Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Influence-Bentley Little

The Influence

Bentley Little

Cemetery Dance, Oct 29 2013, $25.00

ISBN: 9781587674198

Engineer Ross Lowery lost his position at Air Research during the Great Recession and has not found work since. He always sent money to his family when they needed it even when he didn’t have much. However, now that he needs assistance, all (including his siblings) except his cousin Lita ignore him. Though not wealthy, Lita and her husband Dave invite Ross to stay with them in remote Magdalena, Arizona for a few months while he applies for jobs over the Net.

At the town’s New Year’s Eve bash, everyone shoots into sky at midnight; only something falls to the ground. Soon afterward the townsfolk begin to face changes in their fortunes. A rancher’s cattle die with eerie creatures leaving the corpses before vanishing and Lita’s eggs hatch lizards and spiders; Ross receives job offers and falls in love, and a beautician wins the mega lottery. When children vanish, realizing something is not right in Magdalena ever since the creature fell from the sky and altered 180 degrees the fortunes and misfortunes of everyone, Ross believes he and others must rescue the young and prevent whatever is occurring from spreading.

The Influence is a strong horror thriller in which darkness threatens life as the townsfolk knew it. The reactions by the affluent suddenly hammered by bad luck and the threat of poverty, and the impoverished suddenly charmed with a run of good fortune make for a super storyline. With deep underlying social messages from scriptures: “But by the grace of God I am what I am …” and "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (karma aside). Bentley Little provides a taut thought-provoking tale.

Harriet Klausner

Midnight’s Promise-Donna Grant

Midnight’s Promise

Donna Grant

St. Martin's, Oct 29 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9781250017291

After centuries giving up everything to battle evil, weary Malcolm Munro knows he is mentally in trouble as he is losing hope that he will find a place in this shitty world to end his abject loneliness. Recently the Warrior’s depression has begun to affect his self-control over his powers.

Druid descendent Evangeline Walker is on the run as she believes her paranoia that she is being pursued is real. In Scotland, she and Malcolm meet when he rescues her from a car accident. Both feel the attraction though he struggles with his need after hundreds of years with none and she deals with her expectation of living her life alone. As they fall in love, she may trust him with her soul, but not that of her sibling Brian; so Evangeline turns to the darkness to rescue her brother.

The eighth Dark Warrior romantic fantasy (see Midnight's Kiss, Midnight's Captive and Midnight's Temptation) is a taut action-packed tale starring two fascinating troubled protagonists. The fast-paced storyline focuses on whether two distrusting doubters, whose “… hearts they beat as one; no more love on the run” (Caribbean Queen by Billy Ocean), can depend on love to strengthen their resolve if they are to survive their confrontation with overwhelming evil and Death.

Harriet Klausner

Dead Set-Richard Kadrey

Dead Set

Richard Kadrey

Harper Voyager, Oct 29 2013, $22.99

ISBN 9780062283016

After the unexpected death of her father, grieving sixteen years old Zoe and her mother who has no time to mourn their loss move into a run-down apartment in San Francisco. They are broke and cannot afford for Zoe to regularly check her email. Zoe does not hate this apartment, but feels miserable there and at her new school while her dreams frighten her except for mysterious Valentine who she does not know always being there.

The enthusiasm Zoe’s late father had for punk bands is her fondest memory of him. When Zoe meets music store owner Ammut, she feels a connection her dad. Ammut tells her he can arrange for her to meet her father’s spirit. Excited Zoe ends up in Iphigene; where trapped souls like that of her father linger for eternity. Zoe’s deceased brother she never knew existed welcomes her and guides her as she tries to help her dead family members move on from an evil despot and ultimately for her to return to her mom.

This is a fabulous young adult allegory that looks deep into grief as everyone mourns a loss differently. Although the storyline contains no twists, readers will feel the depth of despair Zoe carries in her heart and the burden of the Dead Set denizen stuck in Iphigene in this profound fable.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Devil Laughed-Gerrie Ferris Finger

The Devil Laughed

Gerrie Ferris Finger

Five Star, Sep 11 29013, $25.95

ISBN: 9781432826970

Judge Portia Devon invites Child Trace investigator Moriah Dru, Atlanta Police Lieutenant Richard Lake and the latter’s daughter Susanna for a July 4th shindig on Lake Lanier. Nearby on the water, Portia notices the Scuppernong sailboat that vanished almost four years ago with two couples (Johnny and Candice Browne of North Carolina, and Laurant and Janet Cocineau of Atlanta) on board partying. However, Johnny’s body with his head battered was found at the Swann Marina in Forsythe County, the last place the sloop was seen. The other three disappeared.

Candice’s thirteen years old daughter Evangeline believes her mother is alive and hires Moriah to investigate. Though her firm’s mission is tracing children, the sleuth agrees to take on the young teen as a client. Moriah begins the search for Candice tracking the Scuppernong’s last known stops in Georgia.

The third Moriah Dru / Richard Lake mystery (see The Last Temptation and The End Game) is an exciting missing person’s investigation that introduces the audience to the Georgia exurbs and rural waterways. Owning the engaging storyline, Dru, Lake and Devon are strong lead characters; while a myriad of support players add depth but need a scorecard to remember who’s who.

Harriet Klausner

Dead Men's Harvest-Matt Hilton

Dead Men's Harvest

Matt Hilton

Harper, Oct 29 2013, $9.99

ISBN: 9780062225306

Using four criteria in which a felon needs only meet one, top level maximum security Fort Conchar houses the most dangerous threats to national security; no one escapes from this facility. One particular inmate, Prisoner 1854, is the only individual who meets all four criteria; even his jailers are wary of this mute maniac. After eighteen months residency, with help from a mob chief, he does the impossible and breaks out. Even with MPs, K9s and a helicopter in pursuit, Prisoner 1854, once Secret Service Agent Martin “Harvestman” Maxwell and allegedly buried as Tubal Cain to hide the scandal of his crimes, gets away.

The Harvestman owes his benefactor so he plans to pay off his debt by killing John Telfer and his family who is under the protection of Witness Protection as the latter soon will testify against the crime boss who freed Prisoner 1854. Maxwell also targets those who incarcerated him and John’s half-brother, former Arrosake antiterrorist field agent Joe Hunter, who believes he killed the Harvestman several years ago (see Dead Men’s Dust).

The latest Joe Hunter action-packed thriller is a fast-paced tale from the moment Prisoner 1854 escapes and never slows down until the anticipated final confrontation. Over the top of Manchester, England’s Black Chew Head, fans will enjoy this adrenaline pumping rematch.

Harriet Klausner

When The Marquess Met His Match-Laura Lee Guhrke

When The Marquess Met His Match

Laura Lee Guhrke

Avon, Oct 29 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780062118172

American heiress Belinda was seventeen when she fell in love with the Earl of Featherstone and thought he reciprocated her regard. However, once they married, the naive Buckeye learned the truth that suave Charles wed her for her money. Heartbroken by her husband’s disregard of her, but now free since Charles died, Lady Belinda Featherstone makes it her mission in life to protect innocents like she was from these rakes.

Owing eighteen year old Rosalee Harlowe’s mother a debt of gratitude, Belinda tries to persuade her “niece” to marry a caring steady person not an exciting thrill-seeking rake. A friend of her brother-in-law, roguish Marquess Nicholas Stirling, cut off by his father, visits Belinda the matchmaker to hire her to find him a wealthy bride among her American mentees. Belinda agrees to find him a most unsuitable bride, who will destroy his already sordid scandalous reputation. When they kiss, each reconsiders what they want with Nicholas knowing he must persuade his beloved that he is no Charles.

This American Heiress in London romance is an entertaining historical as love complicates the arrangement between the matchmaker and the marques. Although Nicholas’ daddy dearest father is a stereotypical control freak with no redeeming values and the storyline goes as expected, readers will enjoy this lighthearted amusing frolic.

Harriet Klausner

The Nanny’s Christmas Wish-Ami Weaver

The Nanny’s Christmas Wish

Ami Weaver

Harlequin Special Edition, Oct 22 2013, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373657803

Widower Dr. Josh Tanner feels guilty over the death of his wife Lucy as they parted in anger just before she died; his in-laws remind him of his culpability while his mom believes otherwise. Josh hires ex-teacher Maggie Thelan as his son Cody’s live-in nanny. Maggie concealed from her employer that she is Cody’s aunt as she recently learned that Lucy was her half-sister; and she coveted the position so she could get close to her nephew without revealing long kept family secrets.

As Christmas nears, Josh and Maggie struggle with growing feelings of desire; with both adhering to the tacit agreement of no romance especially since Josh, who cannot move on past his mom’s death, comes first. Soon Maggie knows she loves father and son, but fears the truth will not set her mind free but only break her heart.

The Nanny’s Christmas Wish is a warm holiday romance as the adult protagonists push love away out of fear of rejection as much as concern for the hurting youngster. Cody is a delightful child struggling with the death of his mom and ultimately transfering his feelings to the kind nanny. The tertiary characters add depth to a wonderful Yuletide tale.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Tulip Eaters-Antoinette van Heugten

The Tulip Eaters

Antoinette van Heugten

Mira, Oct 29 2013, $15.95

ISBN 9780778313885

In 1980 single mom, Dr. Nora de Jong comes home from her work as a pediatric surgeon at Methodist Hospital looking forward to seeing her beloved six-month-old daughter Rose and her widow Dutch mom Anneke in their three female Texas household. Instead of joy, she finds her mom lying on the living room floor with a bullet hole in her head, Rose is missing and a stranger is also dead. After calling 911, the hysterical Nora dials her visiting Dutch friend Professor Marijke van den Maas for comfort until Houston Police Lieutenant Richards arrives to take over the crime scene.

HPD, Child Abduction Rapid Deployment team and the FBI investigate the double murders and search for the missing infant, but their efforts go nowhere. As the case turns cold frantic Nora refuses to quit on rescuing her daughter. Nora looks into her parents’ past in Holland going back to WWII in search of clues as to the motive for the homicides and kidnapping.

The Tulip Eaters is an exciting mystery as what happened in the 1940s in the Old Country impacts what occurred almost four decades later in Texas. Grieving Nora holds the storyline together with her desperate search for Rose although she receives too much unlikely assistance on her frustrated fearful quest. Still this is a fabulous suspense thriller from the moment Nora is greeted by a mom’s worse nightmare.

Harriet Klausner

A Catered Christmas Cookie Exchange-Isis Crawford

A Catered Christmas Cookie Exchange

Isis Crawford

Kensington, Oct 29 2013, $24.00

ISBN 9780758274892

In Longely, New York, the Christmas Cookie Exchange Club is thrilled over the Baking for Life TV show airing their annual competition hosted this year by local catering sisters Bernie and Libby Simmons. All the members like octogenarian Millie Piedmont with her Millie’s Majestic Meltaways expect to win. However Millie dies in a car accident, but before passing away she asks her niece Amber to persuade her employers at A Little Taste of Heaven, the Simmons sisters, to find her killer as she does not trust Police Chief Lucas to identify the culprit.

As they argue, the siblings agree to investigate the death of one of the contest’s favorites. They quickly realize the entire club resented Millie. Complicating the Simmons duo roles as the judges almost as much as the demands of the martinet producer; Amber replaces her deceased aunt in the contest.

This Simmons sisters holiday mystery (see A Catered Birthday Party and A Catered Halloween) is a wonderful lighthearted Christmas culinary cozy with recipes though it seems unsafe to belong to a food club (see A Catered St. Patrick’s Day). While the bickering siblings become a detractor after a while, series fans will enjoy will enjoy how the sleuth sisters spent their latest holiday.

Harriet Klausner

Candlelight Christmas-Susan Wiggs

Candlelight Christmas

Susan Wiggs

Mira, Oct 29 2013, $16.95

ISBN 9780778314745

In Avalon, New York, sports marketing executive Darcy Fitzgerald fails to move on from divorcing cheating Huntley Collins as she always has an in your face reminder of her failed marriage since her sister and his brother are married. As Christmas comes to the area, divorced dad Logan O’Donnell misses his son Charlie who lives with his mom far away except for summers in the Catskills with him.

Darcy and Logan meet through his Long Island sister India, in the area to pick up her twins from camp, being her friend. However, their respective attitude towards a relationship is polar different. He dreams of remarrying with children and she rejects relationship permanency and ergo no children. As summer passes into fall and then winter, Logan embraces their attraction, Darcy flees from it.

The latest Lakeshore Chronicles contemporary romance (see Return to Willow Lake and Marrying Daisy Bellamy) is a warm holiday drama that readers will relish due to the leisurely paced changes to the lead couple’s behavior towards each other; especially Darcy. The audience will enjoy Christmas in the Catskills as love brightens the lights more than when the area was renowned as the Borscht Belt.

Harriet Klausner

Devilishly Wicked-Kathy Love

Devilishly Wicked

Kathy Love

Kensington Brava, Oct 29 2013, $9.95

ISBN: 9780758265890

Demon of lust Tristan McIntyre becomes editor-in-chief of fashion magazine Hot! replacing Finola White the devilishly Diva of the damned. Tristan exiles his predecessor to the mailroom; ordering her to identify undercover demon slayers allegedly working inside the organization.

Tristan is upset with himself because he is attracted to his artless human assistant Georgia Sullivan instead of focusing on the fashion magazine and sending souls to Hell. He flirts outrageous with Georgia; but though she is attracted to her Devilishly Wicked boss, she knows her overly ample curves look too abundantly fat next to the perfect size two models Tristan can have whenever he lusts for it.

The latest Devilishly heated romantic urban fantasy (see Devilishly Hot and Devilishly Sexy) is a fun lighthearted tale due to the pairing of opposites, a sophisticated sexy demon and an ultra-naive human. Although Tristan’s transformation from wicked soul dispatcher to born again human lover never feels right as he ignored his hellish mission, readers will appreciate this amusing tale.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, October 28, 2013

Safe House-Chris Ewan

Safe House

Chris Ewan

Minotaur, Oct 29 2013, $15.99

ISBN: 9781250038159

During the Tourist Trophy gala held on the Isle of Man, Rob Hale wakes up in a hospital after suffering a motorcycle accident. Dr. Gaskell explains to him that he was unconscious for seven hours; waking up briefly once, broke his left scapula, suffered bruised ribs and assorted other injuries. When he asks how Lena, who rode with him on the back of the bike and went in the first ambulance, was doing, Gaskell got Dr. Stanley. He bluntly tells the patient he suffered a traumatic head injury that besides nausea and dizziness could include hallucinations; as no one else was admitted with him.

Rob does not believe his injured brain made up Lena as the details about her are overwhelming. He and private investigator Rebecca Lewis search for Lena, but besides finding oddities re the missing woman they uncover a connection to Rob’s sister, Laura, who committed suicide a few weeks ago. As they dig deeper, the sleuths end up in the crosshairs between dangerous rivals.

With the Good Thief taking a respite from urban guiding readers, Chris Ewan provides readers with a taut twisting thriller with clues to what is going on cleverly placed in the suspenseful storyline. Rooting for the beleaguered dynamic duo, fans will relish this exhilarating hard to put down tale that requires discipline to avoid skipping chapters to read the climax early on due to a deep thirst to know the resolution.

Harriet Klausner

If You Were Mine-Bella Andre

If You Were Mine

Bella Andre

Mira, Oct 29 2013, $7.99

ISBN 9780778315605

Racecar driver and dealership owner Zach Sullivan easily says no to his brother Gabe (see Can't Help Falling In Love), but refusing his preadolescent niece Summer is something he cannot do. When she insists her Uncle Zach watch Cuddles, her Yorkie, while she and her parents are in Europe, he reluctantly agrees

Zach soon realizes he is out of his element dealing with the three-pound terrorist who destroys his shoes and other items. He needs professional help; so asks dog trainer Heather Linsey to assist him with the hyperactive fluff ball. Heather’s 200-pound Great Dane Atlas and Cuddles become BFFs while Heather and Zach begin to fall love; albeit at a much slower pace than the canines because the dogs don’t have human trust issues.

The fifth Sullivan siblings' romance (see I Only Have Eyes for You) is a wonderful contemporary, which affirms the W.C. Fields’ wry comment "never work with animals or children" as first Summer and then the dogs steal the show from adults. With the extended Sullivan brood making appearances, fans will enjoy this amusing sweet entry.

Harriet Klausner

Upon A Winter’s Night-Karen Harper

Upon A Winter’s Night

Karen Harper

Mira, Oct 29 2013, $7.99

ISBN 9780778314721

In Home Valley, Ohio, Josh Yoder employs Lydia Brand to care for his menagerie. She searches for missing Melly the eight-foot tale female camel when a snow storm hits. Before she can head back, Lydia finds the frozen corpse of an older Englishe she does not recognize. Sheriff Freeman identifies the victim as Victoria Keller, the reclusive spinster older sister of Senator Bess Stark.

Lydia is attracted to her boss who worked at the Columbus Zoo before returning to his Amish roots. She also obsesses over who her biological parents were though her adopted parents obviously love her. When a second dead woman is found and vandalism occurs, someone makes it clear to all that the truth will set no one free except in death.

The latest Home Valley Amish romance (see Finding Mercy and Fall From Pride) is an engaging suspense. The heroine must choose between honoring those who love and cherish her including accepting their chosen suitor Gid and a compulsion to find her roots and pick her own come calling friend preferably Josh. Though the murder motive seems weak, the fascinating clash of cultures is deep as fans will enjoy visiting the Amish in the Buckeye State.

Harriet Klausner

Take Me Home For Christmas-Brenda Novak

Take Me Home For Christmas

Brenda Novak

Mira, Oct 29 2013, $7.99

ISBN 9780778315469

On the Legacy yacht off the coast of Rio, Sophia DeBussi’s affluent investment banker husband Skip is missing as she prays her abusive spouse never returns. The FBI informs her that Skip died faking his death rather than face ruin and criminal charges from an investigation of his firm’s illegal business practices.

Known as the “Mean Girl” by her hometown residents penniless Sophia and her daughter Lexi return to Whiskey Creek, California. She has no prospects and everyone who trusted her late spouse with their money transfers their rage to her since their real target is not available for their wrath. Still irate at her for breaking his heart when they were high school sweethearts as Sophia chose money over love, author Ted Dixon hires her as his housekeeper. His anger turns inward when Ted knows he still loves Sophia.

The latest Whiskey Creek romance (see Home to Whiskey Creek) is an entertaining second chance at love romance. The protagonists are fully developed and Lexi terrific as she deals with a series of traumas realistically especially her vicious father’s death. Although the town without pity seems over the top of Mt. Whitney with their nasty actions towards the DeBussi mother and daughter, readers will enjoy Sophia’s coming home for Christmas.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Black and Blue-Gena Showalter

Black and Blue

Gena Showalter

Pocket, Oct 22 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451671605

Michael Black insured the three Otherworlders he found as abandoned babies were raised comfortably in caring homes while he trained them. Owing all to Michael as he gave them sustenance and a reason to live, Solomon “Solo” Judah (see Last Kiss Goodnight), John No Last Name and Corbin Blue became his elite black operatives.

While discussing Operation Dumpster Dive to take down Gregory Star, a bombing at their chief’s house separates an injured Blue from his cronies Solo, John and their leader Michael. He was left with perilous third degree burns. Being an Arcadian may save his life but only if he can find shelter to heal. Instead of his naïve fiancé Pagan Cary, Blue turns to Michael’s estranged adopted daughter Evangeline a doctor and rare Rakan as the only person he trusts with his life; though he previously insisted he’d “rather be slit open from naval to nose” than have anything to do with her; being a former operative she carries a knife. As he recovers, they must drop the animosity and team up in search of her father and the other two members of the Dynamic Trio. At the same time each remains in denial re how they really feel by hiding behind a façade of acerbity.

The second exciting Otherworld Assassin romantic urban fantasy is a fun tale that focuses more on the war of the words than the search and rescue. Readers will enjoy the Beloved Enemies storyline as Black and Blue blend together into the color of love.

Harriet Klausner

The Officer's Prey-Armand Cabasson; translated by Michael Glencross

The Officer's Prey

Armand Cabasson; translated by Michael Glencross

Gallic Books, Oct 15 2013, $15.95

ISBN: 9781906040826

In the summer of 1812, the French army reaches the Niemen River, the border between their ally the Grand Duchy of Warsaw and their target Russia on their march to Moscow. Emperor Napoleon’s stepson Prince Eugène de Beauharnais orders Captain Quentin Margont to see him immediately. Leaving his unit Margont reports as directed to the prince at the camp headquarters.

In nearby Tresno, Poland someone, most likely a French officer, butchered Maria Dorlovna, a woman of German and Polish ancestry. The Prince fears the reactions by their two allies and the troops once word spreads that an unknown French officer tortured and killed a woman, and murdered a military peer. Given no choice a reluctant Margont begins his investigation with limited information to identify the culprit and report the name to the Prince. He must do so discreetly to avoid scandal and with much of the evidence buried. As the army continues to head to Moscow, other similar brutal homicides of women occur.

This Napoleonic Wars mystery is a great historical whodunit that places a strong investigation inside of a vividly described over-confident unprepared French Army heading into disaster. The protagonist is fabulous as he (and others) recognize the calamity that awaits the Grand Army in Russia while seeking a murderous needle in a haystack of soldiers widely spread around.

Harriet Klausner

No Escape-Mary Burton

No Escape

Mary Burton

Zebra, Oct 29 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9781420125061

It has been fourteen years since Texas Ranger Brody Winchester and psychologist Dr. Jolene Granger were married. In Austin Brody visits Jo to ask for her help. Sitting on Death Row in West Livingston serial killer Harvey Day Smith, who Brody caught, wants to give one last confession before he dies from cancer in a month or two; but only to Jo who wrote her dissertation on him.

Smith joyfully tells Granger that he has other bodies buried beside the ten he was convicted of murdering including one that explains why he selected her as his exit confessional. The psychopath also gleefully warns her that his apprentice is ready for the big time. As he fears for her life, Brody vows to keep his beloved ex-wife safe.

Reminding readers of NCIS’ “Mind Games” episode, this taut second chance at love thriller focuses on the investigation over the romance. Filled with action and plenty of twisting suspense, fans will enjoy aptly titled No Escape as a clever maniac proves a vicious chip off the old block of his deranged mentor.

Harriet Klausner

Secret Santa-Fern Michaels, Marie Bostwick, Laura Levine and Cindy Myers

Secret Santa

Fern Michaels, Marie Bostwick, Laura Levine and Cindy Myers

Zebra, Oct 29 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9781420121452

"Mister Christmas" by Fern Michaels. Instead of Christmas in Colorado with her brother, lawyer Claire O‘Brien visits her ailing client Donald Flynn in Ireland to change his will; but his nephew Quinn Conner objects.

"The Yellow Rose of Christmas" by Marie Bostwick. In Too Much, Texas middle age Velvet Tudmore gave up on love until a secret admirer surfaces with yellow roses and more, and with a promise to come out in the open at the annual Christmas ball.

"Nightmare on Elf Street" by Laura Levine. In elf attire for a mall gig, Jaine Austen (see Death of a Neighborhood Witch) tries to get a picture of her cat Prozac and deal with a bah humbug Santa who ends up murdered with her as the only suspect.

"Room at the Inn" by Cindy Myers. In Colorado, a blizzard forces Barbara and Jimmy Stanowski and others drivers to seek shelter in a nearby cabin where he tells her that he quit his secure job to start a business with his dreamer friend.

Though the genres differ, these are four delightful holiday tales.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Scene of the Crime: Return to Bachelor Moon-Carla Cassidy

Scene of the Crime: Return to Bachelor Moon

Carla Cassidy

Harlequin Intrigue, Oct 22 2013, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373697274

Baton Rouge field office director Jason Miller surprisingly sends three FBI Agents (Gabriel Blankenship, Jackson Revannaugh and Andrew Barkin) to Bachelor Moon, Louisiana to check on ex-Kansas City-based profiler Sam Connelly after a call from a concerned Marlena Meyers. Two years ago, Sam met and fell in love with Daniella Butler, owner of the Bachelor Moon Bed and Breakfast (see Scene of the Crime: Bachelor Moon); they married and he became a stepfather to her daughter Macy. Marlena, the B&B manager, tells the Feds that the Connolly trio vanished.

As the agents gather information from B&B employees, from their opening salutations, Gabriel and Marlena are attracted to each other. Both have suffered in their past relationships; whereas he distrusts desire while she embraces love as she wants what her boss has. When he realizes someone wants her dead, Gabriel vows to keep the woman he loves safe.

The latest Scene of the Crime romantic police procedural (see … Deadman’s Bluff) is a gripping suspense as readers will want to know what happened to the Connolly family and who wants the heroine dead and why. The taut storyline hooks the audience throughout in this super Bayou thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Would-Be Christmas Wedding-Debra Webb

Would-Be Christmas Wedding

Debra Webb

Harlequin Intrigue, Oct 22 2013, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373697236

In DC Mission Recovery Deputy Director Emmett Holt knows how it feels to be a traitor and hates it as he walks a tightrope between his boss Thomas Casey (see Bridal Armor) watching his every move and raging criminal Bernard Isely’s demands. The former has Holt tailed while the latter wants Holt’s assistance in destroying Casey and recovering a deadly virus that Mission Recovery took from him.

Holt plans to use Casey’s widowed sister, CIA operative Cecelia Manning, as the lure to capture the psychopath. To spring his trap, Casey joins an online matchmaking site to romance his bait. As Cecilia throws a gala honoring her late husband who died last year; the traitor and the agent fall in love while his respect for her resolve to bring down a dangerous adversary grows.

The newest Colby Agency Specialists’ entry (see Ready, Aim...I Do) is a fabulous romantic espionage thriller. The lead couple makes the taut tale work as he goes deep undercover as a traitor and she risks her life as she must make a “Lady or the Tiger” (by Frank Stockton) choice. Fast-paced readers will enjoy the poorly titled Would-Be Christmas Wedding.

Harriet Klausner

Her Last Best Fling-Candace Havens

Her Last Best Fling

Candace Havens

Harlequin Blaze, October 22 2013, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373797783

After four tours in theater and an injured leg, Marine Lieutenant Blake Michaels returns home to Tranquil Waters, Texas to heal. As he heads to a gala in his honor, due to the antics of her Great Dane Harley soaking her, Blake and “Yankee Girl” Macy Reynolds meet. Inheriting her late uncle’s mansion and local newspaper Tranquil Waters News, the reporter fled Boston after catching her lover-employer with the intern.

Though she tries to fit in, the insular community makes her feel like a fish out of Tranquil Waters. Meanwhile Blake and Macy begin seeing each other and soon fall in love. However, a once in a lifetime opportunity arrives for Macy in which she must make some difficult decisions.

Her Last Best Fling is a wonderful contemporary romance though the storyline follows a very predictable path with the protagonists having issues to overcome. Harley with his always in trouble escapades and Amanda the receptionist with her amusing zingers in spite of her worry over her mom’s illness steal the show from the leads.

Harriet Klausner

Driving Her Wild-Meg Maguire

Driving Her Wild

Meg Maguire

Harlequin Blaze, October 22 2013, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373797776

Retired from the Mixed Martial Arts ring, former fighter Steph Healy becomes a trainer at Wilinski Fight Academy in Boston. Hanging around and working out with jocks for over twenty years, Steph vows to date white collar men only as she wants someone with money after two decades struggling in the sport without.

Wilinski Fight Academy hires carpenter-electrician Patrick Doherty. He and Steph are attracted to each other, but she refuses to act on her feelings as he is blue collar. Still Patrick knows what he wants is Steph. As they fuss and fight (for real) they fall in love, but she needs monetary security and he comes with a monster financial burden.

The newest Wilinski Fight Academy MMA romance (see Making Him Sweat and Taking Him Down) is a fun heated contemporary starring two protagonists struggling between love and money. Fans will enjoy the thrilling third round bout between the trainer and the electrician.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Iron Traitor-Julie Kagawa

The Iron Traitor

Julie Kagawa

Harlequin Teen, Oct 29 2013

ISBN: 9780373210916

Iron Queen Meghan Chase's younger brother Ethan wanted nothing to do with his sibling’s Iron Realm Nevernever after spending a traumatic time as an abducted four year old in that abomination (see The Iron King). In the normal realm, Ethan hid his true nature behind an angry tough guy loner façade until he met Mackenzie St. James at his new school. That encounter eventually led to his return accompanied by her to the last place he wanted to visit (see The Lost Prince).

After a week in Faeryland, he is back in normal land, hopefully with Kenzie as her boyfriend. The cops question him re shell shocked Todd and Kenzie whose parents order her not to see Ethan again after he explains that he drove her to New York for a week. Meanwhile Ethan’s same age as him nephew Keirran, who he met for the first time on his recent visit to his sister, vanished. The family fears the teenager plans to raise the deadly Forgotten. Feeling a sense of responsibility that he knows sucks Ethan must stop his relative before he devastates two realms.

The second entertaining Iron Fey Call of the Forgotten urban fantasy (see The Lost Prince) continues to focus on Ethan who no longer is an angry teen since he has friends and family to care what happens to them especially Kenzie. Though it behooves the audience to read the previous book to better understand the protagonist (and for that matter Meghan’s saga - see The Iron King, The Iron Queen and The Iron Daughter), fans will enjoy this entry as Ethan learns the importance of family.

Harriet Klausner

The One She Warned About-Shoma Narayanan

The One She Warned About

Shoma Narayanan

Harlequin Kiss, October 22 2013, $4.99

ISBN: 9780373207398

In India accountant Shweta Mathur took the short flight from Mumbai to Kerala to attend the office annual convention. Also in town is her former Pune schoolmate, Nikhil Nair, who was expelled due to his bad behavior with the last straw smoking. The family soon left town afterward. He hugs her and explains he owns an event planning firm. Though tired and with her roommate Priya, Shweta agrees to spend time with Nikhil who she had a secret crush on back in their schooldays.

They begin seeing each other as he takes the risk avoider on a heated ride on the wild side. As they fall in love, she pleads with him to talk to his estranged father who he has not seen in four years. Instead he angrily ends their engagement leaving her to believe he thinks little of her.

Starting with the bet between the roommates, this engaging Indian romance is a warm tale that provides readers with a fascinating look at family. Character driven, fans will enjoy this second chance charmer as love may not be enough for this couple to make it together.

Harriet Klausner

His Until Midnight-Nikki Logan

His Until Midnight

Nikki Logan

Harlequin Kiss, October 22 2013, $4.99

ISBN: 9780373207381

Australian Oliver Harmer believes in fidelity after growing up observing his father constantly cheating on his mother. Though he dates a lot, he remains a bachelor because the woman he loves Audrey Devaney is married to his friend Blake who is a wandering spouse. Every year Oliver and Audrey meet for lunch on December 20th in Hong Kong until two years when she failed to arrive from Sydney.

Shocking her, Oliver fails to attend Blake’s funeral. When they met last year for lunch, she said they are not friends. He asked her what they are; as he planned to tell her how he always felt about her before she can escape back to Australia.

With a nod to the 1978 Alda-Burstyn film Same Time, Next Year, His Until Midnight is an engaging contemporary with a wonderful coda twist that explains the dysfunctional triangle, but it needed to appear earlier especially after the link died. Still fans will enjoy dining with the nice couple Oliver and Audrey at the Qinting Restaurant.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Peak Season For Murder-Gail Lukasik

Peak Season For Murder

Gail Lukasik

Five Star, Oct 9 2013, $25.95

ISBN 9781432827298

In Wisconsin, Door County Gazette reporter Leigh Girard covers the renovated Bayside Theater gala celebrating its 65th anniversary though her interest remains more on the disappearance of actress Danielle Moyer almost a quarter of a century ago. However, the journalist also is distracted by the death of homeless recovering alcoholic Brownie Lawrence.

Her editor Jake Stevens lectures her to ignore the Lawrence death though the late man’s friend insists he was murdered and not overly dwell on the cold case vanishing, instead he orders her to focus on the opening. Though she obeys Jake’s command, Leigh wonders what is going on at the theater after a bat invasion and several dangerous incidents. She also learns of strange activities occurring at Moyer’s abandoned cabin. Finally when actor Nate Ryan who was last in town twenty-three years ago dies, Leigh investigates.

The third Leigh Girard journalist mystery (see Destroying Angels and Death’s Door) is an entertaining mystery though too much emotional tsunami in the protagonist’s personal life detracts from the solid investigation. The fascinating look behind the scenes at a county theater adds depth to an engaging regional whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Dorothy L. Sayers: The Complete Stories-Dorothy L. Sayers

Dorothy L. Sayers: The Complete Stories

Dorothy L. Sayers

Bourbon Street Books/HarperCollins Sep 17 2013, $19.99

ISBN: 9780062275493

This interesting anthology contains 21 Lord Peter Wimsey entries; 11 Montague Egg stories; and 12 assorted other tales. Similar in tone to his novel appearances (see Have His Carcase and Gaudy Night: A Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery with Harriet Vane), the Lord Peter tales include the fabulous whimsy Wimsey humor (see “The Entertaining Episode of the Article In Question" and The Unprincipled Affair of the Practical Joker”). Some were written with crossword puzzlers and family enablers enhancing the quirky humor (see “The Fascinating Problem With Uncle Meleager’s Will” and “The Adventurous Exploits of the Cave of Ali Baba”) and others contain unexpected Twilight Zone-like mystery spins to include "The Bibulous Business of a Matter of Taste. The wine-selling Montague Egg stories are more typical whodunits (see "Bitter Almonds") as the protagonist is driven by a strong ethical sense of right and wrong. The Others section run the genre gauntlet with my favorites being the satires like "Scrawns’" salute to the gothics and "Nebuchadnezzar" salute to Charades the game. All the short stories provide readers with a sense of time and place and most are quite good though a few are weak; for instance "The Incredible Elopement of Lord Peter Wimsey" due to overwhelming use of happenchance. Overall this is a great compilation of the short works by one of the Great Dames of mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Killer's Art-Mari Jungstedt

Killer's Art

Mari Jungstedt

Stockholm Text, Oct 22 2013, $14.95

ISBN: 9789187173455

In Visby on Gotland Island, someone batters before murdering art dealer Egon Wallin. The killer leaves the naked corpse hanging off of Dalman Gate. Detective Superintendent Anders Knutas leads the investigation assisted by Detective Inspector Karin Jacobsson into what is ruled a homicide as the corpse died elsewhere.

The brutality of the death shocks all of Sweden while the cops believe the viciousness probably means the culprit is filled with out of control rage; two more violent murders in the art world affirm that hypothesis. Due to a connection to Wallin, complicating the murder inquiry is the theft of the renowned Nils von Dardel’s "The Dying Dandy" painting. As the two cases tie together, the feeding frenzy media demand more blood except for reporter Johan Berg whose ethics leaves him and his loved ones in danger from an avenging killer.

The latest DS Knutas Swedish police procedural (see Unspoken, Unseen and The Inner Circle) is a terrific twisting tale with a moral lament in which gaming the system is an acceptable way of life as reminded by the apparent settlement between the government and Bank of America. For the most part the killer’s ire is never fully felt by readers except through the respective filters of how the media and cops portray the psychopath. Fans of Scandinavian noir will want to read this taut thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Revealed-P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast


P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

St. Martin's Griffin, Oct 15 2013, $18.99

ISBN: 9780312594435

In Tulsa, the immortal Neferet is lost to Zoey and her House of Night companions (see Hidden). However, Neferet has a greater thirst for victory with revenge a powerful motivator for this ancient one used to always winning. She needs a body, but for one like her easily obtained through the blood of these lesser being mortals she kills without remorse.

Neferet begins her return engagement with a gruesome kill that angers the humans residing in Tulsa. The irate mortals demand a reckoning with the vampires starting with the House of Night occupants. The teen students led by Zoey know they must not just vanquish their evil adversary this time; they must prevent the malevolent from ever retuning. At the same time Zoey and her friends also must persuade the humans they will not harm them before a bloody incident happens.

The latest House of Night older teen urban fantasy is an engaging entry though the storyline has a déjà vu theme and the overarching plot fails to advance. Zoey and crew struggle with Neferet’s lethal actions that lead to the city outraged with all vampires racially profiled and blamed for one evil apple. Long time series fans will enjoy Neferit’s comeback tour.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Heavens Rise-Christopher Rice

The Heavens Rise

Christopher Rice

Gallery, Oct 15 2013, $26.00

ISBN 9781476716084

In the Bayou in 2005, Niquette Delongpre’s father dreamed of changing the land surrounded by swamp water into Elysium an estate like no other. The construction crew diligently working at the site dig into a long buried well. None of them or the Delongpre family knew at the time that they liberated an interred parasite better for mankind left buried. Soon afterward, the entire Delongpre family except for Niquette disappears near Bayou Rabineaux leaving behind the frightened teen and signs that their car went through a guardrail.

Niquette knows what has happened to her and her family. Filled with rage and remorse, she vows to never allow her recent need for violence to harm her boyfriend Ben and their best friend Anthem so pushes them away. However, they refuse to walk away from her. In 2013, Niquette realizes that the parasite infected another childhood peer Marshall who while he resides in a coma in an Atlanta Hospital plans to release his inner violence in an unsuspecting world.

Rotating viewpoint between the four protagonists and two time periods, readers get to know what motivates each of the quartet; especially the pair hosting the parasite inside them. Character driven, readers will relish this strong horror thriller that builds suspense from the eeriness of what was released from deep in the murky Bayou.

Harriet Klausner

The Osiris Curse-Paul Crilley

The Osiris Curse

Paul Crilley

PYR, Oct 15 2013, $17.99

ISBN: 9781616148584

Late in nineteenth century London, someone murders Nikola Tesla and steals the inventor’s WMD schematics. Encouraged by Sebastian Tweed’s father Barnaby, he and his partner Octavia Nightingale investigate the homicide in order to obtain the weapons’ plans before the killer deploys them.

The teenage sleuths quickly find a stunning connection between the Tesla homicide and the disappearance of Olivia’s mother over a year ago. More clues lead the daring duo to The Hermetic Order of Set whose members attempt to assassinate them. Sebastian and Olivia flee on the luxury airship Albion heading to Tutankhamen's View Hotel built inside the Great Pyramid knowing that the history texts are wrong and England is in peril.

The second Tweed and Nightingale steampunk investigative thriller (see The Lazarus Machine) is an engaging save the Victorian world young adult adventure. The teenage amateur sleuths are fascinating heroes as they try to save England while shocked by what they have learned about the history of the world. Although the romantic elements between the lead couple feel more of a requirement that takes away from an otherwise entertaining alternate historical suspense with fun steampunk inventions in the name of progress, readers will enjoy the teens’ heroic escapades.

Harriet Klausner

Duke Of Midnight-Elizabeth Hoyt

Duke Of Midnight

Elizabeth Hoyt

Grand Central, Oct 15 2013, $8.00

ISBN: 9781455508341

Witnessing the murder of his parents years ago changed Maximus Batten. Now in 1740 the duke patrols the streets as the Ghost of St. Giles keeping people safe and seeking the killer.

While on duty, Maximus saves Artemis Greaves from footpads though he wonders why she is in the slums. However, she is on a mission and needs the Ghost’s help. Her brother Apollo remains incarcerated in Bedlam for killing three people four years ago, which also relegated Artemis from sister of a viscount to companion to her cousin Penelope. When Artemis realizes that Maximus is the Ghost, she blackmails him into rescuing her sibling. He agrees to perform the mission because he wants her though both know he must marry a titled lady like Penelope.

The sixth Maiden Lane Georgian romantic suspense (Scandalous Desires) is an exciting Ghost of St. Giles entry (see Lord of Darkness and Thief of Shadows) made fresh by the spirited heroine who refuses to allow her brother’s tragedy and her fall from grace keep her down. Fast-paced, sub-genre fans will enjoy this enjoyable romantic historical mystery though want to know more about Apollo’s plight.

Harriet Klausner

Penelope Crumb Finds Her Luck-Shawn K Stout; pictures by Valeria Docampo

Penelope Crumb Finds Her Luck

Shawn K Stout; pictures by Valeria Docampo

Philomel, Oct 15 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9780399162541

Penelope Crumb feels depressed and lonely as she believes she’s no one’s Favorite since she learned about her Crumb cursed shnoz inherited from her Graveyard Dead dad and her paternal grandfather Felix. Recently her BFF Patsy Cline dumped the final F by becoming best pals with Vera Bogg.

She wishes her 24/7 bad luck would change into a little good luck but instead all she has is her older brother Terrence the Terrible to remind her of her misfortune. Her medical illustrator mom tries to encourage her but that makes Penelope feel worse as she knows her mother has no Favorite between her and her sibling. Voted to lead the Mother Goose mural painting at the Portwaller’s Blessed Home for the Aging, Penelope feels her luck must be changing until she finds out that being in charge is no fun as everyone hates the boss though resident Nila Wister makes the youngster feel a little better about Favorites.

The latest Penelope Crumb upper elementary school escapades (see Penelope Crumb Never Forgets) make for an amusing tale with a moral message about friendship enhanced by wonderful illustrations by Valeria Docampo. The beleaguered protagonist laments that she can’t escape from bad luck, which she concludes is why she is no one’s Favorite. At the nursing home, thanks in part due to Nila, Penelope begins to understand being the Favorite is not what matters when being cherished by loved ones brings good luck.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Far Shore-Traci L. Slatton

Far Shore

Traci L. Slatton

Parvati Press, Oct 10 2013, $16.99

ISBN: 9780989023276

The white miasma Mists killed billions when the metals were sucked out of humans during the fatal Day and aftermath. In Edmonton, Arthur saved Emma, her youngest daughter and several orphans when he dispatched the Mists and brought them into his safe camp. Emma assumed her husband Haywood and their oldest daughter Beth were dead; she and Arthur soon become an entry until her family members arrive at the camp (see Fallen). Not long afterward, raiders abduct Beth, but her parents rescue her (see Cold Light).

Adversarial psychopath Alexei abducts and tortures Arthur. A concerned Emma wants to mount a rescue, but Haywood demands she choose between him (and their kids he swears will go with him) and his rival. Heartbroken Emma feels she has no choice except to save Arthur and through him what is left of the dwindling safe sectors, but fears failure in finding, saving and healing him.

The third After the Day apocalyptic thriller is a terrific twisting tale as the lead quartet individually deals with their personal demons while time runs out for a seemingly dying world in its last throes. Fast-paced, readers will appreciate this super finish to a strong fantasy as hope fades with the final flickering of love or perhaps that tiny unsteady light reflects a new beginning.

Harriet Klausner

The Last Winter of Dani Lancing-P.D. Viner

The Last Winter of Dani Lancing

P.D. Viner

Crown, Oct 8 2013, $26.00

ISBN: 9780804136822

Two decades ago in Durham, someone raped and murdered British college student Dani Lancing. The case remains unsolved but impacted the twentyish victim’s parents as neither of the separated pair moved on with their grief. Unable to cope with her death, Dani’s father Jim lives with his child’s ghost who does not remember the deadly assault on her; while her avenging seeking mother Patricia vigilantly searches for her daughter’s killer in a compulsion that will end with either the psychopath dead or her death. Also affected by Dani’s death is her childhood friend Tom “The Sad Man” Bevans; who after all this time still suffers from unrequited love and a sad obsession that rivals that of Patricia. He knows her death motivated him to become a cop in order to help victims and their loved one with closure.

Now a Detective Superintendent, Tom Bevans applies modern forensic technology to evidence gathered at the homicide scene twenty years ago. He informs Dani's parents he plans to open the cold case, which triggers responses from Jim who refuses to lose his daughter for a second time; Patricia who renews her vendetta to kill the killer; Tom who hopes to move on; and those who prefer the murder remain unsolved.

The Last Winter of Dani Lancing is a fascinating character driven police procedural that focuses on what happens to the victim’s loved ones after her brutal murder. The flashbacks enhance understanding Dani without the rose colored glasses of her friend and parents as well as what drives the grieving trio, but also detract from the present day suspense. Still readers will enjoy this complex tale as Dani sums up: “It’s lonely being dead.”

Harriet Klausner

Severed Trust-Margaret Daley

Severed Trust

Margaret Daley

Abington, Oct 15 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9781426777936

In Summerton, Texas high school students BFFs Lexie Alexander and Kelly Winston attend a pill popping party. Accompanying them is Kelly’s boyfriend Jared Montgomery. After the party ends, Jared is found dead from a prescription pill overdose.

Lexie's uncle Texas Ranger Ethan Stone investigates Jared’s death and that of two more students from illegally-obtained prescription drug overdoses to try to uncover the source. Petrified Kelly fears telling her parents, her BFF, the law or her teacher Sadie Thompson what she knows. By the time she realizes her error she is dead in what looks like a suicide, but Lexie thinks otherwise. As Ethan gathers evidence that an illegal prescription drug gang sells to local teens including his niece, he realizes he must keep Sadie and Lexie safe from this vicious ring.

The latest Men of the Texas Rangers inspirational thriller (see Scorned Justice) is a fabulous romantic police procedural that focuses on the illegal prescription drug usage epidemic including looks at “safe zones” like theft inside a nursing home and sales inside a school. Action-packed yet with a strong awareness message, Severed Trust is a thrilling wake up call.

Harriet Klausner

The Christmas Quilt-Vannetta Chapman

The Christmas Quilt

Vannetta Chapman

Abington, Oct 15 2013, $12.99

ISBN: 9781426752773

During her rumschpringe, Annie Weaver studied and became a nurse and after her return home married Amish healer Widower Samuel Yoder (see A Simple Amish Christmas). Since coming back to Mifflin County, Pennsylvania three years ago, Annie and Samuel provide medical care to their neighbors.

She and her sister-in-law Leah Weaver are pregnant with the latter carrying twins. Annie vows to create a quilt for her friend before Leah gives birth. When Leah goes into premature labor, Belinda the midwife insists she goes to Mercy Hospital where Annie once worked as a nurse. Annie stays at her friend’s side while working on the quilt. Each shares their trepidations of being first time mothers and their belief that God led them to being BFFs so that the nurse is there for the patient.

The latest Quilts of Love inspirational (see Raw Edges by Sandra D. Bricker, Pieces of the Heart by Bonnie Calhoun and A Healing Heart by S. Dionne Moore) is a gripping family drama as the two pregnant best buddies strongly believe God purposely guided them to become friends for moments like this one. Character driven by a strong cast, especially the faith-filled lead females, readers will appreciate this entertaining Amish tale.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, October 21, 2013

Rasputin’s Shadow-Raymond Khoury

Rasputin’s Shadow

Raymond Khoury

Dutton, Oct 8 2013, $27.95

ISBN 9780525953135

In 1916 in the Russian Empire’s Ural Mountains, miners suddenly go berserk and kill each other. Not long after the insanity began, an explosion leaves all the miners dead. Rasputin tells his horrified scientist companion, who trembles with what they wrought, that they saved their people.

In present day Queens, Russian embassy official Ilya Shislenko falls to his death from his high rise apartment. FBI special agent Sean Reilly investigates the death that he believes was a homicide. At the same time, Reilly also works the case of high school physics teacher Leo Sokolov who recently vanished. The Russian connection has Reilly seek a link between his two inquiries, but he remains ignorant that Sokolov possesses a gizmo his late ancestor made for Rasputin that radically changes a person’s normal behavior.

Although the premise seems over the top of the Ural Mountains, the latest Templar tale (see The Devil’s Elixir) is an action-packed save the world from a weapon of pandemic mass destruction thriller. Fast-paced, fans will enjoy Reilly’s in your face escapades even though the suspenseful storyline flows as expected.

Harriet Klausner

Alligator Man-James Sheehan

Alligator Man

James Sheehan

Center Street, Oct 8 2013, $23.00

ISBN: 9781455508648

After his company Dynatron went bankrupt destroying the lives of 20,000 employees and their families, and decimating investors, gazillionaire CEO Roy Johnson retired to Gladestown, Florida with a hundred million dollar Golden Parachute package. The Feds sent his accountant to prison for three years, but Roy and the rest of management proved uncatchable.

Roy’s wife Sylvia reports him missing to County Sheriff’s only local employee Carlisle Buchanan. On a hunch, Carlisle goes to the Everglades where he finds pieces of clothing that apparently belong to Roy. This leads to many locals assuming an alligator grabbed Roy during his nightly intoxicated stroll. Sheriff Cousins assigns Carlisle to work with detective Vern Fleming on the missing “Alligator Man” case. High school student Freddie Jenkins swears to Carlisle that he saw a hit-and-run and another witness claims to have overheard bar talk re a murder. Evidence soon points to angry ex-Dynatron employee Billy Fuller as the Alligator Man killer. Meanwhile Kate Parker calls lawyer Kevin Wylie with news that his estranged father Tom is in the hospital recovering from cancer surgery. Though almost three decades have passed since his mother, accompanied by their eight years old son Kevin, left his dad; he and his father defend Billy.

The Alligator Man is an entertaining legal thriller with roots in the capitalistic avarice underbelly of the Great Recession. Although the key cast is either pure of heart goodness or dark of heart wickedness and a twist improbable, readers will enjoy the reconciliation of father and son lawyers as they defend the accused in a Florida court.

Harriet Klausner

Mr. Lynch's Holiday-Catherine O'Flynn

Mr. Lynch's Holiday

Catherine O'Flynn

Holt, Oct 8 2013, $26.00

ISBN: 9780805091816

Eamonn and Laura moved from England to a new condo in picturesque Lomaverde, Spain. However, When the Spanish economy tanks, the complex falls into unfinished disrepair. Residents with choices abandon the place including Laura who flees for home. Depressed and angry, Eamonn struggles to teach his online English class.

His father Dermot the retired bus driving widower surprises Eamonn when he arrives from Birmingham. The trapped bitter British expatriates welcome Dermot who feels at home in the rundown development that reminds him of his childhood in the Irish slums. His enthusiasm brings a new hope for those trapped in a nightmare that once was a dream.

Mr. Lynch's Holiday is an engaging character study that looks deep at the impact of the Great Recession on a once upscale boom town changed into a Depression Era-like ghost-town. Dermot is a Pied Piper as his energetic optimism brings a magical reawakening to those including his son living dead in Lomaverde.

Harriet Klausner

Christmas Ghosts: A Fiction River Anthology-Kristine Grayson (editor)

Christmas Ghosts: A Fiction River Anthology

Kristine Grayson (editor)

WMG, Oct 8 2013, $15.99

ISBN 9780615783550

“The Farewell Gift” by Louise Marley. The Spanish Flu pandemic killed lonely Madeline’s family; however for Christmas her brother Holland the ghost gifts her with Peter stranded during a Montana blizzard.

“A Ghost of Time” by Dean Wesley Smith. Sherri bought the rundown mansion in 2015, but she is in 1898 when Carson built the place.

“Christmas, Interrupted” by Lisa Silverthorne. In December 2013, Mallory tries to go back to one year to prevent Rowan’s murder.

“The Ghost of Willow’s Past” by M.L. Buchman. In Portland, soldiers Dusty and Amy meet at a public garden where her grandmother’s tree of love planted in 1917 was recently cut down.

“Toasted” by Mary Jo Putney. In New York, Rebecca the Hunter wakes up Simon the Guardian because she insists the children need help. Attracted to each other, her being a ghost complicates matters.

“Chains” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. In New York, Roth feels lonely as he prepares to go on stage with his father the ghost nagging him about turning in the unauthorized young girl when his only love Erika comes looking for her.

“Muss Merriweather’s Christmas Follies” by Carole Nelson Douglas. Pitt informs Dark Angel singer Adrian that he is a problem dead and alive while Marianne argues he does not belong in hell as his ancestor killed her.

“A Countess for Christmas” by Anthea Lawson. In 1814 Liam writes Cecilia that her brother is healing at his estate following an accident; they continue to exchange correspondence.

The latest Fiction River anthology (see Time Streams) contains two time travel and six ghost stories, but all eight entries sage a strong Christmas romantic theme.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Death on Demand-Paul Thomas

Death on Demand

Paul Thomas

Bitter Lemon, Oct 8 2013, $14.95

ISBN 9781908524171

Six years ago, friends Adrian, Christopher, Fraser and Jonathan go on vacation together as they have done every year for fifteen years regardless of family and work needs. This time they go to Waiheke Island where they discuss solving their personal problems by hiring a hit man.

Three months later, a car kills Joyce while she jogged in St. Heliers, Auckland. Not long after that a mugger slices the throat of Roger in Ponsonrby, Auckland. Nine months ago, Evelyn is murdered in Auckland. As more deaths occur to include an undercover cop, Detective Sergeant Tito Ihaka investigates what appears to be a serial killer for hire; at the same time Auckland Central PD wants to exile the Maori police officer allegedly for his unruly behavior and appearance.

The latest Ihaka New Zealand police procedural (see Guerilla Season) is a fantastic investigative tale. The taut leisurely-paced storyline is filled with twists as the always in trouble with the brass protagonist works the case and deals with racism from his peers and superiors in his brusque manner.

Harriet Klausner

NightZone-Steven F. Havill


Steven F. Havill

Poisoned Pen, Oct 8 2013, $24.95

ISBN 9781464200700

Retired Posadas County Sheriff Bill Gastner can’t sleep so he goes outside to enjoy the view of the night sky. The septuagenarian notices a fire and that the power in the area is out. He calls it in and heads to the blaze approximately 20 miles from the mesa where he was stargazing. Once there, Gastner finds a corpse and carved up wooden power-line supports.

Although he knows better than to get involved, Gastner makes inquiries. A cop’s murder leads him to believe the arson, vandalism and two deaths relate to local rancher Miles Waddell’s dream of Nightzone; the astronomy-based theme park resort that many New Mexican environmentalists allied with anti-federalists oppose.

The key to this super Posadas County mystery (see One Perfect Shot) is the protagonist acts like a person who is seventy-four years old as he tires much quicker than when he was the sheriff. The key characters (besides family) are divided over the Nightzone development, but each group is populated by real people instead of casting 101 stereotypes. Steven F. Havill writes a strong timely investigative tale.

Harriet Klausner

Fixed-L.A. Kornetsky


L.A. Kornetsky

Gallery, Oct 8 2013, $15.00

ISBN: 9781451671650

In Seattle, private concierge business owner Ginny Mallard enjoys stopping at Mary’s Bar & Grill. Bartender Teddy Tonica likes when Ginny and her shar-pei Georgie visit though the canine relaxes outside.

College student Mora Rees works as a volunteer at the Lifehouse animal shelter. She is concerned when $2000 vanishes; as the missing money could impact the animal shelter’s grants since all donations must be accounted for. Having read about Gin and Tonic in the newspaper (see Collared), she comes to Mary’s to persuade them to investigate the stolen funds. Gin accepts the case while Tonic reluctantly agrees to keep her out of trouble. As they interview staff and scrutinize records, Georgie and Penny the bar cat who adopted Tonic as his pet discuss how to help the humans solve the case so that there mates at the shelter have a home.

The second Gin & Tonic cozy is a lighthearted leisurely-paced anthropomorphist whodunit with life in a cheerful neighborhood bar in many ways superseding the sleuthing. The lead humans and their animal owners are unique engaging leads while the investigation is mostly low-keyed.

Harriet Klausner

The Case of the Love Commandos-Tarquin Hall

The Case of the Love Commandos

Tarquin Hall

Simon & Schuster, Oct 8 2013, $24.99

ISBN 9781451613261

In India Ram and Tulsi meet and fall in love. However, Tulsi’s father Mishra objects to the relationship as he and his daughter are upper class Thakur and Ram is a lowly Dalit Untouchable. Mishra threatens to kill Ram if he continues to pursue Tulsi.

The desperate pair asks the Love Commandos, who assist star-crossed couples overcoming caste differences impeding their marrying; they plan to help them elope. However, before they can wed, Ram is kidnapped. Love Commando Laxmi talks with her boss at the Most Private Investigators Ltd, Puri; who agrees to find the missing groom. Puri soon learns that someone murdered Ram's mother with Mishra as the prime suspect. Feeling the resolution too simple, Puri digs deeper; while his Mummy goes after a person she believes is a pickpocket about to commit a deadlier crime; and his operative Facecream works undercover.

India’s Most Private Investigator’s latest case (see The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken) is a fabulous investigative tale that looks deep at the remnants of the Caste system in which money has dented the rigidity but it remains strong otherwise. The engaging storyline rotates between Puri, Mummy and Facecream with the first being a terrific insightful whodunit, the second comedic relief (except if you are “Chubby” Puri or her suspect), and the third well done but not at the same level.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Masks-E.C. Blake


E.C. Blake

Daw, Nov 5 2013, $19.95

ISBN: 9780756407599

In Aygrima the Master Maskmaker proudly creates his daughter Mara’s mask that she will wear as a Gifted adult when she turns fifteen. At the rite of passage, instead of becoming her Daddy’s apprentice, her mask labels Mara traitor when she says she sees one color while concealing that she actually sees all; as a child she learned to hide that magical Gift. In accordance to the strictly enforced rules of the Autarch of Aygrima guards take away Mara to the horror of her parents. She will suffer the fate of the Unmasked masses by toiling in enforced slave camps and the mines until she dies.

On her way to a death camp, Unmasked rebels attack the wagon and liberate her. As she learns more about her Gift Mara fears her magical skill may prove lethal to the Masked and Unmasked populations of Aygrima.

Masks is a strong coming of age fantasy due to the vividly created Blake world that include the rules of enchanted Masks and a deeply developed two-caste society though the depth can slow down the pacing. Mara is a super protagonist who holds the entertaining storyline together while slowly understanding (like Spiderman did) that "… great power involves great responsibility" (FDR speech never given).

Harriet Klausner

All The Shadows Of The Rainbow-Inanna Arthen

All The Shadows Of The Rainbow

Inanna Arthen

By Light Unseen Media, Aug 2 2013, $14.00

ISBN: 9781935303152

Three years have passed since 1952 when she last attended a Beltane at the Order of the Silver Light Motherhouse in Boston. Instead in self-exile Diana Chilton grieves the losses of friends caused by what she and her associates wrought trying to help Thomas Morgan overcome his vampiric thirst for human blood. Now a vampire as well as a witch, she ponders whether to visit the coven’s Belrane rite or continue to hide in Pepperell, Maine. Concealing her vampiric side, Diana decides to attend but is surprised with what has happened to the Motherhouse in her self-imposed banishment.

At the masked gala, Diana and Jack Garret pair off. The next day he suggests they and others form a new clandestine coven dedicated to improving the lot of the people. Diana, who established and still funds the Bread and Roses Foundation, is euphoric with helping others improve their lives. Magicians David Hofstein and April McFarland join their coven until three of the founding members start to doubt the wisdom of their manipulations. The disagreement comes to a head in November 1963 leading to the coven’s breakup. Alone and filled with remorse, Diana joins Troy Stevenson the vampire in Sheridan, Massachusetts until rumors arrive warning her that Jack has begun implementing an agenda that will change the world in his image.

The third Vampires of New England historical fantasy (see THE LONGER THE FALL) uses the major events of the 1950s and 1960s as a backdrop to a strong morality play that focuses on free will. Character-driven, readers will relish Inanna Arthen's powerful drama as the heroine learns once again that “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

Harriet Klausner

The Diamond Deep-Brenda Cooper

The Diamond Deep

Brenda Cooper

Pyr, Oct 8 2013, $18.00

ISBN 9781616148553

The rebellion between the oppressed Grays against the elitist technologists Reds on the generation ship Creative Fire has been somewhat settled though some ire and revolt remains especially among those who have fallen in status. Ruby Martin, who led the rebellion as a rare dreaming Gray, and her partner Joel North with the collaboration of the ship’s AI leads the vessel on their way home to Adiamo.

However, when they dock at the Diamond Deep station, instead of being welcomed as exploratory heroes, the residents treat the Creative Fire crew with disdain as inferiors. Ruby and her mates are backwater when it comes to the advances in technologies since the ship began the venture many generations ago. Ergo their superiors dump them at the bottom of the social hierarchy.

The second Ruby's Song science fiction (see The Creative Fire) is an exciting outer space first contact thriller that continues to focus on technological class warfare (an issue impacting the world today). Ruby still covets life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but now that she is in charge of governance rather than leading a rebellion against status quo leadership she seems incompetent which ironically makes her appear real. Although not as exciting as its prequel, fans will appreciate this deep look at the technological revolution especially the impact on those left behind.

Harriet Klausner

Paige Rewritten-Erynn Mangum

Paige Rewritten

Erynn Mangum

NavPress, Oct 8 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9781612913216

In Texas, Paige Alder feels great as her personal life is the best it ever has been with her dating Tyler Jennings who she met at church (see Paige Torn) and her boss Mark Lawman offers her more responsibilities and a raise at the adoption agency where she works. Adding to her sense of well-being is her religious beliefs remain stronger than ever that God is always with her especially since she has made time to read the bible.

However, Paige also has issues as she still cannot say no. Her former boyfriend Luke Prestwick, who dumped her, wants to just have a conversation using her birthday as a means to chat with her; he tells her he is coming home as his firm opens up a Dallas office. Her sister Preslee who she has not seen in four years since she ran away with her band, arrives at Paige’s apartment, asking for her to forgive her. Already teaching Sunday School at the church, the youth pastor pleads with her to counsel younger girls.

The second Paige Alder inspirational continues the warm look at a person who cannot “just say no” as she debates with the Holy Spirit for guidance re forgiveness, second chances and to move pass her vitriolic animosity towards Luke and Preslee. Although the enjoyable storyline behooves the young adult audience to first read the prequel to better understand the protagonist, fans will enjoy Paige Rewritten.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, October 18, 2013

1636: The Devil’s Opera-Eric Flint and David Carrico

1636: The Devil’s Opera

Eric Flint and David Carrico

Baen, Oct 1 2013, $25.00

ISBN: 9781451639285

King of Sweden, Emperor of the United States of Europe and the Union of Kalmar leader Gustavus Adolphus Vasa II recuperates from war wounds and is unable to perform his leadership duties. Swedish Chancellor Oxenstierna grabs the chief positions; superseding the claims of Gustavus’ heir Princess Kristina. To solidify his power, Oxenstierna opens a court in Berlin.

USE President Ed Piazza and Vice President Rebecca Abraband are concerned with Oxenstierna’s power grab especially his presence in Berlin. They ask arts guru Mary Simpson for help to get Oxenstierna out of Berlin by tricking him into believing Magdeburg is the heart of USE power. Mary obtains help from several people like Marla Linder the musician to bring a major art festival to Magdeburg. After finding a floater, Simon Bayer rescues Hans Metzgerinin from an assault; the latter introduces him to his sister Ursula as the Magdeburg Police investigate the death of the drowning victim. However, Marla’s contribution to the festival, a King Arthur opera, sparks a patriotic reaction that upsets Oxenstierna.

The latest Ring of Fire alternate history entry (see 1636: The Kremlin Games) is an engaging for the most part low key tale that focuses on political intrigue during a leadership battle to fill a void at the top. The use of music to obtain support for an outcome (such as George M. Cohan’s “Over There” and “The Ballad of the Green Berets” by Robin Moore and Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler) is cleverly handled. Fans of the series will enjoy the chess game over who leads the USE while the Emperor remains severely injured.

Harriet Klausner

The Girl in Berlin-Elizabeth Wilson

The Girl in Berlin

Elizabeth Wilson

Serpent’s Tail, Oct 8 2013, $14.95

ISBN 9781846688270

In 1951, Great Britain and her Western allies are appalled by suspicions of Soviet spies in high government positions. MI5 Chief Miles Kingdom needs someone to go undercover who he can trust and has a strong socialist background as a cover because he believes a Communist mole operates inside his agency. Thus he assigns Special Branch operative Jack McGovern to masquerade as a Communist sympathizer in order to identify who betrayed the Crown.

Communist Party member Colin Harris leaves East Berlin for London. Soon after he arrives in England he visits the Wentworth’s to tell him he loves an East Berliner. When someone murders German physicist Konrad Eberhart, the police and the Intel community focus on Harris as the killer. Meanwhile Harris goes back to extract his beloved from East Berlin while McGovern follows him.

The Girl In Berlin is a terrific post WWII espionage thriller (see The Twilight Hour and War Damage) that plays out on a personal level even as major events unravel in the background (for instance the Burgess and Maclean spying betrayal). This exciting Cold War morality play focuses on the influential acting intellectually superior and untouchable while rationalizing collateral damage caused by their actions were for the good of the state (the second Iraq War comes to mind).

Harriet Klausner

Forsaken-B.J. Daniels


B.J. Daniels

Harlequin HQN, Sep 24 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780373777808

Fuzz Carpenter calls the sheriff’s office to tell Sheriff Frank Curry that a terrorized kid covered with blood was fleeing the Beartooth Mountains; the lad said he worked at the Diamond C sheep ranch before he continued in his haste to get back to the spread. Former NYPD homicide cop turned deputy sheriff Bentley Jamison responds by heading to the ranch owned by Widow Madison Conner.

Inside the barn is frightened sixteen year old sheep tender Dewey Putman. Maddy fears something happened to her shepherd Branch Murdock and her sheep as Dewey hesitantly tells his story of what occurred while he and the herder worked at the camp for four days. While Maddie worries about her 2000 sheep, her missing herder and the teen, Bentley investigates even as their Big Sky clashes turn to attraction.

The third Beartooth Mountains Big Sky romantic suspense (see Redemption and Unforgiven) is an enjoyable contemporary due to the New Yorker and the Montanan fussing, fighting and falling in love. The romance takes a major back seat to the suspense while a subplot involving an assault by his ex-wife on Curry adds a taut twist to an enjoyable police procedural.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Claimed by the Demon-Doranna Durgin

Claimed by the Demon

Doranna Durgin

Harlequin Nocturne, Oct 1 2013, $5.75

ISBN: 9780373885794

Gwen Badura plans to go to Vegas for her vacation, but instead feels an obsessive compulsion to travel to Albuquerque instead. Stunned as she never was an OCD sufferer until now, Gwen believes the pendant she has worn since her father gave to her years ago compelled her to drive to New Mexico instead of Nevada.

In the city, Gwen and demon blade owner Michael MacKenzie meet as he compulsively came to the city though like her he cannot explain why except that the blade he struggles to control expects him to use it to fight an evil. Empathizing with him, Gwen aids Michael in his efforts to prevent the demon blade from controlling him even as a new compulsion of love unites them much deeper.

The second Demon romantic urban fantasy (see Taming the Demon) is an engaging paranormal thriller due to the lead couple’s refreshing fights to keep the demon at bay; while battling other evil in which the blade is conveniently handy even while draining its beholder’s soul. Although the street peril confronting the protagonists adds tension by forcing the hero to choose between his soul and his heart, several of these escapades feel too abrupt. Still fans will relish the fight between love and evil.

Harriet Klausner

Out of the Night-Trish Milburn

Out of the Night

Trish Milburn

Harlequin Nocturne, Oct 1 2013, $5.75

ISBN: 9780373885800

The Bokar virus went pandemic killing many humans around the globe. In the aftermath vampires began attacking the surviving mortals. Those who remained breathing Homo sapiens quickly learned to stay off the streets at night if they did not want to become a blood donor.

In Lower Manhattan Olivia DaCosta closes up her diner only to find her car stolen and the last bus having left Battery Park. Desperate and near hysterical as she knows her blood is considered special by the vampires, she seeks shelter by knocking on doors pleading with those inside to let her in, but no one opens them. V Force vampire cop Campbell Raines rescues Olivia. They are attracted to each other, but her safety comes first as a vampiric cabal covets Olivia as a permanent blood donor.

Out of the Night is an exhilarating romantic urban fantasy headed by two star-crossed lovers who know a relationship between them is not good for either of them but resistance is futile. Although the heroine’s intoxicating blood premise has been used before, readers will appreciate this fabulous fast-paced New York paranormal thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Darkness Rises-Dianne Duvall

Darkness Rises

Dianne Duvall

Zebra, Oct 1 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9781420129786

For several years, vigilante Krysta Linz used her only paranormal power reading auras to identify vampires. Immortal Guardian Étienne d'Alençon observes Krysta pretend to be a helpless human female out for a good time as she lures bloodsuckers into her trap before she kills them with her swords.

Étienne congratulates Krysta with her destroying vampires; as he explains his species though sharing some physical traits differs from the evil ones. Her brother Sean the healer fixes her injuries and shares with Krysta, fascination and fear of the Guardian. However, when Etienne realizes a long thought dead malevolence has arisen, he needs the siblings to help him even as he falls in love with the mortal.

The latest Immortal Guardians romantic urban fantasy (see Darkness Dawns) is an exciting action-packed thriller though the relationship between the engaging lead couple seems similar to that of Night Reigns. Fast-paced, series fans will relish this fabulous entry even as a scorecard to keep track of who’s who helps in this enjoyable complex story.

Harriet Klausner

In This Together-Kara Lennox

In This Together

Kara Lennox

Harlequin SuperRomance, Oct 1 2013, $5.75

ISBN: 9780373718801

In Houston, after Eric Riggs was convicted of murdering his wife Tammy, the state took away his daughter Mackenzie and gave her to nasty foster parents who plan to adopt her. Tammy’s Uncle Travis, an ex-con, believes his brother is innocent and wants to prevent the adoption by proving his assertion. He anxiously turns to Project Justice, but after the carpenter mangles the online form, he goes to Daniel Logan’s home.

Personal assistant Elena Marquez tells Travis that Daniel refuses to meet with him; as he makes no exceptions to his rules except for death row inmates; besides he must deal with a potential nuclear reactor leak. Desperately Travis abducts Elena to force her boss to help his sibling. Shocked almost as much as he is by his action, Elena knows instinctively he will not harm her. Although not her bailiwick Elena decides to help Travis save his family even as they fall in love.

This is a thrilling romantic suspense with the kidnapping bringing the lead couple together even if she throws a wrench into his spur of the moment action. Fast-paced, readers will appreciate this exciting contemporary as the ex-con and the Cuban-American fall in love while her family, work associates and friends want him locked away.

Harriet Klausner

Marrying Dr. Maverick-Karen Rose Smith

Marrying Dr. Maverick

Karen Rose Smith

Harlequin Special Edition, Oct 1 2013, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373657698

In Rust Creek Falls, Montana Veterinarian Brooks Smith wants to leave the group practice in nearby Kalispell to partner with his dad Barrett, but his ailing obstinate father refuses to allow him to join the practice until he marries. Frustrated Brooks decides to open up his own practice that at least should reduce his dad’s workload.

Jasmine Cates came to Kalispell as a volunteer helping ranchers and others clean up after the recent floods. She also admits to herself that her secret agenda was to escape her family. When they meet at the Ace in the Hole while Jazzy waits for her friend Willa Christensen (see Marooned with the Maverick by Christine Rimmer), they chat and he soon offers her the assistant position at his new practice. He soon changes that offer to a marriage of convenience, which she accepts. Neither expected nor know how to deal with falling in love.

The latest Montana Mavericks: Rust Creek Cowboys (see The Maverick & the Manhattanite by Leanne Banks) is an enjoyable ranch romance. The lead couple is a delightful pairing as Karen Rose Smith provides a refreshing Big Sky take on the overused marriage of convenience premise.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Battleground-Terry A. Adams


Terry A. Adams

DAW, Oct 1 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780756409326

Planet D’neera was colonized by mutated humans as a haven from racism. Telepaths, recently the populace has become accepted by other human races enabling those like Lady H’ana ril-Koroth, using the name Hanna Bassiano, to explore other planets and people (see Sentience).

An expert on first contact (see The Master of Chaos), Hanna travels on the alien ship Endeavor Three with a mission to reverse engineer a trek by aliens from a planet dubbed “Battleground” contacting humans on New Earth over two centuries ago. Using her telepath skills, Hanna mentally reaches out in space only her first contact communication frightens her as the species is shark-like feral.

This sequel to The D'neeran Factor omnibus reprint of Sentience and The Master of Chaos is an exciting science fiction. The engaging storyline focuses on first-contact specialist Hanna who at times frustrates readers as she has become a prima donna leading to errors that should have been avoided if she heeded the thoughts of xeno-specialists; my late mother-in-law would have said to Hanna: “you think you’re so smart, you dope”. Still readers who appreciate a solid first contact thriller will want to read Terry A. Adams’s entertaining outer space saga.

Harriet Klausner

An Amish Country Christmas-Charlotte Hubbard and Naomi King

An Amish Country Christmas

Charlotte Hubbard and Naomi King

Zebra, Oct 1 2013, $6.99

ISBN: 9781420131885

“The Christmas Visitors” by Naomi King. In Cedar Creek, brothers Bram and Nate Kanagy meet and fall in love with twins Martha and Mary Coblentz, but the courtships prove complicated.

“Kissing the Bishop” by Charlotte Hubbard. In Willow Ridge, the snows strands sisters Jerusalem and Nazareth Hooley at the home of marital-separated Tom Hostetler; also there is Cedar Creek resident Vernon Gingerich.

Charlotte Hubbard and Naomi King show their respective series fans that their Missouri Amish tales make readers feel Home at Cedar Creek as this is the Seasons of the Heart at Willow Ridge too.

Harriet Klausner

His by Christmas-Kaitlin O’Riley

His by Christmas

Kaitlin O’Riley

Zebra, Oct 1 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9781420112412

In 1878 London, Lord Lucien Sinclair asks his close friend Lord Jeffery Eddington to watch his only single sister-in-law Yvette Hamilton while he and his wife Colette visit another sister Juliette in America. The other two married Hamilton siblings are unable to chaperone.

Jeffery realizes Yvette wants to become a duchess though he feels her chosen one Lord William Weatherby is not right for the feisty Hamilton. His cousin James bets Jeffery that he cannot take Yvette away from William. Yvette tells Jeffery that she wants to be a duchess, but wonders how well William will fit in with the Hamilton family. William leans towards making Yvette his bride by Christmas as he likes her and needs an heir and a spare with his dad very ill; but is frustrated that Jeffery keeps intruding. He decides if he weds Yvette, Jeffery will not be allowed in their lives. Yvette panics when her mom suffers an apoplexy attack that leaves a side paralyzed and her speech slurred and only in French. Whereas Jeffery comforts her; William wonders if her mom’s disease is genetic.

The fifth (and last) Hamilton Sisters Victorian romance is a terrific tale though series fans expected this pairing after the previous entry (see To Tempt an Irish Rogue) as the love between the lead couple is simmered slow but nice. The secondary characters, especially the sisters and their husbands, are fully developed and consistent with previous stories; while the rival is not a bad person. Although the use of a wager is not fresh and adds little except late unneeded tension, Kaitlin O’Riley writes an engaging holiday historical.

Harriet Klausner

A Texas Family-Linda Warren

A Texas Family

Linda Warren

Harlequin SuperRomance, Oct 1 2013, $5.75

ISBN: 9780373718795

Almost a decade ago, Jena Brooks fled Willow Creek, Texas after the tragedy in which her father Lamar killed her lover Jared Corbett; she left behind her Mama and her sister Hilary, and her newborn. Soon after Jared’s murder, her dad had been found shot to death in an unsolved cold case. Now a legal assistant, Jena returns to Willow Creek to gain custody of her child.

She challenges Jared’s brother, single dad of two children Carson Corbett, by insisting his father, who recently suffered a debilitating stroke, kidnapped her, induced labor, and took her baby away in a life for revenge. She gives Constable Carson two days before her lawyers take action. Skeptical Carson, a marine at the time, always assumed she left town with her offspring due to the trauma and scandal caused when her father killed his brother. Although he disbelieves Jena, Carson finds proof in the basement that his father took his grandchild away. Teaming up, Carson and Jena investigate what happened to their blood relative.

Filled with a super twist, this is a fabulous extended Willow Creek, Texas Family drama (see A Texas Hero). Character driven by a strong ensemble cast, readers will appreciate this entertaining romance as love and trust conflict when the ugly truth surfaces.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, October 14, 2013

Lowertown-Richard A. Thompson


Richard A. Thompson

Forty Press, Oct 1 2013, $16.95

ISBN: 9781938473098

When Herman Jackson lived in Detroit, he was a bookie and racketeer. Deciding to go straight, he moved to St. Paul where he opened up a legitimate bail bonds office.

Public Defender Trish Hanover asks Herman to bail out alleged serial killer-rapist Ray Valenti from the Hennepin County jail. None of the Minneapolis bondsmen will float the bail for this vicious charmer, but Herman visits the jail where the cops tell him don’t let this psychopath back on the street. Herman tells Ray in jail and Trish in her apartment no. When he leaves Trish’s condo, someone knocks him out. Herman awakens at Regional Hospital suffering from a concussion. He soon learns he allegedly bailed out Ray; Trish has been viciously murdered; and the killer’s PD is Chris Parker not Hanover. With “Wide” Wilkie, Herman investigates how someone used his name to bail out a ruthless killer.

The latest Herman Jackson investigation (see The Fiddle Game and Frag Box) is an action-packed Twin Cities’ noir that grips the audience throughout. Fans will enjoy the antics of the wisecracking head cracking (including his own) sleuth and his sidekicks as Richard A. Thompson provides the audience with a strong mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Killer’s Prey-Rachel Lee

Killer’s Prey

Rachel Lee

Harlequin Romantic Suspense, Oct 1 2013, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373278411

In Minneapolis irate businessman Cranston Langdon cannot believe he was placed under electronic house arrest for his assault on psychologist Nora Loftis. He plans to kill his wife who testified against him at his hearing insisting his violence is the reason their child sees the shrink; and afterward Loftis wherever she hides for daring to survive.

Nora needs to recover from her near death experience so returns to her hometown Conard City, Wyoming. To her chagrin and gratitude, rancher-cop Jake Madison meets her at the airport. Twelve years ago, she courageously asked him to the prom and he brutally said no. To insure her safety while she heals, he takes her to his ranch. As he falls in love with her while she always unrequitedly loved him, Langdon begins his revenge.

The latest Conard County: The Next Generation (see Rocky Mountain Lawman and No Ordinary Hero) is an action-packed romantic suspense. The second chance thriller entertains readers though the exciting storyline follows the anticipated path; while Nora brings freshness with her vulnerability and her understanding of the predator.

Harriet Klausner