Saturday, November 30, 2013

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

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

A Valley Ridge Christmas-Holly Jacobs

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

A Texas Child-Linda Warren

A Texas Child Linda Warren Harlequin SuperRomance, Dec 3 2013, $5.75 ISBN: 9780373718917 Seven years have passed since Myra Delgado betrayed her then lover Levi Coyote, but though she has become a Houston Assistant District Attorney her life remains filled with guilt and regrets. Swallowing her pride and using GPS, Myra heads to his grandfather’s ranch in Willow Creek where she waits for him to come home after spending time with his girlfriend. Myra plans to beg Levi, as Texas’ top private investigator, to help their distraught friend Stu. Ignoring his no, Myra explains that Stu’s daughter Natalie lies in a coma after a beating from her former lover Marco Mortez who also took their nine month old son Daniel with him. The vicious brute most likely went either to Mexico where he may have cartel connections or Brownsville where his parents live. Levi has no problem refusing Myra, but not the baby. As the pair follows the trail into Mexico, both realize they remain in love with each other. This strong second chance at love is a tense romantic suspense that hooks the audience the moment Myra comes to Willow Creek (see A Texas Hero and A Texas Family) and never slows down until the final confrontation. Action-packed, the rescue mission takes the lead as the couple’s re-evolving relationship rightfully mostly supports saving the infant. Harriet Klausner

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Vaporizer-Lee Driver

The Vaporizer Lee Driver Full Moon Publishing, Mar 1 2013, $26.00 ISBN: 9780988868304 Shapeshifting Sara Morningsky wakes up with a headache in pitch blackness with someone touching her while breathing into her hair. Moments later her private investigator partner Chase Dagger awakens to a sensual touch, a satin pillow and sheet inside a contained rather small for two enclosure. Neither knows how they ended up in a coffin. Chase believes his former employer BettaTec found him in Cedar Point, Indiana and went to great lengths including drugging them to warn him to cooperate or they will bury Sara for real; though he also believes they remain ignorant about her ability to turn into a hawk and wolf since they did not take her. As the sleuths begin inquiries into what happened to them and why, the medical examiner’s autopsies of three gang members show they did not coincidentally die of natural causes as improbable as it first seemed; instead someone removed their brains. The cops know “Who ya gonna call” (Ghostbusters by Ray Parker, Jr.) to investigate the Eerie in Indiana; as Chase has a reputation for successful resolution of the weird. The latest Chase Dagger Mystery thriller (see Fatal Storm, Chasing Ghosts and The Good Die Twice) once gain deftly blends mystery and fantasy into a fabulous investigative thriller beginning with a great claustrophobic opening scene. Sara continues to mature while Chase knows he would willingly die for the young woman he mentors and loves as an adult equal. Action-packed from start to finish, fans will want to join the lead couple working together on a personal case and on the gangbangers’ murders. Harriet Klausner

Second Chance With Her Soldier-Barbara Hannay

Second Chance With Her Soldier Barbara Hannay Harlequin Romance, Dec 3 2013, $5.99 ISBN: 9780373742684 In Tarin Kot, Afghanistan Australian Commando Corporal Joe Madden delays opening his wife Ellie’s Crunch Time email that he assumes demand he sign their divorce papers ending their troubled marriage. It was his idea, but both know signing the document will not allow either to move on passed their stormy relationship. In Karinya Station in Far North Queensland, Ellie wonders why Joe never responded to her email that explains she changed her mind about donating their “sproglets” embryos as she decided on one last try for pregnancy though agreed to continue with the divorce. Three years later in Sydney, Joe is home but never told his wife his deployment ended as has his military career. He struggles with a lack of purpose and detachment from civilian society. When she calls having seen him on the news, he asks about two years old Jacko but Ellie guts him by inviting him to stay with them. He insists that is a bad idea. Still Joe knows he no longer can avoid coming home to see his family in order to end his marriage. In Karinya Station, the torrent leaves Joe trapped with his wife and son for Christmas. This dynamic contemporary looks deep into military marriages and the mind of a combat solder adjusting to civilian that star Aussies but could be any nationality. The storyline goes the expected second chance course (duh – it is a romance), but the fascinating relationship between the disturbed vet and his concerned wife and their precocious toddler make for an insightful family drama. Harriet Klausner

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Dangerous Seduction-Zoe Archer

Dangerous Seduction Zoe Archer St. Martin's, Nov 26 2013, $7.99 ISBN: 9781250015600 In 1886, Nemesis, Unlimited headquarters in London receives a pleading letter asking for help as the anonymous writer claims the workers at the Wheat Prosperity Copper Mine in Trewyn, Cornwall are treated as abused slaves and their families left in horrid conditions. NU operative Simon Addison-Shawe decides to go undercover as a machinist employed by Wheat Prosperity in order to ascertain working conditions. The locals especially those in the mines and their families distrust the stranger. He meets passionate defender of the workers Alyce Carr, who though attracted to Simon, refuses to have anything to do with the newcomer while he wants her too. However Simon restrains his desire because he realizes he needs her help if he is to accomplish his mission. To prove he is on her side, Simon trusts Alyce with the potentially lethal information that he is from Nemesis. As they team up on the mining operation, they fall in love but he is an aristocrat and she is working class. The latest Nemesis Unlimited Victorian romantic suspense (see Sweet Revenge) is a powerful Dickensian thriller in which the dangerous working conditions and the impoverished company town are front and center while the romantic subplot plays an important second fiddle. Each of the lead couple is dedicated, diligent and brutally honest; as both accept the mission supersedes their class taboo attraction. Harriet Klausner

The Devil Wears Kilts-Suzanne Enoch

The Devil Wears Kilts Suzanne Enoch St. Martin's, Nov 26 2013, $7.99 ISBN: 9781250041609 In Glengask, Scotland, a servant tells Marquis Ranulf MacLawry that the laird’s eighteen year old sister Rowena fled to London. Rowena left home because she wants her Season that he as her guardian denied her; his reason being he wants her safe from the dandies and already selected her mate. Ranulf informs his two other siblings to stay home to reduce the potential of scandal while he chases after his runaway sister. Following clues, Ranulf invades the home of Lady Charlotte Hanover demanding she turn over his sister to him. Charlotte ignores his Highlander blustery insisting she has given her vow to provide a safe house for Rowena. Admiring the host’s grit, to his chagrin, Ranulf agrees to escort Rowena to the galas. Worse in his mind is his attraction to Charlotte; who shares his feelings but wants nothing to do with this berserker brute. She quickly changes her mind when she sees how caring her beloved is to his sister and to her. The first Scandalous Highlanders Regency romance is a delightful amusing ethnic-gender war starring two engaging polar opposites supported by characters from their families and the Scandalous Brides series. Fast-paced, readers will appreciate this jocular ballroom as the English flower could have authored The Handbook to Handling His Lordship. Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Cowboy’s Christmas Surprise-Marie Ferrarella

The Cowboy’s Christmas Surprise Marie Ferrarella Harlequin American, Dec 3 2013, $5.50 ISBN: 9780373754823 In Forever, Texas, with his four siblings finding love (see His Forever Valentine), Ramon Rodriguez feels good for them, but enjoys his last bachelor standing status. Holly Johnson fell in love with Ray in elementary school, but refuses to believe her feelings for her close friend remain unrequited though she patiently conceals her attraction. At a gala, Ray is stunned by his sudden wanting to be the only one dancing with Holly who looks incredible in her dress. When they kiss, Ray no longer cares about being single as he now needs to make up forever for the years he failed to heed his heart. The fifth Forever Rodriguez romance is an engaging BFFs falling in love contemporary. The lead couple is a delightful pairing as she has known forever he is her one while he has known just as long she is his buddy until the dance. Readers will enjoy Ray’s conversion from pal to soul mate as Marie Ferrarella provides a wonderful Cowboy’s Christmas Surprise. Harriet Klausner

The Diplomat’s Pregnant Bride-Merline Lovelace

The Diplomat’s Pregnant Bride Merline Lovelace Harlequin Desire, Dec 1 2013, $5.25 ISBN: 9780373732876 At her sister’s wedding (see Business Engagement), pregnant Gina St. Sebastian rejects career diplomat Jack Mason’s proposal as he demands a marriage of convenience so their child is legitimate. Gina is deeply attracted to the widower, but knows the love of Jack’s life is his late first wife and she refuses to play second banana. Jack proves as obstinate as Gina is as he vows to marry her even knowing her antics will nuke his career . As he campaigns with the fervor he displays when discussing field diplomatic safety and local interaction at the State Department, Jack revises his goal because he loves the mother of his unborn; she realizes she loves her persistent suitor when a life-threatening incident occurs. The latest Duchess Diaries contemporary is an interesting romance due to the strong changing relationship between the stubborn lead couple. Readers will appreciate the answer to the paradox of what happens when an immovable couple and the irresistible force of love collide. Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cold Case, Hot Accomplice-Carla Cassidy

Cold Case, Hot Accomplice Carla Cassidy Harlequin Romantic Suspense, Dec 3 2013, $5.50 ISBN: 9780373278497 In Wolf Creek, Pennsylvania Dollhouse owner Roxy Marcoli becomes worried when her beloved Aunt Liz fails to deliver baked goods to the restaurant for the first time in three and a half years. Roxy tried Liz’s landline but her aunt fails to pick up and the cell phone went to voice mail. Known by her aunt and her two sisters (Sheri and Marlene) for being the ultimate pessimist, she asks her Marlene to check on Liz. Meanwhile she opens up for breakfast with one of the patrons WCPD detective Steve Kincaid turning her stomach in knots with desire while also angering her by calling her “Foxy Roxy”. Marlene reports Liz missing so Roxy asks Steve and his police force peers (Jim Carmani and Frank Delaney) for their help in finding Liz. Jim and Frank says Liz is an adult missing for only two hours, but Steve stuns them and himself when he offers to search for her aunt. As the cop and the restaurateur search for her missing aunt, their attraction turns to love. However, the detective wants nothing to do with that dangerous emotion as he still misses his abducted son Tommy gone for two years in spite of his search. Everything changes when he realizes that Liz’s predator targets his Roxy. This Men of Wolf Creek romantic investigative tale stars two wonderful protagonists flirting and challenging each other. Although the engaging storyline never twists from the expected path, sub-genre fans will enjoy the first journey. Harriet Klausner

Covert Attraction-Linda O. Johnston

Covert Attraction Linda O. Johnston Harlequin Romantic Suspense, Dec 3 2013, $5.50 ISBN: 9780373278527 In Moravo Beach, Beth Jones turned whistleblower claiming that her employer Corcoris Pharmaceuticals committed dangerous practices. When the firm’s CEO Preston Corcoris warns her to back off or else her family will suffer; Beth believes him. Instead of cowering and also distrusting the law to protect her and her loved ones; using an alias Beth obtains work on the custodial crew in order to find incriminating evidence to take down Preston. U.S. Marshals Service’s Covert Investigation Unit agent Daniel McManus works undercover at Corcoris as a lab technician. While on overtime, he and Beth meet. Attracted to each other, she thinks she can use his flirting to her advantage while he fears she will expose him before he completes his mission; thus each rationalizes a reason for keeping the other nearby. The key to this entertaining though leisurely-paced tale is the likable lead couple coming together seems reasonably plausible. Readers will root for the pair as whistleblowing proves as dangerous a vocation as going undercover. Harriet Klausner

Monday, November 25, 2013

Montooth 3 Red Cross Of Gold-Robert Jay and Meghan Christian

Montooth 3 Red Cross Of Gold Robert Jay and Meghan Christian Cloverleaf Corporation, Oct 30 2013, $21.99 ISBN: 9780989117104 In 1954 at Florida’s Sarasota’s Preparatory Academy, Cuban student Elena Rafferty tells her friend Carty Andersson about her anti-Batista activity. Both teens will miss each other as they graduate and vow to stay in touch; as Elena plans to return home to join the Castro forces rebelling against the dictator while Carty and her Crew mates (Blake Homes, Mack Stein and Hale Wending) will attend Purdue. At Purdue, freshman Carty likes her petit roommate Marjory Mentor who majors in MRS while fascinated with Andersson's archery skills. In class, Mack challenges Economics Professor Lyndon Donagle’s wine growing theories embarrassing the Dr. When the Crew leaves the campus over Thanksgiving, Marjorie remains in the dorm where she spends time with her new boyfriend. In Lafayette, someone shoots three arrows into Donagle before bashing in his head. LPD Police Detective Mickey Malone leads the homicide investigation with Carty as the only suspect. The third Montooth historical thriller (see Montooth And the Canfield Witch, and Race for The Ryland Ruby) is a terrific profound look into the “Happy Days” of the Eisenhower years with readers feeling like time travelers to vividly described Indiana, Florida and Cuba. The taut homicide inquiry subplot feels like ancient history with no Bones or Jeffersonian forensics while the rise of Castro as the Cuban people’s savior further anchors time and place. With a Montooth legendary saga re bees, and treasures dating back to Templars rounding out the delightful 1950s drama, readers will appreciate this strong suspense as the Crew loyally set out to prove one of their own did not kill the professor. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, November 24, 2013

True Story-Ni-Ni Simone

True Story

Ni-Ni Simone


ISBN: 9780758287724

Eighteen years old Stiles University sophomore Seven McKnight has a dilemma and it is not her roommate Kyla’s should be condemned Gremlin. Believing in the proverb that all work and no play makes Seven a dull Jersey Girl; she wants to party.

However, her present boo Zaire St. James, once in trouble with the law, has become all work and no play except for renting flicks. Bored with her current boo, Seven gives her former cheating boyfriend Josiah Whitaker (see Upgrade U) a close look. The baller wants her back and feels a convict, especially a born again responsible one, is no competition against a slam dunker like him though he knows he must regain Seven’s trust.

The latest Seven teen drama (see Shortie Like Mine) is an engaging tale that seems real because of the lead female’s hedonistic selfishness that plays two wannabe boos. Young adult readers will enjoy the confused Simone’s antics as she struggles to choose between loyal ennui and philandering excitement while we shout our choice to her.

Harriet Klausner

Crash Into You-Katie McGarry

Crash Into You

Katie McGarry

Harlequin Teen, Nov 26 2013, $7.99

ISBN 9780373210992

Private school student Rachel Young comes from an affluent family who expect her to behave in a certain manner belying their status. Besides her parents’ expectations, her four older brothers allow Rachel no breathing room. In her expensive designer clothing and high grades, Rachel conceals from her overly protective relatives her passion of racing strangers on the slummy Southside streets and her debilitating panic attacks.

A decade ago Isaiah Walker’s mother went to prison while he went into foster care. He respects his social worker who looks him in the eye but refuses any contact with his mom, recently released early from prison. Isaiah looks like a tattooed neighborhood hood with a passion for fixing cars, which he hopes to turn into a job when he is booted from the system in a year.

Isaiah and Rachel meet due to street car racing. They are attracted to each other, but he hides behind a not caring tough guy facade from the slumming rich girl where he lives, who his mother is and how he feels about Rachel. Pushing The Limits, Rachel makes it clear she wants Isiah. Besides being in love with each other and with racing, they must depend on one another to find a way out of a life threatening situation.

The latest Katie McGarry teen drama (see Dare You To) rotates perspective mostly between the star-crossed protagonists, who live on polar opposite sides of the social spectrum. Character-driven, young adult fans will enjoy this speed racing romance that opens in first gear and never brakes until the finish line is crossed.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Wake To Darkness-Maggie Shayne

Wake To Darkness

Maggie Shayne

MIRA, Nov 26 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778315551

Famous self-help inspirational author Rachel de Luca and police detective Mason Brown met when his car hits her as the distracted blind woman left the police station. That same day, his brother Eric committed suicide so Mason and his sibling’s widow donated his organs. Rachel received his corneas that enable her to see for the first time since she was a child. After regaining her sight, Rachel and Mason worked together on a serial killer case in which she saw visions of a psychopath in action and shared the best sex either had (see Sleep With the Lights On).

The renowned author completes a Wish Yourself Rich book tour and TV appearances only to learn Mason’s widowed sister-in-law suffered a stillborn. With his family needing him and he upset over her not calling him while she was away for a month, Mason suggests they keep apart for now. However, Rachel suffers a nightmare in which she sees another of Eric’s organ recipients a mom with small children murdered. She joins Mason as he investigates the homicide in which she believes she is on a serial killer’s Wraith organ hit list.

The latest Brown and DeLuca paranormal investigation is an engaging thriller starring two wonderful protagonists and a strong support cast especially his family. With a nod to the movie Blink, this fast-paced with a tense twist tale grips sub-genre readers as once again evil always finds a willing host while good manifests itself in love.

Harriet Klausner

Twilight-Sherryl Woods


Sherryl Woods

MIRA, Nov 26 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778315124

In Chicago, someone murders Minister Ken Miller. His death leaves his wife Dana and their three children in shock as Ken was a good husband and father, and a caring man of God who took his message into the worst sections of the city. When CPD explains to Dana the case is turning cold; needing closure the former private investigator decides to inquire into the shooting homicide of her husband.

To protect her three sons, she ships them to their grandparents in Florida. Once her children are safely out of the way, Dana targets Ken's best friend Rick Sanchez, founder of Yo, Amigo, a shelter for teens attempting to leave the gangs. This is her best lead since her spouse spent a lot of time helping there. Fearing the obsessed Dana will get herself killed, Rick offers to help her. Both CPD claims illegal drugs were found in Ken's church office and a second killing of a church employee leads Dana to revise her hypothesis.

This reprint is an exhilarating romantic suspense that was a contemporary in 1997 but has a historical feel with what has happened in communications since its original publication. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment Dana gives up on the cops and never slows down as she and the person she holds culpable investigate the murder. Although a romantic subplot feels more of an unnecessary forced requirement, fans will enjoy this taut thriller.

Harriet Klausner

The Ninety Days of Genevieve-Lucinda Carrington

The Ninety Days of Genevieve

Lucinda Carrington

MIRA, Nov 26 2013, $11.95

ISBN: 9780778316985

In their third meeting in London discussing whether business mogul James Sinclair hires Genevieve Loften’s Barrington advertising firm, he offers her a personal deal for her consideration. If she fulfills the 90-day contract to his sexual satisfaction, James will use Barrington as his advertiser. Landing the Sinclair account means a major promotion so Genevieve accepts his terms with one additional consideration that this remains a business arrangement only.

James introduces Genevieve to the world of BDSM. To her shock, she enjoys his company and especially his sexual games. As the days move too quickly for her, she wants to extend their personal contract, but doubts the self-assured Dom will keep her as his willing Sub.

This reprint of a 2001 Black Lace erotic romance is an engaging tale starring two protagonists who begin their contract with business like efficiency lacking passionate effectiveness but soon desire and need supersede the original consideration. Though the concept of a wealthy man buying a career woman has been used a lot in recent years, erotica fans will enjoy this well-written entry as love brings passion to a business deal.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, November 22, 2013

Murder On The Orient Espresso-Sandra Balzo

Murder On The Orient Espresso

Sandra Balzo

Severn House Publishers, Dec 1 2013, $27.95

ISBN: 9780727883117

Leaving Wisconsin, Uncommon Grounds gourmet coffeehouse owner Maggy Thorsen accompanies her lover Brookhills County Sheriff Jake Pavlik to attend the Mystery 101 writer’s convention in Fort Lauderdale where he is a presenter on forensics and she a tourist. Having worked GenCon in Milwaukee, Maggy is disappointed that no one dresses up as Miss Marple or Monsieur Poirot and knows what organizer Zoe Scarlett wants from Jake and her.

Attendees participate in a Christie reenactment while riding the Murder on the Orient Espresso train into the Everglades with Maggy as a Narrator, Zoe as the Woman in the Red Kimono and Jake as Rachett. To Maggy’s joy many riders wear 1930s garb to reflect the era of the classic. As the key role players are introduced, Laurence Potter playing Monsieur Poirot fails to appear. Soon Jake with Maggy’s help and others search for the missing Potter and that soon turns into a homicide investigation.

Paying homage to Agatha Christie, the latest Thorsen caffeine crime cozy (see Triple Shot) is refreshed with the South Florida locale especially the murder train into the Everglades. Although the storyline slowly but amusingly percolates by introducing the attendees in Fort Lauderdale; once the players and fans are on board, Murder On The Orient Espresso high speeds (in spite of Florida rejecting this form of rail) into a fabulous mystery.

Harriet Klausner

The Grey Star-James Bartholomeusz

The Grey Star

James Bartholomeusz

Medallion Press, Dec 1 2013, $9.99

ISBN: 9781605427003

In their quest to obtain the Risa Star shards, the weary Apollonians have won a battle on oceanic planet Nexus that destroyed much of the world and left the Emperor dead. However, they and the apparent Ubermensch Jack have no time to celebrate or even rest. Their adversaries the Cult of Dionysus members remain powerful with plans to obtain and deploy the Risa Star that will kill billions. In combat, the Cult’s disregard for collateral damage gives them a fighting edge over the Apollonians.

Making matters more complicated and dangerous for Jack and his allies is they must split up in their task of gaining the final two shards. However, the weight of the universe is on the Ubermensch who faces an enemy so great, his only chance of winning seems to lie with mass destruction.

This Seven Stars middle school fantasy is a fast-paced tale although the predictive final confrontation is slowed considerably by passive explanatory commentary rather than active combat except for an odd climatic battle. Jack is a solid hero matured by the fight while his prime opponent seems greater than him. Tweeners and young teens will enjoy the third novel if they read the previous two thrillers (see The Black Rose and The White Fox).

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Wildest Dreams-Toni Blake

Wildest Dreams

Toni Blake

Avon, Nov 26 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780062247551

At high class Chez Sophia in New Orleans, Stephanie Grant “sells” the idea that she is an escort. Bartender Jake Broussard watches Stephanie “perform”. His instincts honed from his cop days scream at him that she is not a hooker prowling for a wealthy patron. Knowing he should mind his business, Jake confronts Stephanie until she admits she came from Chicago seeking her missing twenty-something sister Tina. Regardless of the danger, Stephanie explains she has no choice except to continue her masquerade.

Though Jake left the police force vowing never again after what happened to his Becky, his attraction to Stephanie will not allow him to walk away from the courageous fool. Keeping her from harm proves a full time job that Jake covets in spite of the risk to his life and the guilt in his soul re Becky as he and Stephanie fall in love.

This 2005 reprint of In Your Wildest Dreams is an enjoyable contemporary due to an engaging lead couple and New Orleans, just under two-months before Katrina. Although a subplot involving a street teen runaway enforces Jake’s save damsels in distress nature, this segue distracts from the prime otherwise taut romantic suspense.

Harriet Klausner

Pawn-Aimee Carter


Aimee Carter

Harlequin Teen, Nov 26 2013, $7.99

ISBN 9780373210558

Like everyone in society, Kitty Doe took the Test at seventeen, but scored a disappointing rank of III branded into her neck. This means a lowly job in Denver, a life span of forty and the loss of her boyfriend Benjy with his superior VI.

A District of Columbia Shield mentions to Kitty that her eyes are the same coloring as Prime Minister Daxton Hart's deceased niece Lila Hart. Later that day, Colonel Sampson and that same Shield arrive at the group home seeking Kitty. The “mother” Nina Doe tells them to try the train station or the clubs. Associate Tabs takes Kitty to a prostitution club where Sampson and the Shield guard Prime Minister Hart are. The PM offers her a chance to become a VII; a ranking only obtained by the Hart family. She agrees to surgery that changes Kitty Doe lowly III into Lila Hart lofty VII. However, instead of adulation and not lacking for anything, the “Masked” Kitty soon learns of Lila's rebellious activity and what happened to the wife and child of her “uncle”.

The first Blackcoat Rebellion is a fabulous young adult dystopian thriller in which America is a very rigid numerological social order. With an obvious nod to the Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games (especially the districts), the D.C. by the numbers neighborhoods and a fully developed cast especially the protagonist make the Carter caste society feel genuine in an entertaining opening act.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Down Range-Lindsay McKenna

Down Range

Lindsay McKenna

Harlequin HQN, Nov 26 2013, $7.99

ISBN 9780373778218

Several years ago, Marine Captain Morgan Boland and SEAL Lieutenant Jake Ramsey met in the Hindu Kush Mountains and subsequently at the Naval Academy. They had a tryst in which he remains forever grateful as she helped him move passed much of his grief following the deaths of his wife and baby in a car accident just a few years before he and Boland first met in Afghanistan.

At the Pentagon, Army General Stephenson assigns Boland and Ramsey on a special ops mission in Afghanistan. Both know they must apply strict control on their feelings as the assignment comes before their desires. However, each realizes the task will enable them to learn what makes the other tick as nothing matches danger when it comes to testing a person’s inner strengths.

The sensational second Shadow Warriors military romance (see High Country Rebel) is a taut in theatre thriller. The key to this engaging tale is the perilous operation in a lethal locale supersedes the attraction as Lindsay McKenna provides a love story inside the combat zone.

Harriet Klausner

Warrior Untamed-Melissa Mayhue

Warrior Untamed

Melissa Mayhue

Pocket, Nov 26 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451640892

Fiery Pict descendent Bridget MacCulloch lives for one thing only: killing the person who killed her father. As Protector of Man Thor descendant Halldor O’Donar has no time for women. When the termagant demands he allow her to help him take down her enemy, the warrior from another world rejects her passionate request. Hall rationalizes that he has no time to coddle a raging female when he confronts the evil who escaped his plane for this one.

However Hall finds the distracting beautiful berserker refuses to go away no matter how hard he tries to get rid of her. Reluctantly Hall understands his options boil down to fleeing from this obstinate female warrior who he cannot shake and as the Protector embracing her burning fire. Finally, he accepts his fate is to deal with Brie if he is to achieve his objective.

The latest Warrior romantic fantasy (see Warrior Reborn) is an exhilarating thriller starring a warrior who avoids women especially when on a mission struggling with his desire for his unwanted volatile partner. Fast-paced, readers will appreciate this fun tale as the hero believes he is Taming the Shrew while instead love tames both of them.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Along Came Trouble-Erin Kern

Along Came Trouble

Erin Kern

Forever, Nov 19 2013, $8.00

ISBN: 9781455573929

In Trouble, Wyoming, the Golden Glove owner Brody McDermott knows his restaurant is in trouble after a food critic ripped the taste, the portion and the look in a magazine article. At the same time Brody fears for the future of his sports-themed bar and grill. Elisa Cardoso comes to Trouble with a deep desire to photograph the picturesque Wyoming landscape.

Brody hires the photographer to take pictures of his meals; she accepts because she needs the money to enable her to shoot her passion. As they work together, the homebody restaurateur and the globetrotting photographer fall in love. While Brody has doubts after fumbling his first marriage, the world awaits Elisa when an opportunity she cannot refuse arises.

The third Trouble romance (see Here Comes Trouble and Looking for Trouble) is a delightful contemporary starring two passionate people in love though his back and forth teetering feels overdone. His ex-wife and their tweener son add depth to a fine Wyoming tale.

Harriet Klausner

No Good Duke Goes Unpunished-Sarah MacLean

No Good Duke Goes Unpunished

Sarah MacLean

Avon, Nov 26 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780062068545

In 1819 at Whitefawn Abbey, Marquess William Harrow awakens in a bed of blood after a wonderful night with a beauty. He learns from a troubled maid that his sex partner was heiress Mara Lowe, his father the Duke of Lamont’s soon to be fifth wife.

Over the next dozen years, the Ton believes that Temple killed Mara; due to intoxication he is unsure whether he did or did not. Now known as the scandalous “Killer Duke” of Lamont, Temple the pariah avoids his former peers except when they visit his Fallen Angel gaming establishment. To his shock, Mara arrives at his club offering him a chance to regain his lost lofty standing in exchange for his dropping her brother’s exorbitant debt he accrued at the Fallen Angels. Though he despises the woman who destroyed his life, to his chagrin Temple also wants her, but fears taking a chance on the woman who left him in a scandalous bloody mess.

The third Rules of Scoundrels historical romance (see One Good Earl Deserves a Lover and A Rogue By Any Other Name) is a strong nineteenth century tale due to the flawed hurting protagonists who must deal with and accept their past if they are to share a forever loving relationship. Character-driven by the lead couple as they slowly change and a deep support cast especially his scoundrels and their families, subgenre fans will relish this entertaining entry.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, November 18, 2013

Clisson & Eugenie-Napoleon Bonaparte, Peter Hicks (translator) and Emilie Barthet (translator)

Clisson & Eugenie

Napoleon Bonaparte, Peter Hicks (translator) and Emilie Barthet (translator)

Gallic Books, Nov 19 2013, $12.95

ISBN: 9781906040277

From birth Clisson felt an affinity towards war. Still a boy, he joins the Revolutionary National Guard and quickly moves up the ranks. His demeanor was perfect especially in combat, which led to glory accompanied by superior officers’ envy. Tired of the pettiness attacking his character, Clisson quits the military where he no longer was happy but felt rudderless with no purpose in life. At a spa in Alles, Clisson meets teenagers Amelie and Eugenie. All the men love Amelie like a popular fine piece of music, but Clisson is attracted to Eugenie who is a musical masterpiece. They marry and raise a family until the military recalls Clisson. While he is severely injured in battle, Eugenie and military aide Berville are attracted to one another.

Though a short-short story pieced together from partial drafts, most of the book deals with a comparative analysis to a young Napoleon and to how the text was transformed. Though this is not the Emperor’s finest hour, readers will find fascinating the accompanying premises by the two translators and Armand Cabasson’s Introduction and Afterward that suggest Clisson & Eugenie as a what if “autobiographical” fiction.

Harriet Klausner

A Soldier’s Christmas-Leslie Kelly, Joanne Rock, & Karen Foley

A Soldier’s Christmas

Leslie Kelly, Joanne Rock, & Karen Foley

Harlequin Blaze, Nov 19 2013, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373797806

“I’ll Be Home for Christmas” by Leslie Kelly. Rafe and Ellie were lovers but in her mind he chose the military over her so she chose a veterinarian over him. Three years later, they meet during a blizzard in Chicago where he hopes being stranded gives him the time to rectify his operational mistake.

“Presents Under the Tree” by Joanne Rock. Several months ago, Las Vegas producer Ari and air force Captain Dylan met and married in a rushed drive-through before he deployed. With him coming home, she plans to rectify their inane reaction to passion.

“If Only In My Dreams” by Karen Foley. Suffering from Dengue Fever, ailing Aiden is sent from Uganda to his home in Monterrey. On the same flight back to the States is medic Lily who Aiden dreams of making love with. When the overwhelmed Fort Atterbury’s MEDDAC closes for Christmas leaving both staying there for the holidays, he hopes to turn his fantasy into reality.

These are three entertaining Uniformly Hot! holiday romances; especially the second chance tales.

Cowboys & Angels-Vicki Lewis Thompson

Cowboys & Angels

Vicki Lewis Thompson

Harlequin Blaze, Nov 19 2013, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373797790

Last Chance Ranch cowboy Trey Wheeler wonders who the angel is that saved his life after an accident left him in trouble during a spring blizzard. His quest pays off at the Serenity Ski Resort where he attends the wedding of B&B owner Pam Mulholland when he meets his angel, ski instructor Elle Masterson.

They are attracted to one another and begin a tryst. However, whereas the devilish angel sees their relationship as a holiday fling before she flees to Argentina with prayers that her heart remains in one piece; while the cowboy wants their hearts together forever.

Sons of Chance (see The Heart Won’t Lie) fans will appreciate the latest contemporary as the cowboy and the angel fall in love, but that emotion may end their relationship rather than cement it. Trey believes “Heaven must be missing an angel” (Tavares); while Elle insists “our hearts they beat as one”, but prefers “… love on the run” (Caribbean Queen by Billy Ocean).

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Someone Else's Love Story-Joshilyn Jackson

Someone Else's Love Story

Joshilyn Jackson

Morrow, Nov 19 2013, $26.99

ISBN 9780062105653

On their way to Atlanta for school, single mother Shandi Pierce, her brilliant three year old son Natty and her best buddy Walcott stop at a Circle K in Georgia when an armed robbery occurs. One year ago, William Ashe’s world shattered in a car crash that left him a widower with no children as his wife and their child died; but at that same convenience store, he bravely walks between the gunman and Natty. Shandi thinks how in seconds a courageous stranger has become her beloved god and he finds himself living for the first time since the tragedy.

Although she wants more from her second “miracle” relationship, Shandi settles for now as friends with William. However, as William works through his grief, their respective BFFs and her divorced parents oppose their friendship as not being good for either of them or Natty.

This charming whimsical relationship drama contains a strong cast as the prime players are fully developed caring but flawed people struggling with how they truly feel. Joshilyn Jackson provides her readers with a poignant twisting tale as love proves confusing especially when it is Someone Else's Love Story.

Harriet Klausner

The Severed Tower-J. Barton Mitchell

The Severed Tower

J. Barton Mitchell

St. Martin's Dunne, Nov 19 2013, $18.99

ISBN: 9781250009470

A decade ago the Assembly arrived and abducted almost every American adult. Since the ethnic cleaning, these aliens have controlled most of the country while human teen outlaw bands continue to prey on the struggling survivors, mostly young children. Bounty hunter Holt Hawkins, his partner Max the dog and fugitive Mira Toombs teamed up to rescue Zoey, who the Assembly coveted for her magical skills. The unlikely quartet headed to Midnight City; seeking to find out who Zoey is and why the Assembly wanted her, but none of them anticipated Zoey’s power until she defeated an Assembly army (see Midnight City).

Seeking The Severed Tower for further information on the prophecies and hopefully Zoey’s destiny that they found out about in Midnight City, the foursome enter the Strange Lands. There they quickly learn none of their experiences and knowledge applies; as the known laws of physics no longer work here. The Assembly and human enemies led by Ravan the pirate pursue them because Zoey is a valuable commodity and they owe her companions while the target increasingly becomes enervated each step closer to their destination.

The second Conquered Earth science fiction is an enjoyable young adult post-apocalyptic thriller starring likable protagonists and vile antagonists in a weird wonderland. Though it behooves newbies to read Midnight City first to understand how the beleaguered heroes became a team with bulls-eyes on their chest, fans will enjoy this taut tale.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Found: A Matt Royal Mystery-H. Terrell Griffin

Found: A Matt Royal Mystery

H. Terrell Griffin

Oceanview, Nov 19 2013, $26.95

ISBN 9781608090990

On Longboat Key, Florida, police detective J.D. Duncan receives a text addressed to her college nickname Jed containing a photo. She forwards it to her boyfriend retired attorney Matt Royal’s email to open since her cell is too small to see the picture clearly. The text shows her college friend Katie Fredrickson holding today’s Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Over a year ago in Sarasota, Katie’s husband Jim was murdered and based on crime scene evidence she was presumed dead though her body never found.

Someone murders Cortez villager WWII veteran Ken Goodlow while he apparently was coming to see Royal. The killer dies in the bay trying to escape the police. Duncan works the Frederickson case while laid-back Royal tries to learn why the elderly man wanted to see him. Matt’s BFF kick butt top secret operative Jock Algren arrives for a visit and joins the lovers’ inquires as danger mounts from cutthroats who don’t care about collateral damage.

The latest Matt Royal entry (see Fatal Decree and Collateral Damage) is a fast-paced convoluted thriller that grips the reader with the same questions haunting the “sweeties”; for instance why Goodlow wanted to see Royal and what is going on with Katie alive or dead. Series fans will enjoy this tale as the cop, the retiree, and the agent work the two perilous investigations.

Harriet Klausner

Dirty Little Secrets-Mallory Kane

Dirty Little Secrets

Mallory Kane

Harlequin Intrigue, Nov 19 2013, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373697311

The murder of Louisiana State Senator Darby Sills at the French Quarter’s Louis Royale Hotel causes a media feeding frenzy over the homicide of a prominent politician compounded by sensationalism of scandal and corruption, and mindful of the famous Huey Long assassination. New Orleans Police Detectives Ethan Delancey and Dixon Lloyd lead the investigation while the former keeps safe the witness Elaine “Laney” Montgomery who is fortunate to be alive after also being shot.

Ethan’s brain tells him Laney is concealing something from him. Ethan’s heart tells him he is attracted to her. The inquiry finds many people with a motive to kill the corrupt politician and several with opportunity, but who is the shadowy scarecrow proves difficult to ascertain as family Dirty Little Secrets begin to surface that no one, including Laney, want revealed. As Ethan keeps her nearby, he and Laney fall in love, but first he must keep her alive from a persistent cold-blooded killer who seeks the fatal moment to silence the witness.

The latest Delancey Dynasty mystery (see Special Forces Father, Star Witness and Death of a Beauty Queen) is a strong police procedural in which the investigation and protection supersede the romance. Enhanced by the scandals that rock the state and with a vivid New Orleans location this action-packed story grips readers from start to finish.

Harriet Klausner

Aloha Rose-Lisa Carter

Aloha Rose

Lisa Carter

Abington, Nov 19 2013, $12.99

ISBN: 9781426752735

Laney Carrigan searches for her biological family with her only clue being her baby wrap red rose snowflake on a white Hawaiian quilt with the words “Aloha, Rose”. On the islands, Laney meets Kai Barnes. His animosity shakes up Laney though she wonders why he despises her.

On his own quest Kai stonewalls Laney’s search because he believes she is a gold-digger and will hurt his cherished foster family that she claims as hers. To their chagrin as their relationship turns increasingly hostile Kai and Laney are also attracted to each other. As they fall in love, each needs to believe the other is a good caring person and not a miscreant, but in spite of their respective heart’s messaging, neither trusts the other.

The latest Quilts of Love inspirational (see The Christmas Quilt by Vannetta Chapman, Raw Edges by Sandra D. Bricker and Pieces of the Heart by Bonnie Calhoun) is a gripping family drama. The wonderful battling protagonists each have a personal mission brought alive by the picturesque locales and deft use of the Hawaiian language. Character-driven, readers will appreciate this entry as Laney and fans learn another meaning of Aloha.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, November 15, 2013

Yuletide Protector-Julie Miller

Yuletide Protector

Julie Miller

Harlequin Intrigue, Nov 19 2013, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373697298

Kansas City Police Department feels good about capturing the Rose Red Rapist (see Task Force Bride), but knows this is not the time for euphoria since his partner the Cleaner remains free. The Cleaner always cleaned up the Rapist’s forensic evidence including murdering the victims.

However, PTSD sufferer Bailey Austin survived the assault so KCPD plans to protect her because they feel the obsessive Cleaner will not stop his compulsion to scrub away the evidence by killing her. Detective Spencer Montgomery understands his assignment is to keep Bailey safe, but is angry at himself due to his attraction to Bailey. Still Spencer will not act on his desire because he cost the life of a woman several years ago when he failed to keep his libido in check. When terrorizing Christmas gifts arrive for Bailey, Spencer increases his vigil as he expects the Cleaner to attempt to complete the job; but he will not allow any harm to come to the woman he loves.

Though it behooves the audience to read the prequel Task Force Bride, Yuletide Protector is a fascinating romantic police procedural due ironically to the unique villain even if the Cleaner seems over the top of Mount Sunflower. Julie Miller provides another winning The Precinct: Task Force entry (see Assumed Identity).

Harriet Klausner

An Early Christmas Gift-Susan Crosby

An Early Christmas Gift

Susan Crosby

Harlequin Special Edition, Nov 19 2013, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373657858

In California, ignoring their feuding ranching families four years ago, Jenny Ryder and Win Morgan fell in love and secretly married. When Julie miscarried, Win persuaded her into a divorce. Neither told their respective families about their marriage, divorce and miscarriage as Jenny went off to college.

Graduating from college with a degree in farm management, Jenny returns home but the local bank refuses to give her a loan as she lacks collateral. Win notices an upset Jenny drive like a lunatic; so he follows her to insure she gets home safe. With her car in a ditch, he gives her a ride. Both remain in love and they have sex only she becomes pregnant again. This time they plan to tell their respective parents. He also knows he owes her the truth about a deception he committed four years ago but Win fears losing his beloved’s trust especially with the dispute as a Sword of Damocles hanging over their heads.

The latest Red Valley Ranchers contemporary (see A Family, At Last and The Cowboy’s Return) is a wonderful second chance at love. Although the family feud premise is not new (Romeo and Juliet, and even Beowulf), but proves fun to follow as the lead couple navigates treacherous water trying to change the climate.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Reunion Lie-Lucy King

The Reunion Lie

Lucy King

Harlequin Kiss, Nov 19 2013, $4.99

ISBN: 9780373207411

Thirtyish statistician Zoe Montgomery needs to flaunt something at her high school bullies at the upcoming reunion. She chooses a fake fiancé and persuades a reluctant hunk Dan Forrester to play the role. A total stranger considered London’s number one bachelor, affluent Dan hesitantly agrees to pose as her boyfriend.

Dan and Zoe perform their roles with gusto leaving her tormentors jealous of her. However, the co-stars’ Academy Award worthy performances is so good because they are not acting as a couple in love; they are in love. Still fooled once by a gut-wrenching betrayal, Dan refuses to be fooled twice by love.

The Reunion Lie is an entertaining over the top of Big Ben romance starring two amiable lead characters. The amusing asides by each protagonist add depth to understanding both of them though also distracts from the prime premise of "Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to device" (Marmion by Walter Scott) compounded by falling in love.

Harriet Klausner

The Most Expensive Night of Her Life-Amy Andrews

The Most Expensive Night of Her Life

Amy Andrews

Harlequin Kiss, Nov 19 2013, $4.99

ISBN: 9780373207404

Veteran Blake Walker hates the current renovation project due to the snobbish client, affluent supermodel Ava Kelly. His brother Charlie tells him that their widowed sister, Joanna’s charity is short one million quid. Feeling survivor guilt since he was the superior officer of his late brother-in-law when Col died, Blake wonders how to make up the loss of a major financial backer while trying not to tell the spoiled pain in the ass to screw off.

Ava is in awe of unflappable polite Blake who showed no reaction to her beauty and her unreasonable orders; not used to being ignored behind a façade of good manners, Ava cannot stop herself from trying to make him react to her diva demands. The renovation completed, Ava displays a shocking appreciation of a job well done. As Blake goes to leave on his vacation, shots are fired. His reaction saves her life while he wonders who she pissed off. Frightened Ava asks Blake to protect her in exchange for her helping his sister’s charity. As they hide on his London canal boat, they fall in love.

Paying homage to combat veterans and their families, The Most Expensive Night of Her Life is a poignant contemporary. Whereas Ava is more of a caricature, Blake is terrific as a vet suffering from coming home alive while many of his brothers-in-arms died; his feelings accentuated by his sister making him promise to bring home her husband alive (not in a bag). Readers will appreciate the tale of love between the super diva and the super soldier.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Ghost Medicine-Aimee & David Thurlo

Ghost Medicine

Aimee & David Thurlo

Forge, Nov 12 2013, $24.99

ISBN 9781466807853

Former Navajo Nation cop Harry Ute left the tribal force to become a private investigator. When his mutilated corpse is found in a remote part of the Rez, Harry looks like the victim of the fearsome skinwalker witches.

Navajo Nation special investigator Ella Clah leads the investigation into the brutal murder of her one-time subordinate. She questions Harry’s boss Bruce “Teeny” Little, but he offers little beyond stating Ute was looking into stolen property. Ella’s boyfriend county Detective Dan Nez was working the same case as the victim. He teams up with Ella while residents living near the murder scene fear the skinwalkers’ retaliation so they refuse to say anything about the vicious homicide or the theft of artifacts.

The latest Ella Clah Navaho police procedural (see Never-Ending-Snake and Black Thunder) is a strong case personalized by the protagonist. Even with her obsessed need to catch the killer motivating her, Ella finds her inquiry complicated by tribal beliefs especially the fear of the skinwalkers. Once again team Thurlo provides a super tribal whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

The First Phone Call from Heaven-Mitch Albom

The First Phone Call from Heaven

Mitch Albom

Harper, Nov 12 2013, $24.99

ISBN 9780062294371

Residents of Coldwater, Michigan begin receiving cell phone calls from deceased loved ones who insist they reside in heaven. Their message to their families is one of hope and believing. The townsfolk are divided between a monstrous hoax and a loving miracle with some of the deniers refusing to accept calls from heaven. People like young Jules Harding prays that his late mom calls him while his remorseful dad Sully, who was in prison when his wife died, believes someone is pulling a horrible chicanery on the vulnerable like his son.

Word spreads about the Coldwater heavenly communication and soon a horde of religious fanatics invade the small town; followed by equally zealous opponents. The two adversarial sides divide like the locals into the miracle and hoax supporters. The feeding frenzy media smelling a ruse joins the horde rushing to Coldwater.

The First Phone Call from Heaven is a delightful allegory in which the telephone is used as the link with the afterlife. The engaging storyline shows down with a fascinating look at Bell’s original invention of the telephone. The key to this wonderful satire is how the cast reacts differently to the calls; which allow the reader to choose the side they want to join in the debate though everyone will want: “All I Need Is A Miracle” (Mike & The Mechanics).

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Cries of the Lost-Chris Knopf

Cries of the Lost

Chris Knopf

Permanent, Nov 12 2013, $28.00

ISBN 9781579623326

Still recovering from injuries he received during an assault on his Chilean wife Florencia Etxarte that left her dead and him temporarily in a coma, market researcher Arthur Cathcart persuaded his sister the doctor to declare him dead so he can go undercover to investigate the murder. What he so far finds out shocks him as his late spouse’s illegal financial activities include embezzlement and off-shore accounts leaving him to wonder who he married (see Dead Anyway).

In a bank in the Caymans, Cathcart and his new girlfriend Natsumi Fitzgerald obtain the contents from Florencia’s safe deposit box. When the pair leave, thugs attack them. Soon using a zillion disguises, a quadrillion gadgets and his uncanny ability as a finder (no relation to the TV show), Cathcart and Fitzgerald play lethal chess with dangerous people associated with Florencia’s Basque DNA.

The second Cathcart amateur sleuthing is a fast-paced investigative tale as thugs chase after the lead couple. Though there is a déjà vu feel to the suspenseful storyline and Cathcart has more gizmos than Inspector Gadget, readers will appreciate this action-packed international thriller as one cannot help but to root for the hero and his sidekick to come out of this deadly life and death game triumphant.

Harriet Klausner

An Old Betrayal-Charles Finch

An Old Betrayal

Charles Finch

Minotaur, Nov 12 2013, $25.99

ISBN: 9781250011619

In 1875 Lord John Dallington suffers from a cold so is unable to meet a potential client at Gilbert’s Restaurant in Charring Crossing Station at 8:00. After showing his former sleuthing mentor Charles Lenox the unsigned note, he asks his teacher to go in his place. Charles concludes from the note that the writer has a train to catch soon after 8:35 as the author states he will wait for no more than thirty-five minutes.

Bored with being the Parliament’s junior Lord of the Treasury even with a critical vote on the Factory Act that he supports coming up, and enjoying though embarrassed to say so his time with his wife Lady Jane and their toddler, Lenox shamefully relishes a case. He enters the restaurant seeking a man with a striped black umbrella dining alone. When a male enters late, Charles assumes he is the client until abruptly a woman runs out of Gilbert’s; as Lenox realizes his gender blunder. Charles seeks the frightened female to learn how he may help her.

The seventh Charles Lenox Victorian mystery (see A Beautiful Blue Death and The September Society) is an entertaining twisting historical. Filled with tidbits that anchor the era (like the Factory Act debate), series fans will enjoy the return of married with child Charles and his family and friends as Lenox (and readers) appreciate his complicated investigation made convoluted by his false gender assumption.

Harriet Klausner

Sins of the Flesh-Colleen McCullough

Sins of the Flesh

Colleen McCullough

Simon & Schuster, Nov 12 2013, $26.00

ISBN 9781476735337

In August 1969, Holloman, Connecticut police Captain Carmine Delmonico is on vacation with his family. However, crime does not stop because the boss is away. Someone severs the testicles and starves to death a man; a second male in the same brutal state is found soon afterward and a connection to four other vicious homicides is made.

HPD Police Lieutenant Abe Goldberg and Sergeant Delia Carstairs contact Carmine, who with his wife Desdemona’s permission, rushes back to Holloman. The cops begin a desperate search for a male-loathing psychopath before more men are violently castrated and murdered.

The fifth Delmonico 1960s police procedural (see The Prodigal Son, Naked Cruelty and Too Many Murders) is an engaging historical investigative tale in which time and place are anchored by technology though the college campus seems quiet for tumultuous 1969. The set-up is fabulous as the police hunt an insane lethal predator. Colleen McCullough provides her fans with a strong Connecticut serial killer mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Spheres of Influence-Ryk E. Spoor

Spheres of Influence

Ryk E. Spoor

Baen, Nov 5 2013, $15.00

ISBN 9781451639377

The Arena names Holy Grail starship pilot Ariane Austin as the Leader of the Faction of Humanity while she and the crew struggle to adhere to the rigid rules of the Arena as they compete with less scrupulous races also trying to gain higher social hierarchal status. Hyperion Super Marc DuQuesne introduces Ariane to other experiment survivors before visiting and asking Hyperion Sun Wu Kung the Monkey God of a virtual world to return to the real realm as they need his expertise.

Ariane learns that Oscar Naraj has become the Space Security Council chief with his loyal supporter Michelle Ni Deng assisting him. They are coming to the Grand Central Arena on the FTL ship Duta, which means physicist ship designer Dr. Marilyn Shoshana, who DuQuesne insists is a psychopathic murdering Hyperion Super, betrayed them. The Holy Grail returns to the Arena just before the arrival of the Duta. Ariane informs an angry Naraj that the Arena named her as the Leader of the Humanity Faction and that the only mission remains for their species to prove its worthiness is to join this association or face extinction.

Once again paying homage to E. E. “Doc” Smith, the sequel to Grand Central Arena is an exciting science fiction. The Holy Grail crew led by awesome Ariane must deal with competing species, learning Arena rules of order, partner with wary Super Hyperions, and prevent another human faction nuking their chances. Although the storyline does not move forward much, readers of the previous Arena thriller will enjoy this solid outer space first contact saga.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, November 11, 2013

Deadly Catch: A Mac McClellan Mystery-E. Michael Helms

Deadly Catch: A Mac McClellan Mystery

E. Michael Helms

Prometheus/Seventh Street, Nov 12 2013, $15.95

ISBN 9781616148676

After nearly a quarter of a century as a U.S. Marine, Mac McClellan retires. He heads to the Florida panhandle for some R& R before deciding what to do as a civilian. While fishing, Mac hooks a rotted corpse.

The vet later learns the victim is affluent teenager Madison Lynn Harper. Meanwhile marijuana is found on the boat Mac has leased. Maddie’s uncle Sheriff Bo Pickron offers him a deal he cannot afford to refuse if he wants to remain a breathing free man. Bo tasks Mac to go undercover in order to find the killer of his niece and why her. With help from marina employee Kate Bell, Mac works the case hoping to escape from the mess in which someone cleverly has framed him for the homicide and for drug dealing.

The first Mac McClellan mystery is an exciting regional whodunit with a vivid backdrop and a fabulous beleaguered protagonist. Although there is too much passiveness especially by a marine, fans will root for the sleuth-drafted veteran as he battles against influence targeting him to take the fall.

Harriet Klausner

A Cold and Lonely Place-Sara J. Henry

A Cold and Lonely Place

Sara J. Henry

Crown/Broadway Books, Nov 5 2013, $15.00

ISBN: 9780307718426

On a gig at New York’s Lake Placid’s annual Winter Carnival, reporter Troy Chance covers the ice cutters on Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks. As she takes photos, she and others notice a corpse under the frozen water. To her shock, Troy realizes the dead man is her roommate Jessamyn’s boyfriend Tobin Winslow.

Troy knows that the police will be interested in the philandering victim’s girlfriend and soon gets the opportunity to help Jessamyn when her editor assigns her to do a piece on the late Tobin. As she looks into his life with the assistance of his grieving sister Win, Troy wonders why an affluent Connecticut blueblood chose to live in the rural Adirondacks.

The second Troy Chance journalist investigation (see Learning to Swim) is an enjoyable regional mystery with a strong sense of place as fans will feel we are attending the Winter Carnival. The protagonist holds the engaging storyline together though a romantic subplot feels more like an unnecessary requirement. Still readers will relish this band of sisters investigating the murder.

Harriet Klausner

The Misfortune Cookie-Laura Resnick

The Misfortune Cookie

Laura Resnick

DAW, Nov 5 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780756408473

Twenty-seven years old New York Actress Esther Diamond is out of work and apparently is out of a boyfriend as NYPD Detective Connor Lopez slept with her on Christmas Eve (see Polterheist) but has not called her in the week since. On New Year’s Eve, Esther works a singing waitress gig at Bella Stella a mob and tourist hangout in Little Italy. NYPD led by Lopez raid the joint giving Esther a chance to emote her ire at her attraction before she is cuffed and the joint shut.

As desperate Esther obtains a bit part in a student's Chinatown film, her friend sometimes wise man Lucky Battistuzzi contacts her after escaping from Bella Stella to hide in a Chinese-Italian mortuary. As the residents of Chinatown prepare to celebrate the Chinese New Year, the odd couple believes deluxe fortune cookies are being used as a mechanism to curse victims including Lopez. They and Max Zadok the three century and a half old bookselling sorcerer must prevent a mystic psychopath from destroying Chinatown.

The latest Esther Diamond urban fantasy (see Vamparazzi, Unsympathetic Magic and Doppelgangster) is an entertaining lighthearted early January farce as the heroine teams up with a kind of retired hit man and a wizard to battle a miscreant cursing fortune cookies. Though the Real Little Italy is Arthur Ave in the Bronx, readers will enjoy Esther’s antics starting with her amusing acerbic tirade at Lopez and ultimately facing the crumbling of The Misfortune Cookie(s).

Harriet Klausner

Visibly Struck: a Novel based on the True Experiences of George Washington and his Faith in the Invisible Hand of God-Steve Kubicek

Visibly Struck: a Novel based on the True Experiences of George Washington and his Faith in the Invisible Hand of God

Steve Kubicek

Summit Partners LLC, Nov 5 2013, $16.95

ISBN: 9780984842643

Seventeen years ago, historian Stephen Spitzen’s son and daughter-in-law died in a plane crash. Soon after that his wife passed away. As a single “dad”, Spitz raised his beloved granddaughter Aspen while ranting at God for taking away his other loved ones.

Years after her parents died, financier Aspen loves her Papa but worries about his health as his anger towards God consumes Spitz. Deciding to prove that the Founding Fathers were not influenced by Christianity; Spitz hypothesizes that George Washington and the others did not trust in God when they created the United States. However, Spitz suffers a stroke that leaves him in a coma and Aspen praying for divine intervention. In his comatose state, Spitz travels back in time to observe Washington in two wars as an officer and eventually as the first president of this new experiment.

Using time travel by a twenty-first century deity denier, Visibly Struck is an enjoyable historical. The storyline enables the reader to better understand George Washington through the experiences of the Father of Our Country as a soldier and a statesman, and his writings that argue in his strong “Faith in the Invisible Hand of God.” Although the wealth of information gives the storyline a nonfictional feel at times, readers will appreciate this enjoyable different perspective of the founding of America.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The God Tattoo: Untold Tales from the Twilight Reign-Tom Lloyd

The God Tattoo: Untold Tales from the Twilight Reign

Tom Lloyd

Pyr, Nov 5 2013, $18.00

ISBN 9781616148591

This superb eleven story collection enhances the macro view of the Twilight Reign fantasy saga with a darker micro level return to the Land. In the opening act, “A Beast in Velvet” brutally hunts the residents of Narkang with a calling card of battered corpses and enigmatic runes. Daken the mercenary believes mages are natural born sociopaths while the indifference of the Gods makes both groups untrustworthy with their hidden agendas in the title story. Now retired, “The Marshal’s Reflection” of a time just before the war came to Narkang remains vivid. Marshal Calath learns a life lesson that good intentions do not necessarily mean good outcomes in “A Man from Thistledell”. All the entries are excellent leading to Twilight Reign fans relishing this strong anthology and newbies showing their appreciation by reading the novels.

Harriet Klausner

Contagion-Tim Lebbon


Tim Lebbon

Pyr, Nov 5 2013, $17.99

ISBN: 9781616148218

Several years have passed since the 2017 Doomsday terrorist attack left London an isolated Toxic City (see London Eye) surrounded by Chopper troops assigned to use deadly force to keep survivors inside and other people outside. The rest of Britain and the world believe no one lives within this wasteland, but those who do are considered expendable experimental guinea pigs.

Apparently due to the healing touch of enigmatic Nomad, some of those “trapped” inside the dead city like Jack and Lucy-Anne are developing odd powers (see Reaper's Legacy). Jack learns that in seventeen hours the final solution will occur when the Choppers detonate a nuclear bomb to eradicate London and bury their test specimens. With the assistance of Lucy-Anne and Nomad, Jack must warn Londoners, but even with the doomsday clock counting down, he knows he first must commit patricide by confronting his father the Reaper.

The third taut Toxic City post-apocalyptic thriller will remind readers of the TV show 24 as each chapter contains one hour closer to the nuking of London. With a stunning climax, fast-paced and filled with action except when wallowing Jack (in those non-heroic introspective moments) too frequently feels remorse for killing those who want to kill him. Still series fans will enjoy climatic Contagion.

Harriet Klausner

Southside-Michael Krikorian


Michael Krikorian

Oceanview, Nov 5 2013, $26.95

ISBN 9781608090556

L.A. Times reporter Michael Lyons works the street beat with his prime focus on members of gangs as he has the uncanny ability to put a human face on these seemingly interchangeable dangerous miscreants. Near his office, Michael stops at his favorite haunt the Redwood Saloon where affectionately he is known as “Hit’n’Run” for his frequent quickies. However, this time when he leaves the bar in daylight, someone shoots Lyons.

While he recovers from his wound, his journalist peers form a pool as to whom the trigger is and why. LAPD fails to find the culprit while the L.A. Times editorials rip the cops for incompetency and complacency until the police release a tape in which Michael eloquently explains the truth of being shot to a gang-member. While the shooter begins targeting other victims including the younger brother of incarcerated gangbanger Big Evil, a fired Lyons starts an investigation in the grim impoverished Southside.

Those who live on the means streets of LA own this dark graphic urban thriller; as the investigation highlights their grim existence. Fast-paced throughout, readers will appreciate entering the Lyons’ Den; escorted not by the late great New York columnist Leonard Lyons, but by a disgraced Los Angeles reporter working the gang circuit.

Harriet Klausner

The Glamorous Life 2: All That Glitters Isn’t Gold-Nikki Turner

The Glamorous Life 2: All That Glitters Isn’t Gold

Nikki Turner

St. Martin's Griffin, Nov 5 2013, $15.99

ISBN: 9781250001443

Even before Shelly, their mother in name only, abandoned them, fourteen years old Calliope already knew if she and her ten years old brother Compton were to survive, they needed to rely on no one but themselves. Once Shelly drops out of her children’s lives, their grandmother gives them shelter, but the siblings must feed and clothe themselves. Calliope turns to stealing and stripping while Compton sells drugs.

Just freed from incarceration, Lynx and his faithful woman, Bambi, look forward to starting over. However, Lynx struggles with a gambling addiction that if not stopped will end his relationship with Bambi, but not before destroying both of them. When Lynx and Calliope meet, both finds a motivator to clean up their act hopefully before it is too late for them and their loved ones.

The Glamorous Life 2 is an engaging street lit tale as the key cast learns the hard way and seemingly too late that All That Glitters Isn’t Gold. The two females and the ex con who connects them are fully developed so that the reader understands what each faces to make it. Although the middle chapters feel somewhat bloated, fans will enjoy Bambi’s return engagement (see The Glamorous Life).

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Dead Money-Dean Wesley Smith

Dead Money

Dean Wesley Smith

WMG, Jun 13 2013, $15.99

ISBN 9780615824901

In Idaho, poker champ Carson Hill dies when his small plane crashes. A person detonated an explosion in the plane’s engine while watching the crash but cannot retrieve the coveted key from the victim. Also in Idaho, on a whitewater trip Carson’s estranged son Jonathan “Doc” Hill learns from his business partner and BFF Fleet Korte that his father died. They tell the former’s grandfather Ace who asks them to learn the truth.

Someone hires Grove to dig up the grave of great poker champion Jeff Taylor who was murdered in an unsolved case twelve years ago. The smell is overwhelming in spite of the really good condition of the remains and worse to Grove is the gross touching of the shirt to remove a key from the deceased’s neck. Grove goes to Vegas to deliver the key to his client for a sizable fee. Steve Harrison the client takes the key while musing one down eight players with keys to go before killing Grove. As Doc seeks what happened to his father after the Big Game, he finds a connection to a 1982 game and the White House.

Though the premise should be over the top of the Central Idaho Mountains, Dean Wesley Smith draws a royal straight flush by making the hand he deals readers seem possible with this exhilarating political poker thriller. With his DNA containing the poker gene, the protagonist, accompanied by his loyal sidekick, raises the stakes, bluffs and calls his way in a Dead Money game in which the players ante is their life.

Harriet Klausner

Rituals: A Faye Longchamp Mystery-Mary Anna Evans

Rituals: A Faye Longchamp Mystery

Mary Anna Evans

Poisoned Pen, Nov 5 2013, $24.95

ISBN 9781464201691

Accompanied by her adopted teenage daughter Amande, archeologist Faye Longchamp works at the Rosebower, New York museum helping the curator classify documentation and artifacts in a town known for spiritualists and radical religious reformists. The mother and daughter team sift through decades of donations that run the gamut from incredible finds to disgusting junk with the latter much more abundant than the former.

Affluent medium Tilda Armistead provides the two rational Floridians with a reading that leaves the pair stunned with what she says as there is no way plausible she could know this except with talking to them or the dead. Not long after the Longchamp visit, someone sets on fire Tilda’s home; she fails to escape the blaze dying from smoke inhalation. Faye investigates the arson murder uncovering several people with strong motives for killing Tilda. At the same time, Faye ponders out of character strange behavior and greedy rivals thriving for power and money related to spiritualism, the museum and the arson.

The eighth Faye Longchamp mystery (see Strangers and Plunder) is a great whodunit with a touch of paranormal whimsy (as Sherlock Homes in the Sign of the Four says: “…when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”) enhancing the strong investigation into the world of mediums. Readers will relish the archeologist and her able assistant probing the super spiritualist support cast and those not contacting the dead.

Harriet Klausner

Hidden Heritage: A Lottie Albright Mystery-Charlotte Hinger

Hidden Heritage: A Lottie Albright Mystery

Charlotte Hinger

Poisoned Pen, Nov 5 2013, $24.95

ISBN 9781464200762

In the middle of the night in Carlton County, Kansas, a corpse floats in the “shit pit” at the feed yard. Someone murdered Victor Diaz, who apparently had no known reason for being at this locale especially at two in the morning.

Sheriff Sam Abbott assigns Undersheriff Lottie Albright undercover at the feed yard where she learns of felonious activities tied to her boss. While she hides her current assignment from her concerned family, Lottie also rejects the idea that Sam is corrupt. KBI Agent Frank Dimon thinks Sam’s going bad is plausible as he believes the homicide is more than just a local murder. Also a historian Lottie realizes that the victim is the great-grandson of still living Dona Francisca Diaz, who developed the western part of the state. Dona Francisca explains to Lottie the motive for Victor’s homicide can be found in historical documents she gives to the undersheriff.

The third Lottie Albright police procedural (see Deadly Descent and Lethal Lineage) is a leisurely paced whodunit that uses Jayhawk State history as the key element in the protagonist’s investigation. Although the overly included insight into the cattle industry detracts from the mystery, readers will enjoy Lottie seeking the homicidal Hidden Heritage.

Harriet Klausner

Cassandra: A Delphic Woman Novel-Kerry Greenwood

Cassandra: A Delphic Woman Novel

Kerry Greenwood

Poisoned Pen, Nov 5 2013. $24.95

ISBN: 9781464202056

Aphrodite challenges her brother Apollo to a mortal manipulation contest. Apollo angrily curses Trojan Princess Cassandra for her rejection of him as no one spurns a god without wrathful repercussions especially when he is engaged in a contest with his sister. He enables Cassandra to foretell the future while Aphrodite gifts Diomenes with healing hands.

Cassandra foresees King Agammemnon of Mycenae winning the seize at Troy coming home after years away triumphant. She also sees his grieving angry wife Queen Clytemnestra, loathing her spouse for sacrificing their daughter to the Gods before he left for the war and abetted by her lover Aegisthus murdering the monarch. As the events unfold at Troy just as she envisions, Cassandra’s two lovers help her and endangered siblings Electra and Orestes flee from the royal wrath but not from deity rage; while Diomenes serves the army as a healer.

The second Delphic Woman (see Medea) is a strong retelling of Cassandra just prior to and during the combat at Troy. Cassandra is a wonderful lead but pales next to the more intense saga of Medea. Still Kerry Greenwood entertains her audience with the “real” story of Cassandra cursed to see the future.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Dinosaur Feather-S.J. Gazan

The Dinosaur Feather

S.J. Gazan

Quercus, Nov 5 2013, $24.95

ISBN: 9781623650667

At the University of Copenhagen, as a biology Ph.D. candidate nearing the moment in two weeks she must sell her dissertation to the faculty, single mom Anna Bella Nor feels overwhelmed. Besides the obvious woes of toddler motherhood and student-hood, Anna Bella’s faculty advisor brilliant Professor Lars Helland, known for his work into the evolutionary path from dinosaurs to birds, displays no interest in her thesis.

Frustrated Anna Bella knows she is not alone with ire towards Helland, but that provides her with no comfort. Obviously she is not as outraged by the pompous professor as someone else who murdered the genius, found dead in his office. Copenhagen police superintendent Soren Marhauge leads the inquiry into academia in which only the fittest survive. He soon finds plenty of suspects including Anna, others employed in the biology department and a rival scientist. At the same Anna investigates the homicide though she lacks the time and skill while placing her life in peril.

The Dinosaur Feather is a suspenseful academic murder mystery. The exciting storyline superbly merges a single mother raising a toddler with academia and scientific rivalry for prestige and grants, and Anna Bella’s thesis connecting the evolutionary line between dinosaurs and birds. Although Helland’s death occurring over several months feels almost comedic over the top of Tivoli Gardens, readers will enjoy this taut Danish noir.

Harriet Klausner

Drifter's Heart-Karen Wiesner

Drifter's Heart

Karen Wiesner

Whiskey Creek, Dec 1 2013

ISBN: 9781105199165

In Fever, Texas, flirtatious thirtyish Maggie May falls in love with forty-something drifter Ryder McCall. However, Ryder panics over his feelings and how great the sex was; he flees for the rodeo circuit breaking Maggie May’s heart though she believed he will come back to her one day. Maggie May becomes pregnant but tells no one who the father is; as she knows her dad will force the miscreant into a shotgun wedding and her mother believes the man has to be the best in the county for her Magpie to love him.

Four years later, Maggie May with help from her loving family raise hell-raising Little Tex. Ryder works as foreman at nearby Mackenzie’s Ranch (see Wings of Love) while his notable limp is a reminder of the severe near crippling injury caused by a bull. He avoids Maggie May out of fear he will not be able to run away from his heart this time while she runs towards his heart with his son in hand.

The sixth Cowboy Fever contemporary (see Losses and Gains, For Always, Taming April and The Only One) is a wonderful second chance ranch romance. The enjoyable storyline contains strong protagonists with the heroine knowing what she wants and the hero struggling between love and a dysfunctional childhood (due to his rodeo champion father). With the return of stars from the previous entries (see Cowboy Fever Series anthology for a delightful omnibus reprint of the fab five) enhancing the readers visit to Texas ranch country, fans will relish Karen Wiesner’s wonderful tale.

Harriet Klausner

Sweet Nothings-Janis Thomas

Sweet Nothings

Janis Thomas

Berkley, Jul 2 2013, $16.00

ISBN: 9780425264829

In Pelican Point, forty-seven years old Walter Miller explains to his stunned wife of eighteen years forty-four years old Ruby that he wants to be with fortyish Cheryl from accounting. He not only dumps her and their two children (Kevin and Colleen), Walter announces his plans on Facebook to sail away with his new woman.

A stunned Ruby is left explaining to their kids, other family members and neighbors what happened though she cannot understand why her husband was so unhappy with his family. She worries about her Muffin Top Bakery failing and paying the mortgage while Walter continues to live the irresponsible “good life” that he highlights on Facebook. Ruby begins to come out of her middle age comfort pie shell by teaching a baking class while dealing with her malicious “friends” holding her culpable for her failed marriage. On the other hand mortgage broker widower Jacob Salt offers a fresh start with her new baking credo that life begins at forty-four.

Sweet Nothings is a warm second at life (and love) middle age contemporary. The protagonist is super with her when hurt, bake credo and her use of food references as metaphors; while the cast especially her former circle adds amusing finger pointing satirical commentary. Although Walter’s middle age crisis subplot goes as expected, readers will appreciate this enjoyable tale that should carry a warning label sprinkled with scrumptious desserts.

Harriet Klausner

Better Than Gold-Mary Brady

Better Than Gold

Mary Brady

Harlequin SuperRomance, Nov 5 2013, $5.75

ISBN: 9780373718887

Bailey's Cove, Maine is dying with most townsfolk waiting for the announcement of when the wake will be held. Energetic Mia Parker is the exception as she believes her new restaurant Pirate’s Roost once built and opened at an 1818 building will save her town as tourists will flock to Bailey’s Cove. However, to her dismay, the construction crew finds a human skeleton interred inside of a column buried within a wall serving as a tomb. Chief Montcalm stops the work until he can have CID clear the crime scene that will take two-three weeks due to backlog. He also suggests she asks the university to send a forensics anthropologist to expedite the crime scene as both know she cannot absorb the cost of a delay.

Feeling anger with his loss, university anthropologist Dr. Daniel MacCarey grieves the death of his beloved progressive nonagenarian Aunt Margaret that leaves him alone. The university recommends Daniel to Montcalm and the state crime lab approves him to investigate the remains. He arrives at the site where he yells at Mia to stop tampering with the evidence. Soon Daniel concludes the entombed victim is town founder Liam Bailey who vanished in the early nineteenth century. As he and Mia fall in love, he nukes their relationship bridges while fleeing to the safe academic world.

Better Than Gold is an entertaining Maine romance with a skeleton acting as the matchmaker between the staid professor and the effervescent restaurateur. Mia’s BFF Monique adds depth to understanding the heroine while much more briefly elderly Professor Loch and Aunt Margaret does likewise with Daniel. Readers will enjoy Mary Brady’s lively tale of discovering love at a secret burial site.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Death Overdue-Mary Lou Kirwin

Death Overdue

Mary Lou Kirwin

Gallery, Nov 5 2013, $15.00

ISBN: 9781451684667

Sunshine Valley, Minnesota librarian Karen Nash stays at the London B&B owned by her boyfriend Caldwell Perkins while deciding whether to relocate here as they discuss opening a bookshop together; partially financed by his selling the bed and breakfast. However, to Caldwell’s chagrin, Karen’s shock and housekeeper Brenda’s jubilation; Perkin’s former lover and ex-B&B partner Sally Burroughs, accompanied by her lover Alfredo Remuledo, arrives to claim her share. Seven years ago, she took all their money and abandoned Caldwell underfunded to deal with the B&B. Sally’s sister Penelope Winters and book collector Bruce are also in residence.

That night in the library, a bookcase falls on top of Sally, killing her. Inspector Blunderstone leads the official investigation in which Caldwell is the prime suspect though Karen, Penelope and Alfredo have strong motives. Determined to prove her lover is innocent, Karen asks questions of those staying at the B&B trying to learn why the victim was in the library a place Sally allegedly hated.

The latest Librarian Mystery (see Killer Librarian) is a fun cozy with a solid lead protagonist and a fine late twisting motive. Although the support cast besides Caldwell is underdeveloped and the final denouement gathering doubtful as the cop has no reason to depend on the American, fans will enjoy the librarian’s soft amateur sleuthing.

Harriet Klausner

Trade Secret-Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Trade Secret

Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Baen, Nov 5 2013, $25.00

ISBN 9781451639292

On Verstal, junior galactic trader Jethri ven'Deelin the human works deals with Liaden traders. When he completes these transactions, retired trader tel'Linden shows him items for sale to include outlawed Old Tech and other merchandise. After haggling, they agree on a price.

Jethri returns to the Clan Ixin Tradeship Elthoria to continue his training on Terran and Liaden contract law and customs; especially intriguing to the trader is the Terran birthright principle and the Liaden concept of Balance. Liaden Clan Ixin Master Trader Norn ven'Deelin consults with the Elthoria’s weapons master Pen Rel about her adopted son Jethri’s abilities. Shortly afterward Liaden Scout ter'Astin arranges to meet them at Boltston; where he and Jethri as Second Board leave together on his ship.

The second Liaden Universe coming of age prequel is a fascinating outer space thriller that enables reader to better understand Liaden clan and Terran social orders through the eyes of a neophyte in training. Although the well-written insightful storyline feels somewhat like a middle tale with most threads left dangling, the cast is fully developed especially Jethri and those in direct contact with him. Saga fans will enjoy this entry, but should read Balance of Trade first to know how Jethri got to where he is.

Harriet Klausner

A Marriage In Middlebury-Anita Higman

A Marriage In Middlebury

Anita Higman

Abingdon Press, Nov 5 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9781426733871

Years ago in Middlebury, Charlotte Rose Hill and Sam Wilder were in love. He proposed but his father threatened to destroy a teenaged Charlotte Rose so she turned down Sam. He left heartbroken as was she. Eventually Charlotte Rose converted the old Riley house into the Rose Cottage Tearoom.

Accompanied by his fiancée Audrey Anderson, Sam comes back asking “Lotty” if she has tea. Audrey requests Charlotte Rose to cater her marital reception at Rose Cottage. Though she has other suitors (Pastor Wally and Doctor Maverick) and held onto the wedding invitation she drew up for them in high school, Charlotte Rose realizes she never got over Sam, but he has Audrey in his life.

A Marriage in Middlebury is a wonderful Christian inspirational romance due to a deep cast in which loyalty and friendship matter. Fans will enjoy this second chance at love if Sam and Charlotte take that difficult first step but both believe their time passed almost two decades ago.

Harriet Klausner

That Reckless Night-Kimberly Van Meter

That Reckless Night

Kimberly Van Meter

Harlequin SuperRomance, Nov 5 2013, $5.75

ISBN: 9780373718870

In Alaska on the anniversary of her sister’s death coupled with failing to obtain the promotion to management, game warden Miranda Sinclair gets drunk with plans to have a one night stand. At the Rusty Anchor she selects a stranger she assumes is an Anchorage tourist.

Jeremiah Burke and Miranda enjoy the greatest evening of their respective lives. However, she turns mortified when she learns her one-night lover is her new boss. As they work a bear poaching case, Jeremiah shares in common with his subordinate besides the attraction, Miranda’s overwhelming guilt re her late sister; as his son died in an ATV accident.

That Reckless Night is a superb contemporary as two emotionally guilt-laden wounded warriors finally begin to heal due to the elixir of love. With suspense from the poacher subplot in the Alaskan wilderness as a powerful backdrop and deep secondary characters like Russ the bartender adding depth, readers will appreciate the fabulous first Sinclairs of Alaska romance.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Siren's Secret-Debbie Herbert

Siren's Secret

Debbie Herbert

Harlequin Nocturne, Nov 5 2013, $5.75

ISBN: 9780373885825

Because of her hybrid human-mer DNA, with the exceptions of her cousins (Jet and Lily who adore her), her purebred sea-living compatriots treat Shelley Connor with disdainful superiority. A physical therapist, she enjoys late nocturnal swims. While on a midnight swim, Shelley sees someone disposing of a corpse several miles at sea; the killer sees her and knifes her before she escapes.

Shelly fears the culprit will come after her, but conceals part of the truth from Sheriff Tillman Angier, who recently returned to the Bayou to help his widow mom care for his autistic brother. Attracted to Tillman, Shelley instead turns to Jet and Lily as to what to do. Jet says kill the predator and poetical justice dump his body in the ocean while Lily and Shelley insist they plant evidence so that Tillman can arrest the psychopath. However Tillman knows Shelley hides something from him and the three cousins are suspects due to their tampering; while the murderer plays chess with the half-mermaid and her two relatives.

Rotating first person accounts between Shelly, Tillman and Melkie the killer, Siren’s Secret is an engaging romantic police procedural urban fantasy. The lead couple and her cousins are three-dimensional flaws and all; on the other hand Melkie is one dimensional and the Mer race underdeveloped. Still readers will relish this taut thriller as the Three Musketeers battle a stalking maniac at the same time the sheriff and the mixed race siren fall in love.

Harriet Klausner