Monday, June 30, 2014

How the White Trash Zombie Got Her Groove Back Diana Rowland

How the White Trash Zombie Got Her Groove Back
Diana Rowland
DAW, Jul 1 2014, $7.99
ISBN 9780756408220

Angel Crawford muses that human life was ugly for a white trash junkie like her.  However, as a zombie dead head she is clean; earned her GED; raises her baby Philip; and even earns a legitimate living as a coroner’s morgue assistant and as a lab rat working for Dr. Nikas.  She has come so far Angel considers attending college, a word she thought was a profanity not too long ago.

As she congratulates herself on how far she has come, Angel worries about Philip especially when Dr. Zikas’ untested but needed medical procedure fails to fix an imbalance.  Not long afterward Saberton deploys a new assault, which leads to the kidnapping of zombie Tribe leader Pietro Ivanov, Dr. Nikas and others.  Angel escapes assassination, but knows more killers will pursue her and other still free zombies.  At the same time Saberton uses Ivanov as a pawn to insure his girlfriend Congresswoman Jane Pennington supports certain legislation.  One thing that remained with Angel from her human days is distrust as she wonders who inside her community are quislings selling out zombies and their supporters for blood money.

The latest White Trash Zombie urban fantasy (see White Trash Zombie Apocalypse, My Life As A White Trash Zombie and Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues) is a superb entry as ethical questions re loyalty vs. perfidy merge with science and gory humor.  Filled with blood, guts (literally and metaphorically) and deep moral existential dilemmas in the bayou, readers will root for Angel as she tries to do the right thing while unsure what that is since personal conflicting needs clash between each person and zombie.

Harriet Klausner

A Catered Fourth Of July-Isis Crawford

A Catered Fourth Of July
Isis Crawford
Kensington, Jun 24 2014, $24.00
ISBN 9780758274915

Residents of Longley, New York look forward to the Fourth of July shindig in spite of the summer Westchester heat; with many looking forward to the Revolutionary War reenactment of the Battle of Meadow Creek.  However, at the gala in Highland Park, performer Jack Devlin fires his musket; only it explodes and kills him.  Rick Evans accuses Marvin, who was responsible for checking all equipment including the weapons as Jack’s flintlock was obviously tampered by someone.

At the lethal enactment, owners of A Little Taste of Heaven Bernie and Libby Simmons fear that Police Chief Lucas will arrest the latter’s boyfriend Marvin for the murder.  When someone shoots at Marvin’s car, the cops ignore the attempted murder as their focus remains on him being the only suspect; leaving it to the Simmons sisters, their dad the retired police chief and Bernie’s boyfriend Brandon to investigate.

The latest Simmons sleuth sisters’ holiday mystery (see A Catered Christmas Cookie Exchange, A Catered Birthday Party and A Catered Halloween) is a wonderful lighthearted culinary cozy with a numerous people having a motive to kill the philandering victim.  Subgenre readers will appreciate this lighthearted July 4th whodunit as the bickering siblings compete with reenactors, cops, Hilda, Wiccan and a horde who know Jack too well.

Harriet Klausner

No River Too Wide-Emilie Richards

No River Too Wide
Emilie Richards
Mira, Jun 24 2014, $14.95
ISBN 9780778316343

In Topeka, Kansas, Janine Stoddard flees from her long-time abusive husband Rex while their house burns.  Although it breaks her heart, Janine knows she must not visit her daughter Harmony or her grandchild Lottie for fear of Rex pursuing her and harming them.  Still the need to see her child once more and her nine-month old granddaughter for the first time grips Janine who ignores her brain telling her not to go to Asheville, North Carolina.

Advocacy group member Taylor Martin helps Janine settle safely while also praying that the three generations of females connect as she understands their estrangement caused by a battering man.  Also new in town is Alex, who has opened up a fitness salon.  He provides self-defense training for women, which is where he meets Taylor and Janine.  However, Alex accepts that once his secret becomes known, his growing relationship with Taylor will abruptly die; while Rex and the law threaten Janine’s renaissance.

This Goddesses Anonymous broken family drama (see One Mountain Away) is an engaging contemporary due to a strong cast (especially the three lead females) who enables the audience to look deeply at the extended impact of domestic abuse.  Character driven, fans will appreciate this warm second chance at family.

Harriet Klausner

The Saint-Tiffany Reisz

The Saint
Tiffany Reisz
Mira, Jun 24 2014, $14.95
ISBN 9780778316145

When Manhattan's renowned dominatrix Nora Sutherlin was teenager Eleanor Schreiber, her life was radically different.  Her single mom worked two jobs to feed and shelter them, but also was deeply religious and demanded her daughter obey the Lord.  On the other side of the spectrum, her felonious dad ran a car theft ring and chop shop.  Elle preferred her father’s flamboyant lifestyle over her mom’s pious poverty.

When the cops catch Elle breaking the law while helping her dad pay back a large sum of money he owes, the judge chooses probation leniency rather than juvenile detention.  Thus she must perform community service under the direction of Father Marcus “Søren” Stearns.  The motorcycle-riding Jesuit priest promises young Elle much more than just working off her sentencing.

The first Original Sinners: White Years tells the enjoyable back story of how Elle became Nora under the mentoring of Father Søren.  Well-written, series fans will enjoy the teen years though no revelations are added to what we know about The Big Apple’s top dominatrix and her well-endowed priest-teacher from Original Sinners: The Red Years dark BDSM erotica (see The Mistress, The Angel, The Prince and The Siren)

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Heir of Khored: Book Three of The Seven-Petaled Shield-Deborah J. Ross

The Heir of Khored: Book Three of The Seven-Petaled Shield
Deborah J. Ross
DAW, Jun 3 2014, $7.99
ISBN: 9780756409210

Nomadic warrior Shannivar of the Azkhantia Steppe joined exiled Prince Zevaron of Meklavar, as each shared in common a loathing of Cinath and the Gelon Empire after this vile ruler led his forces in the violent destruction and brutal annexation of their respective nations.  On their quest to defeat the seemingly invincible Gelon Empire, they fell in love (see Shannivar: The Seven-Petaled Shield).

Although Shannivar prefers to focus (with her beloved at her side) on destroying the Gelon Empire, she must go it alone ever since Fire and Ice liberated from a Far North incarceration turned Zevaron into a minion.  Thus while Zevaron loses focus of the bigger menace by “passionately” concentrating on killing Cinath for murdering his mother and their people, Shannivar confronts Fire and Ice before this malevolence devastates the world in its image.

The third Seven-Petaled Shield fantasy is an exciting fast-paced thriller as the loving partnership appears dead at a critical time when the protagonists need each other.  Fast-paced, series fans will relish this apparent final Good and Evil entry that engagingly ties up the major subplots.

Harriet Klausner 

The Big Hello-Michael Lister

The Big Hello
Michael Lister
Pulpwood Press, Jun 1 2014, $26.99
ISBN: 9781888146417

During WWII in Panama City, Florida, following the taunts from the banker husband of Jimmy “Soldier” Riley’s beloved Lauren Lewis, the private investigator slices the SOB’s throat.  In shock from a revelation he does not believe can be true, Jimmy and police officer Henry Folsom dig up the grave site of Lauren only to find the coffin empty. 

With his friend former combat pilot one-eyed Clipper Jones, who saved his penis from electrocution (see The Big Beyond) at his side, Jimmy seeks clues to the whereabouts of Lauren.  Everything leads to serial sex killer Flaxon De Grasse known for bisecting before draining his victims.  In a seemingly futile attempt to rescue his girlfriend Lauren from this lunatic, Jimmy and Clip visit seemingly all the dives in the Panhandle while the police pursue the duo as the body count turns stratospheric. 

The third 1940s Soldier hard-boiled noir (see The Big Goodbye) is an exciting violent thriller that grips audience from the opening on the road scene until the final anticipated confrontation.  Fast-paced readers will root for the knight and his squire (don’t call Clip that to his face) in a daring rescue the damsel in distress attempt before she becomes body parts.

Harriet Klausner

Little Mercies--Heather Gudenkauf

Little Mercies
Heather Gudenkauf
Mira, Jun 24 2014, $15.95
ISBN 9780778316336

In Cedar City, Iowa, Ellen Moore struggles to be a superwoman as she and her husband Adam the teacher raise their three young kids; while as a social worker she deals with harrowing cases involving children.  On a hot summer morning, Adam says goodbye while a distracted Ellen handles a nasty case.  Several hours later, the police visit her at a restaurant when she realizes Adam told her he left their infant daughter Avery inside their van for Ellen to take the child to daycare.  Rushed to the hospital Avery is placed in ICU suffering from deadly heatstroke.  Instead of being the investigator, Ellen is charged with child endangerment.  Freed on bail, but banned from seeing her baby, Ellen hides at her widowed mother Maudene’s house.

While Ellen prays for her child’s recovery, ten year old Jenny Briard runs away from her Nebraska home following the arrest of her alcoholic father.  Maudene finds her in Cedar City and brings the tweener to her home.  Ellen soon realizes that her case files contain information on the runaway.

This is an entertaining tense family drama in which Heather Gudenkauf once again looks at the vulnerability of children (see One Breath Away).  Ironically the social worker finds herself under the microscope that she used disdainfully so many times at neglectful and abusive parents and guardians.  Both subplots are well written, but Ellen’s plight much deeper though each ends unsatisfyingly abrupt.

Harriet Klausner

The Tea Shop On Lavender Lane-Sheila Roberts

The Tea Shop On Lavender Lane
Sheila Roberts
Mira, Jun 24 2014, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778316183

In West Hollywood, Bailey Sterling caters actress Samba Barrett’s party.  Everything goes perfect until Samba falls to the floor and her actor boyfriend Rory Rourke says to call 911.  Samba insists they call the Star Reporter as she claims she ate something bad.  Her dream of being caterer to the stars is nuked by this phony food poisoning claim in which the Star Reporter claims Bailey tried to kill her rival for Rory’s love. 

In shellshock, Bailey heeds the advice of her older sister Cecily’s insistence she leave Los Angeles to return home to Icicle Falls, Washington where the townsfolk started a legal fund collection.  Cecily likes marrying-kind single father Luke Goodman and sleeping with-kind tavern owner Todd Black.  However, when Todd and Bailey meet, they are attracted to each other.  Sibling rivalry seems ready to boil over before Bailey and Todd announce plans for The Tea Shop On Lavender Lane.

The latest Life in Icicle Falls contemporary (see The Cottage On Juniper Ridge, Better Than Chocolate, What She Wants and Merry Ex-Mas) is an engaging lighthearted Sterling family drama.  Series fans will enjoy the antics of the fully-developed cast as love proves complicated in the Pacific Northwest.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, June 26, 2014

First Comes Love-Karen Wiesner

First Comes Love

Karen Wiesner

Lulu, Jul 1 2014

ISBN: 9781304898197

In Peaceful, Wisconsin, young teens Chad Feldmann and Winnie McBride have sex. She becomes pregnant and gives birth to a baby girl. To avoid the errors that most kids having kids do, Chad insists they remain celibate until they graduate and marry. Three years later, after the couple completes high school, they wed and raise their child Kally.

Winnie feels resentment towards her husband and daughter as she sacrificed much for them to become a family. As she works two jobs and takes care of little Kally, her disappointment is further fueled when Chad uses his college fund that his family banked for him to pursue his dreams. Chad knows he made foolish mistakes out of love and his constant fear his soulmate would leave him; but his recent actions to insure he can care for his two beloved females instead may fulfill his nightmarish prophecy.

The fourth fabulous Friendship Heirlooms series (see Forever And All That Jazz) star two wonderful protagonists as Chad and Winnie have love, a baby and marriage in that order, but apparently also a dying relationship. With a strong support cast (a trademark of Ms. Weisner as for instance this lead couple were in the Family Heirlooms Series drama Glass Angels), fans will relish the return to Peaceful although what appears to be the end of a marriage.

Harriet Klausner

Never Surrender-Lindsay McKenna

Never Surrender

Lindsay McKenna

Harlequin HQN, Jun 24 2014, $7.99

ISBN: 9780373778829

Navy SEAL Team 3 Chief Gabe Griffin is proud of his fiancée Navy Petty Officer First Class Baylee-Ann Thorn as she was one of the first female Shadow Warriors and became the first military female 18 Medic. They have missed each other, but immediately make up for lost time now that she returned to California after serving in Afghanistan providing medical support.

Bay has six months left in the service but is assigned to Special Forces instead of the SEALs. Deployed in Afghanistan again, the Taliban capture her. Gabe goes crazy as he risks his life to save his beloved. When Bay is rescued, she is not the same having suffered a brain injury, rape and unrelenting torture. He refuses to walk away from his Bay even if she is not his same confident lover.

The sequel to Breaking Point is a terrific military romantic thriller starring two wonderful protagonists. Readers will marvel at Gabe’s impatience when it comes to finding his woman and patience when it comes to being there for her. However, Bay makes the storyline military strong as her struggles with PTSD grips the audience with harrowing realism.

Harriet Klausner

Shaman Rises-C.E. Murphy

Shaman Rises

C.E. Murphy

Mira, Jun 24 2014, $14.95

ISBN 9780778316916

Cabbie Gary Muldoon calls his friend Joanne Walker the Shaman with the news that his wife Annie Marie is alive in a Seattle hospital. The Urban Shaman is shocked as Annie died long before she and Gary met. She assumes her evil enemy the Master has resurrected her friend’s wife for some nefarious purpose; as her vile adversary probably observed Gary rode with Cernunnos the God of the Wild Hunt.

Thus Joanne and her former boss at Seattle PD and current love interest Captain Mike Morrison head back home to Seattle where their adventures began. Her assumption proves correct as the Master abetted by the Raven Mocker and other malevolencies have begun the final confrontation. Risking her soul, Joanne applies her Shaman skills to attempt to defeat her near invincible foe and his minion in order to save the world.

The final Walker Papers epic (see Mountain Echoes and Raven Calls) is a great good and evil fantasy thriller that enthralled fans who journeyed with the coming of age heroine will appreciate. Going full circle, Joanne prays she proves her worth as her destiny reaches a climatic finish.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Darkness Bound-J.T. Geissinger

Darkness Bound

J.T. Geissinger

Montlake Romance/Amazon Publishing, Jun 24 2014, $12.95

ISBN: 9781477820100

Though she never met an Ikati and based solely on events in Rome, New York Times senior war correspondence Jack Dolan’s column on the "Enemy Among Us" puts fear and anger in the minds of this shapeshifting race. She exposes them as being a deadly threat to mankind. Her muckraking demand for extinction has the shapeshifters going deeper into concealment because they know the humans will stalk them mercilessly. The Ikati also deploy a two-step counterplan to bring a death and destruction offensive to their adversaries who are led by ambitious cold politicians and religious fanatics, and abetted by quislings.

While his species gathers deep inside the Brazilian rainforest, illegitimate outsider Hawk Luna launches step one: the seduction of Jacqueline Dolan in order to blackmail her into writing a friendly retraction article. However he realizes he don’t know Jack when they meet; as she turns out to be a complex flawed individual who touches his heart. Jack feels the same way re Hawk unaware he is one of the dreaded species that her yellow journalism claims needs ethnic cleansing. Soon the pair teams up to prevent a cross species war but betrayals leave both in peril and the world teetering.

The fifth Night Prowler romantic urban (and jungle) fantasy (see Edge of Darkness, Rapture’s Edge, Shadows Edge and Edge of Oblivion) is an exciting action-packed thriller that grips the audience from the onset and never loosens that hold; as danger mounts, and relationships and loyalties change. Series fans will relish this taut drama; while newcomers should start at the beginning as each entry builds up on the previous’ international events.

Harriet Klausner

Abandon The Dark-Marta Perry

Abandon The Dark

Marta Perry

Harlequin HQN, Jun 24 2014, $7.99

ISBN: 9780373778843

Two decades ago when she stayed with her great-Aunt Rebecca in Deer Run, Pennsylvania, Lainey Colton spent the most wonderful summer of her life becoming BFFs with Rachel (see Home by Dark) and Meredith (see Search The Dark); that is until Aaron Mast died. When Rebecca becomes very ill, the graphic designer returns to Deer Run to care of her beloved relative.

Lawyer Jake Evans left the rat race to settle in the serene Amish town. He is unhappy with Lainey’s arrival as he fears the outsider will inadvertently misuse her power of attorney re Rachel since this great-niece knows nothing about the Amish. As Lainey and her two BFFs look into deaths past and recent, the attorney and the client’s relative fall in love; but someone wants her and her buddies to end their investigation or else.

The third sensational Watcher in the Dark romantic suspense continues to use family and romance as support to the tense twisting overarching plot; ergo newcomers should begin with the earlier entries. Fast-paced, series readers will enjoy the three brave amigas perilous search for the truth.

Harriet Klausner

The Beekeeper's Ball-Susan Wiggs

Susan Wiggs

The Beekeeper's Ball

Susan Wiggs

Mira, Jun 24 2014, $24.95

ISBN 9780778314486

Thirtyish orphan Isabel Johansen returned home to Bella Vista, California to open up a cooking school at the family estate in Sonoma using honey from local beehives including her own as a key ingredient. As she helps plan for her recently met half-sister Tess’ wedding (see The Apple Orchard) Isabel also hopes by coming to her hometown she can move past her history especially with an abusive former lover who has made her wary of men.

Cormac O’Neill comes to Bella Vista to write a biography of Isabel’s apple orchard owning grandfather Magnus Johansen. The author too hopes his work in this town will help him move past his recent history. As Cormac and his subject’s family become aware of courageous Magnus risking his life to protect Jews including his wife from the Nazis in Denmark, the biographer and the cooking teacher fall in love; but her recent relationship leaves her doubting a relationship.

The romance is a solid contemporary, but the WII Danish resistance owns the storyline and also serves as the impetus for the heroine to take a chance on love. Readers will appreciate the powerful historical dramatic subplot of brave people defying the Nazis in 1940s Copenhagen (mindful of Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally and the Steven Spielberg film, and Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl).

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Vicky Peterwald: Target-Mike Shepherd

Vicky Peterwald: Target

Mike Shepherd

Ace, Jun 24 2014, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425266571

The emperor loathes the Longknife family and prefers every one of them dead. He told his worthless daughter, (whose only use is as a marital commodity) Her Imperial Grace the Grand Duchess Victoria Maria Teresa Inez Smythe- Peterwald, that the family feud was over a century old, but personal since Lieutenant Kris Longknife killed his heir in battle as the latest affront by these upstarts.

When his unwanted daughter failed to assassinate his enemy, the irate Emperor assigns her to serve in the military to learn to be a ruthless killer or die. She developed skills and confidence to be more than a male magnet by observing her adversary and others. Yet ironically Vicky feels safer serving on Longknife’s ship the Wasp than at home especially since the young empress Annah wants her dead.

The first Vicky Peterwald science fiction is an engaging hyper-speed thriller obviously located in the Longknife galaxy. The entertaining coming of age storyline focuses on Vicky’s growing awareness that she can be much more than her father’s pretty pawn if she survives her vicious stepmother’s attacks. Although more a set-up opening act, Longknife fans will welcome this female rival who sees her enemy as a role model. Increasingly Vicky believes she and her gender can be much more than society allows; but also frequently reverts back to her seductive charm persona hammered into her brain all her life (until her sibling died) that is all she is good for.

Harriet Klausner

Murder on the Mediterranean-Alexander Campion

Murder on the Mediterranean

Alexander Campion

Kensington, Jun 24 2014, $24.00

ISBN 9780758268839

Police Judicaire Commissaire Capucine Le Tellier, her husband restaurant critic Alexandre, Juge d’Instruction Inès Maistre and six others sail the Mediterranean on the Diomede charter. Inez explains to Capucine that she feels close to finally resolving her obsession to bring down financial miscreant Andre Tottingeur and his well-placed family, owners of a highly regarded Paris bank.

However, the pleasure trip turns ugly when the hired hand pampering to the guests Nathalie Martin falls overboard and is apparently dead in the Mediterranean; her body is not found. The prime suspect in what appears to be a homicide is Capucine. She and Alexandre rusticate at a friend’s estate even as Capucine investigates the murder far from the watery crime scene.

The latest captivating Capucine Culinary Mystery (see Death of a Chef, Grave Gourmet, Killer Critique and Crime Fraiche) is an enjoyable leisurely-paced whodunit with a nod to the classic The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant. While her spouse cooks up incredible meals; the heroine tries to identify the killer though many kilometers from where the victim drowned to indirectly prove her innocence; but as Victor Hugo showed justice is not always served.

Harriet Klausner

A Cut-Like Wound-Anita Nair

A Cut-Like Wound

Anita Nair

Bitter Lemon Press, Jul 8 2014, $14.95

ISBN: 9781908524362

As the month of Ramzan begins around the world, in Bangalore, India a young male heeds the words of the Goddess to cross-dress as a female. He admires his transformation into beautiful Bhuvana before leaving his home to visit the bazaars where he expects to meet true love. A man flirts with Bhuvana until an interloper warns him that the woman he admires is a male in female clothing. Angry as lust turns to disgust he insults the transgender and the interloper. When he recognizes who the transgender is, he panics just before his throat is sliced. Before leaving the killer arranges for a cleanup.

Inspector Borei Gowda struggles with his relationships with his wife, son and his former college lover; as well as those on the job including his superior, his peers and his informants, but especially his eager assistant Santosh. Meanwhile Gowda investigates a series of homicides that make no sense to him as they seem like angry crimes of passion yet cleansed by an apparent cool head.

This is an intriguing Indian police procedural in which the official serial killing inquiry takes a back seat to the deep look inside the souls of the fully developed lead characters Gowda and Bhuvana; with the latter owning the storyline. Although the tension dramatically lessons as the plot turns inward after a taut suspenseful opening, A Cut-Like Wound is a fresh mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Until We Touch-Susan Mallery

Until We Touch

Susan Mallery

Harlequin HQN, Jun 24 2014, $8.99

ISBN: 9780373778935

Retired NFL player Jack McGarry co-owns Score public relations firm. He and his partners left Los Angeles to set up shop in Fool’s Gold, California. His assistant Larissa Owens loves her job, which also enables her to work on her passion of rescuing animals. Though attracted to Jack, Larissa has no time or interest in pursuing any relationship with him except work as she accepts her feelings for him are one sided.

Larissa’s mother Nancy arrives in Fool’s Gold to demand Jack fire his assistant so that her daughter can return to L.A. to find a man. However, she also proclaims to Jack that Larissa loves him; but is too stupid to act on it. Finally Nancy also insists Jack must have taken one too many blows to the head as a football player to realize how he feels about Larissa; though he knows otherwise as a tragedy closed his heart from emotional pain. Both Jack and Larissa remain in denial, but their relationship subtly begins to change.

The third Score Fool’s Gold romance (see Before We Kiss and When We Met) is an amusing contemporary as two people sing the refrain from I’m Not In Love (10 Cc). Outrageous Nancy steals the storyline from the protagonists to the delight of fans who will enjoy the latest ex-gridiron performer sacked by love.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, June 23, 2014

Eyes On You-Kate White

Eyes On You

Kate White

Harper, Jun 24 2014, $25.99

ISBN: 9780061576638

Recently life has been a major seesaw for Robin Trainer, but currently has been on the upswing as she anchors with Carter Brooks the TV show The Pulse and the book she wrote The 7 Secrets Women Keep is selling quite nicely. However, as she prepares to do a show in an apartment overlooking the Hudson from the Manhattan side, Robin looks at her notecard only to find someone scribbled a threat on it.

That horrid comment is followed up by the deliberate tearing up of book jackets several The 7 Secrets Women Keep copies, and a roach placed in her coffee. Other incidents occur to her leading Robin to believe someone at the station has a grudge towards her. However, an investigation leads to the conclusion that the prime saboteur suspect is Robin.

Eyes On You is a sensational psychological suspense as readers will wonder whether the assault is self-induced (like in the Dustin Hoffman movie Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?) or an insider with a raging rancor. Although the support cast is stereotypes of Manhattan glamour and glitz, Robin is terrific as she struggles to learn who is doing these terrible things to her and why.

Harriet Klausner

Basil Instinct-Shelley Costa

Basil Instinct

Shelley Costa

Pocket, Jun 24 2014, $7.99

ISBN: 9781476709369

In Quaker Hills, Pennsylvania Miracolo Italian Restaurant owner Chef Maria Pia Angelotta turns ecstatic when she reads Belfiere’s invitation for her to become a member. None of her grandchildren heard of this foodie society that apparently is a two-century old female-only Italian culinary group. Ecstatic the septuagenarian plans immediately to obtain the membership tattoo and follow the rules especially the omerta vow of silence.

Eve and her cousins fear for Nonna; as internet research reveals almost nothing about an organization claiming a two hundred-year existence. They do learn of a warning to beware of infamous women poisoners. Soon afterward Eve trips over the corpse of sous chef Georgia Payne inside the restaurant when she opens Miracolo to teach a class. The cousins also find out that their deceased employee had ties to Belfiere, so Eve and the posse investigate before Nonna joins a society in which the only way out is death.

The second Miracolo Mystery (see You Cannoli Die Once) is an enjoyable culinary cozy as the Basil Instincts of Eve and crew are that Belfiere is a dangerous version of the Eagles’ Hotel California. The secret society steals the show from the extended Angelotta family, employees and friends as readers will wonder how dark and deadly this association is.

Harriet Klausner

The Kafka Society-Ron Felber

The Kafka Society

Ron Felber

Barricade Books, May 7 2014, $16.95

ISBN: 9781569805107

Jack Madson’s résumé contains several different professions from professional boxer to Wall Street to many other short time pursuits. Currently the rolling stone works as a private investigator; though he never bothered to obtain a state license. Nor on his employment listings are his drinking and drug abuse.

After a night enjoying his addictions, Jack wakes up in shock to find stripper Amber Starr shared his bed; he fails to recall how they got there together though he knows the sex must have been incredible. When he goes to his car, Madson is greeted by his second shocker when he cannot explain why a head resides in his trunk.

FBI East Coast Operations Chief Tom Dougherty asks his school classmate Madson to help him deal with former lover porn star Havana Spice who is blackmailing the Fed. Though Dougherty was far from a friend when they were teens, Madson agrees. However, what he learns about Dougherty is the third shocker. Instead of a good cop, Dougherty runs the brilliant depraved Kafka Society who internationally trafficks with human commodities from their New York underground base.

The second Madson thriller (see A Man of Indeterminate Values) is an exciting dark tale as the antihero goes from one disaster to another. Although plausibility is over the top of the Empire State Building, The Kafka Society is an action-packed entry with a strong timely existential message proclaiming extremes harm the innocent; Madson would insist that relativity theory means there are no innocent, only victims in the wrong place at the wrong time. Readers will enjoy his latest addicted fueled escapades in the vast New York underground.

Harriet Klausner

The Shield-Lynn Sholes & Joe Moore

The Shield

Lynn Sholes & Joe Moore

Stone Creek Books, Jun 9 2014, $15.95

ISBN: 9780692223116

Though retired, former OSI special agent Maxine Decker keeps a vigil in case her past returns. Thus when Beowulf Top Secret security chief Peter Kepner arrives at her remote Colorado cabin, Decker remains suspicious especially when she never head of his agency until President LeClair asks for her help. Acting secretively, Kepner escorts her to his organization’s only location in an isolated part of the Grand Canyon.

There she meets Beowulf Director Chaucer who gives Decker a tour of artifacts and a quantum computer that stuns her as he explains what happened (and did not) at Roswell in 1947 and in Siberia in 1908. He further explains why her government needs her to retrieve three stolen artifacts that contain data to develop The Shield, which would radically change the balance of power. Russians assault the compound; only Decker escapes but not before a dying Chaucer tells her to find The Monk’s Tale. As the enemy pursues her, law enforcement also hunts her. Not one to wait to be killed, Decker uncovers clues that lead her to the Sudan.

The latest Maxine Decker thriller (see The Blade) is an excellent action-packed tale in which Lynn Sholes & Joe Moore make ET deniers like this reviewer into believers as their plausible Roswell explanations seem reasonable. Fast-paced, Decker is at her best as she goes on the run to buy time while following leads to the stolen artifacts before taking the fight to her adversaries.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Long Mars-Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

The Long Mars

Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

Harper, Jun 17 2014, $25.99

ISBN 9780062297297

Three decades have passed since Step Day occurred. Five years ago Yellowstone began the cataclysmic destruction of Datum Earth. Yet by 2045, there remain seemingly infinite planets making up The Long Earth for US Navy Commander Kauffman and her crew of the USS Benjamin Franklin to visit. Many of these orbs have proven hostile so they proceed with extreme caution.

Stepper inventor Willis Linsay contacts his daughter Sally for the first time in years. He wants Sally to help him search the recently discovered planets of the Long Mars. His stated objective is to find sentient life though Sally wonders if her dad has a hidden agenda.

Joshua Valiente fears hostilities between his people and the Next humans he met in the Long Earth. This brilliant group thinks radically different than Joshua and his peers. They don’t hide their disdain of Valiente and his kin as intellectually inferior, which fills his side with rage towards the Next.

The third Long Earth science fiction (see The Long War) is a fascinating entry that thrillingly widens the Long universe with a wonderful step into parallel Mars. Though the tale comes across as similar to that of The Long Earth, this is an exciting saga.

Harriet Klausner

Double Exposure-Erin McCarthy

Double Exposure

Erin McCarthy

Harlequin Blaze, Jun 17 2014, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373798087

To obtain an interview of renowned photographer Ian Bainbridge, Daily Journal reporters Emma Gideon and Kyle Hadley agree to pose nude except for green paint on their bodies. Whereas Kyle enjoys the event; Emma feels self-conscious and wonders if journalism is worth the cost of debasing herself though she appreciates watching the Jolly Green Giant grow. Things turn worse when some nut steals bags of clothing that the models including the journalists took off before posing.

Naked, the reporters make it to his home where they end up showering together. As they begin a tryst, Emma and Kyle fall in love. Holding them back from a total commitment is each fears their relationship must end soonest; not because of the paper’s “no hanky-panky” rule but due to them being rivals at work.

The first From Every Angle contemporary romance is a wonderful lighthearted tale that effortlessly combines humor and heat. The lead couple seems like opposites, but that proves skin deep to the delight of engaged readers.

Harriet Klausner

Riding Hard-Vicki Lewis Thompson

Riding Hard

Vicki Lewis Thompson

Harlequin Blaze, Jun 17 2014, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373798070

Six months ago in Virginia, veterinarian Drake Brewster betrayed his best friend Regan O’Conelli when he slept with his buddy’s fiancée. Regan ended their partnership and friendship, and his engagement before moving to Shoshone, Wyoming (see Riding High).

Knowing he did wrong, Drake follows Regan to Wyoming to apologize. Thanks to Regan’s new fiancée, Drake is forgiven by his former veterinary partner, but not by the townsfolk who adore the O’Conelli brood (see Ambushed). At Spirits and Spur, bartender Tracy Gibbons overtly displays her scorn of Drake as she possesses a strong moral fiber. However, when she needs his help at a horse sanctuary especially with a pregnant mare, Tracy asks Drake. As she works with him, Tracy observes how gentle yet firm and diligent he is with the horses. Soon afterward, they begin a heated relationship that turns to love.

The latest engaging Sons of Chance Wyoming ranch romance (see Riding Home) is an entertaining contemporary starring two intriguing protagonists as he wonders if his terrible transgression will destroy his chance for happiness while she acts capable of tossing that biblical first stone at him. Although the Chance saga feels overly stretched to include these outsiders; series fans still will enjoy the changing relationship between the contrite and the moralist.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Undercover Warrior-Aimée Thurlo

Undercover Warrior
Aimée Thurlo
Harlequin Intrigue, Jun 17 2014, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373697724
In Hartley, New Mexico, NCIS undercover operative Kyle Goodluck poses as an IRS agent while he conducts surveillance on Lieutenant Henry Leland who just came back from a naval base in Spain.  When Leland calls NCIS claiming terrorists are blackmailing him; Kyle heads to Secure Construction to talk with him.  The agent arrives as thugs grab Leland and office manager Erin Barrett.  A shootout occurs leaving Hank critically wounded, Erin rescued and the kidnappers escaping.  After HPD Detective Preston Bowman and his foster brother Kyle discuss how to handle the case, Goodluck is assigned to keep the witness safe.
On the way to the hospital, the thugs attack the EMT vehicle; Hank dies while Kyle shoots one of the attackers; he commits suicide rather than be captured.  As Kyle and Preston work the case to learn what the alleged terrorists wanted and keep their witness safe, the NCIS Undercover Warrior and the courageous office manager fall in love.  However, first they must take down the cold hardened killers before considering their future as anyone associated with the late Hank is walking dead.
This Copper Canyon romantic suspense (see Power of the Raven, Winter Hawk’s Legend, Falcon’s Run and Secrets of the Lynx) is an action-packed entry starring two intrepid protagonists and a solid support cast in an enchanting location.  Fans will appreciate the late great Aimée Thurlo’s usual superb storytelling as she showcases her talent by providing her readers with another strong thriller.
Harriet Klausner

Sanctuary In Chef Voleur-Mallory Kane

Sanctuary In Chef Voleur
Mallory Kane
Harlequin Intrigue, Jun 17 2014, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373697755
In Dowdie, Texas Stephanie Clemens needs a liver transplant or very soon she will die from cirrhosis.  Her daughter Hannah Martin overhears her mom’s boyfriend Billy Joe Campbell arranging an illegal deal.  Hannah confronts Billy Joe who kidnaps her mom placing her in peril as she must have dialysis.  Not long afterward, gang chieftain Sal Ficone’s enforcer with the red tattoo demands Billy Joe give him the missing money and drugs or else.  When Billy Joe blames Hannah and admits abducting Stephanie, the man kills him.  Frightened, Hannah drives until she reaches Chef Voleur off of Lake Pontchartrain where her mom’s friend Kathleen lives.
Instead of her BFF, Mackellis Griffin answers her knock.  She asks for Kathleen who died twenty years ago.  D&D Security P.I. Mack thinks the visitor is trouble and lets her leave, but feels guilty so does some research into her and her mom.  Meanwhile Hannah realizes that Billy Joe’s car she drove to escape is where he hid the drugs; so the man with the red tattoo will come for her.  Instead Metairie PD arrests Hannah for possession of a stolen vehicle and illegal narcotics.  Mack arrives as her attorney and asks the judge to release her into his recognizance.  While the pair dodges the red tattoo killer breaking the conditions of her bail, D&D Security search for her mom.
The latest Delancey Dynasty romantic suspense (see Gone and Dirty Little Secrets) is a terrific woman in peril from both sides of the law thriller that never slows down until the epilogue.  Mack is a born protector mostly because of what happened to his mom years ago that still haunts him, and Hannah needs his protection.
Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Good Suicides-Antonio Hill

The Good Suicides

Antonio Hill

Crown, Jun 17 2014, $26.00

ISBN: 9780770435905


Barcelona PD detective Héctor Salgado remains on suspension for his savage beating of human-trafficking ringleader Dr. Omar (see The Summer of Dead Toys).  He also struggles with dealing with his teenage son Guillermo as a single dad following the disappearance of his separated wife Ruth Valldaura; his superiors admonish him to stay out of their inquiry into his estranged mate’s vanishing.


However being the department’s top investigator, once again Héctor returns to work when Alemany Cosmetics employees begin mass suicides following a team-building event and a subsequent message “Never Forget”.  At the same time his pregnant police partner Leire Castro, on boring maternity leave, unofficially investigates Ruth’s vanishing; she finds shocking connections to Omar and the “stolen babies.”  Héctor and his former lover reporter Lola Martinez Rueda team up on his case.


The second Salgado Spanish police procedural is another strong investigative thriller containing two fascinating inquiries enhanced by insight into the personal lives of the protagonist and his partner.  Each case is well done with a sense of societal failure cutting through both of them.  Readers will appreciate Antonio Hill’s excellent series.


Harriet Klausner

Forever an Ex-Victoria Christopher Murray

Forever an Ex

Victoria Christopher Murray

Touchstone, Jun 17 2014, $15.00

ISBN: 9781476748856


Seven years ago in Los Angeles, Sheridan Goodman, Kendall Stewart, and Asia Ingram met at a prayer group and became friends.  With the help of prayer and having each other’s back, they weathered the break-up of their marriages (see The Ex Files).  Now the exes are back so each turns to prayer and their BFFs to weather the new storm.


Basketball player Bobby tries to persuade Asia to permit their daughter Angel to attend the School of the Performing Arts in NYC.  Bobby and Asia begin a tryst that leads to his wife Caroline warning her to stay away from her husband.  When Asia ignores the cuckooed spouse’s admonition, the spiteful woman retaliates via Angel.


With her children grown and away, Sheridan and Brock love the empty nest.  Her ex-husband’s fiancée Harmony meets with her to ask her questions about Quentin’s cheating.  Sheridan informs the worried woman that she believes Quentin will be faithful to her.  Not long after that, Sheridan observes Quentin with Jeff, his lover when he was married to her.


Kendall returns to Malibu, sight of where her former husband Anthony and her sister Sabrina betrayed her.  She remains estranged from both of them and wants nothing to do with their child.  Anthony’s brother, D’Angelo, proves helpful, but hides his attraction to his one-time sister-in-law.  However when Sabrina becomes critically ill, Kendall has to decide whether to forgive their transgression.


Forever an Ex is an engaging inspirational extended family drama as the three BFFs deal with different troubles caused by the returns of the exes.  Fans will enjoy the prayers, fears and tears as Victoria Christopher Murray provides an engaging tale.


Harriet Klausner

A Bride By Summer-Sandra Steffen

A Bride By Summer

Sandra Steffen

Harlequin Special Edition, Jun 17 2014, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373658275


In Orchard Hill, Michigan someone abandoned Joey; leaving the baby with the Sullivan brothers; Reed, Marsh and Noah (see A Bride Before Dawn).  The three bachelors struggle with caring for the infant while they wonder who the mom is and which one of them she believes is the dad.


Reed and tavern owner Ruby O’Toole (see The Wedding Gift) meet when both were almost hurt by a maniac in a Corvette.  They are attracted to each other, but he feels Joey and bodily excretions come before a firebrand female; and she recently vowed no more men even a nice keeper.  As Reed and Ruby forge a friendship, platonic seems impossible.


The latest Round-the-Clock Brides (see A Bride Until Midnight) is an amusing contemporary as love proves bothersome when two people can’t agree on what flavor ice cream to share.  Readers will adore Ruby for her outlook (just ask Nanny McPhee), and appreciate Reed for his persistence with her but especially with his little pal Joey.


Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Leopard-K.V. Johansen

The Leopard

K.V. Johansen

Pyr, Jun 10 2014, $18.00

ISBN 9781616149031


Though none except one has seen or heard the God The Lady of the Deep Well, Lady of Marakand, she is the most worshipped of the deity triad.  Her followers believe she speaks to them through the Voice of the Lady of Marakand, also cloaked in dark secrecy.  Claiming their God ordered them, the Voice of the Lady of Marakand commands the Red Masks to violently attack their neighbors; anyone who resists is to be slaughtered brutally except for the chosen ones who will serve as mockeries bowing to the Lady. 


Heir to Queen Catigga of Suina Catarina and sister of High King Durandu of Duina Andara, Deyandara has felt the wrath of the Red Masks as her royal aunt failed the Goddess Catairanach and paid the price along with most of her subjects.  Deyandara knows she is fortunate to have survived the carnage, but thirsts for revenge knowing only one being might be able to succeed.  Deyandara travels to Sand Cove in the Tributary Lands to plead with the multi-cursed assassin Ahjvar the Leopard to eliminate the Voice.  In return to murdering the abomination, Catairanach will grant Ahjvar his one wish: death.


The Leopard introduces readers to a fascinating fierce fantasy world filled with an intriguing cast especially the mysterious vile villain.  Several threads are begun, but none completed as this opening act comes across as an interesting prequel to a good and evil saga.


Harriet Klausner

Tequila Sunset-Sam Hawken

Tequila Sunset

Sam Hawken

Serpent’s Tail, Jun 10 2014, $14.95

ISBN: 9781846688546


Felipe “Flip” Morales returns to El Paso, Texas after spending four years behind bars for armed robbery.  He vows to stay out of trouble because he does not want to return to prison.  However while incarcerated, the Aztecas’ Latino gang kept Flip safe.  He soon has a second and third reason to remain clean; as he wants to marry his beloved pregnant Graciela.  However, Flip also knows he owes the Aztecas big time and if chieftain José Martinez asks for remittance, Flip will pay his debt. 


A cross border police task force aims at destroying the Aztecas.  Single mother of an autistic child, police officer Cristina Salas leads the American unit; while in Ciudad Juarez, Matias Segura is in charge of the Mexican team.  Caught in the middle, Flip becomes an informant against Martinez with little hope of surviving the onslaught.


Tequila Sunset is a strong exciting border crime thriller that catches the pulse of the twin cities separated by a fence.  Fast-paced yet character driven by the lead trio caught up in the operation to take down a violent gang, readers will enjoy Sam Hawken’s second taut Texas-Mexico suspense drama (see The Dead Women of Juarez).


Harriet Klausner

The People In The Photo-Hélène Gestern

The People In The Photo
Hélène Gestern; Emily Boyce (translator) and Ros Schwartz (translator)
Gallic Books, Jun 10 2014, $14.95
ISBN: 9781908313546
Hélène Hivert knows next to nothing about her mom who died when she was three.  Over the years, her father refuses to speak about her mom.  She becomes excited when she finds a photo of her mom taken with two men after she had won the 1971 Interlaken Amateur Tennis Tournament Ladies’ Single.  One of the men in the picture is listed as P. Crusten winner of the Men’s Single.
Hélène takes out a newspaper ad seeking info re the people in the photo.  Swiss biologist Stéphane Crusten responds to her ad by sending her a copy of his dad’s Geneva Tennis Club membership card that also contains a photo.  Excited Hélène responds and soon the pair exchange correspondences and find more photos of their respective parents.  However, the truth may not set them free as the picture begins to focus with each wondering if they were better off not knowing.
The People In The Photo is an entertaining family drama told mostly through snail mail and email.  Hélène and Stéphane are a delight to follow as their moods change throughout the engaging storyline.  Though somewhat passive, fans who appreciate something different will enjoy Hélène Gestern’s refreshing family drama.
Harriet Klausner

Monday, June 16, 2014

Memory Of Water-Emmi Itäranta

Memory Of Water
Emmi Itäranta
Harper Voyager, Jun 10 2014, $14.99
ISBN: 9780062326157
The period now known as the Past World ended with dramatic climate change that started with fights over oil, but ended with battles over water as the global ice totally melted.  When the Past World died, humanity adapted to a new earth without oil.  After this Twilight Century of adjustment ended, the present New Qian era began with China using an iron fist controlling much of Eurasia.
New Qian oversees the Scandinavian Union; where seventeen years old Noria Kaitio apprentices as a highly respected tea master.  Understanding the importance of her vocation because tea masters know the secret water holes, she hopes to be as admired one day as her father by her villagers.  However, when her dad dies, the military seeks his special spring that provided water to the locals.  Noria feels unready as she must choose between personal safety and challenging the army, government and some villagers.
This is a bleak future as Emmi Itäranta extrapolates the long term impact of climate change on what remains of Scandinavia in which water is the prime commodity.  The cautionary speculative fiction storyline starts slow as the background is established, but once that is done, the Memory of Water flows at a very fast pace.  Teen readers and adults (except deniers) will appreciate this strong dystopian saga that warns mankind that unless we act now the world we know will die.
Harriet Klausner