Sunday, May 31, 2009

Obsession-Gloria Vanderbilt

Gloria Vanderbilt
Ecco, Jun 23 2009, $16.99
ISBN: 9780061734892

The Bingham power couple seems to live the perfect life. Anyone who sees the influential pair know they love one another while sharing a wonderful life of affluence. Besides the best in Manhattan, they own several estates as Talbot is a famous architect in demand.

On their tenth anniversary, he suddenly dies leaving his beloved Priscilla as a grieving widow. Several years later, still mourning her loss, Pris begins going through her late husband’s papers. She finds shocking letters from a Queen Bee that vividly leaves nothing to the imagination. Not only was this Bee Talbot’s mistress, she was his dominatrix while he was her slave. Hurt and despondent not just because he cheated on her, she loathes he hid a key part of himself from her although rationally Pris understand why as she finds his venture in to bondage disturbingly sick. She dreams of meeting Queen Bee who also would like to meet the wife she mocked in her correspondence with her late favorite customer.

Although nothing new and somewhat slight, OBSESSION is an interesting relationship drama with the key connector being a dead person that both women cherished. The story line is fast-paced with an underlying psychological vent from the moment Pris obsesses over challenging her rival for the memory of Talbot. Although the plot is thin, fans of erotic character studies will want to know who dominates when the widow meets the mistress.

Harriet Klausner

Sadomasochism for Accountants-Rosy Barnes

Sadomasochism for Accountants
Rosy Barnes
Marion Boyars, May 2009, $14.95
ISBN: 9780714531816

Her boyfriend Alan dumped thirty-eight year old accountant Paula insisting she was boring after spending eight years together. By May, he has moved on becoming engaged to corporate take no prisoners climber Belinda whose only goal in life is to see her surname added to Smith, Smith-Brown and Smith. Paula insists she is not stalking Alan when she regularly drives fifty miles to his neighborhood to shop although the calls have Belinda calling her a “crazy cow”.

Paula’s mom and therapist suggest she find an exciting diversion as her life seems dull to them. Desperate to prove she is not just another tedious number cruncher, Paula joins Club Liscious. The members know at first look that Paula does not belong there; they put a different spin to the thrill of the sex hunt. Luda the transvestite assumes this newcomer won’t last more than a night. Thus she is shocked when the persistent Paula, used to grinding away looking for a missing pound or two in the ledger, keeps coming back. Soon, Luda, Gretchen the kindhearted dominatrix, and domineering SlaveBoy decide to help her hogtie Alan who has woes with aggressive Belinda’s demands on his layback career. Belinda is even aggressively uglier than usual as she is at war against a competitor who has the unfair advantages of being paraplegic for the step up the ladder.

This humorous satire lampoons sex, genders, and accountants through the actions of a purposely hyperbolic cast although told by Paula in a chick lit style. The story line is very thin, but entertaining as Paula sets out to prove she is not boring by getting a “life” and Alan with it. Fans will enjoy the antics of her support team and the bellicose reactions of Belinda as Alan is caught in the middle of a female surge. SADOMASOCHISM FOR ACCOUNTANTS is a fun tale that does not worry about the bottom line.

Harriet Klausner

Good Things I Wish You-A. Manette Ansay

Good Things I Wish You
A. Manette Ansay
Harper, Jun 30 2009, $25.99
ISBN: 9780061239960

Recently divorced, forty-two years old Floridian Jeanette Hochmann is struggling with balance. She works at the university, is raising her four years old child virtually alone, and is writing her novelization of the four decade relationship between nineteenth century German pianist Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms, her spouse Robert’s protégé as composers. Jeannette, a child prodigy classical pianist, hopes to bring freshness to the legendary triangle, but instead feels lethargic and despondent following her acrimonious divorce war.

Through an agency Jeanette meets slightly older entrepreneur Hart, the first man she dates in nineteent years. He coincidently comes from Clara’s hometown Leipzig, Germany. Hart kindly helps her with translations of her research from German to English though they seem to have nothing in common except they are attracted to one another. In fact she realizes his ten year old daughter, a musical prodigy, is much more like her than Hart is. As they travel Germany and Switzerland together, their relationship heats up yet increasingly seems to emulate that of Clara and Johannes.

This is a fascinating look at the legendary triangle between the Schumann duo and Brahms in which the nineteenth century subplot with original photos and letters is extremely gripping; but in turn makes the modern day entry seem intrusive. The cast in both centuries are fully developed, however once again the historical persona steal the show. Although GOOD THINGS I WISH FOR YOU might have been better as an exclusive look at the historical relationship, fans will enjoy A. Manette Ansay’s fine tale of how convoluted life is then and now.
Harriet Klausner

The Art of Racing in the Rain-Garth Stein

The Art of Racing in the Rain
Garth Stein
Harper, Jun 9 2009, $14.99
ISBN: 9780061537967

In Seattle Enzo the mixed breed dog believes he is different from most if not all other canines as he knows he has a human soul and looks forward to his reincarnation as a man. He adores his human companion Denny and loves their bachelor existences. Denny works at an auto repair shop trying to obtain the capital needed to become a racing driver. Enzo supports the dream by watching racing on TV especially tapes involving his best friend and has become an expert on the subject, but is frustrated with his inability to communicate with his two legged buddy.

Denny meets and falls in love with Eve. They marry but the woman and the dog mistrust one another. Denny is away racing when Eve goes into labor; she turns to Enzo as her coach. Enzo loves the new baby, Zoe, but also fears for the mom as her “odor” smells rancid. Eve becomes ill and dies. Her parents who loathe Denny sue for custody of Zoe although they know they have no chance of winning. Instead they arrange for their fifteen years old niece to seduce Enzo, but he rejects the teen. Still she screams rape and now his case is weak. With Enzo still riding shotgun, Denny keeps fighting.

Told by Enzo, THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN is an engaging inspirational tale that encourages people to go after your dreams. The story line is filled with metaphors especially comparing life to race car driving on an oval track. Although the in-laws’ shenanigans seem unreal particularly compared with a dog thinking like a human, fans will enjoy this fine uplifting anthropomorphic saga of life as seen through the personification of a thinking person’s dog.

Harriet Klausner

The Devil Is a LieReShonda Tate Billingsley-

The Devil Is a Lie
ReShonda Tate Billingsley
Pocket, Jul 7 2009, $14.00
ISBN 9781416578048

In Houston, Nina Lawson is euphoric when she learns that her six selected numbers were called in the lottery, which means she has won the eight million dollars prize. Her elation quickly turns to rancor and outrage when everyone including strangers and family members she has not heard from in seemingly centuries demand a piece of the action. However, the worst betrayal is her fiancé Rick Henderson, who is spending the money even before she has officially received the check.

Soon afterward, she learns that she is still married to Todd; his girlfriend Pam spent the divorce filing fee on a Fendi bag. Pam feels it is destiny and insists Todd demand his share of the loot; he agrees, but hides his reason from his shallow lover; he needs money to pay for a heart transplant for his Grams.

This is a lighthearted amusing contemporary romance starring a wonderful caring protagonist who finds winning the lottery is not as life simplifying as she expected with people coming out of the woodwork like roaches demanding their share. Rick and Pam are stereotypes of avaricious users while Nina and Todd are compassionate souls. Fans will enjoy Nina’s plight as winning seems more like losing but with love and God she can overcome the devils blighting her life with their greedy burden.

Harriet Klausner

Suddenly One Summer-Barbara Freethy

Suddenly One Summer
Barbara Freethy
Pocket, Jul 2009, $7.99
ISBN 9781439101568

What makes Angel's Bay different than the rest of California is a belief that angels exist. There is proof as a video of sightings has gotten around, but reporter Reid Tanner assumes a clever fraud by the townsfolk. He plans to prove the whole thing is a fake.

Tanner meets another newcomer Jenna Davies who saved a pregnant girl from suicide. He is attracted to her because she avoids the publicity her rescue warrants. Meanwhile, enigmatic etchings appear on a cliff that is nearly impossible to climb let alone stop to carve symbols. Soon Tanner begins to wonder if the legends are true as someone unseen seems to help people there and glimpses of what appears to be previous lives occur. Either that or someone is pulling off quite a fraud with no obvious motive.

The premise is intriguing as the townsfolk fully believe angels reside with them leading to a fun paranormal romance between the ultimate skeptic seeking the scam and the somewhat doubting but hopeful other newcomer. They are a solid lead couple as each separately and together struggle to navigate the nuances of Angel’s Bay although the numerous appearances of the zillion townsfolk at times overwhelms their prime plot. Still this is a warm lighthearted romp that fans will enjoy and look forward to apparently future angelic sagas.

Harriet Klausner

Bound by Your Touch-Meredith Duran

Bound by Your Touch
Meredith Duran
Pocket, Jul 2009, $6.99
ISBN 9781416592631

Lydia Boyce is a chip off the old block as a scholar; her dad is noted Egyptologist Henry Boyce. However, some of the artifacts her dad sends from Egypt are fakes. She investigates expecting her father to be exonerated and to affirm her theory that rakish Lord James Durham is the villain.

On first contact, each loathes the other as she assumes he is a shallow womanizer and he believes she is a phony intellectual snob. Still they realize they need each other to uncover the real con artist. As Lydia and James team up in a distrusting alliance, they search for the legendary Tears of Idihet and the forger.

This is an entertaining nineteenth century romantic romp starring two likable seemingly opposites. The story line is fast-paced as the intelligent obstinate Lydia sets out to prove her father’s innocence when she confronts Durham. He initially comes across as a typical rake, but also typical of the sib-genre demonstrates to her he is much more than just a drunken womanizer. Fans will enjoy their escapades though there is too much descripton of the era that at times detracts from an otherwise fun historical Romancing the Stone like adventure.

Harriet Klausner

Rude Awakenings Of A Jane Austen Addict-Laurie Viera Rigler

Rude Awakenings Of A Jane Austen Addict
Laurie Viera Rigler
Dutton, Jun 25 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9780525950769

Jane Mansfield dreamed of escaping the confines of the Regency era aristocracy. So when she hears strange noises and wonders why Barnes the Butler has not silenced the source, she is shocked because she went to bed in 1813 and now finds herself in some place she never heard of: Los Angeles, California. Besides the eerie red digits, she looks into a mirror but what she sees reflected is not her. Worse Jane finds her abode is a dumpy apartment instead of gardens and servants.

She explores the tiny box of a home and realizes the “occupant” Courtney Stone, like her, is (or is that was or will be) a Jane Austen fan. So far that is the only connection Jane can find. Jane is a bit frightened and knows she is spoiled but likes the music, the in door lighting and plumbing, the variety of cold and icy food , the freedom of loose clothing and especially the container holding tiny actors portraying Pride and Prejudice. She is taken aback with her attraction to Courtney Stone's friend Wes and the woman’s former fiancé Frank. The biggest stunner is sex does not mean compromise and marriage so with Austen’s novel to assist her in making it in this weird L.A., Jane Mansfield tries to figure out how to fit in modern American society.

This is the opposite direction of that of CONFESSIONS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT, in which an Internet era Southern California woman went to Austen’s Regency period. RUDE AWAKENINGS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT is a fun tale of “survival”. The reactions of Courtney’s friends to Jane’s behavior including her diction makes the tale fun to read starting when she arrogantly informs Wes that her name is Jane Mansfield and he retorts in disbelief referring to the acting legend. Fans of Ms. Austen will enjoy the second switch as an early nineteenth century aristocratic transplant tries to make it in Los Angeles.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Happiness Key-Emilie Richards

Happiness Key
Emilie Richards
Mira, Jul 2009, $13.95
ISBN 9780778326601

Following the incarceration of her former spouse in a federal pen Tracy Deloche takes over managing his property Happiness Key. However, she is shocked to find the five Gold Coast acres contains five dilapidated shacks with a tenant in four of the beach cottages; she moves into the vacant one. Her renters are an eccentric group of seemingly losers. Still she tries to be nice to the oddball runaways who pay to lease a dump from her. Wanda Gray is fleeing a broken marriage; Janya Kapur is fleeing an arranged family marriage before she must wed; Alice Brooks is a widow who is becoming increasingly forgetful but does not want her son-in-law and granddaughter living with her; and the only male is hermit Herb Krause.

When Herb dies, Tracy leads the other three women in search of his family so they will know and if they want to arrange his funeral. As the four seemingly different women forge friendships on their mission, they begin to help one another.

This is an interesting character study focusing on four diverse females who come togetehr when the fifth person in their tiny community dies. The storyline is well written but the plot extremely thin. Still Emilie Richards enables the audience to get inside the fearsome foursome females enabling us to understand what motivates them to “hide” at dumpy Happiness Key and yet turn these five single dumps into a community.

Harriet Klausner

The Mist-Carla Neggers

The Mist
Carla Neggers
Mira, Jul 2009, $24.95
ISBN 9780778326243

Billionaire Norman Estabrook is charged with money laundering and abetting drug traffickers but his wealth allows him house arrest on his Montana ranch. Used to doing whatever he wants, Estabrook targets a killing list of those who interfered with his lifestyle. At the top are FBI director John March and Agent Simon Cahill; he also wants to murder the not so anonymous snitch, hotel owner Lizzie Rush and Cahill’s lover Kiera Sullivan as well as other loved ones.

Rush believes Estabrook is a deadly predator who will hunt down his adversaries in a thrill seeker equivalent of the Deadliest Game. She goes to Ireland to warn Sullivan and meets SIS Agent Lord Will Davenport. In Boston, March's daughter Abigail Browning vanishes following a bombing of the house she lives in with her fiancé. The Feds know Estabrook arranged the hit, but are unaware that the wealthy psychopath has begun his contest using mercenaries.

The latest Carla Neggers FBI romantic suspense thriller (see THE WIDOW, ABANDON and especially THE ANGEL) is an enjoyable tale filled with a gloomy atmosphere as the audience and the heroes expect the worse. The story line is fast-paced but does not spin far away from Richard Connell’s The Most Dangerous Game but fans of Ms. Neggers will enjoy the hunt.

Harriet Klausner

Outcast-Joan Johnston

Joan Johnston
Mira, Jul 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778325741

Ben Benedict works for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) branch of Homeland Security after a stint as an army sniper. He currently works with the Washington DC Police Department’s gang unit while seeking an al Qaeda operative allegedly planning a biochemical attack. Still suffering from nightmares from his overseas duty, Ben is mortified when he must shoot a teen.

Ben is assigned to receive counseling from therapist, Dr. Anna Schuster, but remains on the job seeking the terrorist. He wants nothing to do with the shrink and refuses to cooperate insisting he is not crazy. She refuses to quit though she is concerned about breeching doctor-patient ethics when she finds she is attracted to him. As they fall in love and make love, they team up to prevent a killer from harming potentially millions.

Ben makes this exciting homeland security romantic suspense seem relevant as he personal struggles with demons he brought back from the war compounded by his shooting the teen is real as the army and marines besieged by suicides to the military’s credit are trying to help the soldiers. Thus his at his first encounter with Anna he is nasty as he rejects the concept of needing outside help. The hunt for the terrorist is entertaining though the use of key flukes of luck detracts from a deep character driven thriller.
Harriet Klausner

Forbidden Fantasies-Lynn LaFleur

Forbidden Fantasies
Lynn LaFleur
Avon, Jun 2009, $13.99
ISBN: 9780061632723

"Celina" and two of her three BFFs get together in Fort Lauderdale on the S.S. Fantasy for a weekend to pay homage to their other close friend Carol who celebrated life with élan but recently died. Celina relishes the pirate-captain fantasy that feels so real that she is ready to repeat it with rhe ship’s captain.

"Elayne" plans on a weekend tryst with the first officer and no more; though the spaceship was out of this world and makes her want to reconsider a third long term relationships after two failed marriages.

"Jasmine" hopes her friends get their fantasies fulfilled, while she plans to do what she always does pay for a weekend until the stranger has her wanting more especially since he seems uninterested in her money.

These three heated erotic romances are lighthearted fun to read as the trio pay their respect to a fallen comrade by doing what she would have done, a weekend of playing out their deepest sexual fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

Dust to Dust-Heather Graham

Dust to Dust
Heather Graham
Mira, Jul 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778326540

In Los Angeles, graphic artist Scott Bryant parties with two buddies. After a ton of alcohol they head back to their hotel, only to intercede when an elderly couple is being mugged. Scott gets close to the male victim to see if he is okay, but something odd happens. He abruptly for no known reason has gained super strength. That night, he dreams of a dead zone in which the deceased live.

Dog trainer Melanie Regan has the same dark nightmares as Scott suffers from. She has an uncanny skill of being able to draw to the minutest detail pending disasters before they occur though she could never draw until recently. They meet and soon travel to Rome in find the mysterious oracle. There the duo unites with Rainier Montenegro to fight a demon. They have taken their first baby steps to prevent the inevitable apocalypse.

This is an exciting atmospheric romantic suspense urban fantasy that launches a new Heather Graham paranormal series. The story line comes across as realistic though slow due to Scott's struggles to learn and understand what his happening to him and what overall is going on; his plunge into the Graham realm of blood darkness is not easy for him and to a lesser degree for Mel. Fans of the author will appreciate this fine opening act as the author sets the stage for what looks like a terrific saga.

Harriet Klausner

Prey-Rachel Vincent

Rachel Vincent
Mira, Jul 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778326816

Werecat enforcer Faythe Sanders and her Pride are in Atlanta escorting were-tabby Manx to her hearing. While there she runs into hunter partner and lover Marc Ramos, who was exiled from their pride. They barely purr hi to each other when strays attacked them. Both are fortunate to survive. Before they can get a second purr together, Faythe is ordered home to deal with teenage tabby Kaci Dillon who refuses to shift; which is suicidal to a were.

Faythe makes some headway with stubborn Kaci when she learns Marc was abducted and probably killed based on the blood at the crime scene. Faythe believes she would know if her mate is dead so with her new partner Parker begins a quest to find and rescue Marc. They soon uncover a conspiracy challenging her father’s alpha authority by insidious means, werecat civil war seems imminent.

The latest Faythe urban fantasy (see PRIDE, STRAY and ROGUE) is a terrific entry as the heroine tells the tale of being yanked in several directions at the same time so that she feels she never finishes anything (including quality time with Marc) to the level she expects of herself. The story line is fast-paced from the onset and Faythe is a wonderful center of gravity. Fans will enjoy the latest werecat enforcer thriller as the stakes have gotten much higher with claws open and pointed at everyone.

Harriet Klausner

Darkness Burning-Delilah Devlin

Darkness Burning
Delilah Devlin
Avon, Jun 23 2009, $13.99
ISBN: 9780061498206

The storm of the century devastated New Orleans leaving the city vulnerable to murders, looters, and other deadly predators. In that environs, one killer should not stick out, but to reporter Mikaelaan evil is walking the streets.

Daywalker Alex Broussard has patiently waited seven centuries for his time to occur. He believes it is now. So he prepares to fight to the death the malevolent demon and the invincible female vampire that head the Undead. The only thing distracting him from his date with death is Miki, who he wants but fears allowing her into his dangerous life at a time he hopes to insure a future for his species; yet knows he can no longer allow her to roam The Crescent City alone.

The third erotic Dark Realm urban fantasy (see INTO THE DARKNESS and SEDUCED BY THE DARKNESS) is a super thriller that fans of the saga will devour faster than an Undead can drink blood. The story line is fast-paced and filled with plenty of action including soft BDSM. Although newcomers will be better suited reading the previous two novels first than diving into an already wrecked New Orleans, sub-genre fans will believe the trip into Delilah Devilin’s devilishly delightful Darkness is worth the time.

Harriet Klausner

Liquid Diet-Michael McCarty

Liquid Diet
Michael McCarty
KHP, Apr 2009, $10.99
ISBN: 9780979988172

He has been a vampire for a decade turned at a fan convention at twenty-five years old. Andrew Bloodsworth has abstained from drinking blood for a month as he prepares for an interview on Chicago’s Wolf 99.9 FM where he will discuss his writings and get more sales for his books. The hostess is Goth Queen Bella Donna who is fascinated with this man who seems to ooze out of the shadows. She wants to hear his story of how he became a vampire and what it is like to possesses supernatural powers.

Andrew tells lher how his change came about and Bella’s fans go wild over a live vampire (pardon the oxymoron) except for outraged OTTO fundamentalists (Opposition To The Occult) who believes it is their divine right to cleanse the world of the occult, the paranormal and those connected to the supernatural. After being attacked by the Otto, Andrew and Bella go through a mirror and end up with her soul in his body and his soul in hers. Neither likes the gender change so the The Count helps them return to what they were; which also means another battle with the Otto when the pair appears on Harry Winger’s tabloid TV show.

Michael McCarty describes his thriller as a “vampire satire”, which is somewhat accurate as there is a biting sting to the plot, but is much more as he nukes the mythos and takes jabs at always right tabloid reporting and even more right fundamentalists. Andrew is a fascinating character who can love or hate with passion and can control his appetite; the reaction to him by Bella’s fans is a fabulous lampooning of hero worship. Readers who enjoy a sardonic bloody good vampire thriller will want to go on a LIQUID DIET.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, May 29, 2009

Red's Hot Honky-Tonk Bar-Pamela Morsi

Red's Hot Honky-Tonk Bar
Pamela Morsi
Mira, Jul 2009, $13.95
ISBN: 9780778327295

In San Antonio forty-six years old Red Cullen, owner of Red's Hot Honky-Tonk Bar, has no belief that she is capable of taking care of young children. So when her daughter Bridge calls explaining she is being deployed to Iraq, Red needs to care for her two grandchildren nine year old Olivia and six year old David. Bridge further explains her former mother-in-law is incapacitated by a stroke end ex husband Mike is in Korea serving in the military, making Red look responsible and compassionate leave.

Red is appalled that she is stuck with the brats for a few months; for that matter Olivia and David are just as ill having to spend time with their tattooed grandma. However Red’s musician boyfriend Cam Early is not just delighted he provides the kids and granny his home for use and enchants the youngsters. Red is stunned that she is having fun with little kids and that she is considering keeping the younger fiddler permanently instead of her usual kick them to the curb though a bake sale seems a bit too much to ask of her.

Red makes this an interesting family drama as she is suddenly thrust into caring for her grandchildren though she feels incapable of performing the deed; a sort of female Uncle Buck. The support cast especially the kids and cam seem genuine and hence the deep look at a middle age vulnerable adult whose image is that of a tough broad but Olivia, David and Cam prove otherwise. They turn RED'S HOT HONKY-TONK BAR into a passionate strong contemporary.

Harriet Klausner

Bright Shiny Morning-James Frey

Bright Shiny Morning
James Frey
Harper, May 2009, $15.99
ISBN: 9780061573170

They come by foot, by car, by bus or plane to Los Angeles. They are looking to start anew, looking to vanish, or just looking. They arrive from all walks of life, from all religions, and from all races. Los Angeles is a magnet as the twenty-first century melting pot city.

Amberton Parker has become a Hollywood legend living the American dream with plenty of money, a lovely wife and three children who adore him but he also has a risky side as his sexual preference is legal age young males. Two teenagers Dylan and Maddie fled abusive households hoping to make it on love. Espernaza pays for her college education by working as a maid for a rich bitch. Homeless alcoholic Old Joe skips asking passersby for loose change when he becomes a Good Samaritan trying to help a young addict.

BRIGHT SHINY MORNING feels like three novellas of life in Los Angeles that cross over each other yet somehow never quite interweave into a cohesive novel sort of as if the expressways that connect the metropolis never touch one another. Each tale is well written with real characters somewhat hyperbolized to portray aspects of a city that James Frey satirically describes as craving to become the twenty-first century number one international metropolis (in spite of NFL meaning not for Los Angeles). Fans who relish a sharp sardonic saga will want to read Mr. Frey’s lampooning of Los Angeles, a city with an identity crisis.

Harriet Klausner

Start Me Up-Victoria Dahl

Start Me Up
Victoria Dahl
Harlequin HQN, Jul 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373773909

Lori Love had dreamed forever to travel the world. Instead she remains in Tumble Creek, Colorado running her late dad’s garage. Her best friend Molly Jennings suggests to Lori she needs a wild vacation with the proper hunk. Madcap Molly suggests her brother, Quinn, whom she knows Lori had the hots for when they were teens.

Lori is a bit frightened by the insane idea but also likes having a taste of her two dreams: travel and Quinn. On the hand the architect has no time for courting so is quite amiable to have Lori jump into bed with him. However, as he proves more prolific than the hunks in her romance novels, they fall in love, but both agreed no strings so who will say first tether please.

The return to Tumble Creed (see TALK ME DOWN) is an entertaining contemporary romance starring a woman who believes life and love has passed her by; mindful of Sandra Bullock in While You Were Sleeping. Quinn is delighted with his second chance as he wants to make the dreams of his beloved come true. Although the plot is rather straightforward, the lead pair seems so incredibly real they make START ME UP into a fine character driven tale.

Harriet Klausner

Fan Mail-P.D. Martin

Fan Mail
P.D. Martin
Mira, Jul 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778326137

Her last act at Quantico before reassigning to the West Coast, Australian expatriate FBI profiler Sophie Anderson escorts renowned crime writer Loretta Black and her assistant on a tour of the Behavioral Analysis Unit. Soon afterward, Sophie starts her new field assignment in L.A. She also finds out that someone sexually mutilated and murdered Loretta in her Beverly Hills home; eerily similar to a victim in one the author’s novels.

Beverly Hills homicide detective Dave Sorrell leads the inquiry. However, soon afterward more authors are brutally murdered. The evidence includes a frightening fan mail to the novelists just before they are killed. Sophie assists David on the investigation, as she searches for clues trying to “profile” the novels while also horrifically yet heroically uses her premonition skill to mentally see future murders, but unaware a cold case of hers is the missing link.

This super police procedural is loaded with plausible twists that will keep the audience guessing who the killer is throughout although serial killer themes have flooded the market including Sophie (see THE MURDERER’S CLUB and BODY COUNT). Sophie is terrific as she investigates with David. Though similar in tone to her previous killer caseload, fans will enjoy P.D. Martin’s exhilarating efforts of the Aussie profiler trying to prevent the next writer’s death.

Harriet Klausner

Red Blooded Murder-Laura Caldwell

Red Blooded Murder
Laura Caldwell
Mira, Jul 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778326588

Six months ago the embezzlement scandal left thirtyish entertainment attorney Isabel McNeil unemployed and no longer engaged to Sam Hollings. That is until Trial TV hires her and she is seeing younger hunk Theo Jameson. In other words, Izzy is moving on past that dizzy spell.

That is until her friend Jane Augustine, who got her the Trial TV job, is murdered. Izzy finds her corpse and as happened with the missing $30 million, Chicago police considers her the prime suspect especially since she replaced Jane on a TV show. Izzy has learned the hard way not to trust anyone particularly pigheaded police so she investigates who would want Jane dead; unprepared to learn what she does about her late friend.

The return of Izzy (See RED HOT LIES) as a prime suspect again will elate Laura Caldwell fans as the lawyer who learned the hard way not to trust cops sets out to prove her innocence by uncovering the identity of the killer. The amateur sleuth investigation into the whodunit is well written. However, what makes the tale enjoyable is Izzy’s first person dialogue that turns RED BLOOD MURDER into an amusing anti-noir.

Harriet Klausner

Bad Things Happen-Harry Dolan

Bad Things Happen
Harry Dolan
Amy Einhorn Books (Putnam), Jul 23 2009, $24.95
ISBN: 9780399155635

David Loogan lives and hides in Ann Arbor in hope of moving past a violent history that he knows he will never forget. He begins to write a short story for Gray Streets literary crime-fiction journal. Though he never finishes the project, the magazine publisher Tom Kristoll likes what he has seen. He offers David a position as an editor, which he accepts. David, Tom, and his wife Laura become friends.

Tom obtains David’s help in dumping a corpse though the former does not believe the latter’s explanation. Soon afterward Tom falls to his death from his office window. AAPD Homicide Detective Elizabeth Waishkey suspects David killed Tom especially when evidence surfaces that he slept with Laura. As other people associated with Gray Streets die, single mom Elizabeth focuses even more intensely on David, who conducts his own inquiry to uncover the killer before he is on trial.

The fun in this terrific twisting serial killer investigative tale is the writers who are intelligent and witty until they become the star of someone else’s plot. The story line is fast-paced and the amateur sleuth prime suspect and the obstinate cop chasing him makes for an intriguing duel. Mindful of the movies' Theater of Blood and Murder by Death, but less hammy, fans will enjoy Harry Dolan’s fine thriller that as Vincent Price said (in Theatre of Blood) is “much ado about murder”.

Harriet Klausner

Countdown-Greg Cox

Greg Cox
Ace, Jul 7 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780441017188

The New Gods live on two different worlds: the paradise New Genesis and the hell hole Apokolips that makes Dante’s description seem mild. The ruler of Apokolips is Darkseid, who intends to destroy the multiverse that consists of fifty-two universes; in the end he plans to rule over a new multiverse. There are opposition forces trying to prevent his cataclysmic scheme from happening, but he is currently maneuvering former super humans as expendable chess pawns furthering his chances of success.

Jimmy Olsen suddenly develops super powers that activates when his life is in danger. The Monitor Solomon kidnaps Donna “Wonder Girl” Troy and former Robin, Jason Todd, a bitter young man,. They need to find Ray “Atom” Palmer who vanished due to grief after his wife became mentally insane and became a killer. The Atom holds the key to the survival of all fifty-two multiverses.

This follow-up to INFINITE CRISIS and 52 continues the story of the War between the New Gods with the COUNTDOWN to the end of the multiverse as “we” know it. There are several subplots besides those above including one involving Mary Marvel coming out of a coma and Catwoman coming out of enforced retirement (as did Todd and Troy). Fun and exciting especially for DC fans of the older Crisis on Infinite Earth saga and the Jack Kirby's New Gods pantheon will enjoy the latest novelization of the end of the multiverse; newcomers will be as confused as the original baby boomers were back in the post Silver Age.

Harriet Klausner

No Fear-Allie Harrison

No Fear
Allie Harrison
ImaJinn, May 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9781933417486

Medusa's Island is a tourist attraction with pristine beaches making it look like a paradise. However, five years ago this seemingly Eden was hell. A vampire was killing females, turning them into his kind; the only human to escape was Emma gray who does not remember that Chief of Police James Winchester saved her life. James actually came to this island because as a vampire slayer and vampire he sensed evil, but he failed to kill the master vampire.

Emma remains fearful of the dark, never goes out at night and refuses to allow any male into her home. James has diligently watched over her for the past five years because she is his soul mate even though she keeps him at a distance. He finally breaks through the barriers she constructed around her heart, but conceals the fact he is a vampire as he is unsure how to break the news to her so he decides to let her become more comfortable with him and hopefully fall in love with him. However, before he can complete his plan, the evil returns with both him and Emma sensing the malevolent presence who has come for Emma.

Allie Harrison has written a sensually interesting vampire romance in which the supernatural species consists of evil and good members. James is a perfect hero willing to kill his own kind to save humans; his patience with Emma will have fans adoring him. He has killed hundreds of malevolent vampires while his protecting mortals makes him feel somewhat human again. Readers will enjoy this terrific thriller anticipating how Emma will react to her protector when she learns the truth that he is the same species as the predator coming for her.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Commencement-J. Courtney Sullivan

J. Courtney Sullivan
Knopf, Jun 16, 2009, $24.95
ISBN: 9780307270740

In the 1990s, Celia, Sally, Bree and April meet as first-year dorm mates at Smith College living in the dumpiest rooms of King House, but BFFs are not quite what occurs between them. While Sally grieves the recent death of her mother to cancer and wants to be left alone; April is an angry throwback radical whose pushiness and righteous contention upsets Catholic schoolgirl graduate Celia and Southern belle Bree.

However, not long afterward the quartet begins to forge a deep friendship that grows throughout their four years at Smith. Once they graduate each faces difficulties that in spite of being there for one another shakes their friendships. Still they are one for all and all for one until the night before Sally's wedding when a major spat seems to have dissolved their friendships. As each fume in outraged silence, the foursome begins to realize what they might have nuked as they miss their BFFs.

This is an interesting look at four BFFs who struggle with maintaining friendships as they embark on other relationships; not all positive. Each of the foursome seems real as an individual with differing desires and needs, and as part of the group. Although nothing new surfaces as many women’s fiction novels have covered similar turf, J. Courtney Sullivan keeps her tale fast-paced and entertaining through her wonderful lead quartet.

Harriet Klausner

The Year That Follows-Scott Lasser

The Year That Follows
Scott Lasser
Knopf, Jun 9 2009, $23.95
ISBN: 9780307271198

Fortyish bond trader Kyle died in one of the Towers of 9/11. Just before he died, Kyle informed his single mom sister Cat that he believed he is the father of an infant and that the mother also worked in the WTC. The siblings planned to meet shortly to honor their late mom; the next day Kyle was dead. Cat searches for her nephew, but makes no progress.

A year later, Cat’s dad Sam, a widower veteran dying from a congestive heart disease, invites her to come to the Big Apple from Detroit to be together while they memorialize Kyle in a Jewish ritual in spite of neither having any faith anymore. She agrees as a chance to reconcile with her dad as both grieved 9/11 differently. She leaves for New York with hopes of finding her nephew and in some ways her dad.

THE YEAR THAT FOLLOWS is an excellent look at how people react after a tragedy occurs to loved ones. Cat and Sam are fully developed protagonists who have found separate ways to cope with what happened to Kyle, who we meet through the memories of his sister and father. Readers who relish a poignant look at survival coping will appreciate Scott Lasser’s terrific tale as religious beliefs collapse when the walls came tumbling down yet religious ritual enables grieving family members to come together at a time when surviving loved ones need each other for emotional support.

Harriet Klausner

The Sweetgum Ladies Knit For Love-Beth Pattillo

The Sweetgum Ladies Knit For Love
Beth Pattillo
WaterBrook, Jun 2 2009, $13.99
ISBN: 9781400073955

The ladies of the Sweetgum Knit Lit Society are reading and discussing some of the great fictional romances. This leads them to debate what love is at least to each of them.

At the Sweetgum Christian Church over the year that they review love stories, each of the Sweetgum Knit Lit Society members face some personal crisis that has them reconsider the definition of true love. Eugenie is a newlywed, but her relationship with her new spouse has weakened. Hannah has begun to date but is unsure of herself when it comes to male relationships. Finally Camille rejects a man she is attracted to out of fear she will never escape Sweetgum. What the women have to help them through their confusion are friends to read and knit with.

The return of the Sweetgum Knit Lit Society is an entertaining tale that focuses on the issues the women face especially relationship with men. They turn to their BFFs as well as romance novel leads for guidance. That is the fun in this entry as the women ask each other for support and advice while each confronts their own version of to commit or not to commit that is the question. Although the story line slows down at times adding depth to the ladies and their maybe beaus, fans will enjoy knitting and reading with the Sweetgum crowd.

Harriet Klausner

Love Finds You In Liberty, Indiana-Melanie Dobson

Love Finds You In Liberty, Indiana
Melanie Dobson
Summerside, Jun 30 2009, $12.99
ISBN: 9781934770740

In 1850 Liberty, Indiana Anna Brent and her father are conductors on the Underground Railroad helping runaway slaves escape to freedom. She and her dad know they are breaking the law, but their Quaker beliefs insist on assisting those suppressed.

Newspaper editor Daniel Stanton opposes slavery and says so all the time in his paper with strong opinions. At the same he overtly and she covertly work to end slavery, someone apparently has uncovered Anna’s secret work. Her only hope to stay out of jail or perhaps even something much worse rests with Daniel whom she trusts with her heart and soul with her secret and her life.

The setting of escaped slaves and Indiana Quakers as Conductors on the Underground Railroad make for a fantastic historical thriller with the romance well written but intended to support the heroic efforts of those risking their lives especially the lead couple. Anna and Daniel are a wonderful pairing as each faces danger with courage. Fans who relish a profound vivid look back at a period of brave people willing to die for basic human rights will enjoy LOVE FINDS YOU IN LIBERTY, INDIANA.
Harriet Klausner

The Scandals of an Innocent-Nicola Cornick

The Scandals of an Innocent
Nicola Cornick
Harlequin HQN, Jul 1 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373773893

When her employee died, he left his housemaid Alice Lister with his fortune. One year ago, Miles Vickery courted Alice, but dumped her for a more affluent heiress; he left her heart broken and distrustful. However, his latest moneyed aristocrat leaves Miles for someone else.

Miles has become the Marquess of Drum, inheriting a mountain of debt that he cannot pay off. He is back in Fortunes Folly for the Crown, but he wonders if Alice will give a second chance as he remains attracted to her and her money. However, he is taken aback when he learns the stipulation of her inheritance. For three months her betrothed must never lie, which she assumes is impossible as a rogue lives on not telling the truth. As he struggles with honesty and desire, she sees what he could be if he only let himself move past what haunts him.

This second chance at love historical romance hooks the audience from the moment brazen Miles decides to go after Alice a second time and never looks back as the rakish gold-digger finds his charm does not immunize him from love. The story line is driven by the relationship between the rogue and the former housekeeper as she still loves her scoundrel and he falls in love with his innocent. Fans will enjoy the return to Fortune’s Folly with the latest Brides of Fortune tale (see CONFESSIONS OF A DUCHESS).

Harriet Klausner

Bending the Rules-Susan Andersen

Bending the Rules
Susan Andersen
Harlequin HQN, Jul 2009, $7.99
ISBN 9780373773930

In Seattle, three teenage graffiti artists are caught by the cops vandalizing storefronts. Artist Poppy Calloway suggests that besides cleaning up the spray paint mess they made, they receive community service to paint a neighborhood mural. Police detective Jason de Sanges is outraged with her soft response to the crime; he wants them punished as a deterrent from them committing future acts of vandalism.

Jase is further upset when his superiors think Poppy’s idea is terrific. Making matters even more poisonous to the cop is he is named to supervise the teen artists. Finally the topper to his anger is his attraction to Poppy upsets him further. That is until a series of accidents that he believes were intentional makes him feel the need to keep his pain in the butt woman safe even if she is a flying liberal.

The incredibly deep cast including tertiary characters makes for a strong upbeat good contemporary romantic suspense. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the lead pair butt heads and never slows down as free spirit Polly teaches by the book Jason CUTTING LOOSE (Poppy’s friend Jane’s story) is okay in moderation unlike the men in his family who spent time in jail while he grew up in foster care. Though similar in tone to CUTTING LOOSE even with the suspense subplot, fans will enjoy the education of Jason.

Harriet Klausner

Straight From the Hip-Susan Mallory

Straight From the Hip
Susan Mallory
Harlequin HQN, Jul 1 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373773831

The oil platform explosion left Izzy Titan with only 30% sight and mentally shattered; she had been the daredevil of the three Titan sisters and now she lives in shadowy fear. Making her even more frightened is the fact that she believes her half-brother Garth deliberately caused the incident and he will return to finish the job. Still she has to decide on a risky surgery that could restore her sight or leave her permanently blind.

Izzy's concerned sisters Skye and Lexi hire survivor training specialist Nick Hollister to abduct their sibling; he takes her to his ranch. Irate by his cavalier attitude, Izzy lets Nick know what she thinks of him although she quietly tells herself she is attracted to the hunk. Nick feels the same way about Izzy especially as he watches her working with his horses; however regretfully he has ties to Garth.

The third Titan romantic suspense thriller (see Skye in LIP SERVICE and Lexi in UNDER HER SKIN) stars the traumatized Izzy and a man who admires her courage. Their relationship is heat and biting as they are attracted to one another, but she amusingly rips his skin for being part of her sisters’ plot. When he insists he loves her; she calmly claims he is a victim of Stockholm Syndrome. With Garth still causing trouble, fans will relish this fine entry as Nick must explain himself to the siblings and the woman he loves; none will listen to him.

Harriet Klausner

The Vanishing Sculptor-Donita K. Paul

The Vanishing Sculptor
Donita K. Paul
WaterBrook, Jun 2 2009, $13.99
ISBN: 9781400073399

In Chiril, Emerlindian Tipper has been left in charge of their family estate while her father the sculptor is away to the fear and consternation of her mom, his wife. However, she learns some of her actions she thought innocent have had a nasty impact that could destroy her father and ultimately their world.

With her dragon companion Zabeth who fears big snakes (and little ones too), Tipper tries to rectify her mistakes, but finds the endeavor to huge for her. She knows her mom cannot help her or her neighbors as they have nothing to assist her in fixing the errors. Desperate she gathers as allies Beccaroon the giant parrot and Prince Jayrus the dragon rider to help her. They work together to enable father and daughter to flourish under the love of the Creator.

THE VANISHING SCULPTOR is a super fantasy in a different land but the same world as that of the DragonKeeper Chronicles. The story line is fast-paced once the heroine knows what she must undo or at least mend. In some ways a relationship drama that focuses on a daughter who is chip off the old block of her father, readers will enjoy Donita K. Paul’s expansion of her realm to a place where the people are about to learn just who Wulder is and what he can do.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

There's Something About St. Tropez-Elizabeth Adler

There's Something About St. Tropez
Elizabeth Adler
St. Martin's, Jul 2009, $25.95
ISBN 9780312385149

TV star of Mac Reilly's Malibu Mysteries, real private investigator Mac Reilly and his partner-girlfriend Sunny Alvarez have rented Chez La Violette villa in St. Tropez. They plan to spend the month of June there along with their seven-pawed two canines.

Sunny arrives at their exclusive French Riviera house first only to find they have been conned. Others are as irate perhaps more so at being swindled too. Texas rancher widower Billy Bashford was looking forward to alone vacation time with his eight-year-old daughter, Laureen, and Belinda Lord estranged wife of a Russian mobster needed time to regroup. Mac and Sunny and Mac take a room at the nearby Hotel des Reves. They soon protect Belinda from her husband and get involved with local art thefts while Laureen makes friends with a homeless eleven year old boy.

The sequel to ONE OF THOSE MALIBU NIGHTS is an entertaining tale in which the prime plot is fun but by the book while the two children subplot brings needed angst to freshen up story line. The cast is solid especially the two American sleuths. However, the plot is thin yet no one will care as the Malibu duet take the French Riviera once they settle in their hotel of dreams.

Harriet Klausner

How to Seduce a Texan-Karen Kelley

How to Seduce a Texan
Karen Kelley
Kensington Brava, Jun 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758225740

Following his latest breakup that the media and not just the sports segment devoured, football star Cal Braxton needs a breather from the feeding frenzy of the intrusive press. He hides out at his brother’s dude ranch in Texas.

Her editor assigns reporter Nikki "The Barracuda" Scott to go undercover to uncover Cal’s secrets. To do this Nikki becomes a guest at the ranch. Although she assumes he played football without a helmet and thus has a Grand Canyon where his brain should be, he knows he has a journalist snooping in his affairs. Instead of his sibling’s ranch, he takes her to the family’s rundown homestead with a cabin that looks like OSHA and EPA would condemn even before the Housing crowd got involved. He figures with no electricity, no Internet, no water and an outhouse, the city flicker will flee for the nearest urban hill. Instead she handles every dirty farm trick and cow chip he throws at her and tosses them back while a ghost tries to regain solo occupation of the abode. As his game plan fails to execute properly, Cal feels sacked as he goes from anger to admiration to attraction to love seemingly before the first fifteen plays occurred.

HOW TO SEDUCE A TEXAN is an amusing contemporary gender war romance. The lead couple is a fabulous pairing between an obstinate reporter known as the Barracuda for a reason and a football star known for his womanizing ways who matches her stubbornness all the way. Readers will relish Karen Kelley’s fun tale while wondering by the two minute warning whether love will prove enough with this pig-headed pair.
Harriet Klausner

Most Wanted-Sasha White

Most Wanted
Sasha White
Kensington Aphrodisia, Jun 2009, $13.95
ISBN: 9780758228628

Hidden Cravings”. One year has passed since Devon Kaye has visited Lexy Signorino, but now he asks the private investigator to find his missing cousin; she looks forward to collecting her special fee.

"Unrestricted Access”. Jill Furst and Jack Barrows live up the hill from one another and enjoy exchanging teasing barbs until she pushes the envelop with a sensuous letter as she wants much more from him.

"No Angel". Anna Blair has the power of a demon literally who wants her, but she wants Gabe as her loving Mann.

Sasha White shows her skills to cross sub-genres with these three enjoyable erotic romances.

Harriet Klausner

Pleasure Island-Lorie O'Clare

Pleasure Island
Lorie O'Clare
Kensington Aphrodisia, Jun 2009, $13.95
ISBN: 9780758234476

Attorney Natalie Green arrives at the island resort expecting an erotic vacation. She meets two hunks Nicolas and Tomas who seem too devoted to her in such a short time. Their constant attentiveness frightens her because they pleasure her taking Natalie to orgasms like never before.

Soon afterward she meets hermit Malachai in a taboo zone while she explored the island. They are attracted to one another from the first look and soon make love. Malachai wonders if his beloved is the impetus for him to return to the world while her two other lovers keep intruding.

This is a fascinating erotic romance starring four solid (no pun intended re the men) protagonists. The sex is exotic and erotic leaving readers wondering throughout whom, if any, ends up with Natalie. Although too many subplots are crammed into the tale, fans will enjoy the interlude on PLEASURE ISLAND.

Harriet Klausner

Behind the Red Door-Jackie Barbosa

Behind the Red Door
Jackie Barbosa
Kensington Aphrodisia, Jun 2009, $13.95
ISBN: 9780758234582

"Wickedly Ever After”. Lord Grenville maintains his image as a wastrel while hiding his fondness for translating Roman poetry from the Ton; that is until he meets and kisses Eleanor Palmer BEHIND THE RED DOOR as she loves poetry and the Marquess.

"Sinfully Ever After”. Captain Jack Prescott has been haunted by horrific memories until he meets courtesan Calliope whose erotic treatment BEHIND THE RED DOOR gives him new memories and hopes for future memories.

"Scandalously Ever After”. Lady Jane St. Clair accepts the proposal from the rake Lord Chester, Gerard Nash, as she has loved him forever, but decides to go BEHIND THE RED DOOR to fulfill their fantasies before and after the wedding.

These are three exciting erotic Regency romances starring fully developed lead protagonists who take readers to the chambers BEHIND THE RED DOOR.

Harriet Klausner

Blood Deep-Sharon Page

Blood Deep
Sharon Page
Kensington Aphrodisia, Jun 2009, $13.95
ISBN: 9780758228796

In 1807 Miranda Bond possesses a unique paranormal skill that few if anyone else can perform. She can return souls to dead people.

However, the Royal Society for the Investigation of Mysterious Phenomena looks at her gift with one member in particular believing she is evil and what she does is an abomination. Without receiving official permission this betrayer of the society’s code of ethics wants to kill her and sets out to do so. Acting like highwaymen members Zayan and Lukos kidnap the betrothed Miranda in an effort to keep her safe from a renegade associate. However, each is attracted to her and wants her as his; they vie with one another trying to win Miranda’s heart and soul; not an easy task when allegedly vampires do not have a soul and hide their heart.

The latest “Blood erotic Regency romantic fantasy is a terrific page turner that will hook the audience from the onset and never releases the reader from literary bondage until the final climax. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action in and out of the boudoir. Although numerous returns to previous heroes from BLOOD RED and BLOOD ROSE will confuse newcomers, Sharon page provides another winner with this deep suspense.

Harriet Klausner

The Extra-Elizabeth Sims

The Extra
Elizabeth Sims
Minotaur, Jun 2009, $24.95
ISBN 9780312377298

To pay for law school, single mom of five-year-old Petey, Rita Farmer has been accepting minor acting roles. Currently she is on location as an extra wearing a police uniform. During a break in filming, while still in costume, Rita accidentally frightens off two muggers attacking a black boy as they assume she is the law.

The intended victim turns out to be Kip Cubitt, the grandson of well-respected Amaryllis “Iron Angel” Cubitt, who founded the homeless ABC Mission in South Central Los Angeles. Not long after the incident, someone in a drive-by shoots a cop who looked extremely similar to Rita. When she goes to the Cubitt mission to see if she can find out what is going on before she becomes the next corpse, Rita concludes Dale the Whale, a drug-pin, has something on the the usually energetic Amaryllis that has her tied in knots. With the lmited help of her lover, private investigator George Rowe, whose case is in Canada, and eluding her born to emote sister, Rita goes undercover in the role of her life as a street person in order to learn what sinister happenings is occurring at the mission.

Though no Lillian Byrd, Rita Farmer's second amateur sleuth case (see THE ACTRESS) is an entertaining investigative tale due to the strong support cast as much as the heroine. The story line is fast-paced though a bit thin except when Rita goes easy street as a homeless person in smelly discards. Overall THE EXTRA is an engaging thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Alone in the Crowd-Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza

Alone in the Crowd
Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza
Holt, Jul 2009, $23.00
ISBN: 9780805079593

At a bank in Rio de Janeiro, pensioner Dona Laureta withdraws her money from the same teller Hugo Breno every month like clockwork. She leaves the bank, goes to the grocery and pharmacy, and then she travels to the police of the Twelfth Precinct in Copacabana. She asks to speak with the chief, but Espinoza is tied up in a meeting. She decides to leave and come back later, but instead is run over by a bus; bystanders believe she was deliberately pushed.

The police interrogate Breno who remains a person of interest. Espinoza has him under surveillance. They learn he has no friends, conducts a fanatical physical exercise program, and walks in dense crowds without speaking to anyone. Espinoza is unaware that Breno has been watching him for decades and even came to the same park when they were children. A memory of a child’s death makes the cop wonder if the teller was involved. They meet at a restaurant and Hugo tells his story to Espinoza. A day later Laureta’s friend is killed. Espinoza is sure that Breno killed both women, but has no evidence. Both adversaries risk their lives with similar yet differing purposes.

The translation of this novel is executed perfectly (by Benjamin Moser) so that the Brazilian customs come across full of life but different from America and especially how that impacts the way the police do their job in Rio. Ergo readers will feel they are in Brazil and not in their armchair. Inspector Espinoza is a good person doing a good job as he struggles with an investigation that contains a personal twist, but seems to be going nowhere though he is 100 percent positive Breno is the killer. The audience will admire the lead character and want to read his past cases (see BLACKOUT and PURSUIT) as the aptly titled ALONE IN THE CROWD is a super Brazilian police procedural.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

From Friend To Father-Tracy Wolff

From Friend To Father
Tracy Wolff
Harlequin SuperRomance, Jun 2009, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373783137

Vanessa and Reece Sandler ask her best friend Sarah Martin to be a surrogate mother, which she agrees to do. Pregnant, Sarah is shocked when Vanessa dies in a car crash. Reece grieves his loss and cannot find the courage to see his daughter Rose after Sarah gives birth; this is her third child as she is the single mother of five years old twins, Johnny and Justin.

Several months later, Reece finally forces himself to meet his infant daughter. He feels remorse as he knows he has been neglecting his responsibility and allowed unfairly for Sarah to shoulder the load of raising Rose. When Rose becomes ill, he panics. Reece moves in to help Sarah raise the three kids. However, an attraction explodes in which love and guilt war for supremacy.

This is an interesting family drama starring a very responsible single mom and a grieving widower unable to move on past the death of his beloved spouse to raise his daughter. The twins add humor with stunts like providing a funeral at sea for their toy Pirate Jack by flushing him down the toilet leading to stuffing the commode. However, it is Reece who makes the angst filled story line work as he knows he needs to move passed his grief to take care of his baby, but feels incompetent and does not want to harm Rose. Fans will root for this quintet to turn into a family of five, but doubt love can overcome grief.

Harriet Klausner

Best For The Baby-Ann Evans

Best For The Baby
Ann Evans
Harlequin SuperRomance, Jun 2009, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373783144

Pregnant Alaina Tillman needs a place to stay temporarily having been abandoned by her boyfriend. She heads to Lake Harmony and breaks into Heron Cove, the vacation home of her former lover Zach Davidson. Even this temporary shelter fails to go right as the local cops arrest her for B&E and trespassing.

The police call Zach, who is excited to see Alaina after two years apart. She fell in love with him when they met as nine years old and him with her as teens. Now they each have a last chance to make it, but both fears rejection.

BEST FOR THE BABY is an engaging second chance at love contemporary romance that has the audience mindful that what is best for the baby who both matchmakes and interferes with the relationship between the lead couple. The key to the sequel to THE MISSING MOM (Alaina’s sister as a troubled Tillman) is the realistic trepidations Alaina and Zach have towards starting over. He still hurts from the last break-up and is running scared she will choose her runaway boyfriend if he comes calling; she carries someone else’s child and figures men refuse to raise someone else’s leftover. Ann Evans provides an enjoyable tale due to the doubting Thomas and Thomasina.

Harriet Klausner

All That Love Is-Ginger Chambers

All That Love Is
Ginger Chambers
Harlequin SuperRomance, Jun 2009, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373783168

The weekend was an extended family gathering to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of cherished family members Aunt Maureen and Uncle Ian in San Francisco. However, lonely Jillian Davis has decided instead it is an ending and beginning as she plans on the way home to Lake Tahoe to inform her spouse Brad she is divorcing him.

As they drive in the SUV, she considers what she will say as she does not want to hurt him, but cannot tolerate anymore rejection or worse disregard. However, as they near Lake Tahoe, the snow gets worse and soon an avalanche pushes their vehicle off the road. To survive, they need to depend and trust one another like they did years ago. Each knows the love remains everlasting strong, but the faith in the other has long vanished.

This is a terrific second chance at love romance starring two likable individuals who have drifted apart though they love one another. The story line is driven by the lead couple who no longer believes in the other at a time they need to rely on one another to survive the ordeal. Readers will relish this one sitting tale as Ginger chambers keeps her audience in suspense not so much from the avalanche but with will they reconcile.

Harriet Klausner

The Defector-Daniel Silva

The Defector
Daniel Silva
Putnam, Jul 21 2009, $26.95
ISBN: 9780399155680

It has been six months since Israeli Agent Gabriel Allon got Colonel Grigori Bulganov, Elena Kharkov and her children out of Russia, but not without a blood bath (see MOSCOW RULES). Allon as the Art restorer Alessio Vianelli is with his new wife Chiara on their honeymoon in Umbria while works on a piece for the Vatican. They are shocked to learn that Grigori, who was given asylum in Britain and saved Allon’s life in Moscow, has vanished. British intelligence believes he was a double agent who returned to Moscow; they hold Allon culpable for any leaks since he brought him to London vouching for the Russian. Gabriel discounts the theory of that the colonel redefected because if so Grigori should never had saved his life; instead he fears something more sinister occurred.

Gabriel assumes that Elena’s irate husband Ivan Kharkov, a billionaire arms dealer and close friend of the Russian President, is behind the kidnapping because he believes Grigori betrayed him professionally and personally. Kharkov is also after Allon, who exposed one of his sales which made him persona non-grata in what the rich Russian considers the civilized nations. The personal stakes are raised dramatically when Kharkov’s assassins abduct Chiara knowing Allon will come for her on their turf. Allon with the backing of Israel, American and Britain plans to rescue his spouse and kill her kidnapper.

Gabriel Allon has been and continues to be one of the most fascinating espionage agents for years in perhaps the best thriller series on the market in the past decade. Besides his being a powerhouse, the women in his circle like his wife also an agent are also competent and strong. The follow up to the super MOSCOW RULES is excellent as the saga of Bulganov takes a radical spin turning personal for Allon. Readers will not have seen that coming once they had escaped from Russia, but as always Daniel Silva provides another great entry that will elate fans who will also wonder how the author can top THE DEFECTOR.

Harriet Klausner

Dead Men’s Boots-Mike Carey

Dead Men’s Boots
Mike Carey
Grand Central, Jul 23 2009, $25.99
ISBN 9780446580328

London exorcist Felix “Fix” Castor attends the funeral of his possessed friend John Gittings when a fancy dressed lawyer Maynard Todd arrives with a court order authorizing cremation; the widow Carla asks Fix to prevent the disinterring of her spouse’s body. The spirit remains in his body’s home.

Fix is at the Magistrate Court supporting the contention of Pam “Pen” Bruckner that she has power of attorney for possessed Rafael Ditko. However, Professor Jenna-Jane Mulbridge has a counter claim insisting Rafi is unsafe to free from her asylum where she researches the paranormal. Judge Runcie realizes there are two issues with his legal focus on a review panel, angering Pam and satisfying Jenna-Jane for now.

Janie Hunter wants to hire Fix to prove her husband Doug did not commit the rape and murder that he has been accused of and arrested for. She insists that American serial killer Myriam Seaforth Kale performed the deeds although she has been dead for four decades. Fix knows the MO in the brutal King’s Cross rape-murder is exactly that described of Kale. So he assumes somehow the odious evil came back, but how and where she is stymies the exorcist because he fears a repeat that he wants to prevent. However, Fix’s inquiry assisted by Juliet the succubus and Nicky the paranoid zombie leads him to something even darker crossing over.

This London based urban fantasy thriller contains three prime subplots that grip the reader from the moment the body of Gittings is interred and never slows down as every move the exorcist makes seems increasingly dangerous. The story line is fast-paced as Fix works his inquiries. Sub-genre fans will enjoy his escapdes and seek his previous two caseloads (see Vicious Circle and THE DEVIL YOU KNOW).

Harriet Klausner

Succubus Heat-Richelle Mead

Succubus Heat
Richelle Mead
Kensington, Jun 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780758231994

In Seattle succubus Georgina Kincaid remains stunned by the betrayal of her boyfriend writer Seth Mortensen who slept with her best friend Maddie; make that ex boyfriend and ex BFF (see SUCCUBUS DREAM). However, her boss archdemon Jerome is tired of her negativity as a succubus must be upbeat and her inability to suck souls as that is why a succubus lives so he exiles her to Vancouver to work for a less tolerant rival with instructions to perform industrial espionage.

However, back in Seattle, a Satanist cult has performed some spectacular seemingly supernatural events. Several of her peers and paranormal associates have vanished including Jerome. Currently more human than hell spawn, Georgina knows she must act starting with finding and saving Jerome before civil war breaks out over who’s in charge. Also Seth wants a second chance with his beloved to include sex; she considers going for it with her on top since she no longer can suck his soul from him.

The latest Succubus urban fantasy (see SUCCUBUS DREAMS and SUCCUBUS BLUES) is an engaging Seattle thriller starring the intelligent but frazzled Georgina. Nothing goes right for the heroine as she has lost her skill, her boyfriend, her best friend, and her boss. However, instead of wallowing in self pity, she searches for Jerome to keep the political-industrial hell spawn complex from overt hostilities. Although the story line contains too many cul de sacs, which in fairness adds realism to the heroine’s probe, fans of the series will enjoy Georgina amateur sleuth.

Harriet Klausner

Demons Not Included-Cheyenne McCray

Demons Not Included
Cheyenne McCray
St. Martin’s, Jun 2 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312949600

In present day New York City, Half-breed (human and drow elf) Nyx and her purebred human partner Olivia investigate supernatural felonies. At night when her darker elf side takes control, she is an elitist Tracker working for Rodan hunting down demons not included in the Underworld.

Nyx and her Tracker peers are shocked when one of her elite teammates is murdered and a human police liaison vanishes. Nyx fears something nasty is coming at the same she mentors a new Tracker Torin, whose essence she cannot read; something she finds intolerable and distrustful. She also hides her attraction to human police detective Adam Boyd, who is working the case; as she assumes he will reject her drow side. As other Trackers die, Nyx panics that the midnight end is now.

Leaving the “Magic” saga behind, Cheyenne McCray begins a new urban fantasy enchantment series with the first Night Tracker thriller. The story line is fast-paced from the onset, yet Ms. McCray introduces fans to her vision of a paranormal New York City through the investigations. Nyx is a kick butt heroine who keeps the exhilarating plot focused on the inquiry into the serial killing of Trackers. DEMONS NOT INCLUDED is a super extremely dark Manhattan supernatural police procedural.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, May 25, 2009

Holy Roller-Julie Lyons

Holy Roller
Julie Lyons
WaterBrook, Jun 2 2009, $18.99
ISBN: 9781400074952

Dallas reporter Julie Lyons was researching an article in the South Dallas slum involving former crack drug addicts claiming they had been miraculously healed at The Body of Christ Assembly Church. She finds the dilapidated church in an off the main road street of the ghetto. The minister especially welcomed anyone in search of God whether they were possessed, criminals, addicts, hookers or the homeless. Instead of telling them to leave, he prayed for their souls. Her article on the church became the front page of the Dallas Times Herald while Jule a middle class white female with a typical Christian upbringing found the Pentecostal Black church healing as she accepts and welcomes “the Holy Ghost and fire.”

The best part of this memoir focuses on the impoverished flock and the co-pastors Fredrick Eddington Sr., a former drug addict with schizophrenic tendencies, and his wife Diane, who though legally blind sees life as a war between holy living and hell. The individual portraits clearly show Julie Lyons cares about the congregation and the pastors yet still enables the reader to see deep into the demons that haunt them as well as her own. Although the well written memory goes deep into the soul of each person featured, it lacks a sense of neighborhood beyond the vivid description of decay; there is no major look at the impact of the impact of abject poverty, which eats at the souls of the core flocks on causing sinning. Still this is a fascinating look at a Black Pentecostal Church trying to deliver redemption to its flock.

Harriet Klausner

Last Night in Montreal-Emily St. John Mandel

Last Night in Montreal
Emily St. John Mandel
Unbridled, Jun 2009, $24.95
ISBN: 9781932961683

In Brooklyn, Eli Jacobs works on his thesis on dead and dying languages. Bored but disciplined, he fails to notice until he stops late in the day that his girlfriend dishwasher Lilia Albert, who went out for a paper never came home. Worried about Lila, he has no idea what happened.

One month later, a stranger Michaela sends Eli a postcard from Montreal telling him that Lilia is living there. Relieved she is okay and leaving his intellectual snobbish friends back in the city, he heads to Canada to see Lila. Eli learns from Michaela that when Lila was seven years old her absentee affluent American father whom she never met before kidnapped her from her home with her Canadian mom and brother. Michaela is the daughter of private investigator Christopher Graydon who worked and obsessed over the abduction case; she resents Lila’s intrusion through her dad’s fixation in her family for almost two decades.

LAST NIGHT IN MONTREAL is an interesting character driven tale starring three wounded souls. Lilia has all sorts of relationships issues, which has led to her running away even before she and Eli moved in together. Eli remains hurt due to Lilia’s abrupt abandonment. Finally Michaela feels her father abandoned her when he lived for the missing child case. Although at times the story line feels forced to bring out the neurosis, the cast makes for a profound look at the downside of relationships when forlorn adults feel loved ones deserted them.

Harriet Klausner

Divisions-Ken MacLeod

Ken MacLeod
Orb (Tor), May 26 2009, $19.95
ISBN: 9780765321190

Casini Division. By the twenty-fourth century technology has changed many humans into almost Gods. However, a dispute between the humans and the post-humans devastate the planet. The post-humans move off planet but hostilities remain high as a cold war continues though most of the open hostiles have somewhat abated. In that climate, the Casini Division that protects earth plans an assault to eradicate the Post-humans who pose a threat from space. Spaceship Commander Ellen May Ngewthu of the Casini Division seeks an alliance with the interstellar colony New Mars before the post-humans can do so.

Sky Road. In the twentieth century former Communist American expatriate Myra Godwin-Davidova leads her tiny high-tech socialist paradise while others want to conquer it. Her only hope to protect her people lies in obsolete nuclear weapons hidden years ago in the planet’s Earth orbit. Several centuries later Clovis colha Gree lives in a utopian world in which violence is non existent; the rustic community fears electronic devices as they remember what happened during the Fall that some insist it was the Deliverance. Now the scientific tinkers are constructing a controversial spaceship; the first since Maya had to decide nuclear war or not.

This is a reprint of the "The Second Half of The Fall Revolution" published in the mid 1990s. Each entry is fast-paced, but focuses on a dismal future for mankind that is cleverly tied back to the politics of the late twentieth century although some might detest the clearly Anti-American stance. .The tales are well written with the military battles in space incredibly vivid and the key cast members coming across as fully developed. Although it pays to at least read THE STONE CANAL before this pair of novels, fans will appreciate the dark science fiction thrillers CASINI DIVISION and SKY ROAD.

Harriet Klausner

Moon Burn-Alisa Sheckley

Moon Burn
Alisa Sheckley
Del Rey, May 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780345505880

After what happened with her cheating husband in Manhattan last year (see THE BETTER TO HOLD YOU), veterinarian Abra Barrow relocates to Northside so that she can study the lycan infection he brought back from Romania and gave to her. She understands the problem of leaving a smog urban center for the pristine small-town air is that a full moon is a full moon for three days of uncontrolled behavior by a werewolf.

However, just as she has become comfortable with herself; Abra becomes emotional even with a full sun shining. She easily turns angry and shockingly drops her scores of inhibitions at any time of day or night; a behavior she only previously did when the moon is full. The local male population is all enthralled with her except her boyfriend shape-shifting expert Red Mallin, who knows what is happening to her, but is too busy to help her as he is totally focused on weird beasts apparently crossing the dimensional divide. Having been bitten last year by someone she trusted and now unable to rely on even herself; Abra feels fearful and doubtful amplified by her out of control emotions. Making matters stranger for her is a creature from the other side showing her an entirely different realm.

The second Barrow werewolf thriller is a fast-paced exciting tale in which Alisa Sheckley makes her magical world seems genuine starting with the lycan infection. The story line fast-paced starring a terrific heroine who feels her grip is slipping. Readers will enjoy her escapades as Abra struggles to regain her equilibrium while Red is preoccupied. MOON BURN is an enjoyable small-town fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

Darkness Calls-Marjorie M. Liu

Darkness Calls
Marjorie M. Liu
Ace, Jun 30 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780441017300

For generations, her female bloodline was nomadic never making emotional relationships especially with men. Instead each one hunted the demons until they birthed the next generation hunter and consequently die. Thus the current demon hunter Maxine Kiss has a problem as she has fallen in love with the former priest Grant, the last Lightbringer.

How much an issue an emotional entanglement can cause ignites when the Avatars attack Grant fearing his power. Instead of staying out of the fracas as her ancestors would have done, Maxine and her living tattoos enter the fight to protect her beloved. Now the Avatars have a bigger fear that the Lightbringer and the demon Hunter will unite in love and bring what to the world.

The second Kiss urban fantasy (see THE IRON HUNT) is a fabulous action-packed thriller starring a strong female superhero who is humanized by her love for Grant. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the Avatars attack and never slows down as Maxine risks her life for love; an unheard of action by any generation demon hunter. Marjorie M. Liu provides a powerful complex tale in which she makes her vivid paranormal world seem real.

Harriet Klausner

Fall of Thanes-Brian Ruckley

Fall of Thanes
Brian Ruckley
Orbit, May 2009, $14.99
ISBN: 9780316067713

With the monumental defeats at the hands of the more powerful Black Road armies, the True Bloods are in trouble. Adding to their seemingly inevitable annihilation is the alliance collapsed as each Blood Line chooses to save itself. At the same time Aeglyss’ mental state seems increasingly deranged.

Blood Thane Orisian realistically understands what he and his people face as he has few shieldmen warriors left with his line nearing extinction. While his sister Anyara remains with Aewult the Bloodheir of the Haig Blood who are also in trouble, Orisian travels with Ess’yr the Fox Kyrinin and her brother. He knows he is falling in love with Ess’yr, but must defeat Aeglyss. At the same time, Kanin the Horin-Gyre Thane raises a heretical force of half-breed soldiers to fight Aeglyss.

The third and final Godless World epic fantasy is a great ending to an overall terrific saga. The story line is fast-paced along several well written fault lines that ultimately converge in an anticipated epic center confrontation. However, the key to this entire trilogy is the cast. No one is a John Wayne like hero as everyone has prejudice and a willingness to sacrifice those they consider lesser. The battles are graphic and the other scenes vivid as history on this world seem destined to repeat itself with the flow of the True Bloods almost defiantly heading to extinction. With the exception of needing a glossary handy, Brian Ruckley completes his chronicle with a wonderful winner.

Harriet Klausner

The Price of Spring-Daniel Abraham

The Price of Spring
Daniel Abraham
Tor, Jul 21 2009, $27.99
ISBN: 9780765313430

Fifteen years have passed since the war to end all wars between the Galt Empire and the Khaiem left both sides as losers as the outcome is all Khaiem females are sterile the poet mages are dead along with their andat magic; while all Galt males were also sterilized (see AN AUTUMN WAR). Desperate the Khaiem Emperor Otah knows the hostilities must end before each nation becomes extinct with no next generation. With that in mind he seeks a political marriage of convenience between his offspring and that of a high ranking Galtish aristocrat.

Meanwhile former poet Maati comes out of hiding, in an attempt at redeeming his soul for what he and his peers caused, breaks tradition to mentor young female students in summoning and controlling the andat essences. His top student Vanjit manages the andat Clarity-of-Sight, but though good intentions the remorseful Maati fails to understand the impact of the great war on survivors; instead of saving her people, the traumatized Vanjit who saw her loved ones massacred becomes a mad dictator.

The final tale in the Long price Quartet saga takes a fantastic spin away from the three previous super but bloody and deadly seasons into a more personal thriller of individuals filled with contempt and guilt willing to pay THE PRICE OF SPRING to renew life. The story line is action-paved, but at a smaller scale yet much more complex as several people who directly caused the cataclysmic war seeks redemption for themselves though each knows they will never overcome what they caused. They also want to bring renewal for others. Daniel Abraham closes out the quartet with a terrific spring entry.

Harriet Klausner

Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Omen-Christie Golden

Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Omen
Christie Golden
Del Rey, Jun 23 2009, $27.00
ISBN: 9780345509123

The Galactic Alliance and the Order of the Jedi have their home base on Coruscant existing in an uneasy peace. The leader of the Alliance government Chief of State Natasi Daala wants the Jedi under her control. The Jedi are giving her plenty of ammunition that enables her to paint them in a bad light. Three of the Knights went insane performing unacceptable inexplicable acts that have led to being frozen in carbonite. One of the fallen was able to see the future ( called flow-walking) enabling a person to make counter moves against an “adversary”.

This is a unique part of the force that previously was known by only the late Jacen Solo, who became Darth Caedus when he turned to the dark side killing millions as a Sith Lord. Luke Skywalker and his son Ben continue seeking Jacen’s secrets, which leads them to isolated xenophobic Aing-Tii. Luke is banned from Coruscant for a decade or when he learns how and why Jacen’s turn to the dark. Luke and Ben travel to the planet seeking clues of why Jacen turned evil. With a civil war imminent, the Aing-Tii allow father and son on the orb. Meanwhile the Sith are near extinct and those few survivors are in hiding except for a group that crashed on Kesh a millennia ago. A ship arrives giving them access once again to the stars and the ability to take it to their enemies, the Alliance and the Order.

The second of nine books in this Star Wars arc (see OUTCAST) takes place obviously after Vader and the Sith were defeated. Peace in our time seems shaky as the two prime groups distrust one another and ambitious Daala sees an opportunity to size more power as people are once again disenchanted with the Jedi due to Caedus and now crazed Knights. Christie Golden moves from Star Trek to Star Wars with this solid entry that does not move forward the big picture, but instead sets up several major subplots for the overarching saga; making OMEN a more critical read to followers than OUTCAST.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Post Grad-Emily Cassel

Post Grad
Emily Cassel
St. Martin’s, Jun 9 2009, $13.99
ISBN: 9780312596262

Ryden Malby has so far seen her life strategic plan work perfectly. She gradated high school with grades that enabled her to go to college on a full scholarship. She limited her social activities and focused on her schooling so now she is about to graduate from college. The final objective in her plan is to obtain her dream job at Happerman & Browning, a top Los Angeles based publishing firm.

However, objective four fails to happen when another recent grad prettier, smarter, and aggressive Jessica Bard scores the position Ryden craved. Instead of L.A. Ryden is back in the Valley living and moping in her family home being driven crazy by her parents, grandma, brother and employment rejections. Only her best friend Adam Davies is there for her but she fails him so he reconsiders Columbia Law School.

Although much of the plot is as straight as the Bonneville Salt Flats Speedway, young adult readers will enjoy this sweet enjoyable character study of a recent college grad. Ryden is a wonderful lead who holds the story line together with her struggles over rejection, the eccentricity of her family, and choosing between her long time BF and the hunk next door. POST GRAD is at its best when Ryden goes job hunting as that hits home how difficult it is to score the positions you want coming out of college. Emily Cassel provides a delightful look at the plight of a POST GRAD that can be summed up by Adam who explains the ironies of screwy society that in Ohio it is against the law to hunt whales.

Harriet Klausner

Love, Lies, And Texas Dips-Susan McBride

Love, Lies, And Texas Dips
Susan McBride
Delacorte, Jun 9 2009, $9.99
ISBN: 9780385735209

In spite of their doubts about gaining admission into the Glass Slipper Club (see THE DEBS) Laura Delacroix Bell, Michelle “Mac” Mackenzie, Ginger Fore and Jo-Lynn Bidwill are selected Rosebud Debutantes. However gaining a foot into the door does not also mean remaining a member of the GSC; each of the new debs will learn this the hard way.

A big woman with a big pride, Laura is euphoric, but her high turns nightmarish when false rumors about her spread as wide as Texas that could lead to her dismissal from the GSC even if it is a lie. Mac remains in doubt about being a Rosebud as she only joined to honor her late mother; she fears her GSC gig may cost her the friendship of Alex who is dating newcomer Cindy Chow. Ginger looks forward to Rosebud, environmental activism, and the arts, but while sitting for a portrait, she is attracted to the artist who she knew as a bad boy. Jo Lynn wants to kick the trash out of GSC, which means Laura, but seeing her number in Dillon’s list angers her further as she starts the rumor.

The second THE DEBS Texas teen tale is an amusing young adult satirical look at high society’s superficiality through the still somewhat fearful fearsome foursome. Although Jo Lynn is over the top of Guadalupe Peak as an obsessed villainess, LOVE, LIES, AND TEXAS DIPS is an amusing yet poignant look at teenage upper crust society through four fully developed young women struggling with personal issues that money can’t resolve.

Harriet Klausner

A Night at the Operation-Jeffrey Cohen

A Night at the Operation
Jeffrey Cohen
Berkley, Apr 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425228159

New Jersey Comedy Tonight theatre owner Elliot Freed considers his former wife Dr. Sharon Simon, a friend though they are divorced and she is remarried to Dr. Gregory Sandoval; his dream rests on their annual celebration of their wedding anniversary together. With a week plus before this year’s dinner and gift exchange, Gregory informs Elliot Sharon will probably not make their dinner as she has vanished without a trace; he further explains she has been irritable, nervous, and so anxious, he feared she was breaking down and her disappearance proves she finally did. Elliot cannot believe how calm his replacement is and hopes that Sharon will dump this idiot to come back to him.

The police visit Elliot questioning him where Sharon is as they investigate the suicide of her wealthy patient Russell Chapman; whose daughter insists Sharon’s misdiagnoses led to her father’s depression and ultimately suicide when she claimed he had a fatal brain cancer that was proven false. Elliot’s parents arrive to help him. Black belt mom joins him on his search for Sharon while passive dad takes over the theater operation vowing to fix the plumbing problem himself. However as Elliot digs deeper into Sharon’s lifestyle, he begins to uncover clues that takes his ex-wife off the pedestal he mentally built. He assumes he is on track to find her when his home is broken into and the Russell’s corpse is abducted.

The latest Double Feature amateur sleuth is an amusing homage to great comedic movies such as the title nod to A Night at the era. The investigative story line is zany and often over the top of Giant Stadium; while the movie trivia is interwoven into the wild plot. Way out fun, fans who relish a New Jersey screwball romantic mystery will enjoy the Freed tales (see SOME LIKE IT HOT-BUTTERED and It Happened One Knife)

Harriet Klausner

Undone-Karin Slaughter

Karin Slaughter
Delacorte, Jul 2009, $26.00
ISBN: 9780385341967

Henry and Judith Codfield are driving home one night when they run into what he assumes was a deer; it turns out to be person hurt badly enough that they take the injured party to Atlanta’s Grady Hospital. Trauma center physician Dr. Sara Linton treats the patient; stabilizing her for surgery. She is shocked at the tortured body of Anna Lindsey whom she tries to save.

Meanwhile as the local police work the burbs for clues, Georgia Bureau of Investigation Detectives Will Trent looks for the site where the torture takes place. When he finds it he realizes another woman was there with the tortured woman. He finds the body of the second woman who was tortured before she committed suicide. Faith Mitchell and Will think the kidnapping of a woman outsider the supermarket is related to their own inquiry. A fourth female fitting the profile of the other three is also missing. Evidence points to the killer abducting the women in pairs and if they don’t find the missing two females within days they will be dead

Once again as in FRACTURED, Will and Faith prove they are a dedicated team who know together they perform much better than separately though they are total opposites; a sort of GBI yin and yang who complement one another by overcoming the other’s weaknesses. The current case of a deranged serial killer is not new, but refreshed by the increasingly frantic hunt by the GBI pair. Reader will enjoy UNDONE, as Karin Slaughter provides a tense police procedural in which the clock is ticking while the killer remains on a twisted schedule.

Harriet Klausner

City of Souls-Vicki Petterson

City of Souls
Vicki Petterson
Avon, Jul 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061456787

In Las Vegas, Agent of the Light Joanna “Kairos” Archer is a unique warrior battling the forces of evil Shadow as part of her essence is the dark shadow. Currently she is masquerading as her socialite sister Olivia with a need to rescue BFF Vanessa taken and tortured because the enemy want Joanna as they know she as the Kairos is the Chosen One to balance the light and the dark

She learns of a young girl suffering from an unknown horrific illness that somehow the dark side of Joanna caused. As the Kairos she knows what this means; if the child dies the light dies too. Joanna must enter the dark to save the light by saving the child; if she fails Sin City turns neon brighter but soul wise eternally dark even for those who enter from the outside.

The forth Zodiac urban fantasy (see TOUCH OF TWILIGHT, THE TASTE OF NIGHT, and SCENT OF SHADOWS0 is a terrific entry that focuses on how tenuous the balance between light and shadow is as an innocent little girl becomes the center of the war. Joanna is at her best as her mission is very personal this time. Sub-genre fans of the Petterson universe will relish this dark entry as Sin City may no longer be a CITY OF SOULS if the heroine fails on her quest.

Harriet Klausner

Seduce the Darkness-Gena Showalter

Seduce the Darkness
Gena Showalter
Pocket, Jun 30 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 1416531645

Targonia Royal House Prince Devyn de bon ci Laci had spent what seemed several lifetimes being in trouble with his royal father for his womanizing of any female of any species in spite of his being betrothed to Princess Mika since birth. Now he is an agent of AIR (Alien Investigation and Removal).

Bride McKellis grew up on the streets rather fast during the Alien-Human war, but now almost eight decades later the vampiric survivalist lives in New Chicago. She smells a special odor that reminds her of her long time friend Aleha Love whom she has not seen in sixteen years. She chases after the aroma, which leads her to the egomaniacal Devyn, still a womanizer and tries to pick her up though he is Targon and she is human; and he takes her underground so she can meet more. He also knows her blood is critical to save some friends of his, but he to his shock is falling in love; she fell in love when they were still on the streets of New Chicago. As Bride begins to comprehend who she truly is, she fears she must choose between love and her destiny to save the world.

SEDUCE THE DARKNESS is a super futuristic romantic thriller that takes an interesting urban fantasy spin from the previous Alien Investigation and Removal science fiction entries (see the Alien Huntress and Teen Alien Huntress saga). The story line is fast-paced but it is the pairing of Devyn and Bride that makes the tale fun to read as ironically the womanizer has finally met his woman, but she is destiny’s darling. Gena Showalter fans will enjoy her latest New Chicago tale that twists the series into a wider range of future possibilities.

Harriet Klausner

Fragment-Warren Fahy

Warren Fahy
Delacorte, Jun 16 2009, $25.00
ISBN: 9780553807530

On board the ship Trident are the crew of the reality TV show SeaLife and several scientists who were promised a year of sort of Darwin like research into the exotic ocean and island life on the planet in exchange for filming the contacts. So far, the voyage into the South pacific has been filled with ennui until a beacon help signal comes from nearby Henders Island. The vessel heads there to assist those in need.

However, what greets the seafarers is a shocker. There is flora and fauna like nothing ever seen anywhere else on the planet. As several scientists are killed by the intelligent animal life, botanist Nell Duckworth realizes what has happened on this remote island; evolution took a different path approximately a half billion years ago and miraculously survived. As the US Navy blockades the island and quarantines the Trident fearing anything escaping could prove hazardous to the rest of the world’s ecosystem, the natives prove sentient and resourceful as they seek off the island.

Though an obvious link to Jurassic Park, FRAGMENT takes a different scientific spin using evolution as the basis of what lives on the island. Warren Fahy provides an exciting story line yet loads his narrative with scientific terminology and theories without dumbing it down. Readers will appreciate this super science fiction thriller that explains the evolution of reproduction and the possibility of such an island like Henders existing with the unique marsupial population of Australia that superseded mammals as the dominant species. Science and fiction rarely blend together better than this winning thriller.
Harriet Klausner

In Ashes Lie-Marie Brennan

In Ashes Lie
Marie Brennan
Orbit, Jun 10 2009, $14.99
ISBN: 9780316020329

In 1666 having survived the Great Plague of last year, England is now wracked by civil war as King Charles II and the Parliament battle over who is in charge. Underneath, ironically the faerie Onyx Court faces an uncertain future as the Ancient ways that have sustained them for ages is ripping apart.

In London a baker Thomas Farynor has banked the fires of his ovens to go sleep. While he is sleeping, a spark escapes turning London into an inferno. He and his daughter Hanna flee into the night. At the same that the city is burning down, another threat has arisen to both the human and Fae occupants of greater London. This annihilator destroys anything in its path; to survive and perhaps defeat this invincible foe, the mortals and the fairies must unite, but neither side trusts the other.

Based on the real event of the Great Fire of 1666, IN ASHES LIE is a superb historical urban fantasy that grips readers who will feel transported back in time due to the vivid atmosphere that makes the seventeenth century human and Fae London seem alive and real. The story line is fast-paced as a deadly inferno threatens the mortal Londoners and an even deadlier malevolence threatens both species. Sub-genre fans will relish this exhilarating Restoration Era thriller and seek its prequel (see the Elizabethan Era MIDNIGHT NEVER COMES).

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Salt And Silver-Anna Katherine

Salt And Silver
Anna Katherine
Tor, May 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780765363046

It was the innocence of idle affluent youth, but Allie and her friends conjured up an entrance to and from hell in the basement of Sally's Diner in Brooklyn. Feeling responsible but unsure how to close the portal permanently, Allie works at the diner feeding customers and insuring they are not on the menu of some beast as a snack.

Over the past six years since her folly, Allie has fought demons and argued with hunters. The one that frightens her the most is Ryan who blithely moved into the basement. Her door to hell vanishes, and other portals open and close throughout the city. Ryan and Allie finally stop bickering to team up to take the war into hell before hell takes it to earth.

Though urban romantic fantasy has flooded the market especially starring women turning from social deb to superheroine, fans will enjoy the latest entrant and her adventures in Brooklyn as she may not prove a tree grows in the largest borough, but demons do. Allie’s war with Ryan the hunter provides humorous asides to the fight they make to keep paranormal evil off the streets of the city. The couple turns Anna Katherine’s super entry into the subgenre into a fun thriller.

Harriet Klausner