Friday, February 28, 2014

The Clockwork Wolf-Lynn Viehl

The Clockwork Wolf Lynn Viehl Pocket, Feb 25 2014, $7.99 ISBN 9781476722375 In Toriana, Deathmage Lucien Dredmore asks, demands being more accurate, that Disenchanted & Co. dispeller Charmian “Kit” Kittredge interview and protect wealthy widow Lady Eugenia Bestly. The president of the Rumsen Ladies Decency Society, Bestly needs protection from those who will come after her once the media releases the news that she is the affluent arrogant surviving spouse of the savage Wolfman. Ironically, Kit is one of those less fortunate Lady Bestly tried to destroy for being indecent. Lady Bestly insists someone used magic to turn her docile caring husband into the vile lethal Wolfman. Kit makes inquiries into the creation of these feral wolf-men with assistance from her BFF brothel owner Carina Eagle, her longtime buddy and self-anointed protector police Chief Inspector Tommy Doyle, and Harry her grandfather the ghost; also accompanying her while ordering her about is the dreaded deathmage Dredmore. At the same the creator observes her progress and prepares to destroy this interfering dispeller and her allies. The latest Her Ladyship's Curse steampunk adventure (see Disenchanted & Co.) is an exciting alternate vision of America in which M&M is not candy or the 1960’s Yankees, but instead magic and mechanical gizmos. Fast-paced with a fascinating emerging romantic threesome, fans will enjoy Kit’s tour of Lynn Viehl’s dark San Francisco (Rumsen) though the excessive cast makes it difficult to keep track as to who’s who especially early on. Harriet Klausner

Atonement-B.J. Daniels

Atonement B.J. Daniels Harlequin HQN, Feb 25 2014, $7.99 ISBN: 9780373778461 In Beartooth, Montana, eight months pregnant Tessa Winters arrives at the Lawson ranch angrily calling the wrangler Ethan. Sweetgrass County Undersheriff Dillon Lawson explains to the fuming female that his identical twin Ethan died one year ago in a fiery car accident in Arizona. Holding a gun Tessa tells Dillon she is carrying Ethan’s baby and wants back the money he conned from her. Dillon calmly tells her neither Ethan nor he is the father. Dillon muses whether Tessa is conning him or could his felonious sibling be alive. He decides to go with his gut that his twin survived the crash and persuades Tessa to help him investigate. As they work together, Dillon and Tessa fall in love while he keeps her safe from a killing predator. Although her companion acts the complete opposite of his swindling sibling with his gentle caring of her newborn daughter and his horse, she fears he may be pulling a ruse The fourth Beartooth Mountains thriller (see Unforgiven, Forsaken and Redemption) is an engaging Big Sky romantic suspense. The overarching premise of Sweetgrass County being the murder capital of the world moves forward somewhat especially the Frank-Nettie-Pam triangle. However, Atonement’s focus is on the intriguing new triangle as the lead couple seeks the truth re his late brother the seemingly impossible father of her baby. Harriet Klausner

Close Pursuit-Cindy Dees

Close Pursuit Cindy Dees Harlequin HQN, Feb 25 2014, $7.99 ISBN: 9780373778485 Kindergarten teacher Katie McCloud joins Doctors Unlimited as a translator in a war torn Karshan village. She will assist brilliant Dr. Alex Peters as he provides medical help to pregnant women. Both understand the danger if caught as he will be tortured and killed, and she will suffer worse. When they run into peril, Alex, showing skills a geek should not possess, gets them to safely while she carries a newborn. Back in the States, Alex the mathematician calculates the odds of a bad luck assault on them leading him to a hypothesis that most likely Katie was the target or worse. Filled with distrust and believing in the theory of keeping your enemies nearby, Alex hangs around Katie until they fall in love. Meanwhile the illusion of safety in American ends when adversaries attack Katie and Alex who vows to keep his woman safe. Close Pursuit is a taut romantic suspense with a terrific twisting climax. War torn Karshan comes across as genuine with little anchors like the endangered pregnant woman demanding the teacher rather than the physician perform a life-saving C-section. Readers will relish the enigmatic Alex and the spunky kindergarten teacher as they fall in love while battling to survive in Karshan and the USA against mercenaries. Harriet Klausner

Fortune & Fame-Victoria Christopher Murray and ReShonda Tate Billingsley

Fortune & Fame Victoria Christopher Murray and ReShonda Tate Billingsley Touchstone, Feb 25 2014, $15.00 ISBN: 9781476747170 OWN TV casts Rachel, Jasmine, Mary and Natasha as the stars of a new reality show First Ladies. Rachel and Jasmine are frenemies; while the former and Mary are 200 proof enemies; and likewise the latter with Natasha. Unlike her rivalry with Jasmine re being the First Lady of the American Baptist Coalition (see Sinners & Saints), Rachel focuses on kicking off the show born again Mary, the biological mother of her son and ex-convict married to an ambition un-godly preacher. Jasmine concentrates on getting rid of her husband’s ex-fiancée Natasha, who plans to win back her Reverend Hosea. The latest collaboration feels like a wrestling battle royal as readers wonder who will be the last woman standing. Seeking Fortune & Fame, the four fierce frantic females make for a fun tale as Victoria Christopher Murray and ReShonda Tate Billingsley once again provide an entertaining over the top of a church steeple romp that spins one hell of a reality TV show. Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Sun God Seeks ...Surrogate?-Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

Sun God Seeks ...Surrogate? Mimi Jean Pamfiloff Forever, Feb 25 2014, $6.00 ISBN 9781455546978 In New York City, convinced she found her sibling’s soul mate, Cimil the Mayan Goddess (see Accidentally... Cimil?) offers human female financially-strapped waitress Penelope Trudeau a million dollars if she has a baby with her brother Kinich the Sun God. Desperately needing the money to pay for her dying mother’s medical treatment from an unknown disease, Penelope still rejects the deal. For numerous millennia, Nick declined fraternizing with humans but is attracted to Penelope and she wants him too once they meet. As the God and the waitress begin seeing one another, he becomes upset to learn his sister’s role in matching them up. However, he cannot walk away as he loves Penelope and besides he also knows he must protect her from his enemies; who would gladly use his beloved as an expendable pawn to get to him and Cimil. The latest Accidentally Yours romantic urban fantasy is a humorous tale as the Sun God’s conspicuously colorful sister (think of a female Dennis Rodman in his pre Korean days) seeks a surrogate for him in the midst of a battle with their adversaries. Series fans will enjoy Mimi Jean Pamfiloff’s latest fast-paced jocular farce (see Vampires…Need Not Apply?). Harriet Klausner

Where Evil Waits-Kate Brady

Where Evil Waits Kate Brady Forever, Feb 25 2014, $8.00 ISBN 9781455502066 The hit man is an elitist killer; perhaps the best there is. In Atlanta, this predator targets Prosecutor Kara Chandler by going after her family and friends while stalking her. She especially fears for the life of her son Louie so she takes a desperate gambit by turning to a man she has tried unsuccessfully to place behind bars several times as she believes she must fight fire with fire. Kara pleads with cartel hit man Luke Varon to help her. Though he knows if he comes to her aid he risks exposing himself to danger and jeopardizes his mission even if he can explain the mother and son hits to his boss. Still Luke agrees to fake murdering her and her son. Even more precarious to his safety, he offers to assist her in finding her adversary who he believes has ties to Kara’s felonious late husband. The latest Mann Family romantic suspense (see Where Angels Rest) is an exciting twisting cat and mouse thriller as readers anticipate a High Noon showdown with a predatory pro. Fast-paced, in the frightened mind (more for her son than herself) of a prosecutor in peril Where Evil Waits is around every corner in metro Atlanta. Harriet Klausner

The Warrior's Bride-Amanda Scott

The Warrior's Bride Amanda Scott Forever, Feb 25 2014, $8.00 ISBN 9781455514380 In 1426 impulsive Lady Muriella MacFarlan is known to leap without looking. Her narrating of tales often gets her in trouble but that does not stop her as she wants to become the clan’s seanachie storyteller. Her propensity for trouble leaves Muriella held captive by clan enemy Dougal MacPharlain for trespassing on his family’s land. Muriella’s worried father Andrew asks the Baron of Ardincaple heir Robert MacAulay to rescue his daughter. He agrees as he has business with Dougal's father. When he arrives at the MacPharlain clan, Rob finds Muriella undergoing a trial in which her accuser insists her penalty is marrying him. Muriella shakes up Dougal and shocks Robert when she claims to be MacAulay’s wife. By failing to deny her assertion, under Scottish law they are married; a relationship neither wants ever since she learned he rejected her father’s offer of her as his wife. However, soon both newlyweds want to make their arrangement real. The third Lairds of the Loch medieval Scottish romance (see The Laird’s Choice and The Knight’s Temptress) is an engaging tale made fresh by the foolish, eccentric and entertaining behavior of the unique heroine. Muriella’s out of control antics turn the overused historical rescue romance into a brisk affair in which her warrior mate can barely keep up with her one of a kind pace. Harriet Klausner

Hidden Agendas-Lora Leigh

Hidden Agendas Lora Leigh St. Martin's Griffin, Mar 4 2014, $14.99 ISBN: 9781250036711 The deadly Fuentes cartel has a reputation for ruthlessness to maintain. Thus Diego Fuentes knows he must not look soft as the daughter of a US senator, Emily Stanton, escaped from his compound with the help of Navy SEALs especially Kell Kreiger. He needs to find an insider he can either blackmail or buy. Kell and his team know the current mission is to bring down Diego. However, babysitting is a difficult assignment when the person is spirited Emily, who he is attracted to just like she is to him. Emily refuses to allow A-holes like Diego to destroy her life so goes about as if no one is after her although she gladly accepts the protection of Kell as she knows her feelings for him is much deeper than gratitude for saving her life. Readers will appreciate this this reprint of a strong romantic suspense that continues Lora Leigh's homage to the military (see NAUGHTI BOY) especially the Tempting SEALs (see DANGEROUS GAMES). The story line is action-packed as Kell concludes that to keep Emily safe he must trust no one since someone betrayed them. Readers will enjoy the exploits of the lead couple who struggle to survive treachery of a friend, but cannot worry about who as Diego is coming. Harriet Klausner

Kindling The Moon-Jenn Bennett

Kindling The Moon Jenn Bennett Pocket, Jun 28 2011, $7.99 ISBN: 9781451620528 In Morella, California, Arcadia Bell co-owns Tambuku Tiki Lounge where some of her ebst customers are demons. Cady is not her birth name as seven years ago, her parents, Enola and Alexander Duval were accused of killing three rival mage occultists of the Luxe Order. Although they insisted they were innocent, they could not prove it. Thus the Duval family went into hiding with the cooperation of their order. However, Cady is shook when a tape on the news shows her parents have been sighted having returned to the States. The Luxe Order supported by other occults want the three Duval's dead, but Caliph Superior of her occult gives her an alternate choice of proving her parents' innocence before she and they become sacrificial road kill. Cady needs to find the Aethyric Albino Demon who actually murdered the trio in order to learn who made the paranormal commit the atrocity. She teams up with earthbound demon Lon Butler whose halo differs from the norm for his race. Neither expected to find a ruthless bounty hunter and the Luxe Order stalk them while the clues lead hell. The Bennett universe opens with a terrific refreshing urban fantasy thriller starring a delightful mage in peril and the demon who accompanies her on her impossible quest to identify the real killer before the other occults execute her and her family. The keys to this fabulous first fantasy are the various creatures that populate Jenn Bennett's vision of California seem real and the energy of Cady who is the energizer bunny but under hostile conditions. With an unexpected incredible twist, Kindling of the Moon is a fabulous thriller. Harriet Klausner

Summoning The Night-Jenn Bennett

Summoning The Night Jenn Bennett Pocket, Apr 24 2012, $7.99 ISBN: 9781451620535 In Morella, California, Arcadia Bell co-owns Tambuku Tiki Lounge where some of her best customers are demons. Several years ago her parents Enola and Alexander Duval were accused of killing three rival mage occultists. When they returned to the States they tried to sacrifice their daughter as their penance, but failed (see Kindling The Moon). Back at her bar with Halloween coming soon, she is dating Earthbound demon Lon Butler, father of teenager Jupe. However, the Hellfire Club leader Dare asks Cady to investigate a recent series of abductions of paranormal offspring. With Lon as a club member, she dare not refuse. Thus with Lon at her side and assisted by patrons of the lounge, she follows the clues applying her recently activated Moonchild powers. The amateur sleuths soon learn that these insidious kidnapping mirror the snatching of seven children three decades ago. The second Cady Bell urban fantasy is a superb thriller from the moment Dare assigns the reluctant heroine to end the reign of terror. Fast-paced while the lovers hunt down a devious predator, fans will appreciate the inquiry as the protagonists follow leads into danger. Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Dead Water-Ann Cleaves

Dead Water Ann Cleaves Minotaur, Feb 18 2014, $25.99 ISBN: 9781250036605 Having returned to his home in the Shetlands after a stint in London, reporter Jerry Markham drives at night in Brae when an unlit vehicle forces him off the road. Moments later the journalist is murdered. Prosecutor Rhona Laing finds Markham’s corpse. Detective Inspector Willow Reeves arrives from West Scotland to lead the investigation into the Markham murder. She knows she must cooperate with Laing but finds the stressed local prosecutor acting odd and seemingly concealing something critical. Though still on partial leave as he grieves the death of his lover Fran (see Blue Lightning), Inspector Jimmy Perez agrees to assist Reeves on the case by interviewing the islanders he knows so well. Reeves and Perez find the locals split over their feelings re Markham due to an incident years ago involving Evie Watt before he fled the Shetlands. The two cops also learn Markham was digging into a story many islanders prefer he ignored, but who killed him with so many suspects proves difficult to identify. The fifth Shetland police procedural (see Raven Black, White Nights and Red Bones) is an entertaining leisurely paced whodunit that requires a mental adjustment by series fans; as depressed Perez never displays any energy especially involving the inquiry. The murder mystery is well done and enhanced by a deep look at the constant debate between tradition and modernization (even the police seem enamored with pre social media methods). Harriet Klausner

Baghdad Central-Elliot Colla

Baghdad Central Elliot Colla Bitter Lemon Press, Feb 18 2014, $14.95 ISBN: 9781908524256 In November 2003, the Iraqi Coalition Provisional Authority shut down the army, the police and the Ba’athists. Former Inspector Muhsin Khadr al-Khafaji deserted his post before the disbanding of the cops by the occupying forces. His concerned brother-in-law asks unemployed Muhsin to search for his missing adult daughter Sawsan who did not come home from work. However, Muhsin’s inquiry abruptly ends almost before it began when the Americans incarcerate him as a high ranking Hussein official in Abu Ghraib. Realizing they made an identification error but not before they torture him, they free Muhsin and assign him to train a new police force and investigate the numerous missing Army translators. In return they give his daughter Mrouj quality medical treatment for her kidney ailment, which the sanctions previously prevented. Baghdad Central is a strong Iraqi police procedural that captures the essence of surviving as a secularist in a Muslim nation ran by a vicious dictator while already under sanctions from the West made worse by the occupation. Poetry and family keeps the protagonist going as Elliot Colla condemns the superegos of the CPA and their impact on people after the harsh effect in Iraqi citizenry by the sanctions. The insightful look at a subculture ignored by the American media obsessive focus on blood and gore supersedes the investigations in this profound look at Iraqi life during the occupation. Harriet Klausner

Minerva's Shield-Derek Hart

Minerva's Shield Derek Hart iUniverse, Sep 25 2013, $20.95 ISBN: 9781491708996 The Norton siblings agree that the younger sexagenarian Bob will scatter their parents’ ashes in the Black Hills. Bob, accompanied by his teenage child Ian, drives from Marietta, Georgia to bury his parents and also enjoy a father-son trip. In Minnesota and the Dakotas, Bob and Ian explore abandoned homes seeking left behind treasures. After disposing of the ashes, they stop at the long closed Black Hills Army Depot where they find anomalies, meet ranchers and uncover a heavy gold coin. Soon after they leave, an odd monstrous storm of the century seems to follow them as they head home. In Marietta, the FBI visits an increasingly paranoid Bob at his home. When the Feds leave, Bob, realizing that same strange storm is coming to the Atlanta area, tells his wife Karen and Ian they must seek shelter elsewhere. As the super storm strikes with vast destruction killing Karen and many of their neighbors, Bob struggles with what he saw in the sky. Still he leads on foot a group of twelve towards Ellijay in the mountains. The gold coin planted by NASA years ago as part of Minerva's Shield saves their lives, but no other human seems to have survived. Minerva's Shield starts off as a leisurely-paced family drama that about a third of the way into the novel turns into a fast-paced apocalyptic thriller. Filled with action while treasure hunting and much more while surviving, fans will enjoy this fabulous opening act mindful of Nevil Shute’s On The Beach (albeit twenty-first century in the North Georgia Mountains instead of 1950s Australia) with a delightful metafiction spoofing of Derek Hart. Harriet Klausner

Grimm: The Chopping Block-John Passarella

Grimm: The Chopping Block John Passarella Titan Books, Feb 18 2014, $7.99 ISBN: 9781781166567 In Portland, Brian Mathis and his tweener son Tyler are hampered by the wet grounds while on an internet treasure hunt in Claremont Park. Brian finds the hidden cache while Tyler finds bones buried in a nearby shallow grave. Portland Homicide Detectives Nick Burkhardt the Grimm and Hank Griffin on his crutches lead the investigation. The ME bleakly informs them that someone cooked the remains before disposing of the bones. Another shallow grave filled with bones is found, but neither Nick nor Hank can figure out how the numerous victims are chosen as the demographics cross all groups. The partners believe Wesen are involved so they consult with Bluthbad Monroe who mentions his grandfather told him a tale of the elitist Silver Plate Society who gathers every twenty-five years to dine on human meat. The key to this exciting adaptation is the storyline remains true to the theme and the TV cast (Grimm, Hank, Captain Renard, Monroe and Juliette) keep the traits that series fans will recognize and newcomers will appreciate. This action-packed paranormal police procedural is fast-paced fun but the audience will not eat meat while reading. Harriet Klausner

Monday, February 24, 2014

Alone With You-Debra Rawlins

Alone With You Debra Rawlins Harlequin Blaze, Feb 18 2014, $5.50 ISBN: 9780373797936 In Oklahoma City, eating her pride as a rebel without a cause, Alexis Worthington begs her ultraconservative controlling father Marshall for a job in the family’s billion-dollar company. Still angry with his daughter for defying him starting by not attending Harvard eight years ago, Marshall tells his daughter to prove she is a worthy Worthington. Her test is to sign up the final month’s rodeo cowboy for a calendar. Bareback bronc riding champion Will Tanner knows his career is near the end and has doubts about renewing his contract that expires in ten days. Lexy tries to persuade the hunk to be a pinup, but he refuses. On the circuit drive to Houston, Will and Lexy fall in love, but he remains hesitant to be a monthly beefcake while she reconsiders her deal with her dad hoping for a better one with the cowboy she loves. The Made in Montana romance series (see From This Moment On and No One Needs To Know) leaves the Big Sky ranching community for a fresh Texas road show. The lead couple is a delight and their changing relationship comes across as hot, tender and real; as readers and Will know he was her buttered toast by day three. Harriet Klausner

Texas Outlaws: Cole-Kimberly Raye

Texas Outlaws: Cole Kimberly Raye Harlequin Blaze, Feb 18 2014, $5.50 ISBN: 9780373797929 The ladies of Lost Gun, Texas target Cole as the last eligible Chisholm now that women roped in his “outlaw” siblings Billy and Jesse. The townsfolk classify Nicole Barbie as a bad girl because the acorn falls near the tree; her mother, owner of the Giddyup honkytonk, has quite the reputation and Nikki does nothing to change their minds. Ironically, no one knows Nikki attends culinary training with plans to become a chef in Houston. Her family intrudes on her goal while Nikki notices the good girls pounce on wary Cole. She suggests to him that they pretend to be a couple so each can focus on what they want. Chisholm accepts her relationship of convenience. Neither was prepared to fall in love. The third Chisholm Texas Outlaws contemporary (see Billy and Jesse) is a wonderful romance between the not so bad girl and the not so good bronc rider. Although Nikki’s pretentious elitist attitude can be distracting, fans will enjoy this heated tale. Harriet Klausner

Once In A Lifetime-Jill Shalvis

Once In A Lifetime Jill Shalvis Grand Central, Feb 18 2014, $6.00 ISBN: 9781455521135 Five years ago, Ben McDaniel’s wife died. Grieving his loss, he fled their hometown Lucky Harbor, Washington to work on water systems after disasters struck dangerous third world nations. When a suicide bomber destroyed his latest project, Ben knew it was time to return to the serene Pacific Northwest and design systems from his home as a consultant for others to build. The townsfolk consider Aubrey Wellington a bitchy bad girl. She feels bad about hurting people and wants to make amends while also reopening her late aunt’s Book & Bean bookstore. Aubrey enlists Ben to renovate the place. A confused Ben is unsure why he said yes to work Aubrey’s project even as his attraction to the wild tough chick amazes him more. Meanwhile family and friends warn him that she is not good for him. She also cannot comprehend why she wants Ben while also wondering how to keep with her abstinence pledge. At the same time, former town clerk and her ex-lover Ted Marshall plans a tell-all book. The ninth Lucky Harbor small town romance (see Always On My Mind and It Had To Be You) is a wonderful second chance (at love for him and at redemption for her) contemporary due to the strong protagonists who make their changing relationship come across as genuine. The townsfolk reaction to their coming together adds depth to this tender tale of love between seemingly opposites. Harriet Klausner

The Hit-David Baldacci

The Hit David Baldacci Grand Central, Feb 18 2014, $9.00 ISBN: 9781455521302 U.S. government assassin Will Robie knows the current kill will be his hardest as the hit is on another top level cold-blooded federal killer Jessica Reel. Not caring why she was chosen to die as she is just another job although Robie accepts that this is a High Noon showdown between two elite gunslingers with only one walking away; and he intends that to be him. The CIA Blue Man and his superior claims she went rogue so they give Robie confidential information on his subject that gives him the edge. A trained killer all her life Reel knows she is the agency’s target and that Robie is her personal killer. Instead of waiting for him, Reel contacts Robie leaving him with a puzzle to decipher. She also informs the Blue Man that she is working on a pyramid of kills with her closing in on the top to include him. The latest Robie assassin thriller (see The Innocent) is an exhilarating non-stop action tale as the top gun CIA assassin meets his equal in a killer vs. killer lethal match that initially will remind readers of a superhero battling a supervillain. Filled with twists, double crosses and Julie the kid humanizing both assassins, readers will enjoy this over the top of Langley showdown. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Moving Target-J.A. Jance

Moving Target J.A. Jance Touchstone, Feb 18 2014, $25.99 ISBN: 9781476745008 Exhausted by her wedding plans’ commander her mother, Ali Reynolds escapes to England by accompanying her octogenarian assistant Leland Brooks as he goes home to see his estranged family for the first times since the Korean War when his father disowned him for being gay. In England, they meet Leland’s relatives and learn that his dad was murdered in an unsolved decades old cold case. The pair investigates and based on circumstantial evidence, they believe Leland’s late brother Langston probably killed their father. DNA on bloody clothing should prove whether their hypothesis is correct. At the same in Texas teenager Lance Tucker develops the GHOST program that will change online security once he finishes. However, he is arrested and placed in juvenile detention for hacking into and shutting down the San Leandro School District’s computer system in protest of their new Big Brother procedure. Someone sets Lance on fire and his computer teacher dies; both incidents are considered suicide attempts. Ali’s fiancé computer security expert B. Simpson, who hopes to hire Lance, thinks otherwise as he surmises ruthless people want GHOST. He arranges protection for the lad starting with Sister Anselm as Lance’s advocate and others for the endangered Tucker family. The latest Ali Reynolds investigation (see Deadly Stakes) contains two engaging mysteries on opposite sides of the Big Pond. As separate entries the cases are fascinating, but the sum of the parts fails to make a cohesive whole. While the English whodunit enables fans to learn more about Brooks’ roots, the inquiry feels soft especially compared to the antics of Texas Taser tornado Sister Anselm. Harriet Klausner

Rocky Mountain Rescue-Cindi Myers

Rocky Mountain Rescue Cindi Myers Harlequin Intrigue, Feb 18 2014, $5.50 ISBN: 9780373697496 With the deaths of her brutal crime boss father-in-law Sam Giardino and her violent husband Sammy, Stacy thinks she and her three years old son Carlo are safe. However, ruthless Sam proves still dangerous from the grave due to his will that stipulates his immense estate placed in a trust for his grandson. Other members of the Giardino family like his widow Willa and his other son Abel want control of the fortune; which means “raising” the heir. When Carlo is kidnapped before U.S. Marshal Patrick Thompson can relocate Stacy and her son in the Witness Protection Program, he vows to rescue the toddler. As the frantic mother and the Fed work the case together, neither trusts the other though the attraction is higher than the Rocky Mountains they traverse. The sequel to Rocky Mountain Revenge is an exciting rescue thriller starring two strong characters dealing with trust issues as well as her lethal in-laws (especially fascinating Black Widow Willa who brings meaning to the mother-in-law from hell). Fast-paced with a powerful sense of foreboding in a pristine remote locale, readers will appreciate Cindi Myers’s suspenseful tale though Abel and other mobsters are underdeveloped stereotypes. Harriet Klausner

Bridal Jeopardy-Rebecca York

Bridal Jeopardy Rebecca York Harlequin Intrigue, Feb 18 2014, $5.50 ISBN: 9780373697519 Desperate to pay off his gambling debts any way he can, Henri Swift offers his daughter Stephanie to John Reynard as remittance. John accepts Stephanie as payment. Stephanie has doubts about marrying her suitor, but her dad pushes her to do so. Bethesda-based private investigator Craig Branson works a personal murder cold case in New Orleans as he hunts those who ordered a kill that left his twin dead twenty-two years ago. His focus is on untouchable bigwig John Reynard while failing to understand why Stephanie Swift became the dirt’s fiancée. When Craig rescues Stephanie from an attempted abduction by thugs Buck Arnot and Wayne Channing, his mind and hers meet like the way his used to with his late brother Sam before the mob hit killed his sibling. The latest Mindbenders romantic paranormal mystery is a fast-paced entry that brings series fans back to the Solomon Clinic. Although this tale can stand alone, newcomers should read the previous stories (see Sudden Attraction and Sudden Insight) to understand fully the genetics overarching premise. Fast-paced from the moment Craig saves Stephanie from the abduction, readers will appreciate this taut romantic suspense as it’s in the minds as much as the hearts. Harriet Klausner

Freedom Fries and Cafe Crème-Jocelyne Rapinac

Freedom Fries and Cafe Crème Jocelyne Rapinac Gallic Books, Feb 11 2014, $15.95 ISBN: 9781908313003 This is an enticing refreshing anthology (with many recipes included) in which attractive and appetizing food connects the twelve months of tales as the way to a person’s heart is with tasty healthy dining. Good health and life coach Armand and Liana meet at a New Year’s Eve party, but when she asks him out in January she has doubts as he informs her that his young daughter lives with him (any tale that mentions superbe acteur Monsieur Hulot is a winner). Every Valentine’s Day, Jessica and Anne-Sophie meet at the Zenith bar, but this year Mary-Whitney crashes their dining with demands they help in keeping her spouse away from the latter. In July, Brune and Pierre discuss “Breakfast for two.” As Christmas nears, Dominic tells his shrink he plans to sue Forty State Burger for making him obese; while the psychologist ponders about his patient’s blaming others for his unhealthy eating habits and also muses how patient Carla will deal with Armand and his daughter moving to Brooklyn to live with Liana. Bon appetite! Harriet Klausner

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Collection-Shannon Stoker

The Collection Shannon Stoker Morrow, Feb 4 2014, $14.99 ISBN: 9780062271747 In the United States, heeding the warning from her older sister, eighteen year old Mia fled from her vile mate Grant who won the legal bidding to marry her on the Registry auction block. Pursued by Grant’s kill first dangerous henchmen, Mia, accompanied by Andrew and Carter, made it to Mexico; haven to runaway brides from America; but dangerous to US Army deserters like her two male companions. When the abusive Collection captures her two protectors, Mia becomes fearful for their lives and willing to return to Grant to save them. Before she can sacrifice herself, Mia meets Riley who introduces her to a growing underground movement to return basic human rights to women. However, Grant’s bounty hunters still stalk her as no one lives very long when they make him look foolish and her friends remain subject to torment, deportation and ultimately much worse. The second Registry dystopian thriller is an exciting tale that continues to extrapolate the present war on women into a total gender surrender scenario. Although readers will anticipate behavior by the key male players, Riley brings freshness while Mia has come a long way from her opening act as she embraces “Freedom changes everything”; but knows her journey remains dangerous since her personal psychopath continues the hunt. Action-packed with a rotating perspective, The Collection is an entertaining middle saga. Harriet Klausner

Troubled Water-John DeDakis

Troubled Water John DeDakis Strategic Media Books, Feb 15 2014, $18.95 www.Strategic Media ISBN: 9781939521071 At the urging of her mentor Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Lionel Stone, Lark Chadwick leaves his Wisconsin newspaper the Pine Bluff Standard to accept a job as the Cops and Courts reporter for the Columbia Sun-Gazette in Western Georgia. Driving from her home, she is in Georgia desperately needing to take a leak. Lark leaves the highway and takes an isolated back road when a speeding vehicle forces her onto the dirt shoulder. After stopping in a spot with no one around, Lark feels euphoric following her flooding the ground until she steps on a corpse. She calls 911, but the cops place her in the back seat of their car where she calls in the story to welcoming Columbia Sun-Gazette employee Marcie Peck. Columbia County Sheriff’s Department Detective Benson arrives at the scene, questions Lark and sends her on her way. Accompanied by photographer Doug Mitchell, Lark continues to follow the story questioning the lead detective, and friends and family of the fifteen years old victim Rae Donovan. Meanwhile as a second murder occurs, the ambitious Governor pressures law enforcement to solve the homicide and the journalist she replaced fumes on his blog and at Lark at being unjustly fired. Troubled Water is a fabulous journalistic investigative thriller due to the strong lead protagonist on her first job away from her Wisconsin home (see Bluff and Fast Track). The whodunit is super, but it is fascinating realistic relationships between Lark and others; such as her with Lionel, Benson, Doug and others on the paper and the local residents; that make for a terrific mystery. Harriet Klausner

A Sky Without Stars-Linda S. Clare

A Sky Without Stars Linda S. Clare Abingdon, Feb 18 2014, $14.99 ISBN: 9781426752797 In 1951 Pine Ridge, South Dakota, Frankie Chasing Bear wants her beloved Harold to honor his Lakota heritage as she vowed to her late grandmother when she promised to complete the Lakota Star quilt for her child. However, she also sadly accepts the realism that her child needs to live in a white world though she loathes Christians after what missionaries of that faith did to her parents. When Harold’s father Hank dies in a barroom brawl, Frankie decides to relocate. She registers with the Federal Relocation Program and accompanied by ten years old Harold move to Arizona. Once settled, Frankie works on the Lakota Star though the relocation is not smooth with car trouble and Harold being bullied. When Bureau of Indian Affairs agent Nick Vandergriff meets Frankie, he knows he has found his love. However, though the BIA operative is half-Lakota, he has his work cut out convincing Frankie they belong together raising her son as his Christian beliefs are a non-starter. The latest Quilts of Love inspirational romance (see Tempest's Course by Lynette Sowell and Scraps Of Evidence by Barbara Cameron) is a strong historical due to the fully developed lead triangle. The storyline contains a profound look at the impact on the daughter of the victims of injustice perpetrated by caring people believing in their white man’s burden to bring Christianity to the Indians anyway they can. The lead trio has issues of belonging while the Lakota Star quilt connects the cultures that divide them. Harriet Klausner

A Road Unknown-Barbara Cameron

A Road Unknown Barbara Cameron Abingdon, Feb 4 2014, $14.99 ISBN: 9781426740596 In Goshen, Indiana, as the oldest of nine siblings, Elizabeth Bontrager has always done her duty helping with her younger brothers and sisters. However, as she turns twenty, her resentment towards having no childhood and being too busy for anyone to court make her want to flee from her family. Thus she leaves home and the fabric store where she worked to go on her Rumschpringe. Elizabeth plans to stay with her Englisher pen pal Paula in Paradise, Pennsylvania. Elizabeth and Saul Miller meet on the bus heading to Pennsylvania. He is attracted to her and elated when his dad hires her at their crafts store. However, Saul becomes jealous and upset when Elizabeth dates Paula’s friend Bruce as he wants to court her; at the same time her Bishop demands she go home as her family needs her. The first Amish Roads contemporary romance is a wonderful coming of age novel that focuses on conflicted duties to the Lord, one’s self, a loved one, family and friends. Subgenre fans will enjoy the opening entry though key relationships feel inadequately developed to insure better understanding of how the heroine becomes pulled in different directions by demanding loved ones. Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 21, 2014

Ruberah: Age of Jeweled Intelligence-P. Christina Greenaway

Ruberah: Age of Jeweled Intelligence P. Christina Greenaway girl by the sea, Mar 19 2013, $14.95 ISBN: 9780615949871 The Age of Jeweled Intelligence ends with the destruction of Az’Rayelle when the Ruberah Kingdom Princess Li’ram fiddles away her time thinking only of her love for Emerald Kingdom Prince Da’krah while the Dark Master assaults her land. Realizing too late she allowed her desires to supersede her people’s safety, self-loathing Li’ram pleads with the River Spirit to grant her a chance one day for redemption. Eons later in the Kingdom of Kernow, teenage Princess Tamara refuses to perform her official duties compounded by her defying customs. Her anguished father decrees his rebellious daughter will be changed into a river of tears. In the present, as Americans Mitch Devere and Miriam Lewis drive a car across the Tamar Bridge into Cornwall, she is stunned by seeing a glowing girl floating on the river. This jogs an odd memory of a vow she made a long time ago and also recalls flashes of a royal life in the ancient Kingdom of Ruberah. Confused, Miriam believes she made a sacred pledge in a previous life that she feels a deep commitment to honor. To do so she must rely on the River Tamar spirit to guide her and Mitch; yet unaware that her otherworldly ally is limited with what she can do to help. Miriam’s arrival also awakens the dormant Dark Master. Written in Ruberah is a superb romantic fantasy as M&M aided by the river spirit have a second chance in the war against the Dark Master. The key to this vivid thriller is that the prime players past and present seem genuine. Readers will appreciate this exhilarating tale as redemption does not guarantee defeating evil. Harriet Klausner

The Panda Theory-Pascal Garnier

The Panda Theory Pascal Garnier Gallic Books, Feb 4 2014, $12.95 ISBN 9781906040420 At the hotel Gabriel is staying at in the nondescript small Breton town, lonely Madeleine the receptionist suggests he eat at the Faro restaurant, the only place open on a Sunday. Faro’s Portuguese owner José tells him the restaurant is closed since his wife Marie is in the hospital and he has two despondent children to raise, but shares his food with Gabriel. Soon after that the visitor meets Marco and Rita, who are going through financially hard times. Gabriel knows what it is like to have the warmth and love of family and how fleeting that happiness is since teens murdered his wife and children; he believes one must grasp joy when it is there but also accept the evanescence of today as life lacks purpose. Still Gabriel uplifts the spirits of the villagers as symbolized by the fluffy panda he places inside the Faro to welcome people. He knows the morning will return with dismalness in full force and his inner obsession still thriving in spite of his love for Madeleine. The late Pascal Garnier provides a powerful character driven dark noir in which a sudden deadly act of violence ripped asunder the veneer of civilization. Orson Welles summarized Gabriel’s philosophy: “We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone.” Readers will enjoy traveling with Gabriel messenger of the short happiness endowed to the human spirit. Harriet Klausner

Shoreline Drive-Lily Everett

Shoreline Drive Lily Everett St. Martin's, Jan 28 2014, $7.99 ISBN: 9781250018397 As a terrible spring storm batters Sanctuary Island, Dr. Ben Fairfax drives to the home of Meredith Preston who has gone into labor three weeks early. He knows there is no time to get her to the hospital in Winter Harbor, Virginia even if the ferry ran in this torrent; so in spite of his patients being animals, he vows to keep mother and baby safe once he helps deliver her infant. After a tragedy destroyed his idyllic family life, Ben vowed never again, but Pollyanna Merry makes him reconsider his personal pledge. Merry plans to build a wonderful safe life for her and her newborn son, but also admits to herself she wants Ben. Surprising himself, Ben proposes they marry and stunning herself Merry accepts. Although attracted to each other, neither expected love would complicate their arrangement. The latest picturesque Sanctuary Island romance is a wonderful marriage of convenience due to the changing relationship between the two delightful deniers. Although there are unresolved dangling threads, readers will enjoy visiting this Virginia barrier island as love may be in the sea air but will Ben and Merry go for it. Harriet Klausner

Prime Of Life-P.d. Bekendam

Prime Of Life P.d. Bekendam Worthy Publishing, Feb 4 2014, $14.99 ISBN: 9781617952272 As Ben cleans toilets, he muses about his “four years of college, four years of medical school, and another four years of training in cardiothoracic surgery” to become a janitor at Heritage Gardens, a retirement home near Temecula, California. Ben appreciates that he no longer deals with life threatening crisis almost every day. His worse stressors are nothings compared to his previous work; as he copes with an incompetent supervisor and cantankerous residents by saying yes all the time while doing the job by the numbers he obsesses over. The Professor tells him he solved the mystery of Ben when he calls him Doc to the janitor’s chagrin. The Professor pulls an experiment in the cafeteria that exposes Ben’s secret and proves the janitor should never quit being a doctor. The staff is hurt by his secret and the patients marvel over his career change. Ben is attracted to Dr. Lex Kentucky who according to Frank should have been a supermodel instead of a podiatrist. She asks him to go out with her on a date and he does as his life’s prime numbers are changing as they did three years ago. The Prime Of Life is a fascinating character study of a man who society would insist is foolish perhaps insane for choosing a downward mobility path even if the change of occupations leaves him contented. The support cast is solid though there are some players who come across as too obviously convenient as their roles exist to move forward the plot. Still fans will enjoy Ben’s struggles summed up metaphorically by the Professor who admonishes Doc for failing to cash in on his winning lottery tickets. Harriet Klausner

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Wendell Black, MD-Gerald Imber, M.D

Wendell Black, MD Gerald Imber, M.D. Harper/Bourbon Street, Feb 11 2014, $14.99 ISBN 9780062246851 NYPD police surgeon Dr. Wendell Black flies home from Heathrow when the purser asks him if he is a physician and if yes show identification. After an annoyed Wendell complies, the purser escorts him to middle aged Marjorie who explains the young woman next to her began sobbing and babbling while not looking very well. As he tries to ascertain the cause, the woman suffers a seizure and dies. Later ME Chief Dr. Benson informs Wendell that his airplane she-victim is Azuk Capinpin, a genetic anatomic-he who was a mule carrying heroin inside his body when the breast implant erupted killing him with an overdose. Farzan Byarshan, a friend of Black's girlfriend Dr. Alice Sheppard, provides Wendell with information about the dead person on the plane, but soon is murdered too. Alice vanishes while a frantic Black, working with the Feds, investigates what begins to look more like a terrorist plot rather than illegal drug smuggling. The first Wendell Black, MD mystery is a thrilling whodunit that hooks the audience from the opening 747 scene and the fast-paced storyline never let’s go of its grip until the final confrontation. The plot loses some believability when it veers from a police procedural into a terrorist thriller, but retains the exciting action-packed tension as readers will appreciate Dr. Gerald Imber’s entertaining tale. Harriet Klausner

The Cat, The Devil and Lee Fontana-Shirley Rousseau Murphy and Pat J.J. Murphy

The Cat, The Devil and Lee Fontana Shirley Rousseau Murphy and Pat J.J. Murphy Morrow, Feb 11 2014, $19.99 ISBN 9780062268785 All because of a lost wager several decades ago, in 1947 Washington State, Lucifer arrives at McNeil Island Federal Penitentiary to visit convict Lee Fontana as he has plans for the soul of the aging bank robber. Also with plans to help Fontana keep his soul is his long time companion in and out of prison Misto the cat. A paroled Lee struggles to adapt to the civilian world as this is nothing like what it was when he went to prison. He works for his friend Jake Ellison, driving a truck on a Southern California farm. However, Lee is angry with Jake for being married to his beloved Lucita and envies the affluence of the farm (and much more) owner. The Devil whispers to Lee he can have the wealth and the woman that he craves while Misto struggles to save the soul of his human buddy. This is an entertaining supernatural “loose” prequel to the Joel Grey saga (Misto was in Cat Bearing Gifts). The dark soul war stars a unique triangle consisting of the caring spirit Cat, the avenging diabolical Devil and the ex-convict Lee Fontana. Although readers will wonder why Misto thinks slimy Fontana is redeemable, fans will enjoy the feline version of Stephen Vincent Benet’s The Devil and Daniel Webster. Harriet Klausner

The Deliverance of Evil-Roberto Costantini, translated by N.S. Thompson

The Deliverance of Evil Roberto Costantini, translated by N.S. Thompson Quercus, Feb 11 2014, $26.95 ISBN 9781623650025 In 1982 in Spain, Italy wins the World Cup. The country is ecstatic with its first championship since before WWII. While Rome celebrates, eighteen years old Elisa Sordi vanishes. Like much of the country, young politically-connected Police Commissario Michele Balistreri joins in the reveille while he delays the missing person’s investigation using SOPs as the rationale to the hysterical parents of the teen. Michele’s passion remains vino and women until a few days later when Elisa’s battered body is found on the banks of the Tiber. The despondent cop realizes the impact of what he allowed and vows never again. In 2006, Italy defeats France in Germany to win their first World Cup since 1982. At the same time, Elisa’s mom commits suicide while several young women are tortured and murdered just like her daughter was. This time Balistreri vows to solve the present day serial killings and the cold case that still haunts him. Ironically though the 1982 homicide radically changes the protagonist from an uncaring hedonist to a dedicated cop, Balistreri remains unlikable and unsympathetic. The engaging Italian police procedural provides the audience with a fascinating psychological look at how ugly nurturing turns a human into an amoral evil. Harriet Klausner

Killer’s Island-Anna Jansson

Killer’s Island Anna Jansson Stockholm Text, Feb 11 2014, $14.95 ISBN: 9789187173998 On Gotland Island, Sweden, Detective Inspector Maria Wern heads home in high heels after going to Quay 5 for drinks with her colleague Erika Lund who leaves with a man she met at the bar. Maria responds to a call for help, but when she intervenes to stop three men kicking and battering a young teen they attack her too while a witness flees. At the hospital Maria fears the brutes injected her with HIV. Dr. Eriksson says she more likely will suffer from hepatitis and that the lad suffered severe internal injuries that have left him in ICU after surgery with little chance of surviving. Soon after Maria’s Good Samaritan beating, nurse Linn Bogen heads home after finishing her shift at the hospital when she is assaulted. When Linn learns of the attacks on the cop and the teen, she reports her assault. Pedestrians soon find her decapitated in a wedding dress that eerily emulates the White Sea-Lady myth and also found dead is the witness of the cop battering. As more murders occur, Erika leads the investigation into a serial killer while her private life intrudes on her inquiry. The latest Maria Wern Swedish police procedural (see Strange Bird) provides an interesting look at the victims before they are murdered and the emotional damaging impact on their grieving loved ones and their frightened neighbors. Readers will enjoy this strong whodunit into terror that paralyzes the islanders with abject fear. Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Death Of An Irish Diva-Mollie Cox Bryan

Death Of An Irish Diva Mollie Cox Bryan Kensington, Feb 4 2014, $7.99 ISBN: 9780758266330 The day after the St. Patrick’s Day gala in Cumberland Creek, Virginia, renowned Irish dancer Emily McGlashen, who gave the crowds quite a performance at the parade, is found murdered in her studio with her shoe lace around her neck. Freelance reporter Annie Chemovitz takes a leave of absence from her book she is writing on the New Mountain Order to cover the story. The police name Vera Matthews as a major suspect as her purse was at the crime scene. Additionally Vera owns a rival dance studio that has lost most of its business since Emily opened hers up and raided her customer pool; forcing the former to live in her studio after renting out her home. Vera’s Cumberland Creek Scrapbook Club Cropper friends reject the theory she is a murderer. Led by Annie, the Croppers investigate with clues leading to nowhere until an antique scrapbook surfaces. The latest Cumberland Creek Scrapbook Club cozy (see Scrapbook of Secrets) is an enjoyable whodunit as the Cropper crew finds many people loathing the despicable victim, but none who clearly committed the killing. Although there is similarity to Scrapped with a Cropper named as the suspect, readers will enjoy this investigation as the inquiry fails to absolve Vera until the scrapbook provides clues in another direction that Annie hopes does not end in another dismal dead end. Harriet Klausner

Green Living Can Be Deadly-Staci McLaughlin

Green Living Can Be Deadly Staci McLaughlin Kensington, Feb 4 2014, $7.99 ISBN: 9780758275028 In Blossom Valley, California, O’Connell Organic Farm and Spa marketing expert Dana Lewis arranges for a Green Living Festival to showcase their products. Dana’s middle school best friend Wendy Hartford will host a booth for her carbon footprint offset firm Invisible Prints. Another classmate Kimmie Wheeler finds the murdered corpse of Wendy in her Invisible Prints booth. Kimmie persuades a stunned Dana to investigate the homicide over the strong admonitions by lead Detective Palmer warning her to stay out, and her mother and her boyfriend reminding her of how dangerous her two previous cases (see All Natural Murder and Going Organic Can Kill You) proved. Dana uncovers the shocking truth that Invisible Prints was a fake, which angered the financial backers, and that the victim’s loved ones seem indifferent that she died. The latest Blossom Valley cozy is an enjoyable murder mystery though the audience must accept the heroine risking her life to investigate after her previous dangerous escapades to enjoy the fun whodunit. Fast-paced, fans will appreciate Dana’s fumbling inquiry especially the amusing relationship between the heroine and her demanding “boss” Kimmie with her trimmed nostrils remaining in headquarters while the marketer works the lethal field. Harriet Klausner

Trilemma-Jennifer Mortimer

Trilemma Jennifer Mortimer Oceanview, Feb 4 2014, $26.95 ISBN 9781608091126 American Linnet “Lin” Mere knows little about her New Zealand paternal family except that her late father, who died when she was twelve, abandoned his family and left his homeland to marry her mother. Amongst her mother’s things, Lin finds a photo of a painting “The Road to Ngatirua” by Rose Mere. She learns from the net that Rose is her deceased dad’s first wife. Deciding to see her paternal relatives, Lin travels to Wellington. There she and her twin stepsisters meet for the first time. She soon becomes CEO of startup Hera telecommunications over the objections of her mean-spirited male rivals and also accepts the end of her beloved Ben in her life. However, as much seems to go relatively smooth, someone willing to kill wants her gone. This “Roots” storyline is excellent when the focus is on the American trying to adapt to New Zealand society once she meets her family and at the workplace. The lethal suspense subplot detracts from the powerful character-driven look at difficult dilemmas people make to belong and to get ahead while sometimes these choices include deciding whether to abandon loved ones. Harriet Klausner

The Book Of Jonah-Joshua Max Feldman

The Book Of Jonah Joshua Max Feldman Holt, Feb 4 2014, $28.00 ISBN 9780805097764 Manhattan lawyer Jonah Jacobstein lives the good life as a success at his firm and with two girlfriends in love with him. During a storm, Jonah and a Hasidic Jew rush into the subway where the stranger warns him about his biblical namesake seeing the naked wicked. After his latest triumph assures him partnership at Cunningham Wolf, Jonah celebrates at a party until he sees a photo of someone named Judith and almost immediately afterward a disturbing apocalyptic vision of New York under the sea and those at the gala naked. Not long after those twin nightmares and more haunt him, Jonah ends his relationship with GF 2 Zoey and confesses his transgression to GF 1 Sylvia who dumps him. Meanwhile his performance at work falters until he is fired. Jonah becomes depressed as he still sees visions including the Hasid admonishing him that he cannot run from his fate. Jonah flees to Amsterdam where he meets another non-practicing Jew Judith Bulbrook, the star of that triggering photo. She has suffered from tragedy that has shaped her life. This is an entertaining allegory that places the Old Testament tale of Jonah into a modern day context as anything can lead to a religious renewal of faith as there is no place to flee from one’s destiny. Character-driven, readers obtain a deep look into the souls of Jonah and Judith as they struggle to avoid a path neither wants to travel, but whether it is God, alcohol or something else; Joe Louis proves the prophet with his famous comment: “you can run but you can’t hide.” Harriet Klausner

Monday, February 17, 2014

Sentinels: Lynx Destiny-Doranna Durgin

Sentinels: Lynx Destiny Doranna Durgin Harlequin Nocturne, Feb 4 2014, $5.75 ISBN: 9780373885893 While staying alone at her father’s cabin in the Sacramento Mountains for the first time since she fled as a child, Regan Adler lectures the land to stop talking to her. She also knows she cannot stay long or risk the fate of her mom who lost her mind to the voices before dying in a car accident. Kai Faulkes the lynx-shifter lives in isolation near the home of Regan’s father. He hides from the Atrum Core who would assassinate him for his uncanny ability to expose their magic and from the Sentinels who would place him under constant house arrest in order to exploit his skill. Kai’s world shifts when he hears Regan chatting with the mountain while also detecting the new silent Core magic. Unable to ignore her, Kai comes to Regan’s aid, but needs her to embrace her talent if they are to survive the Core horde assaulting them. The latest Sentinels romantic fantasy (see Kodiak Chained) is a fabulous fresh entry with the wonderful spin of the hero avoiding both sides in the war of magic. The story begins leisurely introducing the uniqueness of each of the lead characters before accelerating into an action-packed thriller. Harriet Klausner

One Night With The Shifter-Theresa Meyers

One Night With The Shifter Theresa Meyers Harlequin Nocturne, Feb 4 2014, $5.75 ISBN: 9780373885909 Banished from the Wenatchee Were Pack where he was Beta for years, Tyee Grayson meets teacher Jess Brierly at the OON in Sinclair, Washington when vampires start a bar fight. Ty keeps Jess safe and they leave together for a one night stand. Not long afterward, Jess tells Ty she is pregnant with his child. When vampires attack her brother Riley, a soldier Ty is training, the werewolf changes him to save his life. While turning to a vampire pack for help against another vampire group, Ty also must tell his beloved mate that he is a Were; her sibling is a Were; and she carries a Were hybrid. The fourth Sons of Midnight romantic fantasy (see The Half-Breed Vampire) is a fast-paced novel from the moment the lead couple meets and never decelerates until the final confrontation. The key to this strong entry is Ty’s fears of being alone as he contemplates dying from becoming a lethal lunatic, dying as a depressed hermit, or starting a new pack; Jess makes up his mind with a wanted pregnancy. Series fans will enjoy the romance between the exiled Were and the human schoolteacher. Harriet Klausner

A Family For Tyler-Angel Smits

A Family For Tyler Angel Smits Harlequin SuperRomance, Feb 4 2014, $5.75 ISBN: 9780373608317 In Austin, the six Hawkins siblings arrive at their beloved late mom’s house following her funeral. Grieving, each takes their special chair home with them. Three months later, while special ops soldier DJ Hawkins is away on assignment, his brother Wyatt comes to take his eight year old nephew Tyler Easton to his ranch. The lad’s eyes reflect his sadness as his mom abandoned him and his dad has no idea he sired a son. Two weeks later, Wyatt accompanied by Tyler arrives in the courtroom of Judge Emily Ivers where he files for temporary custody of his nephew until DJ returns home. The Judge prefers permanent custody until the tweener insists his mom will come for him. Ivers makes the arrangement provisional based on either parent coming for their son. The magistrate remains uncomfortable with the situation so, without the lad to hear her, tells Wyatt she has her doubts about him caring for his nephew. She hopes that her childhood abuse is not tainting her opinion. Wyatt invites her to the ranch to see for herself, which she does. As they fall in love, the judge must overcome her childhood ghosts if she is to embrace her rancher. The first and oldest Chair at the Hawkins Table is an entertaining ranch romance due to a strong cast with deep flaws as the child deals with abandonment issues through total independence and the magistrate struggles with her past as her defense mechanism no longer works. Although late suspense forces Emily to choose between loneliness and happiness, the present day cause of this effect feels stereotyped. Still fans will appreciate this deep family drama. Harriet Klausner

Blame It On The Rodeo-Amanda Renee

Blame It On The Rodeo Amanda Renee Harlequin American, Feb 4 2014, $5.50 ISBN: 9780373755080 In Ramblewood, Texas thirteen years ago, Shane Langtry and Lexi Lawson were in love until he cheated with buckle bunny Sharon Vincent in a one night stand in Oklahoma while his beloved was at Colorado State. Sharon claimed he was the father of the baby she carried so they married and raised Dylan until Tab proved paternity and backed by the court took the infant with him, breaking Shane’s heart as he loved the two year old child. Veterinarian, Lexi keeps her distance from Shane though they have become friends as she works with the horses on his family’s ranch. As Shane desperately wants another chance with his beloved Lexi, she feels the same way but has a secret that she must first reveal to him if they are to finally make it. This Ramblewood ranch romance (see Home to the Cowboy) is a wonderful second chance at love as secrets and betrayals keep the lead couple apart unless one of them takes that first frightening step of admitting their mistakes in order to reignite their relationship. Although Lexi’s secret is ethically wrong (and overused) even as a retaliatory response caused by a broken heart, fans will enjoy this character driven Texas tale. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Broken Homes-Ben Aaronovitch

Broken Homes Ben Aaronovitch Daw, Feb 4 2014, $7.99 ISBN: 9780756409609 The car crash between two speeding vehicles left Allen Frust dead and Robert Weil severely injured. First first responder PC Slatt notices unaccountable blood in Weil’s car that leads to him being the prime suspect as a mutilating serial killer. A spell involved in the crash leads Queen’s Peace Constable and magician's apprentice Peter Grant summarizing the case to his boss-mentor Nightingale the wizard that Weil may be a mundane serial killer or a ward of the infamous Faceless Man. The Southwark Council plans to tear down a housing monstrosity, Skygarden in Elephant and Castle. However, efforts to demolish this ugly high rise complex meet eerie opposition. With political pressure on the police to resolve the interference, Peter and his apprentice peer Constable Lesley Mai investigate to determine whether the Faceless Man prevents the demolition and, if as expected yes, why. The fourth Rivers of London police procedural fantasy (see Midnight Riot, Moon Over Soho and Whispers Under Ground) is an entertaining thriller that makes the magical elements seem to be a real force of nature. The human and supernatural cast is strong and Peter continues to grow as an apprentice mage and constable. Action-packed with a terrific twisting finish, fans of the series will appreciate Ben Aaronovitch’s lampooning government sponsored housing projects used to warehouse the poor in isolation until the land is needed for something considered more important than filing away the impoverish. Harriet Klausner

Hopeful-Shelley Shepard Gray

Hopeful Shelley Shepard Gray Avon Inspire, Feb 4 2014, $12.99 ISBN: 9780062204486 In Sugarcreek, Ohio, everyone even her boss at the Sugarcreek Inn where she bakes delicious pies finds it amusing that twenty-five year old Miriam Zehr is always late. In her mind she feels especially late in finding a mate like her pregnant friends have. Much of her life Miriam has been attracted to customer handsome Albert “Junior” Beiler, but he never gives the Plain Jane a look beyond enjoying her pastries. Her hopes rise when Junior talks to her on a personal matter, but he crushes her crush when he asks how her how to get the attention of her pretty friend teacher Mary Kathryn. Heartbroken, Miriam offers to help Junior make it with Mary though she knows deep in her heart that her true reason is to be with him so that he will get to know and hopefully want her instead. Following up on the Seasons of Sugarcreek with a new series, the first Return to Sugarcreek is an engaging Amish romance. Miriam is a unique lead character whose caring innocence seems almost ephemeral while Junior misses clues re the feelings of others especially his companion that make him seem at times as an uncaring callous brute; which his younger sister would argue he is not. Though the storyline goes entirely as expected, readers will enjoy the awakening. Harriet Klausner

Princess Ever After-Rachel Hauck

Princess Ever After Rachel Hauck Zondervan, Feb 4 2014, $14.99 ISBN: 9780310315506 Duchy of Hessenberg Minister of Culture Tanner Burkhardt informs King Nathaniel that they traced Princess Alice’s journey through England to America in 1914 and found the present day heir twenty-nine year old Regina Beswick living in Tallahassee, Florida. Feeling a failure who takes no chances out of fear of being considered a loser, Tanner feels ecstatic and frightened when His Highness trusts him with bringing home the princess as the kingdom needs her. Former CPA Reggie loves restoring classic cars with her buddies when Tanner arrives with the nonsense that she is a royal. Initially skeptical, she begins to believe the emissary, but does not want to give up her day job. Still with a sense of duty, Reggie agrees to accompany him to Hessenberg where an ambitious adversary challenges her legitimacy and she falls in love with guide. The second Royal Wedding romance (see Once Upon a Prince) is a delightful tale as Reggie struggles to adapt from being an American commoner mechanic to a Hessenberg royal mechanic; mindful of an adult version of Meg Cabot's early Princess Dairies. Her grandmother’s journals add historical perspective to a warm contemporary. Harriet Klausner

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Harmony Cabins-Regina Hart

Harmony Cabins Regina Hart Dafina/Kensington, Feb 4 2014, $6.99 ISBN: 9780758286543 Los Angeles songwriter Audra Lane comes to the Cabins in Trinity Falls, Ohio to overcome her writer’s block as she owes her business manager Benita three tunes. If first impressions matter, her wearing a garbage bag as a dress and signing in as Penny Lane are doozies, but disheveled desk clerk Jackson Sansberry contains his mirth until she is out of sight. Over the next three weeks, the lodger and the renovating owner become acquainted and subsequently become attracted to each other, he becomes her muse as she feels empathy for the grieving divorced Jack unable to move past the death of his daughter Zoey. Caring Books & Bakery owner Doreen Fever begs Jack to participate in the Trinity Falls Sesquicentennial event as he is not only a descendent of the town’s founding family, but a good person even donating Penny’s room payment to the school rather than his cabin renovations. As Doreen runs for mayor, a late candidate shakes up the race by placing doubts in her mind that she is no longer the best person for the job. The second Finding Home Trinity Falls saga (see Fast Break) is an engaging look at a small Buckeye town. Readers will enjoy this warm tale of love between a Grammy-award winning Southern California native and a true blood Buckeye with strong supporting subplots that bring Trinity Falls to life. Harriet Klausner

Baptism-Max Kinnings

Baptism Max Kinnings Quercus, Feb 4 2014, $24.95 ISBN 9781623651022 On Madic Farm in Snowdonia, Wales religious fanatic Tommy Denning deploys his plan to surrender to God’s will by killing Father Owen of the Church of Cruor Christi. Tommy, his even crazier sister Belle and Simeon head to South Wimbledon where they kidnap the wife and two children of George Wakeham to use as hostages in order force the subway driver to cooperate or else they will die. During a severe heat wave that makes the London Underground an unmanageable sauna, Wakeham’s train stops between the Leicester Square and Tottenham Court Road stations while three hundred plus frightened passengers face heat stroke and imminent execution. Blind Police Detective Chief Inspector Ed Mallory tries to negotiate with the psychopath in charge. As the deaths mount, MI5 conducts a deadly lone wolf operation and officials inside air conditioned rooms take advantage of the situation to further their ambitions. With a modern day fiery John Brown Taking of Pelham 123, Baptism is an exhilarating action-packed thriller that focuses on the danger of religious fanatics cherry picking the bible to defend their claim of doing God’s will even sacrificing the innocent like Abraham was willing to do. The key players are fascinating as each has major flaws they overcome in everyday life as George drives an underground train in spite of being a claustrophobic; Tommy is a 200 proof psychopath yet a brilliant methodical operational planner; and Ed uses his other senses to overcome his lack of sight. The two prime females (George’s wife and Tommy’s sister) are less developed but enhance, along with the support cast, this bloody look at a lethal brand of religious fanaticism. Harriet Klausner

Dreamwalker-C.S. Friedman

Dreamwalker C.S. Friedman DAW, Feb 4 2014, $19.95 ISBN 9780756408886 Jessica Drake’s weird dreams of alien worlds have haunted her as far back as she remembers. Uncomfortable, the sixteen year old Jesse shares her haunting dreams with no one except her gamer addicted younger brother Tommy. He, in turn, uses her vivid descriptions in his games. DNA testing stuns the teen who assumed her parents birthed her; as the data prove they are not her natural family. Even more shocking the results insist she probably is not Homo Sapien. Jesse soon meets other “changelings” with her genetic coding also orphaned on earth while some of these others die in suspicious accidents. When strangers destroy her home and abduct Tommy, Jesse and two changeling comrades follow to a different Earth where the science is magic and the economics is multidimensional colonial mercantilism controlled by a powerful plutocracy. To return to their earth, Jesse and her friends risk their lives by daring to challenge the portal-controlling Guilds. Dreamwalker is an enjoyable young adult opening act that establishes a parallel earth in a fantasy setting manipulated by the universal 1%. The storyline provides readers with a deep look at this other realm through the escapades of the three changelings. Although the heroine’s companions are underdeveloped sidekicks and a romance feels included as a subgenre requirement, readers will enjoy traveling to C.S. Friedman’s other earth and look forward to more dimensional adventures starring Jesse and her buddies. Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 14, 2014

Miss Dimple Picks A Peck of Trouble-Mignon F. Ballard

Miss Dimple Picks A Peck of Trouble Mignon F. Ballard Minotaur, Feb 4 2014, $24.99 ISBN: 9781250035622 In 1944 with school out for summer in Elderberry, Georgia, first-grade teacher Miss Dimple Kilpatrick visits an orchard to pick peaches when she hears a scream. Stopping her activity immediately, Miss Dimple rushes to see if she can offer assistance to the person in distress at the Peach Shed. No one is there including teenager Prentice Blair, who was working at the Peach Shed. Not long after the eighteen year old vanished, her corpse is found by the old mill. The murder scene is where she and her boyfriend Clay Jarrett would make out. Clay is the prime suspect as recently Prentice dumped him. "Mad Hattie" McGee insists she saw the abduction, but not considered creditable; as she is known throughout town when she is not claiming she is Scarlett for her persistence that Nazis stalk her and her insistence that she knows where buried Confederate gold is. Miss Dimple, with other teachers assisting her, investigates the homicide. The latest Miss Dimple WWII amateur sleuth (see Miss Dimple Suspects a Mystery) is a wonderful historical regional cozy. The inquiry is terrific as the focus is on identifying the killer, but also enables readers to taste life in the home front of 1944 rural Georgia. Harriet Klausner

Only the Lonely-Karen Wiesner

Only the Lonely Karen Wiesner Writers Exchange E-Publishing (Electronic); (paperback), Feb. 2014 ISBNs: 9781304578280 Global Pharmaceutical District 2 Administrative Assistant Diane Hoffman and Pharma Sales Rep Robert Drake have been seeing each other for years though he travels a lot. After being away for four months, Robert acts odd when he tells his girlfriend he is too tired to see her. She soon learns why as Robert is married with two children. Mortified and heartbroken she quits her job and goes on a sugar binge to the consternation of her friends. Diane obtains a position at Foxx Body Shop where Mikey Lund works. Mikey has always been on the fringe of their crowd partly because he was overweight and mostly because he is shy. He wants to help his friend Diane to get over her former lover; while Robert tries to persuade her to renew their relationship. Not wanting to be the other woman, Diane turns to Mikey to insure she does not return to Robert like an addict in need. Mike prays that he can persuade Diane to take a chance on him and his love for her. The first Angelfire II tale is an enjoyable contemporary romance as the inadvertent other woman and the once obese still alone man fall in love while pretending to be an item. Karen Wiesner delightfully captures the mindset of the protagonists; as he lost the weight but psychologically feels fat and she lost the cheater while psychologically feels a need for the chutzpah philanderer. Readers will enjoy this entertaining tale as Only the Lonely know how the lead couple feels. Harriet Klausner

Rescued By The Millionaire-Cara Solter

Rescued By The Millionaire Cara Solter Harlequin Romance, Feb 4 2014, $5.99 ISBN: 9780373742776 In Calgary, River’s Edge Enterprises CEO Daniel Riverton has little time for anyone even his mom; as he works long hours and sleeps much of the little time remaining in his day. While his home is being renovated, Daniel occupies his best friend Kevin Wilson’s condo as the photographer is overseas on assignment. However the apartment above him in the adult-only building his firm is driving him crazy as the resident has noisy children visiting her. Trixie Marsh has mixed feelings about her twin sister Abby dumping her four years old twins (Molly and Pauline) on her since they reside in Australia and she rarely sees them but they are also a disruptive major handful. When there is finally quiet after four nights of relentless noise, Daniel still has a headache. The silence abruptly ends with a loud bang that has him running upstairs where he finds the adult tied by toilet paper to a chair like a mummy captured by Oliver Twist munchkins. As he considers fleeing the scene, Trixie identifies him by the shoes he wears. Instead of leaving behind Auntie and her rambunctious nieces, Daniel finds he needs to be with Trixie. Rescued by the Millionaire is an amusing contemporary Canadian romance with a strong cast. The lead couple is a nice pairing who falls in love while huddling in the trenches where they learn firsthand to “Never work with children …” (WC Fields) as they tend to steal the storyline. Fans will enjoy this humorous tale in which the adult love subplot plays second fiddle to the antics of the terror twins. Harriet Klausner

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Cavanaugh Hero-Marie Ferrarella

Cavanaugh Hero Marie Ferrarella Harlequin Romantic Suspense, Feb 4 2014, $5.50 ISBN: 9780373278589 Someone shoots and kills the slightly inebriated off duty Aurora Police Sergeant Matt Holt. The killer feels justice has been served and informs the dead cop that he will not die alone as others will follow. Matt’s grieving sister Police Detective Charley Randolph obsesses over finding her sibling’s murderer. Using their time together at the police academy as a persuader, Charley convinces lead Detective Declan Cavanaugh to let her assist him on the investigation though also hiding from him her conflict of interest. While the predator kills more cops as Declan and Charley work the case together; they are also attracted to one another. However, he is not a one woman man and she knows her lie of omission will anger him and their superiors. The latest fast-paced Cavanaugh Justice romantic police procedural (see Cavanaugh Baby) is an exciting serial killer thriller. As Declan and Charley fall in love, both know the priority remains ending the serial killer’s murdering of their peers and perhaps them too. Harriet Klausner

Moving Target-Kimberly Van Meter

Moving Target Kimberly Van Meter Harlequin Romantic Suspense, Feb 4 2014, $5.50 ISBN: 9780373278602 In San Francisco, medical researcher Dr. Kat Odgers diligently works on a cure for Alzheimer’s. MCX-209 looked promising, but the test on Auguste the monkey destroyed the memory of even eating a banana instead of repairing the brains cells involved in recall. The Defense Intelligence Agency learns of Odgers’ results. DIA supervisor Miles Jogen sends Agent Jake Isaacs to retrieve the stubborn scientist who refuses to believe she is in danger, and bring her to DC for her safety as other less scrupulous people want her memory erasing drug. In California, the consummate professional cannot resist the brilliant geek who in turn finds herself attracted to the agent. Moving Target is an entertaining romantic suspense due to the unique heroine whose nerdiness is endearing to fans and Jake. Fast-paced from the moment cute Auguste sadly begins to drool and never slowing down, readers will enjoy this exciting amusing version of Monkey Business. Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Romance For Cynics-Nicola Marsh

Romance For Cynics Nicola Marsh Harlequin KISS, Feb 1 2014, $5.99 ISBN: 9780373178919 Financial consultant Cashiel Burgess is in trouble after an oversea bank collapsed and a bimbo concocted a fictional account about him that will send more clients fleeing from him at a time he wants to raise investment funds. Cash turns to his college buddy public relations specialist Barton Clegg for damage control. Bart arranges for divorced gardener Lucy Grant, who desperately needs money for her grandmother, to be Cash’s girlfriend and accompanying him at the Valentine fundraiser. At the event in front of crowds and cameras, they act the roles of the perfect couple. Each insists this is a performance as she distrusts commitment after her marriage to a rich guy collapsed and he likes playing the field except when they tell tales about him. Both ignore that the attraction between them makes the sham seem Oscar Award winning real. Though the fake girlfriend premise is an old theme, readers will enjoy Romance For Cynics as Cash and Lucy go from denial of their feelings to fleeing their unwanted desires to hesitantly embracing their love. Amusing at times, this is a fun contemporary. Harriet Klausner

No Time Like Mardi Gras Time-Kimberly Lang

No Time Like Mardi Gras Time Kimberly Lang Harlequin KISS, Feb 1 2014, $5.99 ISBN: 9780373178926

At a bar during Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Colin Raine and Jamie Vincent meet. He shows her the festive carnival, but they become separated. Starting over after a recent debacle, Jamie has mixed feelings since she enjoyed her time with Colin the bartender, but needs to avoid relationship problems. Actually a computer game expert instead of a bartender, Colin searches the city for the woman who haunts him. When they meet again, she insists it was the atmosphere that brought them together; while he claims it was their attraction. Though Colin knows a beauty like Jamie can have any guy, he wants to be her one and only, but as he wins her heart he loses the woman he relishes when he tries to help her without asking. The first One Night in New Orleans tale is a delightful contemporary romance starring two likable leads in a fabulous love story with strong subplots. Readers will root for the gaming geek to defeat his zombies and win the heart of the woman who possesses his. Harriet Klausner

Threads of Home-Jodi Barrows

Threads of Home Jodi Barrows River North, Feb 1 2014, $14.99 ISBN: 9780802409386

In 1856 Louisiana, Lucas feared for the safety of his grandchildren (sisters: Liz a widow and Megan; and their Mississippi cousins Abby and Emma) so he arranges for them to travel to Texas with plans to join them once he sold his property; instead he was murdered (see Threads of Change). In Fort Worth, each of the four women takes a slightly different destination yet they have each other’s back. Working in the mercantile, Liz feels she has come a long way since she lost her parents as a child, her husband and grandfather as she stands at the altar ready to marry a family friend Thomas with her twelve year old son Luke giving her away. Abby prepares to open a new school even as Samuel the lawyer denies his feelings for the schoolmarm. The youngest Emma feels the most disconnected with her confusion as to what to do until a herd of cattle almost runs her over. She realizes she can bring in needed money by providing B&B services to the cowboys and stabling and feeding their horses. While Jackson the lawman is attracted to Megan, she agrees to work with Emma on her venture. As the presidential election nears, a dispute over county records threatens the safety of the four cousins and their loved ones. The second engaging Americana Quilting Story is an enjoyable historical due to a strong ensemble cast who enable readers to witness the “threads” of late Antebellum Texas. Although the ladies continue to adapt too easily from life as part of the 1% to working class, readers will appreciate this character driven pre-Civil War entry. Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

To Sail A Darkling Sea-John Ringo

To Sail A Darkling Sea John Ringo Baen, Feb 4 2014, $25.00 ISBN: 9781476736211 His brother warned Steven John Smith of a pandemic disease that starts off like an airborne flu, but turns into a neurological disorder transmitted by bites from sick victims. Heeding his sibling’s cautionary advice to head out to sea, the former Aussie Para Steven managed to get his wife Stacey and their two teenage daughters (Sophia Lynn and Faith Marie) out of West Virginia (see Under a Graveyard Sky). As the world is under siege, the Navy appoints Steven as Commander of the US Navy Atlantic fleet after his success at eradicating zombie nests at sea; his daughters receive officer commissions too. Currently they bravely try to clean out the Iwo Jima from the infected while hoping to rescue those still human trapped inside. Though this Black Tide Rising apocalypse thriller has the feel of a middle book as the overarching premise feels stalled at sea, readers will appreciate the action-filled (except when the brass pontificates) tale as zombie cleansing is a hazardous occupation. Fast-paced throughout, John Ringo provides an entertaining zombie war tale with civilization forced To Sail A Darkling Sea that needs cleansing the oceans of the madness that occupies the land. Harriet Klausner

Dark Bites-Sherrilyn Kenyon

Dark Bites Sherrilyn Kenyon St. Martin’s, Jan 21 2014, $25.99 ISBN 9780312376864 This wonderful eleven short story (plus “Redemption,” an extract from the novel Guardian) collection showcases the talent of Sherrilyn Kenyon to provide passionate exciting tales mostly in romantic fantasy, but also includes a twisting High Noon western romance (see “Santa Wears Spurs”). All the engaging entries were published between 2000 and 2006 in different anthologies or venues with an overarching premise of a chance for redemption through love or avenging justice. In 12,252 BC, the warrior Aricles is sworn to protect the cold Goddess of Justice Bathymaas, but offers her much more in the “House of the Rising Son.” In “Phantom Lover” Erin McDaniels suffers from horrendous nightmares as V'Aidan challenges the serpent Krysti'Ana and makes love to her afterward only in her dreams. At the Atlanta based gala, were-panther Pandora the virgin in heat seeks the help of Acheron as she is frightened having left her pack for the first time, but instead encounters enemy were-panther Dante as the "Stroke of Midnight" arrives. Immortal soulmates for five centuries, in Chicago Velkan the Dark-Hunter and his wife Esperatta realize that a fifteenth century Romanian foe has come to kill them in “Until Death Do We Part.” Katagarian Fury, vowing to keep his clan safe, seeks the adversary who assaulted a werewolf in New Orleans; while vowing to keep her people safe Arcadian Angelia hunts the raging werewolf that threatens them under the “Shadow of the Moon." Harriet Klausner

Poison Town-Creston Mapes

Poison Town Creston Mapes David C. Cook, Feb 1 2014, $14.99 ISBN 9781434704870 Trenton City Dispatch reporter Jack Crittendon remains angry for the house invasion that traumatized his daughters (seven years old Rebecca and five years old Faye) and the kidnapping by Granger Meade of his wife Pam (see Fear Has a Name). He hides his rage from his family, but his wife knows her husband is fuming even at the Lord; but she is unaware he carries a gun now that Meade is out on parole. When Jack drops his car off at friend Travis Randall’s garage, the mechanic tells him that his father has begun to obtain proof that the Demler-Vargus run chemical plant produces fiberglass and a toxin making all the employees and many local residents ill. Jack investigates whether the plant with government approval or ignorance is changing Trenton, Ohio into Poison Town. The second Crittendon Files Christian suspense thriller is an exciting timely environmental tale (think of Keystone) that rotates perspective so that the audience understands the full scope of the issue. Although the climax feels unlikely, fans will enjoy this tale as Jack, already dealing poorly with his faith battered, struggles with the avarice of the local industrial-government complex in which poisoning workers and locals is an acceptable money-making job creating (including the medical field) by-product. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Back To Blood-Tom Wolfe

Back To Blood Tom Wolfe Little, Brown and Company, Jan 28 2014, $10.00 ISBN: 9780316036320 Police officer Nestor Camacho becomes a media darling when the Miami Herald reports he courageously rescues an illegal Cuban immigrant from the top of a ship’s mast before arresting the man. However, his Cuban-American “Little Havana” community led by his irate dad condemns his brave act due to Nestor enforcing the “wet-foot, dry-foot policy” by not allowing the exile to complete the final 18 metros to asylum. Soon after that Nestor arrests a big drug dealer who was choking his partner, but instead of accolades his African-American boss suspends him; as YouTube caught the entire incident starting with the other cop using racial slurs. Finally Miami Herald reporter John Smith gets Nestor involved in a museum art forgery scam by Russian Sergei Korolyov. On a personal front, Nestor’s former girlfriend Magdalena Otero works for psychiatrist Dr. Norman Lewis who helps wealthy clients deal with porn addiction by becoming hooked on him instead. She becomes Lewis’ girlfriend as a means to escape Hialeah as her American dream is accepted assimilation within the greater United States. With an engaging anecdotal feel to the entertaining storyline, Back to Blood is an intriguing look at Miami mostly through a cop with one foot in the Cuban exile community and the other inside of the American law enforcement world. Nestor’s (and to a lesser degree that of Magdalena) escapades bring to life the dynamics of the unique city, but none of the events are deeply developed. Still fans who appreciate something different will want to read Tom Wolfe’s look at the dichotomy of Miami. Harriet Klausner

Delilah’s Daughters-Angela Benson

Delilah’s Daughters Angela Benson Morrow, Jan 28 2014, $13.99 ISBN: 9780062002716 Delilah and Rocky Monroe cherish their three daughters (Roxanne, Veronica and Alisha) even as they encourage them to use their God-given musical talent to make Delilah’s Daughters the most popular Gospel group in the country. When Rocky dies, his four females grieve their loss. He angelically watches his beloved “harem” while his widow pushes their adult children to try harder to produce a hit that makes it onto the Billboard charts in honor of their late dad. The siblings bring different talents to Delilah’s Daughters; as Roxanne has the best voice; Veronica the best dance moves; and Alisha the best songwriting skills. They compete as a trio at the annual Gospelfest. Veronica’s husband Dexter has plans for his wife to become famous as a solo and leave behind her sisters while Delilah’s past threatens to pull down the pillars of her family. Delilah’s Daughters is an exciting inspirational family drama starring four fully developed unique females and a touch of whimsy with Rocky the angel looking over his beloved. Character-driven by each member of the quartet seeking a different life goal; reader will relish the Monroe brood as love proves to be a second hand emotion (nod to Tina Turner) to faith in family loyalty hammered by disingenuous ambition. Harriet Klausner

Wishing on Buttercups-MiraLee Ferrell

Wishing on Buttercups MiraLee Ferrell David C. Cook, Feb 1 2014, $14.99 ISBN: 9780781408097 In 1880 Baker City, Oregon, Beth Roberts lives with her Aunt Wilma in a boardinghouse. She has no memory of her parents and because of ugly scars caused by a fire when she was a child assumes no man will ever want her. Reticent Beth’s solo pleasure is scenic drawing and recently she began secretly selling her pictures as Elizabeth Corwin to The Women’s Eastern Magazine. Defiant Jeffery Tucker rejects his family’s demands especially from his father to end his foolish dream and come home to work in their business. He knows worse on his psyche than the family pressure is the constant rejection letters from publishers until he receives a note in which a magazine wants to serialize his work if he includes illustrations. Jeffery asks Beth if she knows Elizabeth as he needs a quality illustrator, but she reacts strangely. Meanwhile as Beth begins to regain tidbits of her lost memory frightening her aunt and Jeffery falls in love with her, Steven Mason arrives in town on banking business. The second entertaining Love Blossoms in Oregon inspirational historical romance (see Blowing on Dandelions) contains a strong cast while the moving storyline once again emphasizes the importance of the triad of faith, family and community. As fascinating Beth begins to recover her lost little girl memories, she needs to accept that God (and Jeffery) does not judge a book by its scarred cover. Although readers will figure out the delightful important twist relatively early, MiraLee Ferrell provides her appreciate audience with a charming Americana. Harriet Klausner

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Wicked After Midnight-Delilah S. Dawson

Wicked After Midnight Delilah S. Dawson Pocket, Jan 28 2014, $7.99 ISBN: 9781451657913 In the freaky world Sang, former college student Demi Ward feels guilty as she appreciates what Criminy Stain has done for her starting with rescuing the young Bludman by turning her, but also is bored after six years as a contortionist in his traveling circus. Ignoring warnings from her paper-holding savior Crim and her mentor from her world Tish, Demi insists she needs to escape ennui. Crim agrees to allow her and her caravan roommate Cherie to attend the university in Ruin. The twenty-six year old looking like a teen Demi persuades her BFF Cherie to skip Ruin and go to Paris with her to sing at a cabaret. However, before they arrive in the city, slavers assault them. The vicious thugs capture Cherie while Vale Hildebrand rescues Demi. Loaded with crippling remorse for convincing her friend to accompany her to Paris, Demi vows to rescue Cherie. Though he expects the worse, doubting Vale offers to help her beginning with kisses while she performs at the cabaret seeking info from her decadent admirers. The latest “Wicked” Blud steampunk fantasy (see Wicked as They Come and Wicked as She Wants) is an entertaining paranormal romance starring another modern day "Alice" falling through the rabbit hole. Demi’s desperation amidst depravity makes for an enjoyable thriller as Sally Bowles sang: “Life is a Cabaret.” Harriet Klausner

Netherworld-Lisa Morton

Netherworld Lisa Morton JournalStone, Jan 10 2014, $18.95 ISBN: 9781940161082 In 1878 since her beloved husband Lord William Furnaval vanished and is probably dead, Diana lost interest in life including her mission as a Netherworld Gatekeeper partly because he was her diligent partner preventing wickedness from entering our world. Since William’s disappearance, Diana performs her duty to patrol the supernatural portals, but lacks the vigilliance she possessed when teamed with her husband. As she shuts portals, Diana becomes concerned that evil has begun crossing over unchecked. She fears a war with demons will devastate her world if she fails to act immediately. With help from Yi-Kin the Chinese sailor, Mina the guardian and Stephen the scholar, all whom she meets on her globetrotting escapades, Diana fights malevolence while closing gates and searching with little hope for William. The keys to this fascinating first Chronicles of Diana Furnaval are the alternate vivid Victorian era and the wonderful anachronistic heroine who is way ahead of her time. Although Diana and her loyal band too easily and quickly defeat seemingly more powerful demons leading to the immediate next escapade against a new beast with no respite for the weary, readers will enjoy this action-packed historical fantasy. Harriet Klausner

Ripper-Isabel Allende

Ripper Isabel Allende; Oliver Brock (translator) and Frank Wynne (translator)Harper, Jan 28 2014, $28.99 ISBN: 9780062291400 In 2012 San Francisco, high school senior Amanda Martín loves her divorced mother Indiana Jackson, but is more like her beloved dad Ed the homicide cop. Whereas her spiritualistic mother sees the good in everyone, her daughter and her ex-husband see the evil in the same people. Meanwhile her mom has two suitors she admires but Amanda notices the dark flaws in both candidates seeking to be her stepfather. Amanda loves mysteries and serves as the headmaster of an online whodunit game Ripper. The players include her sexagenarian maternal grandfather Blake; wheelchair-bound New Zealander online as “Esmeralda” the Gypsy; a lonely New Jersey teen called Sir Edmond who never leaves his room except for the bathroom; a Montreal nineteen years old with an eating disorder using the name Abatha the psychic; and in Reno thirteen years old genius “Sherlock Holmes”. After her grandmother’s omen of a city bloodbath, someone murders Golden Hills Elementary School security guard Ed Staton with a bat and soon other killings follow. Deciding to investigate, Amanda persuades her Ripper playing friends to change the setting of their game from 1888 London to 2011 San Francisco so that they can help her investigate. When Indiana vanishes, Amanda fears for her mom’s life, so with resolve and her online support, Amanda works the case that turned frighteningly personal. Ripper is an exciting amateur sleuth starring a precious investigator and a fabulous support team whose online persona radically differs from their reality. Although the online game is never developed, the players are especially their virtual personalities. Readers will appreciate Amanda and her virtual squad gum-shoeing the mean streets of San Francisco. Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 7, 2014

Downfall-Jeff Abbott

Downfall Jeff Abbott Grand Central, Jan 28 2014, $8.00 ISBN 9781455528424 In San Francisco, Janice Keene places her reluctant daughter Diana in charge of their company while she goes to New Mexico for a no contact two week retreat. Soon after concerned and suspicious Diana leaves, a man calls Janice telling her she will use the identity of Marian Atkins and fly to Portland, Oregon while also reminding her to complete the mission for the sake of her beloved daughter. Not long after Janice leaves town, believing her mom lied to her, Diana searches for the truth and soon finds a hidden video that reveals her mom’s greatest secret. The next day, Diana rushes into former CIA agent Sam Capra’s bar The Select begging for help as two thugs follow. Sam protects Diana and soon learns John Belias assigned assassin to kill the daughter of one of his soccer mom agents; and now the bar owner too is in the deadly crosshairs at a time when Sam needs to focus on identifying who poisoned Round Table member Dalton Monroe. The third Sam Capra thriller (see Adrenaline and The Last Minute) is an exhilarating action-packed tale that never decelerates. The complex storyline grips the audience from the moment Diana races into the bar and never slows down as the exciting plot rushes the audience through five cities in five November days without a breather. Although over the top of the Rockies, fans will enjoy Capra’s entertaining adventures. Harriet Klausner

Romancing The Duke-Tessa Dare

Romancing The Duke Tessa Dare Avon, Jan 28 2014 ISBN: 9780062240194 Miss Isolde Ophelia Goodnight became motherless at a young age. Her father became a successful writer so Izzy lived okay though never as the romantic heroine of the fairy tales she adores. When Papa died, Izzy was left a penniless friendless orphan who no longer cared whether Prince Charming arrived as avoiding starvation supersedes romanticizing. Lord Archer writes Izzy that her godfather the Earl of Lynforth recently died and left her a bequest; he asks for her to meet him at Gostley Castle in Northumberland. With no other prospects, Izzy travels to the castle where the executer tells her she inherited Gostley. However, her castle also contains a reclusive resident, scarred and blind Ransom William Dacre Vane, Duke of Rothbury. He demands she leave so he could wallow in peace, but she refuses. As they cohabitate in the castle, Izzy regales him with fairy tales and begins to believe her bitter castle mate may be her Prince Charming with the twist that she rescues his heart. The first Castles Ever After Regency romance is an amusing gender war that purposely uses anachronisms and comedic situations as subgenre satirical humor. The lead couple is a nice pairing of two people who at first seem like the anti-Cinderella and anti-Prince Charming. Although his original trauma fails to convince the reader of its genuineness, fans will enjoy Tessa Dare’s fractured ode to romantic fairy tales. Harriet Klausner

Antiphony-Chris Katsaropoulos

Antiphony Chris Katsaropoulos Luminis Books, Nov 1 2011, $16.95 ISBN: 9781935462330 Accompanied by his wife Ilene and leaving the Midwest winter behind, Theodore Reveil is in Santa Rosa, California to present his paper on Perturbation Theory at the New International Perspectives on String Theory Symposium. Just before his talk, he is upset with Ilene for planning to skip his session for a massage. Nervous as he hates speeches, Theodore becomes undone when he cannot find his two pages of notes filled with supporting math that were his crutches. As attendees impatiently wait for his arrival, late Reveil hesitantly appears without his papers. Winging it, Reveil ignores his physics expertise to ask participating scientists: "What if the universe … is really a giant thought?" He angers the audience who reject the notion of a spiritual divine being running the universe. With the debate between supporters of evolution and creationism (recently highlighted by Bill Nye and Ken Ham), Antiphony is an intriguing timely tale. As readers observe the protagonist’s everyday life, we wonder whether Reveil’s revelation means he is losing his mind or finding a spiritual awakening that will ultimately lead him to the asylum or the Universe’s Final Unified Field Theory. Fans who prefer something offbeat will appreciate Chris Katsaropoulos’ profound character study of a physicist on the brink of discovery, insanity or both. Harriet Klausner

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Carousel Sun-Sharon Lee

Carousel Sun Sharon Lee Baen, Feb 4 2014, $15.00 ISBN: 9781476736235 Ten years ago the Guardian of the Land Katherine Fae Archer left Archers Beach, Maine but recently returned when the by the SOPs Fun Country manager Marilyn demanded remittance from her for her space in the amusement park as her missing grandmother failed to pay. While Kate avoided her responsibility leaving the town and land in a horrid downward track, her Fantasy Menagerie Carousel lost a horse when the spirit within awakened and took off. Kate needs to replace the empty spot while Fun Country demands she does so immediately or face penalties. She reluctantly goes to the Enterprise who has no horses or any items to fit the menagerie. Instead she settles on a fiberglass chicken to fill temporarily the void. Mechanic Nancy Vois works the carousel’s night shift and helps install the chicken; while newcomer Vassily Abramovich Davydenko works days. Borgan the trenvay and Bonny the dryad recover from injuries and much of the land also begins to heal since the Guardian came home. The sequel to the exciting Carousel Tides is an insightful cerebral Maine fantasy though muted compared to its action-packed predecessor. The entertaining storyline focuses more on the healing of the land, the paranormal, the humans and the Guardian although there is rematch with the drug gang who has a fiery ally in round two. Sharon Lee enables her audience to look deep into the soul of the guilt-laden heroine as she tries to make right what her decade of neglect caused. Harriet Klausner

Hidden Riches-Felicia Mason

Hidden Riches Felicia Mason Kensington, Jan 28 2014, $15.00 ISBN: 9780758205735 Employed as a domestic and known for her quality quilts (and fried chicken) Ana Mae Futrell recently died from an aneurism while cleaning a toilet. The Ahoskie Times & Union Report mentions in the obit that she is survived by a son Howard who neither the townsfolk nor her family knew existed. Her three younger siblings (Mary Josephine Coston of Las Vegas, Marguerite Delcine Foster of Maryland and Dr. Clayton Futrell of San Francisco) and their significant others arrive in their hometown of Drapersville, North Carolina for the funeral. Ana Mae’s will surprisingly include a lot of money which she initially had won at the lottery but immensely grew with sound investments. It also stipulates her siblings and their mates, her pastor Reverend Toussaint and her BFF Rosalee search for the meaning of a quilt she left behind. Hidden Riches is an engaging contemporary as the deceased prayed when she was alive that one day she succeeds in her mission. Character driven by a fully developed cast and containing a stunning twist that explains much of the dysfunction, readers will appreciate Felicia Mason’s fabulous family drama. Harriet Klausner