Archive for June, 2008

The Midnight Man-Charlotte Mede

June 30, 2008

The Midnight Man

Charlotte Mede

Kensington Brava, Aug 2008, $14.00

ISBN: 0758223676


In 1860, recently widowed Helena Hartford is infamous for her scandalous paintings.  However, it is not her art that has her in trouble; it is her wealth she inherited that others covet and plan to use her paintings as proof she needs to be committed to an asylum.  Bedlam would kill this young woman who relishes freedom.


Even more affluent than her, Nicholas Ramsay orders Helena to trust him as he will keep her safe and free.  However, he hides from her his real agenda as she is his pawn to reap revenge.  Instead he finds himself falling in love and takes her to South America on a science expedition and to keep her truly safe; however, those after her money follow as she must be removed either into an asylum or a coffin.


This EXPLOSIVE historical romantic suspense grips the audience from the moment the suspicious Helena (and readers) distrusts Nicholas when he says trust me.  The story line is fast-paced with Darwinism used to anchor the era.  The lead couple is a fabulous pairing as love supersedes hate in Nicholas’ case.  Fans will appreciate Charlotte Mede’s strong thriller as the tension continually mounts until the final confrontation with a fascinating low key villain.


Harriet Klausner


Southern Poison-T. Lynn Ocean

June 30, 2008

Southern Poison

T. Lynn Ocean

St. Martin’s, Sep 2008, $24.95

ISBN: 9780312383466


Jersey Barnes left the military SWEET (Special Worldwide Unit for Entertaining and Exterminating Terrorists) to open up the Barnes Agency, a personal security firm.  She still owns the security firm, but never does field work anymore. Instead she focuses on a bar she owns in Wilmington, North Carolina with her hunk of a partner Duke “Ox” Oxendine, whose former wife and teenage daughter have arrived.


However, Jersey becomes irate when her former military handler Ashton informs her that he invoked her retirement contract clause of calling her back to active duty.  Internet chatter evidence points towards a terrorist plot to disrupt the Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point, North Carolina, the largest Ammo plant.  She will go undercover working at the roach coach selling sandwiches in an attempt to uncover who is behind the planned attack, when and how.


When the military drafts former soldier Jersey as a temporary part of the “all” volunteer army, the brass did not understand the SWEET deal they got; instead of just Jersey, they get her and her eccentric crew.  Readers will enjoy their antics as they struggle to prevent a terrorist incident at strategic Sunny Point port.  However, as with SOUTHERN FATALITY, the key to this amusing yet serious regional thriller is the crew.  Fans will appreciate Jersey’s personal moralist Ox, his even deeper moralist daughter, former Federal IT guru Soup, and the heroine’s bluffing dad Spud in this fast-paced Carolina caper; just don’t eat from the roach coach when Jersey makes the sandwiches.


Harriet Klausner


Crosscut-Meg Gardiner

June 30, 2008


Meg Gardiner

Obsidian, Sep 2008, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451225221


In high school, Evan Delaney and her class go on a field trip to the Naval Base in China Lake to do some sketches of drawings on a canyon.  Evan and three other girls slip away and go where a project is being blown up, which they witness.  Various Federal agents interview the four high school females, but eventually they return to school.  Evan goes on with her life assuming the incident was nothing.


Evan accompanied by her lover Jesse attends her high school class’ fifteenth year anniversary gala.  Those who died are commemorated, but no one notices that the people who died are way higher than average in this grouping. Someone killed one of the high school witnesses before the reunion and a second one just after the event.  Evan soon learns that a black ops experiment being blown up was what they actually observed fifteen years ago.  Now anyone remotely associated with Project South Star is being killed; Evan will not sit idly by waiting her turn.


This is the fourth Meg Gardiner thriller I read and as with the others this super author hooks the reader with plenty of action and a heroine who is a woman in peril, but takes care of herself although that drives the men in her life crazy especially Jesse who loves her.  The story line is fast-paced and a bit over the Sierras, but fun to read as Jessie will do anything to keep his beloved Evan safe even when she, in his mind, foolishly risks her life to stop the Captain America replica.


Harriet Klausner

Wanton-Noelle Mack

June 30, 2008


Noelle Mack

Kensington Brava, Aug 2008, $14.00

ISBN: 0758222769


In 1816 London, the members of the Pack of St. James are concerned with the recent murders of two women who were seen with the Pack’s men.  The Pack also received a heinous message warning them more fallen women who are seen with them will die.  Since leader Kyril Taruskin and his be loved Vivienne are in the WILD of the Russian port of Archangel, his brother Marko investigates.


His inquiries lead Marko to Severin, whose half-sister was a victim.  She seems to know too much intricate details to satisfy Marko of her innocence.  However he knows immediately she is clever and brilliant, and her allure is overpowering.  Still he is not a Pack leader, who succumbs easily to a siren. When he tries to use his sensual skills to gain the upper hand and learn the truth, she turns up the heat.  Soon he realizes to keep her safe he must not be seen with this scandalous woman whom he loves


This WANTON tale starts off WILD, hot and sexy as Marko and Severin are in instant heat for one another.  However, the whodunit takes over the story line rather quickly; as it should with lives at stake including that of Severin.  Thus fans will appreciate this fine historical mystery with the right amount of romance enhancing Marko’s desperate inquiry to catch a serial killer so that he and his soulmate can love one another for a long lifetime.


Harriet Klausner

The Druid Made Me Do It-Natalie Stenzel

June 30, 2008

The Druid Made Me Do It

Natalie Stenzel

Love Spell, Aug 2008, $6.99

ISBN: 0505527774


Eight years ago Dr. Janelle Corrington met Kane.  They had a heated one night stand and she suddenly believed in love at first sight as she thought she finally met her soulmate until he suddenly vanished in the morning.


However, Kane recently committed a bad error in judgment; for that misdeed Faerie King Oberon punishes his once favorite son who he knows as Robin Goodfellow, magical seducer of women.  He names Janelle as his guardian while she is also granted special mental healing skills to compensate for her time.  Kane’s punishment besides having to bow to a woman is to atone for his sins with all his victims.  To his shock, Kane, who has always been a 4F kind of guy falls in love with Janelle; but he sadly knows they have no future together.


The sequel to PANDORA’S BOX is as wacky as that tale was as Robin makes a return engagement, which means Janelle is in for plenty of “Pandemina”.  The amusing story line is fun to follow as the lead couple has plenty of tsuris especially with their apparent no future together.  Fans of romantic fantasy will appreciate THE DRUID MADE ME DO IT as Robin Goodfellow learns a lesson about the real magic of love.


Harriet Klausner

When the Guillotine Fell: The Bloody Beginning and Horrifying End to France’s River of Blood, 1791—1977

June 29, 2008

The Eaves of Heaven: A Life in Three Wars-Andrew X. Pham

June 29, 2008

The Eaves of Heaven: A Life in Three Wars

Andrew X. Pham

Harmony, Jun 2008, $24.95

ISBN: 030738120X


From 1940 to1976, Viet Nam was in a constant state of war that impacted the people.  Andrew X. Pham provides the biography of his father Thong Van Pham, who lived through the three plus decades of war starting with the Japanese invasion of the French occupied region during WW II through the fight for independent from the French and finally the war over the South against the United States.  As a child Thong lived an upper crust life being born to a wealthy family.  Over the years of war, famine and abuse, the family fortune vanished and consequently the life style.


This is a fascinating biography that also serves as a deep look at the history of Viet Nam.  The author rotates his father’s life with recent events that brings a harrowing feel as the reader gains a sense of the outcome resulting from the years of turbulence.  Well written, readers will marvel at Mr. Pham’s capture of the impact of power struggles on everyday people.


Harriet Klausner

Belle Weather: Mostly Sunny with a Chance of Scattered Hissy Fits

June 29, 2008

Belle Weather: Mostly Sunny with a Chance of Scattered Hissy Fits

Celia Rivenbark

St. Martin’s, Aug 2008, $21.95

ISBN: 9780312362997


These are 30 humorous observations about life that can be read over a period of time as each is an exclusive entry.  However, the commentaries are actually divided into four sections: On the House, Just Kid-ding, It’s Raining Men (Must be Why My Joints Ache, and (I’m So Totally) Randomly Thoughts.  The entries are all fun, but especially the first two segments.  Readers will empathize with the insanity that goes on with purchasing a house and the social expectations of having kids at school.  The very first essay sets the bar of excellence for this hilarious tome as Celia and her husband buy a house that they crazily say “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change!” as they renovate what they bought.  It remains zany from that onset as Celia understands the significant other in her life is the renovator.  Readers will be in stitches as each contribution will hit home even if you do not own a house or have a kid own you.  Although the six commentaries that make up the last section are aptly titled Random Thoughts, they are unfocused especially following the previous classified trio, yet they too are jocular and will leave fans laughing, wanting more insight into hissy living, and appreciate Celia Rivenbark, “a Beauty Queen At Last”.


Harriet Klausner

Apart from the Crowd-Anna McPartlin

June 29, 2008

Apart from the Crowd

Anna McPartlin

Downtown, Aug 2008, $15.00

ISBN: 1416569723


Life to Mary is an archipelago of tragedy as one island of loss leads to the next island of loss.  Usually this means the death of a loved one like her child, but she muses that it can be less final for instance when she was twelve, her new puppy Mr. Monkels lost a part of an ear in a freaky fishing accident. 


However as Mary needs to move past the latest trauma, her cousin Ivan’s wife dumped him and took their kids with her.  Her best friend Penny loves married alcoholic Adam, who happens to love his wife and Penny; and plans to keep both women in his life.  Then there is her new neighbor Sam, a former music world VIP until drugs destroyed his career and his life.  He is trying to remain clean, but like the other people in Mary’s life and even herself, hide their indiscretions from one another.


 Although with five you get the entire buffet not just an egg roll; this well written character study is overwhelmed at times with too much angst oozing from each player.  The story line engages the audience who empathizes with each key character; however also the weight of the collective quintet feels overwhelming.  Still Anna McPartlin makes a strong case that Dean Martin was right that “Everybody Needs Somebody Sometime” to share the joy and sorrow of life.


Harriet Klausner

Still Waters-Nigel McCrery

June 29, 2008

Still Waters

Nigel McCrery

Pantheon, Aug 2008, $23.95

ISBN: 9780307377036


Essex Detective Sergeant Emma Bradbury asks Detective Chief Inspector Mark Lapslie, who is one medical leave, to come to a car crash scene where the rotted body of an elderly woman wrapped in plastic has been found.  Apparently the vehicle dug the corpse out of a shallow grave. 


Dealing with synthesia Mark, who tastes sound such as his mobile ringing tasting like chocolate, reluctantly arrives at the scene to look around; his first case in almost a year.  The two cops conclude that the killer left little behind except cutting the fingers off the victim’s right hand.  They later learn the deceased is Violet Chambers who was killed with a garden plant poison and the fingers nipped by a garden shears.  They tie her death to abductions of other senior citizens and begin to fear a serial killer who is planting the elderly into the ground.


This is an opening tale of a new English police procedural starring a unique detective.  The strength and weakness of STILL WATERS is Lapslie.  His sensual issues caused by synthesia makes him a fascinating protagonist with little hints at how he perceives the world like his tasting his phone ringing.  However, how complex and convoluted that makes his life and how he successfully overcame his different outlook to become a DCI is not dug deep enough to satisfy the audience; instead he seems totally adapted with just asides to remind the reader his senses work differently.  Still this is an enjoyable first tale with hopefully more synthesia caused issues surfacing in which Lapslie’s observations are prevalent to the case.