Thursday, May 31, 2012

Getting Married and Other Mistakes-Barbara Slate

Getting Married and Other Mistakes

Barbara Slate

Other Press, Jun 12 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781590515358

It has been seven years of marriage when John tells Jo he feels guilty but needs space. Jo a wedding photographer looks back at her bride photo and wonders if even then she thought she was making a mistake when she married John on the advice of her mom. However, the shocking finality comes from a stranger Candy who says she and John need to raise Little John as a happy family. She ignores her mom who coached her into marital defeat while her friends (Andrea, Timothy and Georgia) suggest a good lay, and therapist Dr. Rubenstein insists Jo has low self-esteem. Jo wonders if she is a serial follower who never sees anything but someone else’s butt until she begins to look at the photos she took of the sad brides who tell her to heed her own advice; easier said than done.

Using insightful jocular graphics, Getting Married and Other Mistakes is a fabulous amusing yet serious look at a woman who has ignored self-actualization by adhering to mom’s spousal mantra of perfection. Filled with pathos and humor (the boyfriends and are terrific segues), readers will root for the heroine to find her inner self besides being a devoted daughter to a control freak mom who believes a woman’s only roles are first and foremost being a wife and second a mother.

Harriet Klausner

Seating Arrangements-Maggie Shipstead

Seating Arrangements

Maggie Shipstead

Knopf, Jun 12 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780307599469

The two extended families gather together for the marriage of seven months pregnant Daphne Van Meter and Greyson Duff at the former’s exclusive Waskeke Island summer home. Daphne’s Boston Brahmin banker father Winn hits on Agatha the bridesmaid while his wife Biddy runs the wedding events like a General with her mantra to insure no scandals occur though she would prefer her daughter marry for love unlike what she did. Their other daughter Livia remains heartbroken over Teddy Fenn dumping her, but considers a weekend tryst with one of Greyson's brothers while rejecting another of the groom's siblings who openly shows interest in her. In between imbibing Daphne’s maternal Aunt Celeste looks over the male attendees like a shark seeking her next “marital” meal.

This lampooning of the American family is a jocular look at two clans merging into one during a marriage ceremony. The ensemble cast comes across as fragile with each trying to hide their flaws with varying forms of bravado. Mindful of Meredith Goldstein’s The Singles, although over the three day weekend very little happens beyond satirizing the sanctity of family, fans will enjoy this “Meet the” Van Meters and Duffs.

Harriet Klausner

Gold-Chris Cleave


Chris Cleave

Simon & Schuster, Jul 3 2012, $27.00

ISBN 9781451672725

At the Manchester Velodrome, nineteen year old Zoe Castle and Kate Meadows meet when each tries out for a spot on the Elite Prospects Programme for British Cycling. Coach Tom Voss selects who he wants to train. Both teens are attracted to racer Jack Argall, but though Zoe hooks him first, Kate wins that competition as she marries him.

Thirteen years later, Zoe and Kate have remained friends but now compete for the sole British female cycling slot at the 2012 London Olympic Games and with their age it should be their last ride. Kate, who gave up two previous games over the health of her eight years old daughter Sophie, ailing with leukemia; while Zoe is known as a serial sex fiend who plays hard in everything she does. The thirtyish rivals will soon compete in a winner goes to the Games and the loser stays home.

This is an exciting look at the highest level of competitive cycling between two women tied together from the moment they met. Their personalities are different as Kate is a dedicated mom while Zoe has the track only. Jack is a cross between the two ladies as he is driven to win almost to the degree of Zoe but also knows his only important gold medal is his family. Although Kate is too forgiving especially of Zoe who has relationship issues, this is an engaging read that takes readers behind the scenes and around the oval.

Harriet Klausner

Hide and Seek-Major (Ret) Jeff Struecker and Alton Gansky

Hide and Seek

Major (Ret) Jeff Struecker and Alton Gansky

B&H Books, Jul 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781433671425

In Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, American military Foreign Affairs officer Amelia Lennon and the country’s First Daughter Jildiz Oskonbaeva meet at Blonder Pub to discuss the Manas Transit Center. Jildiz explains that their next door neighbor the Chinese have offered 10 billion and the Russians 2 billion so the American offer of 60 million is not enough. They leave, but the capital explodes into riots while three men try to abduct Jildiz. Amelia uses her car to hit two of the kidnappers. Jildiz get into her car as they flee from the third.

Ranger Master Sergeant J.J. Brantley is excited over seeing the ultrasound picture of his unborn twins. He and his team are in Kyrgyzstan preparing to welcome the two new members. However, before they can train together, Colonel Weidman assigns them to rescue Amelia and Jildiz in the midst of a tinder box that has erupted without bringing attention to American military roaming the streets.

This is a strong military thriller that brings to life the personal cost by those who serve and their family members as well as how volatile the situation in Kyrgyzstan can quickly become with the rivalry between the Kyrgyz and Uzbek populace. The storyline is fast-paced whether the focus is on the two females in peril from an angry pursuer or the team mounting a rescue. Looming in the background is the Bush legacy of our inability to compete with the Chinese monetarily on the world stage while providing an entertaining discerning look at the military operating in a hostile scenario. Hide and Seek is a terrific realistic thriller.

Harriet Klausner

The Age of Miracles-Karen Thompson Walker

The Age of Miracles

Karen Thompson Walker

Random House, Jun 26 2012, $26.00

ISBN: 9780812992977

Only the night owls realized that something had changed; most people were ignorant. On the sixth of October, a scientist states that the earth is “slowing”. Many panicked seeking a haven, but the Slowing impacts the planet so there is no place run to.

In California, Julia, her dad and BFF Hanna ignore the rants of her mom that something hellacious has occurred. Instead the two girls go outside to look around, but everything seems normal. However, all will soon understand why hell has come to earth as the earth’s rotation continues to slow down impacting the size of a day and adversely affecting the environment. Julia has enough social issues with her parents’ constant bickering, her seemingly unrequited first love and her grandfather’s senile behavior without worrying about the new norm of the Slowing.

With a nod to The Twilight Zone’s "The Midnight Sun", The Age of Miracles is an exhilarating apocalyptic thriller. The storyline is fast-paced and Julia is a precocious narrator whose struggles change from typical social fears to adapting to a changing world in which she has either a bleak or no future. Although the cause for the Slowing is not provided, this coming of age tale is an insightful look at how people especially those within a couple of degrees of Julia react to the final countdown.

Harriet Klausner

Tin Swift-Devon Monk

Tin Swift

Devon Monk

Roc, Jul 3 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780451464538

Cursed hunter Cedar Hunt leads a band of travelers across Oregon. Their destination is Kansas where the ailing widow witch Mae Lindson may regain control of her mind with the help of her former coven. Also in the party are dead shot Rose Small, the three mining lunatic Madder brothers and Cedar’s sibling Wil the wolf. The Madder kin expect Cedar to find the Holder powerful weapon that he can sense.

The weary travelers reach Vicinity, Oregon where they find everyone eerily dead and Cedar senses that the evil Strange Mr. Shunt who he thought died in Hallelujah (see Dead Iron) killed the townsfolk. Rose insists they bury everyone, but the deceased begin to rise. A trap Rose and Cedar spring propels a piece of tin into her shoulder leaving her severely hurt. Captain Hink leads the Swift glim “mining” ship to explore Vicinity as he has heard odd rumors. He and his loyal crew rescue Cedar, Wil and the two females while the Madder threesome tells them they will catch up to them soon. As General Saint sends airships to destroy Hink for betraying his plans to become a dictator, Mr. Shunt offers him a deal he cannot refuse.

The second Age of Steam super old western fantasy is an exhilarating adventure thriller that grips the audience from the moment the magnificent seven enter Vicinity and never slows down as the good confronts the bad and the ugly. The Monk realm keeps the scientific babble to a minimum as the author makes her mythos feel real from the cursed to the reanimated dead. Fans will want to soar with the crew of the Swift as they struggle to survive the pact made by two evil essences.

Harriet Klausner

The Long Earth-Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

The Long Earth

Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

Harper, Jun 19 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780062067753

The Stepping process has enabled mankind to cross into a seemingly infinite number of parallel Earths. None of these alternate earths contain human life while the farther you journey from the earth the weirder the planets become. Very few people have the ability to Step out without assistance; those who can are in demand.

“Gold” fever has foolish people greedily Stepping out; many to their deaths. Meanwhile the TransEarth Institute hires one of those with the rare skill Joshua Valiente, accompanied by Lobsang the AI who insists that in a previous life he was a Tibetan, to steer an airship across the endless Long Earth in order to explore the unknown for economic potential.

This is a fascinating science fiction tale that readers will enjoy though in many ways it reads like a series of anecdotal events. The side effects of Stepping grips the audience as the rules of survival become known by early explorers (and readers) and quick visits to a series of worlds by the protagonists begin to shape what is out there. Though the premise is intriguing and the storyline entertaining, The Long Earth would have been better as a series of short stories starring the early explorers not always surviving their visits to multiple earths.

Harriet Klausner

Tin Swift-Devon Monk

Tin Swift

Devon Monk

Roc, Jul 3 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780451464538

Cursed hunter Cedar Hunt leads a band of travelers across Oregon. Their destination is Kansas where the ailing widow witch Mae Lindson may regain control of her mind with the help of her former coven. Also in the party are dead shot Rose Small, the three mining lunatic Madder brothers and Cedar’s sibling Wil the wolf. The Madder kin expect Cedar to find the Holder powerful weapon that he can sense.

The weary travelers reach Vicinity, Oregon where they find everyone eerily dead and Cedar senses that the evil Strange Mr. Shunt who he thought died in Hallelujah (see Dead Iron) killed the townsfolk. Rose insists they bury everyone, but the deceased begin to rise. A trap Rose and Cedar spring propels a piece of tin into her shoulder leaving her severely hurt. Captain Hink leads the Swift glim “mining” ship to explore Vicinity as he has heard odd rumors. He and his loyal crew rescue Cedar, Wil and the two females while the Madder threesome tells them they will catch up to them soon. As General Saint sends airships to destroy Hink for betraying his plans to become a dictator, Mr. Shunt offers him a deal he cannot refuse.

The second Age of Steam super old western fantasy is an exhilarating adventure thriller that grips the audience from the moment the magnificent seven enter Vicinity and never slows down as the good confronts the bad and the ugly. The Monk realm keeps the scientific babble to a minimum as the author makes her mythos feel real from the cursed to the reanimated dead. Fans will want to soar with the crew of the Swift as they struggle to survive the pact made by two evil essences.

Harriet Klausner

The Long Earth-Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

The Long Earth

Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

Harper, Jun 19 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780062067753

The Stepping process has enabled mankind to cross into a seemingly infinite number of parallel Earths. None of these alternate earths contain human life while the farther you journey from the earth the weirder the planets become. Very few people have the ability to Step out without assistance; those who can are in demand.

“Gold” fever has foolish people greedily Stepping out; many to their deaths. Meanwhile the TransEarth Institute hires one of those with the rare skill Joshua Valiente, accompanied by Lobsang the AI who insists that in a previous life he was a Tibetan, to steer an airship across the endless Long Earth in order to explore the unknown for economic potential.

This is a fascinating science fiction tale that readers will enjoy though in many ways it reads like a series of anecdotal events. The side effects of Stepping grips the audience as the rules of survival become known by early explorers (and readers) and quick visits to a series of worlds by the protagonists begin to shape what is out there. Though the premise is intriguing and the storyline entertaining, The Long Earth would have been better as a series of short stories starring the early explorers not always surviving their visits to multiple earths.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Spring Fever-Mary Kay Andrews

Spring Fever

Mary Kay Andrews

St. Martin's, Jun 5 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312642716

In Passcoe, North Carolina, even as a teen Annajane Hudgens loved Mason Bayless, the brother of her BFF Pokey. The Bayless family owns the Quixie Beverage Company where Annajane works. Annajane and Mason eventually wed but their marriage fizzles out though several years after their divorce she continues to work in marketing for his family firm.

Mason’s brother Davis hires consultant Celia Wakefield. Celia becomes engaged to Mason. Before she leaves for Atlanta to start over, as a gesture to her stepdaughter Sophie, Annajane attends the wedding of her ex to the ‘phony” as Pokey calls Celia. However, as Sophie walks down the aisle, she suddenly falls and shouts to her daddy it hurts. While Davis takes Celia and his mama to the country club, Mason, Poppy and Annajane accompany Sophie to the hospital. As Annajane delays leaving town because of her love of Sophie, the child and her Aunt Pokey plot to bring the divorcees back together while the other brother and the fiancé have a scheme going too.

Spring Fever is an entertaining North Carolina family drama that uses a mom and pop operation as the backdrop to an engaging regional intrigue. The storyline rotates between the present “crisis” and the married past of the protagonists as surprising secrets are revealed. Although there is a good, bad and ugly classification to the cast, fans will enjoy drinking cherry pop in Passcoe, North Carolina.

Harriet Klausner

Desire Becomes Her-Shirlee Busbee

Desire Becomes Her

Shirlee Busbee

Zebra, Jun 26 2012, $15.00

ISBN 9781420118445

He escaped Madame Guillotine thanks to Emily who married his half-brother Barnaby and her smugglers (see Rapture Becomes Her). So when Emily’s obnoxious cousin Jeffery Townsend begins fleecing an intoxicated Harlan Broadfoot, Lucian Joslyn decides to intercede on the foolish lad’s behalf. Unable to resist the challenge of beating “Lucifer” as Luc is known in gambling holes, Jeffery accepts a game of hazard. He wins back the boy’s losses and takes him home without telling anyone who actually won the game.

Luc comes across a broken phaeton with injured Silas Ordway stranded there. He helps get the elderly man to safety. A few days late, Luc visits Silas to see how he is doing. There he meets Silas’ niece Widow Gillian Dashwood, who allegedly killed her gambling odious husband. Also at Silas’ home are Gillian’s brother Stanley and his friend Lord George Canfield who blackmails Gillian. As Luc and Gillian fall in love, they are forced to marry when caught in a compromising position, but he knows she conceals something from him that he fears could cost her life at a time when Emily and Barnaby need his help against angry avenging smugglers.

The latest “Becomes Her” historical romance (see Passion Becomes Her) is an engaging late eighteenth century tale due to a strong support cast including returnees and the mutual dichotomous distrust and attraction between the protagonists. The storyline is action-packed as the two subplots come together nicely though the romance between the lead couple follows too closely a traditional “path” even with the freshness brought by their interfering families including some nasty ones. Fans will enjoy the tale of the gambler and the Widow falling in love before learning to trust.

Harriet Klausner

Breakfast in Stilettos-Liz Kingswood

Breakfast in Stilettos

Liz Kingswood

Camel Press, Jul 15 2012, $13.95

ISBN: 9781603818780

Seattle Sun Times Senior Editor Kenner assigns thirtyish Lifestyles Editor Emily Royce to cover the city’s "slutterati" community. Emily does some research and chats with her ex Seattle Zealot columnist Frank Trager who ended their relationship abruptly for no apparent reason. When she has no one to go with her, prudish Emily agrees to allow Frank, who has been there, to escort her to the Slutterati Salon.

Emily meets six foot plus fetish friendly sex therapist Dr. Rachel Steiner and sub Pixie Caldwell as part of her research. On line subs beg her to spank them. As Emily waits on line for Frank to arrive so they can enter the salon together, she meets programmer Joe Stratton. Inside, Emily is shocked yet excited by what is going on though Frank dumps her while Joe escorts her. She begins to learn more about herself and Frank over a glass of wine.

Not for everyone, Breakfast In Stilettos is an intriguing unique BDSM second chance at love tale. The magnificent Em makes the storyline work as her metamorphosis rings true albeit perhaps her acceptance is too fast; after she spent too much of the early plot moaning about losing Frank while everyone else groans too frequently he is a loser. Fans will enjoy visiting the Slutterati Salon with Liz Kingswood as out escort.

Harriet Klausner

Burning Midnight -Loren D. Estleman

Burning Midnight

Loren D. Estleman

Forge, Jun 5 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780765331205

Detroit Police Homicide Division Inspector John Alderdyce worries about his son’s Mexican brother-in-law, Ernesto Pasada who has been seen hanging around the city’s Mexicantown with the local branch of the Maldados gang. Alderdyce asks his friend private investigator Amos Walker to find a way to inform the Maldados to forget about Pasada.

Walker enters Mexicantown where the Maldados and the Zapatistas gangs compete for control of the turf. Soon after he begins his mission, war breaks out between the rival gangs. As he tries to end the hostilities, Walker finds evidence that an international mob is manipulating both Mexicantown gangs. However what to do with his proof is difficult to decide; as he knows each gang prefers to kill first and ask questions later.

The twenty-second Amos Walker PI thriller (see The Left-Handed Dollar and Infernal Angels) is a great tale that grips the audience from the moment Alderdyce becomes Walker’s surprising client and never let’s go until after a brilliant climax. Readers will praise Loren D. Estleman as Burning Midnight will be on the short lists for thriller of the year.

Harriet Klausner

The Conviction-Robert Dugoni

The Conviction

Robert Dugoni

Touchstone, Jun 12 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9781451606720

In Seattle, attorney David Sloane’s sixteen year old “son” Jake Carter continues to get in trouble as he has since he witnessed the murder of his mom who was Sloane’s wife. Sloane has struggled with her death too, but has begun to move on. When Jake is arrested for the second time, Sloane and the lad’s father Frank persuade the court not to incarcerate him. His friend police detective Tom Molia invites Sloane and Jake to join him and his son TJ on a camping trip in Truluck, California.

However, the teens are caught breaking into a store trying to retrieve Jake’s driver’s license taken earlier by the proprietor. Winchester County Judge Boykin coaxes guilty pleas without council from the two defendants. They are sentenced to six months at six months Fresh Start, the Winchester County-owned wilderness boot camp where teens enter but never leave alive.

The latest Sloane legal thriller is an exciting “frontier justice” tale (see Wrongful Death and Murder One) as the legal efforts to free the teens fail. The storyline is filled with action though the actions of the cop and the attorney are at best unlikely while what they failed to do even more improbable. Still fans who ignore their plausibility meter will enjoy this entertaining story.

Harriet Klausner

Sky Dragons-Anne McCaffrey and Todd McCaffrey

Sky Dragons

Anne McCaffrey and Todd McCaffrey

Del Rey, Jun 26 2012, $26.00

ISBN: 9780345500915

The plague killed many dragons leaving Pern vulnerable to the deadly Thread more than ever before. Dragonriders led by Xhinna and her blue dragon Tazith fight the Merows and tunnel-snakes for control of an isolated island. However, females never ride blue dragons and never become a Weyrleader. Thus a gender pioneer, Xhinna must overcome sexism by proving her worth in combat as a leader and subsequently gain the support of the reluctant other dragonriders.

Jirana has the skill to foresee multiple possible futures. She vows to help Xhinna at a time when the colony is in trouble with the future lying in the past.

The final Dragonriders of Pern (see Dragon’s Time) is an exciting climax to an enjoyable saga that pays homage to the late Anne McCaffrey. The start of the storyline sends readers on to the island without explanation as to how the dragonriders ended up here; readers need patience as the mystery is cleared up much later with a satisfactory rationale interwoven within Xhinna’s growing desperation. Although the plot contains that déjà vu sense of pending Thread doom, Pern fans will want to dragon ride led by team McCaffrey.

Harriet Klausner

The Sweetest Dark-Shana Abe

The Sweetest Dark

Shana Abe

Bantam, Aug 21 2012, $16.00


In 1909 a mute ten years old girl wanders lost on the London streets until she is sent to the Blisshaven Foundling Home. They call her Eleanore Jones. She begins to speak with a command and accent of the King’s English instead of a guttersnipe; but suffers amnesia and hears voices including songs from objects and inside her head that no one else hears.

In 1915 Eleanore attends the Iversion School for Girls as a rare scholarship student amidst the affluent. At the station she meets obnoxious Chloe and her boyfriend the duke’s son Armand. Taken to Iverson Castle by Jesse the assistant groundskeeper, headmistress Mrs. Westcliffe warns her to behave. The duke invites her for tea. The manor house looks like a madman designed it while the duke seems ill and haunted especially when he looks at Eleanore. Unable to sleep that night due to the thunder, Eleanore breaks curfew to run in the woods. She finds Jesse’s cottage. He explains to her who they are before kissing her. Armand likes spending time with Eleanore while Jesse wants her too but believes she is still too young. The trio learns what the duke plans for the castle leaving it to them to prevent his insane plot.

This is a strong and spellbinding young adult historical fantasy as the deft metamorphosis of the heroine makes the fantasy elements seem real. The WWI on the home front at an aristocratic school and the institutions the heroine was sent to live at anchor time and place. Although the storyline is slow as the emphasis is on developing the characters so they appear genuine, readers will want to find out the mystery of Eleanore.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow-Juliet Grey

Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow

Juliet Grey

Ballantine, May 15 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780345523884

In 1774 when King Louis XV dies, his grandson becomes King Louis XVI. The new Majesty’s Austrian wife eighteen year old Marie Antoinette vows to be different from her late pious predecessor who was overshadowed by the royal mistresses like Madame du Barry. Over the next few years in Versailles, behind a façade of silk, Marie fears for her personal safety and the Bourbon dynasty as she senses trouble coming especially with what happened in American colonies. She is surrounded by those who want the foreigner off the throne even if she is the mother of the heir who becomes part of the gossip as many insist his father is Swedish military officer Axel von Fersen who Marie had an affair with that left her feeling guilty. Marie’s reputation is destroyed by the Affair of the Diamond Necklace in which she rejected the present that the former king commissioned for his last mistress, but a diabolical pair persuades Cardinal de Rohan that Her Majesty loves him. The people blame Marie Antoinette for the Affair as the common belief fostered by xenophobes in the court is that the Queen blamed the Cardinal for her avarice. The sharks emboldened by public opinion grow bolder.

The insightful and entertaining second Marie Antoinette biographical fiction (see Becoming Marie Antoinette) focuses on the royal years through the eyes of the Queen. Though the key support cast like the Cardinal, the con artist and her Swedish lover are not as fully fleshed out as one would want, this historical is a deep look at the Queen culminating with to stay or not to stay as the question.

Harriet Klausner

Her Highness, the Traitor-Susan Higginbotham

Her Highness, the Traitor

Susan Higginbotham

Sourcebooks, Jun 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781402265587

With the death of King Henry VIII, his only male offspring becomes King Edward VI in 1547. However, since King Edward is only nine years old, a Regency Council (selected by the late ruler before his death) forms led by his maternal uncle Edward Seymour. Meanwhile men from three families (Seymour, Grey and Dudley) greedily compete for power. John Dudley’s son Jack and Edward Seymour’s daughter Anne marry, and another of his sons Guildford weds Henry Grey’s daughter Jane. . Dudley becomes a favorite of King Edward especially after the death of Seymour. When King Edward becomes deathly ill, he selects Jane Grey as his successor instead of either of his half-sisters. However, when Edward dies, Princess Mary, backed by the Regency Council’ makes a bid for the throne; while the Dudley and Grey families know what is at stake so they push Jane Grey.

Using the premise that behind every great man is a woman, this entertaining Tudor historical focuses on the manipulations by the crafty wives of John Dudley, Jane, and Henry Grey, Frances as they team up to place Lady Jane Grey on the throne. Fans of the era will enjoy this engaging entry filled with plenty of tidbits from the period between the two Tudor ruling giants though neither of the behind the scenes female powerbrokers come across as fully developed.

Harriet Klausner

The Reluctant Matchmaker-Shobhan Bantwal

The Reluctant Matchmaker

Shobhan Bantwal

Kensington, Jun 26 2012, $15.00

ISBN 9780758258854

In Princeton Junction, New Jersey, pint-sized marketing and public relations manager Meena Shenoy is excited over her upcoming first meeting with her boss Prajay Nayak, the CEO and president of Rathnaya, Inc. Eighty-five pounds when dripping wet Meena never expected to meet her employer when they collide. She sprains her ankle as her body felt like a truck ran over it. However, it is her mind that is discombobulated as she now understands what her mom means in her native language Konkani when she says nasheeba kheloo (destiny’s game).

Prajay tells Meena that at thirty-nine his family expects him to marry as his siblings are married with kids; they wonder if he might be gay; a thought that Meena had too. Meena commiserates as her family wants her to wed soonest and is upset over who her brother is seeing. He asks Meena to write an ad in the matrimonial columns of a few select India-American newspapers and websites with a key requirement that she be at least six feet tall educated Hindu with a sense of humor. Stunned, as she wants to be the chosen one, Meena works on finding her boss a spouse though she wished he would look down to her.

The Reluctant Matchmaker is a fabulous fun frolic starring two likable protagonists while providing readers with a close look at the Indian-American culture, which mingles tradition from the old country with modern technology and the ways of the new country. The storyline reads like a 1930s madcap comedy in a Bollywood-New Jersey setting as Shobhan Bantwal provides an enjoyable contemporary romance

Harriet Klausner

Last Summer-Holly Chamberlin

Last Summer

Holly Chamberlin

Kensington, Jun 26 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780758235084

BFFs Jane Patterson and Frannie Giroux are next door neighbors in Yorktide, Maine. Jane’s husband Mike is very accepting of their friendship while Frannie’s ex-husband is a deadbeat dad. Their teenage daughters Rosie and Meg are also best friends.

However, relationships are shattered when the fourteen years old girls enter Yorktide Memorial High School. The older students bully the freshmen with pretty reticent Rosie a prime target. Fearing she will be abused too, Meg tells the bullies a devastating secret about her buddy. The taunting intensifies until Rosie mentally breaks down. Rejecting their personal blame, the moms argue over culpability as their friendship withers. Rosie undergoes intense therapy over the next few months as she heals and gains a new perspective on her own strengths and the vulnerabilities of her mom, her former BFF and her friend’s mother.

This is a timely tale of the impact of bullying on the victim and her loved ones as each of the two generations of mother and daughter protagonists suffer from guilt, blame and a need to forgive themselves and the others if they are to feel good about themselves. Rosie believes she caused the bullying as she excuses those torturing her and holds herself responsible for the unhappiness of her loved ones. Meg hides , behind an aggressive veneer, her feelings of failing her loved ones. Jane fears her over-protecting her daughter left her unprepared for life in high school. Finally Frannie condemns herself for not being there for her child. Although the long term trauma of bullying is somewhat muted, readers will appreciate this engaging character study as the four females struggle with their deepest fears that divides them at a time when they need each other.

Harriet Klausner

The Search-Shelley Shepard Gray

The Search

Shelley Shepard Gray

Avon Inspire, Jun 19 2012, $12.99

ISBN: 9780062089724

After several months in Crittenden, Kentucky Perry Borntrager vanished. Three teenagers found his corpse at the bottom of an abandoned well on the Miller Farm. Knowing he was in over his head, Crittenden County Deputy Sheriff Mose Kramer asked his friend Cincinnati PD Detective Luke Reynolds to help with the inquiry, which he agreed to do (see The Secrets of Crittenden County: Missing).

Luke focuses on Frannie Eicher, Amish owner of the Yellow Bird Inn, as he believes she is hiding something important. She is filled with guilt and remorse blaming herself for Perry’s death because she rejected his plan for them to leave the Amish and failed to get Perry off the drugs. However, she also feels unhappy that she is fickly is attracted to the Englischer detective. When Frannie is hurt in an accident, Beth Byler takes over running the inn; while Luke, already struggling with his desire for her, knows his heart is winning the battle with his brain.

The second Secrets of Crittenden police procedural romance continues the engaging investigation by the Englischer detective amidst uncooperative Amish, but made more complicated by his unprofessional attraction to one of the prime suspects. The clash of cultures is deftly handled so that differences don't overwhelm the delightful prime plot of falling in love while a murder investigation is occurring. Although it behooves fans to have read Missing first as Search builds off of the first book’s foundation, readers will appreciate this fine entry as Luke “Found” his heart, but not the killer.

Harriet Klausner

Chase Me-Tamara Hogan

Chase Me

Tamara Hogan

Sourcebooks, Jun 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781402246043

Several centuries have passed since the vessel containing paranormal aliens crashed in the northern Minnesota woods. The survivors understood they were not leaving any time soon if ever so they agreed to remain hidden amongst the human population. As such they form the Underworld Council to oversee their behavior.

In the present, Valkyrie Lorin Schlessinger heads an archeological expedition of student volunteers in search of the now mythical ship; while werewolf geologist Gabe Lupinsky leads the on-site excavation. Lorin and Gabe are attracted to one another, but their dig triggers a beacon that attracts an off-world vampire to this remote meaningless planet as the creature knows this rock contains some valuable treasure that he will plunder regardless of the cost to the ignorant innocent. While the Underworld Council members ponder about punishing the expedition members, Lorin and Gabe confront the evil treasure hunter.

The sequel to Taste Me is a terrific jocular romantic urban fantasy with a wonderful satirical spin; summed up nicely by Carl Sagan as the Emeritus member of the Underground Council. The storyline rotates perspective from the assertive in your face Valkyrie chasing after the reticent werewolf to the student escapades to the Council behaving like Congress doing nothing that matters to the malevolent vampire. Fans will relish this fine tale as we await the paranormal confrontation.

Harriet Klausner

Orb Sceptre Throne-Ian C. Esslemont

Orb Sceptre Throne

Ian C. Esslemont

Tor, May 22 2012, $18.99

ISBN: 9780765329998

Darujhistan lies on a dry plain in the southern region of the Genabackis continent. Many people believe that the arid land outside the city contains hidden treasure for those bold (or perhaps foolish) enough to look.

The Scholar Ebbin is conducting research into the legendary Imperial Age of Darujhistan, seeking proof of his hypothesis amidst the barren wasteland. At the same time the Darujhistani leaders ingeniously influence hostilities between their nearby neighbors, the Moranth and Seguleh. While the Darujhistan rulers deploy their devious ruse, Ebbin finds an artifact that could shake the balance of power still somewhat teetering after the Malazan failed invasion. Others bloodily also seek the Moon Spawn’s treasures while the Queen of Dreams’ ancient prophecy has begun to Claw its way into existence.

The latest Ian C. Esslemont’s Malazan Empire entry (see Stonewielder and The Return of the Crimson Guard) is an exciting fantasy with several subplots (besides those described above) that eventually merge together into an exhilarating but somewhat convoluted climax. With a sold cast, readers of the saga including fans of Steve Erickson will appreciate Orb Sceptre Throne; while newcomers will be lost in the Genabackis even with maps of the southern portion of the landmass (but lacking where events occur elsewhere on the continent) and Darujhistan.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Rebel-Linda Windsor


Linda Windsor

David C. Cook, Jun 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781434764768

In the late sixth century AD, Abbess Ninian took his confession and gave him his last rites before announcing the death of Merlin Emrys. His demise comes at an unsettling time for the Cymri as the succession has been left confused with Rome demanding Urien of Rheged instead of High King Arthur’s nephew King Modred of Lothian who Queen Gwenhyfar prefers. Besides the schism between the old religions including that of Christ and that of the new Christianity of Merlin’s successor as advisor to Arthur Archbishop Cassian, the land is further divided between the Brits, Welsh, Scots and Pict.

Kella O’Toole, Queen Gwenhyfar’s scribe, learns her fiancé died in battle and her father Glenarden’s Champion Egan vanished in the hostile land of the Pict. Gwenhyfar orders Kella to keep working on the vellum, Arthur, Prince of Dalraida. Instead defying the royal decree, Kella, accompanied by her foster brother Alyn the third son of O’Byrne Clan of Glenarden who left his priestly studies to attend Merlin’s funeral, search for her dad.

The latest Brides of Alba Arthurian saga (see Healer and Thief) is a great tale that brings to life sixth century British Isles at a time of deep bloody schisms. Action-packed but vividly describing the era, readers will relish this strong romantic adventure starring two disillusioned individuals who have doubts about religion and royalty as each has witnessed manipulations in the name of God by men and women.

Harriet Klausner

A Conspiracy of Friends-Alexander McCall Smith

A Conspiracy of Friends

Alexander McCall Smith

Pantheon, Jun 12, 2012, $24.95

ISBN: 9780307907233

In London, from her mew house just behind Corduroy Mansions, noted psychoanalyst Berthea Snark continues writing her hostile exposé biography “My Son Oedipus”; as she hates the “only unpleasant Liberal Democrat” Member of Parliament. She is encouraged by Oedipus’ former lover literary agent Barbara Ragg who loathes him too. At the same time, Berthea’s fiancé Hugh is unhappy with her after they share some dark secrets; and Barbara’s business partner Rupert Porter is irate with her and seeking revenge. Meanwhile Oedipus is named the Undersecretary for some department that he cannot recall its name.

Wine merchant William French panics when his significant other Freddie de la Hay the M16 Terrier (see The Dog Who Came in from the Cold) vanishes. At the same time William’s son Eddie, funded by wealthy girlfriend Merle of the Windward Islands, hires designer Cosmo Bartonette to create a Hemingway-themed restaurant. William’s neighbor Caroline Jarvis muses over a passionate relationship rather than just a friendship with her BFF James. Finally, Berthea's brother Terence Moongrove decides to own a racecar that he plans to drive in competition.

The ensemble cast starring in the latest Corduroy Mansions contemporary tale makes for an entertaining look at desires and needs; not all positive and friendly. The action is limited as much of the storyline focuses on inner turmoil and longings. Readers who enjoy a low keyed philosophical character study will appreciate the cleverly musings of A Conspiracy of Friends.

Harriet Klausner

Gilded Age-Claire McMillan

Gilded Age

Claire McMillan

Simon & Schuster, Jun 12 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9781451640472

Eleanor Hart returns to Cleveland when her Manhattan-based marriage ended in divorce. Rumors abound that the beautiful chic Ellie stopped on her way home for a thirty day stay at Sierra Tucson, a noted rehab center.

Ellie still has her magnetic control of men who are attracted to her like bees buzzing around honey. Her best friend quickly realizes when they meet at the opera for the first time since Ellie cane home that she remains as self-indulged as always. Knowing Ellie has no money, her BFF suggests she marry a rich suitor like wealthy ambulance chasing lawyer Randall Leforte. As Ellie makes the rounds of Cleveland’s in-bred acrimonious affluent, she seems to always return to case Reserve Western University English professor William Selden.

This is a superb modernization of The House of Mirth that makes a case that women may claim they have come a long way since the early twentieth century of the Edith Wharton novel, but realistically have not gotten very far as a woman’s societal standing has not altered that much. Though sexual views seem antiquated yet ironically timely with the Vagina War, Ellie’s unnamed BFF provides a strong sharp condemnation of society that assaults women who choose to break out of their pre-determined by DNA caste.

Harriet Klausner

Beach Colors-Shelley Noble

Beach Colors

Shelley Noble

Morrow, Jun 12 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780062103086

Designer Margaux Sullivan introduced her line to universal praise at New York City's Fashion Week. However, while she shows off her line, her husband Louis vanishes, but not before emptying all their accounts. Still reeling, Margaux takes another double shot to her gut when the bank forecloses on her Manhattan-based business and her apartment. Humiliated, despondent and feeling like an idiot, Margaux crawls back to her family’s summer beach house in Crescent Cove, Connecticut where Police Chief Nick Prescott greets her with a speeding ticket.

Nick a townie wanted Margaux when they were growing up but never crossed the great divide between the permanent and the summer. After a stint with the army, he came home to help his mom raise his nephew Connor. He still wants the star of his fantasies, but gave her a ticket anyway because she was thirty miles over the limit. As she enjoys the beach with Nick and Connor, Margaux works on a new line to regain her position at the top of haute couture ladder, but will soon need to decide between New York and Connecticut.

This is a warm contemporary romance starring two engaging protagonists and a caring support cast (Manhattan and Connecticut) with one exception; Louis is a pathetic weasel who not only stole their savings, he visits Margaux to demand she give him more money. The enjoyable storyline focuses on love and goals as the heroine must choose between ambition to overcome her shame and her love for Nick and Connor though there is a third option if she wished for it at the grotto.

Harriet Klausner

XO-Jeffrey Deaver


Jeffrey Deaver

Simon & Schuster, Jun 12 2012, $26.99

ISBN: 9781439156377

Edwin Sharp likes country music singer and songwriter Kayleigh Towne. He sends her an email, which her email system automatically responds to like it does all her fans. His like turns into a dangerous attraction as he begins sending her tons of emails which gets past her staff in spite of their diligence to stop him. He also knows more about her than seemingly she knows about herself and likewise her key staffers especially her father Bishop Towne; her personal assistant Alicia Sessions; her producer Barry Zeigler and her chief roadie Bobby Prescott.

Kayleigh returns to her hometown Fresno to perform. Attending the concert is Edwin and her friend CBI Agent Kathryn Dance. When a light fixture falls on the head of Prescott, sheriff's deputy P.K. Madigan leads the investigation that Kathryn Dance joins over the local’s objection. Her efforts to kinetically read Edwin’s body language prove impossible, which means he is innocent of the Prescott incident or insane. She figures out what happens but lacks evidence, enables the stalker to remain free while other dangerous events occur.

The latest Kathryn Dance police procedural (see Roadside Crosses) is an exciting thriller filled with duplicity, double-crosses (too many) and Rhyme and Sachs making brief appearances. The storyline is fast-paced as Dance mentors Madigan on the proper way to investigate while also using her kinetic reading skill. However, there is too many perfidious villains that overwhelm the tale though some may be deceitful and they prove to be red herrings. Overall this is a solid mystery with too many crooks in the kitchen.

Harriet Klausner

Broken Universe-Paul Melko

Broken Universe

Paul Melko

Tor, Jun 5 2012, $27.99

ISBN 9780765329141

John Rayburn has come a long way since John Prime gave him the technology to cross into alternate realities (see The Walls of the Universe). With friends and their doppelgangers from among the Johns, Graces, Henrys, and Caseys, Rayburn builds a cross-realty corporation Pinball Wizards Transuniversal to trade products from one realm to another.

However the entrepreneur’s vision differs from many of his associates as he wants to improve mankind’s lot across the realities while others focus on the bottom line. He learned when he accidently invented “pinball”, literally cutthroat competitors will do anything to eliminate rivals and in his case also want his technology. The CEO anticipated the external deadly business adversaries especially from stranded cross-travelers, but John is unprepared for betrayal from within as he personally selected his team from among buddies. Forgetting one of the golden rules that of it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck it still may be a vulture capitalist from another reality. With friends like this he will not need to worry about enemies and then there is a need for investment money so he turns to venture capitalist John Prime, who beat a murder rap.

The second Rayburn parallel universe science fiction thriller is an exciting tale as the hero learns some hard, potentially deadly, lessons about life across the realities. The storyline is fast-paced with a satirical look at global capitalism; where there is apparently no room for an idealist amidst a multi Broken Universe of bottom feeding leeches.

Harriet Klausner

His Dark Embrace-Amanda Ashley

His Dark Embrace

Amanda Ashley

Zebra, Jun 5 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781420121339

After leaving home for college eight years ago, Skylynn McNamara O’Brien never came back until now as she returns for her grandfather’s funeral. As a teen she had a crush on the next door neighbor, the mysterious recluse Kaiden Thorne, who only came out at night to collect his mail and paper. Her older brother said he was a vampire, but her Granda told her there is not such creature.

She is shocked when she sees him for the first since he left home as he has not aged one iota in the eight years since she last saw him and as she muses from when she first saw him when she was five. One other thing that has not changed is Skylynn still thinks Kaiden is an ultra-hunk. Kaiden realizes Skylynn has aroused his bloodlust that he struggles to control. One biting bloody kiss later, both are in the heat of desire. However, she can either save him from the darkness or allow him to drown in the darkness.

His Dark Embrace is a warm engaging romantic urban fantasy starring two enticing protagonists. The fast-paced simplistic storyline grips the reader when the lead couple sees each other for the first time in almost a decade; their attraction could heat up New England for a winter or two. Fans who enjoy a straight forward vampire romance will appreciate Amanda Ashley’s ardent page-turner.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Canyon Shadows-Vonna Harper

Canyon Shadows

Vonna Harper

Kensington Aphrodisia, Jun 1 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758242273

In Oregon, Shari Afton runs a kennel and K9 training business. Wyoming cattle rancher Maco Durant wants to purchase two of her Doberman guard dogs. Shari is shocked how much she fantasizes running wild with her newest customer based on his voice only.

However, someone shoots Shari’s dog Ona and fires a second shot at her; Maco arrives to rescue her and Ona. They conjecture whether the assassin belongs to an angry ranch group that violently opposes a dam project Maco’s brother is building, could it be her history as her father was a murder victim or a poacher. As Shari and Maco fall in love, they have each other’s back though they are unsure from whom; only this lethal enemy wants one or both of them dead.

This heated romantic suspense deftly blends sex with a stalker subplot. Fast-paced from the first call that stirred the respective libido of the lead couple and never slowing down whether the focus is erotic or mystery, Vonna Harper provides a tense thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Revelation-Peggy Payne


Peggy Payne

Amazon Digital Services, Apr 23 2012, $3.99


In Chapel Hill, North Carolina, late thirtyish Presbyterian Pastor Swain Hammond keeps an emotional distance from his wife Julie and his congregation. However, his holier than thou conceit is tested when he hears a voice who he assumes is God speaking to him only. He so shook, Julie fears he is having a stroke. Over a week later he hears the voice again that no one else nearby apparently hears.

He tells the flock that God speaks to him in messages he does not comprehend, but his congregation believes their pastor is losing it. In a weird accident in church land, tweener Jakey Miles is blinded. The lad’s angry despondent father rages at Hammond; who finally punches the man out of frustration. With a vigil at the child’s hospital bed, Hammond begs God to perform a miracle and restore Jakey’s sight.

This digitalization of a wonderful 1990s inspirational tale that holds up nicely even with over a decade since first being published. Hammond is a fabulous protagonist whose flock and wife do not believe God speaks to him as the assumption is he is losing his grip on reality. The Jakey tragedy shakes the pastor from his aloof distancing as he prays the youngster fully heals, but begins to heal himself from hates that have crippled him emotionally. Revelation is an inspiring poignant character study of a man of God beginning to accept the lord works in mysterious ways.

Harriet Klausner

An Unmarked Grave-Charles Todd

An Unmarked Grave

Charles Todd

Morrow, Jun 5 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780062015723

In 1918 dedicated British nurses are in France to be close to those at the front. However, the medicos also deal with the pandemic Spanish flu that is devastating everyone. Flu victims are placed in sheds where Private Wilson finds one corpse too many; he shows Nurse Bess Crawford that Major Vincent Carson died from a broken neck instead of the flu. However, before Bess can act on what she assumes is a homicide; she catches the flu and is sent home to recover.

By the time she heals, Bess knows Carson’s body is long gone and she soon learns Wilson committed suicide. Though Bess knows she has little chance to find out what happened to the major who served with her father, Bess investigates anyway focusing on Vincent’s family.

The fourth Bess Crawford WWI mystery (see An Impartial Witness and A Bitter Truth) is a fabulous historical that focuses on trench warfare and its aftermath on the soldier and his family, and the impact of the 1918 pandemic influence that left many dead. The whodunit is entertaining though Bess’ starting premise seems odd during a time of war and disease. Still, this is an exciting thriller with much of the sleuthing occurring from the extended fog of war.

Harriet Klausner

Strong Vengeance-Jon Land

Strong Vengeance

Jon Land

Forge, Jul 17 2012, $24.99

ISBN 9780765330994

In 1820 off the Texas Gulf Coast, Captain Neal of the Mother Mary slave ship carries valuable cargo when they run aground in one of the swampy channels. Due to his cousin Mother Mary First Mate Mr. Jeffreys, Captain Jean Lafitte and Jim Bowe lead their pirates to take control of the Mother Mary. They take the slaves onto the Goelette la Dilidente. The pirates next steal a pouch from a “guest” Quentin Cusp who warns them his employer will come for them before sinking the vessel.

In the present, an oil rig crew finds the lost Mother Mary and apparently something else; but they are slaughtered. Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong investigates the massacre with help from her lover Cort Wesley Masters, who was recently freed from a Mexican prison. As the pair seeks a motive for the mass murders, they are unaware that Cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, assumed dead in a drone attack, killed the crew to keep his deep water plot secret until he deploys a scheme to kill several hundred thousand Americans.

The latest Caitlin Strong thriller (see Strong at the Break) is a terrific action-packed tale starring a courageous fifth generation Texas Ranger. The good (the brave heroine and her loyal partner) fight the bad (unscrupulous business moguls and corrupt officials – these are not oxymoron) and the ugly (Muslim and homegrown terrorists, and deadly sexual predators). Fast-paced to include fascinating Ranger history and mythos interwoven into the super complex storyline, fans will relish this strong entry.

Harriet Klausner

The Formula for Murder-Carol McCleary

The Formula for Murder

Carol McCleary

Forge, Jul 17 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9780765328694

In 1890, saddened reporter Nellie Bly arrives in London to bury her mentee cub reporter Hailey McGuire, who reportedly committed suicide. Nellie rejects the notion that Hailey took her own life as she knew the young journalist was euphoric over her profession. Instead, Nellie thinks the story Hailey was working on led to her death. Enhancing her beliefs are someone emptied Hailey’s desk and files, and searched her room, and is threatening Nellie.

Not one to run from a challenge especially a menacing one, Nellie follows clues to an affluent spa in Bath, where owner Dr. Anthony Lacroix claims miraculous rejuvenation with peat moss. Soon after Nellie arrives in Bath, Lacroix vanishes. Nellie receives help from biology teacher H. G. Wells, scandalous Oscar Wilde fleeing his latest sexual peccadillo as he was doing when they previously met (see The Alchemy of Murder) and Arthur Conan Doyle stalking a beast on the moors of Dartmoor. As a mad test tube scientist, beasts, and lunatics chase Nellie and her companions, murders seem everywhere they go

The latest Nellie Bly Victorian investigative thriller (see The Illusion of Murder) is an action-packed tale that once again uses famous persona as key players who also anchor time and place. This fast-paced mystery grips readers from start to finish, but Nellie not only keeps it focused, she brings energy and enthusiasm to the engaging historical.

Harriet Klausner

Close Your Eyes-Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen

Close Your Eyes

Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen

St. Martin's Press, Jul 17 2012, $27.99

ISBN: 9780312611613

Dr. Kendra Michaels was born blind but she learned to compensate by exponentially increasing the use of her other senses and dramatically deploying logical analysis to situations. After two decades in darkness, she gained sight with little impact on the high acumen of her other senses. Law enforcement likes to consult with this music therapist on their seemingly unsolvable cases.

Former FBI agent Adam “Puppetmaster” Lynch visits Kendra as she works with a young patient. He realizes she is nothing like the agents told him and finds he looks forward to learn what her buttons are so he can push them. Challenging Kendra to display her skill, he is shocked how accurate she describes him and what he did earlier. Later they meet and she explains how she read him and he tells her that her former boyfriend FBI Agent Jeff Stedler has vanished and may be dead, a victim of a serial killer he was investigating in San Diego. They team up hoping Stedler lives, but soon are caught in a deadly conspiracy in which she is targeted for elimination.

Mindful of the movie Blink but starring a Sherlock (“Shirley”) Holmes, this is an excellent investigative thriller. Fast-paced, filled with twists and starring protagonists who seem real; it is Kendra’s skill at evaluation that occurs early on and throughout, and the acerbic teaming that make for a strong suspense.

Harriet Klausner

Thriller 3: Love Is Murder-Sandra Brown (editor)

Thriller 3: Love Is Murder

Sandra Brown (editor)

Mira, May 29, 2012, $24.95

ISBN: 9780778313441

Adhering to the Love Is Murder theme, this is a great romantic suspense collection that will elate fans of both genres as all thirty contributions are well written fun. The tales span the globe and include some recurring stars like Shelley Caldwell in “Hot Note” by Patricia Rosemoor, Mercy Gunderson in “Holding Mercy” by Lori Armstrong and Lucy Kincaid in “Vacation Interrupted” by Allison Brennan, as well as recurring series like the Bullet Catchers starring in “Diamond Drop” by Roxanne St Claire and “B.A.D. Mission” by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Tales like “Poisoned” by Beverly Barton, “Speechless” by Robert Browne and “Lockdown” by Andrea Kane are also superb as this is a winning collection from Ms. Armstrong’s opening entry to Lee Child’s excellent closer.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, May 25, 2012

Ransom River-Meg Gardiner

Ransom River

Meg Gardiner

Dutton, Jul 5 2012, $25.99

ISBN 9780525952855

Attorney Aurora “Rory” Mackenzie comes home to Ransom River, California, a place she hates, in answer to a jury summons. She becomes part of a jury in a Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles case in which two cops (Lucy Elmendorf and Jared Smith) are accused of shooting a burglar Obrad Mirkovic. Two gunmen (Nixon and Reagan) assault the courtroom but a SWAT team ends the hostage siege.

The Ransom River PD believes Rory is an accomplice to the gunmen as one of them targeted her as shown in the courtroom video. Detective Zelinksi angrily and accusatorily asks her why her if she was not an accomplice, and about her being unemployed since the not for profit Asylum Action lost its funding. Her childhood friend former undercover cop Seth Colder warns her that the police force contains deadly dirty cops so she better remain vigilant at all times.

This is a taut thriller in which the tough protagonist deals with being the prime surviving suspect in a hostage situation that soon spirals even further out of control for her. Fast-paced from the moment Nixon and Reagan invade the court, readers will relish this superb tale while wondering what is going on in Ransom River.

Harriet Klausner

Vanished in the Dunes:Allan Retzky

Vanished in the Dunes

Allan Retzky

Oceanview, Jul 5 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9781608090532

Under Justice Department investigation for two years for alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, fiftyish Amos Posner was forced to resign from his position though the firm gave him a generous severance package as someone has to take the fall for all the company’s questionable dealings. While he resides at the beach house in Amagansett, his wife Sara mostly lives in their Manhattan apartment as she still practices law in the city. She comes out to Long Island on weekends as often as possible while he never ventures into the city. Sara believes Amos is cheating.

While riding the Hampton Jitney, Posner meets sexy Heidi Kashani, a resident in psychiatry at Mt. Sinai hospital. He invites her to his beach house. He steps out for a moment only to find her dead from an apparent fall. Instead of 911, he buries her corpse. Soon afterward Detective Peter Wisdom questions him and the late Heidi’s obsessed lover Dr. Henry Stern threatens him. Heidi’s identically looking sister Brigid Kashani further complicates the convoluted scenario.

Vanished In The Dunes is an engaging psychological suspense thriller starring a depressed lonely former international trader whose decision-making process keeps digging him deeper into trouble. Fast-paced from the moment the protagonist muses over What’s My Line upon seeing Heidi for the first time, fans will appreciate this exhilarating tale though the climax is weaker than the powerful spiral leading to the end.

Harriet Klausner

Discretion-Allison Leotta


Allison Leotta

Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, Jul 3 2012, $25.00

ISBN 9781451644845

At the U.S. Capitol building, escort Caroline McBride falls to her death from the office balcony of District representative Emmett Lionel. Assistant U.S. Attorney sex crimes prosecutor Anna Curtis investigates the death.

Running for election, Lionel proves uncooperative as he claims the Speech and Debate Clause limits any search of his office. His lawyers and his political advisers are even less cooperative as they construct barrier after barrier to thwart the inquiry. At the same time, the high profile case threatens to disclose Anna’s relationship with the office head of homicide, single dad Jack Bailey at a time that she struggles to gain trust from his angry six year old daughter who still grieves for her late mom.

The second Anna Curtis legal thriller (see Law of Attraction) is an engaging DC thriller starring an ambitious ADA who is struggling with a case that could make or break her career and her romance. Mindful of Margaret Truman’s novels like Murder at the White House (and its subsequent movie Murder at 1600), this is a fast-paced entertaining though somewhat expected “Capital Crimes” investigation.

Harriet Klausner

Some Kind of Peace-Camilla Grebe and Åsa Träff

Some Kind of Peace

Camilla Grebe and Åsa Träff

Free Press/Simon & Schuster, Jul 10 2012, $24.00

ISBN: 9781451654592

Thirtyish Siri Bergmann is a psychologist who runs a practice in Stockholm with her best friend Aina. As she works with her patients, Siri has her own issues with the recent death of her husband Stefan either from an accident or suicide. Not long before his death their newborn had died. Aina Davidson encourages her to move out of the mausoleum where she lives less than an hour from Stockholm, but Siri cannot leave nor even give away Stefan’s stuff. The therapist also suffers from crippling anxiety attacks when plunged into darkness so her house is always lit when she is home. On top of that Siri feels she is being stalked with the culprit daringly peering through her home’s windows though she has no proof.

Aina is hospitalized after a hit and run. Soon after that Siri’s cat Ziggy vanishes. Siri becomes further shook when the corpse of her eighteen years old paranoid patient Sara Matteus is found. The teen was a drug addict who suffered sexual abuse and claimed someone was trying to hurt her. Police officer Markus teams up with Siri, Aina and their college mentor Vijay to find a killer.

This translation of a dark Swedish psychological suspense is a character driven thriller starring a woman in trouble as much mentally as physically. Until the final taut twisting climax, fans will wonder if Siri is the prey or the predator.

Harriet Klausner

Night Watch-Linda Fairstein

Night Watch

Linda Fairstein

Dutton, Jul 10 2012, $26.95

ISBN 9780525952633

Manhattan ADA sex crimes prosecutor Alexandra Cooper visits her boyfriend restaurateur Luc Rouget at his French estate overlooking the Bay of Cannes. Two days after leaving New York on her vacation, village police officer Claude Chenier joins Alex and Luc. The cop says Luc’s former employee Lisette Honfleur was found dead in a nearby pond; the victim had a on her a matchbook advertising his latest New York restaurant.

Meanwhile her boss Paul Battaglia calls Alex back to New York when a maid Blanca Robles accuses the head of the World Economic Bureau Mohammed Gil-“MGD” Darsin of rape. The case is a media circus while the prosecution believes the victim until they begin to find out more about her history. At the same time in Brooklyn, a murder victim possesses a matchbook from Luc’s new restaurant.

Obviously taken from the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case, one of the subplots in the latest Alexandra Cooper legal thriller (see Silent Mercy) is an exciting entry that focuses on an accuser whose account keeps changing. The Luc subplot though well written pales next to the MGD segue. Sub-genre fans will appreciate Linda Fairstein’s strong fictional version of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case.

Harriet Klausner

Size 12 and Ready to Rock-Meg Cabot

Size 12 and Ready to Rock

Meg Cabot

Morrow, Jul 10 2012, $14.99

ISBN 9780061734786

New York College may have been partially shut for summer but the Fischer Hall dorm is filled to capacity with fifty fourteen to sixteen years old girls attending the first annual Tania Trace Rock Camp for two weeks. Hostess pop star Tania is married to Fischer Hall Assistant Dorm Director Heather Wells’ former boyfriend Jordan Cartwright. To make matters worse, the dorm is not ready for occupation and the event will be filmed.

Assistant TV producer Jared Greenberg eats rat poison vegan cupcakes while at Fisher “Death Dorm” Hall. The evidence points to the pop star as the intended victim as a fan dropped off the toxic treat. Tania hires her brother-in-law Heather’s fiancé private investigator Cooper Cartwright to keep her safe. Tania tells Heather a secret that has the assistant dorm director and Cooper seeking to find a killer before someone else dies.

The latest Heather Wells Mysteries (see Big Boned) is an amusing tale in which the sleuthing is somewhat in the background to the protagonist’s frantic coping with a college president seeking fame and fortune for the school, a diva pop star, her ex, and fifty screaming diva wannabe teens. Fast-paced, fans of the series will enjoy this jocular dry entry in spite of the limited detecting.

Harriet Klausner

Backfire-Catherine Coulter


Catherine Coulter

Putnam, Jul 10 21012, $26.95

ISBN: 9780399157325

In San Francisco, Clive and Cindy Cahill stand trial for serial killings and abetting espionage. Soon after that presiding Judge Ramsey Hunt is shot in the back near his home overlooking the ocean.

In DC an unaddressed letter is given to FBI Agent Dillon Savich with no deadly chemicals or biological agents; only a note: “FOR WHAT YOU DID YOU DESERVE THIS”. Soon after that Ramsey’s wife Molly calls Savich to beg him to come to find out who shot her husband. She further says Ramsey is in surgery to save his life. Savich and his partner Lacey Sherlock head for California immediately to provide support to Moly and to investigate the shooting of their friend, a federal official. Working with California-based law enforcement officials’ task force, they learn the Cahill proceedings started off with a shocker when in your face federal prosecutor Mickey O'Rourke provided a weak opening argument and now cannot be found.

The latest S&S FBI procedural (see Split Second and Whiplash) is an exciting suspense-laden whodunit. Somewhat a family affair, fans will enjoy this twisting over the top of the Golden gate bridge mystery as the fast-paced thriller never slows down until after the final confrontation.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The 13th Target-Mark de Castrique

The 13th Target

Mark de Castrique

Poisoned Pen, Jul 3 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781590586174

Russell “Rusty” Mullins was a Secret Service agent who protected four POTUS, but left the agency when he failed to protect his most important person, his wife Laurie from ovarian cancer. The widower became a private protection operative whose current client is Paul “Old Greenbacks” Luguire, a top Federal Reserve official who was the Board’s top contact with the Treasury.

Rusty becomes stunned to learn from DC police that his client who had become a friend committed suicide. Rusty refuses to believe Paul killed himself as he was so proud of his grandson among other signs that Old Greenbacks relished his life. Former Secret service peer Amanda Church, who works at the Fed’s cyber-security cell, informs Rusty she found a strange transaction authorized by Robert that was erased; the Regional bank shows Russell Mullins as the person who wired the money to them. Stunned, Rusty investigates, but soon finds himself accused of a homicide. With further assistance from Detective Robert Sullivan and blogger Sidney Levine, Rusty eludes the law while trying to stay out of jail and prevent a conspiracy to destroy the American financial system by going after twelve known key participants and an unknown 13th target.

A timely thriller with the Great Recession in which the Fed played a key role (and still does), fans will enjoy this action-packed mystery. Rusty is a solid protagonist while his allies enhance his effort to prove his innocence and stop a terrific plot. Although, there is a tendency to overwrite the financial relationship that slows down the storyline (though understandable as that is so convoluted it makes the DNA helix look simple), Mark de Castrique provides a fascinating conspiracy tale.

Harriet Klausner

Endangered-Ann Littlewood


Ann Littlewood

Poisoned Pen, Jul 3 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781590587850

In Vancouver, Washington, at the request of Fish and Wildlife, Finley Memorial Zoo curator Neal Humboldt sends Iris Oakley and Denny Stellar to the Tipton place to assist law enforcement and Animal Control by removing exotic birds and endangered turtles; many are dead from the horrible conditions. The Tipton parents were found dead and the brothers arrested; as they ran a meth lab out of one of the barns and grew marijuana. Iris says this was also a wildlife smuggling operation, but the cops are uninterested in that.

Iris finds the corpse of a female Tipton. Meanwhile the brothers are free and raid Iris’ home threatening the widow and her son as they believe she knows the last words of their father before he died. Taking her child with her, Iris flees from the dangerous siblings before taking the confrontation to them.

The third zoo mystery (see Did Not Survive and Night Kill) is a fabulous amateur sleuth starring a likable dedicated heroine as caring Iris represents what is good about America while The Tipton family (with a few female exceptions) showcases the dark side of American life. With a powerful spotlight on wildlife smuggling, readers will enjoy Ann Littlewood’s tense thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Burrows-Reavis Z. Wortham


Reavis Z. Wortham

Poisoned Pen, Jul 3 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781464200076

In 1964 Ned Parker retires as the Center Springs, Texas constable. He plans to rusticate as a cotton farmer while his nephew Vietnam vet Cody replaces him at the town’s constable. Ned looks forward to spending time with his two ten-year-old grandchildren Top and Pepper as they struggle with coping after the recent trauma they suffered at The Rock Hole.

Meanwhile, a headless corpse is found in the nearby Red River and a psychopath who escaped incarceration has slaughtered a farm family. Cody and Deputy John Washington follow clues that lead them to the abandoned Cotton Exchange in Chisum where the garbage laden warehouse is filled with deadly booby-traps as the killings continue.

The latest Red River mystery is a great historical police procedural that focuses on a tense serial killer whodunit. Burrows also invokes time and place as Cody’s experience with booby-traps in Vietnam may save their lives and John’s ass the first black law enforcement officer in the county shows the early impact of the Civil Rights movement. Readers will appreciate Reavis Z. Wortham’s taut Texas thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Killer Critique-Alexander Campion

Killer Critique

Alexander Campion

Kensington, Jun 26 2012, $23.00

ISBN: 9780758268792

In Paris, Le Figaro senior food critic Gautier du Fesnay reviews chic Left Bank restaurant Chez Béatrice. He records on a camcorder from the moment he arrives. Gautier takes a piece of lobster d'horand and dies. Not long after that at Dans le Noir someone jams a basting needle into the ear of food critic Jean Monteil in the darkened dining room.

Paris Police Judiciaire Commissaire Capucine Le Tellier leads the investigation while concerned her husband wine and food expert husband Alexandre de Huguelet could be next. Someone murders other food critics while Capucine finds a horde of suspects especially raging chefs. With the case going nowhere and the count mounting, Capucine has one way to find the culprit: dangle her beloved spouse as food bait.

The third captivating Capucine culinary Paris police procedural (see Grave Gourmet and Crime Fraîche) is a terrific serial killer thriller as you are what you eat. Fast-paced with a wonderful tour of the Left Bank and mindful of the Vincent Price movie Theatre of Blood, fans will enjoy this delicious tale that connects the Eifel Tower with haute cuisine.

Harriet Klausner

A Fatal Debt-John Gapper

A Fatal Debt

John Gapper

Ballantine, Jun 26 2012, $26.00

ISBN: 9780345527899

Fiftyish Wall Street banker Harold Shapiro is depressed after being fired. His wife Nora worries about his mental state. Nora takes Harry to Episcopal Psychiatric ER after he was shouting at traffic and frightening dog walkers in Central Park. Psychiatrist Dr. Ben Cowper treats the patient. Harry demands to leave over the objection of Ben; the hospital administration sides with Harry so reluctantly Ben signs the release form.

Not long after Nora takes Harry to their place in East Hampton, he murders Marcus Greene. Harry’s lawyer blames Ben for releasing his client too soon. The media roasts Ben who they blame for the Long Island tragedy. The hospital administration and Ben’s peers reject mea culpa insisting it is a doctor’s solo decision to release or not. The ambitious DA goes after Ben rather than a sick man. Ben decides to save his reputation by making inquiries into the homicide, but runs up against lies and denial.

This is an exciting thriller that has an incredible set up starting with insight into Wall Street fraud and the media condemnation of Ben. When he turns into an amateur sleuth his incompetency as a detective adds to the excitement though one must wonder why he did not hire a pro. However, in the second half, the storyline loses plausibility but remains gripping except for a seemingly “required” romance that detracts from the overall engaging plot.

Harriet Klausner

The Line Between Here and Gone-Andrea Kane

The Line Between Here and Gone

Andrea Kane

Mira, Jun 26 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9780778313373

Eight months ago realtor Paul Everett vanished on Long Island; unaware that his girlfriend photojournalist Amanda Gleason was carrying his child. Whereas everyone believes Paul was murdered, Amanda thinks he is alive as a friend sent her a grainy cell picture of a man who looks like Paul in DC. Amanda is desperate as Paul is the last hope to save the life of their baby Justin, suffering from immunodeficiency and needing a compatible stem cell transplant.

She turns to Forensic Instincts (see The Girl Who Disappeared Twice) to locate Paul. Behaviorist Casey Woods, ex SEAL Marc Devereaux, technocrat Ryan McKay and Hero the dog investigate the missing person’s case knowing time is short. However, they find little about Paul’s history as if he never existed and law enforcement is not just uncooperative they strongly demand FI end their inquiry or else as the life of a dying baby is not important. FI ignores the not so subtle threats and soon uncovers a conspiracy that connects the Hamptons to Congress, but finding Paul in time seems impossible as they run into a maze of impediments and stonewalling.

Like the FI operatives, this case grips readers as time is running out on a newborn with one last hope to save his life, but that person apparently never existed. Fast-paced from the moment Amanda pleads with FI to find her baby’s father, fans will relish this twisting thriller wondering what next.

Harriet Klausner

Pulse-John Lutz


John Lutz

Pinnacle, Jul 3 2012, $9.99

ISBN: 9780786020287

In 2002 Florida, a contingent of police officers is driving serial killer Daniel Danielle to a top secret maximum security prison when hurricane winds turned the car upside down. Daniel escapes but not before he killed his escorts. He vanishes into the eye of the storm and becomes an urban legend never seen again.

In the present, a series of female homicides occur in which the victims were tortured and mutilated employing the same M.O. as Daniel used. Whether the psychopath is Daniel or a copycat is irrelevant to Police Commissioner Renz who wants the maniac stopped. He hires former cop turned private investigator Frank Quinn’s firm to capture this predator. Pearl is reunited with Jody Jason the daughter she gave up for adoption and the two women and Quinn bond. Jody finds the link to the serial killer that involves the law firm she is interning at, the college she attends and Meading properties. Now Pearl and Quinn must identify who the killer hides behind before another woman is brutally murdered.

Thriller master John Lutz is known for his suspense and his ability to enable readers to understand the bone marrow deep motives that drive both the heroes and the villains. Ironically the chapters when the killer tells his perspective, fans do not learn why he is a monster as he does not see himself that way. Though a serial kill hunt is not new, Pulse is kept fresh by rotating time, place and point of view. This fast-paced tale grips fans from start to finish as time is running out on the next victim.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Sumerton Woman-D. L. Bogdan

The Sumerton Woman

D. L. Bogdan

Kensington, Apr 24 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780758271372

In 1527 in Lincolnshire, England, eight years old Lady Cecily Burkhart becomes an orphan when her mother dies just a few weeks after her father passed. The Earl of Sumerton Harold Pierce becomes her guardian. He and his wife Lady Grace treat Cecily as one of their children. Cecily and their son Brey become friends while their daughter Mirabella remains aloof with her interests limited to religious beliefs and the family tutor Father Alec Cahill.

However, King Henry VIII obsesses over Anne Boleyn, which leads to a bloody religious revolution. His actions impact all of England and beyond. Mirabelle can no longer overly practice her religious beliefs as her convent has been destroyed. Cecily tries to keep her adopted family safe while trying to ignore her attraction to her former tutor who shares her feelings. However, a frustrated Mirabelle vows vengeance against those she blames for her hell: Cecily and Father Alec who works for Archbishop Cranmer's reformation efforts.

This is an enjoyable but grim look at what happened to those not inside of Henry VIII's inner circle when he breaks from the Roman Catholic Church to form the Anglican Church as the upheaval is dramatic and deadly. The Sumerton Women (and men) suffer from the effects of the Reformation that began over a dame. Although Mirabelle’s cruelly towards loved ones can be rationalized by what has happened to her mind when her reason for life, her devout belief, is destroyed; Cecily is too Little Miss Sunshine as she forgives everyone everything. Still, fans of the Tudor dynasty will appreciate this compelling glimpse into the impact on an extended family far from court by the actions of the King.

Harriet Klausner

Beach Season-Lisa Jackson, Holly Chamberlin, Cathy Lamb, Rosalind Noonan

Beach Season

Lisa Jackson, Holly Chamberlin, Cathy Lamb, Rosalind Noonan

Kensington, May 29 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780758265630

“June Lace” by Cathy Lamb. On the Oregon coast, wedding dress designer June McKenna briefly turned her back to the ocean when a wave hits. Songwriter Reece O’Brien saves her life and perhaps her soul too.

“Second Chance Sweethearts” by Holly Chamberlin. Thirtyish Thea Foss fled Boston to escape her abusive former husband Mark Marais. She stops in Ogunquit, Maine but Mark continues to torment her. In a diner, she meets her first love Hugh Landry, who reminds her she was once Thea with a brave heart. With Hugh, her kind landlady Alice Monroe and Henrietta the cat she is ready to confront Mark.

“Carolina Summer” by Rosalind Noonan. New York realtor Jane Doyle and her friend Tia witnessed a murder. However, the culprit kills Tia; before he can eliminate Jane, she flees for Florida. Bad weather forces her to stay in the North Carolina Outer Banks where Sheriff Cooper Locklear rescues her from the storm, but she knows the real storm is pursuing her.

“The Brass Ring” by Lisa Jackson. Shawna McGuire’s fiancé Parker Harrison suffers a head trauma as well as other injuries. As he heals, he still suffers from amnesia unable to recall ever meeting Shawna before the accident. Shawna refuses to give up on love.

Beach Season lives up its title with fun but thin stories. Whereas the first three tales are new, Ms. Jackson’s entry is a reprint of a 1988 novel.

Harriet Klausner

Bannon Brothers: Honor-Janet Dailey

Bannon Brothers: Honor

Janet Dailey

Kensington, May 29 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9780758255778

Following his brother’s wedding (see Trust), Intelligence Agent Linc Bannon sees a news report of a car crash in which he recognizes the license plate KENZYZ. He rushes to the hospital to see but gets no information so after she fails to answer her phone; he races to her house where he notices someone run off. Army K9 trainer Kenzie Mackenzie is at home as she lent her car to her friend Christine Corelli who is like a sister to her.

Soon afterward, Kenzie learns that another friend, Frank Branigan died while on a routine patrol in Kandahar. Linc and Kenzie find a link between the accident and the death that has Kenzie shook up. She and Linc investigate in an attempt to prevent more lethal incidents.

The latest Bannon Brothers romantic suspense is an exciting thriller starring two fascinating protagonists. He brings to life contemporary technology and she enables the audience to obtain a handle on the K9 corps. Although the romantic subplot seems off as her I’m Not In Love refrain grows tedious (unlike the 10cc song), fans will enjoy this taut tale.

Harriet Klausner

Cliff Walk-Bruce DeSilva

Cliff Walk

Bruce DeSilva

Forge, May 22 2012, $24.95

ISBN: 9780765332370

In Pascoag, Cosmo Scalici owner of Scalici Recycling’s farm that feeds waste to pigs notices what looks like a child’s hand amidst the trash. Before he can act, a pig eats the hand. The pig is slaughtered and an autopsy affirms Cosmos’ fears.

Someone is shot on Newport’s Cliff Walk. The victim falls off the Cliff Walk to his death.

State Police Captain Steve Parisi refuses to release the identity of the victim.

Providence Dispatch reporter Liam Mulligan covers both stories. He believes the pig recycle plant was used to cover a crime involving children and feels certain the Cliff Walk diver is pornographer and strip club owner Sal Maniella. Liam begins to connect the two incidents as he believes a vigilante is assassinating low life predators running a child porn ring. If his boss Edward Anthony Mason IV’s dying paper lives long enough, albeit a couple of weeks or so, he plans to break a converged super story. State AG Fiona “Attila the Nun” McNerney tells Liam to back off, Maniella’s bodyguards warns him to stay away from their dead boss’ daughter and his wife Dorcas continues to aflame his ulcer.

Filled with blood and gore, this is an exciting Rhode Island investigative thriller built on the premise of legalized prostitution, which was true in the state until 2010 when it became banned. Providence shines as it did in Mulligan’s first journalistic stew (see Rogue Island) while the comparisons between the dying newspaper and the dying porn industry enhance a strong mystery.

Harriet Klausner

The Janus Affair-Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris

The Janus Affair

Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris

Harper Voyager, May 29 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780062049780

On the hypersteam train, Lena cries out “Eliza, help me” just before she vanishes in a lightning flash. Eliza Braun saw the woman vanish and realized she was asking her to rescue her. A member of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, Eliza is used to working oddities so with her partner archivist Wellington Thornhill Books, Esquire plans to investigate and find the woman. Instead she is told to back down as field agent Bruce Campbell leads the inquiry.

Eliza learns that Lena is not the first suffragist to disappear into thin air. As such she vows to keep her visiting New Zealand friend Kate Sheppard safe over the objection of her superiors. As more suffragists vanish, someone assaults Eliza in her home and Books confronts visiting Douglas Sheppard as he wants him to leave Eliza alone in spite of her welcoming him. Soon the two MPO operatives realize nothing short of the Crown is in peril by someone who purposely placed pathetic Campbell in charge of the case.

The latest Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences steampunk fantasy (see Phoenix Rising) is a great thriller as they defy orders to confront a diabolical foe. Though the prime plot is thin but brilliant, fast paced from the opening Lady Vanishes, fans will enjoy the brain and the brawn as they once again set forth to save mighty England.

Harriet Klausner

Broken Illusions-Ellie James

Broken Illusions

Ellie James

St. Martin's Griffin, May 8 2012, $9.99

ISBN: 9780312647032

In New Orleans five weeks before Carnival, sixteen year old psychic Trinity Monsour wants to spend time with her boyfriend Chase and works diligently at her new job at her Aunt Sara’s shop Fleurish!. However, another girl has vanished while Trinity sees a vision of an empty street except for severely run-down buildings and a corpse in nearby grass; someone also warns her to be wary as danger lurks nearby.

Though she would prefer to ignore the horrific images, Trinity believes she cannot as she is convinced the only way to cope with them is to learn why she sees them and hopefully that will end them. She begins her quest for knowledge by searching for the lost girl. Those who care about her worry about her; however not her aunt, her BFF, or her boyfriend join her on her mission. Only enigmatic Dylan Fourcade does while Detective LaSalle follows them hoping she leads him to the missing person.

The second Midnight Dragonfly middle school age paranormal thriller (see Shattered Dreams) is a wonderful entry with engaging, surprising but improbable twists. Trinity works on the mystery of her DNA, the missing girl, and the body in the grass while wondering how young love could be as convoluted as she cares for Chase and Dylan.

Harriett Klausner

Midnight Master-Donna Grant

Midnight Master

Donna Grant

St. Martin’s, May 22 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312552480

Rice University anthology Professor Gary Austin sends a cryptic message to his daughter Gwynn that has concerned for her widowed father. She flies to Scotland to insure he is all right though she is unsure where exactly he is. While driving west towards the isles, she receives a stunning call from Phil Manning of Rice who informs her Professor Austin resigned last month.

In 1603 Scotland, the Druids told warrior Logan Hamilton and his brothers in arms that they do not know where they will end up in time as they pursue the evil Deirdre and her minions to find her twin Ian who she took with her. Logan learns he is in 2012 Scotland and feels a need to head west to Isle of Eigg; one time home of the Druids once lived. Gwynn and Logan are attracted to one another from their first meeting. He believes she is a dormant Druid and offers to search for her dad while she offers to guide him through the twenty-first century.

The first Dark Warriors romantic urban fantasy is a great spin off from the fabulous Dark Sword saga. The fun in this engaging storyline is observing the bewildered lead couple as he struggles to adapt to modern conveniences taken for granted and she struggles to accept her awakening powers. Deidre adjusts much easier as evil adapts to any environs by not having any concerns for others. Donna Grant provides a wonderful fresh spin to her historical fantasy saga with the opening act of her medieval warriors arriving in the twenty-first century.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Kiss The Bride-Lori Wilde

Kiss The Bride

Lori Wilde

Forever, May 22 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781455512676

“There Goes The Bride.” In Houston the upcoming marriage between Delaney Cartwright and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Evan van Zandt makes all of the societal pages. However, the bride has doubts although she admits Evan is a nice likable person; she wants sparks and there are none. Delaney stops at a consignment shop where she makes a wish to get out of her nuptials while holding a wedding veil. Her friends persuade her to abduct Evan and have her way with him. Instead she almost kidnaps Evan's patient, undercover Detective Dominic Vanetti, whom she has seen in a vision when she first touched the veil. Still her plan now is to hire someone to abduct her so she does not have to say I do, but someone else has the same agenda with a different outcome.

“Once Smitten, Twice Shy.” Two years ago Secret Service agent Shane Tremont and wedding videographer Tish Gallagher divorced though they remain hot for one another. While Tish's business borders on bankruptcy, Shane protects the POTUS' daughter Elysee. When he is injured in the line of duty, Elysee thinks he is her knight in shining armor; Shane thinks he is in love. They become engaged as the country goes wild over the romance between the government agent and the First Daughter. Elysee hires Tish to videotape their engagement party and their wedding as she knows Shane still has a torch for his ex and believes that should bring finality to the couple. However, Elysee’s plan backfires as Shane and Tish realize they still love each other, but they failed once.

This reprint of two whimsical Wedding Veil Wishes tales contains Wilde madcap entertaining paranormal contemporary romances.

Harriet Klausner