Saturday, August 31, 2013

Ruthless-Debra Webb


Debra Webb

Forever, Aug 27 2013, $6.00

ISBN: 9781455527601

Eric “The Player” Spears sends photos of three Jane Doe victims to Birmingham PD Deputy Chief of the Special Problems Unit Jess Harris. Although she wants to take down the taunting serial killer, whose case haunts her from when she failed to end his terror while she was an FBI profiler at Quantico, Jess has to work on a recent child kidnapping case.

The dormant for thirteen years Man in the Moon apparently has returned after sending a special gift to BPD from his last abduction. Over three decades ago a little girl was taken from her home on the Harvest Moon night and every year on that anniversary for nineteen straight years another child was snatched when it ended. Now a new victim young Janey has been snatched; meanwhile Jess’ boss and lover BPD Police Chief Dan Burnett learns that the Player has a cult scrutinizing every move Jess makes including perhaps the possibly she is pregnant.

The latest Faces of Evil police procedural (see Obsession, Impulse, Power, Rage and Revenge) is an exciting thriller as the heroine deals with nasty competing cases, her sister and her second chance relationship with Dan. The Player case will remind readers of Kevin Bacon’s The Following while the Man in the Moon will remind the audience of the 1980 Atlanta Child Murders as Ruthless spins an entertaining web.

Harriet Klausner

Mystery Man-Kristen Ashley

Mystery Man

Kristen Ashley

Forever, Aug 27 2013, $6.00

ISBN: 9781455599189

In Denver, randomly at night for the last eighteen months, the Mystery Man has slipped into the bed of book editor Gwendolyn Kidd, but by morning he is gone. She has no idea who he is but knows she wants to see his face and body as they always make love in the dark; he is her one.

Darla arrives screaming for Gwen’s sister Ginger. Gwen asks the upset intruder what is going on; Darla responds by pointing her fingers in the shape of a gun at Gwen’s head. The Mystery Man security expert Cabe “Hawk” Delgado comes out of the shadows to protect Gwen. In daylight he is no longer the man of her nocturnal dreams though she still wants him but hates his bullying her.

The latest Dream Man romance (see Wild Man and Law Man) is an engaging suspense in which yin and yang opposites come together. Although he, as the sun and she as Sedna the dwarf planet, requires a major reader adjustment, fans will enjoy this alpha-omega relationship drama as Mystery Man learns the downside of ultra-arrogance is falling in love with your sub.

Harriet Klausner

Heart of Venom-Jennifer Estep

Heart of Venom

Jennifer Estep

Pocket Aug 27 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451689006

In Ashland two giants attack Gin Blanco and Finn Lane, but the former assassin and her friend kill them. Finn suffered some bruises to his ribs so he plans to ask the Air-elemental dwarf Jo-Jo Deveraux to help him heal; Gin will use the disposal services of Jo-Jo’s sister Sophia the cook to get rid of the corpses.

Two days later, Gin and others enjoy a day at Jo-Jo’s salon when Fire-elemental siblings assault the establishment. They nearly kill the owner and snatch her sibling. Raging Gin needs to control her “Spider” as she needs to identify who the kidnappers are and why they obviously targeted Sophia. Although her estranged lover Owen Grayson understands the risk as the odds are humongous that they will die, he insists on having her back. Meanwhile Gin learns the details of Sophia’s first torturous abduction by Grimes.

The latest Elemental Assassin dark urban fantasy (see Deadly Sting) is a grim thriller with a mounting death toll as no one harms one of Gin’s buds and lives very long afterward though the Grimes may prove the exception to the rule. The plot enables the audience to learn what Grimes did to Sophia the first time she was held captive and fills in more of the protagonist’s past. Although the overarching premise fails to move forward, fans will enjoy Spider’s revenge.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, August 30, 2013

A Question Of Honor-Charles Todd

A Question Of Honor

Charles Todd

Morrow, Aug 27 2013, $25.99

ISBN: 9780062237156

In 1908 India, British Lieutenant Thomas Wade is the prime suspect in the murders of his parents though he is currently heading home on escort duty. When Wade returns to his regiment in the Northwest Frontier, he is accused of killing his parents and a family of three in England. He flees into the tribal area of the Khyber Pass and soon afterward is pronounced dead though no corpse was found.

In 1918 France, Bess Crawford serves as a nurse near the front. From a dying soldier she learns that Wade may be alive. Her retired father had been Wade’s regiment officer and his rep was devastated by the scandalous atrocity; Bess also knew the accused as a good soldier and person. Thus she tries to learn whether Wade survived the lawless tribal area and if he committed the homicides.

Team Todd provides another strong earth twentieth century historical in their fabulous fifth nurse Bess Crawford mystery (see An Unmarked Grave) as Edwardian India and England, and WWI France come to life enhanced by a profound historiographical feel to the engaging storyline. With the horrors of the front and the downside of serving in a colonial outpost vividly described, series fans will want to know whether Wade is a killer or another victim.

Harriet Klausner

Task Force Bride-Julie Miller

Task Force Bride

Julie Miller

Harlequin Intrigue, Aug 20 2013, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373697113

Kansas City Police Department hunts the Rose Red Rapist but the psychopath has eluded their efforts. The cops get a big break when Fairy Tale Bridal Shop owner and wedding planner Hope Lockhart escapes the predator.

The spinster agrees to serve as bait in order for KCPD to catch this dangerous predator. Thus she will pretend to be the fiancée of K-9 beat cop Edison “Pike” Taylor. Pike knows his mission is to capture the rapist while keeping Hope safe; but he also has an ulterior motive as he wants to get to know her. The reticent Hope fears his advances almost as much as she is frightened of his K-9 partner Hans.

The latest Precinct: Task Force romantic police procedural (see Assumed Identity) continues the KCPD efforts to end the terror reign of triple R. Character driven by the fascinating bashful female protagonist who avoids any chance at a HEA and instead feverishly buries herself in insuring her clients as a defense mechanism after suffering abuse as a child. However, Hope’s trauma also slows down the storyline while posing an intriguing challenge to the cop and his partner.

Harriet Klausner

Say Yes To The Duke-Kieran Kramer

Say Yes To The Duke

Kieran Kramer

St. Martin's, Aug 27 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9781250009906

After several failed London seasons, Janice Sherwood must give up the waltz for rustication. Her despondent parents, the Marquess and Marchioness of Brady, exile her to the estate of the Duke of Halsey as a temporary companion to his grandmother. Secretly they hope their daughter catches Halsey, but fear her insistence on a love match will leave her on the shelf.

Recently Luke Callahan learned that he is the legitimate Halsey ducal heir but lacks proof. He obtains a servant position in the stables, and flirts with the Dowager’s guest as he believes Janice is a potential ally who can help him with his search. As they fall in love, Luke regrets what will happen to their relationship once she knows of his duplicity.

The third House of Brady Regency romance (see Loving Lady Marcia and The Earl Is Mine) is an amusing yet touching historical in spite of the not so subtle references to the TV show (though much less than previous entries). Readers will enjoy Janice’s search for love as she “knew it was much more than a hunch” (Brady Bunch theme song) when she found it with her duke.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Gone with the Woof-Laurien Berenson

Gone with the Woof

Laurien Berenson

Kensington, Aug 27 2013, $24.00

ISBN 9780758284525

Melanie Travis is contented to stay at home with her new baby and her canine horde in their new house while her relatively new husband Sam goes to work and her nine year old son to school. However, six foot sexagenarian Aunt Peg has found her a pet project. Curmudgeon ailing Edward March commissions Melanie to write Puppy Love, his memoir as a dog show judge. To Melanie’s chagrin, March’s bio focuses on his trysts with numerous breeders and dog show women. His adult son Andrew, who has had his share of the females too, objects.

When someone kills Andrew in a hit-and-run, a traumatized Edward pleads with Melanie to investigate as he needs to know who he believes deliberately murdered his son. Though she accepts, Melanie realizes her task is Herculean as a horde of females had sex with father and or son and probably most would not want a tell-all sexploits published, but she wonders which one would kill to prevent this book from being written.

The sixteenth Melanie Travis amateur sleuth (see Hounded to Death and Doggie Day Care Murder) is an amusing lighthearted twisting mystery as the heroine deals with six canines, a newborn, a tweener, her husband, and the zany others; I’m exhausted typing this. The fast-paced storyline uses the interesting behind the scenes at a dog show as the milieu for an engaging family affair mystery.

Harriet Klausner

The Dead and the Beautiful-Cheryl Crane

The Dead and the Beautiful

Cheryl Crane

Kensington, Aug 27 2013, $25.00

ISBN 9780758258908

In Beverly Hills someone uses a leash to strangle to death Ryan Melton, husband to former Disney teen star Diara Elliot, who is in a new TV series with actress Victoria Bordeaux. The murder weapon belongs to dog walker Alison Sahira, who counts Diara as a client. In the throes of a horrific custody battle Alison refuses to say much. Police Detective Thomas “Detective Cutie-Pants” Dombrowski has probable cause to name her a suspect as even her brother single dad Jeremy Fitzpatrick the dentist, who Alison and her children currently live with, believes she is the killer.

However, Jeremy’s girlfriend realtor Nikki Harper rejects the premise that Alison killed the hunk though she distrusts the woman. She, assisted by her mom Victoria and others, investigates the homicide; unaware that Diara’s Brat Pack pals have a powerful motive to kill anyone, especially a nosy-body realtor, getting close to a secret they preferred hidden.

The third Nikki Harper amateur sleuth (see The Bad Always Die Twice and Imitation of Death) is a wonderful Hollywood whodunit as Cheryl Crane provides an insider look at the entertainment industry inside of a lighthearted whodunit. Fans will enjoy Nikki’s investigation especially her asides to the audience while wondering which Lana Turner film title will be next.

Harriet Klausner

Rush-Joan Swan


Joan Swan

Kensington Brava, Aug 27 2013, $9.95

ISBN 9780758288257

Five years ago in Truckee, California, the chemical fire at a government facility left newlywed Jessica Fury injured and a widow as her husband the legendary Quaid died from the subsequent explosion. Jessica and several other surviving firefighters obtained customized superpowers as a result of the toxin that engulfed them.

Jessica quit firefighting to become a DC lobbyist. Her former firefighting teammates visit Jessica with an ex-prisoner they rescued from a facility similar to the one that exploded in Truckee and to warn her that there has been another identical fiery incident. Finally the rescued Cash insists there was another test subject they called Q. Though she rejects the premise that Q is her late soul mate, Jessica obsesses with a need to know for sure even as the surveillance over every move she and her cohorts make intensifies.

The latest Phoenix Rising (see Fever and Blaze) is an exhilarating thriller in which readers learn more about the original incident, what has happened to the victims since, another identical occurrence, and insight into the shadowy organization watching them. Series fans and Jessica will wonder whether tormented amnesiac Q is Quaid as his mind seems shattered from five years of torture in Joan swan’s super entry.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Returned-Jason Mott

The Returned

Jason Mott

Mira, Aug 27 2013, $24.95

ISBN: 9780778315339

Agents of the International Bureau of the Returned arrive at the home of Harold and Lucille Hargrave in Acadia. Accompanying them is eight year old Jacob who drowned on August 15, 1966. The child tells his stunned father the same joke involving a cow he told him before the accident over five decades ago.

Harold refuses to accept the Returned is real though they have been in the news and this child knows Jacob inside out. Still he is convinced the lad is a fake yet he cannot explain why the global sham as more of the Returned comes home; many of them placed in camps guarded by the military like here in Acadia. On the other hand, believer Lucille is positive that God has created a miracle reversal of the rapture. Pastor Robert Peters initially thinks the devil is tricking everyone until his beloved returns. Other living want the Returned gone while those held in captivity want their freedom; confrontation arrives in Acadia and elsewhere around the world. Lucille vows to God to protect his miracles.

The Returned is a fabulous thriller that focuses on the impact on the living by the dead coming back to life. Incredibly deep, the profound storyline contains limited action with the emphasis more on how people like the elderly Hargrave couple think and react to Jacob and his kind; and the legal rights the deadly Returned have (who owns the estate of an executed will). Jason Mott provides a fresh unique take on the dead coming back to life.

Harriet Klausner

Declan’s Cross-Carla Neggers

Declan’s Cross

Carla Neggers

Mira, Aug 27 2013, $24.95

ISBN: 9780778314639

FBI agents Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan take some R&R together in Declan’s Cross, Ireland. At the same time, marine biologist Julianne Maroney accepts an invitation from Lindsey Hargreaves to leave Rock Point, Maine for Declan’s Cross to escape the rejection by Colin’s brother Andy. Worried about Julianne, Andy emails Colin to make sure she is safe.

Lindsey fails to meet Julianne at the airport as arranged. Thus Julianne drives a rental to her destination where she is unhappy to see Colin who reminds her of his sibling breaking her heart. Stolen art recovery expert Emma wonders if Julianne coming to this town is tied to the art theft ten years ago that her detective grandfather failed to resolve; the valuable loot remains missing while the situation perilously intensifies for the visiting New Englanders and others from a clever merciless predator.

The third Sharpe and Donovan romantic mystery (see Heron’s Cove and Saint’s Gates) is an enjoyable thriller that centers on art thefts a decade and ago and in the present. The exciting tale can turn confusing as locale and time change back and forth, but still readers will relish this strong suspenseful storyline as secrets reveal a shocking conspiracy.

Harriet Klausner

Love Overdue-Pamela Morsi

Love Overdue

Pamela Morsi

Mira, Aug 27 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778315377

Dorothy “DJ” Jarrow is euphoric when Verdant, Kansas hires her as the librarian. She knows before arriving in the rural town that she must maintain the image of the good girl librarian; which she muses should prove easy as only once eight years ago on vacation at South Padre Island did she let her inner bad girl out. On the other hand after her arrival, DJ is unprepared for the local social media in which unverified gossip travels faster than the speed of light since the truth is irrelevant.

DJ finds she has a dilemma as Sanderson the pharmacist is “the hot guy” from eight years ago; he is also the son of the board member who hired her. Ironically he does not act as if he had the sex of his life unlike how she still feels; Scott does not even recognize her due to her present librarian look instead of the past heated look. Scott’s mother and Melvil Dewey Jr. the terrier have plans for this couple.

Love Overdue is a charming amusing romance in which flashbacks to that heated vacation gives the tale a second chance feel. Though improbable without a humongous infusion of Serendipity (almost as much as the movie starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale), readers will appreciate the love story between the prim pharmacist and the proper librarian.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Against The Mark-Kat Martin

Against The Mark

Kat Martin

Mira, Aug 27 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778314677

Briggs and Brodie Private Investigators are located on the Hollywood Hills estate of septuagenarian Ellie Stiles who recommends clients to the partners. An elderly man tries to break Ty Brodie’s nose while the ex-marine deftly avoids beating up the jealous sexagenarian whose wife Ellie convinced to hire the detectives to determine if her mate is cheating.

After resolving that by Ty taking a punch, Ellie introduces him to her grandniece Haley Warren from Chicago. Three months ago Haley’s estranged dad died when his powerboat exploded due to a gas leak. Her dad’s second wife Betty Jean, whom Haley has never met, begged Haley to come to Los Angeles because she is convinced her husband was murdered due to a multimillion dollar art theft case he was looking into. With John Briggs away, Ellie tells Ty that Haley will have his back as his partner on the inquiry to the sleuth’s chagrin.

The latest Raines of Wind Canyon (see Against the Fire, Against the Law, Against the Storm, Against the Night and Against the Sun) is an engaging romantic mystery as the case takes precedent over the attraction. Though Ty would prefer using his lower head, his upper head prevails because he diligently keeps his new partner safe from those who want the investigators buried with her dad even if Haley fails to cooperate. Haley’s Mother comes across as amoral making it easier for her father to abandon his family, readers will enjoy this taut romantic suspense.

Harriet Klausner

The Hero-Robyn Carr

The Hero

Robyn Carr

Mira, Aug 27 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778314592

Accompanied by her three years old daughter Mercy, Devon McAllister walks towards the coast motivated to reach 101 before resting as she flees the Douglas County Fellowship religious compound that she once thought was safe for her and her child. Eight hours into her trek, Rawley Goode picks the pair up and takes them to the bar where he works in Thunder Point in Coos County. He serves them breakfast and afterward when Devon says she will pay his kindness back when she can, he insists she pass it on to someone else in need as he was in her shoes at one time.

With his tweener son Austin, Widower Spencer Lawson recently left San Antonio for Thunder Point as the high school athletic director and coach. He overhears Devon and reclusive Rawley chatting about relying on a stranger and fleeing the cult. When the bar’s owner Coop and his Coast Guard wife Sarah arrive, Rawley introduces them and Spencer to his second cousin once removed Devon; Coop knows his employee has no family. As Devon and Spencer fall in love, bot know their kids come first, especially when the cult abducts Mercy.

The third Thunder Point romantic suspense (see The Wanderer and The Newcomer) is a taut thriller that opens with a woman in peril receiving help from strangers before spinning into a romance and finally into a tense dangerous rescue mission. Although the villain is to unrealistically evil, readers will appreciate the return to Thunder Point where several heroes come to the aid of a beleaguered woman and her preschooler.

Harriet Klausner

Tear You Apart-Megan Hart

Tear You Apart

Megan Hart

Mira, Aug 27 2013, $14.95

ISBN 9780778314776

Fortyish art gallery employee Elisabeth Amblin knows something is wrong with her emotionally as she deals poorly with the empty nest since the twins left home and worse with a tundra-frozen marriage to a husband who loves his work not her; in fairness she reciprocates his feelings. At the gallery, Elisabeth and photographer Will Roberts meet with both attracted to each other, but neither feels right about an affair that both covet but know is wrong. Still each succumbs to the desire and they begin a tryst while Elisabeth and Will recognize their primary lives must never cross except at the gallery. Soon both must decide about the future together forever or never.

Tear You Apart is a super character-driven erotica as the protagonists are intensely fully developed and the significant others in their lives enhance the cheating relationship. Elisabeth’s synesthetic condition augments a powerful look at filling an emotional vacuum though no matter what she or her beloved decide to do, betrayal, anguish and pain battle belonging, passion and need; someone will be torn apart.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, August 26, 2013

Twilight Hunter-Kait Ballenger

Twilight Hunter

Kait Ballenger

Harlequin HQN, Aug 27 2013, $7.99

ISBN 9780373777389

Execution Underground operative Jace McCannon feverishly hunts werewolves while concealing from his division mates that the reason he is the best is because his DNA includes half werewolf. The hybrid currently stalks a cowardly werewolf alpha preying on the weak in Rochester.

While tracking the serial killer, whose latest victim was raped before being murdered, he corners Rochester Pack Alpha Francesca “Frankie” Amato who insists she did not murder the victim. He affirms the female packmaster’s assertion that she has the wrong equipment and no blood on her; she further explains she hunts this psychopathic rogue poaching on her turf. Though neither feels any trust for the other as hunters like him over the centuries have reduced the werewolf population to near extinction levels; they agree to team up in order to end the serial killing werewolf’s reign of terror but under his terms of captivity.

The opening Execution Underground romantic urban fantasy is a terrific taut thriller as mortal enemies become beloved enemies though neither covets the concept that the other is their life mate. The hunt for the deadly predator takes center stage as readers anticipate the confrontations between the protagonists and the antagonist, and between the emotionally scarred lead couple in the enticingly dark Ballenger world.

Harriet Klausner

The Whole Enchilada-Diane Mott Davidson

The Whole Enchilada

Diane Mott Davidson

Morrow, Aug 27 2013, $26.99

ISBN 9780061348174

In Aspen Meadow, Colorado, everyone, especially her buddies at Amour Anonymous (AA), who knew Holly Ingleby is shocked by her death while walked to her car just after a seventeenth birthday party thrown for her teenage son Drew and her friend Goldy Schulz’s teenager Arch. Goldy feels terrible as she fears her AA friend died from the food her Goldilocks Catering provided for the event at the country club.

Though the official cause of death was medication overdose, Goldy feels obligated to investigate. She begins her inquiry by reviewing the notes she took years ago at their AA encounters. At the same time, someone stabs a person who somewhat looks like Goldy and soon afterward an attacker assults the caterer. Not one to back down, Goldy searches for a ruthless killer before she becomes the next victim.

The latest Goldy Schulz culinary amateur sleuth (see Crunch Time) is an exciting whodunit as the past comes back to haunt the present. Fast-paced, readers will relish this engaging whodunit that contains a wonderful coda surprise denoting what The Whole Enchilada is to Goldy; and also the usual complement of recipes.

Harriet Klausner

My Favorite Mistake-Chelsea M. Cameron

My Favorite Mistake

Chelsea M. Cameron

Harlequin HQN, Aug 27 2013, $11.95

ISBN 9780373778294

In a coed living facility at the U of Maine, since Darah and Renee were roommates last year, they would share one room while Taylor and the new girl the other. When the newbie arrives, she turns out to be Hunter, an obnoxious male douche.

Hunter “bets” Missy (his nickname for his favorite mistake) as he calls the acrimonious Taylor to prove to him she loves or hates him; while Taylor reacts to his cornering her by punching him in the jaw and knee lifting into his balls. She tells her sister Tawny who admonishes her for not just telling Hunter to back off though the older sibling knows first-hand why the bitter Taylor is filled with fear and anger.

Although the premise of a university sanctioning a coed room seems over the top of Katahdin Mountain, readers will enjoy the love and hate romance between the lead roommates. The support cast is solid but it is unlikable damaged Taylor who keeps the storyline focused as what happened to her (and Tawny) when she was a tweener still haunts how she behaves towards others.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Days In The History Of Silence-Merethe Lindstrøm

Days In The History Of Silence

Merethe Lindstrøm

Other Press, Aug 27 2013, $14.95

ISBN: 9781590515952

Eva the schoolteacher mother of three small children (Kirsten, Greta and Helena) let the intruder in by opening the door to his ringing the bell. Frightened by her blunder she gave him money and he left. Years have passed since the Event and the kids are adults while Eva and her physician husband Simon grow old together.

However, her fear over the last few months is that Simon has over time disengaged himself from her as he slowly stopped speaking until now he is totally silent. She looks back at other key incidents like the hiring and firing of extremely tall Marija as their housekeeper, Simon’s childhood hiding along with family from the Nazis, and her other offspring a son she gave up for adoption while concealing his existence. Eva ponders whether these ghosts or others led to Simon becoming mute or does he suffer from dementia?. Increasingly Eva feels isolated from her long time mate as she is no longer part of him and inversely he is detached from her; retired from teaching and the kids gone, she is alone even with Simon silently with her.

This is a powerful character-driven Norwegian family drama told from the viewpoint of beleaguered Eva the elderly caretaker of her silent husband. Readers will ponder the cause of Simon’s slow descent into total silence as first he used a few words like thank you before going absolute mute. Merethe Lindstrøm provides a strong philosophical tale as she makes a profound argument that the past never fully vanishes since the ghosts of yesteryear haunt the present.

Harriet Klausner

High Country Rebel-Lindsay McKenna

High Country Rebel

Lindsay McKenna

Harlequin HQN, Aug 27 2013, $7.99

ISBN 9780373778515

Honorably discharged Navy SEAL Talon Holt left the military suffering from PTSD after the enemy tortured him and killed his buddy Hayden while in captivity in Afghanistan. Zeke, his retired K9 partner, saved his life in the theater and remains at his side in Wyoming. He came home to be with and help his mom dying from cancer. Meanwhile Talon and Zeke are caught in a late spring freak blizzard above Jackson Hole. As Talon lies dying on a nameless Wyoming road, Zeke remains at his side when firefighter-paramedic-wrangler Cat Edwin arrives; she takes them to the nearby Bar H in her SUV.

As Talon recovers from hyperthermia, he is attracted to his rescuer; Cat reciprocates but loathes the feeling as she distrusts men especially Type A brutes (as she assumes SEALs must be) due to her violent father and odious former boyfriend Beau Magee. As he heals, Talon falls in love with Cat, but she still fears her attraction while Zeke turns to her as an easy mark for treats. Meanwhile Magee deploys intervention plans.

The latest Wyoming military vet romantic suspense (see The Loner) is a delightful thriller due to the relationship between two fully developed wounded warriors. Though their respective source of their mental problems differs, Talon and Cat heal due to love but not completely. Whereas the late suspense brings tension but also feels unnecessary as the changing relationship makes the tale. Readers will appreciate the story of the veteran, the firefighter and the dog falling in love.

Harriet Klausner

The Lotus Palace-Jeannie Lin

The Lotus Palace

Jeannie Lin

Harlequin HQN, Aug 27 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780373777730

In 847 China, the ground shook the Lotus Palace several times but though frightened none of the courtesan residents, their maids, customers or Madame Sun were hurt. As she has her hair being done when another tremor occurs, top courtesan Mingyu tells her maid Yue-ying that she fears something happening to her but not from an earthquake. Taizhu the court historian visits Mingyu while drunken scholar Lord Bai Huang flirts with Yue-ying in spite of the red birthmark on her face and does so openly calling her Little Moon. When Bai claims a kiss, Yue-ying cuts him.

Magistrate Li Yen and Constable Wu Kaifeng investigate the murder of Huilan, one of the Four Beauties of the House of a Hundred Songs. Bai is a suspect because the victim possessed his official permit allowing her to travel at night outside the gated walls. As Bai and Yue-ying become embroiled in the murder inquiry, his family demands he wed their chosen aristocratic bride while he chooses the maid. However, she believes he is too above her station for anything except being his concubine; a position she cannot accept as that would break her heart.

The latest Tang Dynasty romance (see The Sword Dancer, My Fair Concubine, Butterfly Swords, and The Dragon And The Pearl) is an exciting action-packed historical murder mystery. The lead couple is a terrific taboo pairing that showcases the significance of class distinction in ninth century China; as no one brings this era to life better than Jeannie Lin consistently does.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Human Remains-Elizabeth Haynes

Human Remains

Elizabeth Haynes

Harper, Aug 20 2013, $15.99

ISBN: 9780062276766

When her cat Lucy comes home covered with a malodorous sticky crap, Briarstone Police Department crime analyst Annabel Hayer goes outside to look for the source. She sees a light next door in a vacant home so she calls the cops. They find her neighbor Shelley who Annabel met once and assumed left the area with her partner without telling her; but apparently died months ago.

Feeling guilty and in shock, Annabel searches the files for near identical deaths in the relatively small borough from January through September 2012. To her astonishment, Annabel uncovers 24 similar cases; most of which were not investigated as there were no evidence of foul play. Annabel provides a strong argument that a serial killer preys on lonely people. As the cops make inquiries, the psychopath targets the lonely thirty-eight year old single crime analyst who fits his profile.

This is an exciting police procedural that predominantly rotates first person accounts between Annabel and clever serial killer Colin Friedland; though the victims also provide insight. This technique enables the reader to go deep Into the Darkest Corner of the minds of the analyst and the psychopath; but also somewhat rehash the same event though from diverse perspectives.

Harriet Klausner

Mission: Seduction-Candace Havens

Mission: Seduction

Candace Havens

Harlequin Blaze, Aug 20 2013, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373797684

When Marines Captain Will Hughes and Lieutenant Rafe McCawley were in New York, they were recruited off the street by Hannah Harrington as male models. After the show Will left with Hannah (see Model Marine) and Rafe with model Mimi Callahan.

Rafe is severely injured during a firefight while back on duty. His emails with Mimi have kept him sane though he never could arrange a call or Skype. Now he heads to Fiji to spend quality time with Mimi at a converted mansion yoga resort. However, instead of Mimi greeting him, her wellness expert sister Kelly welcomes him. She delays telling him the truth that she is the author of those letters as she feels he needs to believe otherwise while psychologically healing. As they fall in love, Kelly fears once she confesses he will break Semper Fi culture and leave behind her wounded broken heart.

This Uniformly Hot! romance is a wonderful sequel as the wounded marine and the sister fall in love but her concealment hurts their chances especially if he learns the truth from another source besides her. Although the premise has been overly used, the Fiji locale and Kelly bring freshness with her pure motive. Fans will enjoy this engaging entry.

Harriet Klausner

I Married The Duke-Katharine Ashe

I Married The Duke

Katharine Ashe

Avon, Aug 27 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780062229816

In 1804 in Cornwall, the three young orphans (Eleanor, Arabella and Ravenna) have “no rank and less fortune.” The Gypsy tells the sisters that the ring their late mom gave to the oldest Eleanor belongs on the finger of a prince; one of the siblings will wed royalty and eventually reunite them with their lost father.

In 1817 Plymouth, Arabella remains confident that she is the one who will marry the prince though time is running out on her with less than two weeks left and she still needs to be in France to achieve her destiny. She pleads with pirate Captain Lucien Westfall to take her. However, the duke wonders why a governess desires travel to his brother’s French castle; Luc assumes his family sent her to report his activities to them. Thinking he should keep his enemy close as he knows someone else will replace her if he refuses her; Luc agrees to escort Arabella to France. When robbers assault them, the couple realizes how in love they are as they trust their respective life in the hands of their partner.

The opening Prince Catchers Regency romance is a fun gender war tale as two spry witty opponents fall in love in spite of their misconceptions. The storyline begins at a leisurely pace so readers can meet the players. Once the adventure begins the plot accelerates into a delightfully fast-paced romantic caper in which he is no prince charming or pirate and she is no damsel in distress or governess.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Devil She Knows-Kira Sinclair

The Devil She Knows

Kira Sinclair

Harlequin Blaze, Aug 20 2013, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373797707

Devlin Warwick returns home from Atlanta to Sweetheart, South Carolina after being away for a decade. He has a goal to prove to those do-gooders who ran him out of town as a bad boy that they judged him wrong. Thus he ironically wears a devil’s costume for the town’s fall masquerade.

Wedding dress designer Willow Portis is Sweetheart’s good girl. For the masquerade she dresses as a sexy angel. When the devil and angel meet at the ball, each is stunned by the attraction and share the best night of their respective lives until the masks come off as Willow sees the man who broke her heart ten years ago.

The latest Sweetwater romance (see She’s No Angel) is a heated second chance at love tale. The lead couple is a delightful pairing of the devil and the angel though he has some angelic traits and she has some devilish inclinations. A suspense subplot adds tension but also feels unnecessary as this couple holds the fine plot together with their history and a town that insists love is not enough.

Harriet Klausner

Bodyguard Under Fire-Elle James

Bodyguard Under Fire

Elle James

Harlequin Intrigue, Aug 20 2013, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373697137

Ever since his wife and child died in a botched kidnapping last year, billionaire Raging Bull Ranch owner Hank Winchester decided justice needed help. He hired four unemployable former law enforcement officials at his firm Covert Cowboys, Inc. Two of them proved their worth right out of the gate (see Triggered and Taking Aim).

Hank assigns Afghan wounded warrior vet Chuck Bolton to protect an employee at Cara Jo’s Diner. Chuck wonders why this person needs a bodyguard, but he will do the job going undercover as a handyman at the adjacent Wild Oak Canyon Resort run, along with the diner by Cara Jo Smithson; the only person besides himself and Hank who knows his real assignment. Waitress PJ Franks screams when an intruder enters her apartment as she fears for her baby Charlie. Hearing the scream, Chuck intercedes but the man escapes because of the retired Special Forces soldier’s bad leg prevents him from pursuing. His ex-fiancée PJ introduces a stunned Chuck to his sleeping daughter even as he learns that a Mexican drug lord targets mother and child though the motive remains unknown.

The third Covert Cowboys, Inc. is an exciting thriller that never slows down as readers are hooked with a need to know why though some fans will believe the reason is weak for a cartel chief. Fast-paced from the opening rescue, fans will appreciate this enjoyable second chance at love romantic suspense as family matters.

Harriet Klausner

Wrath-Bearing Tree-James Enge

Wrath-Bearing Tree

James Enge

Pyr, Aug 20 2013, $18.00

ISBN 9781616147815

The son of the mighty Merlin Ambrosius, the hunchback Morlock knows he has quite a lineage to live up to especially since his father is a traitor. On top of that his siblings are do-gooders. Still he does his best.

The Graith of Guardians assigns Morlock and Aloe Oaij to investigate the murder of a lesser God in Kaen, a land not under their sworn jurisdiction. The two agents travel by sea before crashing onto the Kaen coast. They quickly find out that their nemesis Two Powers twin gods Fate and Chaos are involved once again (see A Guile of Dragons). Nothing is smooth on this trek as danger mounts from natural enemies fighting each other for power. Frightened Gods claim their protection as much as their souls; Andhrakar the demon has demands; acrimonious exiled Merlin thinks his offspring is mad; while A Guile of Dragons runs amuck causing havoc and further panic; but the worst of all to Morlock is his sister Ambrosia is involved at a time when the Balancer is no more.

The second Tournament of Shadows sword and sorcery fantasy continues the exhilarating prequel escapades of Morlock as a young dwarf (before his later epic adventures - see The Wolf Age, Blood of Ambrose and This Crooked Way). The thrilling fast-paced storyline grips S&S quest fans from the moment Merlin uses the brain of an atheist to escape a lesser God and never slows down until the final anticipated family affair.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Wake the Dawn-Lauraine Snelling

Wake the Dawn

Lauraine Snelling

FaithWords, Aug 20 2013, $15.00

ISBN 9780892969012

In Pineville, Minnesota, Widower Ben James struggles with grief and alcoholism ever since his pregnant wife Allie and their unborn died, but he always performs his border patrol duty diligently. Physician Assistant Esther Hanson runs the local clinic diligently though she is not a doctor and there is none at the facility.

A horrific hurricane like storm hammers the Northern Plains, devastating the small border town while also isolating Pineville. Ben and Esther team up along with others to save lives though she is one incident from a full scale panic attack at a time everyone needs her calmness instead of PTSD. When Bo the K9 border patrol guard finds a baby alive, the pair and the EMTs rejoice even as the clinic is overwhelmed by the townsfolk’s need. Yet two emotionally crippled warriors begin to heal as they help their injured neighbors.

The key to this warm inspirational romance is the clinic’s frantic desperate activity takes center stage during and after the storm while the romance between the protagonists supports the overall town (and leads) in trouble theme. Character-driven by a fabulous support cast and two wounded warriors in a vivid location (think of Under The Dome but instead isolation caused by a storm), readers will enjoy this engaging tale.

Harriet Klausner

If You Can’t Stand The Heat-Joss Wood

If You Can’t Stand The Heat

Joss Wood

Harlequin Kiss, Aug 20 2013, $4.99

ISBN: 9780373207299

Pari’s Bakery and Coffee Shop has been at the same locale in St. James and False Bay for forty years, but owner Ellie Evans tells her BFF and maternity leave employee Merri that the septuagenarian owners of the building sold the property. They have six months to vacate with no prospect of opening the bakery anywhere in the area.

Jack Chapman stands outside the closed for the night bakery when Ellie calls her dad Mitchell to ask why the war correspondent her father considers his son is here. Mitchell explains a Somalian warlord battered Jack and took his cash and credit cards before dumping him on a U.N. plane leaving Cape Town. The reporter needs a bed to recuperate while also interviewing Mitchell’s family for an article on life with him; Ellie resentfully thinks what life with Mitchell as he always covered all the hot spots but none of her highlight film. El and Jack feel the attraction between them, but he regains his mojo and she rejects her heart as she does not need another neglectful male in her life.

If You Can’t Stand The Heat is a warm contemporary romance as love may not be enough to forge a permanent relationship between the protagonists. Readers will appreciate this entertaining tale that focuses on how much a person loses when they must choose between their vocation and their family.

Harriet Klausner

Maid of Dishonor-Heidi Rice

Maid of Dishonor

Heidi Rice

Harlequin Kiss, Aug 20 2013, $4.99

ISBN: 9780373207282

At Hillbrook College in Upstate New York, Gina Carrington the tramp slept around and enjoyed every tryst though deep down none of them gave her any warmth afterward. That is except the one that she really enjoyed yet afterward left her empty as she knew she crossed a forbidden line when she slept with her friend Marnie’s older brother just before “Saint” Carter Price was to marry Missy.

A decade later, Gina regrets how she behaved back in school especially her final bedding that remains the only one etched into her mind, body and soul. Thanks to her business partner Reese Michaels (see The Unexpected Wedding Guest by Aimee Carson) opting out on her re the Cassie Barclay’s wedding plans meeting (see Girl Least Likely to Marry by Amy Andrews), Gina has a chance to apologize to Marnie. After Gina does; Marnie says her brother was the prime culprit by cheating on his fiancé. Marnie also explains Carter’s marriage proved a disaster and now he is a player.

This is a fun romance as ironically ten years ago she was the bad girl and he was the virgin; while now she acts the virgin and he is the bad boy. With a strong support cast, fans will appreciate this wonderful Wedding Season’s second chance at love relationship drama.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Home On The Range-Susan Fox

Home On The Range

Susan Fox

Zebra, Aug 6 2013, $6.99

ISBN: 9781420131901

“Home On The Range.” Evan Kincaid fled Caribou Crossing, Canada for Cornell and ultimately Manhattan. A decade later he is a wealthy investment counselor, who loves his job and Cynthia his attorney girlfriend. His most loyal client Gianni Vitale pulls out the friend card to persuade Evan to look into the Crazy Horse Dude Ranch in British Columbia as a possible investment venture since owner TJ Cousins plans an expansion. To his chagrin though he lived in horse country, Evan never rode a horse and now he is going to a ranch as an undercover guest. Worse Evan hates returning to Caribou Crossing site of the ranch, but plans to avoid his mother Brooke and his BFF Jess Bly who he left after their only sexual encounter. Hard to do when TJ is Jess, married and divorced from Dave Cousins; but she never told Evan about Robin.

“Caribou Crossing.” In 1995, Miriam Bly lies in a coma while her husband Wade, their seven years old daughter Jess, and her mother Rose the school teacher, worry. He fears his decision to take over the family ranch proved too much for his beloved wife, a townie daughter of a banker. He vows if she returns to him, he will give up Bly Ranch though he and Jess love living there.

Although Cynthia is stereotyped as urban shallowness and Jess is a caring nature mother, Home On The Range is an engaging somewhat thin Canadian second chance love ranch romance that brings to life picturesque British Columbia. Caribou Crossing is an enjoyable reprint of an e-book novella that focuses on the love between Jess’ parents when they first moved to the ranch.

Harriet Klausner

Ready To Die-Lisa Jackson

Ready To Die

Lisa Jackson

Zebra, Jul 30 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9781420118513

In Grizzly Falls, Montana the sniper waited impatiently for the right moment to kill the female on skis. When he pulls the trigger he smirks one down and five to go. His next target is Pinewood Sheriff Dan Grayson who for a few hours with his nieces will spend Christmas alone as he always does.

Nate Santana proposes to twice-married Police Detective Regan Pescoli who thinks of her failed marriages except for her beloved son and daughter. Flustered by the proposal, Pescoli decides to quit the force so drives to her boss Grayson to inform him of her decision on Christmas Day. Meanwhile as Sturgis the dog barks, the sniper shoots Grayson when Pescoli arrives. She is on his death list but the timing is off so he leaves. Her arrival saves Grayson’s life though he remains in intensive care near death. Pescoli delays her resignation to work with Detective Selena Alvarez on finding the killer taunting the townsfolk through the media with “Who’s Next?”

The latest Selena Alvarez and Regan Pescoli police procedural (see Left to Die, Chosen to Die, Born to Die and Afraid to Die) is very personal as the killer has a to do list that includes cops. The storyline is at its best when the focus is on the murders or on Pescoli’s personal life as that has impact on the prime plot. Still this is an enjoyable serial killer thriller although there is some meaningless padding involving tertiary characters, and the culprit, a support player in previous tales, seems an unlikely psychopath for returning fans.

Harriet Klausner

Night’s Mistress-Amanda Ashley

Night’s Mistress

Amanda Ashley

Zebra, Jul 30 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9781420130416

For centuries, males whether they are mundane mortal, vampire or even vampire hunter, coveted Mara (see Night’s Kiss) though their agendas vary. She kept her distance emotionally until recently as she has not gotten over the rejection from human Kyle Bowden the passionate artist who dumped her horrified by her confession that she is a vampire. Adding fear to her despondency is her incredible dark powers rapidly are waning as she apparently begins a conversion back to human making her vulnerable to enemies.

Former creation and lover from hundreds of years ago, Logan Blackwood offers Mara sanctuary in his luxurious Hollywood abode. Desperate she accepts. However, as Logan and Mara reignite their ancient attraction, she learns she miraculously carries Kyle’s offspring who seeks her out to tell her he still offers to her his soul.

The fifth Children of the Night romantic urban fantasy (see Night’s Touch and Night’s Pleasure) is the strongest entry in a terrific series due to the angst choices confronting the emotionally tormented lead female. Mara holds the stunning storyline together as she mentally struggles with acceptance of her unwanted changes, her need to make up her mind between the two caring hunks and what is best for her baby who comes first over her needs and that of her lovers.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, August 19, 2013

Lost And Found Father-Sheri WhiteFeather

Lost And Found Father

Sheri WhiteFeather

Harlequin Special Edition, Aug 20 2013, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373657667

In Oregon, Victoria Allen and Ryan Nash are high school sweethearts. However when they are both sixteen, she becomes pregnant. She wants to keep their daughter, but pressure from their parents and knowing kids raising a kid is not smart; they accept a closed adoption. The teen couple agrees to hold their baby once before giving her up. Panicking he fails to arrive at the hospital as she gives birth to their baby. Soon afterward, her parents move with their daughter to Los Angeles.

Eighteen years later, single web designer Victoria contacts divorcee veterinarian Ryan to tell him that she joined several adoption registries hoping their daughter would find her. Six months ago, she and Kaley met and, encouraged by her widower dad, have since bonded. Now a UCLA student Kaley wants to meet her biological dad and though Victoria does not want to see him as she knows she still loves him, but she will do anything for her child.

This Family Renewal drama is a warm second chance at love (and family) tale. The key is that the players are all nice people including the adopted dad and late mom. With Native American elements (the two dads are part Native American) enhancing the engaging storyline, readers will appreciate Sheri WhiteFeather’s wonderful story.

Harriet Klausner

Hope Rising from The Ashes-L.F. Falconer

Hope Rising from The Ashes

L.F. Falconer

Outskirts Press, Jul 15 2013, $13.95

ISBN: 9781478702467

Collie leaves Middletown in the Kingdom of Donnel with a broken heart hoping to start anew in the Tillaman Realm after her failed star-crossed affair with beloved Dugan (see Hope Flies on Broken Wings). Kernon the salt trader accompanied by eight years old son Natt gives a ride on his wagon to the tinker's daughter. As they near Sark, a lion with wings attacks from the air and kills Kernon. Hope and Natt survive. Two knights arrive and recognizing one of them as Thoren, who she supped with at King Rhoen’s palace and loathes for wagering on her; she calls for help. She mentions the lion and Thoren and Morgan the other knight turn pale as Seret has returned.

In Sark the oldest brother of the two knights ChiefWarden Dannon takes possession of Kernon’s salt now owned by Natt and uses some of it to pay for one room for his guests at the inn. Upset she turns to Morgan for solace, but finds little there. A blizzard keeps her from crossing the mountains while the sibling knights argue over who owns Collie who clings to the hope of the charm Dugan gave her.

Hope Rising from The Ashes is an exciting sequel at time when Christianity is just beginning to spread. The storyline grips the readers from the moment Seret attacks the salt wagon and never slows down as the heroine struggles with unwanted attention and squabbling from the brothers. Though it helps previously to have read Hope Flies on Broken Wings to understand how the protagonist (and Dugan) got to the point of accepting Kernon’s ride, fans will relish this strong historical.

Harriet Klausner

The Bookstore-Deborah Meyler

The Bookstore

Deborah Meyler

Gallery, Aug 20 2013, $16.00

ISBN: 9781476714240

Receiving a scholarship to attend Columbia University as an art history Ph.D. candidate Esme Garland moves to Manhattan. While working on her thesis re artist Wayne Thiebaud, Esme meets old money native Mitchell van Leuven. They become an entry until the commitment phobic Mitchell abruptly ends their relationship insisting the sex is stale before Esme can tell him she is pregnant.

Needing money, Esme finds work at the laconic but financially failing The Owl bookstore on West Side while continuing her studies in Morningside Heights. She enjoys helping the eccentric customers and reading the books, but especially appreciates George the owner and Luke the guitarist manager. Mitchell returns asking for a second chance, but though Esme wants to say yes she fears he will find her as lacking as a used teabag.

The Bookstore is a magical Manhattan drama as the idealistic Esme loves the city, the school, the bookstore and especially cynical Mitchell. The character driven storyline encourages bibliophiles to go for the gold but also not to bury your head in the sand as others may not want to share your desires.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Beasts of Upton Puddle-Simon West-Bulford

The Beasts of Upton Puddle

Simon West-Bulford

Medallion, Sep 1 2013, $9.99

ISBN: 9781605425207

In Upton Puddle, though she conceals her motive for employing the tweener from him, Mrs. Merrynether hires twelve year old Joe Copper to do menial tasks for her veterinary clinic after he came to her to help an injured raccoon. His new employer recognizes the tweener’s intelligence and kindness, traits he has used to deal with Duggan the bully and will need when he learns his true mission is to protect mankind from the Conclave of dragons by leading a force of various beasts; some considered mythical only.

Redwar industries CEO Argoyle Redwar wants to possess mysterious Merrynether Mansion and will use any amoral ruse to succeed. He cons Mrs. Merrynether into telling him where the Conclave’s Pyronesia Island is located and heads there with his menagerie to take control of the volatile dragons. Though not ready, Joe leads a team of mythical misfits as they try to prevent Redwar from seizing power.

Targeting middle school students, The Beasts of Upton Puddle is a wonderful fantasy starring a twelve year old boy whose caring empathy causes him problems and leads to errors in judgment when he commands his team as he struggles with any of them (and even the enemy) getting hurt. Holding the exciting storyline focused, Joe knows what it is like to lose someone so he hates for anyone to suffer pain or death. Yet he has a “two-front” war to fight as he, Mrs. Merrynether and their odd allies battle a ruthless avaricious psychopath and if they survive him and his horde perhaps one day soon the belligerent dragons.

Harriet Klausner

Born of Persuasion-Jessica Dotta

Born of Persuasion

Jessica Dotta

Tyndale, Aug 16 2013, $13.99

ISBN: 9781414375557

In 1838, teenager Julia Elliston learns her mom committed suicide and with her abusive father already dead she is now the property of a guardian who plans to sequester her as a companion to an ailing woman in Scotland. She tells everyone that mama died suddenly from cholera while considering her options as she does not want to be the poor relative toiling in servitude as an exile.

Her hope resided with her betrothed Edward but since he became ordained as a vicar, Julia knows he cannot marry her as the daughter of an atheist; as her drowning should not pull her beloved under the water too. Family friend Mrs. Windham offers money to Miss Pitts to find a husband for Julia who insists only a gentleman will do. Lady Foxmore shockingly offers to sponsor Julia, but hides her real motive from the lass who is the focus of an odious wager.

This Price of Privilege early Victorian inspirational romance is a terrific historical that brings to life the era through the first-hand account of Julia. The support cast is solid with everyone insisting they know what is best for Julia (and themselves) while no one considers what the protagonist wants. Born of Persuasion belongs to Julia who insists she will not accept being property for others to discard though she will learn how difficult this will prove for someone without rights.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Strong Rain Falling: A Caitlin Strong Novel-Jon Land

Strong Rain Falling: A Caitlin Strong Novel

Jon Land

Forge, Aug 13 2013, $25.99

ISBN 9780765331502

Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong travels to Brown University with Dylan Torres, the son of her lover Cort Wesley Masters. In Providence, gunmen try to kill Dylan.

At the same time in San Antonio, gunmen also try to kill Dylan’s brother, Luke. Trying to understand the motive to kill the two teens, Strong and Masters uncover a scheme that goes back to the origin of Mexican drug cartels in 1919, which led to an opium war between the traffickers and Texas Rangers including Caitlin’s great-grandfather, William Ray Strong. With help from German philosophy student Guillermo Paz, Strong realizes the last descendent of the drug cartel founding family Ana Callas Guajardo has a sinister scheme to destroy the United States.

The latest Caitlin Strong thriller (see Strong Vengeance and Strong at the Break) is a terrific action-packed tale starring a courageous fifth generation Texas Ranger and her fascinating adversary a descendent of the first generation drug cartel chieftain. Though the transitions between chapters feel misplaced, readers will enjoy this strong fast-paced entry includes fascinating Ranger and drug cartel intertwined history supporting the contemporary intertwined real and cyber war.

Harriet Klausner

Tragic-Robert K. Tanenbaum


Robert K. Tanenbaum

Gallery, Aug 13 2013, $2600

ISBN 9781451635553

With the death of North American Brotherhood of Stevedores union leader Leo Corcione, a power struggle between brutally corrupt heir apparent Charlie Vitteli and ethical challenger Vince Carlotta explodes; as the latter accuses the former of being a violent crook. Vitteli’s henchmen end the debate when they assassinate Carlotta though the waterfront crime scene looks more like a robbery gone badly.

New York County DA Roger “Butch” Karp seeks evidence to take down Vitteli. Meanwhile his wife private investigator Marlene Campi meets a frightened potential witness at the East Village Women’s Shelter. That lead has her seeking several hit men with one of them probably the “masked robber” who pulled the trigger. Finding the killer and getting him to testify should prove Vitteli cannot wash the blood from his hands.

The latest entertaining Karp-Campi legal thriller (see Bad Faith) is an exciting tale when the focus is on union waterfront activity as those segments bring to life hard working workers and violent thugs. The fascinating courtroom segue is also well written; while the metaphorical references to Macbeth turn from intriguing to overused distractor. Readers will enjoy this tragedy wondering who will be the highest rank living official providing the final soliloquy.

Harriet Klausner

Pirates of the Timestream-Steve White

Pirates of the Timestream

Steve White

Baen, Aug 6 2013, $14.00

ISBN: 9781451639094

Temporal Regulatory Authority Director Rutherford explains to (reactivated from retirement) raging Commander Jason Thanou that, in spite of the possible Observer Effect, Sam Asamoa left a message from 1791 Haiti where he leads an expedition into the causes of the revolution. Besides finding a cult that appears to have Transhumanist origins, Sam believes spaceship wreckage is on a mountainside. Rutherford orders Jason, the recognized expert on alien crafts since the late fifth century BC incident (see Sunset of the Gods), to investigate.

Jason leads an expedition that includes regional expert Dr. Henri Boyer, Special Ops Alexandre Mondrago and Pauline Da Cunha, and Authority representative Irving Nesbit back to the 1660s where they will join the crew of Privateer Captain Henry Morgan. Nothing goes right as the team finds Transhumanists abetted by Teloi establishing a cult and much more. Desperate, Jason aligns with strange bedfellows like Morgan and female pirate Zenobia to insure history follows the correct timestream.

The third Temporal Regulatory Authority thriller (see Blood of Heroes) is a rousing sea thriller in which Steve White blends futurism inside of a vivid late seventeenth century tale that grips the reader once Thanou and his team go back in time. Though a detour by the hero before the swashbuckling begins feels unnecessary, fans will relish the TRA escapades with Morgan and Zenobia as the Special Ops team struggle to survive yet complete their mission.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, August 16, 2013

Sleep Tight-Jeff Jacobson

Sleep Tight

Jeff Jacobson

Pinnacle, Aug 6 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780786030781

In December knowing timing was critical, Roman put the special “suit” on Viktor in the veterinarian office in Yekaterinburg. Forty-three minutes later he dropped Viktor off at Koltsovo Airport where he caught the eighteen-hour flight to Chicago. Just before arriving at his destination, Viktor felt itchy all over and sick. He realizes the cargo is waking up as blood trickles down his nose when he feels the bite on his stomach; he kills an insect. Viktor struggles off the plane and gets a gun before Chicago PD Sam and Ed shoot him. A bat carrying the same bugs that bit Viktor escapes from underneath his shirt. Homeland Security and other alphabet suits arrive at the scene but none are aware that the first of the WHO Global Pandemic Phases has just begun.

By April Phase Two happens and in August Phase Three human infection begins. The bugs threaten Chicago with a deadly new virus as people begin dying from bites. Being a major international hub city, America and the rest of the world are in peril as transmission expands into larger and larger clusters (Phases Four and Five) with the virus adapting to humans. Not quite eight months since Viktor arrived with his illegal cargo, Phase Six spreading throughout the general population seems imminent. The only hope is a mad doctor.

Scratching from start to finish, readers will enjoy this taut thriller while also obsessively washing clothing and bedding several times in hot water. Though the key characters are not fully developed, the tale is action-packed from the moment Viktor carries the “dormant” illegal bats into O’Hare and never slowing down, fans will not Sleep Tight as these bed bugs do bite

Harriet Klausner

Memory’s Door-James L. Rubart

Memory’s Door

James L. Rubart

Thomas Nelson, Aug 6 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9781401686079

Three decades ago, Reece Roth was a warrior for Jesus but a tragedy cost his faith. Recently God sent four tyros (Brandon Scott, Marcus Amber, Dana Raine and Tamera Miller) to the recluse; for Reece to train and lead them in their upcoming battle with the malevolent Wolf (see Soul's Gate).

Each of the Warrior Riders has personal issues that give an edge to the Evil One adversary to exploit. Blind and severely depressed while struggling with his lost faith, Reese sees no future for him or his acolytes. As Dana rises up the ladder of success work-wise, she fears she walks the wrong path spiritually. Marcus remains filled with guilt and remorse as he remains gripped by grief over the death of his son; while also fearing he is going insane when he seems to end up in other realms. Meanwhile someone stalks Brandon at his concerts. The Wolf has begun to undermine the Warrior Riders using their human weaknesses leading the quintet to wonder who is friend and who is foe.

The second Well Spring inspirational thriller focuses on how the devil uses human doubts and desires to tempt even the most pious believer to sin. Once again the faithful fab five are fully developed, but it is the good and evil exciting biblical storyline fought as individuals as well as a group in a materialistic electronic age that makes James L. Rubart's taut tale a great read.

Harriet Klausner

From This Day On-Janice Kay Johnson

From This Day On

Janice Kay Johnson

Harlequin SuperRomance, Aug 6 2013, $5.75

ISBN: 9780373718672

While her mom and stepfather are in Australia for two years, Amy Nilsson moves into their mother’s house to learn more about her mother; as Michelle Cooper Doyle is emotionally closed off. She opens her mom’s mail from Wakefield College inviting her to the opening of a time capsule from over three decades ago. Confused as her mom attended U of Oregon, Amy calls her dad in Arizona about Wakefield, but he only adds more mystery. Her half-brother Jakob, who she had an unfriendly relationship as children, calls her saying their dad called him re the time capsule. He hides from Amy and their father, the truths he overheard when his parents talked and conceals the hidden agenda as to why he offers to accompany her.

The half-siblings drive together to Wakefield College. There they learn what her mom hid; that Jakob’s father is not Amy’s biological dad as she is a product of rape. Whereas Amy feels shocked by the revelations, Jakob feels euphoric as he hid his shameful forbidden attraction for his half-sister behind a prickly façade.

From This Day On is an emotional drama as the truth may set free family members or destroy them. Although Jakob’s feelings for Amy are difficult to accept, Janice Kay Johnson provides readers with an angst-laden contemporary.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Warbound-Larry Correia


Larry Correia

Baen, Aug 6 2013, $25.00

ISBN: 9781451639087

Sally Faye Vierra the Traveler believes she is a Grimnoir Knight though most Actives assume she will turn into a monster. Whisper advised her to seek Jacques Montand the Grimnoir Elder. When she finds him on a church rooftop, Faye dangles Jacques over the edge while explaining why she looked for him. He sends her to what was once Berlin, but now the Dead City to meet a zombie who sees the future.

At the same time Bureau of Investigation Chief J. Edgar Hoover assigns ex-convict Jake Sullivan a Grimnoir Knight Heavy to stop the Pathfinder. He begins to put together a team to breech the Imperium to obtain a Pathfinder Detector with the assistance of Francis Stuyvesant the Mover. As part of his rapid response recruitment, Jake travels to his former residence Rockville State Penitentiary to talk with prisoner Wells the Massive psychopath about the Pathfinder. Soon his mission and Faye’s quest collide.

The third Grimnoir Chronicles (see Spellbound and Hard Magic) is an exciting alternate historical fantasy. The Correia world is anchored by noted real persona like FDR, Congressional hearings, William Donovan and Hoover in somewhat limited roles as the prime plots center on the Actives being active with Sullivan and crew working the Pathfinder mission and Faye proving her worth. Readers will enjoy the 1930s as the Depression world seems Warbound.

Harriet Klausner

Her Road Home-Laura Drake

Her Road Home

Laura Drake

Harlequin SuperRomance, Aug 6 2013, $5.75

ISBN: 978-0373718702

When her beloved dad died, Samantha Crozier knew Ohio would never be the same. She leaves the Buckeye State on her motorcycle heading nowhere while earning money by renovating fixer-upper houses.

Sam suffers an accident in Widow’s Grove, California that forces her to stay in town to heal and for her bike to be repaired by local mechanic Nick Pinelli. As she recovers, she finds herself pulled in opposite directions. On the one hand she locates a house needing her magic, but this time it is different as she also feels a need to stay there with Nick; on the other hand Sam feels she is “Born To Be Wild” (Steppenwolf) with a need to “Get your motor runnin'; head out on the highway; looking for adventure …”. Nick prays the woman he loves will stay with him forever.

Her Road Home is an enjoyable contemporary romance that fans will enjoy as we want to know more about Sam’s wanderlust obsession. The town seems magical as readers will root for biker chick and the wannabe biker chick’s man forging a permanent loving relationship.

Harriet Klausner

The Hypothetical Girl-Elizabeth Cohen

The Hypothetical Girl

Elizabeth Cohen

Other Press, Aug 6 2013, $14.95

ISBN: 9781590515822

This entertaining collection consists of fifteen fascinating tales that focus on love in the technology age. Chloe searched for love on line while also watching “Animal Dancing” unaware the animals wonder why the humans dance around relationships when a straight line is obvious. Myra the poet and Louis the professor exchange emails filled with flirtatious limericks until she sends a love poem that ends their connection in “Death by Free Verse.” The Icelandic yak farmer and the model meet on but each conceals a truth from their perfect match in “People Who Live Far, Far Away.” “Life Underground” could be boring but Alana found her happy ever after in Max whom she met on the computer and that is where he will always stay in her heart. The professor, the fisherman, and the teacher form a triangle after meeting on an online cancer forum in "The Opposite of Love.” Emily knew she was fading away into invisibility but cannot stop the visible girl she once was from disappearing after an online male insists she is just “The Hypothetical Girl.” Finally the deer and the polar bear use Skype to discuss “Stupid Humans.” This is a strong anthology that looks deeply at how to connect or not in a digital world.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Codex Born-Jim C. Hines

Codex Born

Jim C. Hines

DAW, Aug 6 2013, $24.95

ISBN 9780756408169

Five centuries ago, Gutenberg discovered the true power of printed books when he learned to master Libriomancy. Now in the present, fourteen year old Jeneta Aboderin has introduced a new spin when she released a snake from her Smartphone that led to a Porters’ feeding frenzy as every practitioner wants to learn how she did it. Assigned by Gutenberg as one of the 12 elite Die Zwelf Portenaere Doorkeeper Porters Isaac Vainio is the lucky one as Jeneta works under his tutelage in Copper Lake, Michigan though he admits she is more the teacher with her unique knack to bring to life e-books.

Weres report finding the murdered corpse of a wendigo with the smell of a human nearby in the Upper Peninsula. Psychiatrist Nidhi Shah is assigned the investigation. Her girlfriend Lena Greenwood the pulp fiction Dryad and Lena’s boyfriend Isaac assist her. They soon realize the killer knows the Libriomancer organization as if he or she is a high ranking member and a long thought extinct rival group from the other side of the globe resurfaces with a vengeance. Isaac also fears the Devourers are playing behind the curtain wizardry.

The second Magic Ex Libris urban fantasy (see Libriomancer) is an exciting thriller with much of the fun coming from trying to name the title of a book in which an object was magically taken (how else to solve a murder mystery). Action-packed and filled with humor readers will relish this entry though to understand the complex science of Libriomancy it pays to have read the first tale as newbies will feel lost in Hines quantum physics otherwise.

Harriet Klausner

Second Time’s The Charm-Tara Taylor Quinn

Second Time’s The Charm

Tara Taylor Quinn

Harlequin SuperRomance, Aug 6 2013, $5.75

ISBN: 9780373718719

Nine months pregnant child life specialist Lillie Henderson knows her unborn Braydon Thomas suffers from a congenital heart defect that means he will most likely be dead at birth and if he survives that his life span is expected to be no more than a year. Her husband Kirk informs her that his mistress Leah is three months pregnant carrying his healthy baby, but that he will remain married to Lillie so his insurance pays the exorbitant medical bills though he confesses he loves the other woman. Two months later Braydon died and Lillie filed for divorce. Kirk’s irate dad Jerry sided with Lillie and made sure she was financially taken care of.

Five years later at the Little Spirits Day Care in Shelter Valley, Arizona, single dad Jon Swartz’s two year old son Abraham has a temper tantrum. While Jon takes a butt (and groin) kicking from his toddler, Lillie intercedes singing a song like a loony, but father and son are hooked. An unconventional older Montfort University scholarship student Jon and the freelancing child life specialist Lillie are attracted to each other. However, his secret gives him no hope to believe in love while she has doubts since Kirk betrayed her.

This is an engaging second chance romance starring two emotionally wounded individuals who no longer believe in love. Character-driven by the lead couple and anxious Abe and containing a fabulous twisting crime subplot with a unique alibi, readers will believe this is a charmer.

Harriet Klausner

Love and Lament-John Milliken Thompson

Love and Lament

John Milliken Thompson

Other Press, Aug 6 2013, $15.95

ISBN: 9781590515877

The residents of Haw County, North Carolina believe 1887 is a breakthrough year as the railroad finally arrives. Also in that same historical year, Mary Bet is born as the ninth and last child of Rezin Cicero and Susan Elizabeth Hartsoe. By the turn of the century, Mary Bet is the lone survivor as her eight older siblings are dead; as well as their mom. By 1906 her Civil War veteran father shows signs of senility while also suffering with physical ailments forcing a reluctant Mary Bet finally to take him to Morganton State Hospital; while Cattie Jordon sells the store. Over the next decade, Cicero remains at Morganton while his only surviving offspring remains single working as a clerk at the Haw County Courthouse and on call as a deputy to Sheriff Teague pursuing moonshiners. When Teague leaves to fight in WWI, Mary Bet replaces him as the state’s first female sheriff.

Love and Lament is a deep vivid look at the Piedmont in the three decades preceding WWI. The storyline is mostly seen through the eyes of Mary Bet, a granddaughter of slaves. She observes the Civil War continues to hold a grip on the townsfolk as powerful as the circuit preachers while a neo industrial revolution has shaken tradition. Readers will appreciate this strong historical that will have the audience believing this is a fabulous biographical fiction.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Smoky Ridge Curse-Paula Graves

Smoky Ridge Curse

Paula Graves

Harlequin Intrigue, Aug 6 2013, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373697052

FBI Agents Adam Brand and Delilah Hammond shared a great night, but afterward he hesitantly informs her never again as he is her superior. In love with her boss, Delilah quit the Feds and goes home to Bitterwood, Tennessee. Though he knows he did the honorable right thing, his heart tells Adam he made the wrong choice.

Eight years since Delilah left him, Adam still a Fed believes Virginia lumberyard owner Wayne Cortland is a master criminal and terrorist. No one believes Adam and in fact evidence mounts that the Fed is the terrorist while his target is a good citizen. Wounded, on the run and trusting no one except the person who owns his heart; Adam turns to his former subordinate local law enforcement official Delilah. Though she should refuse, Delilah knows her Adam would never betray his country so she agrees to help the man she still loves.

The third Bitterwood P.D. tale (see Murder in the Smokies and The Smoky Mountain Mist) is an exhilarating second chance thriller. Delilah is a terrific heroine trying to rescue the hunk in distress. Readers will enjoy this high octane storyline as domestic terrorism arrives in the Great Smokies.

Harriet Klausner

Taking Aim-Elle James

Taking Aim

Elle James

Harlequin Intrigue, Jul 23 2013, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373697069

Ever since his wife and child died in a botched kidnapping last year, billionaire Raging Bull Ranch owner Hank Winchester decided justice needed help. He hires four unemployable former law enforcement officials at his firm Covert Cowboys, Inc.

FBI Special Agent Tracie Kosart visits her twin Jacie at the Big Elk Ranch where the latter works as a big game hunting trail guide. On a big hunting tour, an incident occurs leaving Tracie abducted and Jacie fortunate to make it to the Raging Bull Ranch. Jacie insists on going after her sister while Zach and others tell her to be patient. They find one of the hunting party clients Mr. Jones who whispers set up and DEA before dying. Hank says Tracie went unofficially undercover to learn who the FBI leak is and that Zach was to assist her if he accepted the job. Zach is motivated to go after the cartel that destroyed him and took Tracie. However, Jacie insists she is coming with him or without him.

The second Covert Cowboys investigative romance (see Triggered) is a wonderful redemption thriller as the mentally broken hero has two powerful reasons to regain his lost mojo: a chance for revenge and a chance for love. Action-packed readers will relish this intrigue with the overarching theme moving slightly forward; while also looking forward to the former sheriff as a Cowboy Resurrected.

Harriet Klausner

Smoky Ridge Curse-Paula Graves

Smoky Ridge Curse

Paula Graves

Harlequin Intrigue, Aug 6 2013, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373697052

FBI Agents Adam Brand and Delilah Hammond shared a great night, but afterward he hesitantly informs her never again as he is her superior. In love with her boss, Delilah quit the Feds and goes home to Bitterwood, Tennessee. Though he knows he did the honorable right thing, his heart tells Adam he made the wrong choice.

Eight years since Delilah left him, Adam still a Fed believes Virginia lumberyard owner Wayne Cortland is a master criminal and terrorist. No one believes Adam and in fact evidence mounts that the Fed is the terrorist while his target is a good citizen. Wounded, on the run and trusting no one except the person who owns his heart; Adam turns to his former subordinate local law enforcement official Delilah. Though she should refuse, Delilah knows her Adam would never betray his country so she agrees to help the man she still loves.

The third Bitterwood P.D. tale (see Murder in the Smokies and The Smoky Mountain Mist) is an exhilarating second chance thriller. Delilah is a terrific heroine trying to rescue the hunk in distress. Readers will enjoy this high octane storyline as domestic terrorism arrives in the Great Smokies.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, August 12, 2013

Claimed by the Immortal-Rachel Lee

Claimed by the Immortal

Rachel Lee

Harlequin Nocturne, Aug 6 2013, $5.75

ISBN: 9780373885763

Police Captain Malloy informs Police Sergeant Carolyn Hamilton that he placed her on indefinite medical leave because of her insistence that she saw Andrew Pritchett lifted six feet in the air by nothing visible and tossed across the room on to a stuffed elk’s horn. None of the other cops on the scene saw any of this nor can anyone explain what happened to the battered murdered family of five. Her mentor Detective Matthews tells her to take the leave, come back in a week or so, never mention the impossible here, but visit Messenger Investigations to tell what she witnessed to Jude Messenger who handles the eerie that the cops claim do not exist.

With some limited psychic ability like reading auras, Carolyn senses someone watches her; a feeling she has had since she saw the unreal happen. She meets Jude and his associate Damien Keller; noticing each shares the same golden eyes and odd auras like none she ever saw before. To her amazement, they believe her story. Attracted to the mortal witch and amused by her being unaware of what she is, Damien the German vampire vows to keep Carolyn safe from what is watching her.

The latest Claiming urban romantic fantasy (see Claim the Night for Jude’s tale) is an action-packed investigative thriller that never decelerates from the moment that Carolyn arrives at the weird Messenger Investigations office and never misses a beat until the final confrontation. Readers will appreciate the vampire and the witch falling in love while hunting an invisible stalker amidst numerous viable suspects.

Harriet Klausner

Kindred and Wings-Philippa Ballantine

Kindred and Wings

Philippa Ballantine

Pyr, Aug 6 2013, $19.00

ISBN 9781616147792

Hybrid Manesto-Vaerli Finn the Fox and purebred Vaerli Talyn the Hunter know they must part to fulfill their respective quests. However, each holds the other dearly though both have mixed feelings about their undesirable attraction that they deny is love (see Hunter and Fox).

Finn rides Wahirangi the dragon away from the Conhaero in search of Ysel, a sibling he never knew existed until recently. Filled with remorse for opting for survival when she joined the world ruling Caisah after they massacred her Vaerli; Talyn must choose between becoming her people’s avenger and their Seer. Meanwhile her brother Byre continues his mission to save his Vaerli by entering the deadly fiery Kindred realm seeking to renew the once powerful agreement his ancestors had with the dragons.

The second Shifted World fantasy is an exciting quest thriller with three fascinating subplots starring the lead trio on separate adventures before somewhat coming together in a brisk constantly changing landscape. Although the overarching theme fails to move forward very much, readers will appreciate Philippa Ballantine’s entertaining tale as the heroes and the audience never know what will happen next in a world in which a mountain becomes a lake in a nanosecond (try building an app for that map).

Harriet Klausner

On Distant Shores-Sarah Sundin

On Distant Shores

Sarah Sundin

Revell, Aug 1 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9780800720827

In 1943, 802nd Air Evacuation Flight Nurse Lieutenant Georgiana Taylor feels inadequate as she struggles to take care of her patients while flying between Northern Africa and Sicily. She thinks of her loving but worried family and her boyfriend Ward Manville back home in Charlottesville, Virginia who all believes that she is in over her head; while Georgie knows that only her BFF Rose Danilovich enabled her to graduate from nursing school.

In Gela, Sicily Technical Sergeant John Hutchinson angrily resents the way the officers treat him with disdain for being an NCO and worse a pharmacist grunt rather than a trained medical expert who knows how to mix ingredients safely. He wants to go home to marry Phyllis Chilton and open up a pharmacy in New York.

When Georgie and Hutch meet during an explosive night in Gela, they share an evening like no one has performed for either of them. However, she has her high school sweetheart waiting for her in Virginia and he has his fiancé waiting for him in New York.

In some ways a coming of age novel, the second Wings of the Nightingale WWII drama (see With Every Letter) is a fabulous historical with the focus on providing frontline combat medicine to the injured; as readers learn the perils of flight nursing and makeshift pharmacy in 1943-44. The romantic subplot adds depth to the engaging storyline as both have civilians back home while the military frown on fraternizing between an enlisted and an officer. Fans will enjoy On Distant Shores and want to read Sarah Sundin’s WWII Wings of Glory saga (A Distant Melody, A Memory Between Us, and Blue Skies Tomorrow).

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Downtown Strut: An Edna Ferber Novel-Ed Ifkovic

Downtown Strut: An Edna Ferber Novel

Ed Ifkovic

Poisoned Pen, Aug 6 2013, $24.95

ISBN 9781464201554

In 1927 Manhattan, playwright Edna Ferber knows this is her season as she has two productions opening on wintry Broadway. Just after Christmas, Oscar Hammerstein and Jerome Kern have provided a musical version of Show Boat; the following night Jed Harris’ production of her collaboration with George Kauffman, The Royal Family opens in spite of the potential law suit by raging Ethel Barrymore.

Through Waters Turpin, the teenage son of her black housekeeper, Ferber has met several talented black writers and performers who are keys to the Harlem Renaissance; she helps them break the previously white only ceiling. When she finds the corpse of Roddy Parsons, who she got a part in the Show Boat chorus, in his Harlem apartment, Ferber connects the deceased young man with Harris, who denies knowing him or any other of the black artists. Ferber soon uncovers proof that many of the Negros involved in the Harlem Renaissance detested Harris and Parsons, but not which one’s venom led to murder.

The latest Edna Ferber historical amateur sleuth (see Escape Artist and Make Believe) is an enjoyable period piece that brings to life New York City in late December 1927. The whodunit is fun and the look into the Harlem Renaissance and the Ferber Broadway season engaging with tidbits like Show Boat’s Negro Chorus breaking a glass ceiling of whites only. Although the relationship between Ferber and Harris becomes confusing as she bounces back and forth between attraction and loathing (which seems real but difficult to follow), readers will appreciate this 1920s mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Jump the Gun: An Annabelle Starkey Mystery-Zoe Burke

Jump the Gun: An Annabelle Starkey Mystery

Zoe Burke

Poisoned Pen, Aug 6 2013, $24.95

ISBN 9781464201639

Annabelle Starkey loves shoes, hats and old movies as she is Joan Cusack sidekick loser in Working Girl. At a book convention in Chicago, she meets film aficionado Mickey Paxton, who makes Annabelle feels she landed the lead female role in the Sea of Love. Mickey persuades Annabelle to stay with him at the Royal Opal Resort in Vegas.

In Vegas, his Richard Gere (Pretty Woman) acts more like Johnny Depp in Public Enemies. When he rushes down to the lobby, Goober the goon with a gun invades their room and grabs Annabelle. She escapes and is on the run with Paxton. When she learns someone murdered her friend Cassie while she was house and cat-sitting with Bonkers in Annabelle’s San Francisco home, she feels guilt.

Annabelle with her movie references makes for an appealing zany protagonist who changes from the sidekick to the lover to the damsel in distress in this enjoyable screwball comedy. Although the mystery never gels beyond madcap, readers will enjoy Annabelle’s “awful” awesome adventure.

Harriet Klausner

A Cold White Sun: A Constable Molly Smith Mystery-Vicki Delany

A Cold White Sun: A Constable Molly Smith Mystery

Vicki Delany

Poisoned Pen, Aug 6 2013, $24.95

ISBN 9781464201608

In Trafalgar, British Columbia, someone murders high school teacher Cathy Lindsay while she walked her dog Spot. Assisted by Constable Molly Smith, Detective Sergeant John Winters leads the homicide investigation into finding out why a sniper shot and killed a seemingly boring mother of two and married to one who taught English to bored students.

Thus the cops look closer into the personal life of the victim and find a mess as Ms. Lindsay was a serial cheater going from one lover to another and suffered from unrequited love for a math teacher with Special Forces experience. Winters tracks down the husband Ralph away in Victoria on a business trip but finds him with a lover. Meanwhile Molly meets and is attracted to Adam Tocek. Smith and Winters soon fear that the assassin had no personal interest whatsoever in the victim except for the kill and randomly will murder again if not stopped.

The latest Constable Molly Smith police procedural (see Among the Departed, Valley of the Lost and Negative Image) is an exhilarating investigative whodunit that grips the audience as several suspects surface. Fast-paced, readers will enjoy this entry though the resolution proves reality is not necessarily interesting.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, August 9, 2013

Shoot The Dog-Brad Smith

Shoot The Dog

Brad Smith

Scribner, Aug 6, 2013, $22.00

ISBN: 9781439197561

In the Woodstock area of Upstate New York, farmer Virgil Cain breaks in his two new Percheron plow horses Bob and Nelly. At the same time at the bistro in Woodstock, actress Olivia Burns meets with producer Sam Sawchuck to discuss the filming of Frontier Woman in which the former will play the lead. Sam explains her second choice as director Robb Fetterman will make the movie for her and her husband Levi Brown.

The producers hire Ben and Nelly at $500 a day; but though he needs the cash Virgil soon regrets his decision as the crew makes the money not worth his time while local casino owner Ronnie Red Hawk invests in the movie. When someone murders Olivia, Virgil’s lover police officer Claire Marchand investigates; but the killer has a second act starring the farmer and tweener child star Georgia.

The latest Virgil Cain mystery (see Red Means Run and Crow’s Landing) is an exciting whodunit in which overall the locals and Georgia are good people; while Hollywood (too sleazy) and Ronnie are amoral slugs. The leisurely-paced storyline is fun to read as the Gary Cooper hero learns that WC Fields was right to "never work with animals or children" since Georgia and Bob steal the show.

Harriet Klausner

Multiple Exposure-Ellen Crosby

Multiple Exposure

Ellen Crosby

Scribner, Aug 6 2013, $25.00

ISBN: 9781451659283

Her husband Nick Canning, an undercover operative with connections to the government alphabet soup agencies, vanishes as reported by the major London newspapers. His worried wife globetrotting photojournalist Sophie Medina waited in England for his return for a few months before she finally goes back to D.C. where she finds their home a bloody mess. Once the CIA is finished interviewing her, she plans to bury herself within her vocation. However, the Agency says Nick killed his boss Colin Crowne of Crowne Energy and stole some valuable logs; he was last seen in Moscow.

Currently, Sophie works a shoot of Faberge eggs at the National Gallery of Art loaned by Russian owner of Arkneft, Arkday Vasiliev, who confronts Sophie as to the whereabouts of her missing spouse. Soon afterward a murder has Sophie reassessing her situation as she realizes domestic and foreign espionage agencies has her under total surveillance while the cloak and dagger world seek Nick.

While Virginia Wine Country vineyard owner and amateur sleuth Lucie Montgomery enjoys her vintage, Ellen Crosby begins the Sophie Medina mystery series. Sophie is a terrific protagonist who holds the entertaining storyline together as the focus of several dangerous federal and foreign governmental agencies, and corrupt individuals hunt her missing husband. Although the villains are over the top of the Washington Monument, readers will relish this engaging thriller as Sophie learns that blood and oil mix.

Harriet Klausner