Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Kill City Blues-Richard Kadrey

Kill City Blues

Richard Kadrey

Harper Voyager, Jul 30 2013, $24.99

ISBN: 9780062094599

In Los Angeles half-angel James “Sandman Slim” Stark and Samael the ex-demon relish the taste of deep-fried dough at the Donut Universe as both are relieved they are no longer Lucifer. Samael dumped the position on Stark who dumped the Devil position on Mr. Muninn; who ironically is one fifth of God after the deity’s nervous breakdown. At times Stark feels guilt but not when he tastes fritters with Candy at his side.

Declan Garrett interrupts their devilishly good snack offering Stark a million to bring him the Qomrama Om Ya god-killing weapon that the former Lucifer used against the child ghost. Stark says Aelita the angel possesses the weapon now; but realizes he better take back the Qomrama so if needed he can destroy its creators, the former owners of this universe before an upstart God conned the angry Angra Old Gods out of what is theirs.

The latest Sandman Slim irreverent humorous urban fantasy (see Devil Said Bang, Aloha From Hell and Kill the Dead) is a fun over the top of the Hollywood sign thriller. Fast-paced, Stark and his band search for the god-weapon ending up in the lampooned Kill City Mall where they meet a horde of supernatural losers while seeking one of the splintered five essences of God; as once again this is religious satire at its amusingly darkest.

Harriet Klausner

Hungry Like A Wolf-Christine Warren

Hungry Like A Wolf

Christine Warren

St. Martin’s Jul 2 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312357252

Manhattan-based Silverback clan Alpha Graham Winter considers his Beta Logan Hunter as a brother who he has always trusted with his life and that of their werewolf people. However, lately Graham realizes that his BFF wants to be number one; as his wolf has recently been increasingly out of control. With the death of the White Paw Clan Alpha Ethan Tate from cancer, Graham sends Logan to Connecticut to determine whether his former Beta, his daughter Honor who helped conceal her dad’s illness, can take charge of the pack. Both understand a female alpha is a dead alpha and a female beta is either dead or brilliantly cunning.

Honor’s longtime friend Paul Clark challenges her and she bites off his hand though she feels bad for doing so. Though she informed Graham of her father’s death and her revelation, Honor resents him sending Logan to look into her competency; though she is attracted to the unwanted intruder as he is to her. As she fights off Logan’s claim, Honor takes on challenges from clan members she has known for years, but a psychopath hides in sheep clothing.

The latest Others romantic urban fantasy (see On The Prowl and Drive Me Wild) is a hardcore entry that focuses on the violent werewolf pack succession to the Alpha position with a ferocious mating scenario that could leave either or both participants dead. Series fans will enjoy this entry with a surprising villain brings freshness though the coda deletes from the Alpha journey.

Harriet Klausner

Some Like It Hot-Susan Andersen

Some Like It Hot

Susan Andersen

Harlequin HQN, Jul 30 2013, $7.99

ISBN 9780373777761

Undercover for her mom’s philanthropy Harper Summerville plans to spend the summer in Razor Bay, Washington. Her assignment is to ascertain whether the Cedar Village home for troubled boys should receive a grant; while her cover is the inn’s activities chief.

Sheriff’s Deputy Max Bradshaw is a shy hunk attracted to Harper. She feels the same way about him, but has doubts about a summer fling though is tempted. However, she changes her mind when she observes the tough muscular law enforcement official work with a tough love attitude encouraging the Cedar Village teens to overcome their background and make something of themselves like he and his half-brother Jake (see That Thing Called Love) did

The second Razor Bay drama is a warm contemporary romance. The teens never come across as deeply troubled but instead seem more like the Sweathogs of Welcome Back Kotter who act clownish but listen to authority too easily for at risk boys. Still readers will enjoy this engaging tale of two polar opposites falling in love.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Chasing Atlantis-Kelly Coughlin

Chasing Atlantis

Kelly Coughlin

Outskirts Press, Jul 16 2013, $17.95

ISBN: 9781478703631

Teenager Amy Jane prefers remaining home with her dad in San Antonio for the summer. However, her desires are irrelevant as she travels to Vero Beach to spend her two-month vacation with her snobbish mom and Mr. Perfect Steve.

Upon arriving in Florida, Amy Jane sees how beautiful her mom and Steve are. The next day at the public beach she notices all the females entranced ogling three lifeguards. The trio stares at Amy Jane; who notices the women looking at her with ire. One of the lifeguards Ty asks if she remembers him; she says no. He tells her to leave as her kind is unwelcome here. Her mom and Steve escort Amy Jane to dinner with their friends the Greys as she wants to match up her daughter with their son Adam. Stunned as the parents no longer look leathery but instead lovely and Adam is a hunk not a big nose, Amy Jane assumes Steve is a plastic surgeon. When a fanged female stalks her, Ty rescues her. As she begins to learn the truth, Amy Jane and Ty fall in love while battling to prevent evil that covets the Texas teen.

Chasing Atlantis is a thrilling urban fantasy in which the deliberate set up and early pace enables readers to believe in the Coughlin realm of horror. The beleaguered heroine keeps the storyline focused as she deals with her controlling mom but also fears Steve is Svengali to her mother’s Trilby while not coping well with especially Ty, but also his brothers and Adam. The truth proves much more perilous as older teens and adults will enjoy Amy Jane’s fabulous Floridian adventures.

Harriet Klausner

Three Little Words-Susan Mallery

Three Little Words

Susan Mallery

Harlequin HQN, Jul 30 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780373777785

When she was fourteen, Isabel Beebe fell in love with Ford Hendrix, but he was dating her older sister Maeve who cheated on him with his best friend. He joined the military and over the next few years, Isabel wrote him letters but he never responded; so she gave up on her correspondence and settled on her heart when she married Wall St. Eric, but that ended in divorce.

Isabel comes to Fool’s Gold, California to take over the family bridal shop. Ford is also in town having left the SEALs. When they meet, she realizes she still loves him and he knows he wants her while recalling how her letters helped him emotionally in some dangerous scenarios. When his mother begins a campaign to find wives for her two sons, Ford persuades Isabel to be his pretend girlfriend in order for him to weather the storm. She wants to remove the adjective pretend from their arrangement, but he clings to no commitment.

This is an engaging Fool’s Gold romance with two wonderful love stories (the secondary love subplot stars Ford’s brother math teaching single dad brother Kent with kick butt Consuelo though their misunderstanding is weak) and humor provided by Mama Hendrix. Fans will relish this delightful second chance at love as the Hendrix brothers and their women make this tale twice the fun.

Harriet Klausner

Me Before You-JoJo Moyes

Me Before You

JoJo Moyes

Pamela Dorman Books/Viking, Jul 30 2013

ISBN: 9780143124542

After working at the local café for six years, twenty-something Louisa Clark comes home depressed as she informs her parents the owner Frank shut the place down giving her no notice. Her boyfriend Patrick tries to be supportive and offers to pay for their vacation. At the Jobseeker’s Office to get her first allowance, Lou learns how limited her skills are until the worker Syed mentions the care assistant position feeding and caring (but no butt wiping) for a quadriplegic during daytime hours.

Will Traynor loved the thrill of closing out a multimillion dollar business deal. He also relished the adrenalin rush he received from mountain climbing and sky diving. Finally he had his choice of any woman he desired. All that ended when he suffered a spinal cord trauma that left him filled with rage and frustration. He believes his mom’s new employee is a twit who he would never have noticed before he became wheelchair bound. Filled with anger and morbidly depressed at his helplessness, Will lashes out at sweet Lou; but soon admires her refusal to quit though he rationalizes she needs the money. When Lou concludes that Will plans to commit suicide, she desperately tries to prove to him he can still have a wonderful life while she also looks closely at her settling for a bland existence.

Although the underlying premise is not new, Me Before You is a profound relationship drama with an underlying message to readers to live life fearless and to the fullest. Character driven by the protagonists and with a super support cast, fans will appreciate this pathos tale filled with humor and anguish.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, July 29, 2013

Indelible-Dawn Metcalf


Dawn Metcalf

Harlequin Teen, Jul 30 2013, $9.99

ISBN: 9780373210732

In Glendale, BFFs Joy and Monica go to the Under 18 club at the Carousel. Whereas Monica goes for "Mr. Wide" Gordon Weitzenhoffer, Joy notices the teen with totally blackened eyes. He sees her too, but instead of friendly chatter, he tries to cut out her eye, but instead injures her cornea.

Indelible Ink had not planned for this outcome when he went after Joy; as all he wants is to feel and comprehend human emotions similar to his sister Inq’s understanding. However, he must adapt to having marked her as his lehman “slave” not as Inq insists "lover” or die. Joy must adjust to being his beloved helper and “seeing” the strange eerie environs of Twixt filled with monsters and weird girls or both will meet horrible deaths.

The first Twixt young adult urban fantasy is an exciting tale starring a courageous human female (whose mom deserted her and her dad) and an intriguing creature who is filling the void of lacking emotions with learning the good, the bad and the ugly. The support cast is solid, but the Twixt realm is never established beyond a superficial veneer and the romance too typical of the sub-genre in spite of the fascinating filling up the male lead’s blank slate. Still teen fans will enjoy Indelible Ink while looking forward to the tale of Invisible Inq.

Harriet Klausner

The Night Is Alive-Heather Graham

The Night Is Alive

Heather Graham

Mira, Jul 30 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778315070

Two and half centuries ago Blue Anderson was a gentleman pirate. When Abby Anderson was a child she saw the ghost of her ancestor at times when family members needed him; she saw him when a killer was stopped and when her parents and grandma died. Now a FBI trainee, Abby comes home to Savannah because her grandfather Gus asks her to visit him. When she arrives at the family’s historical tavern Dragonslayer, she fails to find Gus waiting for her; instead Blue guides her to a tunnel where her beloved relative lies brutally dead. As Blue begins to make out of character frequent appearances, Abby informs FBI Krewe of Hunters unit chief Jackson Crowe.

He decides to send private investigator Malachi Gordon to Savannah as a beta test of the potential recruit’s paranormal skills though veterans will also be there. As more violent mysterious murders occur, Malachi and Abby struggle with their attraction and their life-long distrust of showing their otherworldly skills to someone else. To end a serial killer’s reign of terror they must rely on one another or become victims.

Though similar in tone to the previous Krewe of Hunters paranormal romantic mystery (see The Night Is Watching), this is an entertaining thriller due to Savannah (as fascinating as the Old West was in its “night” predecessor) and Blue the ghostly pirate; as they combine to give readers a flavor of the city’s history. Action-packed from the moment Abby calls Jackson and never slowing down; readers will relish visiting the haunts of Savannah.

Harriet Klausner

Bound Spirits-Karen Wiesner

Bound Spirits

Karen Wiesner

Writers Exchange E Publishing, Jul 12 2013

ISBN: 9781922233035

On Lake Superior in Erie County, Wisconsin is Bloodmoon Cove Park with a reputation for the eeriest urban legends. After Park Ranger Dave Kotter died there last year, the county sheriff shut the park down warning people to stay out, but there is always some idiot like Troy and his Three Stooges followers who foolishly enter where Harrity Kotter and Dave vanished, many years apart. When a ghost dog comes to greet them, Troy joins the missing while his frightened mates ditch him.

Dave’s son John quits his park ranger position in Arizona to come home as he knows there is no one but him left to replace his dead dad at Bloodmoon Cove. At the campgrounds, John, accompanied by his dad’s dog Robert, is shocked to find someone living there though the place had been closed since his father’s death. Instead of making Esmeralda "Esme" Dumas leave, he allows her to stay without asking her why she is a recluse though she obviously knew his dad and Robert. He accepts she is not ready to tell him her tale of being locked away with rodents as her companions. The couple learns that Troy went missing near where Harrity Scaritty allegedly haunts Bloodmoon Mountain. As homicides occur, Esme goes in search of the hidden cave while a worried Dave goes in search of her.

The Bloodmoon Cove Spirits urban fantasy is a fabulous ghost story that grips readers from the moment Troy and his friends enter the forbidden zone. Fast-paced, the romantic subplot is anticipated but kept low-keyed as Karen Wiesner focuses on the hunt for angry avenging spirits.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Wedding Belles-Beth Albright

Wedding Belles

Beth Albright

Mira, Jul 30 2013, $14.95

ISBN: 9780778315292

In Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Vivi Ann McFadden has two wonderful reasons for being euphoric. First she is seven months pregnant carrying the child of the man she loves Lewis Heart; and second her and her beloved are marrying soon.

However, her bliss crashes when Myra Jean the trailer park psychic warns Vivi that the voice of Crimson Tide football has another woman. She learns her Lewis is married. As she always does, heartbroken Vivi turns to her best friend, Lewis’ sister-in-law Blake O’Hara Heart for solace and legal advice. The attorney investigates Lewis’ marital status even while the University of Alabama home opener is about to begin.

The latest Sassy Belles relationship drama is an enjoyable tale as the Steel Magnolias and the men who appreciate them engage in a gender war. Readers (except Auburn fans) will enjoy this “Yea Alabama” contemporary as Vivi’s over the top of Bear Bryant Stadium frantic hysteria makes for an amusing Crimson Tide romance.

Harriet Klausner

Can’t Help Falling In Love-Bella Andre

Can’t Help Falling In Love

Bella Andre

Mira, Jul 30 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778315582

San Francisco Station 5 firefighters battle a terrible blaze destroying the 1280 Conrad Street apartment building, home to two dozen people. Firefighter Gabe Sullivan enters the inferno where he rescues the Thompson elderly couple who tell him their neighbors Widow Megan Harris and her almost seven years old daughter Summer are inside. In spite of station Captain Todd Phillips telling everyone to evacuate the building, Gabe and his partner Eric go in. While he gets them to safety, a beam hits Gabe in the head; he is carried away on a stretcher to the hospital.

Megan and Summer visit Gabe at the hospital to thank him. The two adults feel the instant attraction that neither wants. Her late husband David was a pilot who died in a flying accident while he dated a rescued woman that ended badly. Complicating their relationship is Summer idolizes the man who saved her life and that of her mom.

The entertaining latest Sullivan siblings’ romance (see The Look Of Love and From This Moment On) focuses on the healing power of love to provide second chances. Although the trysts distract from the adults’ relationship drama made much more complex by Summer the precocious matchmaker, readers will appreciate the tender tale as the first responder and the rescued damsel in distress fall in love.

Harriet Klausner

Home to Whiskey Creek-Brenda Novak

Home to Whiskey Creek

Brenda Novak

Mira, Jul 30 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 978-0778315452

Adelaide Davies returns to the one place she vowed never to go back to Whiskey Creek, California; coming home only because her Gran needs her at the restaurant. When she goes into the spot where Cody Rackham and others gang raped her while they celebrated their high school graduation fifteen years ago she becomes trapped inside. The fraternal twin of Cody, who died that same night, Noah rescues her.

Adelaide feels like a traitor to herself when she finds she is attracted to the brother of the rape ring leader. The owner of Crank It Up bike shop, Noah cannot understand why Addy, who he wants, rejects him. As each falls in love, those involved with the incident and their families keep the inconvenient truth buried while shockingly so does Addy for a different reason.

The latest Whiskey Creek romance (see When Summer Comes, When Snow Falls and When Lightning Strikes) is a strong character driven contemporary although the antagonists are not fully developed beyond their role in the brutal incident or their blood ties to those involved. Whereas the fascinating female protagonist struggles with the trauma of what happened to her that night while her male counterpart feels betrayed by his parents and some friends as almost the entire town without pity prefers the brutal night kept secret.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Sweetest Hallelujah-Elaine Hussey

The Sweetest Hallelujah

Elaine Hussey

Mira, Jul 30 2013, $14.95

ISBN: 9780778315193

In 1945 Memphis, Betty Jewel Hughes ends her career as a jazz singer when she finds herself pregnant. Ten years later in Shakerag, Mississippi, single mom Betty Jewel learns she has cancer with little time left. Not concerned for herself, Betty Jewel worries what will come of her beloved Billie Jo once she is gone.

Desperate as she has no one to replace her, the dying black mom puts out an ad for someone to love and raise her ten year old daughter. Touched by Betty Jewel’s plea, white reporter Cassie Malone decides to do a story on the mother whose dying wish is for her child. A recent widow still grieving her loss, Cassie and Betty Jewel connect until they learn a secret that shocks the journalist’s soul while the tweener wants to meet her daddy. Not everyone is a saint when it comes to Billie’s care, but most are nurturing kind people.

This is an entertaining 1950s Deep South family drama that captures the stratospherically high racial tension that explodes just after the Brown vs. the Board of Education ruling. In that environs, black and white do not mix yet Betty Jewel and Cassie forge a friendship in spite of the secret as both want what is best for too precocious Billie.

Harriet Klausner

Playing With Fire-Kayla Perrin

Playing With Fire

Kayla Perrin

Mira, Jul 30 2013, $14.95

ISBN: 9780778314981

Zienna Thomas ended her heated relationship with Wendell Creighton because he rejected her plea for an increased commitment between them. She since met Nicholas Aubry who she enjoys sex with and hopes he proves to be the one for her.

Zienna wonders what abomination she did to anger God when Nicholas introduces her to his college best friend Wendell. She likes both men though they provide different pleasures as Nicholas is steady and tender while Wendell is volatile and exciting. As she ponders what to, Zienna thinks why keep the cake if you can’t eat it so she decides to have two boyfriends; unaware that the truth may be freeing but raging.

This is an exciting triangle relationship thriller with the three players seemingly real as Zienna plays with fire. Although the premise of playing two lovers is not new, Kayla Perrin provides a fabulous fresh erotic tale as Zienna learns heat burns when one of her chosen hunks angrily decides no sharing.

Harriet Klausner

The Mistress-Tiffany Reisz

The Mistress

Tiffany Reisz

Mira, Jul 30 2013, $14.95

ISBN: 9780778315704

They abducted Nora Sutherlin and tied her up with handcuffs but not in the sexual way she finds pleasuring. The two males are uninterested in BDSM sexually, but demand she tells them about her sordid trysts with Søren, Kingsley and Wesley if she wants to stay alive.

As Nora thinks back to her past, she also ponders her future; while at the same time telling her dirty bedtime (and other locations) stories about her and the three males she cherishes. She also concludes that if she comes out of this ordeal alive, Nora does not want the traditional storybook ending as she relishes her lifestyle; albeit before these thugs kidnapped her. Meanwhile Nora waits rescuing like a damsel in distress fairy tale princess by her Prince Charming(s) but hopes it proves less than a Thousand and One Nights.

The latest Original Sinners erotica (see The Angel, The Prince and The Siren) is a terrific thriller as Nora learns that being handcuffed can be torturously enjoyable or torturously dangerous. The storyline is fast-paced, the cast solid, and contains a surprising delightful late twist as series fans will relish Nora’s revelations.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, July 26, 2013

City of Mirrors-Melodie Johnson Howe

City of Mirrors

Melodie Johnson Howe

Pegasus, Aug 1 2013, $25.95

ISBN 9781605984681

Last week Widow Diana Poole buried her beloved mom, the famous actress Nora Poole; last year she buried her husband writer Colin Hudson. Facing bankruptcy and fortyish, Diana is fortunate her friend Celia Dario’s lover Robert Zaitlin has given her a small but important role as the mother to star Jenny Parson in a move he currently produces on The Lot that was once Warner Bros and once Samuel Goldwyn. However, Zaitlin warns Diana that her part is in peril because Parson cannot remember her lines; frustrating everyone including co-star Jake Jackson who wants the amateur replaced, which most likely means a different actress as the mom.

Diana agrees to have dinner with Jenny. After picking up her mom’s ashes, Diana goes to dine with Jenny only to find her body in a trash bag about to be taken away by a garbage truck. While Zaitlin insists on saving the movie even more so than Diana, she investigates the homicide seeking to keep the checks coming; only to find nasty truths that nuke the images of family and friends; only adversarial Heath the Fixer has her back even if they differ on the outcomes.

This delightful Diana Poole investigative mystery (see Shooting Hollywood: The Diana Poole Stories) is an exciting whodunit as the heroine (and readers) peel away the glittery façade to reveal some despicable realities. Fast-paced with some over the Hollywood sign action, readers will enjoy this engaging tale as Melodie Johnson Howe provides a vivid look at behind the scenes through the protagonist’s amateur sleuthing.

Harriet Klausner

The Dark Man-Stephen King

The Dark Man

Stephen King

Cemetery Dance, Jul 30 2013, $25.00

ISBN: 9781587674211

He is the ultimate dangerous wanderer because as the outsider with no attachments, he loathes those with friends and families. In his denims, fuming with rage 24/7 he nightmarishly rides the rails frightening the hobos who recognize what he is and what he is not; or hitches at night with those moronically picking him up learning too late why he is The Dark Man.

A forerunner of Randall Flagg, Stephen King wrote this aptly titled short poem while in college. Artist Glenn Chadbourne provides his interpretation through approximately seventy intriguing illustrations to the 200 or so dark words. Fans of Mr. King will enjoy this entry though the picture to word ratio at times fragments the structure of the dark ode.

Harriet Klausner

A Study In Silks-Emma Jane Holloway

A Study In Silks

Emma Jane Holloway

Del Rey, Sep 24 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780345537188

While the ruthless steam barons rule 1888 London, Evelina Cooper enjoys science and is skillful with magic (ask Mouse and Bird) though the sorcery must be hidden as those in power claim this is the demon’s tool worthy of death or incarceration in a prison lab. In spite of being the niece of the renowned Sherlock Holmes, Evelina knows the elopement of her parents from two polar opposite worlds permanently brushed her with their scandal. The father of her BFF Imogen Roth has allowed her to stay with them at Hilliard House for her debut; as she chose her mother’s aristocratic past over her father’s traveling show heritage, but realistic Evelina also realizes if scandal touches her he will kick her out. Imogen’s dissolute brother Tobias does not care what happens to Evelina as long as she sleeps with him and Nick who joined a traveling show to find her has reentered her life.

In Hilliard House, Evelina is horrified when she finds the murdered corpse of a woman. Tobias arrives and recognizes the victim as Grace the maid. After consulting with Imogen, both agree that Evelina’s uncle would investigate. Thus motivated, the two friends look into the homicide; ignorant of how dangerous their probe will prove to them and their families from powerful barons.

The first The Baskerville Affair, A Study In Silks, is a strong steampunk Victorian mystery. The Holloway world is vivid as the author uses a myriad of characters to paint an alternate refreshing realm though there is some repetition. Fans will enjoy the adventures of Sherlock’s niece even if scarlet at times supersedes silk as Emma Jane Holloway provides a fresh Holmes whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Pinot Envy-Edward Finstein

Pinot Envy

Edward Finstein

Bancroft, Jul 16 2013, $21.95

ISBN: 9781610880893

San Francisco resident Woody Robins teaches a Wine Appreciation class at Rosewell College where the fortyish professor is on faculty. He also writes a column on wine for Haute Living and has published a book Wine Is A Four Letter Word. Woody even met his girlfriend Julia Harper when he provided consulting work for her firm the Wine Emporium and found his cat Mouton in a back alley next to empty wine bottles.

Having solved a wine fraud case, Woody meets with UC Davis Professor Walter Pendry to discuss a rare double magnum, the last bottle remaining from an exclusive Napoleon-commissioned label. Last year, James McCall purchased the wine valued at 2.5 million, but recently the bottle was stolen from his secure vault in the Los Carneros area that straddles Napa and Sonoma Valleys. Woody goes straight from Davis to the McCall estate where he agrees to investigate the theft because he believes his client is not committing insurance fraud. With Julia, his Aunt Sadie and others, he begins his inquiry.

By focusing on a stolen valuable bottle of wine, this fascinating cozy enables readers to learn about the engaging history and present day vineyards. Though paid and with an SFPD detective amongst his team, Woody acts like an amateur sleuth as he fumbles his way from one scenario to another. The protagonist’s reflections on relationships in his life are overdone and detract from the case. Still readers will toast Edward Finstein with a less costly pinot for an engaging character-driven whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

A Crack in the Wall-Claudia Piñeiro, translated by Miranda France

A Crack in the Wall

Claudia Piñeiro, translated by Miranda France

Bitter Lemon, Aug 1 2013, $14.95

ISBN 9781908524089

In 2007 in Buenos Aires, twenty-something Leonor Corell visits the office of Borla and Associates, an architectural firm. She asks Borla, fortyish Pablo Simó and Marta Horvat if any of them know where Nelson Jara is. Though they rehearsed their response if the question came up and Borla says no, Pablo fails immediately to respond as his world shifted with that inquiry. However, he recovers as he and Marta deny knowing a Jara.

Three years earlier, Simó, Borla and Horvat buried Jara under the concrete of the parking lot. At a café, Corell sees Simó and asks him to help her with a photography assignment. Though he should say no, he agrees to assist her while wondering if his motive is guilt or a need for dangerous freshness with his marriage falling apart, his daughter in rebellion, and his work boring while his dream of designing a special tower is dead.

The latest Claudia Piñeiro Argentinian thriller (see Thursday night Widows and All Yours) is a fabulous tale that rotates between the Jara burial and the relationship between Pablo and Leonor. Gripping from the moment the young woman asks her question, readers will relish this taut twisting psychological suspense as Simó faces A Crack in the Wall as big as an iceberg.

Harriet Klausner

Wanted: A Real Family-Karen Rose Smith

Wanted: A Real Family

Karen Rose Smith

Harlequin Special Edition, Jul 23 2013, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373657599

A fire in her house left widow Sara Stevens with nothing except her car and most important her four year old child Amy as they got out of the blaze safely. A former patient of the physical therapist, globetrotting journalist Jase Cramer, learns of her plight. Through the Mommy Club volunteers based in Fawn Grove, California, he invites mother and daughter to stay in the guesthouse at Raintree Winery owned by his estranged reclusive father.

Both adults feel the strong attraction between them, but neither wants to take the first step. When they finally do, he insists they keep their relationship secret, which she accepts. As the two families heal emotionally, Jase and Sara fall in love even as he regrets his error when he demanded a serendipitous affair.

The first Mommy Club contemporary showcases why Karen Rose Smith consistently is one of the best writers of family dramas as the key cast seem genuine with semi-crippling hurts that each of the foursome begin to overcome due to love’s healing power. The key to this strong entry is that the lead protagonists must deal with their inner emotional problems before they can work on a loving relationship. Readers will appreciate this wonderful tale and look forward to more Mommy Club entries.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Taking Him Down-Meg Maguire

Taking Him Down

Meg Maguire

Harlequin Blaze, Jul 23 2013, $5.50

ISBN: 9780263905151

Mixed-martial arts fighter Rich “Prince Richard” Estrada is rising rapidly though the MMA ranks. Matchmaker Lindsey Tuttle has become a big fan of the Lynn, Massachusetts hunk. When they begin a heated encounter, he abruptly ends it leaving her confused.

During a submission victory over Moreau, Rich breaks his foot so comes home to Wilinski’s Fight Academy in Boston while he heals. There he and Lindsey begin a rematch in what ended as a no decision while he also trains her sister in MMA. As Rich and Lindsay fall in love, he knows he must submit his heart to her as proof of his sincerity though he fears a rejection will leave him out for the count.

The second Wilinski’s Fight Academy MMA romance is a fun contemporary starring two protagonists who were support players in round one (see Making Him Sweat). Though much of the heat is off-page and mindful of Lori Foster’s SBC Fighters’ series, fans will enjoy this thrilling bout between the matchmaker and the fighter.

Harriet Klausner

The Heart Won’t Lie-Vicki Lewis Thompson

The Heart Won’t Lie

Vicki Lewis Thompson

Harlequin Blaze, Jul 23 2013, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373797639

Pure bred New Yorker Michael Hartford has three weeks to learn cowboy 101. Thus he heads to the Last Chance Ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming to ride a horse for the first time with only Jack Chance as his instructor knowing his guest is western writer Jim Ford about to show off his skills as part of a promotion of his next book.

Last year, socialite Keri Fitzpatrick fled Baltimore following a scandal. She since has become the housekeeper at the Last Chance Ranch. Keri and Michael are attracted to each other from the first time they see one another. They begin a tryst, but as each hides their secret identity from the other, both fears the truth will overwhelm their love.

The latest enjoyable Sons of Chance ranch romance (see I Cross My Heart) is a fresh entry due to the protagonists being city slickers struggling with life changing opportunities including a loving relationship. Throw in a Chance wedding and fans of the series will relish this engaging contemporary as “anything is possible” when love is the impetus.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

To Sin With A Viking-Michelle Willingham

To Sin With A Viking

Michelle Willingham

Harlequin Historical, Jul 23 2013, $6.50

ISBN: 9780373297504

In A. D. 875 Ireland, Caragh O’Brannon fears her tribe is running out of food. Many have already starved to death and Caragh’s parents died last year when her father drowned trying to catch fish and her mother simply stopped living. Her two older brothers hope to trade a gold brooch for food; while she, her younger sibling Brendan and others struggle to stay alive.

Styr Hardrata knows his marriage to Elena is on the rocks, but hopes the sea journey from Hordafylke saves it. When his vessel sails near Caragh’s tribe; her people attack him, his mate and other Vikings on board in order to sell the ship for needed food. Brendan grabs Elena, but before Styr can bury his battleax into the lad, Caragh hammers his ear with a staff. Separated from his spouse, Styr gets free and captures his guard Caragh to use as a hostage to rescue Elena though he loathes his attraction to his former warden when he is duty bound to his wife.

This Forbidden Vikings Dark Ages romance is an entertaining historical made fresh by the complex relationships as the hero struggles between love for Caragh and being honor bound to Elena. The key to the engaging storyline is that Elena is a good person and not a shrew; and her husband knows that. Michelle Willingham provides a wonderful tale that has readers believe they are on a ninth century Irish island facing starvation.

Harriet Klausner

Faking It To Making It-Ally Blake

Faking It To Making It

Ally Blake

Harlequin Kiss, Jul 23 2013, $4.99

ISBN: 9780373207251

Dating by Numbers online site hires SassyStats to analyze their data. Partners Saskia and Lissy set up accounts to obtain deeper first-hand looks at the validity and reliability of information provided by clients.

Melbourne financier Nate needs a date for a wedding in order to prevent his sisters from matching him up with one of their friends. To get the twins and his older sister off his bachelor back, he proclaims he is seeing someone. Ergo the confirmed bachelor needs a date for the wedding only. Using Dating by Numbers, he selects the female whose favorite music is Retro Grunge though Nate wonders what that is. The suit and the grunge meet, both are attracted to each other. However successful Nate envies her internal harmony and serenity; unaware Saskia believes no one will ever find her worthy of their love.

Faking It To Making It is a wonderful amusing Australian romance starring two opposites and his interfering sisters. Readers will enjoy the madcap matchmaking mayhem at a marriage ceremony as Ally Blake provides a fun lighthearted frolic.

Harriet Klausner

Last-Minute Bridesmaid-Nina Harrington

Last-Minute Bridesmaid

Nina Harrington

Harlequin Kiss, Jul 23 2013, $4.99

ISBN: 9780373207275

Over a decade ago, seventeen year old Kate Lovat attends a party in which haughty Crystal and her Crystalites treat her like trash especially taunting her outfit that she put together. That changes when twenty-year old university student publishing heir Heath Sheridan announces to all he was looking everywhere for Katherine. After he takes her home, Heath kisses Kate goodnight.

Eleven years later that kiss remains the highlight film of Kate’s life in spite of her success as a fashion designer. Now a major publisher, Heath needs a date to act as a Last-Minute Bridesmaid at his father’s wedding since the woman he was taking ended their relationship. Believing Kate owes him, he asks her and she accepts. As they attend the ceremony, Kate and Heath struggle to ignore their attraction to one another as each distrusts their own respective heart let alone their beloved’s heart.

The Last-Minute Bridesmaid is an engaging second chance at love contemporary. Though the storyline is somewhat similar in tone to the first Girls Just Want To Have Fun romance (see The First Crush is the Deepest), fans will root for the engaging likable protagonists to make it together.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, July 22, 2013

Light Of The World-James Lee Burke

Light Of The World

James Lee Burke

Simon & Schuster, Jul 23 2013, $27.99

ISBN 9781476710761

Louisiana Sheriff’s Detective Dave Robicheaux, his wife Molly, their daughter Alafair the reporter, and his former NOPD law enforcement partner Clete Purcel and Clete’s daughter Gretchen Horowitz vacation on Albert Hollister’s ranch in Western Montana. They are having a good time until someone shoots an arrow at a running Alafair. She challenges bull fighting Texan Wyatt Dixon by asking him if he shot the arrow; instead of responding he invites her to shower though his even crazier girlfriend would rip skin off his guest. He also warns her to stay out of the woods. Meanwhile Gretchen has made enemies of the wealthy and local law enforcement for her work on shale oil extraction.

However, unbeknownst to the two Bayou families is that serial killer Asa Surrette escaped a Kansas prison van crash rather than died as reported. He has fixated on making Alafair, who interviewed him in the pen, the center of his next masterpiece. Anyone in his way like her parents, their friends, and the retired professor who owns this spread or locals will die.

Light of the World is a great Dave Robicheaux thriller (see Creole Belle) as the change of venue to include the hero’s lack of legal law enforcement authority brings a freshness to the series; as two dads will fight anyone harming their courageous cubs. Fast-paced from the first arrow (even the Vietnam flashbacks) until the final confrontations, readers will relish this vividly gory (don’t read on a full stomach) tale as human monsters contaminate pristine Bog Sky Country.

Harriet Klausner

Chimera: A Jim Chapel Mission-David Wellington

Chimera: A Jim Chapel Mission

David Wellington

Morrow, Jul 23 2013, $24.99

ISBN 9780062248770

In Upstate New York at the highest secure military facility in the world, Camp Putnam contains genetically modified “chimera”. These killing monsters are 99% human, but the remaining DNA comes from chimps, rattlers and bears. Several have escaped killing elite guards as they hone in on their particular assigned kill target; collateral damage is not even on their mental radar as nothing in the path of any of these physically super beasts lives.

Having lost an arm in Afghanistan, Special Forces Captain Jim Chapel works in an office at Fort Belvoir wishing he was back in the field as he understands the kill or be killed lifestyle better than his butt sitting on a desk. He gets his wish when the Pentagon assigns him to stop the chimera and once that is done find out who performed the modification (including the financial backing) and how these predators escaped. Instead of elite Special Forces, Jim works with the mysterious Angel though he never sees her and Julia the veterinarian while the CIA and the chimera creators have other ideas.

The second Jim Chapel Mission (see Minotaur) is a terrific action-packed thriller as the hero hunts the hunters in an action-packed storyline that will have readers wondering who the monsters really are. Although the Julia romance feels more like a forced necessity, fans will relish this otherwise taut tale and want awesome Angel to join Jim in future operations.

Harriet Klausner

The Deep Whatsis-Peter Mattei

The Deep Whatsis

Peter Mattei

Other Press, Jul 23 2013, $15.95

ISBN 9781590516386

Thirtyish egomaniac Eric Nye works as the Chief Idea Officer at Tate ad agency. His boss insane “pit bull” Barry Spinotti assumes the job entails innovation and new ideas, which in Eric’s mind means nouveau art, but deep in his soul he understands his position denotes firing people.

Nye appreciates the finer things in life like waking up to the rising sun over the Williamsburg Bridge, the best dining in New York and possessions like his “Dalai Lama Edition Tibetan” rug; but especially sleeping with the beautiful people. When he enjoys a night with the Unkindest Cuts Intern who cannot hide her passionate need for him, Nye fixates on owning her while her infatuation turns irrational too.

The Deep Whatsis is a terrific satire that lampoons abusive corporate values in which dignity means nothing. Nye the idea’s guy is a wonderful antagonist who will remind the audience of J. Pierrepont Finch in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying as stepping on others is an acceptable part of the culture. Although the end feels out of place, readers will relish Peter Mattei’s mirthful mocking of the amoral money-makers.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Gotcha!-Fern Michaels


Fern Michaels

Zebra, Jun 25 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9781420121483

In Manhattan, attorney Oliver Garfield informs his client Mace Carlisle that his avaricious wife Darlene moved twenty-seven million from Carlisle Pharmaceuticals into her personal account and has begun rumbles in Wall St. that her husband is insane. The lawyer says as soon as Mace kicks the greedy SOB (neither uses her name) out of his expensive Dakota apartment and cuts off finances to her and her nasty thirtyish son (or his) he will have their assets frozen. Oliver begins the divorce filing while Mace and his dog Lola vanish (in Alabama). In Rosemont, Alabama, Mace as Oliver rents a cottage from Julie Wyatt, but she learns the truth from the news when she sees his wife and stepson accuse him of bribing the FDA.

Months later, Mace is back in New York where he changed his will before dying in a freak accident. Sisterhood members Annie de Silva and Myra Rutledge come to Rosemont to help Julie, who grieves the death of her son Larry and the loss of her still living granddaughter. She believes her avaricious daughter-in-law Darlene is behind Larry’s death and making life miserable for her stepdaughter Olivia. The Vigilantes plan to retrieve the child and punish the evil stepmother starting with Abner Tookus using the Net to eradicate the existence of Darlene and her boyfriend Adam Fortune.

Although the Sisterhood gets started somewhat late as most of the first quarter of the storyline hones in on Mace, readers will enjoy the unexpected return of the Vigilantes as Mark Twain said: “the report of my (the Sisterhood) death was an exaggeration”. Even though avarice is overused, Gotcha! is a lively entry as the Vigilantes bring street justice to amoral snots.

Harriet Klausner

How To Be A Scottish Mistress-Adrienne Basso

How To Be A Scottish Mistress

Adrienne Basso

Zebra, Jul 2 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9781420129021

In 1306 in Northern England, the Baron of Arundel Lord Henry allows safe passage for Gavin McLendon, Scottish Earl of Kirkland, through his land over the objection of his wife Lady Fiona who fears the impact on their supplies. She is stunned to learn of the raiding agreement between the lords to insure no one gets hurt and reps are maintained. However, King Edward hears of the arrangement and dispatches brutal Sir Roland Dupree to claim Arundel. Henry is dead, but loyal heir Spencer whose broken leg (during the assault) has no time to heal properly flees with his stepmother Fiona due to the help of Sir George.

Fiona decides the safest place to take limping Spencer to is Kirkland. However, she lacks money and influence so she knows she has only one item of value to offer Gavin. In exchange for providing a haven for Spencer, she offers herself as Gavin’s mistress. Though he wants her, Gavin knows this is a bad idea as he soon weds his neighbor in a marriage of convenience; besides he feels sleeping with the widow dishonors his late friend. Yet he says yes. As Gavin and Fiona fall in love while Spencer thrives, sleeping with the English is not a good political practice.

This is an entertaining medieval romance with a strong seemingly star-crossed lead pair and a solid support cast especially Spencer who refuses to allow his bad leg from preventing him from doing anything. Although the English-Scottish dispute barely impacts the seemingly star-crossed love, fans will enjoy Adrienne Basso’s charming Highlander historical.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Bucking The Rules-Kat Murray

Bucking The Rules

Kat Murray

Kensington Brava, Jun 25 2013, $9.95

ISBN: 9780758281067

On their family ranch in Marshall, South Dakota, Trace Muldoon says he wants famous horse trainer Red Callahan to move into the main house as he sleeps with his sister Peyton the ranch manager all the time (see Taking The Reins). Trace wants to move into the trainer’s house with his one years old son Seth. Red tells him his younger sister soap opera actress Bea beat him to the house.

In town, newbie Josephine Tallen owns a bar while living in the upstairs apartment. Peyton watches Seth while Trace and Red go to Jo’s Place. Trace and the owner flirt with each other and soon have sex, but she insists their relationship remain secret. When Trace asks Josephine out; she emphasizes no relationship as her mom married seven times, but agrees to dinner; which proves nice, but he fails to mention Seth. When Jo learns Trace has a child he failed to mention, she wants nothing further to do with him. However, due to a Bea emergency, Josephine suffers a near nervous breakdown when Trace leaves Seth with her. Soon afterward her liquor license becomes in jeopardy due to her responsible behavior towards a town’s favorite son, but many locals defend her.

The keys to the second rousing Roped & Wrangled ranch romance are the lead female suffers from relationship phobia that feels genuine and the baby acts like a baby as both prove legitimate roadblocks to a permanent relationship; Jo’s time with Seth is insightful. Although the townsfolk overwhelmingly support the big city newcomer over a long time powerful resident in a liquor accident dispute seems doubtful, readers will enjoy the engaging Bucking the Rules.

Harriet Klausner

The Miss Education of Dr. Exeter-Jillian Stone

The Miss Education of Dr. Exeter

Jillian Stone

Kensington Brava, Jun 25 2013, $9.95

ISBN: 9780758269003

In 1889 London, as guardian for years to beautiful Mia Chadwick, Dr. Asa Exeter takes some time away from the fight against Professor Lovecraft and the need to recover the moonstone to find a suitable husband for his ward. In that fatherly-like role, Asa contends with two issues besides sniffing males. First he must ignore Mia’s obvious attraction to him and him to her; and second he must end her out of control tendency to shift into a panther by helping his charge learn to control her inner feline. Both test his ability to tame the beast as he struggles to do what he considers his honorable duty almost as much as he battles Lovecraft’s threat to London.

Meanwhile Scotland Yard consultant Moonstone Investigations Phaeton Black has been declared missing since he vanished without a trace though those searching for him (Exeter, Mia, pregnant America, Tim, Jersey and Valentine) know he is alive. In the Outremer, Prospero holds and tortures Black in order to force the sleuth to hand over the moonstone.

The third fun Phaeton Black Victorian romantic investigative fantasy (see The Seduction of Phaeton Black, and The Moonstone and Miss Jones) concentrates more on the relationship between Exeter and Mia (as obvious from the title) than on the missing sleuth. Still readers will appreciate this engaging alternate paranormal historical version of Shaw’s Pygmalion.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Necromancer’s Seduction-Mimi Sebastian

The Necromancer’s Seduction

Mimi Sebastian

ImaJinn, Jul 15 2013, $14.00

ISBN: 9781610261326

In San Francisco Professor Ruby Montagne hates lecturing the Introductory Anthology class because most if not all of the students take it for the credits. Being a necromancer, another vocation Ruby loathes unlike her late grandma or her mom who relish the role, she notices the strange movement in her class. When everyone leaves, the Fae asks Ruby for help. She refuses unless he is a student in her class as she knows bringing back the dead bites one butt and besides she has her tenure presentation to prepare.

Kara the witch asks her friend Ruby to help her look for expelled coven member Adam’s spell book in his apartment. Instead they find his murdered body. The supernatural council wants the untrained reluctant necromancer to bring him back as a Revenant zombie so they can end a serial killer’s rampage as Adam is the third victim that includes her grandma Cora. When Ruby is attacked, Ewan the demon warrior with assistance saves her. Ruby knows her options are death as Revenants and other paranormal loathe necromancers or joining the hunters.

The supernatural on the streets of San Francisco makes for a fabulous locale in the Sebastian realm as readers will believe in several paranormal species. The coming of age storyline is at its best when Ruby and her romantic and not romantic team investigate the homicides that have them soon fearing a viable major threat to the moral and paranormal planes (to be resolved). Whereas the romance between Ruby and Ewan is too typical of the subgenre (perhaps apple pie would have been fresher), but fans will enjoy Ruby’s seduction by the demonic hunk and by her power.

Harriet Klausner

He's The One-Linda Lael Miller, Jill Shalvis, Lucy Monroe, Kate Angell and Cat Johnson

He's The One

Linda Lael Miller, Jill Shalvis, Lucy Monroe, Kate Angell and Cat Johnson

Kensington, Jun 25 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780758210951

"Batteries Not Required" by Linda Lael Miller. In Montana Gayle grew up in the back of her mother's bar where she fell in love with Tristan but left town heartbroken. Ten years later Gayle is helping her mom sell the bar while avoiding Tristan, who still heats up her blood.

"Captivated" by Jill Shalvis. Insurance investigator Ella is handcuffed in her Baja cottage's bathroom when her estranged husband James arrives. They still love one another, but James fears for her safety making it impossible to live together.

"Seducing Tabby" by Lucy Monroe. In Port Diamond every female including shy Tabby wants English visitor Calder. Tabby cannot compete with her beautiful sister Helene who every male covets. Yet Calder asks Helene about her sibling.

“No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service” by Kate Angell. In Barefoot William, since high school Violet has worked at her Aunt Molly's diner. She dreams of leaving one day like her former sweetheart Brad did, but feels obligated to help her sister Lydia and her sibling’s three kids. Now Brad is back to re-win the heart of the woman he left behind.

“Fish Out of Water” by Cat Johnson. Mark has doubts about a camping trip even if his friend Logan insists Stillwater, Oklahoma’s primitive sites will be fun. Logan proves right when the scholarly professor and Carla the manure drenched cowgirl meet.

The first three entries are reprints from the 2005 Beach Blanket Bad Boys while the final two are newbies. The anthology contains “Hot Fun in the Summertime” (Sly and the Family Stone) tales.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Double Cross-Carla Kelly

The Double Cross

Carla Kelly

Camel, Aug 1 2013, $13.95

ISBN: 9781603819459

In 1780 in the Spanish colony of New Mexico, widower and rancher Marco Mondragon serves as the Valle del Sol region Juez de campo brand inspector. He is diligent in his job though he knows how dangerous that can be with his sector and ranch next to the dangerous Comancheria. Several years ago his wife and twin children died from cholera and were buried before he came home from a two-week inspection tour.

He journeys to Santa Fe to hand in area’s records to the governor. Traveling with him is Senor Felix Mureno who will marry the daughter of wealthy Don Alonso Castellan, Maria. Marco meets his friend’s obnoxious bride and her disgusting parents who treat their orphaned niece Paloma Vega as an abused servant. Needing a dog to warn his feet at night, Marco overpays for Trece the runt who loves Paloma. Before he can get home, Trece runs away and when he reaches Paloma with “divine” help, she runs away with him to return him to Marco. Meanwhile ranchero Joaquin Munoz has caused a major threat for the Valle del Sol that has the dangerous Comanche conducting raids.

The Double Cross is a superb refreshing Spanish colonial romance as the audience meets a variety of interesting people such as priests, Jewish shop owners, workers and servants who share in common a desire to help Paloma; her family being the exception. Marco is chivalrous as he does his job. Readers will relish this engaging tale in which Carla Kelly writes a wonderful whimsical Spanish Brand historical.

Harriet Klausner

Triburia-Karl Taro Greenfeld


Karl Taro Greenfeld

Harper Perennial, Jul 16 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9780062132406

Mark, the 113 North Moore half-breed Sound Engineer, enjoyed breakfast with other fathers who like him dropped their children off at the school. However, that changes when he sees a picture of a child molester that even his two young daughters insist looks like him. His magazine editor wife prefers being stoned and his oldest child is the school bully. Thanks to one of the fathers in his breakfast club Sumner, the Tribeca community including the cops thinks he is the molester though the perv is allegedly a Caucasian. In spite of working on isolating a recording for the police, he remains the neighborhood‘s accused. At home things are not better as he turns to the eighteen year old babysitter while his wife remains high as she never recovered from her brother vanishing.

113 North Moore is the fabulous overarching tale that runs through this fabulous brisk collection. Other entries starring residents of nearby addresses also are included. For instance the tale about attending high school with his beautiful older sister and her car accident by the fashion photographer of 145 Greenwich that he often relates to his partner Oliver and their adopted son; 104 West Broadway writes a memoir; the father in 65 Hudson is having an affair with a woman who looks like a sister to his wife. The shorts are all quite good with each first person entry containing completeness yet also adding to the entire novel look at the Lower Manhattan triangular neighborhood though 79 Worth cruising the Mediterranean is not on the Hudson.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Win, Place, Or Die-Les Roberts and Dan S. Kennedy

Win, Place, Or Die

Les Roberts and Dan S. Kennedy

Gray & Company, Jun 30 2013, $24.99

ISBN: 9781938441370

Cleveland private investigator Milan Jacovich worked a case for affluent investment banker Glenn Gallagher in which he identified the top level official stealing millions from wealthy clients. Glenn invites Milan, his junior associate Kevin “K.O.” O’Bannion and their respective girlfriends, CPD Homicide Detective Tobe Baline and Milan Security office manager Carli Wynsocki to a night of harness racing world at Northcoast Downs. They are enjoying the evening as Glenn is a major fixture at the track and winning on Proud Milan. Glenn tells Milan he has another case for him that they will discuss on Monday. The night ends early when abruptly Glenn feels ill so Milan takes him home; only the banker-harness racing owner dies in the car.

Glenn’s son Hiram University Professor Cullen visits Milan and K.O. because he believes his father was murdered though officially his dad died from cardiac failure and has no idea why his dad wanted to hire Milan. K.O. works the track scene while Milan investigates the financial side; as the victim has enemies in both. When drunkard stable employee Gecko dies, the inquiry focuses on the racetrack.

The latest Jacovich whodunit is an enjoyable investigation in which the mystery competes with harness racing for top billing especially early. I enjoyed the time at Northcoast Downs as I have fond memories of being a $2 better at Yonkers, now closed Roosevelt and once at Goshen though I never could see the difference between trotters and pacers. The inquiry at the track is refreshing yet mindful of the works of Dick and Felix Francis while the banking angle is more conventional. Readers will enjoy this winning entry

Harriet Klausner

Me On The Floor, Bleeding-Jenny Jagerfeld

Me On The Floor, Bleeding

Jenny Jagerfeld

Stockholm Text, Jul 2 2013, $6.99


In a sculpture class at St Erik’s Sixth Form College in Stockholm, seventeen year old Maja Mueller works on a shelf using an electric saw when she slices off the top of her thumb. Enzo fell to the floor while instructor Jonas Valter calmly unplugged the dropped running wild blade. However, Simon sets the tone by taking pictures with his cell to place on the internet.

After Dr. Levine stitches the wound and throws out the thumb tip, Valter tells her he contacted her dad but was unable to reach her mom. Her dad, her teacher and her classmates believe Maja purposely cut off her thumb tip though she denies doing that deliberately. Maja calls and texts her mom but she fails to respond. Still this is her weekend with her mom so she takes the train from her dad's home where she lives in Ornsberg to spend time in Norrkoping. When she arrives she finds her mom is not there. She decides to stay anyway as she hopes to wish her mom a happy forty-fifth birthday in person. Maja spends the weekend alone thinking about life while worrying about her mom who never failed to meet her at the station; whether she intended to cut off her thumb; another wood attack with a splinter in her foot; and an attraction.

This is an entertaining coming of age Swedish character study starring a delightful teenager struggling with who she is and who she wants to be. Besides obtaining a vivid sense of the greater Stockholm area, readers will appreciate this drama as marvelous Maja transitions from immature teen to mature young adult.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, July 15, 2013

Canary-Rachele Alpine


Rachele Alpine

Medallion Press, Aug 1 2013, $9.99

ISBN: 9781605425870

Since the death of the Franklin family’s patriarch, siblings Brett and Kate, and their father communicate through Post-its. Thus when their dad asks them to meet him for pizza, Kate is shocked. He informs them that Beacon Prep hired him as the coach replacing legendary Bud Simeon whose last team won the state title and sent five players to NCAA top colleges. He also demands his children attend the same school though he promised not to dislocate them.

Feeling betrayed Brett fails to adjust while Kate becomes friends with Jenna and Ali, and begins dating player Jack Blane. However, at a party, another player Luke assaults Kate. Her dad and Jack demand her silence because the basketball team comes first; while, Jenna and Ali believe Luke as one of the BMOC who can get any girl when he insists Kate came onto him. Only Brett and a student she mistreated Julia believe the ostracized Kate.

Canary is a fascinating high school drama in which the team’s values and needs supersede the individual even in the case of an assault (as affirmed by the Penn State atrocities). Kate is a wonderful character who insists she wants to fit in but her poetry contradicts her claim. With a strong though ironically stereotyped cast; teenaged readers will relish Canary as the heroine’s rollercoaster struggles to survive high school especially when almost everyone turns toxic towards her.

Harriet Klausner

Snipers-Kristrine Kathryn Rusch


Kristrine Kathryn Rusch

WMG, Jul 15 2013, $18.99

ISBN 9780615762050

In 1913 a serial killer terrorizes the citizens of Vienna. The Carnival Sniper was never caught though investigator Johann Runge diligently tried. Runge eventually wrote a true crime book Death At Fasching as a means of moving past his biggest failure, but that never gave him any peace.

Thirty years ago, Sofie Branstadter’s life became defined when she witnessed as a child a sniper murder her parents. In 2005, her parents’ case remains unsolved, Sofie, a historian and an author, begins her research into the Carnival Sniper homicides that remind her of what happened to her parents three decades earlier. With forensic anthropologist Karl Morgenthau and others at her side, and the paparazzi trying to trump her and each other; Sofie arranged to disinter the remains of Carnival Sniper victim Viktor Adler buried in Zentralfriedhof Cemetery. Meanwhile the great grandson of Johann, pianist-composer Anton Runge has mixed feelings as her efforts increase the sales of Death At Fasching making him money but reminds him of how embarrassed his father and grandfather were with the book. In the grave the diggers find an impossible anomaly. Soon Sofie and Anton team up investigating the 1913 cold case.

This is an exciting twisting science fiction whodunit that raises questions about the impact on accepted historical events when pivotal players are eliminated before they become global movers and shakers. Although the romance feels more a required necessity, readers will relish Kristrine Kathryn Rusch’s fabulous fast-paced thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Anomaly-Krista McGee


Krista McGee

Thomas Nelson, Jul 9 2013, $9.99

ISBN: 9781401688721

The nuclear war ended life on the surface; forcing survivors underground. Though rumors of a Designer as the ultimate power, Ten Scientists saved those who survived but to prevent conflict they genetically removed emotion from their subjects.

Thalli, the Musician of Pod C, concealed for spent years her outlawed abnormality while doing her job by playing instruments to stimulate the labor of her mates. When she was nine running laps with her Pod mates, Thalli was shocked when Asta the historian stopped and began oozing from her nose until the Monitors removed her as a Code 4 never to return. Thalli concludes Asta broke one of the most important rules of never be different while she hides her innate curiosity. Three years later Berk the Scientist departed with a gala celebrating his becoming a leader. A few years later, because of Bach, Thalli’s anomaly surfaces so she is removed and slated for Annihilation. With minutes counting down until she dies, Berk persuades his peers to keep Thalli alive to study her anomaly.

Anomaly is an exciting thought-provoking young adult dystopian thriller that has the teen audience pondering faith in a Designer when faced with an execution countdown due to displaying feelings. The McGee world feels like Alice fell into the realm of Huxley’s Big Brother yet at the same time the milieu feels underdeveloped. Still fans will enjoy the “Curiouser and curiouser” Musician’s adventures as she learns to keep the faith with someone mighty watching out for her.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Fifth Grave Past The Light-Darynda Jones

Fifth Grave Past The Light

Darynda Jones

St. Martin’s, Jul 9 2013, $24.99

ISBN: 9781250014405

The Grim Reaper Charlotte "Charley" Davidson moonlights as a private investigator as her prime gig does not pay the bills. She learns firsthand what temptation truly is when the son of Satan Reyes Farrow moves into the next door apartment.

Still Charley’s tsuris excludes her libido gliding in the troposphere. Dead women hover around her causing havoc as none want to move on in spite of the Grim reaper demanding they do. She fears a serial killer has targeted females and a serial arsonist she suspects is her hunk of a neighbor complicates her efforts to catch the murdering psychopath.

The latest Davidson urban fantasy (see Third Grave Dead Ahead and Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet) is an amusing exciting thriller though once again the overarching theme barely moves forward. Charley is at her graveyard humorous best while the horde of women drives her crazy but not as much as Reyes lingering in her mind as an arson suspect and in her body as a tingling tormenter. Readers will enjoy the fast-paced irreverent storyline toasting a fifth of Davidson.

Harriet Klausner

Gone With The Win-Mary Daheim

Gone With The Win

Mary Daheim

Morrow, Jul 9 2013, $23.99

ISBN: 9780062089847

At the Hillside Manor B&B in Seattle after the old bat crashed her wheelchair into a birdbath, Mary Smith checks in. However, Mary is actually Judith McMonigle Flynn’s friend Ruby Tooms, who used an alias to insure she would be welcome after what happened at the Little Bavaria Oktoberfest.

Ruby asks Judith and her husband retired cop Joe Flynn to investigate the murder almost two decades ago of her mother Opal; her father was in jail at the time of the strangulation having stolen Judith’s wallet at her late first husband’s Meat & Mingle cafe. With fans creating a web site proclaiming her detecting skills, Judith has vowed no more inquiries. However, Joe has a personal interest in this case as his former partner and still close friend Precinct Captain Woody Price worked the unsolved homicide. An intruder further motivates Joe, his reluctant wife, and her sleuthing partnering cousin Renie Jones to look into the murder of Ruby’s mom.

The latest Bed-and-Breakfast Mystery (see The Wurst Is Yet to Come and All The Pretty Hearses) is an engaging humorous cozy as this time Joe wants them to take on the case instead of Judith tripping over a corpse. With a strong cast, readers will enjoy this lighthearted amusing whodunit as the amateur sleuthing cousins plus Joe hesitatingly investigate.

Harriet Klausner

Visitation Street-Ivy Pochoda

Visitation Street

Ivy Pochoda

Dennis Lehane Books/Ecco, Jul 9 2013, $25.99

ISBN: 9780062249890

In Brooklyn’s summer baked Red Hook neighborhood teenage BFFs Val Marino and June Giatto decide to ride a pink raft on the bay. They walk past the projects where their former friend Monique lives, avoids Coffey Park and see eighteen year old Cree James, whose father was murdered, at the pier. Not long after they set sail, an unconscious Val floats ashore while June vanished along with the raft.

Grieving the loss of her best friend, Val is ostracized and bullied at school and scorned in the neighborhood. Her family tries to be there for her, but Val feels they do that out of duty not love. School teacher Jonathan Sprouse knows how she feels and tries to help her cope while the police focus on Cree, who feels Val’s torment.

The strong cast and the Red Hook location make for a fabulous character study with the neighborhood stealing the show between the grim projects and the working middle class homes undergoing as part of the renaissance of the fourth largest city. The mystery of what happened is a deft hook, but the grim storyline is more a deep look at a divided neighborhood through the anguished filters of key characters turning this into a profound urban thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Secret of Abdu El Yezdi-Mark Hodder

The Secret of Abdu El Yezdi

Mark Hodder

PYR, Jul 9 2013, $18.00

ISBN 9781616147778

In 1840, an assassin murdered Queen Victoria. Since the royal’s untimely death a couple of decades ago, a small oligopoly runs the British Empire with their prime advisor being Abdu El Yezdi, a dead mystic communicating with these rational men from the Afterlife.

Known for solving the mystery of the Nile, explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton heads to England struggling with his sense of reality. While he journeys home, the British Empire and the Greater German Confederation negotiate an alliance. However before the pact can be signed, Florence Nightingale, Charles Babbage, ruling cabal member Isambard Kingdom Brunel and other notable scientists and engineers vanish. Notified of the vanishings Burton receives a king’s agent appointment to locate Abdu El Yezdi, who has stopped communicating as if this spirit disappeared too. The case turns personal when Burton’s friends and family begin to disappear in an eerie manner that links to the muted Abdu El Yezdi.

The latest Burton & Swinburne Adventure (see Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon, The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man and The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack) is an exciting alternative historical Victorian era with a strong paranormal element. The storyline is fast-paced and captures the essence of the British Empire’s white man’s burden colonization rationalization that Burton rigidly believes. However, the time-altering plot is extremely thin though fun to follow as Burton must protect those he cherishes, communicate with a silent ghost and figure out what is real and what is a hallucination.

Harriet Klausner

Big Girl Panties-Stephanie Evanovich

Big Girl Panties

Stephanie Evanovich

Morrow, Jul 9 2013, $26.99

ISBN 9780062224842

Personal trainer Logan Montgomery hates flying anything except first class, but wants to get home to New York after two days working with first baseman Chase Walker in Toronto so he sits in coach. He is further anguished when the big butt female sits in his row. Thirtyish widow Holly Brennan always had a big body, but two years of caring for her dying husband made her enormous as food became her escape. She notices the hunk looks at her with horror of being seen in public with the fat chick.

Feeling guilty about his reaction to her, Logan offers to help her change her lifestyle. She accepts. As they work together, Logan reassesses his first impression as Holly diligently works at changing herself. When she begins to lose weight and gain self-esteem, his friends begin to see her as a sexy individual, which upsets Logan though he remains unsure why.

This is an engaging contemporary romance that looks closely at images. When the protagonists meet on the plane, the lead female is an obese individual whose self-esteem is extremely low at a time she still grieves her loss; while her male counterpart is a perfect confident hunk who has statuesque beauties clamoring to be with him. Although doubtful that Logan would make such an offer or the relationship ebb and flow the way it does to include a one punch knockout by a could have been contender, fans will enjoy the Pygmalion Effect of changing the Ugly Duckling into the beautiful swan.

Harriet Klausner

Sugar Pop Moon-John Florio

Sugar Pop Moon

John Florio

Seventh Street Books/Prometheus, Jul 9 2013, $15.95

ISBN: 9781616147952

In 1930 Manhattan, Jimmy McCullough hires Jersey “Snowball” Leo to work at his mob-owned speakeasy Pour House because no one forgets seeing an albino; except perhaps his mother who deserted him (and his dad) when he was a baby. Snowball buys top quality booze for the bar, but the booze proves to be fake Sugar Pop Moon.

Knowing he will be blamed by his violent employers, Snowball searches for the missing seller to get back the money; but fails to find him while struggling through misadventures in Philadelphia at the same time someone stalks him. Snowball concludes he needs help. He turns to his pop, a former boxing champ who never hides his scorn of his offspring especially for working at a mob establishment. Father and son pursue the moonshine distributer

This is an exciting coming of age Prohibition Era noir. The cast is very strong, but obviously this is Snowball’s tale as he (and his father) tries to save his life while finding out revelations about himself and his family. Readers will enjoy this solid historical crime thriller and want a matured Snowball to return.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Curiosity-Stephen P. Kiernan

The Curiosity

Stephen P. Kiernan

Morrow, Jul 9 2013, $25.99

ISBN: 9780062221063

Funded by brilliant lunatic Erastus Carthage, molecular biologist Dr. Kate Philo has successfully reanimated dead crustaceans and plankton. When the perfectly preserved frozen body of Judge Jeremiah Rice, who fell off an Arctic research vessel in 1906, is found, Carthage sees an opportunity to skip several tests on bringing back to life the dead.

Philo succeeds in bringing back the Harvard graduate causing a fire and brimstone religious fervor enhanced by the media. Carthage’s superego glows in glory while others see an abomination or greedy monetary awards. That is except Philo who wants to help the beleaguered Rice adapt to a foreign crude world he finds lacking in family values as even the National pastime has gone crass and avaricious.

Putting aside the plausibility (or lack of) of the pseudoscience, The Curiosity is an entertaining morality tale in which Stephen P. Kiernan finds the twenty-first century lacking as he fondly compares today to the Gaslight Era. The key cast lacks development as each represents a metaphor of what is wrong with society today or in the case of Rice what was right in society back then (sort of a Happy Days nostalgic look at the Gaslight Era). Still readers will enjoy 1900 sensibilities meeting 2000 insensibilities.

Harriet Klausner

Two of a Kind-Susan Mallery

Two of a Kind

Susan Mallery

Harlequin HQN, Jun 25 2013. $7.99

ISBN: 9780373777686

In Fool’s Gold, California, certified as an off the charts genius Felicia Swift may be proficient in hand to hand combat, but the American spider she spots in the warehouse does not have hands. Her scream brings Gideon Boylan running to protect her. She explains she came to town with military friends seeking a mundane community life while stunned he resides here as a semi-hermit.

Felicia and Gideon shared the night of their life when both were overseas. However, though she wants a lifetime of that night, he cannot emotionally connect with anyone beyond superficial. PTSD sufferer Gideon remains locked inside the nightmare of his black ops team captured, tortured and murdered. Not one to surrender, Felicia mounts a campaign the Pentagon would admire with the objective to win his heart though complicated by his son. She fails strategically to recognize she already has his heart, but not his soul as he lost that on his last deployment.

The latest Fool’s Gold romance (see Just One Kiss) is a poignant gripping tale that allows the audience to see deep into the anguished mind of a PTSD inflicted veteran. With suicides and domestic violence by returning soldiers very high, the profoundness also makes Gideon’s abrupt of conquering his relationship fears unlikely; even rationalizing this is a romance. Still series fans will appreciate Two of a Kind as the lonely genius and the lonely soldier find love may end or amplify their loneliness.

Harriet Klausner

Cold Coast-Jenifer LeClair

Cold Coast

Jenifer LeClair

Conquill Press, Jul 1 2013, $15.00

ISBN: 9780980001761

Minneapolis Homicide Detective Brie Beaumont remains on leave suffering from PTSD after being shot and her partner Phil killed while on duty five months ago. Currently she is second mate on the Schooner Maine Wind sailing with passengers and crew along the coast. When a Nor’easter strikes, Captain John DuLac pulls up anchor in Tucker Harbor. The next morning the storm has left the harbor but remains dangerously nearby so DuLac allows crew and passengers to explore the village for a few hours. While hiking to Heron Head on Final Reckoning Road, they find a corpse of a man whose neck was sliced. Brie protects the crime scene until Washington County law enforcement arrives.

Shorthanded and having seen the results of her work before (see Rigged for Murder), Maine State Police Detective Fenton asks Brie to help investigate the homicide of local trucker Jake Maloney. Since DuLac has an extra experienced hand onboard, he reluctantly agrees as he will miss his second mate for professional and personal reasons; but he knows Brie needs this test to determine whether she should return to law enforcement or continue sailing. MPD also supports Brie working the case. Brie questions the victim’s widow and his former employee until she finds a link to a cold case murder of a researcher.

Though waiting out a storm was used at Granite Harbor in Rigged for Murder, readers will enjoy this engaging police procedural as Jenifer LeClair once again vividly captures the Maine background in her latest Windjammer mystery (see Danger Sector). The eccentric Mainers add depth to a fabulous step by step investigation; fans will enjoy Brie trying to uncover secrets that should tie together two seemingly unrelated murders four years apart.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Ranch Solution-Julianna Morris

The Ranch Solution

Julianna Morris

Harlequin SuperRomance, Jul 1 2013, $5.75

ISBN: 9780373718641

Seattle CEO Jacob O’Donnell is frustrated with the recent behavior of his fourteen year old daughter Kittie. Her actions have led the widower to donate money to the private school she attends as a means to pacify the angry principal. However, Kittie went too far when her smoking in the girl’s locker room led to a small fire.

Jacob’s friend Gene told him how the U-2 Ranch in rural Montana helped him and his wife troubled son Wes. Desperate Jacob takes Kittie to the ranch run by Mariah Weston. The Weston family demonstrates what matters in life to the O’Donnell pair, while the urban father and daughter show Mariah that love is a key element in what matters in life.

The Ranch Solution is a warm family drama with an emphasis on positive values with an obvious bias. Character-driven by a strong cast, contemporary fans will enjoy rusticating in Big Sky Country as two families unite in love.

Harriet Klausner

A Texas Hero-Linda Warren

A Texas Hero

Linda Warren

Harlequin SuperRomance, Jul 1 2013, $5.75

ISBN: 9780373718610

Upset with her former husband’s latest shenanigan re their child, bank teller Abby Bauman is late for work and distracted while driving recklessly. When she misses her turn, she stops on a busy highway. Homicide detective Ethan James, who wants to get home to his daughter after a graveyard shift, rear ends her. They enter the nearby bank where she works to exchange insurance information when two robbers wearing masks enter. The robbers plan to take Abby hostage, but Ethan shocks her by volunteering. Thus they snatch both of them.

The pair are driven miles into a dried up rural area and left tied in a shack. They escape and begin a terrible survival trek for help as the extreme heat left much of Texas withered and on fire.

The first Willow Creek romance is a super suspense that uses the terrible heat wave that baked Texas two years ago as a fabulous backdrop to a taut whodunit. Although the villain is obvious early on, readers will enjoy this tale of two single parents falling in love while trying to survive an ordeal.

Harriet Klausner

One-Night Alibi-Kara Lennox

One-Night Alibi

Kara Lennox

Harlequin SuperRomance, Jul 1 2013, $5.75

ISBN: 9780373718627

Not feeling well, Montgomery County Sheriff’s deputy Hudson Vale observes famous lawyer Franklin Mandalay III soliciting Jazz the hooker. Though no longer in Vice and knowing he should ignore the negotiation, Hudson intercedes. Jazz flees while he arrests the prominent Houston attorney.

Franklin files a lawsuit accusing Hudson of false arrest and excess force. Soon afterward someone murders Franklin. The police suspect Hudson whose alibi is Mandalay’s estranged daughter, Elizabeth Downey who he just met at a wedding reception and shared a one-night tryst. The problem with her as his alibi is that everyone knew she hated her dad and was his heir; many believe she hired Hudson to kill her father. The couple turns to Project Justice to prove their innocence before they are railroaded.

The latest Project Justice romantic suspense (see Hidden Agenda) is an exciting mystery that hooks fans from the moment someone murders Mandalay. Fast-paced and with a nod to Selleck’s My Alibi, fans will relish this taut thriller as Manderlay’s superego begins a complex web of deception.

Harriet Klausner

On The Razor’s Edge-Michael Flynn

On The Razor’s Edge

Michael Flynn

Tor, Jul 2 2013, $25.99

ISBN: 9780765334800

Méarana the harper hopes she can reconcile her estranged parents though she knows former Shadow of the Confederation of Central Worlds Donovan (the scarred man) and Bridget ban of the Hounds are natural enemies. However, her plan goes astray when Counselor Gidula abducts Donovan because the kidnapper believes one of the ex-Shadow’s personalities knows the secret entrance into the City of the Names. This occurs at a time when the members of the Shadow’s Lion’s Mouth deploy assassins while heatedly debate support of the Name.

Needing help to rescue her dad, Méarana arranges for CCW Shadow Ravn Olafsdottr to kidnap her though the latter assumes it was all her doing; unaware that the hybrid harper needs her abduction to motivate her mother to bring the Hounds in pursuit of her and Donavan. With deceit and distrust everywhere, war seems imminent but it is hazy as to who is on which side; only that enemies CCW and the United League of the Periphery need Donovan to win.

The fourth futuristic CCW-ULP thriller is a complex entertaining tale that focuses on Machiavellian intrigue; as several civil wars seems imminent while the two rival empires continue their hostilities. More convoluted than the DNA helix, all roads pass through subconscious mind of The Scarred Man, but to appreciate and understand (for the most part) the journey with the Hounds and Shadows means fans must read the previous entries (see In the Lion's Mouth, The January Dancer and Up Jim River).

Harriet Klausner

On The Razor’s Edge-Michael Flynn

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Paris Assignment-Addison Fox

The Paris Assignment

Addison Fox

Harlequin Romantic Suspense, Jul 2 2013, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373278329

Kensington Steele orders her brother Campbell to work with Abby McBane to learn who broke the seemingly impenetrable firewalls of McBane Communications for seven minutes. At first refusing the Paris Assignment Campbell agrees to go undercover to identify the hacker or insider responsible for the seven-minute invasion.

Abby and Campbell meet in New York with both attracted to the other. They fly to Paris as a couple while she meets with the firm’s board and he works on how, why and who. When Campbell realizes Abby is in danger from a brilliant psychopath who employs a gun on top of the electronic intrusion, he adds bodyguard to his job description over her objection; his new role would amuse his sister if it was not so dangerous.

The first House of Steele romantic suspense is an enjoyable mystery based on the premise of how a person or firm can be destroyed in the information age by a clever hacker. The exciting storyline uses the irony of providing information to the readers while keeping the protagonists in the dark from a crazed villain targeting the pair; who hopes to live long enough to tell each other they are in love.

Harriet Klausner

The Colton Ransom-Marie Ferrarella

The Colton Ransom

Marie Ferrarella

Harlequin Romantic Suspense, Jul 2 2013, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373278305

One year ago Dead River Ranch security chief Trevor Garth and a stranger Joyce had a one night stand in Cheyenne. He could not remember her name when Joyce arrives with a newborn girl that she insists is his. When he refuses to take on Avery, Joyce leaves the baby on his doorsteps. A couple weeks later he struggles to handle it as the baby nuked the single dad’s lifestyle.

His employer’s daughter Gabriella Colton tries to help him with Avery just like she does with her three month old niece Cheyenne. When a killer mistakenly kidnaps his infant thinking she is an heir to the Colton fortune, Trevor, accompanied by Gabby who feels responsible for what happened, attempts to rescue his daughter as he fears for her life even if the ransom is met; meanwhile the former cop also realizes he loves both females in spite of them driving him crazy.

The first Coltons of Wyoming romantic suspense stars in the opener of new saga in the extended family. The lead characters are a strong pair who stays focused on saving Avery. Although the storyline has been used before and goes the anticipated path, readers will enjoy this engaging tale.

Harriet Klausner

Beautiful Danger-Michele Hauf

Beautiful Danger

Michele Hauf

Harlequin Nocturne, Jul 2 2013, $5.75

ISBN: 9780373885749

As the fire destroys their complex, Levallois werewolf pack leader Remy Caufield grabs valuable documents from a safe. Before he can leave their raging pet vampire Domingos LaRoque tells him he will return to kill every member of the Levallois pack for torturing and forcing him to fight in the ring over his months of captivity; or die trying. Remy knows they will meet again as he rues the error of having Domingos fight and drain the blood of the powerful phoenix vampire who years ago survived a witch’s attack.

One month after the blaze destroyed their compound, Remy contacts The Order of the Stake for help as eight of twenty-four clan members have been murdered by the insane suicidal Domingos. The Order of the Stake sends it solo female knight Lisa “Lark” Cooper to take care of their lethal problem. Lark lives for revenge as her goal is to kill 366 vampires to match everyday her late husband Todd was held in captivity and tortured by these evil beasts before they converted him; she killed her mate. The anguished vampire and the avenging knight meet when four werewolves assault her and he intervenes; her goal stalls at 72 and his at 8.

Beautiful Dangers is a terrific romantic urban fantasy due to the believable Hauf world and the tortured lead souls suffering from a deep need to revenge what happened to them. She distrusts vampires and he distrusts werewolves and knights who protect these cretins. The romance heats up late, but that distracts from a strong relationship drama of Beloved Enemies.

Harriet Klausner

The Keepers: L.A. Keeper of the Dawn-Heather Graham

The Keepers: L.A. Keeper of the Dawn

Heather Graham

Harlequin Nocturne, Jul 2 2013, $5.75

ISBN: 9780373885732

LAPD police officer Mark Valiente dreams of marrying the woman he loves though he has never met her. Dreams aside, in the Starry Night Cemetery the vampire cop and his partner Brodie McKay break up a sacrificial ritual that includes humans and Others using elven females intended to bring back from the dead evil Sebastian Hildegarde. The leader and some Others escape, but Mark is more interested in the woman draped over Sebastian’s effigy. He recognizes her as his bride in his loving fantasy.

Mark plans to keep Alessande Salisbrooke safe as he fears she is marked by the Hildegarde followers. While he hunts the perpetrators, Alessande is of a different mindset as she says she will help him or go it alone.

The final Keepers: L.A. romantic urban fantasy (see Keeper of the Shadows by Alexandra Sokoloff, Keeper of the Night by Heather Graham and Keeper of the Moon by Harley Jane Kozak) is an exciting paranormal police procedural that completes the Gryffald cousins' saga. Fast-paced with taut twists and red herrings, readers will welcome the return of the previous leads as they assists the protagonists in keeping their women safe while bringing down the unknown main malevolence.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, July 8, 2013

All That I Need-Francis Ray

All That I Need

Francis Ray

St. Martin's, Jul 2 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9781250023810

Travel writer Fallon Marshall has the patience of Job especially when things go wrong, but she always gets the job done right. She learns of an auction being held by Saxton Auction House at the famous Yates Estate. To gain access to the sale and the landmark home, Fallon will need the cooperation of Lance Saxton who two weeks ago she called a thief.

Fallon knows she first became attracted to Lance when she saw a photo of him in Fortune magazine. Lance knows he was first attracted to the journalist when they first met and argued. Each thinks the other uses the misfortune of people. He agrees to allow her access so she invites him to dinner to make up for her calling him heartless. Both are wary, but begin seeing each other as their attraction turns to love; which frightens these world travelers even more as each doubts relationships survive the early desire.

The latest Grayson Friends contemporary romance (see The Way You Love Me and One Night With You) is a fabulous entry as the protagonists struggle with love due to false preconceptions caused by caring family members trying to keep away the hurt only to make matters worse. With the recent passing away of Francis Ray, subgenre fans have lost one of the consistent greats whose Grayson pantheon is a fabulous legacy that has at least one more entry in the Fall (All That I Desire).

Harriet Klausner