Friday, January 31, 2014

Protector-Diana Palmer

Protector Diana Palmer Harlequin HQN, Jan 28 2014 ISBN: 9780373778546 In seven years as Jacobs County Sheriff, Hayes Carson has been shot twice and only one prisoner, El Jefe the Mexican drug lord, escaped. He hates Jacobsville Times’ publisher Minette Rayner who he holds culpable for the death of his brother because she gave him the drugs that killed him. Hayes also knows something about her father that he promised his dad he would not reveal to anyone especially Minette. Hayes personally pledged to himself to lock up El Jefe and to deliver justice to Minette. When he is shot for the third time while at home, the injury requires special attention and therapy; but no one volunteers to move into his home mostly because of his roommate Andy the six foot iguana. Minette offers Hayes a room in her abode shared with her family. Like him she hides a secret, but his proves dangerous to the woman he vows to be her loving Protector. This reprint of a Long, Tall Texans romance (see Dangerous) is an entertaining entry as close quarters turns loathing into loving. The human cast adds complexity as morality proves multifaceted and convoluted while Andy being Andy steals scenes. Although there is too many flashbacks delaying the romance and the present day police procedural action, fans of the series will enjoy the sheriff and the publisher starting to fall in love; that is if they live long enough to fully cherish one another. Harriet Klausner

My Sweetest Escape-Chelsea M. Cameron

My Sweetest Escape Chelsea M. Cameron Harlequin HQN, Jan 28 2014, $11.95 ISBN 9780373778539 Eighteen-year-old Joscelyn Archer was proud of being the second sibling to receive a high school diploma and going to college. When her life at the University of New Hampshire collapses, her parents force her to transfer to Maine where her older sister Renee attends and serve as her warden. University of Maine student Dustin Sharp vowed to behave after a recent incident. However, he also wants his new choir boy persona enlivened with Jos. She feels the same way, but her prison guard vigilantly watches her and a trauma makes her hesitant. Dusty remains persistent in pursuit of the coed he loves. Though there is a déjà vu feeling (see My Favorite Mistake), readers will enjoy this New England campus romance. The lead characters are a fascinating pairing of two souls struggling to behave. In spite of the life changing incidents each protagonist diligently conceals something not worthy of hiding especially from the person they love. Still fans will enjoy touring the U of Maine with this couple. Harriet Klausner

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Unwelcome Child-V.C. Andrews

The Unwelcome Child V.C. Andrews Pocket, Jan 21 2014, $7.99 ISBN: 9781451650891 In Lake Hurley, New York, Elle Edwards was born in sin; at least that was the proclamation of her religious zealot Grandmother. Her wicked Mother abandoned Elle after one quick glimpse at her newborn in order to escape the wrath of her Mother; who had raised her to believe pain kept away sin; but obviously failed. Her crusading Grandmother supported by her husband keeps their soulless grandchild occupied with hard labor and strict religious teachings as a solitary confined prisoner they vigilantly guard to prevent Elle’s evil spreading to others. However, in spite of their religious fervor to isolate the devil’s offspring, Elle meets twins Mason and Claudine who befriend her and begins to get her to believe she is not Satan's child. They also encourage her to pursue her art as she has a gift. However, she knows Grandmother will never allow evil Elle to go out into the world. The Unwelcome Child is an exciting psychological horror as V.C. Andrews uses religious fanaticism to make a case that the abused child (rationalized by Elle tormentors as holy means to contain evil) becomes the abused adult without caring intervention. Although the “godly” extremism by the grandparents is over the top of the Adirondacks, readers will enjoy this fascinating look at good and evil through the eyes of the sinful victim and her devout family. Harriet Klausner

Worthy Brown’s Daughter-Phillip Margolin

Worthy Brown’s Daughter Phillip Margolin Harper, Jan 21 2014, $26.99 ISBN 9780062195340 Rachel Perry was happy living in Ohio with her husband Matthew the lawyer and surrounded by their families. However, he had the wanderlust so they left the Buckeye State for Oregon. Nearing their destination, Matthew watches his wife crossing a raging river in the McCormack wagon as Rachel gives comfort to pregnant Mary; to his horror he helplessly sees his beloved spouse die. In Portland, the grieving widower opens up a legal practice. Freeman Worthy Brown retains Matthew to liberate his teenage Roxanne from their former slave owner, prominent attorney Caleb Barbour. Not long afterward, witnesses find Worthy standing over Caleb’s murdered corpse. Matthew defends his client in front of hanging Judge Jed Tyler, who is distracted by his attraction to Sharon Hill. When affluent Benjamin Gillette dies, Sharon shows their marriage contract that has Tyler wonder whether the woman he craves killed the businessman and if she truly is the deceased’s widow. Worthy Brown’s Daughter is an intriguing historical that looks closely at life in Portland just after Oregon becomes a state. Matthew is terrific as he struggles with the true meaning of justice between the law and what he believes is morally right; while Worthy seems genuine with his genuflecting deference to white leaders after decades as a slave. Although Barbour, Tyler and Hill are over the top of the Cascades as stereotypes of western baddies, fans will enjoy visiting Oregon circa 1860 especially the courtroom. Harriet Klausner

A Well-Tempered Heart-Jan Philipp Sendker

A Well-Tempered Heart Jan Philipp Sendker Other Press, Jan 21 2014, $15.95 ISBN: 9781590516409 Several years after Julia Win’s father Tin gave up his New York legal practice to return to his homeland Burma, she followed him to learn why he abandoned her and her mom. There she learned of Tin’s beloved soul mate Mi Mi in which true love never dies in spite of fifty years and thousands of miles apart, and met her brother Monk U Ba (see The Art of Hearing Heartbeats). After returning to the States, Julia became a successful but dissatisfied lawyer practicing in Manhattan. A decade since her Asian roots trip, Julia and her boyfriend end their relationship, which adds malaise to her overall depression that there is more to life. While at an important work meeting, a female voice begins talking to her inside her head. Stunned, she walks out without a word to the other attendees, but the persistent voice keeps asking her thought-provoking questions re Julia’s unhappiness. After consulting with her sister Amy, Julia decides to return to her father’s homeland to see her other sibling. U Ba welcomes her and introduces Julia to Nu Nu; who tells the dispirited American about how her sons were drafted as expendable child soldiers. Win’s second trip to her paternal roots is a wonderful spiritual journey that once again provides readers with historical perspective this time through Nu Nu’s tale. Though it lacks the incredible passionate romance of the first adventures; a strong support cast, a winning locale and a lost soul seeking something she is unsure of what make for a delightful sequel. Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Knife’s Edge-Matthew Wolf

The Knife’s Edge Matthew Wolf Matthew Wolf, Apr 15 2013, $29.99 ISBN: 9780989148320 Rumors abound of the Return with few like Ren having the courage or foolishness to say the name Ronin. Almost everyone else acts like Kirin fearful of even whispering the dreaded word. Neophyte Vera passes the Seven Trials, but coveting power wants much more than being a mere Reaver. She attempts to release the power of the sword. Her boyfriend Kirin finds her dead with the sword protruding from her corpse. The palace guards believe he killed her. Kirin grabs the sword, but loses control and kills several people. His grandfather informs him he is the prophecy of the Return, but not ready; thus Kirin’s elderly relative intercedes wiping out his memories. He becomes Gray living a solitary life with his only companion a hermit. However, Vera sends evil beasts to kill her former boyfriend, who escapes and flees as he reluctantly begins to accept what he is and must do. This an entertaining quest fantasy with a fascinating twist re how the characters, particularly Kirin-Gray, think of the Ronin legend as evil vs. the seemingly reality of harsh savior. Though the storyline goes as expected, Gray brings freshness as a sort of Frodo struggling with what is going on to him with the changes in his life. The support cast, especially vile Vera and Gray’s “buddies”, enhances the exciting storyline as we want to know why people strongly fear the Return and why just about everyone believes the Ronin is malevolent. Harriet Klausner

Road Kill-Jan Coffey

Road Kill Jan Coffey CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Dec 30 2013, $16.99 ISBN: 9781494847883 In 1997 Connecticut, teenage newcomer Lacey Watkins attends a party only to watch in horror as some of the others kill a girl. She testifies against them, but her life is in shambles so she leaves town. Sixteen years later, Gavin MacFadyen attends the funeral of his former New Haven Police Department partner Terri Watkins, who was killed in a suspicious hit and run. Grieving Gavin thinks thirty-eight years old Terri had everything going for her until her sibling came back to town. Lacey also mourns the loss of the one person who abidingly loved her regardless of what trouble she caused. NHPD begins to look at Lacey as a suspect in her sister’s death. Feeling he owes Terri and attracted to Lacey, Gavin offers to protect her while investigating the vehicular homicide of her sibling and several other apparently related murders. The First Gavin MacFadyen investigation is a strong whodunit as the evidence implicates Lacey while even her new hero wonders if his libido fogs up his brain. Fast-paced, readers will appreciate this entertaining mystery sprinkled with red herrings as Gavin tries to keep Lacey safe from a persistent killer with a powerful vendetta motivator. Harriet Klausner

Texas Outlaws: Billy-Kimberly Raye

Texas Outlaws: Billy Kimberly Raye Harlequin Blaze, Jan 21 2014, $5.50 ISBN: 9780373797882 Sabrina Collins comes to Lost Gun, Texas because the town hosts a big famous rodeo. She is not there as a fan but to persuade cowboys to sign onto her new online dating service. At a dance, Sabrina and rodeo rider Billy Chisholm meet and begin a no strings tryst that both agrees ends when the rodeo leaves town. However, to her shock Sabrina likes the townsfolk who welcome her as one of them. Even more stunning to her, Sabrina begins to fall in love with Billy. Although astonished by his feelings for Sabrina, Billy believes his childhood makes him unworthy of her. The latest Texas Outlaws romance (see Jesse) is an enjoyable contemporary starring two protagonists struggling with the inconvenience of love entering their heated affair. Although the relationship conflict comes across as weak; readers will enjoy Kimberly Raye’s titillating Texas tale starting with these “Strangers in the night; … Love was just a glance away, a warm embracing dance away” (Sinatra). Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Vanishing-Wendy Webb

The Vanishing Wendy Webb Hyperion, Jan 21 2014, $15.99 ISBN 9781401341947 Three months ago in Chicago, novelist Julia Bishop’s husband Jeremy committed suicide when his Ponzi investment scheme collapsed. His death left his widow holding the bag of a myriad of lawsuits from irate investors and possible criminal charges of being his partner even while she claims she was unaware of his illegal endeavor. Though they never met before, Adrian Sinclair visits Julia at her home with an employment proposition that will enable her to escape the howling wolves wanting her blood. She accepts his job offer of companion to his aging mother at their Havenwood Estate in isolated northern Minnesota. Julia is amazed that Adrian’s mom is renowned horror author Amaris “the female Edgar Allan Poe” Sinclair, who reportedly died a decade ago; that Havenwood was the sight of a horrid eerie incident in 1875 involving a homicide and spiritualist Seraphina; and that spirits from that Reconstruction Era deadly event remain at the mansion with one of them insanely evil. Wendy Webb’s latest supernatural (see The Tale of Halcyon Crane and The Fate of Mercy Alban) is an exciting contemporary haunted house thriller starring a woman who thought as she left Chicago nothing could be worse until she meets the occupants of Havenwood. Although the key late twist feels unsatisfactory and implausible (even with ghosts), readers will enjoy this haunting modern day gothic. Harriet Klausner

Finders, Keepers, Losers, Weepers-Robert S. Levinson

Finders, Keepers, Losers, Weepers Robert S. Levinson Five Star, Jan 22 2014, $25.95 ISBN 9781432827816 In Indianapolis, rock and roll superstar Nat Axelrod has consensual sex with groupie Mae Jean Minter when her father arrives and accused him of violent rape before shooting the music legend. Nat survives the chest wound, but his career crashes when he is convicted of rape. Nat’s manager Danny Manings’ wife dies due to a drug overdose and his career shattered when his top gun began serving concurrent twenty-five year sentences. Nat dies in prison. A decade later, reporter Laurent Connart investigates Nat’s fall from grace but uncovers evidence that the rock legend was innocent and shockingly free and alive. While the intrepid journalist searches for the truth, Danny and Nat seek respective second chances along different paths; with the deranged singer seeking vengeance and the manager hoping to launch a potential new star Patrice Malloy. All converge in Los Angeles. Finders, Keepers, Losers, Weepers is an entertaining look at the underbelly of the music industry though none of the key players come across as likeable; which adds depth to the dark character-driven storyline. Readers will appreciate Robert S. Levinson’s rousing Rock and Roll thriller; as the women need plenty of contraception with their libidos as enticing weapons and the men need to prove they are the most kick ass. Harriet Klausner

Game On-Nancy Warren

Game On Nancy Warren Harlequin Blaze, Jan 21 2014, $5.50 ISBN: 978 0373797899 Max Varo asks performance coach Serena Long, who helped him several years ago, for a favor. He tells her that his thirtyish childhood friend Adam Shawnigan is the best player on their amateur hockey team, but always chokes during the playoffs. She says she knows nothing about hockey, but his explanation leads her to believe Adam suffers from performance anxiety. After being assured by Max that Adam wants help, Serena agrees to work with him. However, as Serena works with reluctant Adam to overcome his fear of failure, someone threatens the coach. A cop Adam insists on protecting Serena from her stalker while she objects over his persistence. As they enjoy sex, they fall in love. The first Last Bachelor Standing (Max and their other pal Dylan to follow) is a thrilling contemporary romantic suspense as Adam and Serena help each other in and out of the boudoir. Readers will enjoy the best buddy camaraderie between the three amigos, but it is the heat generated by the lead couple that could melt the ice at the NHL’s 2014 Winter Classics (in Dodger Stadium, Yankee Stadium, Soldier Field and Vancouver’s’ BC Place) that make this a wonderful first period. Harriet Klausner

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Broken Dragon-Irene Radford

The Broken Dragon Irene Radford DAW, Jan 7 2014, $7.99 ISBN: 9780756409159 Teen twins Lily and Valeria are opposites due to their respective magic skills; yet inseparable as halves together they make a whole. Lively Lily lacks any magical talent but is an accomplished healer; non-vivacious Val is a great mage but is always sickly as usage drains a person. With the support of his mate Brevelan the witch, Senior Magician and Chancellor of the University of Magicians Jaylor insists his daughter Val learns to care for herself; as he has separate missions for his daughters. Jaylor also explains adversaries plan a coup d’état that threatens the reign of King Darville and their adopted son Glenndon, heir to the throne (see The Silent Dragon). Da assigns Val as keeper to control Lady Ariiell’s magic while the pair heads to the home of the latter’s father and to report any strangeness in Lord Laisac’s household. Lily will become companion to Lord Jemmarc’s wife ailing Lady Graciella while escorting her from Coronnan City to Castle Saria’s fresh sea air. However, a magically-generated super storm leaves the country in peril from a raging talented magician with the only hope to prevent the pandemic catastrophe rests with the separated sisters uniting with each other and others. The second Children of the Dragon Nimbus is an exciting coming of age quest fantasy as the twins must find themselves while on separate adventures yet also need each other in the immediate fight. The fully developed with differing skills and personalities siblings are terrific as they keep their respective subplot focused. Fans of the original Dragon Nimbus saga (see The Glass Dragon, The Perfect Princess, The Loneliest Magician and The Wizard's Treasure) will appreciate Irene Radford’s entertaining next generation series. Harriet Klausner

Blood on Copperhead Trail-Paula Graves

Blood on Copperhead Trail Paula Graves Harlequin Intrigue, Jan 21 2014, $5.50 ISBN: 9780373697403 Ridge County Public Integrity Officer Laney Hanvey is assigned to investigate how deep the corruption within the Bitterwood Police Department is after the late former Chief of Detectives Rayburn was exposed for being on the payroll of Wayne Cortland. Part of her inquiry is to recommend whether BPD be folded inside of the county’s Office of the Sherif or left independent run by newcomer Doyle Massey. The murdered body of Missy Adderly is found on Copperhead Trail. Shocked Laney knew the deceased but fears for her younger sister Janelle who went hiking with the Adderly siblings. Leaving his detectives to work the homicide, Doyle accompanies Laney as she begins a search and she prays rescue mission for missing teens as a storm and human danger threaten their effort. The fourth Bitterwood P.D. romantic police procedural (see Murder in the Smokies, The Smoky Mountain Mist and Smoky Ridge Curse) is an exciting S&R drama that contains a strong storyline yet also moves forward the overarching theme as more of Cortland’s empire is revealed. The harrowing suspenseful rescue effort supersedes the attraction with saving the heroine’s sister and surviving the storm and miscreants in the Smokies coming before the protagonists’ desires. Harriet Klausner

Rocky Mountain Revenge-Cindi Myers

Rocky Mountain Revenge Cindi Myers Harlequin Intrigue, Jan 21 2014, $5.50 ISBN: 9780373697427 Socialite Elizabeth Giardino lived a pampered life while ignoring how her father Sam made his money as head of a crime family in which her brother Sammy is the heir apparent. When Elizabeth met undercover FBI agent Jake Westmoreland, she no longer could be the princess who kept her head in the sand re her dad’s activities so she testified against him. Now she is Anne Gardener in the Witness Protection Program as Elizabeth Giardino died one year ago on Valentine’s Day. She is unaware that her father escaped from prison with plans to kill his beloved betrayer while her sibling plots to take over the mob. Jake, who fell in love with Elizabeth, fears for her life so he searches for her. When he finds her in the Rocky Mountains, she is stunned because she thought he died in the Valentine Day’s massacre while also knowing if he located her than her father and his thugs will too. Rocky Mountain Revenge is an exhilarating WPP thriller starring two strong characters dealing with trust issues as well as her lethal family problems. Fast-paced with a powerful sense of foreboding in a pristine remote locale, readers will appreciate Cindi Myers’s suspenseful tale though the lead antagonists are underdeveloped stereotypical avenging mobsters. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Into The Wilderness-Mandy Hager

Into The Wilderness Mandy Hager Pyr, Jan 7 2014, $17.99 ISBN: 9781616148638 Following the Tribulation that decimated the world population, the white Apostles of the Lamb leaders of Onewere Island abused the brown-skins. Witnessing the horror of those they worshipped as deities, the brown-skinned former believers turned doubters Ruth and Maryam know they must leave before they become dead victims. Thus the Blessed Sisters, accompanied by white Apostle cousins Joseph (who loves Maryam) and Lazarus, leave their insular community by sea. Sailing the Pacific, the quartet arrives in violent racist what was once called Australia before the Tribulation. On Marawa Island, they find their hope for the future shattered as apparently no humans reside there. Meanwhile Maryam and Joseph struggle with their love for each other while she also loathes Lazarus for what she saw he did on the Star of the Sea cruise ship before the foursome fled for their lives (see The Crossing for his atrocity). The second Blood of the Lamb dystopian post-apocalyptic teenage thriller once again profoundly and harshly looks at organized religion and civilization turning brutally barbaric after the Tribulation collapse. The enjoyable storyline is at its best when the Blessed Sisters (especially Maryam) confront a vicious new world order as violent as what occurred on the Star of the Sea though when the plot leaves Maryam to focus on others it loses some momentum. Still readers will appreciate the dark middle book in a world in which rape and murder are the accepted norms. Harriet Klausner

Notorious-Allison Brennan

Notorious Allison Brennan Minotaur, Mar 25 2014, $24.99 ISBN 9781250035059 Motivated by the unsolved death of close friend Lindy Ames when both attended Atherton Prep several years ago, renowned New York City-based reporter Maxine Revere works cold cases. Though never arrested the only suspect in the Ames murder classmate Kevin O’Neal commits suicide. Returning to her hometown of Atherton, California for the funeral of the man who was her high school best friend until he lied to her (and others) re his alibi; Max decides it is past time to work on the one inquiry close to her heart. Ironically, she muses this is a place where she is unwelcome even by her family since she initially supported Kevin in spite of his becoming the pariah. Upon arrival at San Francisco International Airport with her assistant David Kane who is visiting his daughter, elderly Penny and Henry Hoffman recognize her and plead with her to look into the death of their grandson Jason a construction worker at Atherton Prep. In town Kevin’s sister Jodie insists her sibling was murdered and asks Max to investigate. Ignoring the police insistence she not make any inquires, Max looks into the two recent deaths and the cold case that haunts her. With a nod to the Cold Justice TV show, the first Max Revere investigation is a fast-paced whodunit that has the protagonist working three inquiries tied to Atherton Prep over the objections of the cops, her family and most of the affluent residents. Although the enjoyable storyline is straightforward, readers will enjoy tough Max as the clues lead to the one place she prays it never goes. Harriet Klausner

Scraps Of Evidence-Barbara Cameron

Scraps Of Evidence Barbara Cameron Abington, Jan 21 2014, $12.95 ISBN: 9781426752780 Following the still cold case homicide of her best friend Samantha Marshall on the night of their high school prom, Tess Villanova dedicated her life to becoming a cop just like her Uncle Gordon, St. Augustine’s second in command and currently in charge with the Chief ill. While Gordon’s wife, yarn shop owner Kathy, recovers from a concussion in the hospital, now a detective Tess worries about her aunt who insists she tripped over her spoiled Persian Prissy. Tess also fears something is wrong between her uncle and aunt. Tess meets her new partner ex-Chicago Police Department hot shot and now ASPD lead detective Logan McMillan. Though homicides are infrequent in the Florida city, the detectives investigate the murder of twenty-one year old legal assistant Antonia Sanchez. When Tess sees a mark on the nape of the corpse that is similar to what was on Sam’s neck and two other victims, she and the M.E. know he is back. When her aunt returns to the hospital, Tess sadly believes her role model may be a spouse abuser and that Kathy has clues sewn into her life quilts and scraps supporting that contention and who knows what else. The latest Quilts of Love inspirational romance (see Aloha Rose by Lisa Carter and Tempest's Course by Lynette Sowell) is an engaging police procedural in which the case comes before the love subplot. In spite of identifying the killer rather early, readers will enjoy this wonderful whodunit as the Quilts of Love serve as keys to the investigation, the romance and renewed faith in the Lord. Harriet Klausner

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Moon Rising-Lori Devoti

Moon Rising Lori Devoti Harlequin Nocturne, Jan 7 2014, $5.75 ISBN 9780373885886 The human may be living in squalor in Cave City, Kentucky, but his claim on a blog to have found hidden treasure sends hermitic vampire Marc Delacroix to his abode as he believes the man found a vampire cache. Moments after his arrival at the dump, two werewolves enter the building. Russell and Cece Parks learned of the hidden werewolf treasure when a drunk bragged about it. A dog angry over the invasion has the three intruders fleeing. Marc and Cece are attracted to each but distrust supersedes desire. Though her pack wants their natural enemy dead, Cece risks becoming an exiled lone wolf by rescuing him; while a third party paranormal hunt for the same artifacts killing anyone, regardless of species, in their way. Moon Rising is an exciting paranormal taboo romance due to the fully developed lead characters whose relationship goes from attraction to love rather quickly; while trust proves more convoluted and extremely difficult to achieve due to conflicting loyalties. Fast-paced readers will enjoy the treasure hunt teaming by the vampire and the were in the ideal locale, Mammoth Cave National Park. Harriet Klausner

Flame-Amy Kathleen Ryan

Flame Amy Kathleen Ryan St. Martin's Griffin, Jan 7 2014, $18.99 ISBN: 9780312621360 Two ships (the New Horizon and the Empyrean) left dying earth in hopes of finding a new home planet. Instead of a mutual beneficial collaboration between the vessels, Pastor Anne Mather of the New Horizon establishes a brutal lethal theocracy that included abductions from the sister ship. When the kidnapped teen girls led by Kieran escaped back to the Empyrean, with no choice they left their parents behind (see Glow). An attempted rescue fails and the Empyrean destroyed (see Spark). The former leaders of the Empyrean (Waverly, Kieran and Seth) manage to get on board the New Horizon, but under diverse circumstances. Mather mentors Kieran; an elderly male conceals Waverly while plotting rebellion from the theocratic iron fist of the righteous Pastor; and ailing Seth, like he did on the Empyrean, remains alone living in hiding. The final Sky Chasers outer space thriller is an entertaining young adult science fiction. The fast-paced story line rotates perspective between the three teen former leaders of the ruined Empyrean as each has landed in a different set of tsuris. Filled with suspense as the heroes and readers wonder whom to trust and whether the protagonists will ever see each other again, teen fans especially will relish the climax of a strong science fiction trilogy. Harriet Klausner

Dark Duets-Christopher Golden (editor)

Dark Duets Christopher Golden (editor) Harper Voyager, Jan 7 2014, $25.99 ISBN 9780062240279 This seventeen story collection focuses on “tales of horror and dark fantasy” with the caveat that each contribution must be coauthored by a collaboration of at least two writers who previously never teamed up. The compilation is very well written as expected by the highly regarded participants, but the entries often miss the dark adjective requirement and ergo are rarely horrifying. “Violence is as American as Cherry Pie” (H. Raps Brown) for the deceased as much as the living in “Wielded” by Tom Piccirilli and T.M. Wright. In “Dark Witness” (Charlaine Harris and Rachel Caine) the female struggles to cope with rape. Erin persuades her BFF Jana to come to the party where the latter learns the hard way about the cost of “Blind Love” (father-daughter team Lansdale). The troll’s feeding tastes would lock him away for life or execute him in human society for two distinct reasons in “Trip Trap” by Sherrilyn Kenyon and Kevin J. Anderson. This is a fun anthology but many of the tales use humor that lightens the intended darkness. Harriet Klausner

All Russians Love Birch Trees-Olga Grjasnowa; Eva Bacon (translator)

All Russians Love Birch Trees Olga Grjasnowa; Eva Bacon (translator) Other, Jan 7 2014, $15.95 ISBN: 9781590515846 Masha Kogan was a little girl when her family fled war-ravaged Azerbaijan settling in Germany where the national policy encourages Jewish immigration though the natives are wary of foreigners from certain regions but especially Muslims. She has a propensity for language speaking many fluently as Masha studies to become an interpreter. The Jewish community is angry with her because her two best friends, Sami the Lebanese and Cem the Turk born in Germany, are Muslim while her boyfriend Elias is a natural born German. When Elias breaks his leg playing soccer, he undergoes surgery only to die. Grieving Masha relooks her priorities and accepts a translator position in Israel. Her initial welcome to the Holy Land upon landing at the airport is security, claiming high risk, destroying her computer for containing Arabic stickers on it. From that stunning stray, as in Germany, Masha feels like an unwanted outsider especially since she speaks Arabic instead of Hebrew. As she meets her fellow Jews, Masha stereotypes the Israelis as deniers or PTSD suffers with her belonging to neither grouping. This is a fascinating tale in which the violent background supersedes the protagonist who takes readers as a person without a homeland from Azerbaijan to Germany to Israel with the constant international message from the natives: distrust anyone different especially refugees. Timely with the immigration debate in America, readers will appreciate the harrowing journey that the displaced face more than the heroine escorting us. Harriet Klausner

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Fury Of The Demon-Diana Rowland

Fury Of The Demon Diana Rowland Daw, Jan 7 2014, $17.99 ISBN: 9780756408305 Though still recuperating from Demon Lord Rhyzkahl’s vicious betrayal, still shocked Demon Summoner Kara Gillian has no time to heal. She and her beloved rescuer and mentor Demon Lord Mzatal rely on one another as they plan to rescue his kidnapped ward Idris from summoners loyal to Rhyzkahl. They leave the land of the demons as clues lead them to earth where Kara not too long ago was once a mundane Beaulac, Louisiana Police Detective. FBI agents Ryan Kristoff and Zack Garner assist them starting with making her an agency consultant. When Kara and Mzatal become embroiled in a homicide by magic, the summoner fears this is much more than a simple S&R as the pair concludes Rhyzkahl’s minion grows exponentially. The latest Kara Gillian urban fantasy (see Mark of the Demon and Touch of the Demon) is a fabulous tale as the heroine psychologically struggles with betrayal by so-called friends while reassessing her interpretation of her recent past. She also deals with the horrific revelations of what happened on her home plane while Mzatal trained her for months in his realm. Fast-paced throughout, series fans will appreciate the Bayou Summoner’s return home. Harriet Klausner

The Vampire Hunter-Michele Hauf

The Vampire Hunter Michele Hauf Harlequin Nocturne, Jan 7 2014, $5.75 ISBN 9780373885879 In Paris, Knight of the Stake Kaz Rothstein searches for the distributer behind the devastation that has turned the streets of the City of Lights into a dark hellhole. After Kaz rescues a young female from a vampire pack; she thanks her hero with a kiss that shakes him to his bone marrow and has her heart pounding. To his astonishment, Zac is attracted to the beguiling witch Zoe Guillbeaux. Meanwhile the witch has been working on an elixir to cure an undead friend addicted to faery ichor, but remains ignorant that her medicine has become the rage of the Paris underground. As each learns the whole truth; she fears her beloved’s reaction to her. This In The Company of Vampires romantic urban fantasy is an entertaining Paris thriller. The lead couple is a terrific pairing of two individuals who are in love but doubts linger in each's minds from their respective history with the paranormal. Although the fascinating drug investigation takes too long to come together, readers will appreciate the changing relationship between the hunter and the witch (from The Good to The Bad to The Ugly, and hopefully back to the Good). Harriet Klausner

She Shall Be Praised-Ginny Aiken

She Shall Be Praised Ginny Aiken FaithWords, Jan 7 2014, $15.00 ISBN: 9780892968466 In 1883, following a trip to London, upper crust Emma Crowell stops at the home of her aunt and uncle in Hope County, Oregon. Heeding her father’s plea, Emma accepts Joshua Hamilton’s proposal. About to leave on a business trip to Paris, Joshua gives his fiancée a poodle. On the coach to Portland without a chaperone, Emma demands the driver stop because her dog Pippa needs a break. Once the socialite and the canine leave the coach; the driver leaves them behind in the wild. Two outlaws capture the deb and the dog until rancher Peter Lowery and his manager Colley, searching for sheep rustlers, rescue them. He takes the females to his home, but explains he cannot escort her to Portland due to his ranch obligations for a few months. Instead Peter offers her a place to stay if Emma becomes the housekeeper and his son Robby’s caretaker. As Emma adapts to working guided by the Proverbs, she falls in love with her host and his child. Although she believes Peter reciprocates Emma must persuade him to let her stay with them instead of taking her to Portland. The third Women of Hope Americana romance (see Remember Me When and For Such A Time As This) is a wonderful 1880s Oregonian inspirational. The key cast comes across fully developed; especially Emma who starts off as a debutante out of place in a rustic lifestyle after years in ballrooms (though I doubt she can change her spots, Ginny Aiken makes a compelling case). Ironically, Colley and Pippa bring freshness to She Shall Be Praised while the protagonists need to overcome their respective first impressions of each other. Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Touch-Michelle Sagara

Touch Michelle Sagara Daw, Jan 7 2014, $17.99 ISBN: 9780756408008 Teenager Emma knows heartbreak as her beloved boyfriend Nathan died one month after they first got together. Three months have passed since his demise, but for Emma that seems like eternity as besides missing him, she has learned she is a necromancer who sees and communicates with the dead; for instance her late dad lecturing her over the importance of high school. At Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Emma visits Nathan’s grave, just like his mom always does, but unlike his mother they talk and touch. Emma learns from two friends, necromantic-hunters Eric and Chase, that the Queen of the Dead prevents souls from leaving this plane. Her heart conflicts over alienating the powerful Queen by helping Nathan depart and keeping him with her. The second Queen of the Dead teen fantasy (see Silence) is an exciting tale as the heroine must choose between a Hobson’s Choice of the ghostly status quo and her love moving on. Newcomers would better understand the protagonist by reading Silence first as Emma has come a long way in a seemingly short time from her reluctant early days as a necromancer and the importance of her ability to make friendships with anyone even those needing to kill her. Harriet Klausner

The Magic Between Us-Tammy Falkner

The Magic Between Us Tammy Falkner Sourcebooks, Jan 7 2014, $6.99 ISBN 9781402268182 His parents live on the mortal plane while hybrid Marcus Thorne resides in the land of the fae without them ever in his life. He loves Cecelia Hewitt and expects to one day marry her. However, family duty calls for him to cross the plane to become an English aristocrat; leaving behind his beloved Cecelia. His kin welcomes Marcus but also tells him they want him happy which includes marrying Cecelia. However, she has family demands so she says no to his proposal. Resolute Marcus vows to learn what prevents his beloved from becoming his wife and fixing this roadblock to their happiness. The latest “Magic” regency romantic fantasy (see A Lady And Her Magic and The Magic Of “I Do”) is an engaging paranormal historical starring two likeable leads struggling with obligations that keep them from saying yes at the same time to The Magic Between Them. Although a late redemption feels improbable and tsuris resolved too quickly and easily, fans will enjoy this cross-plane romance. Harriet Klausner

A Promise Kept-Robin Lee Hatcher

A Promise Kept Robin Lee Hatcher Thomas Nelson, Jan 7 2014, $15.99 ISBN: 9781401687656 Allison Kavanagh knows she caused heartache when she invoked her interpretation of God’s personal message to her that demanded too much of her husband Tony who chose to leave her. Stunned Allison seeks solace to reflect on why her path to the Lord broke her marriage and her spirit. She moves into the isolated cabin in the Idaho mountains north of Boise that she inherited from her Great Aunt Emma the renowned nature photographer. In spite of loved ones’ support, Allison struggles with moving on especially dealing with how her strong beliefs and misunderstanding of what God wanted of her led to this emotional debacle. When she finds Emma’s 1920s and 1930s journals, photos and a wedding dress Allison learns a broken heart caused her ancestor’s unhappy independence. This engaging inspirational contemporary drama reflects on how God works in mysterious unexpected ways that challenges a person’s beliefs especially when the adamant true-believer is unprepared for a different seemingly wrong path than what was anticipated. Character driven by Allison and Emma, readers will appreciate Robin Lee Hatcher taking us on inspiring contemporary path. Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Snowblind-Christopher Golden

Snowblind Christopher Golden St. Martin’s, Jan 21 2014, $25.99 ISBN 9781250015310 The citizens of Coventry were used to powerful blizzards, but this one was the strongest that anyone who survived could remember as affirmed by the records. Many died from exposure or accidents while some simply vanished with their bodies never found. Unnerving reports surfaced from those who endured the ordeal of blue-white “ice men” racing about in the blizzard at extraordinary impossible speeds. A dozen years later, the citizens of Coventry prepare for the latest storm of the century. However, unlike the previous lethal mega storm of twelve years ago, confidence is long gone as those who lived through that horrific blizzard fear the ice men cometh for them. In spite of a different season, the exciting Snowbound will remind readers of Stephen King’s Storm of the Century as they share the premise of a supernatural attack during a monster storm. Although why Coventry failed to become a ghost-town after the eerie deadly blizzard twelve years ago is left unanswered, readers will enjoy this suspenseful horror. Harriet Klausner

Once Upon A Winter’s Heart-Melody Carlson

Once Upon A Winter’s Heart Melody Carlson Center Street, Jan 7 2014, $11.00 ISBN: 9781455528110 Following the death of her octogenarian grandfather, Emma Burcelli announces romance died with her beloved Poppi. Her grandparents recently had celebrated their Blue Sapphire anniversary while her mom fears Nona will soon join her beloved soul mate in heaven. With no ties in Seattle except for her roommate Lucy, Emma quits her boring dead-end job at Brightpond marketing that she believes should be called Dullpond to return home to care for her Nona who was more a mom to her and her sisters than their career-oriented mother. Emma helps out at the family-owned bookstore where she meets Lane Forester. They share wonderful tales about Poppi; leading to Emma beginning to believe in love again until her sister Anne and their mom insist she forget him as Lane belongs to her sibling. Readers will be singing Dean Martin’s That's Amore as Melody Carlson provides an engaging contemporary romance. Although the path to true love runs through family misunderstandings causing tsuris for the protagonists and the climax is as sweetly as expected by Valentine’s Day, fans will agree with the melody that “Everybody Loves Somebody” (Dean Martin). Harriet Klausner

Solomon’s Song-Roberta Kells Dorr

Solomon’s Song Roberta Kells Dorr River North, Jan 1 2014, $14.99 ISBN: 9780802409553 The three-year long drought has devastated the land. Eighteen years old Prince Solomon believes the people turning away from Yahweh has caused this disaster. His older half-brother Adonijah insists their elderly father King David’s infertility is the reason for no rain; Solomon protests that is the belief of the followers of Baal. Adonijah insists that their sire be tested by the most beautiful girl in Israel; if he fails to plant his seed, he must be replaced by one of his sons. Shulamit the shepherdess is the chosen one to become the latest bride of the king. Three days after Solomon and Shulamit first meet, they fall in love. However, she is to be David’s wife; his mother demands her son’s first bride be a royal; and the future of the kingdom keeps them apart. Based on the Song of Songs, Solomon’s Song is a wonderful reprint of the monarch’s forbidden eternal love. Deeper focus on what the protagonists saw in each other to fall in love so quickly with little unchaperoned contact would have anchored the heartbreak to follow. Still biblical fiction fans will appreciate the heartbroken king wisely without passion choosing for the sake of his people ruling over loving. Harriet Klausner

Monday, January 20, 2014

Operation Mockingbird-Linda Baletsa

Operation Mockingbird Linda Baletsa Spratt & Co. LLC, Nov 14 2013, $14.99 ISBN: 9780989446105 Miami Chronicle reporter Matt Connelly exposed the excesses of Commissioner Suarez before the pair got into a public brawl that ended the already shaky relationship the journalist had with his girlfriend Dana Fried. Suarez’s affluent political connections also harm Connelly’s position at the paper so he decides to cover the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but outside of the Defense Department’s embed program. After a stint in Fallujah he is in Kandahar when the Americans attack an alleged Taliban weapons stronghold killing many innocents and injuring Matt before the enemy captures him. A local helps him escape. Back in Florida, his editor Kagan warns him the media has changed while he played war correspondent as you comply, die or quit. He further explains the paper’s new owner Armstrong Media demands upbeat compliant stories including fictional accounts treated as real news and not war horrors exposing the Pentagon propaganda like the false weapons claim that led to Mike’s shoulder injury and capture. Mike risks his life trying to tell the truth to an America not interested in honest reporting of dark news. With a nod to the Yellow Journalism of the early twentieth century, Linda Baletsa provides a powerful exposé of the duplicity to a war-weary and scandal-scarred public by the industrial-government-media complex. Although heavy-handed with too much explanation (in fairness as expected by a twenty-first century version of Sinclair Lewis’ The Jungle), fans will relish Operation Mockingbird as those of us who care about the Fourth Estate providing real news (to include the depressing) are “Holding Out for a Hero” (by Bonnie Tyler) like idealistic Iron Mike. Harriet Klausner

Crossbones Yard- Kate Rhodes

Crossbones Yard Kate Rhodes Minotaur, Jan 21 2014, $14.99 ISBN: 9781250038197 In London, psychiatrist Alice Quentin feels she became a good therapist because she understands the mental anguish and suffering of her patients as she deals with some of the same personal phobias; having been abused as a child including lock ups in dark closets. Alice the child has become very judgmental, condemning and unforgiving as Alice the audit; her parents know this first-hand. That does not prevent Southwark Detective Chief Inspector Burns employing Dr. Quentin as a consultant to determine how closely the police need to monitor the soon to be released (by the courts) convicted killer of a hooker. While jogging at night in Southwark, Alice stops for a breather at historical Crossbones Cemetery. She notices a decomposed naked female corpse with crosses made by a knife all over the body. Not long after that gruesome discovery, near the van owned by her schizophrenic drug addict brother, Alice finds a second dead nude female prostitute with the same etchings on the skin as the first victim. The police provide protection to the psychiatrist due to death threats while more women are murdered in the same horrid way that was used by incarcerated Marie Benson and her deceased husband Ray. The first Quentin case is a dark macabre serial killer thriller made fresh by an emotionally scarred heroine and an extremely weird over the top of Big Ben support cast. Readers who appreciate a grim whodunit starring a very flawed protagonist will want to jog Southwark with aptly named Alice. Harriet Klausner

Moth and Spark-Anne Leonard

Moth and Spark Anne Leonard Viking, Feb 20 2014, $27.95 ISBN 9780670015702 Prince Corin of Caithen fears for the well-being of his small country bordered by two powerful neighbors. The Mycenean Empire contains a vaunted war machine anchored by dragons and their riders; while aggression from Tyrekh and his Sarians who most likely will use the ships of conquered neighboring Argondy to invade Caithen through the port of Dele. Complicating his complex world, the Dragons chose Prince Corin to liberate then from Mycene; a dubious honor that he cannot refuse since they magically tagged him with the quest. However, they provide their chosen one with a little of their power and no information on why they remain captive by the Empire’s sorcerers or how to free them because his beastly “masters” do not know. Tam, the daughter of an esteemed doctor, leaves her home city Dalrinia for the capital Caithenor where at the library, she and Corin meet. As Tam learns she is a seer, she and the prince are attracted to each other. Besides a royal-commoner relationship taboo, both accept he must keep his land safe while completing the dragon mission though accomplishing either of the two tasks makes achieving the other seemingly impossible and living through this impossible. Though a typical quest fantasy, sub-genre readers will enjoy the exciting escapades of Tam and Corin; as they romantically team up on seemingly doomed missions. Fast-paced from the first protagonists’ encounter, Moth and Spark provides fans with a fun engaging storyline. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Do or Die-Suzanne Brockmann

Do or Die Suzanne Brockmann Ballantine, Feb 4 2014 $26.00 ISBN 9780345543790 At a prison near Sarasota, Florida, upon meeting her new client ex-SEAL turned felon Ian Dunn for the first time, Bryant, Hill and Stoneham lawyer Phoebe Kruger is amazed how big he is as he makes her Amazonian body feel petit and even the tall other attendee Martell Griffin seem little. Ian demands Phoebe’s boss the B in her firm “Uncle” Jerry Bryant be here, but a car accident left him hurt and his granddaughter dead. Griffin states he is not a Fed but represents them to offer Dunn freedom today if he cooperates on the rescue of nuclear physicist Lusa Vaszko’s two kidnapped children allegedly held inside the Kazbekistani Consul in Miami. They need him because he is a convict that allows government denial. Dunn prefers to remain in prison as he has for almost a year; he conceals that he must stay in jail as part of a deal to protect his brother and his sibling’s family from mobster Manny Dellarosa who just suffered a heart attack. Abducting Kruger, Dunn fears for his family since Manny’s psycho brother leads the mob. As he works options to keep his loved ones safe, Dunn teams up with his cute lawyer to try to rescue the abducted kids before their kidnappers kill the youngsters or the scientist surrenders to them. The first Reluctant Heroes romantic suspense is an exciting thriller as the heroine and readers learn nothing is what it seems as established by the opening fascinating yet too long encounter. Still once Dunn car jacks Kruger’s vehicle with her inside, the storyline accelerates into a fast-paced, impossible to put down race to save the innocent.

Mayhem-Sarah Pinborough

Mayhem Sarah Pinborough Quercus, Jan 14 2014, $24.95 ISBN: 9781623650865 In 1887, Londoners live in abject fear waiting for the next Jack the Ripper murder. Assisting the police on the violent deadly assaults drives Dr. Thomas Bond to increasingly using opium to help him temporarily forget the gruesome sight though he believes the nightmares will haunt him until he dies. When a new female victim even more violently attacked than the previous poor souls is found, the city panics. However, Bond realizes this homicide is different as Ripper leaves the entire corpse for the police and locals to deal with; while this murderer left only the torso. Doubting Ripper changed his method and more victims with body parts deposited all around town including the construction site of Scotland Yard are found; Bond concludes a second more violent psycho dubbed the Thames Torso is doubling down on the horror gripping the beleaguered city. Based on the real Thames Torso murders that horrified London during the Ripper period and using as the protagonist a genuine historical person to tell the tale Sarah Pinborough provides a taut late Victorian crime thriller with a stunning Eastern European spin. The inclusion of world-wide newspaper coverage of the first known serial killers adds fascinating macabre shock and depth mindful of the Son of Sam coverage. Readers will relish this tense twisting historical whodunit. Harriet Klausner

Saturday, January 18, 2014

An Air of Treason-P. F. Chisholm

An Air of Treason P. F. Chisholm Poisoned Pen, Jan 7 2014, $24.95 ISBN 9781464202209 In 1592, the Queen ignoring the advice of Mistress Thomasina de Paris directs the woman to order Deputy Warden of the West March Sir Robert Carey to investigate a death that occurred just after he was born in 1560; he must resolve the cold case before the Queen enters Oxford. Though there was a year-long inquiry thirty-two years ago just after Amy Dudley tumbled down stairs to her death, that probe found no evidence of homicide but Elizabeth like many believes the wife of deceased Robert Dudley was murdered. Robert prefers to avoid this mess because he knows whatever he does is dangerous to his well-being especially since the late Widower Dudley was a special suitor of Her Highness, making the Royal a prime suspect. As he begins his investigation Robert finds clues that imply murder and imply his father was part of a conspiracy. While his dedicated guard Sergeant Henry Dodd vanishes, an unknown adversary poisons Carey with belladonna; leaving him blind with no time to heal. The latest Robert Carey Elizabethan mystery is a great entry in a strong historical series (see A Famine of Horses and A Murder of Crows) with a current focus on the investigation by a real person into actual mysterious death of Amy Dudley. Fast-paced throughout with the spin that Dodd has his own exciting subplot; P.F. Chisholm provides another entertaining late sixteenth century whodunit. Harriet Klausner

Nantucket Sawbuck-Steven Axelrod

Nantucket Sawbuck Steven Axelrod Poisoned Pen, Jan 7 2014, $24.95 ISBN 9781464200878 On Nantucket Island, Preston Lomax draws up a long list including his wife and children as to who wanted him dead and who will shortly join that parade. Three weeks later, his daughter finds his corpse in his eyesore Mcmansion. Massachusetts State Police Detective Lonnie Fraker claims jurisdiction as this is a capital crime, but new resident Chief of Police Henry Kennis stays actively involved. The homicide investigation surfaces many suspects; as his family loathed him for his abuse of them; and every islander and many on Wall Street had a strong motive to kill Lomax who was in major debt and allegedly ready to default by vanishing. Fraker solves the screwdriver stabbing murder by arresting David Treizize. However, Kennis’ gut from years working homicide in L.A. tells him they locked up the wrong person. Following his feelings, he continues the inquiry though alienating many locals who demand case closed and the State who threatens to destroy him. The fabulous first Kennis Nantucket police procedural is a strong whodunit that brings to life the island in a vivid though not always complementary way. Although transitions at times come across unsmooth, readers will appreciate this taut, fast-paced yet character driven murder mystery. Harriet Klausner

Whispers of Vivaldi-Beverle Graves Myers

Whispers of Vivaldi Beverle Graves Myers Poisoned Pen, Jan 7 2014, $24.95 ISBN 9781464202100 In 1745 Venice, the esteemed Teatro San Marco opera house is in financial trouble since many patrons deserted it for its lightweight rival Teatro Grimani in spite the latter’s focus on minor works with pretty inane tunes and beautiful by poor performing prima donnas. Teatro San Marco Director Maestro Torani orders former soprano Tito Amato to find a fresh saving piece in time for Carnival. Tito offers his boss the False Duke by Niccolo Rocatti, whose previous works have not been very good. However, Tito insists that this piece about twins is different with Whispers of Vivaldi as if the late great Red Priest wrote it. Sold on the concept, Torani imports Angeletto of Naples as the star in spite of incessant rumors the castrato is actually a female. When someone murders Torani, recognizing himself as the prime suspect Tito must solve the homicide before it is too late for him and his beloved opera house. The latest Baroque mystery (see The Iron Tongue of Midnight) contains an interesting surprising whodunit as the protagonist’s mentor is the victim. The exciting investigation is enhanced by the colorful descriptions of mid eighteenth century Venice and the behind the scenes of an opera house; so picturesque the background turns the storyline into a fabulous historical with a strong supporting whodunit. Harriet Klausner

Friday, January 17, 2014

Hunting Shadows-Charles Todd

Hunting Shadows Charles Todd Morrow, Jan 21 2013, $25.99 ISBN 9780062237187 In 1920 in East Anglia, someone, shooting from a distance, murders Captain Hutchinson as he enters Ely Cathedral to attend the fashionable wedding of his cousin, and soon after kills Tory Parliament candidate Herbert Swift as he began a campaign speech. Two weeks after the Hutchinson murder, the local police make no progress on the homicides so ask Scotland Yard to investigate. Inspector Ian Rutledge takes over the inquiry with little substantiated information and the case somewhat cold. He knows that most likely the same sniper killed both men and a woman insists she witnessed the Swift killing by what she strongly claims is a monster. As Rutledge ties the killings to the Great War, he fears his own combat issues will explode his brains if the adversary does not do it first. Team Todd has written one of the best Inspector Rutledge historical police procedurals in the strong long running series (see Proof of Guilt). The protagonist struggles with PTSD, customized to his combat experiences (with Hamish) and his overall demeanor, while working a case that accentuates his inner demons. Readers will appreciate this taut whodunit that brings to life the still timely (with present day veteran and military suicide rate much greater than the rest of the public) unintended consequences of war on the soldiers after the hostilities between nations end; but never for those who served at the front. Harriet Klausner

Sentinel’s Choice-Michael E. Witzgall

Sentinel’s Choice Michael E. Witzgall CME Publishing, Dec 12 2013, $13.95 ISBN: 9780615938905 In Dallas, a serial killer targets religious leaders. Assigned to lead the investigation is DPD CAPERS/Homicide Unit Sergeant Detective Renee LaFleet. A Marine Force Reconnaissance Officer veteran, Ren quickly concludes this case may prove tougher than his combat experience in Iraq as the body count mounts by a perp who knows what he or she is doing. As he begins to see the pattern emerge, Ren fears his BFF, retired Navy SEAL turned Catholic priest Father Richard Shannon, may be the culprit. What eludes Ren is why and how to prove his buddy Rick has become an avenging angel when even the cop disbelieves his own assertion and circumstantial evidence that someone he has known for so long could be this murdering bringer of death. Sentinel’s Choice is an exhilarating police procedural that grips the reader from the surprising prologue to the stunning climax. Ren is a terrific protagonist who refuses to accept his own theory as his mind stubbornly insists no way leading to his rejecting what his senses insist is the truth. With a great twisting finish to a strong investigation, fans will relish Michael E. Witzgall’s refreshing serial killer novel. Harriet Klausner

The Ascendant-Drew Chapman

The Ascendant Drew Chapman Simon & Schuster, Jan 7 2014, $25.00 ISBN: 9781476725888 Twenty-six year old Garrett Reilly lives in two states: anger at the world and being high. He is also Wall Street’s top bond trader because he quickly recognizes number patterns that no one else notices. He informs his boss at Jenkins & Altshuler, Avery Bernstein that the Chinese are selling off two hundred billion dollars of treasuries bought twelve years ago through Dubai-based Al Samir trading house by an unknown client. Garrett explains their plan to flood the market with debt and destroy the dollar. He further tells Avery they also can make a fortune on this. DIA overhears Avery’s call to Treasury re Chinese selling of American debt. Major General Kline sends Captain Alexis Truffant, who insisted the Chinese declared war in a type never seen before, to test if Garrett is the Ascendant. In minutes, Garrett identifies who she is and why she seeks him out; except he hates the military since his brother died in combat in Afghanistan. DIA places hostile Garrett in charge of the modern day Cold War operations using market manipulation as the WMDs. With a nod to the TV show Numb3rs but on a global scale, The Ascendant is a tense thriller that grips readers from the moment Garrett reads the pattern and never slows down as actions affirms his distrust of both sides in the monetary war. The protagonist is a fascinating antihero ironically placed in the position of saving a world he loathes by those he detests. Although the motive for the Chinese actions seem over the top of the Great Wall, readers will appreciate this action-packed tale as the latest “War to End All Wars” fought by a different set of numbers. Harriet Klausner

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The House On The Cliff-Charlotte Williams

The House On The Cliff Charlotte Williams Bourbon Street Books/HarperCollins, Jan 7 2014, $14.99 ISBN: 9780062284570 Actor Gwydion Morgan finds his anxiety attacks destroying his career and perhaps his life as he considers suicide to end his anguish. Desperate to overcome his phobia of buttons before he takes a final curtain call, Gwydion turns to Welsh psychotherapist Jessica Mayhew for help. Jessica finds her patient’s mental trauma fascinating as the actor’s freezing in abject fear from koumpounophobia and is prepared to end his misery by death. She investigates his family past and present and learns his au pair as a child drowned in a strange accident. Jessica’s home life is in shambles as her rebellious teenage daughter is nasty towards her and her spouse admits to sleeping with someone else. Upset Jessica considers an unprofessional relationship with Gwydion and his renowned father director Evan Morgan. The House on the Cliff is a wonderful psychological suspense that is at its best when the focus is on the therapist or her patient in conjunction with each other or with their respective families. The amateur sleuthing subplot detracts from an otherwise strong relationship drama starring a deep lead and a fully developed supporting cast. Harriet Klausner

Blotto, Twinks and the Bootlegger's Moll-Simon Brett

Blotto, Twinks and the Bootlegger's Moll Felony & Mayhem, Jan 7 2014, $14.95 ISBN: 9781937384920 Due to plumbing at their Tawcester Towers, the Lyminster Family is in financial trouble; besides more important the noisy pipes and flooding (even a Gainsborough took a drenching) drive the Dowager Duchess crazy. She assesses their assets and decides the best bet is marrying her handsome but dumb son Deveraux AKA Blotto to a wealthy American as doltish as her male offspring for paying to enter the aristocracy. Thus his Mater exiles Blotto, accompanied to keep him on mission by his brilliant beautiful sister Twinks, to Chicago for him to wed Mary, the heiress daughter of meat-packing magnate Luther P. Chapstick III. Furthermore, Mater explains to her son he will live in the States with his in-laws and wife as they are unacceptable in her England. However, Mr. Chapstick makes demands that the Duchess arranges a party filled with blue bloods or his daughter marries someone else. Twinks realizes that Chapstick is wealthy from his illegal activities, but she knows Blotto must marry Mary and the mob or face a more dangerous foe their Mater. The latest Blotto and Twinks 1920s English drama (see Blotto, Twinks And The Dead Dowager Duchess and Blotto, Twinks And The Ex-King's Daughter) is an engaging satire that lampoons mysteries and rigid social mores. Though the behavior of the matrimonial dealmakers is over the top of the Willis Tower as stereotypes of a mobster and a monetary strapped aristocrat (albeit their discussions are inanely amusing), readers will appreciate the Bootlegger’s tale. Harriet Klausner

Revolution-Mercedes Lackey, Veronica Giguere, Martin Cody and Dennis Lee

Revolution Mercedes Lackey, Veronica Giguere, Martin Cody and Dennis Lee Baen, Jan 7 2014, $25.00 ISBN 9781451639322 The meta-humans of Echo and CCCP managed to halt the blitzkrieg Invasion by the Nazis in spite of the seemingly superior ultra-powerful weaponry of the invaders. However, inside of Echo a revolt has broken out over the merit of romance writer and techno-mage Victoria Victrix Nagy’s Overwatch recording of events while one of Bulwark’s Misfits Harmony leaves her mentor in a comatose state (see World Divided). Two other Misfits Bruno and Scope hunt Harmony who has turned into a Blacksnake assassin. As Nagy improves her Overwatch program while stealthy testing it on CCCP, EMT Bella Dawn Parker AKA Belladonna Blue the healer tries to save Bulwark’s life; as Seraphym enters his dreams to lay out his possible futures to him. At the same time General Shen Xue lives inside the body that once belonged to CCCP operative Fel Li who’s trapped inside the Jade Emperor's sword Whisper possessed by Xue. The General accosts Echo owner Dominic Verdigris III while his bodyguard Khanjar tries to intervene but fails. However Xue and Verd reach an accord. As with the second entry (see World Divided), action in the third Secret World Chronicle is a bit muted compared with the opening Invasion as the hostility remains from within and with Echo’s adversarial rival Blacksnake rather than the Nazi/Thule threat. The key to this enjoyable fantasy remains with the superhuman filled with flaws that reduce their super qualities to mere human. The engaging storyline emphasizes the shaky political bedfellows who make for Revolution at a time when unity is critical. Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Moses Virus-Jack Hyland

The Moses Virus Jack Hyland Taylor Trade, Jan 7 2014, $24.95 ISBN: 9781589799080 The American Academy of Rome sponsors an excavation led by Bryn Mawr College archeology professor Dr. Robert “Doc” Brown into an underground passageway at the Roman Forum that he believes leads to Nero’s Palace missing for 2000 years. Attending the dig besides Doc and his students are NYU Forensics Archeology Professor Dr. Tom Stewart and International Herald Tribune Jim Ruchet. With care and diligence, the staff lowers Doc and his assistant Eric Bowen into the hole. The pair reaches a crumbling wall which they manage to open only communications turn silent. A tug on the rope from above proves they remain tied but neither Doc or Eric pull back to show they are okay. Greg Bater goes down into the hole to find their corpses horribly twisted and moss covering them. The autopsy states a long buried virus caused the deaths, but the official position is that a cave-in killed Doc and Eric while burying the passageway. No one believes this as journalists and shadier people stalk anyone at the dig. Fearing the virus will end up in unscrupulous hands and distrusting a private firm too interested in the virus; nor the Vatican, the Italian government and other interested nations to do the right thing to prevent a pandemic, Stewart seeks the virus to destroy it. The Moses Virus is an exciting cautionary thriller that grips the audience once Eric enters the hole and never slows down until the climatic confrontation. Although grad student Alexandra Cellini is a strong brave female, her romantic tie to the beleaguered hero seems more of a subgenre requirement. Still readers will relish this fast-paced taut tale. Harriet Klausner

The Execution-Dick Wolf

The Execution Dick Wolf Morrow, Jan 7 2014, $27.99 ISBN: 9780062064851 Not long after the Mexican presidential election, someone beheads twenty-three people at the American border. Mexican Comandante Cecilia Garza recognizes the Hummingbird etching on each body as the trademark of Chuparosa the assassin. Garza concludes Chuparosa plans a major event at the United Nations Week summit in New York where her President Vargas will attend; so she heads to Manhattan. Having dealt with Swedish jihadists coming through the porous Canadian border, NYPD Intelligence Division Detective Jeremy Fisk works security at the summit though his role is at the office. While a mass murder with decapitated bodies with etched hummingbirds occurs in Rockaway, Queens, Fisk meets Garza and learns of Chuparosa’s planned assassination of President Vargas. Though both suffer from the violent loss of loved ones and a need to cooperate, the two cops reluctantly agree to team up to not just prevent Chuparosa from causing murderous havoc at the UN and Manhattan, but to end his reign of terror permanently though neither of their agencies believe this mass killer exists. The second Fisk police procedural (see The Intercept) is a strong thriller due to the fully developed lead triangle as readers get to know each of them; especially interesting is Garza whose motivation is her mother and sister. The fast-paced storyline is frantic as time runs out and action-packed but decelerates as the plot nears the anticipated climatic confrontation before regaining final twisting speed. Still this is a ride worth taking by genre fans. Harriet Klausner

Dying to Know-TJ O’Connor

Dying to Know TJ O’Connor Midnight Ink, Jan 8 2014, $14.99 ISBN: 9780738739502 In Frederick County, Virginia working late hours for days with his partner Bear Braddock, police detective Oliver Tucker feels good about being home asleep for a change with his wife Angela, a university archeology professor. When she wakes him up having heard a noise, he investigates only someone shoots him. Oliver realizes he is dead and the only one who sees him as a ghost is their dog Hercule. He assumes he remains on earth to find his killer though his memory is porous. Bear and the rest of the cops assume the murder of one of them is tied to a killing last week of a security guard Oliver and his partner were investigating. To forget temporarily, grieving Angela works her consulting assignment at a development site where bones were found that stopped the project until she can ascertain its historical significance. As Oliver makes contact with his Angel, he begins to suspect his best friend Bear might be involved with his wife and perhaps his murder since his partner of fifteen years acts strange. Still with the help of Angel and other ghosts, Oliver works the case, which expands from just finding his killer but also keeping his beloved safe and helping restless spirits. The first Gumshoe Ghost Mystery is an entertaining paranormal whodunit with a strong investigation, a super late twist and a deep cast led by the confused jealous Oliver. Fans will appreciate this supernatural whodunit though the bewildered mental filter of the lead ghost re relationships at times slows down the pacing of an otherwise fun tale. Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Liaden Universe: Constellation Vol 2-Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

A Liaden Universe: Constellation Vol 2 Sharon Lee and Steve Miller Baen, Jan 7 2014, $16.00 ISBN: 9781451639445 The second Liaden Universe: Constellation compilation contains sixteen strong previously published short stories including twelve self-published by the authors. The anthology provides depth to various worlds in the trade routes, but the collection also takes a no frills approach with no introductions except for a brief Foreword that focuses on the publishing market. On Skardu in "Veil of the Dancer" Inas craves being a chip off the old paternal block as she wants to become a scholar. Kore sends a letter to Midj asking the pilot to come to Shaltren in "Quiet Knives". Daav and Clarence meet on Liad in "The Beggar King". "Prodigal Son" Val Con returns on a mission to Vandar. The entries are quite good with series fans appreciating them especially if you can place where these tales fit in terms of time in the wider universe of novels, novellas and the other shorts (see A Liaden Universe: Constellation Vol 1). Newcomers will enjoy the stories as exciting singles but not as an introduction to the wonderful vast Lee-Miller galaxy. Harriet Klausner

Taste Of Darkness-Maria V. Snyder

Taste Of Darkness Maria V. Snyder Mira, Dec 31 2014, $14.95 ISBN: 9780778315858 As probably the last Healer in the Fifteen Realms, Avry feels frustrated having found her ailing lover Kerrick only to have him vanish before she can save his life. In turn, Prince Ryne is frustrated with the Healer who helped him defeat the evil King Tohan as she captures enemy combatants only to free them and now deserts him accompanied by her friends in search of her beloved before he dies. As Tohon’s army of the dead rise, Avry fears the deceased ruler is returning as he haunts her nightmares. Making matters most dangerous is the Skeleton King plans to use the chaos to take control of the Fifteen Realms. Avry realizes she must intervene in the war before her world is destroyed even if that intervention most likely means her death and that of her Kerrick. The final Healer young adult fantasy is an exciting thriller that questions the morality of executing, incarcerating or freeing a captured enemy similar to issues re prisoners at Guantanamo; as Stalin said: "The death of one man is a tragedy; the death of millions is a statistic.” Although the key heroes beginning with Avry and Kerrick act inanely out of character at times and the ending feels rushed, fans will enjoy this dark climax to the exhilarating sensory trilogy (see Touch of Power and Scent of Magic). Harriet Klausner

Alice Close Your Eyes-Averil Dean

Alice Close Your Eyes Averil Dean Mira, Dec 31 2014, $14.95 ISBN: 9780778315865 On Vashon Island in Puget Sound, writer Alice Croft is on a mission of what she insists to herself justified vengeance to destroy the SOB who coldly allowed her mother to die when the bastard tossed away her inhaler she desperately needed. That moment a decade ago devastated Alice’s life. Alice needs the right person for the job of murder so has been following her selected candidate Jack Calabrese to ascertain if he has the gonads to complete her quest. She breaks into Jack’s home when he is away, but he comes back early and catches her. He stays calm while they chat and soon each realizes they share a craving for S&M sex with Jack becoming the aggressor. Though Alice relishes their mutually satisfying proclivity, she has not lost her brain’s obsession to her libido as she still wants this dominant to kill the person who murdered her mother and destroyed her too. Alice Close Your Eyes is a dark erotica psychological suspense. The lead couple has respective issues with Alice’s psychosis much more prevalent while the intended victim remains unknown until the climax except through her nightmarish mental filter. Although the sex supersedes the revenge for much of the storyline, readers will appreciate Averil Dean’s taut twisting tale. Harriet Klausner

Monday, January 13, 2014

Death of a Chocoholic-Lee Hollis

Death of a Chocoholic Lee Hollis Kensington, Jan 7 2014, $7.99 ISBN: 9780758294494 In Bar Harbor, Maine, Island Times food and wine reporter single mom (of teenagers Gemma and Dustin) Hayley Powell writes a popular column. Because she believes there can never be enough chocolate, Hayley wants Bessie Winthrop to succeed as a chocolatier, but the woman’s feline roommates make her treats unhealthy due to an abundance of cat hairs mixed in with the sweets. Not long after Bessie tries to make it as a chocolate creator, she dies of an apparent heart attack. Slightly depressed when she learns the sad news, Haley tries one of the late Bessie’s concoctions while also finding a threatening note that leads her to believe the chocolatier wannabe was murdered. No one including her BFFs Mona and Liddy, who help her anyway investigate, believe Hayley’s concocted theory. The latest Hayley Powell Mystery (see Death of a Country Fried Redneck) is an engaging amusing amateur sleuth that will have readers thinking of the classic Lucy and Ethel candy assembly line. Character-driven by the heroine, the sub-genre audience will appreciate the zany escapades of the three amigas as they seek a killer who probably will target them if they make any progress. Harriet Klausner

The Headmistress of Rosemere-Sarah E. Ladd

The Headmistress of Rosemere Sarah E. Ladd Thomas Nelson, Jan 7 2013, $15.99 ISBN 9781401688363 In 1816 in Darbury, England, with the death of her father, the disappearance of her brother in London and the withdrawal of her mother, by default Patience Creighton becomes the headmistress at Rosemere School for Young Ladies replacing her late dad. She does quite well due in part to the dedicated staff and her vigilance to insure the students receive the best care and education. The Rosemere landlord William Sterling flees London and his debts to rusticate on his estate. He and the headmistress meet and are attracted to one another though William knows he is unworthy of this wonderful dedicated woman. Those holding his IOUs arrive at the estate demanding William pay his debts by selling them his land. William logically knows the best response to their claims, but his heart warns him not to destroy his beloved’s enterprise; although Patience is shaken by her now married absentee sibling coming back to claim the headmaster position. The second Whispers On The Moors historical romance (see The Heiress of Winterwood) is a delightful Regency starring a likable heroine and a cad changing his spots. Though the audience knows from the first protagonists’ encounter the path this entertaining storyline will take, readers will enjoy accompanying William and Patience on their trek to love. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Lord of the Hunt-Shona Husk

Lord of the Hunt Shona Husk Sourcebooks, Jan 7 2014, $6.99 ISBN 9781402280191 Taryn is frightened but intrepid as she breathes the air of her ancestors for the first time when she crosses from the mortal plane to Annwyn, home of the Fae. She accepted an invitation by the former Outcast Prince, who though unready will soon be the ruler with Winter coming for the first time in decades. Her mission is personal as she prays the present King will pardon her exiled father so that he and her beloved mother can come home before the throne change leaves those banished from the realm dead. The Lord of the Hunt Verden shocks himself when he realizes he is attracted to the naive Fae outsider. He mentors Taryn on life at court, but fears those with ruthless ambition will use his beloved as a power grabbing expendable pawn during the royal change when illusions die and planes expire. The latest Court of Annwyn romantic fantasy is a superb thriller that works on the macro level with the great change coming to the land of the Fae and on the micro level with the growing love between the daughter of exiles and the Lord of the Hunt. Readers will appreciate this strong entry as the destructive force of Winter leaves Annwyn and the mortal world in peril. Harriet Klausner

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Everywhere She Goes-Janice Kay Johnson

Everywhere She Goes Janice Kay Johnson Harlequin SuperRomance, Jan 7 2014, $6.75 ISBN 9780373608201 Angel Butte, Oregon Mayor Noah Chandler is fuming with the City Council when they select LAPD Homicide Lieutenant Alec Raynor as police chief as he felt they needed an administrative expert instead of an urban detective. After Alec accepts the position, Noah informs acting chief Colin McAllister that he was not selected because the department is corrupt and needs a radical change. After years away from her hometown, Colin’s sister Cait returns to Angel Butte as the new city planner. She is not in town very long when someone tries to kill her. With a murder of another resident, and attracted to each other, Colin vows to keep Cait safe from this lethal unknown adversary who obviously wants her dead though she knows not whom or why. The second Mysteries of Angel Butte (see Colin’s tale - Bringing Maddie Home) is an exciting amateur sleuth romance as the lead couple, in spite of not being law enforcement, team up trying to identify who wants the heroine dead and why. Romantic suspense fans will enjoy this fast-paced female in peril tale. Harriet Klausner

The Black Stiletto: Secrets & Lies-Raymond Benson

The Black Stiletto: Secrets & Lies Raymond Benson Oceanview, Jan 7 2014, $26.95 ISBN 9781608091010 In 1961 New York, Judy Cooper barely escapes from the cops but not before catching two creeps, a chill and subsequently a fever. As she recovers from her severe cold, Judy realizes her time as “the Black Stiletto” roaming the mean streets of Manhattan may be over as the police and the mob hunt her. Judy and Leo Kelly meet and share a deep attraction. He persuades her to accompany him to Los Angeles. However, in Southern California, Judy slowly realizes that though he seems to love her like she does him, Leo suffers from commitment phobia. Worse to her chagrin, this man she cherishes is a vicious criminal; the type of miscreant she pursued as the Black Stiletto on the East Coast. The fourth super Black Stiletto thriller is a great historical tale (with a contemporary base) as the latest diary brings alive the transition between Ike and JFK, and the beginning of the latter’s new Administration making it seem as if Raymond Benson wrote Judy’s entries in 1961. Fast-paced, the change of coasts adds freshness especially with LAPD more tolerant of a crime fighting vigilante than their NYPD counterparts. Though there is a cliffhanger instead of closure, series fans will enjoy The Black Stiletto does Los Angeles while newcomers will seek her NYC escapades (see The Black Stiletto, The Black Stiletto: Stars and Stripes, and The Black Stiletto: Black And White). Harriet Klausner

The Forever Engine-Frank Chadwick

The Forever Engine Frank Chadwick Baen, Jan 7 2014, $15.00 ISBN 9781451639407 In 2018, Professor Jack Fargo teaches History at the University of Chicago. British Army Major Reggie Llewellyn orders Jack to come to Wessex without explaining why. Jack remembers Reggie from their Afghanistan War days as a casual killer. They meet at the Wessex High Energy Collider where the visitor is shown a recently minted Roman coin that Reggie insists is real. When the collider sends items into the past, an equally weighted object arrives in the present. However, the coin differs as it apparently represents a different historical timeline than that Jack and Reggie claim as theirs. Jack observes an experiment until an explosion repels him back to 1888 London. Captain Gordon of the Horse Guards escorts Jack into a different city then the one he knows as a historian as he learns The Confederate States of America has an embassy in Great Britain. At Dorset House, scientists and military Intel interrogate Jack. Quartermaster General Redvers Buller accepts Jack’s contention of time travel while assigning him, Gordon and Glasgow University Physics Professor William Thomson to find killers threatening the kingdom. Thomsom introduces Jack to Nikola Telsa before the trio crosses the Channel on a Grand Tour where French agent Gabrielle Courbiere joins them as they head to Bavaria to inspect a twenty-first century damaged armored vehicle found there. Using the same world as the Space 1889 game, The Forever Engine is an entertaining alternate Victorian due to the fascinating nation changing and the fun steampunk technology. Readers will appreciate this engaging thriller anchored by a wonderful cast (real persona included) who don’t know Jack as the time displaced single dad who just wants to get back to his college bound daughter Sarah. Harriet Klausner

Friday, January 10, 2014

Quests of Shadowind: Sky Shifter-L.A. Miller

Quests of Shadowind: Sky Shifter L.A. Miller Millhouse Press, 2013, $10.95 ISBN: 9780615439259 On summer vacation, frightened thirteen year old Mindy Oakes wakes up her fifteen years old brother Logan concerned that their parents were gone. Logan wants his bratty sister to let him sleep, but he soon realizes nothing is right including the room he sleeps in as the house is not theirs; neither is the location; or the PJs he wears. He tries the phone with its odd umbilical cord to call his parents, but no one answers. Stepping outside, Mindy and Logan see no adults except their neighbor Preston, but mechanical insects grab and take him away as today is his twentieth birthday. The horrified siblings soon meet other young people like Samantha but no adults. As they learn more about this new world, the Oakes and others begin a quest to obtain the Staff of the Sky Shifter before Lord Torrent releases his computer virus with the help of Kyle Whitelaw the neighborhood bully in both worlds. To do so they must enter Computerland even as the evil Torrent deploys his WMD to devastate their earth and their new (hopefully temporary) home Shadowind The first Quests of Shadowind is an exhilarating young teen fantasy that brings the Lord of the Flies and gruesome beasts into the digital age. The action-packed storyline with its vivid locales is excellent when the focus is on the Oates (especially Logan the leader) and Torrent, but loses some steam when cartoonish Kyle (think of a teen Bluto), take center stage. Armchair readers will appreciate spending time with the struggling to survive youth in vivid Shadowind and colorful Computerland while also knowing we are home. Harriet Klausner

The Pagan Lord-Bernard Cornwell

The Pagan Lord Bernard Cornwell Harper, Jan 7 2014, $27.99 ISBN: 9780061969706 In 899, King Alfred the Great dies. His son Edward becomes the monarch of a land at war between the Saxons and the Danes. Several like Uhtred the Pagan warlord were in favor when Alfred ruled Wessex only to find themselves in trouble with Edward on the throne as the new King of the Saxons purges Danish influence. This is made clear to Uhtred after a particular violent incident in which Alfred would have applauded him while Edward declares him outlaw. Fleeing the monarch’s wrath, Uhtred turns home to take back Bebbanburg. His brave inane action places him in the midst of war between the Danes and Saxons. Feeling comfortable in combat, Uhtred plans to strike back at those who outlawed him regardless of what happens to Britain especially those people subject to Danish control. This is a great tenth century historical that centers on competing multiple cultures (Danes vs. Saxons and Christians vs. Pagans) fighting for control of England. The premise is built from the hypothesis that much, if not all of the island, could have become Scandinavian as easily as it became Saxon. Fans of the Saxon Tales (see Death of Kings) will appreciate this strong entry as Uhtred’s angry acrimonious aims impact the world around him Harriet Klausner

Race for the Gold-Dana Mentink

Race for the Gold Dana Mentink Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense, Jan 7 2014, $5.99 ISBN 9780373445806 Laney Thompson and Max Blanco feel great that both made the U.S. Olympics speed skating teams. Walking together, they kiss when a car plows into them. Though still suffering from nightmares about the end of her dream, four years later twenty-seven years old Laney trained by Max mounts a comeback. In the trials she crashes but explains to Max it was not her concentration problem, but her right skate felt off; mysteriously it is missing. Someone assaults her dad Dan and reporter Hugh Peterson wants to talk with Laney claiming he has information re her accident four years ago. As more incidents occur, Max vows to keep his beloved Laney safe from whoever wants to keep her off the American Olympics squad. With an obvious nod to the January two-decades ago Nancy Kerrigan attack, Race for the Gold is a fast-paced (duh – speed skating) suspenseful sports romance. The insight into training and the tryouts add depth to an interesting skater in peril thriller as readers will wonder who and why someone, using any means, wants Laney out of the competition. Harriet Klausner

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Greek’s Tiny Miracle-Rebecca Winters

The Greek’s Tiny Miracle Rebecca Winters Harlequin Romance, Jan 7 2014, $5.99 ISBN 9780373742721 International exporter Dev Harris and Stephanie Marsh met in the Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean and shared ten days of incredible love until he abruptly vanished leaving behind a thank you note and nothing else. He returned to his Greek military unit knowing they had no future together though he also believes he loves the American. Heartbroken and feeling like a fool, Stephanie learns how her late mom felt raising a child as a single mother’ as she is carrying Dev’s baby. Greek Navy SEAL Nikos Vassalos suffers from a spine injury and PTSD after his last mission went ugly leaving his best friend Kon dead. Though he visits Kon’s family, he mostly grieves by himself on his yacht Diomedes rejecting even his worried family as he distrusts himself to behave properly among civilized company. Though she fears his reaction, Stephanie finds the father of her child but this cold broken Nikos is nothing like the warm passionate Dev she loved. Still she knows how much growing up she wanted her daddy in her life so Stephanie tries to get through Nikos’ hardened acrimonious exterior to resuscitate his heart. The Greek’s Tiny Miracle is an engaging second chance due to the actions of the intrepid heroine who refuses to accept Niko’s rejection of their child. Ironically Stephanie keeps the storyline moving forward but tormented Nikos owns the novel with his bone marrow deep fear that his PTSD will one day explode out of control and harm those he loves. Harriet Klausner

1636: Sea Of Fortune-Iver Cooper

1636: Sea Of Fortune Iver Cooper Baen, Jan 7 2014, $15.00 ISBN 9781451639391 “Stretching Out.” In Belem do Para, Brazil, Henrique Pereira da Costa and his servant and best friend Maurico enter the Amazon Valley seeking rubber trees. They show drawings to the native Indians, who fail to comprehend what the outsiders want until Maurico makes a clay model that lead them being escorted to rubber trees. Henrique and Maurico send sap to Portugal for testing. When they come home, Henrique finds a cracked vase with the silver candelabra secretly inside gone. He knows the inquisitors will destroy him as a Jew and take everything he owns including Maurico. Dutchwoman Maria Vorst illustrates plants and animals in Grantville, but craves working in South America. She persuades Dutch sea captain David Pieterszoon de Vries to take her on his colonization voyage to Suriname as his science officer. “Rising Sun.” For several years Portuguese priests converted Japanese to Christianity until the religion was banned from the locals though secret ceremonies still occur. Shogun Iemitsu Tokagawa and his senior councilor Sakai Tadakatsu struggle with their Christian subjects when they learn about the soon to come rebellion. Many Christians are executed while others sent to New Nippon in the Northern New World under the control of Grand Governor Date Masamune. Both segues expand the Ring of Fire universe into new or previously limited geography and culture. “Stretching Out” includes seven excellent entries mostly in South America and the Caribbean built on real events but with a nice Grantville twist. “Rising Sun” contains five terrific tales in Japan and the American-Canadian West Coast also built on real events enhanced by historical speculation but with a nice Grantville twist. Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Deadly Engagement-Elle James

Deadly Engagement Elle James Harlequin Romantic Suspense, Jan 7 2014, $5.50 ISBN 9780373278558 Stealth Operations Specialist Creed Thomas arrives in Cape, Churn, Oregon seeking a yacht he tagged in Russia and Phillip Macias who is interested in the vessel. He goes undercover as an insurance investigator seeking a boat that crashed nearby. He rents a ship from Dave Logsden and hires Cape Churn Memorial Nurse Emma Jenkins as his diver though as a former SEAL he most likely is superior in the water. Emma hopes to find a way to pay back the money her fiancé stole from funds planned for a children’s wing addition. Emma and Creed work closely together in search of his boat and in his case Phillip the terrorist and in hers the eighteenth century sunken Santa Ana. As they fall in love, Emma fears Creed fails to share her commitment. Returning to the picturesque (except in fog) Oregon coast (see Deadly Reckoning), Elle James provides another strong romantic suspense. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing while the sea adventures come across vivid and filled with action. Harriet Klausner

Lethal Lawman-Carla Cassidy

Lethal Lawman Carla Cassidy Harlequin Romantic Suspense, Jan 7 2014, $5.50 ISBN 9780373278534 In Wolf Creek, Pennsylvania Marlene Marcoli and her sister Sheri own the Roadside Stop. After closing the shop for the night, Marlene heads to her apartment above Minnie’s Treasure Trove only to find her door battered open. She runs back to her car and calls the cops. Police Detective Frank Delaney answers the call as he thinks back to when he met her and her two half-sisters while investigating the disappearance of her still missing aunt. Frank tells her the rooms look like a three year old had a temper tantrum. Marlene assumes Michael Arello, who she fired for stealing food from the Roadside Stop and also was canned by her sister Roxy for the same crime from her restaurant, did the damage. When more assaults targeting Marlene occur, she thinks Pittsburgh has come for her with a vengeance. Frank vows to protect the woman he has fallen in love with, but fails when the unknown adversary kidnaps his Marlene. The second Wolf Creek police procedural romance is an exciting woman in peril tale that overall is very similar in tone to Foxy Roxy’s entry (see Cold Case, Hot Accomplice). Still readers will enjoy the romance between the cop and the middle sister interrupted by her abduction. Harriet Klausner

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Nanny’s Secret-Elizabeth Lane

The Nanny’s Secret Elizabeth Lane Harlequin Desire, Jan 7 2014, $5.25 ISBN 9780373732906 In Dutchman’s Creek, Colorado, Wolf Ridge Ski Resort owner Wyatt Richardson advertises for a nanny to watch his sixteen year old daughter Chloe’s newborn Michael. Several candidates answered the former Olympian medalist’s ad in the Dutchman’s Creek Sentinel, but none seemed suited. His last interview is with part-time local reporter Leigh Foster, whose only experience with infants is baby-sitting. She affirms his opinion that she needs the money, but desperate and at the hospital with Chloe’s bitter approval he hires the twenty-six years old. Leigh learns immediately that Chloe is spoiled and filled with rage at her dad for not ever being in her life and with her mom for choosing New York with her lover over seeing her new granddaughter. As Wyatt and Leigh begin to fall in love, she fears he will kick her to the curb when he discovers The Nanny’s Secret as to why she really wanted this position. The latest Billionaires and Babies romance (see A Billionaire for Christmas by Janice Maynard) is a wonderful family affair with the title character, the father and teen daughter fully developed. Although Leigh’s hidden agenda seems inane, fans will enjoy this warm contemporary. Harriet Klausner

Shadowed by Grace-Cara C. Putman

Shadowed by Grace Cara C. Putman B&H, Jan 1 2014, $14.99 ISBN 9781433681783 In 1944 Philadelphia, Bobby Hamilton explains to photographer Rachel Justice that he managed to do the impossible by getting her an assignment in ravaged Italy as no one but a lunatic would send a female into a war zone. Rachel conceals from her boss her secret agenda for craving an assignment in Europe. Using initials on sketches her mom possesses, she hopes to locate the dad she never met and beg him to pay her mother’s unmanageable medical costs. In Europe, the brass sticks Lieutenant Scott Lindstrom with keeping the crazy woman safe. Rachel proves useful with her photography skill helping Scott with performing his military job of protecting Italy’s priceless art from the retreating Nazi looters and vandals. As they fall in love, his mission and her personal quest place their lives in peril and consequently leaves their relationship teetering. With a nod to the Monuments Men (see the nonfiction account of the Monuments Men by Bret Witter and Robert M. Edsel), this is an exciting WWII drama that focuses on art preservation and the heroine’s missing father with the romance supporting the action. Although there is too much significant happenchance moving the entertaining storyline forward, readers will appreciate the perilous efforts by the Allies to preserve Italian treasures. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Courier-Andrew Britton

The Courier Andrew Britton Pinnacle, Dec 31 2013, $9.99 ISBN: 9780786032174 Though he sort of quit while still breathing, a rarity for a long time CIA operative, Ryan Kealey concludes that once an espionage agent always an espionage agent until you’re dead. However, the world he survived no longer exists as the suits and techies run the “cooperating” espionage alphabets with their data mining and electronic surveillance superseding on the ground human Intel. As Kealey muses over being a dinosaur; US Naval Space Command detect Plutonium 239 in the Arctic Circle; at the same time Islamic Republic of Iran Navy Captain Elham breaks radio silence to announce his vessel the Jamaran picked up a special find. Kealey is assigned the field operation of neutralizing the nuke before the Iranians deploy it. Out in the cold, Kealey teams up with nuclear physicist Rayhan Jafari, but their home office support handicaps them as the pair struggles to prevent the setting off a weapon of mass destruction. The latest Ryan Kealey thriller (see The Exile, The Operative, The Invisible, The Assassin and The American) is a taut action-packed entry that leaves readers pondering what happens to all the weapons (not just nukes) compiled in a world in which annual Global Arms Sales reach billions. Adding a wonderful spin to the tale is Ryan’s dad Captain Largo Kealey’s actions in sinking a Nazi transporter of nukes in 1944 that leads to his chip off the old block son’s activity in 2013. Readers will appreciate this exciting cautionary tale. Harriet Klausner

Obsessed By Him-Red Garnier

Obsessed By Him Red Garnier St. Martin’s, Dec 31 2013, $15.99 ISBN: 9781250046239 “Claimed by Him.” Billionaire Graves Buchanan has loved his best friend Daniel Lexington’s sister Chloe seemingly forever, but never acted on his feelings somewhat out of loyalty to his buddy, but mostly because he believes she deserves better. Chloe decides to make her twenty-fifth birthday her best ever by going after her heart’s desire Graves. “Taken by Him.” Luke Preston lies in a hospital owned by his family while recovering from a bullet wound. Assuming his womanizing led to the attempted homicide, Luke leaves Chicago for Cancun where he falls in love with Peyton Lane. “Bound by Him.” After being away for three years, Andrew Fairchild returns to Chicago with one thing in mind to get his beloved Whitney Donahue to give him a second chance though unaware a snake stands in their path to happiness. “Kept by Him.” Daniel Lexington controls his deepest needs especially those starring him with Monica Davenport. She believes her desires especially dreaming of Daniel prevent her from finding love until Monica takes a chance on fulfilling her darkest craving by offering him what he always wanted with her. “Bared by Him.” A decade ago, Ivy Summers met Cade West at the hospital where her mom and his wife Laura were receiving cancer treatment. He treated her with angry disdain then and the widower does so again now when she asks for a donation for the Lincoln Heights Breast Cancer Foundation. Instead raging Cade offers her a deal; they play poker with the stakes being $2 million and her clothing. The five engaging Billionaire Club’s erotic romances (previously released separately as e-books) contain surprisingly fully developed characters obsessed with their love. Harriet Klausner

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Heart of Stone-Christine Warren

Heart of Stone Christine Warren St. Martin’s, Dec 31 2013, $7.99 ISBN 9781250012654 After the quarterly Vancouver Art and History Museum fundraising gala at the Georgia House, docent Ella Harrow begins to leave alone when very important third generation financial supporter Patrick Stanley assaults her. Using her psychic power, she stops the angry creep until her boss Beatrice Boucher arrives preventing him from further attacks. As Ella leaves by herself, she lectures the “Sir Arthur Conan Doyle” gargoyle statue that she loves to look at for not repelling evil; as is his mission. The statue comes to life confusing Kees of the Guild of Wardens that an untrained human awakened him from his ages-long hibernation and stunning Ella who wonders when she will awaken from her sleep. Kees informs Ella that his adversaries, the lethal seven demons of the Dark, must be returning. He further explains this means he needs his team so the bewildered museum employee and the gargoyle search for them. During their quest with their malevolent enemies in pursuit, each feels a deep attraction growing in intensity; which makes no sense to unemotional Kees, but very understandable to romantic Ella who loved him when he had a Heart of Stone. Christine Warren starts her new paranormal romance series with a rousing first act that sets the boundaries of this engaging urban fantasy. Kees is a terrific hero who took pride in his totally logical thought-process (much more than Mr. Spock), but this arising finds him in alien territory fighting his unwanted yet wanted feelings of desire. He is the catalyst that changes Ella from an anti-social loner who relishes artifacts not people into a caring courageous warrior. Heart of Stone is a strong opening tale. Harriet Klausner

Love Your Entity-Cat Devon

Love Your Entity Cat Devon St. Martin’s, Dec 31 2013, $7.99 ISBN 978-0312547813 In Chicago, ghost whisperer author Sierra Brennan opens the door to her historical townhouse for the first time only to be greeted by a naked sexy man and a female ghost. She accuses them of trespassing while the nude hunk asks who else she is talking to. Sierra demands they leave, but each ignores her. To keep ownership of her new inheritance Sierra must reside there for thirty days so she reluctantly accepts her new roommates as part of the residence for now. Vampire Ronan McCoy claims the house belongs to him too as he explains he was just freed from a century of indenture servicing master vampire Baron Vox. There is a catch to his liberation; as to save his sister’s soul Ronan must locate and deliver a missing key to his former master. Ruby the ghost explains her link to the house occurred when she was murdered there. She warns Sierra to be careful of the other entity residing there as raging Hal, once a violent part of the Capone mob, seeks vengeance. Even before he realizes he loves her, Ronan knows he must keep Sierra safe from dangerous Hal. The third amusing Entity urban fantasy (see Sleeping With The Entity and The Entity Within) is a delightful lighthearted vampire romance. Sub-genre fans will appreciate Cat Devon’s latest Entity entry as the whisperer, the vampires and the ghosts bring freshness to the Windy City. Harriet Klausner