Monday, March 31, 2014

Waldo & Magic, Inc.-Robert A. Heinlein

Waldo & Magic, Inc. Robert A. Heinlein Baen, Apr 1 2014, $14.00 ISBN: 9781476736358 “Waldo.” With the latest crash of a North Power-Air plane this time in Nebraska, Chairman of the Board Gleason discusses with key staff the massive failures crisis. Chief engineer Stevens, research supervisor Rambeau, legal head Harkness and chief stationary engineer Striebel remain stymied as none know the cause. Stevens suggests consulting with rude hermit Waldo over the objection of Rambeau. Obtaining approval, Stevens visits Waldo’s only contact Doc Grimes to gain him entrance to the reclusive genius who suffers from crippling myasthenia gravis that forces him to reside in a zero-gravity abode circling the planet. Although he has no reason to save humanity from their poisoning the planet, Waldo’s solution to engine failure ties with man-made radiation causing lethargy but proves outside the realm of science and engineering. “Magic, Inc.” With its near monopoly on practitioners and absolute control of government certification and licensing, Magic, Inc. brokers the use of magic by contracting it out to business moguls, politicians and other ambitious affluent people for an exorbitant fee. As first rate independent operators are becoming extinct, businessman Archie Fraser seeks magic outside this cabal, but never expected to enter hell with his new practitioner partners. These are two enjoyable reprints of WWII published fantasy novellas. Robert A. Heinlein’s genius stands out in Waldo as the title character is an antihero at an era when heroes only apply. The storyline deftly changes from science fiction to fantasy while also focusing on issues that remain timely. The companion piece is more typical of the genre circa 1940s though makes a case to beware of the government-industrial complex two decades before President Eisenhower’s farewell speech. Harriet Klausner

What A Reckless Rogue Needs-Vicky Dreiling

What A Reckless Rogue Needs Vicky Dreiling Forever, Mar 25 2014, $8.00 ISBN: 978145552280 In 1821, frustrated with his thirtyish wastrel heir, Marquess of Chadwick tells his son Colin Brockhurst that he plans to sell the estate where they buried the latter’s mother years ago. Chadwick also says he will reconsider if Colin marries and ends his womanizing. Knowing he must prove to his father that he cares about their property especially this one about to go on sale; Colin decides to renovate it. Colin asks his childhood friend scandalized Lady Angeline Brenham for help; she agrees to serve as the lead restorer with the goal of a wife would be proud to live there with him. As Colin and Angeline work together, they fall in love, but she rejects his proposal as burned her once and left her wary and his secrets also keep them from making a permanent relationship. The latest Sinful Scoundrels Regency romance (see What A Wicked Earl Wants) is a delightful historical due to the pairing of two strong obstinate protagonists. Although both act too mature with rather quick logical acceptance leading to instant forgiveness of transgressions by the other as opposed to a fuming emotional tantrum, subgenre fans will appreciate What A Reckless Rogue Needs is mutual love and respect. Harriet Klausner

A Match Made In Texas-Katie Lane

A Match Made In Texas Katie Lane Forever, Mar 25 2014, $8.00 ISBN: 978145557580 Tired of her four pain-in-the-butt brothers and fleeing from a naked internet scandal, Brianne Cates speeds through Bramble, Texas. Rigid law enforcer Sherriff Dusty Hicks pursues the dangerous speeder, demanding she pull over, which she reacts to by accelerating. When he gets her to stop, she sprays him with mace. Brianne mentions he will be sorry as her daddy and siblings are wealthy and used to getting their demands met. Her threat triggers an angry reaction from Dusty who arrests her though he knows it is because she behaved like his ex who used her daddy’s affluence to win full custody of their child. Due to a mutual love of Elvis, Judge Seeley sentences Brianne to two weeks of community service as the sheriff’s housekeeper. Both are irate with the situation but soon their anger begins to turn to desire and attraction abetted by the Bed and Breakfast "Hens" who demand nothing less than love between the criminal and the sheriff. This Deep In The Heart Of Texas romance (see Going Cowboy Crazy, Catch Me A Cowboy and Flirting With Texas) is an amusing heated contemporary. Fans will enjoy the lead couple, encouraged by caring town eccentrics, landing in one mess after another mostly due to the “Runaway Child, Running Wild” (Temptations). Although the fiery avenging Reverend Josiah Jessup subplot feels out of place, fans will enjoy this fast-paced, zany tale. Harriet Klausner

The Amish Groom-Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner

The Amish Groom Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner Harvest House, Apr 1 2014, $13.99 ISBN: 9780736957342 Tyler Anderson’s mom Sadie was Amish but left the People to marry Duke, an Englisch soldier. He was raised as a military brat until his mother died. When Duke deployed, he left his young child with his maternal grandparents in Lancaster County swearing he will come back for his son when he returns to a stateside assignment. Now in his twenties, Tyler loves his grandparents who raised him Amish for a decade and a half, but always wondered why his dad abandoned him. Now Tyler must choose between living Amish with Rachel Hoeck as his wife, and Englisch with his father, half-brother Brady and Lark in California. Following up the entertaining Women of Lancaster County series (see The Amish Seamstress) Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner provides readers with a marvelous new saga the Men of Lancaster County. In adherence to the miniseries title stating "men", the strong opening act focuses on Tyler’s dilemma enhanced by a wonderful support cast; several folks in Lancaster and California deserve lead or at least where are they now roles in future tales. Readers will relish this entry as Tyler must decide whether to be or not to be Amish. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Whirlwind-Rick Mofina

Whirlwind Rick Mofina Mira, Mar 25 2014, $7.99 ISBN: 9780778316091 In Wildhorse Heights, Texas, Jenna Cooper, accompanied by her four-year-old daughter Cassie and her five-month-old son Caleb, shop at the Old Southern Glory Flea Market for children’s clothing since money is tight. A terrible twister hits the area knocking Jenna out. When she regains consciousness she finds Cassie with her but Caleb missing. Franticly searching for her infant, hysterical Jenna knows she must act now without the support of her husband Blake who currently works in Alaska for a moving firm. Though her job title is intern, Kate Page knows she competes with two others for a permanent position at Newslead in Dallas. Her rivals are Texans with experience while she is from Canton where she left her six year old daughter Grace in Ohio with friends. Kate interviews Jenna who tells her that a Good Samaritan helped her and her two children to safety just before she blacked out, but that person has also vanished. At the same time Kate investigates the apparent abduction, the FBI also works the case. This is an exciting action-packed thriller made intense by the realistic hysteria of the mom and daughter, and kept anchored by insight into instant journalism and the reporter dealing with a prejudicial boss who believes her Lone Star blood is superior to Buckeye DNA. Gripping from the opening tornado and snatch, readers will appreciate Rick Mofina’s tense heart-wrenching Whirlwind. Harriet Klausner

Killer Physique-G.A. McKevett

Killer Physique G.A. McKevett Kensington, Mar 25 2014, $24.00 ISBN 9780758276544 Private detective Savannah Reid anxiously waits to meet the parents of her new husband Detective Sergeant Dirk Coulter for the first time. Her friends Ryan Stone and John Gibson invite Savannah and Dirk to attend the Hollywood premiere of their buddy superstar hunk Jason Tyrone’s new film. The next day, Jason is found dead in his room at the Island View Hotel by Ryan and John, who call Savannah. Soon after the P.I. and her spouse enter the hotel room, San Carmelita’s medical examiner Dr. Jennifer Liu arrives and quickly announces accidental death due to massive steroid use. However Savannah and Dirk have doubts as they just met the hunk a few hours ago and he showed no signs of ill health. They investigate those inside of Tyrone’s circle starting with movie co-star Alanna Cleary who he allegedly had an affair with; his former lover Thomas Owen; and others employed by the late actor, and contacts at the studio and at the gym where he worked out. The latest Savannah Reid mystery (see Killer Honeymoon) is an entertaining investigative tale as increasingly the sleuth, her mate and readers wonder if the M.E. is right. Although issues like steroid use and the inquiry feel superseded at times by the intrusive meet the parents subplot, series fans will appreciate the newlyweds working the case; as the couple that solves murder mysteries together, stays together. Harriet Klausner

Fire Inside-Kristen Ashley

Fire Inside Kristen Ashley Forever, Mar 25 2014, $8.00 ISBN: 9781455599271 Near Denver, Chaos Motorcycle Club member single father Hop Kincaid considers advertising exec Lanie Heron crazy for ironically standing by her fiancé Elliot Belova. Hop thinks the late Belova must have been even more certifiable for getting involved with the Russian mob over the purchase of out of season flowers for their wedding. The Russians killed Belova and left Heron scarred physically and emotionally. Seeking a one-nighter, Lanie propositions Hop and he euphorically accepts her no strings stipulation. However, as one night becomes another one night and another one night, Hop and Lanie struggle with accepting that each wants a more permanent relationship, but he doubts she can fit in with the danger of being part of Chaos and she hesitates after what happened to her Elliot. With a nod to the Sons of Anarchy, the second Chaos romance (see Own the Wind) is an engaging tale due to the unique insanity of Lanie, whose crazy poor choices bring briskness to the storyline; while Hop is more of a traditional Kristen Ashley bad boy lead. Faster than a speeding bike (except for the plenty of sex encounters), readers will appreciate this second chance at hog-tied heaven. Harriet Klausner

Dash of Peril-Lori Foster

Dash of Peril Lori Foster Harlequin HQN, Mar 25 2014, $7.99 ISBN: 9780373778577 In Warfield, Ohio police Lieutenant Margo Peterson diligently works on breaking up a vicious gang who videotapes their rapes to sell on the porno black market. Deciding the only way to get these brutal psychopaths is to offer herself as bait, Margo works the bar scene undercover. The brother of her subordinate Logan Riske (see Run The Risk) Dash keeps an eye on her over her objections. When Margo is attacked, Dash intervenes. Already wanting to change their relationship from friend to lover, Dash nurses Margo as she recovers from her injuries. As she falls in love with him, Margo refuses to heed her heart as she knows first-hand how families behave. The latest Love Undercover romantic suspense (see Getting Rowdy and Bare It All) is a fast-paced thriller that combines working the dangerous case with meeting the heroine’s family. Although the predators are underdeveloped, readers will appreciate this exhilarating tale due to the strong female cop who proves she has what it takes to readers, police, friends, sociopaths and especially her dashing beloved; everyone except perhaps her disapproving dad. Harriet Klausner

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Children of the Revolution-Peter Robinson

Children of the Revolution Peter Robinson Morrow, Mar 25 2014, $25.99 ISBN: 9780062240507 In Coverton, retired schoolteacher Margery Halton was walking her dog when the canine came across the corpse of reclusive Gavin Miller under a railroad bridge. Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks leads the investigation in which suicide has not been ruled out; as Miller lived alone in a hovel ever since Eastvale College fired him in scandalous disgrace from his lecturer position. Neither has homicide been eliminated as some of his injuries look like they occurred in a brawl with an assailant but a robbery did not happen as the deceased possessed 5000 pounds on him. Banks, assisted by DI Annie Cabot and DC Gerry Masterson, makes inquiries into Miller’s recent and distant past as motive for the murder remains elusive. The police especially focus on two young ladies whose accusations led to the lecturer’s dismal from Eastvale. The latest DCI Banks British police procedural (see Watching the Dark) is an entertaining whodunit in which the leisurely-paced storyline contains less action than usual, but replaced by a more cerebral approach (especially several interviews) to solving the murder mystery. The hero is irascible and independent as he ignores his boss who begins bantering the dreaded R word (retirement) to him. As always readers can bank on Peter Robinson for an enjoyable tale. Harriet Klausner

Safe Keeping-Barbara Taylor Sissel

Safe Keeping Barbara Taylor Sissel Mira, Mar 25 2014, $14.95 ISBN 9780778316169 The murdered corpse of Miranda Quick shakes up the residents of the small town. Many suspect her high school sweetheart, thirty-four years old loser Tucker Lebay killed her. While his mother Emily defends him, his Vietnam War veteran father Roy, who suffers from PTSD, wants to cut all ties with his son. The local police question Tucker, but soon release him. Not long after the Miranda murder, the dead body of Jessica Sweet is found near the same location as the previous homicide. The police believe Tucker killed both females. A desperate Emily believes in the innocence of her adult child so, with help from her married daughter Lissa, she seeks to prove her Tucker killed no one. Meanwhile, Roy demands they kick Tucker out of their lives. Safe Keeping is an intriguing family suspense in which relationships going back three decades impact the present as the child becomes the adult. The murder mystery storyline goes as expected to include a late twist. On the other hand, the effect of Tucker named by cops as a person of interest on his parents, sister and brother-in-law, and the high degree of misinformation that ironically remains accepted as Gospel even after being debunked as false make for an engaging thriller. Harriet Klausner

The Seduction of Miss Amelia Bell-Paula Quinn

The Seduction of Miss Amelia Bell Paula Quinn Forever, Mar 25 2014, $8.00 ISBN: 9781455519514 Early in the eighteenth century, England’s Parliament pushes the Act of Union that merges their kingdom with Scotland. Most Scots strongly object to this merger as they believe it is an undesirable annexation of their beloved country under English rule. Edmund MacGregor and his clan deploy a plan to prevent the abomination from happening by forcing the two leading advocates, the Duke of Queensberry and the Chancellor of Scotland, to back down. Pretending to have a title, Edmund attends the engagement ball of Queensberry’s niece Miss Amelia Bell and the Chancellor. To his chagrin and to her elation, they are attracted to each other from that first unbecoming dance. Still he goes ahead with the plot by kidnapping Amelia. Both fall in love, but his passion for a free independent Scotland seemingly keeps them apart. Paula Quinn starts a new MacGregor clan saga (see Children of the Mist miniseries) with the wonderful first Highland Heirs historical romance. Amelia is a fascinating albeit typical heroine while Edmund suffers from divided loyalties to his nation and his woman. However, what makes this pre-Georgian romance super is the strong background into the controversial (and timely with Crimea) Act of Union 1707 law that grips the audience throughout even knowing the historical outcome. Harriet Klausner

A Plain Man-Mary Ellis

A Plain Man Mary Ellis Harvest House, Apr 1 2014, $13.99 ISBN: 9780736949804 For five years, Caleb Beachy tried to assimilate into the Englisher world. Recently realizing his effort was doomed from the start, Caleb finally accepts that he is simply A Plain Man. Thus Caleb leaves Cleveland to move back home in Fredericksburg, Ohio where he works for his still disappointed dad Eli; who has not forgiven his son for deserting his Amish heritage and distrusts him not to leave again when he becomes bored. When Caleb ditched his faith and family, Josie Yoder was a young teenager. Now an adult she and Caleb begin seeing each other. She keeps him calm when he becomes irate especially with his unmerciful obstinate father; and Josie reminds him that he temporarily may have turned from the Lord but the Lord never left him. As they fall in love, Caleb’s remorse for deserting his people and God leave him believing he is unworthy of Josie. A Plain Man is a delightful Amish romance with a strong second chance at life subplot. Josie is typical of the subgenre women; while freshness come from Eli with his inability to accept the return of his prodigal son, and Caleb with his guilt for what he perceives is a betrayal to God, his family and his community. Readers will enjoy the Caleb’s tribulations (mostly self-flagellation); as he thinks his beloved Josie deserves someone better than him. Harriet Klausner

Friday, March 28, 2014

Vampires…Need Not Apply?-Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

Vampires…Need Not Apply? Mimi Jean Pamfiloff Forever, Mar 25 2014, $8.00 ISBN: 9781455546992 While on vacation in Mexico, affluent Spanish physicist Dr. Antonio Acero remains haunted by a woman pleading with him to free her. When he locates a mysterious Mayan tablet that allegedly will prevent the Apocalypse, obsessed Antonio tries to deploy the relic to open the gate restraining his enigmatic incarcerated female. Instead of success, an accident leaves Acero blind. For seventy long lonely millennia, Ixtab the goddess of suicide has avoided the touch of humans after she accidently caused the death of her beloved. Wearing her veil to conceal her face and garbed in Goth mourning clothes, Ixtab arrives to help Antonio with his quest and regain his eyesight. To her astonishment, the philandering Spaniard not only looks like her memory of her one true love, but somehow survives touching her. The latest Accidentally Yours romantic fantasy (see Accidentally in Love with...a God?, Sun God Seeks ...Surrogate? and Accidentally Married to...a Vampire?) is a fascinating tale due to the lead Goddess’ dilemma that will remind readers of the X-Men’s Rogue. The hero thinks “Heaven Must be Missing An Angel” (Tavares) though he meets her while blind and she hides her visage behind her veil which in his mind means she must be hideous. Series fans will enjoy this fast-paced entry with over the top humor as the overarching theme of mad Cimil making life interesting moves somewhat forward. Harriet Klausner

I Remember You-Yrsa Sigurdardottir; Philip Roughton (translator)

I Remember You Yrsa Sigurdardottir; Philip Roughton (translator) Minotaur, Mar 25 2014, $14.99 ISBN 9781250019004 Married couple Katrin and Gardar, accompanied by a late friend’s widow Lif, leave Reykjavik, Iceland to renovate an old house they’ve recently purchased into a guesthouse in remote Hesteyri. Almost upon arrival, the trio feel like eating the financial investment as they are uncomfortable though none of them initially can explain why. They soon understand that the house contains a deadly resident, a ghost child, who demands they leave or suffer the consequences of their foolishness. At the same time in Ísafjördur, police detective Dagný investigates a vandal incident at a school in which a young student, who vanished three years ago, remains missing. The cop asks psychiatrist Dr. Freyr to assist him with the case. They soon learn of an identical event at this same school six decades ago. In that historical cold case, the missing pupil’s classmates began mysteriously dying. Soon the eerie events happening in Hesteyri and Ísafjördur connect. As Thora Gudmundsdottir (see The Day Is Dark) takes a respite, Yrsa Sigurdardottir provides an exhilarating Icelandic paranormal mystery. The Ísafjördur subplot is the stronger of the pair as each new clue forces the investigators and readers to change their opinion as to what is happening. The Hesteyri haunted house engages the audience with scary suspense, but loses some steam as the time to flee back to Reykjavik long passed. Still I Remember You is a fabulous fright fest. Harriet Klausner

Sweet Talk Me-Kieran Kramer

Sweet Talk Me Kieran Kramer St. Martin's, Mar 25 2014, $7.99 ISBN: 9781250009913 In Atlanta, True Maybank arrives on Peachtree to pick up her wedding gown as she will soon marry to the delight of her parents her affluent childhood friend Dubose. However, also on Peachtree on that fated day is country music legend Harrison Gamble to the delight of a horde of fans. The only one unhappy in the crowd to see Harrison is True. When True and Harrison were growing up in Biscuit Creek, South Carolina they were trailer park BFFs before becoming lovers as teens. He broke her heart when he left her behind for the music. Harrison never forgot his beloved True, but though he desperately wants a second chance he refuses to interfere with her upcoming nuptials. Their respective somewhat eccentric siblings think otherwise. Sweet Talk Me is an engaging Low County romance that Southern regional readers will enjoy in spite of the entertaining storyline never veering from the anticipated path of least resistance. Although the unconventional secondary characters steal the show, fans will enjoy the bad boy miserably trying to act honorable “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; …” (Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities). Harriet Klausner

Come Home To Me-Brenda Novak

Come Home To Me Brenda Novak Mira, Mar 25 2014, $7.99 ISBN: 9780778315919 Two years ago, just after her mom died, pregnant Presley Christensen fled Whiskey Creek leaving behind her true love Aaron Amos. She went for drug rehab and to have an abortion in Arizona (see When Summer Comes). However, instead of ending the life growing inside her, Presley decided to raise her baby Wyatt. Expecting Aaron to leave town to manage a new family auto body repair franchise and encouraged by her married sister Cheyenne and her brother-in-law (Aaron’s sibling) Dylan (see When Snow Falls), Presley, accompanied by her child, comes home to open up a yoga studio. Aaron has come a long way from when he used drugs while having a heated affair with Presley. He still wants her, but fears he will revert back to being an addict again. However, when he sees the child with her, a fuming Aaron wants to know who the dad is. Meanwhile Cheyenne offers her sister a plan re Wyatt. This Whiskey Creek second chance at love romance is an enjoyable contemporary though the premise is not new and some behavior unethical. The lead couple is a delightful pairing of two recovering addicts still in love with each fearing a return engagement could lead them back to using while cherished Wyatt adds a fascinating dilemma. The series’ audience will appreciate Come Home To Me that closes an intriguing relationship thread. Harriet Klausner

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Resistant-Michael Palmer

Resistant Michael Palmer St. Martin's, May 20 2014, $27.99 ISBN: 9781250030924 In an angry reaction to the New Deal, a clandestine cabal the One Hundred Neighbors formed with the mission to save United States from the Nanny State entitlements that they strongly believe only lead the country to inevitable financial ruin from unpayable debt and moral collapse. Over the decades this group insisting they are patriots secretly attack the nation from within in order to cause the people to lose confidence in the government. Two weeks ago Becca Seabury shattered her elbow in a championship game. She was rushed to Boston’s White Memorial Hospital for surgery where she remains dying from an infection caused by an unknown microbe. At the same time Dr. Lou Welcome and his best friend Cap Duncan are in Atlanta. While Lou attends a conference, Cap injures his leg while jogging. Surgeons save the leg, but an infection identical to that of Becca sets in. The microbe resists all efforts to stop its spread. An unknown adversary abducts the CDC Antibiotic Resistance Unit lead scientist on this strain Dr. Kazimi after killing an associate and a security guard. Desperate to save Cap’s life and prevent a pandemic, Dr. Lou Welcome joins the inquiry as the One Hundred Neighbors threaten to destroy the U.S.A. if the social safety network is not destroyed instead. This exciting medical thriller grips the audience with plenty of action; albeit over the top of the Bank of America Plaza. Fast-paced, readers who can suspend their plausibility especially the behavior of several cast members including the cutting off their nose to spite their face illogical villains will enjoy the late Michael Palmer’s newest Dr. Lou tale (see Path of Office and Political Suicide). Harriet Klausner

The Coal Black Asphalt Tomb-David Handler

The Coal Black Asphalt Tomb David Handler Minotaur, Mar 25 2014, $25.99 ISBN 9781250041975 Recently elected as Dorset, Connecticut’s first female selectwoman, Glynis Fairchild-Forniaux implements her plan to re-grade and widen Dorset Street in the town’s Historical District over the objection of many of the local Old Guard led by former long-time selectman Bob Paffin. When the work begins, the crew uncovers a corpse in a shredded U.S Navy uniform. Connecticut State Trooper Resident Des Mitry leads the investigation into the death of Paffin’s older brother Lance, who vanished over forty seven years ago without a trace because he obviously was interred under the street in front of the Congregational Church since 1967. With help from her lover NYC movie critic Mitch Berger, Mitry questions many of the town’s leading older citizens; but Paffin, Gazette newspaper publisher Buzzy Shaver, and U.S. Congressman Luke Cahoon offer nothing; while the many females that Vietnam War hero Lance the womanizer victimized also remain silent. The case remains frozen, but Mitry refuses to resign herself that the code of silence will leave this unsolved. The latest Berger and Mitry regional police procedural (see The Snow White Christmas Cookie and The Blood Red Indian Summer) is a wonderful twisting New Englander whodunit as the Dorset Brahmin close ranks refusing to cooperate. Mitry is at her obstinate intimidating Amazonian best refusing to give up; while Berger provides wry commentary on movies and elitist townsfolk. The strong case resolution is fresh in part due to help from unexpected individuals, but mostly because the dynamic opposites attract couple is at the top of their game. Harriet Klausner

The Other Half-Sarah Rayner

The Other Half Sarah Rayner St. Martin's Griffin, Mar 25 2014, $15.99 ISBN: 9781250042101 In London, twenty-nine years old Chloe Appleton wants to start her own magazine before she turns thirty, but at the speed she is aging the writer knows time is running out on her. Publisher James Slater agrees to listen to Chloe’s pitch re beginning a new magazine targeting British women. Chloe and James enjoy their friendly dinner-meeting, but become intoxicated and sleep together. They begin an affair in spite of the fact he is married to food writer Maggie and has a six year old son Nathan living in the burbs. When his transgression becomes known; James must choose between his mistress and his wife, but finds he cannot make up his mind. The storyline rotates between the two women connected obviously by James but also by Chloe’s former boss who is Maggie’s BFF. The cast is solid especially the lead women; as the mistress keeps her head in the sand refusing to accept any culpability re her lover cheating or believe he will not end his marriage for her; and the bored wife comes across hurt but forcing the issue of choice. Neither female protagonist is treated with disdain, but the storyline lacks intense passion due in part because James is a wimpy (except for his noodle) loser and the climax too sweetly resolved. Harriet Klausner

Four Friends-Robyn Carr

Four Friends Robyn Carr Mira, Mar 25 2014, $14.95 ISBN 9780778316817 Marin County Child Protective Services case worker supervisor Gerri Gilbert learns her husband Assistant District Attorney Phil had an affair. Upset by his betrayal, she wonders what to do about him and their so-called perfect marriage, and if she acts like her gut wants her to the impact on their son Mathew. Andy Jamison files for her second divorce this time from her immature second husband Bryce over several issues but mostly his treatment of her teenage son Noel (from her first marriage). She and marital-separated Bob the carpenter working at her home become lovers. New Age fanatic Sonja Johanson seeks balance for herself and her family and friends. However, her husband George the financial planner has had enough with her incessant endless shtick so he walks out on her and her mumble jumble lunacy. B.J. moves into the Mill Valley neighborhood where best friends Gerri, Andy and Sonja reside. The trio makes overtures to befriend the newcomer, but B.J. prefers to jog solo as she still runs from her nightmare. Yet her arrival proves a catalyst leading to changes in the lives of the three buddies and her. This is a profound neighborhood drama as the incredibly fully developed Four Friends come across in public as having their respective acts together; but in private each falls apart to varying degrees under the weight of diverse tsuris. The support cast (male lovers and exes, and teenage children) enhance the deep look into the lead quartet as each of the protagonists deals not always successfully with major social issues directly confronting themselves or indirectly their loved ones (including their BFFs). Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Murder At The Breakers-Alyssa Maxwell

Murder At The Breakers Alyssa Maxwell Kensington, Mar 25 2014, $15.00 ISBN 9780758290823 In 1895 Newport, Rhode Island, though belonging to the affluent Vanderbilt brood, twentyish reporter Emmaline Cross is a poor working class reporter who drives a carriage for a living. Her other full-time occupation is getting her half-brother Brady Gale out of his many minor scrapes with the law. To celebrate his newest mansion the Breakers, Cornelius Vanderbilt tosses a party attended by the elite of the upper class. However, the gala turns nightmarish when someone uses a candelabrum as a hammer to brutally smash in the skull of Vanderbilt’s secretary Alvin Goddard before tossing the victim off the second-story balcony. The Newport police arrest Vanderbilt’s nephew intoxicated Brady who was found asleep at the murder scene possessing stolen railroad secrets he apparently took form his uncle. Emma knows her sibling is a wastrel drunk, but not a murderer; so with the help of attractive journalist Derrick Anderson she questions those who attended the shindig. The first Gilded Newport Mystery is an entertaining whodunit starring a wonderful heroine whose independence readers will enjoy though it is out of place for the late nineteenth century. Fans will root for unsinkable Emma as she crosses her .1% relatives with her unacceptable embarrassing behavior. Although the investigation takes a back seat to touring the rich and famous of Newport in the Gilded Age, Murder At The Breakers is a fun affair. Harriet Klausner

The Berkeley Square Affair-Teresa Grant

The Berkeley Square Affair Teresa Grant Kensington, Mar 25 2014, $15.00 ISBN 9780758283955 In 1817, Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch enjoy their quiet life in London after years of dangerous intelligence missions (see Imperial Scandal and The Paris Affair). Malcolm belongs to Parliament while Suzanne has become a popular hostess amongst the Ton. Their domestic tranquility ends when their battered friend Simon Tanner visits them at their Berkeley Square mansion. The injured playwright explains he held an alleged valuable copy of a Hamlet when thugs accosted him; they severely beat him before leaving with the prize. Not long after Tanner’s arrival, Malcolm’s former boss, Lord Carfax, calls on the couple. The spymaster thinks the stolen document contains clues to the identity of a traitor whose betrayal decades ago led to deaths during an Irish rebellion that also involved Malcom’s deceased father. Frantic Suzanne fears secrets she hid from everyone even her beloved will surface destroying their trust and probably end their marriage. The latest Rannoch Regency mystery is an engaging early nineteenth century investigation due to the fabulous lead couple and the vivid background of post Napoleonic Wars London. The fascinating plot contains less suspense than previous entries (see Imperial Scandal and The Paris Affair) partly because the spying days during the war are over and partly because the prime cause of this caper is decades old. Still, fans will appreciate the Rannoch duet’s tour of London not long after the Congress of Vienna (see Vienna Waltz) tried to return the continent to the pre Napoleon era. Harriet Klausner

The Reading Circle-Ashton Lee

The Reading Circle Ashton Lee Kensington, Mar 25 2014, $15.00 ISBN: 9780758273420 In Cherico, Mississippi, town librarian Maura Beth Mayhew feels grateful to the Cherry Cola Book Club who saved the town library from budget cuts at least for one year. However, she also knows the Sword of Damocles remains sharp and pointed at the Cherico Library as many townsfolk led by Councilman Durden Sparks feel this is an obsolete luxury not a necessity in the electronic information age; even though the book club brought in numerous previously indifferent patrons. As the growing club membership argues, fusses and fights, a horrific storm batters Cherico causing severe damage to the library and other structures. Encouraged by this act of nature and still smarting after his recent defeat, Sparks makes a strong case that funds are needed elsewhere for more critical repairs than a still underused relic. Mary Beth and her Cherry Cola Book Club posse ride to the rescue trying to save their beloved library. The second Cherico Library drama makes a powerful case as to the importance of libraries in towns and urban neighborhoods at a time when emphasis is on “death by a thousand cuts” to reduce effectiveness and destroy quality (similar to laws degrading USPS and Amtrak service). Small-town politics comes across extremely influential while at the same time the importance of libraries is emphasized. Readers will enjoy The Cherry Cola Book Club's animated even hostile discussions and the fight to save the library, but their adversary has a stronger argument in their rematch. Harriet Klausner

Where Dreams Unfold-M.L. Buchman

Where Dreams Unfold M.L. Buchman Buchman Bookworks, Apr 1 2014, $6.99 ISBN: 9781310023354 Seattle Emerald City Opera Director Jervis Wilson escorts Stage Manager Widower Bill Cullen to Perrin’s Glorious Garb Boutique to meet the designer-owner Perrin Williams and see some of her work; as their costumer for the upcoming Ascension took a temper fit and left for Milan. Bill’s initial reactions to the very tall female is she is a flake while unaware the woman is exhausted from sleep deprivation having spent the last few days working on gowns for her BFF Jo Thompson’s marriage to Angelo Parrano (see Where Dreams Reside). Still he agrees to meet with her. Still having not slept as she worked all night, Perrin arrives at his office in a gown that has everyone thinking she is an empress. Soon afterward she falls asleep on her couch. Stunned Bill contacts her friend Cassidy Knowles (see Where Dreams Are Born) who tells him to let her BFF sleep. As she works on the opera’s designs, Perrin meets Bill’s ten year old son Jasper and thirteen year old daughter Tamara. Soon Bill and Perrin fall in love while she and Tamara bond over knitting; but Jasper feels abandoned by his dad and sister, and resentful towards the intruder. The third Angelo’s Hearth romance is a delightful family drama with a feel good storyline. Perrin is a unique individual who comes across as a real Mary Poppins though with deep scars caused from an abusive childhood. With the return of cast from the previous entries playing major roles and a look at an opera in pre-production, readers will relish this entertaining contemporary as love blossoms over several intense weeks culminating with A Night at the Opera (Marx Brothers). Harriet Klausner

Monday, March 24, 2014

Waiting On You-Kristan Higgins

Waiting On You Kristan Higgins Harlequin HQN, Mar 25 2014, $7.99 ISBN: 9780373778584 A decade ago in Manningsport, New York, Lucas Campbell broke Colleen O’Rourke’s heart. He left town and she became a matchmaking spinster while running O’Rourke’s Tavern with her twin Connor. Her current matching effort involves Paulie “The Chicken Princess” Petrosinky and Lucas’ cousin Bryce Campbell. Lucas’ Uncle Joe calls to ask him to come home from Chicago as his every other day dialysis may have kept him alive but his lung cancer has gotten to the point he will die very soon. With little time left Joe needs his son Bryce settled, but believes only his nephew can achieve the seemingly impossible. Knowing he would do anything for Uncle Joe and musing about his first return home in ten years, Lucas thinks of how he will react when he sees Colleen. When she sees Lucas for the first time since he devastated her heart, Colleen realizes she still loves him; but fears déjà vu all over again (Yogism) outcome. The third Blue Heron madcap romance (see The Perfect Match and The Best Man) is an entertaining contemporary. The engaging second chance at love plot is enhanced by the support cast while flashbacks to when the leads were a youthful entry add better understanding of their present day personalities. Harriet Klausner

Rainy Day Dreams-Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith

Rainy Day Dreams Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith Harvest House, Apr 1 2014, $13.99 ISBN: 9780736953498 In 1852 the Burgert patriarch relocates his family from San Francisco to Seattle. His daughter Kathryn is upset with the move as she enjoyed the pleasures of culturally rich San Francisco but now resides in a mud hovel. On the bright side, Kathryn thinks her dad appointed her to manage Faulkner House; but that dream turns into a nightmare when she learns he expects her to be a maid. Kathryn’s spirits lift again when she meets hotel guest widower Jason Gates; but that turns into a nightmare when the lumberjack makes it clear he is uninterested in her or any woman; though he conceals from her that he fears life in the Pacific Northwest too harsh for females. As Kathryn and Jason fall in love in spite of his efforts to shutter his heart, the new sawmill brings hope to many residents although some plan to sabotage it as a means to destroy Seattle. The second Seattle Brides inspirational saga (see A Bride For Noah) is a strong historical romance that once again uses the founding of the Pacific Northwest city as a fabulous background. The protagonists are a delightful pairing as she needs to mature and he needs to complete his grief if they are going to make it together. However, it is the beginnings of the logging industry that enable backwater Seattle to survive and show early signs of thriving if adversaries allow it that make this a superb historical Christian mid-nineteenth century Americana. Harriet Klausner

The Midnight Witch-Paula Brackston

The Midnight Witch Paula Brackston Dunne, Mar 25 2014, $25.99 ISBN: 9781250006080 In 1913 London, Lady Lilith Montgomery watches sadly as her late father is lowered into the ground. She knows her opium using brother Freddie has become the Duke of Radnor, but she inherited her dad’s other title Morningstar the Lazarus Coven Head Witch though only twenty-one and feeling dreadfully unready for the responsibility. Her fiancé Louis Harcourt the witch renews his vow to die if need be to keep her safe and to help her protect the Elixir of Life from adversarial sorcerers especially the Sentinels necromancers. As WWI explodes, Louis becomes despondent when a distracted Lilith falls in love with artist Bram Cardale; leading to each failing to defend their prime security mission in life; leaving the Great Secret in jeopardy which has not happened in generations. The latest Paula Brackston’s bewitching drama (see Witch’s Daughter and The Winter Witch) is an entertaining WWI paranormal historical. Although alone in many respects, Lilith embraces the liberating radical changes that “the war to end all wars” wrought on English society. The engaging storyline contains some reiteration of Edwardian upper class behavior; however treks such as to war-torn Uganda provide freshness to the tale. Fans will appreciate The Midnight Witch as she hopes to follow her heart while also insuring the Elixir remains safe from those who would abuse it for personal gain. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, March 23, 2014

His To Possess-Opal Carew

His To Possess Opal Carew St. Martin's Griffin, Mar 18 2014, $14.99 ISBN: 9780312674649 As she seeks work in Philadelphia, Jessica’s heart remains broken ever since Storm ended their relationship last month just before he and his band began a road tour of California. While eating at a small restaurant, Jessica sees a man who looks like a clean version of her tattooed former lover. The suit introduces himself as Dane. Attracted to each other, they make love with him dominant and her as his submissive. Not long after that tryst, Jessica arrives at her new job as personal assistant to the CEO of Ranier, who turns out to be Dane. They become an entry while he hopes one day soon to reconcile with his estranged brother Rafe. Confused Jessica feels fickle as she falls in love with Dane while still in love with Storm. When the rocker arrives in Philadelphia, the rivals compete for her affection while Jessica wants both of them. This first trade paperback printing of six short e-books is an engaging erotic romance with three full-blooded (not just the lower male heads) leads. Although the premise is not new (Elvis starred in a movie with similar relationships albeit w/o the explicit sex), readers will relish this entertaining contemporary as Jessica is “Torn Between Two Lovers” (Mary Macgregor) Harriet Klausner

The Queen's Handmaid-Tracy L. Higley

The Queen's Handmaid Tracy L. Higley Thomas Nelson, Mar 18 2014, $15.99 ISBN: 9781401686840 In 39 BC Alexandria, Egypt, orphan Lydia works as a servant at Cleopatra's court. With one exception elderly Jew Samuel, she trusts no one even as she secretly sells her self-made products to a vendor with the hope one day she can leave the royal service to open up a shop. Lydia also tries to stay clear of the dangerous Cleopatra though she serves young Caesarian, the royal son of the Queen and Caesar. As Governor Herod and his retinue arrive at Cleopatra’s court, Samuel realizes he will soon join the Lord. He frets over having no children to entrust the passing down, like generations of his family have done, of secret scrolls. However, he also accepts the mysterious workings of the Lord as he concludes God chose Lydia as the deliverance of the hidden Daniel prophecy to bring to the right people waiting for the arrival of the true King of Israel. Herod orders Lydia to come to Judea as handmaid to his betrothed wife Queen Mariamme while irate Cleopatra plots his demise before he visits her lover Antony. In Jerusalem where Herod has become the king, Lydia knows what she must do, but the mission of the new ruler’s dark sister is to destroy the scrolls and the bearer. Simon helps Lydia’s efforts to bring the words of the Prophet that soon the Messiah comes. A deep biblical thriller, The Queen's Handmaid is an exciting first century BC historical. The key cast including real persona seem genuine while the lifestyle of the affluent and their servants in Egypt and Judea add depth to an exhilarating storyline; as the brave Chosen One keeps the wonderful premise of the Messiah’s Coming focused. Harriet Klausner

His To Possess-Opal Carew

His To Possess Opal Carew St. Martin's Griffin, Mar 18 2014, $14.99 ISBN: 9780312674649 As she seeks work in Philadelphia, Jessica’s heart remains broken ever since Storm ended their relationship last month just before he and his band began a road tour of California. While eating at a small restaurant, Jessica sees a man who looks like a clean version of her tattooed former lover. The suit introduces himself as Dane. Attracted to each other, they make love with him dominant and her as his submissive. Not long after that tryst, Jessica arrives at her new job as personal assistant to the CEO of Ranier, who turns out to be Dane. They become an entry while he hopes one day soon to reconcile with his estranged brother Rafe. Confused Jessica feels fickle as she falls in love with Dane while still in love with Storm. When the rocker arrives in Philadelphia, the rivals compete for her affection while Jessica wants both of them. This first trade paperback printing of six short e-books is an engaging erotic romance with three full-blooded (not just the lower male heads) leads. Although the premise is not new (Elvis starred in a movie with similar relationships albeit w/o the explicit sex), readers will relish this entertaining contemporary as Jessica is “Torn Between Two Lovers” (Mary Macgregor) Harriet Klausner

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Cloak Of The Light-Chuck Black

Cloak Of The Light Chuck Black Multnomah, Mar 18 2014, $11.99 ISBN 9781601425027 Twelve years old Drew Carter and his mom Kathryn attend the funeral of his father and her husband Ryan, a Special Forces war hero who died in combat. His dad’s BFF Jake Blanchard pays his respect to his fallen comrade. The grieving pair move to Columbia to live with Drew’s maternal grandmother. Over the next few years Jake became a surrogate father to Drew. In high school, Drew plays football. When his grandma dies and Kathryn loses her teaching position, she and Drew move to Rivercrest, Kansas where she obtained a job. Drew makes the football team as a starting fullback, but alienates several players when he becomes friends with wannabe physicist Benjamin Berg who has a nutty theory about aliens living among us. He also is attracted to devout Christian Sydney Carlyle, who cannot go out with him as a non-believer. During a laser experiment conducted by Ben, an accident leaves Drew temporarily blind. When he recovers his sight, Drew finds he sees things outside the range of humanity; but what he observes makes him fear for his sanity as he swears feral otherworldly adversaries are in Kansas. The first Wars of the Realm middle school age Christian thriller is an engaging tale due to a strong fully developed cast especially the three heroic teens and the brutal aliens. The storyline starts slow as readers meet Drew, but once they reach Kansas begins to accelerate until about a third of the way into the tale turns hyperspeed. Though Drew’s skepticism towards Jesus is mishandled especially his out of character mocking of Sydney, readers will appreciate the opening act of Chuck Black’s new saga (see The Kingdom and The Knights of Arrethtrae). Harriet Klausner

Monsieur Le Commandant-Romain Slocombe; Jesse Browner (translator)

Monsieur Le Commandant Romain Slocombe; Jesse Browner (translator) Gallic Books, Mar 18 2014, $14.95 ISBN: 9781908313508 In the early 1930s in France, Académie Française author Paul-Jean Husson is a highly successful writer who along with wife Marguerite raised two healthy children. The WWI hero believes the French Republic is doomed to failure as he adheres to the tenet that human rights breed corruption and anarchy. Instead Paul-Jean supports the Nazis especially when it comes to the loathsome Jews. In 1934, his son Olivier the violinist performs in Berlin with the Paris Symphony. When he returns home, German actress Ilse Berger accompanies him. Though attracted to her, Paul-Jean is elated with Olivier’s choice as he believes Germanic blood much stronger than that of watered down French. When Ilse gives birth to a daughter, Paul-Jean’s admiration turns to fear as the newborn does not look like either of her parents. Instead he wonders whether his daughter-in-law is Jewish or had a tryst with a Jew just before meeting Olivier. As such he concludes mother and daughter place the Husson family in danger especially when the Nazis take Paris. A supporter of Petain’s Vichy government, in 1942 Paul-Jean writes a confessional to his hometown German occupying force Monsieur Le Commandant. Based on true events, Monsieur Le Commandant provides readers with a horrifying, timely look at collaboration by a French Nazi sympathizer. Paul-Jean cloaks himself with outraged moral indignation enhanced by his rationalization that he must save the French culture from Jews, Freemasons and liberals. In spite of his shocking confession to Monsieur Le Commandant, Paul-Jean never comes across as fully developed beyond his prejudices. Still readers will appreciate this insightful tale of a person who prefers excluding select groups from basic rights rather than expanding to include all. Harriet Klausner

One Night With The Boss-Teresa Southwick

One Night With The Boss Teresa Southwick Harlequin Special Edition, Mar 18 2014, $5.50 ISBN: 9780373658084 In Blackwater Lake, Montana Olivia Lawson has been an office assistant for five years to her childhood friend internet guru Brady O’Keefe. After years of unrequited love for her employer that goes back to when she was fifteen, Olivia hands in her resignation once again; he rejects her quitting as he explains this is déjà vu, insists the firm needs her, and finally says nothing has changed in her life. She looks right at him as she lies when indignant Olivia tells Brady she has fallen in love and will leave town with her new boyfriend Leonard. As Brady interviews replacement candidates lined up by Liv, he schemes to keep her in his office especially after he realizes how much he would miss her sarcasm and that her HEA does not exist. For the cause, Brady begins to court His Girl Friday, but fails to understand how much he loves his Liv after years of subsetting her to his business only category until her two declarations of Leonard and later love left him jealous and speechless, and drove her diagonally across the country. The latest Bachelors of Blackwater Lake Big Sky Country romance (see Finding Family … And Forever?) is a warm fun tale made fresh by Brady, who hurt by love as a child compartmentalizes everyone to avoid emotional attachments. Readers will enjoy the changing relationship between the protagonists; as one word Leonard nukes Brady’s uninvolved life programming. Harriet Klausner

Friday, March 21, 2014

Apocalypse-Dean Crawford

Apocalypse Dean Crawford Touchstone, Mar 18 2014, $24.99 ISBN 9781451659498 In Miami, witnesses saw former NASA physicist Charles Purcell fleeing from his house where someone murdered his family. Employed by billionaire philanthropist and CEO of International Rescue and Infrastructure Support Joaquin Abell to study the time-space continuum, Purcell contacts MPD Captain Kyle Sears insisting he is innocent; demanding they test the bullets for Rubidium-82; and to get Ethan Warner involved; before he hangs up Purcell predicts the immediate future including his death. At about the same time of the Purcell homicides, a plane filled with scientists working for Abell crashes in the Bermuda Triangle. As the scientist’s predictions prove uncannily accurate, Defense Intelligence Agency Agent Douglas Jarvis enlists the help of private investigator Warner and his partner Nicola Lopez to find Purcell before he dies. When a major earthquake devastates Puerto Rico, Abell begins relief efforts immediately as he was unbelievably prepared for the disaster. The third Warner-Lopez collaboration (see Covenant and Immortal) is a faster than the speed of light, but stratospherically over the top of Cerro Punta thriller in spite of being anchored by the physics of time; as the villain fails to seem real. Action fans ignoring their plausibility meter will enjoy Apocalypse as the diabolical felon has all the time in the world to perform nefarious deeds while his pursuers have run out of time before they even begin their chase to prevent his deployment. Harriet Klausner

Happily Ever After-Elizabeth Maxwell

Happily Ever After Elizabeth Maxwell Touchstone, Mar 18 2014, $15.00 ISBN: 9781476732664 Forty-six year old single mom Sadie Fuller raises her tweener daughter Allison with help from Greta the housekeeper, Sadie remains friends with her ex who came out of the closet, and writes steamy romances under the pseudonym KT Briggs. Feeling lonely, Sadie advertises for a no-strings affair. Jason the kind lawyer responds as his sexual self-esteem was nuked by his wife’s cheating. Sadie’s latest "Happily Ever After" stars protagonists Lily Dell and Aidan Hathaway, but pages the author never wrote to include a new character Clarissa the witch show up overnight in the draft. Even more stunning to a bewildered Sadie is when she meets confused Aidan at the store. Whereas Allison adores Aidan; Jason is upset by the appearance of his gorgeous hunk rival; while Sadie struggles to understand how he escaped from her novel though praying it is not dementia. This is a delightful brilliant metafiction with a novel inside a novel that lampoons the romance genre. The HEA male lead steals the show with his acting like the hunk of a heated romance tale but in a real life situation he comes across as either eccentric or looney. With a clever nod to Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next saga, Happily Ever After is an entertaining amusing satire. Harriet Klausner

Rules of Entanglement-Gina L. Maxwell

Rules of Entanglement Gina L. Maxwell St. Martin's, Feb 25 2014, $7.99 ISBN: 9781250050366 District attorney Vanessa "Nessie" McGregor flies from the Mainland to Hawaii to help arrange her ailing BFF Lucie’s (see Seducing Cinderella) wedding. However, the bride’s brother MMA champion Jackson Maris is late to meet her at the airport as he lost track of time while surfing and failed to keep his cell charged. Nessie, who strictly adheres to her seven rules of life, concludes Jax is an unreliable carefree wastrel failing to consider the feelings of others. She does not want to work with him, but on the other hand he likes her witty sharp tongue and besides he also fears the wraith of Lucie so he tries to cooperate. As the seemingly opposites work the wedding plan and he knocks out her seven rules of responsible living, they fall in love. The second Fighting for Love Hawaiian romance is an engaging sequel as two seemingly opposites fall in love while arranging their respective BFFs’ wedding. Character-driven with fun in the sun amusing moments, readers will enjoy this seven rounds gender battle. Harriet Klausner

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Crime: A Fiction River Anthology Special Edition-Edited by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Crime: A Fiction River Anthology Special Edition Edited by Kristine Kathryn Rusch WMG (, Mar 18 2014, $15.99 ISBN 9780615935164 This entertaining Fiction River Special Edition anthology contains sixteen new crime tales that mostly focus on felonious behavior rather than solving the case. In “Hitler’s Dogs” by Doug Allyn, Doc comes home from self-imposed exile to be a pallbearer at the funeral of his beloved gang boss mentor. Biddle and the young girl work a lottery scam that nets then $40 from a sucker only to lose that money and more to a hold-up, which means running the scheme again in Steve Hockensmith’s “Wheel of Fortune.” The cop tells the Fourth AKA Nico that he needs a lawyer as the gas accelerant that caused the fire points to him as is the arsonist; but the “Fol” (by Kristine Kathryn Rusch) is unconcerned as he has affluence to buy his way out of trouble though this time money turns out to be not enough. Deputy Sheriff Jill Jordan (see the police procedural A Death In Cumberland) patrols lonely Highway 50 in which drivers think they can get away with anything in “Jackrabbit DMZ by Annie Reed. With no clinkers, the fabulous collection runs the genre gamut and more as affirmed by Jan who, in a cozy told in Haiku, finds the corpse in which her ex is the obvious strangler, but she keeps sleuthing “Gas, Tan, Video” (by M. Elizabeth Castle). Harriet Klausner

One Night With her Ex-Lucy King

One Night With her Ex Lucy King Harlequin Kiss, Mar 18 2014, $5.99 ISBN: 9780373178957 Five years ago, Kit Buchanan cheated on his then wife Lily Montgomery. They divorced, but filled with guilt and missing his beloved, Kit became impotent as no woman could replace his Lily. On their anniversary, Kit resolves to win back Lily beginning with regaining her trust. When her sister Zoe tells her she is engaged to Dan, Lily is depressed rather than happy, which in turn leads to guilt. On another lonely New Year’s Eve, Lily decides to have a tryst with her single next door neighbor. Kit proves he can perform when it comes to making love with Lily when she visits him for One Night With The Ex. However, Kit knows he must earn her trust if they are to have a chance together as love is not enough to cement a permanent relationship. Lucy King provides a wonderful second chance at love romance starring two wonderful protagonists struggling to overcome trust and cheating issues as neither communicates with the other. Although a lack of insight into what happened to this couple (besides his cheating) when they were married detracts from the engaging storyline, fans will enjoy the hesitant courtship between Kit and Lily as each wants a different happily ever after ending. Harriet Klausner

Flirting With The Forbidden-Joss Wood

Flirting With The Forbidden Joss Wood Harlequin Kiss, Mar 18 2014, $5.99 ISBN: 9780373178964 CFT Corporation bodyguard Noah Fraser struggles with his desiring the nineteen years old Principal, diamonds heiress Morgan Moreau who he protects from a low-level kidnapping threat. Her flirting tempts him as she tries to break his façade of indifference. While he can control with his lower head’s lust; his upper head struggles with an unending focus on her luscious body until she offers her virginity as she wants him and only him; though hot and bothered he angrily walks away from Morgan totally misunderstanding her attraction to him and only him. Eight years later, Morgan needs protection again. Although he knows he plays with fire as his fantasy remains a naked Morgan, Noah insists he guard the “Duchess”; as he must risk “blue balls” to keep her safe. Encouraged by her friend Riley to go after Mr. Panties’ Melt and not let him sink her already low self-esteem as he did the last time, Morgan vows to pursue her seemingly emotionless “Soldier.” This is a fun second chance romance due to two wonderful leads with each having problems that make their relationship shaky; as she feels she is an inadequate dumb blonde due to dyslexia and he believes running amuck feelings cause mental errors so they need to be controlled. Enhanced by strong secondary characters especially their families and Ri, readers will enjoy the heat emitted by the Duchess and the Soldier. Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Citadel-Kate Mosse

Citadel Kate Mosse Morrow, Mar 18 2014, $26.99 ISBN: 9780062281258 In 1942 in Carcassonne, France, her sister Marieta warns her younger teenage sibling Sandrine to stay off the bridge over the River Aude. Though heeding the warning, Sandrine finds a battered man who did not drown in the river. As he lies dying, he pleads with her no police or doctor, but instead tell Audric Baillard that a sea of glass, of fire is real. Ignoring the man’s plea, Sandrine informs the local authorities. Like Marieta, Sandrine soon joins the all-female Citadel Resistance. However, the Deuxième Bureau continues to stalk her every movement since she reported about the man at the Aude. She flees from Carcassonne reaching Rennes-les-Baines. There she meets Audric Baillard who enlists her help in his quest for the ancient Christian Codex. In 342 AD, Arinius the monk knows he must leave as his haven is no more. Taking with him his treasured papyrus, he heads to Carcaso where Gnostics and Christians live in peace as he prays to the Lord to allow him to complete his project before calling him. The final Languedoc entry is an exciting thriller that compares the beginning of the end of the Nazis (and Vichy France) with the fall of the Roman Empire. The insightful storyline contains much less paranormal than its predecessors (see Labyrinth and Sepulchre); while providing a fascinating look at the history of France (especially as a trilogy). Fans of the epic saga will appreciate the Citadel as Kate Mosse completes her saga with a strong historical. Harriet Klausner

Breakaway-Nancy Warren

Breakaway Nancy Warren Harlequin Blaze, Mar 18 2014, $5.50 ISBN: 9780373797974 In Oregon, billionaire Max Varo tells his two best friends, Adam Shawnigan (see Final Score) and Dylan Cross, that he may buy Polar Air, a small firm based in Spruce Bay, Alaska as he sees great potential. After the kayaking trip ends, Max returns to his Varo Enterprises office in Hunter, Washington to discuss the Polar Air deal with employee Leslie Adamson who says it should be no problem buying the firm but would like to know why a successful regional airline has tanked over the last five years. Bored Max decides to learn the truth by obtaining a position as a pilot; since flying has always been his favorite past-time. Max arrives for an interview only to watch Claire Lundstrom fire Frank Carmody for embezzling funds. Claire takes over the hiring process from Frank even as her grandmother, who co-founded the company, adores Max. While Frank reacts with vandalism, Max works for Claire. As the couple play hockey together, their attraction ignites. However, soon afterward a plane crash leaves the couple stranded in the wilderness with only each other to rely on. The second Last Bachelor Standing romance is an entertaining Alaskan contemporary as Claire rids Max of his ennui. Readers will relish the setting and root for the first line pair to score a couple of hat tricks by lovingly assisting one another. The one on one ice hockey challenge ending is a great unique finish to a wonderful tale. Harriet Klausner

A Seal’s Kiss-Tawny Weber

A Seal’s Kiss Tawny Weber Harlequin Blaze, Mar 18 2014, $5.50 ISBN: 9780373797950 Sage Taylor returns home to Villa Rosa, California. However, her friends trying to be nice want to set her up on blind dates. Deciding the only way to be left alone is to make up an engagement. Knowing no one in town can contact at sea SEAL Chief Petty Officer Aiden Masters, Sage claims to be his fiancée. Her ailing father the Professor is especially ecstatic with the news of her engagement to the lad he took into his home years ago. For no reason he can explain even to himself, Aiden heads from Coronado to Villa Rosa while on leave. When he learns what impulsive flighty Sage claimed, thoughtful serious-minded Aiden supports her white lie because he would do anything for the Professor who took him in after the Twin Towers tragedy left him a troubled teenage orphan. While undercover, neither of the engaged couple anticipated falling for the dreaded opposites attract syndrome. This Uniformly Hot! romance is a fun tale as the lead couple learns Walter Scott’s admonition (see Marmion): “Oh, what a tangled web we weave...when first we practice to deceive.” Though a frequently used premise, Tawny Weber refreshes her character-driven storyline with an engaging secondary cast led by the Professor encouraging the polar opposites to embrace not run from love. Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Hotel Brasil-Frei Betto; Jethro Soutar (translator)

Hotel Brasil Frei Betto; Jethro Soutar (translator) Bitter Lemon, Mar 18 2014, $14.95 ISBN 9781908524270 In Rio de Janeiro, the rundown Hotel Brasil caters to singles; at least that is what proprietor Dona Dinó claims. The regulars residing in this dump include wannabe telenovela actress Rosaura dos Santos; political hack Rui Pacheco; reporter Marcelo Braga; transformed due to age restrictions from hooking to pimping Madame Larência; transformista nightclub entertainer Diamante Negro; former professor and present collaborator with anthropologist Mônica Kundali on a book (though he craves a different collaboration) Cândido Oliviera; and gemstone seller Seu Marçal. The family like camaraderie shatters when someone decapitates Marçal before removing his eyes. Delagacia da Lapa Police Chief Delegado Olinto Del Bosco sarcastically interrogates and accuses the owner, the residents and caretaker Jorge Maldonado as the murderer. Del Bosco arrests only Maldonado as the easiest for him to get away with a brutal beat down until he breaks and confesses. Although a Brazilian police procedural, Hotel Brasil reads more like a fascinating character study of a different side of Rio than typically depicted. The ensemble cast is solid with their background cleverly darkly satirizing stereotypes and as a group lampooning the Agatha Christie country house mystery subgenre in a South American urban setting. Readers who appreciate something different in their whodunits will enjoy this entertaining suspense. Harriet Klausner

Diagnosis: Attraction-Rebecca York

Diagnosis: Attraction Rebecca York Harlequin Intrigue, Mar 18 2014, $5.50 ISBN: 9780373697571 In Baltimore, the cops bring a Jane Doe one-car accident victim to Memorial Hospital. Dr. Matt Delano looks over her chart that shows no injuries except for a mild concussion and a total loss of memory. When he touches the amnesiac to read her pulse, both are flooded with her memories as she now knows she is Elizabeth Forester and recalls someone stalking her including ramming her head against her car yesterday. Both are stunned by what happened while he also feels remorse for breaching a doctor-patient ethical barrier and she has no idea why men trail her and assaulted her. Though he resolves to keep his distance as the ethical thing in his mind to do, Matt finds it impossible to stay away from Elizabeth. As the patient and the physician fall in love, he resolutely risks his life to keep his Elizabeth safe. The latest Mindbenders romantic paranormal mystery (see Bridal Jeopardy, Sudden Attraction and Sudden Insight) is an action-packed entry from that first touch until the climax. The lead couple as Solomon Clinic genetically altered children is a nice pairing with each accepting love is not enough to keep them alive from a persistent predator. Although the overarching theme fails to move forward much, Diagnosis: Attraction is an enjoyable thriller. Harriet Klausner

The Legend Of Smuggler’s Cave-Paula Graves

The Legend Of Smuggler’s Cave Paula Graves Harlequin Intrigue, Mar 18 2014, $5.50 ISBN: 9780373697533 Seven months ago in Ridge County, Johnny Blackwood was murdered for stealing from the Wayne Cortland crime network. His widow, Bitterwood PD rookie cop and single mom Briar Blackwood, diligently works at her new position with the help of Aunt Jenny who watches her three year old great-nephew Logan. Briar thwarts a house invasion but not before her aunt is injured protecting her frightened son from the intruder. Prosecutor Dalton Hale believes the late Blackwood took information that could destroy the gang while fearing for the safety of the mom and child. He persuades Briar to move in with her son into his home. Also believing Johnny stole something valuable is Briar’s ambitious relative Blake Culpepper who plans to use his second cousin as an expendable pawn to obtain what was taken; as his goal is to run the local mob before it implodes. The seventh Bitterwood P.D. romantic police procedural (see The Secret of Cherokee Cove, Blood on Copperhead Trail and Murder in the Smokies) is an exciting suspense; as saving the child places the growing attraction temporarily on hold. Briar moving into the prosecutor’s home to keep her son safe seems farfetched (even if he resided in a fortress at the top of the Smokey Mountains) especially her as a cop with stronger options at work. Still readers will enjoy this engaging contemporary. Harriet Klausner

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Word Exchange- Alena Graedon

The Word Exchange Alena Graedon Doubleday, Apr 8 2014, $26.95 ISBN: 9780385537650 In Manhattan Chief Editor of the anachronistic North American Dictionary of the English Language (NADEL) Douglas Samuel Johnson grieves the death of the written word as the demise of civilization. Instead of obsolete books, love letters, maps and photos, Meme devices are commonly used and the Synchronic company controls linguistics via their gadgets and the Word Exchange. Still Doug diligently finishes a twenty-six year old project with the third edition of the dictionary about to come out probably to the “Sound of Silence” (Simon and Garfunkel); unlike the second version back in the antiquated nineties receiving critical acclaim. At the same time of Doug’s latest triumph, his wife Vera is divorcing him. Doug gives his beloved daughter Anana pills marked as “Alice” to be used only if she is in peril before he vanishes. Ana and her NADAL colleague Bart search for her father, which takes them dangerously behind the curtain of Synchronic's brilliant insidious marketing wizardry. They also meet the rebellious Diachronic Society and eventually reach the ancient Holy Grail of language the Oxford English Dictionary office. However, they appear too late to prevent the pandemic “word flu” as the end of language without gadgets denotes the end of life (past, present and future) as we knew it. Extrapolating current communication technological trends (for instance, from print to electronic) into the next century, Alena Graedon provides a powerful dark dystopian future. The exciting storyline contains a strong message echoing Marshall McLuhan’s “the medium is the message” so be wary of the technological-industrial-government complex controlling thought through gizmos. Fans will appreciate the misadventures of Ana and Doug as they fall through the rabbit hole into a world which held the wake for obsolete print. Harriet Klausner

City Of Darkness And Light-Rhys Bowen

City Of Darkness And Light Rhys Bowen Minotaur, Mar 4 2014, $25.99 ISBN: 9781250011664 In 1905, NYPD Police Captain Daniel Sullivan battles crime in the city while his wife “retired” private detective Molly raises their son Liam. Their happy home ends when an explosion blows up their house injuring the couple and killing their servant Aggie; their infant is okay. Though many assume the gas accidentally was left on unlit, Daniel believes the Cosa Nostra lethally attacked his home to kill him and end his investigations into their activities; with his family and servant expendable collateral damage. They discuss what to do and agree that Molly and Liam will travel to France to stay safely with friends Gus and Sid. After a seasickness voyage across the Atlantic, Molly and her baby arrive at her friends' apartment only Gus and Sid are not there. Molly moves into their abode while searching for the missing pair. She learns that anti-Semite Reynold Bryce, who she planned to visit, was murdered with the motive most likely a reaction to the Emile Zola’s articles on the Dreyfus Affair. The clues lead sleuthing Molly to American expatriate painter Mary Cassatt, where her friends hide because Sid a Jew met with Bryce on the day he was murdered. Feeling right at home in Paris, Molly investigates the homicide. The latest Molly Murphy investigation (see The Family Way) is a superb whodunit that provides fans on a fabulous tour of the City of Lights at a time when anti-Semitism has become publically visible due to Zola’s J'Accuse and in contrast the fine arts flourish; as readers meet a who’s who. The murder mystery is terrific and exciting yet 1905 Paris owns the storyline as the City Of Darkness And Light is also a great historical. Harriet Klausner >

The Word Exchange-Alena Graedon

The Word Exchange Alena Graedon Doubleday, Apr 8 2014, $26.95 ISBN: 9780385537650 In Manhattan Chief Editor of the anachronistic North American Dictionary of the English Language (NADEL) Douglas Samuel Johnson grieves the death of the written word as the demise of civilization. Instead of obsolete books, love letters, maps and photos, Meme devices are commonly used and the Synchronic company controls linguistics via their gadgets and the Word Exchange. Still Doug diligently finishes a twenty-six year old project with the third edition of the dictionary about to come out probably to the “Sound of Silence” (Simon and Garfunkel); unlike the second version back in the antiquated nineties receiving critical acclaim. At the same time of Doug’s latest triumph, his wife Vera is divorcing him. Doug gives his beloved daughter Anana pills marked as “Alice” to be used only if she is in peril before he vanishes. Ana and her NADAL colleague Bart search for her father, which takes them dangerously behind the curtain of Synchronic's brilliant insidious marketing wizardry. They also meet the rebellious Diachronic Society and eventually reach the ancient Holy Grail of language the Oxford English Dictionary office. However, they appear too late to prevent the pandemic “word flu” as the end of language without gadgets denotes the end of life (past, present and future) as we knew it. Extrapolating current communication technological trends (for instance, from print to electronic) into the next century, Alena Graedon provides a powerful dark dystopian future. The exciting storyline contains a strong message echoing Marshall McLuhan’s “the medium is the message” so be wary of the technological-industrial-government complex controlling thought through gizmos. Fans will appreciate the misadventures of Ana and Doug as they fall through the rabbit hole into a world which held the wake for obsolete print. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Murder In The Worst Degree-F. M. Meredith

Murder In The Worst Degree F. M. Meredith Dark Oak Mysteries, Jan 23 2014, $12.95 ISBN: 9781610091459 In Southern California, two surfers riding a wave share the trip with a corpse. Rocky Bluff PD Police Officer Gordon Butler responds to their call before turning over the case to Detectives Doug Milligan and Felix Zachary. The cops believe the deceased is affluent Harlan Knight, whose adult children filed a missing person’s report a few days ago in which they said their widower father suffers from late stage dementia. Meanwhile Doug’s wife Police Officer Stacey Milligan and her partner Lizette Gibbs interview severely beaten rape victim Felicia Higgins. The ME reports that the cause of Knight’s death is not drowning, but an overdose of a prescription drug. Besides family members, the housemaid, the victim’s three Seabee buddies and a loving widow are suspects. New Captain Chandra Taylor uses a computer generated program to draw the face of the rapist from the description provided by his second horribly battered victim Jenny Jacoby. Stunned Stacey is horrified as the face looking back at her from the monitor is a younger version of Police Officer Ryan Strickland whose wife just gave birth to a cute Down’s Syndrome baby. The latest Rocky Bluff PD police procedural (see Dangerous Impulses, Bad Tidings and No Bells) is a wonderful leisurely-paced investigative thriller that deftly combines the cops’ personal lives with adapting to a new chief while working two violent crimes and several other offenses. Subgenre fans will appreciate F. M. Meredith's engaging rotation of the lead amongst her ensemble cast as the cases and what is happening off the job prove very interesting. Harriet Klausner

Watching You-Michael Robotham

Watching You Michael Robotham Mulholland Books/Little Brown, Mar 11 2014, $26.00 ISBN: 9780316252003 In London over a year ago, Daniel vanished leaving behind his grieving financially strapped wife Marnie and their two children. Depressed and forced to work as an escort to put food on the table, Marnie turns to her neighbor psychologist Dr. Joe O’Loughlin as a patient of his; particularly since she insists she is not paranoid while claiming someone follows her. Marnie finds an incomplete scrapbook and accompanying DVD that Daniel worked on as a birthday present for his wife. The DVD contains interviews he conducted and images he took of people who knew Marnie. Almost all of those he spoke with feared her as a terrible monster and many of them wish she would drop dead. Marnie is stunned by the revelatory reactions. She asks Joe what is going on; in turn he persuades his friend former cop Vincent Ruiz to investigate especially when a person she recently contacted and met is murdered with Marnie being the last known individual seen with the victim. The latest O’Loughlin-Ruiz case (see Say You’re Sorry) is a great psychological investigative thriller; as the protagonists wonder whether their client is a dangerous psychopath or a victim of an insidious adversary with both heavily leaning towards her being a lethal lunatic. Although the premise seems improbable, Michael Robotham convinces his audience that it is genuinely happening. Harriet Klausner

The Dead of Summer- Mari Jungstedt; Tiina Nunnally (translator)

The Dead of Summer Mari Jungstedt; Tiina Nunnally (translator) Stockholm Text, Mar 11 2014, $14.95 ISBN: 9789187173981 Two boys playing in the water off Gotland Island’s Sudersand Beach find a corpse floating nearby. The victim did not drown, but instead was shot several times in the abdomen and once in the head. While DCI Anders Knutas vacations with his family for two weeks in Denmark, Assistant DCI Karin Jacobssen heads the investigation; but calls her boss to inform him of the murder as he required of her. Over the objection of his wife Lina and though he trusts his assistant, bored workaholic Anders uses the murder as an excuse to leave his family in Denmark to return to Gotland to lead the inquiry. Though diligently working the inquiry, the police uncover nothing while neither does reporter Johan Berg. At the same time, a Russian tanker arrives with a crew known for illegalities and soon afterward, a second homicide occurs. Having made no progress on the first murder, Knutas seeks the connection between the two victims as the means to solving the case. Overall the fifth Gotland Swedish police procedural (see Killer's Art, Unspoken, Unseen and The Inner Circle) is an enjoyable whodunit. Much of the storyline focuses on the relationships between the key players (Johan with Emma, their daughter and his photographer; and Karin with Knutas) rather than on the investigation. When the fascinating case takes front and center; the police and the journalist are stymied on solving the homicides; while fans ironically know much more. Harriet Klausner

Friday, March 14, 2014

Through A Venetian Looking Glass: A Novel of Remembrances-Hans Peter Braendlin

Through A Venetian Looking Glass: A Novel of Remembrances Hans Peter Braendlin Fithian Press/Daniel & Daniel Publishers, Mar 10 2014, $15.99 ISBN: 9781564745514 Thirteen years ago, ten year old Frederic Petitfeu died in a drowning accident caused by stormy weather. Time may heal all wounds, but his parents Jean-Pierre the artist and Claire the California English teacher still grieve their loss. Married for thirty-five years, the couple, encouraged by their daughter Frankie, went on a come together healing car tour of Mediterranean Western Europe that culminated with marital renewal and solace in Venice. Since that first trip not long after the funeral, they have returned to the watery city annually for five days. On their twelfth trip to Venice, Jean-Pierre finds an early sixteenth century manuscript hidden in their room. The document contains the memoir of Giovanni Pietro Pofoco written not long before he apparently died. In contrast to the journal kept by Claire since her beloved son died, Pofoco’s life is filled with violence as personal and city brouhahas are the norm abetted by corruption; yet he also balanced the ugliness with plenty of pleasures filled with vino and women. Not for everyone, this is a fascinating yet convoluted look at people, past and present, struggling to make the best of their lives. The twisting storyline keeps readers guessing as to what is going on with Pofoco as nothing is what it first appears; or for that matter second and third assertions either. Character-driven to include the sixteenth century and modern day city, fans who appreciate something radically unique and fresh will want to read this rambling “Novel of Remembrances." Harriet Klausner

Night Diver-Elizabeth Lowell

Night Diver Elizabeth Lowell Morrow, Apr 8 2014, $26.99 ISBN: 9780062132826 Almost fifteen years ago off the Caribbean island of St. Vincent, then teenager Kate Donnelly watched helplessly as her parents died in a storm. Terrified of the water ever since the nightmarish accident; Kate quit her family sea salvage business Moon Rose Ltd. to become a landlubber North Carolina accountant. Her brother Larry calls Kate begging her to return to the business in Florida as they are in trouble and need her financial expertise to save Moon Rose from a bad contract he signed with the British government. She refuses until he uses the extortion of filing bankruptcy will kill their Grandpa, but insists she will not sleep on the Golden Bough or go near the water. The British government sends Holden Cameron to investigate the salvage of the Moon Rise in which the treasure sent to the Antiquities Office is much smaller than expected. He assumes the Donnelly team is violating the agreement by stealing some of the loot; so he pulls no punches when he meets Kate by telling her he will most likely shut down the operation. Soon after his arrival, ugly incidents occur, which leads to a distrustful alliance between the dive consultant and the non-diving Donnelly. This is an entertaining romantic suspense that opens at a leisurely pace introducing the key cast, the locale, and the contract. Once the background is set, the engaging storyline accelerates into a hyperspeed tense thriller filled with red herrings and several suspects to include the Diving Donnelly brood, and a romance built from shaky grounds due to the inquiry seemingly incriminating her loved ones. Harriet Klausner

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Running With Wolves-Cynthia Cooke

Running With Wolves Cynthia Cooke Harlequin Nocturne, Mar 4 2014, $5.75 ISBN: 9780373885923 In the Cascades, the Colony’s wolf shifters’ leader Malcom assigns loyal member Jason Stratton to find and escort to the pack a former chief’s daughter to bring peace and consolidate the alpha’s power as his mate. Jason locates a confused Shay Mallory, who has recently dealt with weird happenings and still misses her late father who protected her while warning her to beware of strangers. Feeling treasonous due to his attraction to Shay, Jason explains to her she must mate with a shifter; but she rejects the notion of being bound with a man she never met. As he escorts Shay and her companion Buddy to the enclave, enemies attack them several times. To save her life, Jason mates with Shay so she can shift though he expects once he gets her to safety, Malcom will kill him. The keys to why Running With Wolves is a strong romantic fantasy are Cynthia Cooke’s supernatural world populated with the paranormal seems genuine and the hero is a caring passionate person preferring to make love not war. Action-packed, readers will enjoy joining the protagonists on their dangerous road show to love. Harriet Klausner

Shadowmaster-Susan Krinard

Shadowmaster Susan Krinard Harlequin Nocturne, Mar 4 2014, $5.75 ISBN: 9780373885916 In the San Francisco enclave, Aegis Director of Operations Chen assigns half-dhampir agent Phoenix Stryker to uncover the identity of Draken and prevent this killer from assassinating a senator. Chen chose Stryker for this dangerous mission because she believes this lethal Opiri assassin is most likely heterosexual and thus unable to resist the call of dhampir blood. Getting inside his camp, Stryker meets Draken, but instead of being a deadly monster as her superior described, she finds a caring person who wants to end the ugly exiling of criminals to Erebus where they are used for sustenance or slaves by the Opiri. He also has a personal agenda to avenge the destruction of his loved ones. However, Draken revises his goals to include keeping the newcomer he cherishes safe. The latest Nightsiders romantic fantasy (see Nightmaster and Daysider) is an action-packed thriller that nicely blends desire with peril. Though the overarching drums of war fails to move forward much, readers will relish this taut twisting storyline as the lead couple has some complex decisions to make in which each choice seems overwhelmingly lethal to them. Harriet Klausner

Retribution-Anderson Harp

Retribution Anderson Harp Pinnacle, Feb 25 2014, $9.99 ISBN: 9780786034215 At the United States Embassy in Doha, Qatar, CIA case worker Maggie O’Donald receives an email from a top level source in the House of Saud. Almost immediately, a small bomb explodes at the embassy gate. Realizing a bigger bomb will follow, Maggie manages to download her data onto a thumb drive and conceal it. From the second blast Maggie suffers a brain trauma leaving her comatose. Knowing why the Korean event (see A Northern Thunder) was successful, CIA Agent James Scott visits William Parker to ask for his help on a new dangerous mission. At a time the House of Saud Bay’Ah Council prepares to vote on the heir to the King, Scott explains to Parker that his country needs him to prevent charismatic Yousef al-Qadi from creating a new fundamentalist Islamic state constructed from the Jihad murdering of millions. He further explains this man is behind the Lockerbie bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 that left Parker’s parents dead. They put together a team and deploy a plan beginning with Parker masquerading as Zabara the Muslim reporter who has a scheduled interview with Yousef. CDC provides the means for the assassination with a vial of deadly Neisseria Meningitis, but there is only one delivery method. Rotating perspective mostly between Parker and Yousef, aptly titled Retribution is a hard to put down thriller because the superb storyline deftly builds tension leading to the anticipated High Noon confrontation between two kick butt adversaries with revenge fueling both of them. Mr. Harp’s talent is obvious as he takes his time setting up the chess board, but still keeps his exciting plot at hyperspeed to the delight of readers. Harriet Klausner

The Secrets of Her Past-Emilie Rose

The Secrets of Her Past Emilie Rose Harlequin SuperRomance, Mar 4 2014, $6.75 ISBN: 9780373608331 While undergoing lung cancer treatment, Danny Drake orders his son Adam to bring Madison home to run his veterinary practice while he fights the disease. Adam argues with his dad that his late brother Andrew’s widow was selfish and didn’t want the baby she lost along with her husband during an ice storm in which she drove too fast six years ago. Danny travels to Quincey, North Carolina to take Madison “no longer a Drake” Monroe the seven hours to Norcross, but she refuses. Angry with her while misunderstanding her no, he says his late sibling was right to call her a cold selfish SOB; while she hides the truth from his family so that they can retain their paragon image of Andrew. Still feeling she owes her veterinary mentor to hear it from her lips, Maddy drives to tell her ex-father-in-law. Danny’s wife Helen angrily pleads with her to help as she did not want to lose another Drake male. Reluctantly Maddy agrees but on her terms. As Maddy keeps two practices afloat, Adam reassesses his ex-in-law due to her dedication to her patients and their owners, and his father. Soon two revelations hammer his soul and heart: that his brother lied to him and that he loves his late sibling’s widow. This is a warm second chance at family drama starring a wonderful cast. Though the late Andrew comes across as a selfish lazy loser with no redeeming qualities when he lived, readers will enjoy this compassionate healing storyline. Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Immortal Muse-Stephen Leigh

Immortal Muse Stephen Leigh DAW, Mar 4 2014, $24.95 ISBN 9780756409562 In 1352 Paris, Perenelle expected a happy life when she married alchemist Nicolas Flamel after her first husband Marlon died from the 1349 pestilence. However, her life remained dissatisfying especially since he rejected her help at the apothecary though as the daughter of an alchemist she knew her chemicals. Worse to Perenelle was his temper that targeted their little girl Verdette for most of his wrath over Perenelle’s objections. In 1370 Verdette escapes her uncaring father via marriage. Over the next two decades Verdette begged her beloved mom to leave the odious ignoramus, but she did not as she loved working in her lab. In 1398 Verdette died, but a few years later a still grieving Perenelle develops an immortality elixir that to her chagrin Nicolas takes too. Over the centuries in Paris, Rome, London and elsewhere, Perenelle the muse encourages artists while Nicolas brings pain and death to anyone in his path. Every time he finds her, she vanishes and reinvents herself until now she lives as Camille Kenny in twenty-first century New York while knowing he will come. Immortal Muse is a fabulous fantasy that rotates between modern day NYC and various changing centuries; with each stop and the people readers (and the Immortal Muse) encounter coming across as genuine. Readers will appreciate Stephen Leigh’s fascinating good and evil war while wondering who the author’s creative muse is. Harriet Klausner

The Second Letter-Robert Lane

The Second Letter Robert Lane Mason Alley Publishing, Mar 4 2014, $14.95 ISBN: 9780615841885 Jim and Dorothy Harrison left DC for the Long Key section of St. Petersburg Beach, Florida. Not long after their relocation, Jim mysteriously dies while away on business. In 1961, under four months after she became a widow, Jim’s associate at the CIA Theodore Sullivan visits Dorothy. He asks her to keep a sealed envelope with a letter inside safe as the agency prefers it stored outside of DC. Dorothy and her gardener Angelo conceal the unopened letter in her home. Decades later, Dorothy’s home has been converted into the Gulf Beaches Historical Museum. However, a few days ago, vandals tore into the place. Concerned Colonel Janssen orders former Special Forces soldiers Jake Travis and Garrett to find the letter left in Dorothy’s care many years ago. Tampa strip joint owner, mob-connected Raydel Escobar insists he possesses the letter; which he will exchange if the seven million dollars the IRS claims he owes the government is considered paid in full. The two veterans, Jake’s girlfriend Kathleen Rowe nee Cunningham formerly of the Outfit, Morgan the neighbor, and others work the retrieval. The incredible cast makes for a fantastic Florida crime caper as all the key players, secondary characters and even some tertiary participants appear real yet their development is smoothly interwoven with no deceleration (even with some unrelated criminal activity) of the thrilling plot. Fast-paced, fans will appreciate this entertaining tale. Harriet Klausner

Dark Surrender-Erica Ridley

Dark Surrender Erica Ridley Intrepid Reads, Mar 1 2014, $9.99 ISBN: 9781939713216 In 1835 at the Livingstone School for Girls in Lancashire, teacher Violet Whitechapel frets for her students and that her life is over since the benefactor died and his heir Mr. Percy Livingstone gives the staff and children one week to vacate. The philanthropy is over as Percy plans to change the school into a sanitarium for the affluent to bury undesirable relatives. When the new benefactor and his surveyor accost Violet and fifteen year old Emma; the former London street urchin turned teacher reacts with paint and turpentine. As the females escape, Emma knocks over candles, which places the building on fire. In Shropshire Widower Alistair Waldegrave tries his best to keep his daughter Lillian safe from the sun, as the child suffers a life-threatening painful allergy to the star. His efforts only make his nine year old child angry and resentful while the villagers fear a vampire lives amongst them. When Violet arrives in town, Alistair offers her the position of governess to Lily. As she falls in love with the Waldegrave pair, her past comes to Shropshire. This is a terrific nineteenth century historical starring three emotionally battered protagonists who find healing in their love for one another. The sun allergy is brilliantly executed as the child is for the most part left inside a loving prison while Alistair’s fears and smothering enhance the impact of the chronic illness. Violet’s guilt re the fire round out this trio as each finds solace in one another in Erica Ridley’s delightful Dark Surrender. Harriet Klausner

Captain For Laura Rose-Stephanie Grace Whitson

Captain For Laura Rose Stephanie Grace Whitson FaithWords, Mar 4 2014, $15.00 ISBN 9781455529056 In 1867 with the death of her brother Joe, Laura Rose White knows she probably will lose her late Papa’s riverboat, the Laura Rose; as her sibling served as the pilot of record while she actually steered the ship. She hopes to obtain her license and related certification to pilot the Laura Rose, but understands the overwhelming odds against her achieving her objective due to her gender; as no woman ever legally piloted a riverboat. Those in charge set stringent stipulations starting with her finding a willing licensed pilot to oversee her steering of a full cargo to Fort Benton, Missouri. Joe’s best friend pilot Finn MacKnight agrees to join Laura on her ship as they sail the Missouri. During the trek, Laura changes her opinion of Finn from wastrel to caring individual while he now appreciates her drive that he used to detest. As the couple fall in love to the euphoria of their families, each finds happiness with the other. The romance serves as a wonderful secondary subplot to a strong Americana that provides readers with a deep look at life on the Missouri (with a nod to Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi). Fans will enjoy this warm gender-bender as Laura tries to prove she deserves being captain of the Laura Rose. Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Beauty-Frederick Dillen

Beauty Frederick Dillen Simon and Schuster, Mar 4 2014, $25.00 ISBN 9781476716923 In New York City, Carol "The Beast" MacLean dreams of running her own company. One of her bosses at Baxter Blume promises her that this will be the last time she works as an undertaker telling people they are unemployed as their company is liquefied for its assets. Instead he promises to help her become a CEO, but conceals the truth she will be fired after she destroys the Massachusetts based Elizabeth Seafood Products on barrier isle Elizabeth Island. The Beast has never been comfortable with her role of company destructor as each time she devastates people Carol thinks of her blue collar dad. This time Carol decides to save Elizabeth Seafood Products by buying the dying firm and run it first-hand especially the all-female factory staff. Realizing the outsider is the only hope for the company, HR chief Dave Parks and CFO Annette Novato sign on to Carol’s efforts. Also backing Carol is fisherman Ezekiel "Easy" Parsons as each is attracted to one another. However, her chances of saving Elizabeth Seafood increasingly look dismal when she realizes how the illegal practices of the previous owners left the business bankrupt at a time when the government appears ready to reduce the fish catch that is the supply bloodline of a beleaguered company, town and New England coastal communities. Beauty is an engaging second chance at life tale that focuses on the upbeat rather than on the underdeveloped suspense. Still readers will appreciate Frederick Dillen’s timely warm drama as fishermen and Wives of the Sea rally around their Beauty who no longer answers to the Beast. Harriet Klausner

Gemini-Carol Cassella

Gemini Carol Cassella Simon & Schuster, Mar 4 2012, $25.99 ISBN 9781451627930 The local doctor performed emergency surgery on the victim of a rural Washington State road hit and run. However while still in the ER undergoing life-saving techniques, Jane Doe lapsed into a coma. The patient is airlifted to Seattle ICU where Dr. Charlotte Reese takes charge of saving the life of the still unidentified victim while fearing the woman suffered irreversible brain damage. Single mom of Jake who has an undiagnosed congenital neurological condition, Raney thinks back to her teen years in Quentin where she met Bo when his parents exiled him to his aunt while they divorced. At the same time Charlotte’s boyfriend Eric obtains a contract to write a series of science books. Meanwhile Charlotte searches for who Jane is and what happened to her that led to her residing in an unconscious state in a Seattle ICU. Most readers will connect the three seemingly separate subplots rather quickly before Carol Cassella actually does for us in the author’s exciting third medical thriller (see Oxygen and Healer). The profound storyline pulls no punches as the protagonist condemns society for the impact of poverty and the lack of education on health care decisions especially when these choices (or lack of) effect vulnerable dependents. Although Charlotte’s non-medical and non-Doe inquiry asides feel distractingly unnecessary, readers (except for politicians refusing to expand Medicaid) will appreciate this exhilarating drama. Harriet Klausner

Deal: About Face- Adam Gittlin

Deal: About Face Adam Gittlin Oceanview, Mar 4 2014, $26.95 ISBN 9781608091072 New York City commercial realtor Jonah Gray escaped murder attempts led by his psychopathic half-brother and a corrupt NYPD cop who he killed but not before his father was murdered. The police searched for the cop killer who underwent facial reconstructive surgery before fleeing to Amsterdam (See The Deal). In the Netherlands, the American fugitive obtained a realtor position at de Bont Beleggings. After almost a decade in exile, Gray returns to the Big Apple ostensibly to wrap up a major business, but also has a hidden agenda. He plans to enact revenge on those who destroyed his perfect life; coldly killed his dad; and search for his beloved Perry York and her son Max who he left behind for their safety when he fled the States. Although the overall interesting storyline starts slow for those who read The Deal as too much time is spent on a rehash and the plot climaxes with setting up a third tale, fans will enjoy the return of the fascinating Gray. His mission is clear in his mind as an avenging angel on a vendetta mission making About Face a very dark thriller. Harriet Klausner

Shadow of Freedom-David Weber

Shadow of Freedom David Weber Baen, Mar 4 2014, $15.00 ISBN: 9781476736280 In the Talbott Quadrant, Star Empire of Manticore Tenth Fleet Commander Michelle Henke leads her naval forces to an astounding victory over the invincible Solarian League armada. Word of the stunning outcome spreads rapidly in this sector and causally lifts rebel morale with new hopes of obtaining freedom from the tyrannical Solarian League. The Mobius Liberation Front asks for help from Henke as they rebel against vicious President Lombroso. Although she sympathizes with their cause to liberate the Mobius System from a lethal despicable tyrant, Henke still remains locked in a deadly war with the Solarian League; at a time when the enemy deploys thousands of its most powerful naval dreadnoughts. More confusing to the Commander is the message includes timing of the revolt was coordinated with Manticore. Henke nor her staff ever heard of MLF before this contact. They conclude the slimy Mesan Alignment brilliantly arranged to make Manticore look weak and unwilling to stand up to its vaunted values of freedom for all when Lombroso annihilates his opposition. Dividing their forces leaves them vulnerable to almost certain overwhelming defeat and she lacks authorization though Henke ignores the latter as she makes her decision. This is an exciting sidebar military science fiction as much of the action occurs before the events of A Rising Thunder while paralleling the major actions of Mission of Honor; although from a fresh perspective (Henke and the Tenth rather than Honor and the Eighth) in a different sector. Filled with political venom and plenty of military encounters, fans who are okay that the overarching theme remains stagnant and that Honor is MIA, will enjoy Henke’s escapades. Harriet Klausner

Monday, March 10, 2014

Ten For Dying-Mary Reed and Eric Mayer

Ten For Dying Mary Reed and Eric Mayer Poisoned Pen, Mar 4 2014, $24.95 ISBN: 9781464202278 In 548 Constantinople, Emperor Justinian deeply grieves the death of his beloved wife Empress Theodora. He recently fired John as the Lord Chamberlain following his loyal aid’s investigation, made at the Emperor’s demand into the Empress’ death, as Justinian rejected the finding (see Nine For The Devil). At the Church of the Holy Apostles, a fragment of the burial cloth of the Lord’s mother has gone missing. Justinian assigns Palace Guard Captain Felix to look into the theft. Felix persuades his friend disgraced John to help him. Church cleaner Mada and her husband lamp lighter Peterios tell the pair that the lights were extraordinary low; a bad odor putrefied the air, frogs appeared and demons ran amuck taking the relic with them. Felix feels unprepared to act on his own with the fallen John leaving for Greece in exile. Besides dealing with his gambling debt, his family and his new mistress Anastasia, Felix must also look into how a corpse was left at his house. Matters turn ugly as several people apparently want at a minimum Felix to fail and preferably die. Though series fans are used to the shrewd John the Eunuch running the show, Ten For Dying is an exciting entry made fresh by Felix and Anastasia who proves more than a mistress. Felix struggles with the twisted case in which many want to possess the holy relic and him dead; with the lethal politics including from the capricious mourning emperor; and with his even more convoluted personal life. Readers will enjoy this apparent new path that Mary Reed and Eric Mayer has taken on, but also hope our favorite eunuch has a second coming perhaps in Greece. Harriet Klausner