upsetting news of lethal eerie animal behavior and strange new deadly creatures, Zevaron believes he must head to the far north to challenge the evil causing these abominations in spite of the prophecies insisting he will fail. Nomadic warrior Shannivar joins him on his quest. The second The Seven-Petaled Shield fantasy is an exciting fast-paced thriller as the protagonist and a female warrior encounter dangerous forces. Entertaining in spite of a middle book feel; the storyline is filled with plenty of action and creative threats but no subplot climaxes. Still fans will enjoy Zevaron’s latest quest adventures alongside a courageous ally while setting up what looks like will be an incredible finish. Harriet Klausner

Friday, December 6, 2013

Mars, Inc.-Ben Bova

Mars, Inc. Ben Bova Baen, Dec 3 2013, $25.00 ISBN 9781451639346 Billionaire Art Thrasher dreams of a manned mission to Mars. He concludes the incompetent government will not undertake the endeavor. Using his business reputation and personal assets as collateral, Art persuades wealthy acquaintances to join him on funding the hundred billion dollar five-year venture. One year into the project, Thrasher’s Mars vision increasingly seems probable. However, there is strong opposition to his program especially the nuclear propulsion power source that opponents claim too dangerous because if something goes wrong during the launch would prove catastrophic. Additionally adversaries sabotage the mission pushing it behind schedule and upsetting the backers. Ben Bova opens a new science fiction series based on the premise that a Billionaire’s Club private business consortium will take on a manned Martian mission. The storyline is at its best explaining the scientific knowledge and theories and on the engineering issues that surface over the five years of development. The saboteurs’ subplot feels more like required action filler especially once the underlying reason surfaces and the protagonist seems like a fidgety P.T. Barnum with long legged groupies. Still readers will enjoy Mr. Bova’s return to space after he escorted fans on the Grand Tour of the solar system. Harriet Klausner

Legend of the Highland Dragon-Isabel Cooper

Legend of the Highland Dragon Isabel Cooper Sourcebooks, Dec 3 2013, $6.99 ISBN 9781402284670 In London, Scottish Laird Stephen MacAlisdair enters the office of Professor Richard Carter demanding his secretary Mina Seymour take him to see the antiquities expert. Calmly in perfect English that Mina practiced seemingly forever to conceal her impoverished street roots she tells the brash visitor that the Professor is not here. He insists she announce his name so while he waits, she goes upstairs. When she mentioned Lord MacAlisdair, an upset nervous Carter tells Mina to send him in. After MacAlisdair leaves, Mina worries about her employer who seems frightened and absentminded. Deciding to confront MacAlisdair, she goes to his home where strange demonic creatures attack her and a dragon rescues her. Though bewildered, Mina remains calm as the dragon shape-shifts back into Stephen. Realizing why his friend hired Mina as his Cerberus, Stephen obtains her assistance in his mission to end the terror of an evil sorcerer; but neither is prepared for love to deepen their unity. This MacAlisdair-Seymour Victorian romantic fantasy is a fast-paced, action-packed historical that makes London’s paranormal seem normal. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing as their relationship deftly transforms from hero-rookie sidekick to loving partners. Isabel Cooper provides a strong tale that hopefully is the first of a new series. Harriet Klausner

Touch My Heart-Wayne Jordan

Touch My Heart Wayne Jordan Harlequin Kimani Romance, Nov 19 2013, $6.50 ISBN: 9780373863358 When actor Dominic Wolfe injured his leg, he vanished from Hollywood. The celebrity hunk hid in New York but found his parade of therapists wanting him and not working on his leg and arm injured while rescuing his late BFF’s child. Having had enough of these losers, Dominic explains to his caring frustrated friend Dr. Charles Graham that he is going home to the Barbados though he no longer has family on the island. Widow Aaliyah Carrington knows the loss of loved ones as she was fourteen when her parents tragically died in an accident and her three sisters vanished into adoption world (though she recently reconciled with Eboni), and recently lost her husband. Dr. Graham hires stoic Aaliyah to spend a few months in Barbados as Dominic’s physiotherapist. As Aaliyah fears love only brings pain and Dominic distrusts the emotion, they struggle with their feelings. The second Carrington contemporary romance (see I'll Stand By You for Eboni’s Manhattan tale) returns Wayne Jordan fans to his wonderful Barbados setting. Although more on finding the sisters would have added depth, readers will appreciate this engaging character-driven gender war between the world’s sexiest man and his physiotherapist as his Mama wisely sums up the novel with “You’ll know…” Harriet Klausner

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Missing Dough-Chris Cavender

The Missing Dough Chris Cavender Kensington, Dec 3 2013, $24.00 ISBN 9780758271549 Like many residents of Timber Ridge, North Carolina, A Slice of Delight Pizza Parlor sibling owners Eleanor Swift and Maddy Spencer prepare for the town’s annual Founders Day Festival. However, Maddy’s ex-husband Grant Whitmore arrives on the day of the popular gala. He claims he came to town to win back his former wife. As if affirming his seriousness of achieving his goal, at the festival Grant assaults Maddy’s fiancé Bob Lemon. That same night, someone stabs Grant to death. Police chief Kevin Hurley suspects Bob killed Grant. The sisters refuse to accept Hurley’s premise that Bob committed murder so they begin to investigate only to find a horde with motives (including Maddy with two powerful incentives). The sixth Pizza Lovers amateur sleuth (see Killer Crust and Rest in Pizza) is a delightful regional whodunit as the sisters and readers learn that there are plenty of people with strong reasons to kill Grant. Series fans will enjoy this entry as once again Chris Cavender provides a fabulous Tarheel whodunit. Harriet Klausner

Staged to Death-Karen Rose Smith

Staged to Death Karen Rose Smith Kensington, Dec 3 2013, $7.99 ISBN: 9780758284846 In Kismet, Pennsylvania, thirty-two year old realtor Caprice DeLuca works with wealthy clients staging a for sale home with a theme. Her open house productions are events catered by her sister Nikki. Her current assignment is turning her friend Roz Winslow’s mansion into a Camelot castle. However, Roz’s husband Ted refuses to cooperate in ridding the place of clutter like all the swords and daggers in his antiques weapons collection room. During the gala, Caprice observes Ted kissing a woman. Unsure what to do, her indecision becomes meaningless when Caprice and Roz find Ted’s corpse with an antique dagger protruding from his back. Realizing the police focus on Roz as the prime person of interest, Caprice looks to prove her friend is innocent; though that may mean identifying the killer. The first Caprice De Luca mystery is an enjoyable amateur sleuth with a Cecil Demille size cast including the heroine’s supportive family; as the queen of family romantic dramas, Karen Rose Smith, brings her upbeat uniqueness to the amateur sleuth sub-genre. Character-driven with several suspects and a town that cares, readers will relish Caprice’s complex case as the home designer stages her initial investigation. Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Everlasting Enchantment-Kathryne Kennedy

Everlasting Enchantment Kathryne Kennedy Sourcebooks, Dec 3 2013, $7.99 ISBN 9781402269912 In 1839 the Duke of Ghoulston warns Millicent Pantere to accomplice the mission or else she will suffer though she insists she does not belong among the aristocracy attending Queen Victoria’s gala having lived her entire life in the London Underground. The were-panther’s immunity to aristocratic spells and her affinity with animals make her perfect for the Duke’s mission of stealing a magical bracelet from Lady Chatterley. Lady Chatterley gathers several ball attendees to allow the relic to choose one; which turns out to be the “country girl” Millicent. Several centuries ago Merlin trapped Knight of the Round Table Gareth Solimere inside the bracelet for sleeping with the mage’s lover. Gareth believes that only the love of the possessor will free him. He plans to seduce the current wearer Millicent. They enjoy the tryst but she trusts no one or her heart. While falling in love with Millicent, he persuades her to embrace her magic in order to do the right thing; preventing the odious duke and his minion from achieving his real scheme. The latest Relics of Merlin Victorian romantic fantasy (see Double Enchantment and Enchanting The Lady) is an exhilarating coming of age (actually social strata) historical as the student teaches her mentor what love is all about. Readers will enjoy the chivalrous cursed and his beloved shapeshifter battling evil and their hearts. Harriet Klausner

The Man-Kzin Wars XIV-Hal Colebatch, Jessica Q. Fox, Matthew Joseph Harrington and Alex Hernandez

The Man-Kzin Wars XIV Hal Colebatch, Jessica Q. Fox, Matthew Joseph Harrington and Alex Hernandez Baen, Dec 3 2013, $15.00 ISBN 9781451639384 "A Man Named Saul" by Hal Colebatch & Jessica Q. Fox. In 2437, the Judge filled with remorse for what he did years ago allows an ailing Kzin family inside the stockade. "Heritage" by Matthew Joseph Harrington. At the start of the second Kzin-human war, both sides learned lessons from the first combat even as the Yorktown and the Galaxias are missing. "The Marmalade Problem" by Hal Colebatch. In Wunderland Marmalade the Kzin orphan lives in abject fear amidst the humans. "Leftovers" by Matthew Joseph Harrington. Having lived through five wars ARM Marshall Buford meets Protector Ursula wondering whether he will survive this encounter. "The White Column" by Hal Colebatch. He has been allowed to see the dark future though his next time will be his last session. "Deadly Knowledge" by Hal Colebatch. In 2419 in Occupied Wunderland, the Kzinti learn of the legendary powerful Moby Dick. "Lions on the Beach" by Alex Hernandez. Daneel the human travels with his adopted Kzinti kit on the sea. The latest Man-Kzin Wars anthology contains seven entertaining tales. Five of the entries focus on the complex relationships between the enemy species after the fragile peace occurs with "Lions on the Beach" mindful of the TV show Defiance. The intriguing premise of "The White Column" feels out of place; as does the well-written "Heritage" since it occurs at the onset of the second war. Harriet Klausner

You Give Good Love-J.J. Murray

You Give Good Love J.J. Murray Kensington, Sep 24 2013, $15.00 ISBN: 9780758277251 Hope Warren has failed to live up to her given name since she was dumped several years ago during the Holidays and turned into an anorexic. Though she still dreams of owning beachfront property, the depressed African-Bahamian-Canadian believes that is a fantasy as she works six days a week at Thrifty Digital printing on Flatbush Ave in Brooklyn. The print shop’s current customer is Odd Duck Limited Greeting Cards president Irish-American Dylan Healy, whose eternal upbeat optimism over the past few years disgusts Hope as much as his lame duck cards. He hopes to one day soon run the Art For Kids’ Sake center. Dylan converts a Hope doodle into a card that becomes his biggest seller. Appreciating Hope’s help, Dylan brings her lunch to discuss how to make his cards popular. As Hope and Dylan team up, they fall in love. However, even as she finds her hope for the future, Hope knows she owes her beloved by first getting her act together health-wise. You Give Good Love is an entertaining interracial romance starring an optimist and a pessimist in a changing relationship. The romance is straightforward but pleasant; while the key to this Brooklyn drama is Hope, motivated by love, finally facing her illnesses. Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Daughters Of Twilight-Collette Jackson Fink

Daughters Of Twilight Collette Jackson Fink Outskirts Press, Oct 23 2013, $14.95 www.outskirtspress.com ISBN: 9781432799458 The earthquake measuring six on the Rector Scale struck Waterloo, Iowa leaves behind a gigantic black tower. The military, the Feds and Biochem personnel take control of the perimeter surrounding the pyramid. Knowing the females inside are hostile after thirty-nine Biochem employees entered and went missing, three coordinated military and special agent teams breach the edifice at the same time using the different openings. The women inside confront and overwhelm Team B led by Agent Dane Coles. When the females snatch his best friend Augie, Dane pursues and catches up to one of the hostiles. She easily defeats him using his knife to rip through his hand, takes a bite on his wound and declares him pure of heart before she vanishes. Asia visits Dane several times after easily kicking his butt asking him for help in rescuing her little sisters and explaining who her and her angel species are; as they were in the Garden of Eden during the fall from grace. As he begins to fall in love with his angel, she knows he is her eternal one. However, the military led by Captain Williams and Biochem led by Raymond Zen demand a capture by their subordinates with Dane’s Asia the chosen one. Daughters Of Twilight is an exciting refreshing angel thriller that connects Genesis with modern day Iowa. Though the climax feels somewhat stretched, the fast-paced storyline will make believers out of readers as the good (Dane and Team A leader Steel), the bad (Biochem and military experimenters) and the ugly (twisted Zen, Team C leader Thorn and Williams) collide over the fate of left behind angels. Harriet Klausner

Unclaimed-Sara Humphreys

Unclaimed Sara Humphreys Sourcebooks, Dec 3 2013, $6.99 ISBN 9781402258558 Timber Wolf Clan hybrid Tatiana knows her incredible veterinary skills come from her Amoveo half that enables her to communicate with animals in a special way. Her married sister Layla (see Untamed) arrives at Tatiana’s practice in that unique purebred or married hybrid way to ask the vet to help Prince Richard’s poisoned Arabians. Tatiana hates the purebred for murdering their father over mating with their human mother, but reluctantly she agrees to go to the royal’s Montana ranch accompanied by her new dog Cass and her assistant Matt. Full-blooded Tiger Clan member Dominic Trejada the Royal Guardian believes either the Purists or the human Caedo family is behind the horse assault. When he and the vet meet for the first time, each recognizes the other as the costar of their dreams. Neither makes the first move as she detests the purebreds and he has doubts about making it with someone who obviously hates his kind. As they fall in love, he protects her from outside threats while she treats the steeds from the insidious actions of an inside traitor. The fifth Amoveo Legend (see Undone, Untouched and Unleashed) is an engaging romantic urban fantasy. The entertaining romantic subplot goes as expected with the animal whisperer and the guard passionately fighting their attraction until love overwhelms both of them. To the delight of series fans, Tatiana’s veterinary ability and Dominic as a warrior adept make them a formidable team as they search for the betrayer and battle the Purists with the Caedo encouraging the shapeshifter civil war. Harriet Klausner

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Tunnel-S.D. Tooley

The Tunnel S.D. Tooley Full Moon Publishing, Dec 1 2013, $26.00 http://fullmoonpub.com/ ISBN: 9780988868335 Several months have passed since Chasen Heights Police Detective Jake Casey died in an explosion. His wife Sam barely functions as she struggles with her grief though she tries her best with their toddler Dillon. She no longer uses her gift to assist the cops on cases by communicating with the dead or touching objects the killer held; nor does she go anywhere with her persistent BFF Jackie. Since his mom died, six-year-old Nemo lives alone in an abandoned building. He ignores his late mom’s warning to never enter the tunnels in the sub-basement. There he encounters a severely abused drugged man locked up like a dangerous convict. The lad brings fresh food and water to the prisoner. When Nemo takes fruit from Sam’s mom Abby, her friend Alex Red Cloud pursues the child observing his hideaway. Alex enters the building and finds Nemo’s mom dead. He anonymously calls the cops who identify her as addict Coralee Adams shot dead by Jake’s gun. Feeling a purpose, Sam sets out to learn what happened to her beloved spouse in his final hours when he went for coffee after losing the coin flip to his partner only instead of returning to the precinct he journeyed alone into death. This Sam Casey paranormal investigative tale is a fresh entry due to the despairing protagonist behaving hopelessly rather than her usual competent self (see Restless Spirit and When The Dead Speak) as her grief overwhelms her in spite of the efforts from caring family and friends. Although a nepotistic appointed cop adds humorous realism, he feels like a distraction from what we readers (and the heroine) want to know: what happened to Jake and why. Harriet Klausner

Dragon’s Teeth-Mercedes Lackey

Dragon’s Teeth Mercedes Lackey Baen, Dec 3 2013, $15.00 ISBN 9781451639438 This enjoyable collection showcases Mercedes Lackey short story skills as most of the compilation is entertaining especially the author’s various fantasy series. Part I contains reprints of previously published anthologies (“Fiddler Fair” and “Werehunter”). Part II provides five new Secret World Chronicles. “Fiddler Fair” (1998). The twelve fantasy entries remain enjoyable with the best adding depth to Lackey’s worlds such as the Free Bard title tale and the Spellsingers stories ("Balance" and "Dragon's Teeth") focusing on the changing relationship between Martis and her new bodyguard Lyran. The rest of the fiction are fun entries such as the Sooner who explains "Aliens Ate My Pickup"; the alternate history of what happened to Lawrence of Arabia in “Jihad”; and the healer who sees Cerridwen's Cauldron while the nun looking at the same object proclaims the Holy Grail. The inclusion of the essay "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" seems out of place as the misleading opening act. “Werehunter” (1999). The highlights are those taking place in one of the series. The two Diana Tregarde investigations ("Satanic, Versus" and "Nightside") are superb while the Mem'sab Harton’s “Grey" and "Grey's Ghost" come across as exciting Tregarde-light. The four "SKitty" entries ("SKitty", "A Tail of Two SKitties, SCat" and "A Better Mousetrap") focus on the Brightwing agreement with the Lacu'un. There is also one intriguing Valdemar entry ("Stolen Silver") in which we learn how Alberich became the Heralds' Collegium’s weaponsmaster. The rest are engaging but feel more like filler. Secret World Chronicles. These well-written five tales include WW II prequels (“Valse Triste”, “White Bird” and “Sgian Dubh”) and two others occurring just after the first novel coauthored respectively with Dennis Lee and Cody Martin. Harriet Klausner

Red Rising-Pierce Brown

Red Rising Pierce Brown Del Rey, Jan 28 2014, $25.00 ISBN: 9780345539786 Unlike his older brother Kieran, his sister Leanna and their Mother; sixteen year old Darrow watched stoically when the Golds tried and convicted his father, and the Greys hung his dad with the felon’s loved one’s pulling his feet to overcome the scarcity of gravity on Mars. Along with his family, as part of the lowest strata consisting of underground Red miners, Darrow works in hell digging for valuable helium-3 so that his offspring may have a better life on a terraformed surface. When Darrow’s wife Little Eo learns the lies the elite has told about the hostile surface conditions as living planet-side is safe abundant with cities; she somberly sings a banned hymn. The upper strata convict and hang her. Grieving the loss of his spouse and childhood best friend, Darrow seeks revenge. The rebellious Sons of Ares offer him an opportunity, which he accepts. Following surgery and intense weeks of training, Darrow gains admission to the exclusive Institute. There he struggles to adjust at a school in which power is the only prize coveted by the surface aristocratic students and faculty while the losers’ lament are death or servitude; and students like Darrow are expendables at any time. With a nod to the Hunger Games, Red Rising is an action-packed science fiction thriller that never slows from the moment Father is executed for dancing. Though the premise offers nothing new, this fast-paced Martian thriller grips the audience as the lowly Red surfaces driven by a bone marrow deep purpose to change the social order that he used to believe in. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Dark Wolf Running-Rhyannon Byrd

Dark Wolf Running Rhyannon Byrd Harlequin Nocturne, Dec 3 2013, $5.75 ISBN: 9780373885831 For several months, Bloodrunner Wyatt Pallaton impatiently waited for pureblooded Silvercrest Lycan Elise Drake to notice him, but this incredible female ignores him. Finally out of patience and tired of feeling like a jackass stalker, Wyatt decides to confront her with his feelings for her. Since the sexual assault three years ago, Elise has wanted to be left alone until recently. She has noticed the Bloodrunner out of the corner of her eye and moon dreams of him though she conceals her desire from everyone. Wyatt asks Elise to dance, which shakes her up as she wants to allow him to invade her space, but fears males ever since she was raped. Even with therapy, she never moved passed the attack. Elise rejects Wyatt who says he will accept friendship though he wants more. At home, one of her violators invades her house. Dejected while passing through her property, Wyatt hears her scream and intercedes but not before the drugged Lycan boasts he and his allies will finish the job before escaping. Wyatt vows to keep the woman he loves safe. The latest Bloodrunners romantic fantasy (see Dark Wolf Rising) is a taut thriller that grips series’ fans from the first dance until the final altercation. Fast-paced and loaded with action, the realistic lead couple’s emotional needs make the storyline a winner as the honorable hero struggles with self-control of his desire and she still poorly deals with PTSD from the first violation now worsened by her rapists return. Harriet Klausner

Nightmaster-Susan Krinard

Nightmaster Susan Krinard Harlequin Nocturne, Dec 3 2013, $5.75 ISBN: 9780373885848 Aegis agent Trinity Ward goes undercover as a convict sentenced to a life as a blood slave to a Bloodmaster in the Opiri city of Erebus. Her mission is to learn whether the rumors of war are genuine at a time when the Armistice is in peril due to a humongous drop in human criminal activity leading to a potential blood scarcity. Looking over the new inventory though he never bids on them, Bloodmaster Lord Ares is taken aback by the healthy educated human female as a young disease-free female is a unique prisoner especially these days of increasing shortage. His rivals obviously notice her too. He and vicious Lord Palemon of the feral Expansionist Party compete in the bidding war over the rebellious human until Ares concedes to his adversary. That is until his rival hits the woman, causing a stunning reaction by Ares to Challenge his opponent. Ares wins the woman due to her intervention while knowing there will be a to the death rematch. Meanwhile Trinity’s seduction plan of her Bloodmaster leaves her in love. The latest Nightsiders romantic fantasy (see Daysider and Nightmaster) is an action-packed thriller enhanced by the changing relationship between the Bloodmaster and his blood serf. Readers anticipate the second fight between the two powerful Opiri who represent the species' greater divide by the faction each belongs to; as Susan Krinard provides an exciting entry. Harriet Klausner

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Innocent Blood: The Order of the Sanguines Series-James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell

Innocent Blood: The Order of the Sanguines Series James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell Morrow, Dec 10 2013, $27.99 ISBN 9780061991066 After an earthquake left hundreds dead in Masada and opened a long buried tomb, archaeologist Dr. Erin Granger, U.S. Army Sergeant Jordan Stone and Father Ruhn Korza explored the new find when inhuman beings attacked them. Surviving the assault, Father Korza persuaded his teammates answers can be found in the mystical missing tome allegedly scribed by Christ in his blood. This Blood Gospel claims Armageddon can be prevented if the Knight of Christ, the Warrior of Man, and the Woman of Learning unite and find the First Angel. Father Korza proves to be the Knight of Christ; Sergeant Stone is the Warrior of Man; and Dr. Erin Granger probably is the Woman of Learning. Following a nasty attack on Granger near Stanford by the strigoi vampires, Father Korza vanishes in Rome. His two allies rush to Italy searching for him in the Vatican. They soon feel out of their element again as the brave pair, helped by the saved Sanguinists, battle the fallen strigoi. The second Order of the Sanguines Christian horror thriller (see The Blood Gospel) once again grips the audience beginning with the California attack and never slows down as the plot goes deeper into the paradox of faith and redemption. Fast-paced, series fans will relish this exciting entry although the American heroes continue their globetrotting confrontations with the strigoi, but seem to have fallen to the middle book curse as they fail to grow from all the blood they recently have experienced. Harriet Klausner

A Valley Ridge Christmas-Holly Jacobs

A Valley Ridge Christmas Holly Jacobs Harlequin SuperRomance, Dec 3 2013, $5.75 ISBN: 9780373718948 In Valley Ridge, New York, Maeve Buchanan is elated with so many wedding bells (see You Are Invited… and April Showers) but the town librarian also feels a tad jealous that she has not found her one and only. Caring Maeve invites the Holder family (Boyd, pregnant Josie and their son Carl) living in a frozen trailer with no propane to stay in her warm home. As cold snowy November weather freezes his butt, Floridian Aaron Holder wishes he said no to his Uncle Jerry’s “Family is Family” request to oversee his Valley Ridge Farm and House Supplies store. Lake Erie is a tad colder than Aaron’s Orlando and Arizona where Jerry enjoys the sun. Maeve comes to the store to fill the tank where she meets Jerry and finds him obnoxious. However when Aaron goes out of his way to help the Holder family and others, she revises her opinion of him. As they fall in love, she is Lake Erie and he is Orlando. The latest Valley Ridge romance is a wonderful romance made fresh by the witty banter between fiery Red and the frozen Floridian, and the wintry locale; as no one does the Lake Erie region better than terrific tour guide Holly Jacobs does. The support cast, especially the family in need of a holiday miracle, enhances this cheerful Christmas contemporary. Harriet Klausner