Archive for September, 2012

The Trial of Fallen Angels-James Kimmel, Jr.

September 30, 2012

The Trial of Fallen Angels

James Kimmel, Jr.

Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, Nov 8 2012, $23.95

ISBN: 9780399159695

 

Brek Abigail Cuttler arrives at abandoned Shemaya Train Station bloody and is somewhat confused about how she got here and what her ten month old daughter Sarah looks like.  Luas arrives to inform her that she died when she stopped to pick up milk.  The lawyer thinks he is her first legal mentor the late Bill Gwynne.  She rejects the notion that she is dead though she misses her child and her spouse Bo. 

 

He escorts her to her to her beloved deceased Nana’s house to prepare her for her afterlife as a defense attorney for souls going before the all mighty Judge.  Nana tells her granddaughter that the souls she meets will help her deal with what happened to her on the mortal plane and prepare her to continue her celestial journey.  Brek begins her passionate defense of her clients but wonders whether one can receive a fair trial without a jury of your peers when God is sitting in judgment and oversees the procedures.

 

This exciting allegorical tale uses the Albert Brooks’ “Defending Your Life” premise enhanced by God sitting in judgment of the souls before the celestial bench.  The storyline engages the reader while Brek keeps the plot focused as she raises questions of fair play, redemption and forgiveness.  Although the key celestial cast is underdeveloped, fans will enjoy Brek’s look at most people who are saint and sinner as she appeals that the judgmental procedures are biased towards the wicked deeds superseding the good ones.

 

Harriet Klausner

How I Came to Sparkle Again-Kaya McLaren

September 27, 2012

How I Came to Sparkle Again

Kaya McLaren

St. Martin’s, Oct 2 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9781250013873

 

In Austin, strike one was the miscarriage; strike two was the infertility; strike three was her husband’s cheating.  Work proved a failure as she was not ready mentally to return, Jill Anthony files for a divorce and travels to Sparkle, Colorado where she spent her troubled teen years with her Uncle Howard and home to her BFF Lisa.

 

Jill and Lisa spend time on the slopes while the former also makes some money babysitting tweener Cassie Jones, whose mother died from cancer.  As spring arrives, Jill, Lisa and Cassie each knows they can no longer put off decisions about their respective futures.

 

Though the reader will know what happened as the storyline is a straight-lined ski run, fans will enjoy how Jill came to sparkle again.  Jill is the prime player, but her two female cohorts add depth as all three protagonists are likable individuals.  Life in a seasonal ski town makes for an engaging fun cross country paced tale.

 

Harriet Klausner

My Scandalous Viscount-Gaelen Foley

September 11, 2012

My Scandalous Viscount

Gaelen Foley

Avon, Sep 25 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780062075932

 

Carissa Portland considers herself to be “a lady of information.”  She enjoys serendipitously learning all the news fit to print in the scandal rags.  When she learns that Viscount Beauchamp is being set-up, she goes to warn him.  His thank you is to steal a kiss from the nosy body. 

 

However, they are caught so Beau the rake insists on doing the honorable thing by demanding she marry him.  Unable to stop sleuthing, Carissa finds out the true mission of the disreputable Inferno Club that her roguish spouse belongs to.  When she learns her beloved husband is in a perilous mess, Carissa dives into the danger to protect her mate.

 

The latest Inferno Club Regency romance (see My Ruthless Prince, My Irresistible Earl, My Wicked Marquess and My Dangerous Duke) is a fabulous thriller as the heroine brings danger and humor as she sets out to keep safe the spy who loves her.  Fast-paced and filled with non-stop action, fans will relish this entry as brave Lady Carissa provides freshness to an intense yet jocular tale.

 

Harriet Klausner

Covet-Melissa Darnell

September 8, 2012

Covet

Melissa Darnell

Harlequin Teen, Sep 25 2012, $9.99

ISBN: 9780373210565

 

In Jacksonville, Texas until recently Savannah Colbert never comprehended why the Clann overtly loathed her.  At school Tristan Coleman refused to acknowledge she existed as he was warned to keep his distance.  That ended when she came back from a week of absenteeism totally changed as Sav and Tristan became an entry (see Crave). 

 

After a warning from the Vampire Council to never see Tristan or else, Sav ends their relationship to protect her beloved from what she is tuning into.  Tristan refuses to accept her assertion that it is over as he knows there is more to this.  Vowing to find a way for them to be together, neither is ready for what awaits them.

 

The second Clann teen urban romantic fantasy is an engaging coming of age thriller.  Both protagonists mature out of necessity as much as due to their love, while the support cast enhances the insight into the Darnell vampire mythos.  Leisurely paced for the most part, readers will enjoy this fresh vampire romance.

 

Harriet Klausner

Alice in Zombieland- Gena Showalter

September 8, 2012

Alice in Zombieland

Gena Showalter

Harlequin Teen, Sep 25 2012, $18.99

ISBN: 9780373210589

 

On what should have been her sweet sixteenth birthday, Alice Bell tasted tragedy.  Zombies killed her mom, dad and younger sister, and Alice’s innocence.  Besides numbing grief and bone marrow deep need for revenge, Alice regrets that she believed her late father was a lunatic when he insisted monsters lived.

 

Alice believes she is targeted by these evil beasts for death too.  She knows she cannot confront the malevolents by herself, but never expected Cole Holland, the student at school with the worst reputation, to become her defender and mentor.  With him and his friends accompanying her, Alice prepares for war against the zombies; unaware that her new ally has secrets that make zombies look like preschoolers.

 

The first White Rabbit Chronicles is an exciting teen urban fantasy starring a terrific protagonist whose entire life changes in a nanosecond.  The key cast is fully developed while enhancing Alice’s coming out party.  Although references from the Carroll’s classic starts as fun, these citations eventually distract from what overall is an entertaining zombification of Alice.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

Autumn Winds-Charlotte Hubbard

September 5, 2012

Autumn Winds

Charlotte Hubbard

Zebra, Sep 4 2012, $6.99

ISBN: 9781420121704

 

The violent storm hammered Willow Ridge, Missouri, but Widow Miriam Lantz does not care as her lost triplet Rachel, who vanished as a child in the flood of ’93, found her way home (see Summer of Secrets).  Miriam watches as all the power at her family-owned Sweet Seasons Bakery Cafe shuts down and a hole ripped into a window.  She hears a male voice outside and welcomes traveling blacksmith Ben Hooley inside the café to wait out the storm.

 

Miriam and Ben are attracted to one another, but she knows he is a rolling stone while she is Old Ways Amish.  Bishop Hiram Knepp is upset with the newcomer’s arrival as he wants no rival for the hand of Miriam.  With her café in jeopardy and her marital status at stake, Miriam turns to God for wisdom.

 

The second Seasons of the Heart (see Summer of Secrets) is an engaging Amish historical tale starring a strong female protagonist who wants to find happiness if she marries again after her first marriage fell apart when Rachel vanished.  The triangle is super as the heroine must choose between two different men though the Bishop’s ill-temper sense of entitlement detracts from an engaging saga with recipes from the Sweet Seasons Bakery Café.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Trouble With Cowboys-Melissa Cutler

September 5, 2012

The Trouble With Cowboys

Melissa Cutler

Zebra, Oct 2 2012, $6.99

ISBN: 9781420130041

 

After melting down on national TV during the Ultimate Chef Showdown, Amy Sorentino returns home to Catcher Creek, New Mexico swearing off cowboys after the betrayal by The Cowboy Cook.  She tells Slipping Rock Ranch owner Kellan Reed that she and her sisters plan to open a family vacation spot with a restaurant and she needs his beef.  They go to his ranch to talk as he keeps thinking no involvement with a dysfunctional family like hers as he had his own growing up.  He gives her celery and carrots to take home.  They have sex though she vowed no cowboys. 

 

Amy’s sister Rachel runs the ranch.  Their other sibling Jenna has come home as a single mom to her Tommy.  Meanwhile Kellan’s avaricious Uncle Bruce calls to ask him to help buy the Sorentino ranch for his firm Amarex Petroleum though the land was surveyed as dry.  Kellan comes to church to invite Amy on a date.  His friend Sheriff Vaughn Cooper says the sisters went through a lot with the car accident death of their dad and the mental collapse of their mom.  Rachel insists Kellan is not good for Amy.  Kellan knows the Sorentino sisters scare him as they are there for each other unlike his dysfunctional family.

 

The lead couple is a nice pairing of flawed individuals with parental issues while the secondary characters enhance the look at the protagonists.  Adding realism is that the odious Cowboy Cook never gets his comeuppance.  Although Amy falls into the cowboy’s bunk too easily, fans will enjoy the first Sorentino sister ranch romance.

 

Harriet Klausner

Nowhere To Hide-Nancy Bush

September 5, 2012

Nowhere To Hide

Nancy Bush

Zebra, Aug 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781420125023

 

Her law enforcement twin brother August was born six minutes before her on August 31 while Police Detective September “Nine” Rafferty came into the world on September 1.  Like their older siblings (March, May and July), they are named for their birth months. 

 

However, September has no time to celebrate her birthday as she and her partner Detective Gretchen Sandler lead the inquiry into the “Do Until Others As She Did To Me” serial killing case.  The two cops know the third victim Glenda Tripp had ties to the Zuma case that Augie worked (see Nowhere to Run).  However, the investigation takes a strange personal spin that has Nine believing she knows the culprit who apparently has targeted her.  The prime suspect is Jake Westerly who she shared a brief interlude back in high school.

 

The latest Rafferty siblings’ police procedural (see Nowhere To Run) is an exciting investigative thriller.  The storyline is action-packed as the hunted hunts the hunter.  The relationship between Nine and Jake fails to ring true in several ways; such as the civilian protects the cop and what happened the day after back in high school is not confronted; besides which a romance feels forced and unnecessary.  Still fans will enjoy Nowhere To Hide as a psychopath stalks the cop who is trying to end the killings.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Lincoln Conspiracy-Timothy L. O’Brien

September 5, 2012

The Lincoln Conspiracy

Timothy L. O’Brien

Ballantine, Sep 18 2012, $26.00

ISBN: 9780345496775

 

One month after the assassination of President Lincoln, Metropolitan Police Detective Temple McFadden limps with a cane to the platform where the B&O train to Baltimore waits.  There he is to meet Stump a courier with a package for him.  As he gets closer, men accost and kill Stump, but Temple with help from a soldier, who gets shot, takes the package that contains two diaries.

 

One diary is written by the late president’s widow Mary Todd Lincoln; while the other is the words of the killer John Wilkes Booth.  A quick read stuns the cop as each diary implies that the assassination was much greater than what was told to the public.  Now Temple is caught in the middle of two rival groups who will harm anyone even the detective’s beloved wife Fiona to possess the damning documents.

 

Using real persona and incidents from 1865 to anchor time and place, The Lincoln Conspiracy is an exciting thriller built on the premise that the official account of the assassination is a cover-up of a more sinister subversive scheme.  Though the suspense is somewhat muted by the historical tidbits supporting the fascinating conspiratorial concept, this is a delightful twisting tale.

 

Harriet Klausner

Something Red-Douglas Nicholas

September 5, 2012

Something Red

Douglas Nicholas

Atria/Emily Bestler Books, Sep 18 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9781451660074

 

Winter strikes harsh and early leading to heavy snows making passage in northern England increasingly difficult.  Irish medicine woman Mistress Molly leads her small traveling troupe south.  Recent recruit thirteen year old orphan Hob navigates the trek.  Molly learns from the crows and from patrons at places they rest that a terrible horror stalks the countryside.

 

Their journey to the warmer climate ends when a vicious storm and a rockslide leaves the troupe stranded.  Molly leads them to Blanchefontaine where they seek and receive shelter.  However, Molly, Jack, Nemain and Hob realize that this Norman castle with so many knights also hosts the Beast that has frightened the countryside.

 

Something Red is a great Middle Ages fantasy in which the varied people (and others) that the travelers meet bring to vivid life thirteenth century northern England.  The suspense builds up nicely as the audience anticipates the confrontation between the troupe and the malevolence.  Douglas Nicholas places the setting deftly in a “locked” castle wondering who will walk away alive.

 

Harriet Klausner