Friday, October 29, 2010

Review of Assassin's Honor by Monica Burns

Assassin’s Honor

Monica Burns

Berkley Sensation

342 pages

Monica Burns gives heart to this new series and a new way to look at the profession of assassins. A must read new vision in the paranormal romance genre.

Ares DeLuca is a leader in an ancient order long thought of as a fantastical legend, his people live in secrecy to avoid detection by their ancient enemies, detection that could mean death unless they strike and kill first. They’re bound by honor to protect the innocent and have special powers to help them. The last thing Ares needs is a woman with her own power to muddy the waters and steal his heart as well as his “Assassin’s Honor”. Emma Zale is no stranger to tragedy, her parents were murdered on an archeological expedition and what was thought to be an isolated incident may just be more, more than she bargained for especially when she meets a sexy and dangerous stranger, a stranger that’s not good for her heart or her health.

Ms. Burns is quite the talented storyteller and she proves this with a unique and refreshing voice in paranormal romance. Her plot is as fantastical as her characters and you will need to think outside the box as you will with any otherworldly genre. The thing you will find with this novel is the believability factor. Even though her audience knows they’re reading something truly fictional she gives a sense of reality with it. I love her dialogue with the hint of some old forgotten dialect of Italian interspersed with modern day narrative. Her characters also have that believability factor in them and we will love the hero and heroine as much as we will hate the villains. Speaking of her hero Ares and heroine Emma, this is a couple that should never be together because of their differences and yet we can’t help but pull for them, root for them and hurt with them as they struggle their way together and toward their Happy Ever After, which if they get it will have earned it tenfold. The romance is fraught with sinkholes big enough to hide a small European country and perils that will turn the staunchest reader pale. Her love scenes are hot enough to scorch the paint of the walls so be near a fan when you read it.

If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary when it comes to a new series especially if you love paranormal/fantasy series then this new series is for your. So start from the beginning and prepare to turn pages faster than you can imagine to get to the end of “Assassin’s Honor”.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Review of Indulgence in Death by J D Robb

Indulgence in Death

JD Robb

J P Putnam’s Sons

373 pages

Indulgence in Death is the 31st novel in the IN DEATH series

Fresh from vacationing in Ireland as well as other romantic climes, Eve is back and ready for duty, and boy does duty call. She is given a couple of random murders that typically wouldn’t set off any alarms, but there’s a connection she’s sure of it, now she just has to prove it and hope she can do it in time to stop more

Ms. Robb aka Nora Roberts is as prolific as an author can be with literally thousands of novels under her belt over the years and in this particular series this is her 31st installation of the many faces and stories of Eve Dallas and Roarke. Romance and mystery are Ms Robb’s middle name, or they should be, in this case for Eve Dallas Ms. Robb doesn’t disappoint her fans as the story line is as inventive and out side the box as you’d expect with this science fiction/futuristic series, and yet with all the toys that these people get to use she also conveys believability in her scenes, so much so that her readers will find themselves wondering where their flying cars and fancy wrist units are when the last page is turned. Her characters are just as out there as the plot and go from the mundane to the “frosty” and those in between, but what her readers will find across the board are how imperative they all are to the fulfillment of the tale. Her fans will find all their friends from past novels in residence in this one so have no fear you will be able to catch up on them. Her villains however are quite exceptional in this one as you find out relatively early on who is suspected and the greatest part of the plot is devoted to catching him/her/them. As always in one of Ms. Robbs/Roberts novels you will come to expect a certain familiarity in her dialogue and you will find that in this one as well. Her romance between Eve and Roarke is on going and yet with each novel they go forward in their understanding and acceptance of each other and in each novel we learn a little more about our couple get a little better insight into what makes them tick and why they work so well as a romantic couple. And the love scenes are also as you’d come to expect “on the sizzle burner”.

So keep up with you friends in the late 21st century and read the latest in J D Robb’s In Death series, “Indulgence In Death”, you won’t be sorry you did.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Interview with Julie Compton author of Rescuing Olivia

Starting Monday the Fiction General Discussion book club at B&N located here will be discussing Julie's latest novel Rescuing Olivia. I thought it would be fun to get to know her just a little bit better before we start so please enjoy the interview she gave me. It'll be posted on B&N on Monday so you'll get a sneak peek.

Debbie - Julie I see from your bio on your website that you were the lone chick in a nest with all roosters and that you were quite a tomboy because of it and since we can see all your professional achievements there give us something a little more personal about growing up the only girl in a house full of 5 brothers, besides driving your parents looney tell us something that you all enjoyed doing as a family.

Julie - Eating! Seriously, the main event for our family was sitting at the kitchen table for dinner every night or for a big breakfast on Sunday mornings. I can still remember where each person sat (as the youngest, I had one of the cramped middle spots, of course). My mom cooked for eight people every night of the week, and five of them were growing boys. I can't even imagine how she did it. She didn't slop burgers or hot dogs on the table, either. She made what we now think of as "comfort food" – things like pot roast, mashed potatoes, fried chicken, all sorts of vegetables. My favorite was this crazy dish my brothers and I called "purple chicken" because the wine she used in the recipe gave the meat a purplish hue. She also baked awesome pies for dessert. To this day, I won't order certain types of pie in a restaurant because it will never match up to my mom's apple or cherry pie. I think I tend to be a fairly assertive person because of those meals, because if you didn't speak up, you didn't get heard. And the food disappeared quickly, so you had to grab it while you could.

D - Rescuing Olivia is your second novel, your first being Tell No Lies which was based in your and my hometown of St. Louis Missouri, the novels are very different but at the same time have that familiar feel to them that I get with other authors that I read and it’s not the narrative or that you use the same dialogue it’s just an unseen recognizable something that links you to them. Does that familiarity bother you or do you like it that you can be identified like that.

J -I love that you sense a familiarity between the two novels! I suppose it's what we novelists call voice. It's an intangible thing that we all hope to have, but I'm not sure you can force it. So if a reader can identify my writing that way, I consider it a good thing.

D -You also mentioned in your bio that you feel like a nomad since leaving St. Louis and in fact have lived in St. Louis, Florida, Philadelphia and in Boston and your two novels are based one in St. Louis and some of Rescuing Olivia takes place in Florida. Do you base your novels where you’ve lived because of knowledge of the area, streets, businesses, etc.. or do you have another reason.

J -I set TELL NO LIES (my first novel) in St. Louis because when I started writing it, it was the only city I knew. We had just moved to Boston after spending the first thirty-three years of our lives in St. Louis, and I missed my hometown. Writing about St. Louis was one way for me to "be" there again. I never even thought of setting the story anywhere else. Plus, at the time, it was the only city in which I'd ever practiced law, so I had a working knowledge of the court system (although I took liberties with that).

For RESCUING OLIVIA, I started with the character of Anders. Once I knew Anders rode a motorcycle, Florida became the obvious choice. There are motorcycles everywhere down here! Would I have chosen Florida as my setting if I didn't live here now? Probably not, but I also wouldn't have made my protagonist a biker, either, I don't think. Living here put motorcycles on my personal radar in a way they weren't before. It would have been a completely different story, I'm sure. It developed very organically, with the choice of protagonist and his mode of transportation determining the setting.

D -I see that Rescuing Olivia has been released in the UK and the Netherlands (translated to Dutch). Tell us how that feels to have international editions released.

J -I find it interesting to see how different the covers are in each place. In the UK, the cover is much more symbolic. In the Netherlands, it's a bit more graphic! Both times (for TELL NO LIES and RESCUING OLIVIA), I looked at the cover for the Netherlands edition and thought, uh oh, readers are going to expect a lot more sex. Their covers tend to be a bit more racy!

I think as an author, you always wonder how the story will translate to different cultures. TELL NO LIES was also published in Spanish, and the cover showed a blond woman, who I'm certain was supposed to be Jenny (the woman with whom the protagonist is obsessed). But in the story, Jenny is the product of a biracial marriage. Her mother was from India, and Jenny shares many of her mother's physical features, one of which is her black hair. Once I saw the cover, it made me wonder whether the words inside the book had been changed, too. Someday, I'm going to make my husband (who had many more years of Spanish than I did) read the Spanish edition and tell me what got "lost" in translation!

D -Can you tell us what you’re working on now, is it another novel or something else.

J -I'm working on a sequel to TELL NO LIES, tentatively called KEEP NO SECRETS. I'm so close to finishing, but the story keeps getting longer and longer, so I'll have to spend some time cutting it back before I can really call it done. The story begins four years after the ending in TELL NO LIES, and Jack has spent those four years trying to earn back the trust of his family and his constituents. I won't disclose too much, but let's just say something happens that makes his redemption all the more difficult.

You can read an excerpt here, if you're interested. You'll notice the excerpt is written in the second person point-of-view, and I've since changed it to the more common third person. I'd be interested to have readers let me know what they think (both in general and about the point-of-view).

D -Finally tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.

J -Hmm. That's tough! I tend to be an open book (no pun intended). All anyone has to do is read my blog and they'll learn a lot about me, because I tend to write about whatever strikes my fancy (which is exactly what they say you're NOT supposed to do with a blog, but, oh well. . .). People are often surprised to learn I’m a pilot. I don't talk about it much because it's been a while since I've flown. I once wrote a short story where one of the characters was a pilot, and I suspect the hobby will eventually find its way into a novel, too. But first I'll need to take to the skies again and bone up on my skills. J

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Review of Venom by Jennifer Estep


Jennifer Estep

Simon & Schuster

389 pages

Venom is the 3rd in the new urban fantasy Elemental Assassin Series by Jennifer Estep.

The weather may be cooling down in Ashland, but the action is as hot as ever and as usual Gin finds herself smack in the middle, she’s still looking for her baby sister, but it seems her baby sister’s found her, she still wants Mab’s head on a platter but that will have to wait for a while. And most of all she’s still very loyal to her friends and is a loyal friend in return and when one them is in trouble Gin will do right by them. It usually means more trouble, but Gin’s used to that. She’s also still nursing that heartache over super homicide cop and Mr. Moral Donovan Caine and she may just have found the right medicine in Owen Grayson, will he turn out to be more moral than common sense too or will he see Gin for what she is, an incredible woman who doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty to help out her friends.

Ms. Estep is one of those rare finds, an amazing storyteller, but what makes her doubly good is that her story is fantasy and still she makes it utterly believable to her audience. Her characters span the spectrum from mundane to unbelievable and we her readers can’t help but want to know everything about them all. Her villains dose out more than just dirty looks, they pull their elemental magic up and blast their enemies with it. Her protagonist Gin is one of the most misunderstood heroines you could ever imagine, yes she’s a former and sometimes reinstated assassin, but she’s got heart and soul, she’s feminine and not afraid to let it show and when she’s working she’s not afraid to show her dark side and now with her new love interest Owen Grayson we finally see a side of her that we’ve been waiting three novels to see, the proud side. This is not a romance, but there is a romance parked inside and it’s a doozy and it’s definitely worth the wait. The love scenes are sexy and earthy and sizzle on the page.

So you say you’re looking for something just a little out of the ordinary and with all the urban fantasy/paranormal series/stand-a-lones out there why should you spend your money on the Elemental Assassin series and Venom, because they’re that good. Venom stands really well on it’s own, but it would be like missing the meat out of the stew. Get the full Gin experience and read all of the novels

Monday, October 25, 2010

Review of Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts

Happy Ever After

Nora Roberts


355 pages

Happy Ever After is the fourth and final novel in Ms. Roberts Bride Quartet

Parker Brown experienced what no child ever wants to go through in the tragic death of her parents, in the after math of that tragedy however Parker was able to turn her childhood dream into a reality, the reality of Vows. Vows runs like a well oiled machine and with the expertise of her three closest friends has become the premier event planning company in Connecticut. Now that those three friends are all well and truly in love with their other halves and engaged, Parker is up to her eyebrows in weddings to plan, the thing she does not need is a certain motorcycle riding, leather wearing, irreverent bad boy mechanic to stir her blood, but none-the less her blood stirs whenever he’s around. Malcolm Kavanaugh is a true go to fix it guy, if it’s got parts he can take it apart and put it back together purring, the other thing he’s a great admirer of a great set of legs and that’s the first thing he’s noted about Parker, but knowing how things work doesn’t necessary mean he knows what’s in his heart or even how to express himself and when these two unlikely pair up not only are there fireworks but it might just be love.

It’s mind boggling how Ms. Roberts keeps her novels fresh especially when you realize just how many a year she turns out, but fresh is one thing that stood out with this entire mini-series and in my humble opinion this novel Happy Ever After is the best of the four. The storyline is amusing, thoughtful and sometimes heart wrenching but it’s everything you’d expect in the planning of the most important day of your life especially when some of the brides to be might just have been hatched by the devil. If you’re a Nora Roberts fan you will recognize the dialogue as she loves certain phrases and lines of speech, but that’s not a bad thing at all. The one thing that she has down to a science in this series is the interactions of the friends. There have been times during this novel when the 4 women alone or with their significant others were together that the conversation was so articulate and real that I could actually visualize the gathering and the exchanges in my head. Her characters are all over the spectrum from over the top wealthy to ordinary John and Jane Does, the main protagonists in this installment of the Bride Quartet were the most unlikely to pair up together, the most likely to not make it to the Happy Ever After and probably the most deserving of it, and we her audience will be following the progress and laughing one minute and wiping tears the next as well follow the couple through their romance which is funny and sad at the same time, to the love scenes that would scorch the staunchest readers and leave them smoking in their seats.

My suggestion would be to all those bride to bees out there, to all the MOH’s, the MOG’s, the MOB’s to the GMOB to the SOB’s and if you’re having trouble deciphering these terms well my suggestion would be to get Happy Ever After and find out what it’s all about. I think of all of the novels in the series this one stands best alone but why risk missing some minute detail that you can only find in Vision in White which is the first novel or maybe you’ll miss some important biographical fact from Bed of Roses, the second in the series or maybe just maybe you’ll miss some important detrimental element from one of the groups relatives we meet in Savor The Moment the third in the series. The solution, get all four in the bride quartet series, you will not be sorry you did.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Review of Tough Customer by Sandra Brown

Tough Customer

Sandra Brown

Simon and Schuster

391 pages

Dodge Hanley (Smash Cut) has spent the last 30 years trying to forget the biggest mistake of his life, he’s done it by drink and by smoke and by recklessness, it only took a 30 second phone call to bring it all back. Thirty years ago Caroline King threw away the man she loved, she couldn’t live with his betrayal, but now she needs him because the daughter he’s only seen once needs him more. Berry is a successful advertising employee, she’s got the world by the tail until it stops turns around and bites her, she’s got a stalker, someone she knows and now fears and he’s getting more and more seriously unstable. Deputy Ski Nyland has investigated a lot of crime in his time but there is something seriously wrong with this one, he has to use all his ingenuity and all his tricks to solve this one. But it doesn’t stop at stalking and Dodge and Ski and Caroline have to unite their efforts to protect Berry from a “tough customer”.

Sandra Brown is the reigning queen of romantic suspense and her crown can be fitted for more jewels after this one. Her plot is thoughtful, imaginative and creative and could be plucked out of any large city or small town news report. Her dialogue is the no-nonsense you’d expect from private eyes and seasoned cops mixed with the southern belle narrative of Caroline and a combination of the two for Berry. Her characters are memorable, in fact they’re unforgettable and the four main protagonists share the spotlight equally in their importance and what they bring to the story. The two couples are very different and yet very right for each other and we have two very different love stories one of second chances and one of getting it right the first time and both for all practical purposes both a love at first sight story too which make the emotions more intense. The love scenes are sensual and spicy and yet leave some room for the imagination.

So if your meter is running low for a great romantic suspense, a chilling thriller, a commanding mystery or just a must read. Give Tough Customer a try, you won’t be sorry you did.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Review of The 3rd Secret by Tara Taylor Quinn

The 3rd Secret

Tara Taylor Quinn


400 pages

In this our 3rd look into the Kelly Chapman files, Kelly gets a call from an acquaintance Erin Morgan defense attorney from Temple Michigan, she’s got a personal dilemma and reaches out to Kelly for guidance. What Erin doesn’t realize is that her life is about to take a turn and she’ll have to rely on her instincts to know what to do, but instincts may not be enough, she may need more than them to save her life. Rick Thomas is your everyday ordinary handyman/construction worker and he finds himself in a world of trouble, he does the only thing he can and reaches out to Erin Morgan to help in his defense. But is Rick really who he appears, and if not is he friend or foe.

Ms Quinn kept me enthralled throughout this whole novel, I couldn’t turn pages fast enough to find out what was going to happen next. I loved that she included some of Kelly Chapman’s personal challenges that we learned of in the last novel as well as introducing us to our new protagonists for her third in the series. Her plot was inventive and realistic enough to entice even the staunchest crime drama fan and yet gives us a romantic suspense to keep all those fans well satisfied as well. She accomplishes this with a dialogue that enhances all the characters portrayed in the novel. Her characters are exceptionally skilled in who they depict and they are all very important to the story, you will especially hate the villain when he/she is revealed and love all the kind hearted souls who litter the rest of the pages. Her hero Rick and heroine Erin are a couple that her readers will feel compassion for while we’ll also wonder if there will ever be hope for them. The romance is fraught with second guesses, danger and peril in between moments of tenderness and longings. The love scenes are tame by today’s standards but even die hard hot romance fans like me won’t feel let down by them because it just leaves our imaginations to fill in the blanks.

This is an automatic must read for all fans of dramatic romantic suspense, fans of crime drama and mystery fans as well. Those of you who enjoy Carla Neggers, J T Ellison or Brenda Novak will love Tara Taylor Quinn. This novel stands very well alone but I would suggest reading the whole series to get all the details you’d miss otherwise.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Review of Cold Dawn by Carla Neggers

Cold Dawn

Carla Neggers


379 pages

Cold Dawn is the 3rd in Ms. Neggers Black Falls series.

Black Falls Vermont has seen more than it’s share of tragedy especially for the Cameron family. Rose Cameron lost her dad and almost lost her brother Elijah in the same week last year during which time she turned to smoke jumper and her brother Sean’s business partner Nick Martini, was it a mistake or a minute of temporary insanity like she tells herself. Nick Martini has been around the Camerons enough over the years to know when to butt in and when not to. Well there’s still someone out there even after the Lowells’ assassin ring was either rounded up or killed causing havoc in the small tourist town of Black Falls and Nick has taken it upon himself to leave his LA home and head north to see what he can find out. He tells himself it’s to help a friend and his family in need and not because he wants to see Rose Cameron again. The people of Black Falls aren’t as clueless as they seem because they all see something between Nick and Rose even if the couple are too stubborn to admit it to themselves.

Ms. Neggers the author of many best selling novels gives us a bird’s eye view of a crime spree in a picturesque New England town from the view point of one family and how it effects them and those they love. She does this with plots that could be found by the best conspiracy theorist or in any crime drama. She solves her crimes amongst the towering pines and charming setting of Vermont complete with snowy scenes and in this episode of the series Maple sapping, with a rustic lodge and remote cabins thrown in for more atmosphere. The reader will find themselves transported there by way of her detailed and expressive narrative. Her characters are well established and imperative to the tale and I like how we get to catch up on prior stars of the series to see how they’re getting along. Her romance is intense and strewn with unseen entanglements that would make the meek run, but her protagonists have more moxie than most, but she’ll keep you guessing to the very end to see if this couple get’s their Happy Ending. Her love scenes are steamy and sensual, yet descriptive without being crass.

This novel reads well as a stand a lone but to get all the preceding happenings I suggest reading them all. This novel will appeal to all lovers of romantic suspense or outdoors adventure novels. If you like Lisa Gardner or Lisa Jackson you will love Carla Neggers.

Review of Bad Blood by John Sandford

Bad Blood

John Sandford

J P Putnam’s Sons

388 pages

Bad Blood is the 4th in the Virgil Flowers series

When there’s trouble deep in the wilds of Minnesota the one man to count on is Virgil Flowers and Sheriff Lee Coakley definitely needs someone to count on, she’s got a murder that looks like a suicide and she’s about to learn what it means when the sh-t hits the fan, Virgil on the other hand has always taken solving crimes with a level head and deep thinking, don’t be fooled by his laid back attitude because there is a steel trap mind under all that blonde unruly hair. Lee and Virgil work well together and soon they realize that there’s more to their relationship than just work so while they solve crimes they also scratch a certain itch.

John Sandford the award winning author of the Lucas Davenport Prey series has developed a spin off series staring the unsinkable Virgil Flowers, now if you’re a fan of the “Prey” series you have obviously met Virgil a time or two in one of Lucas Davenport’s novels where he’s affectionately referred to as that “effing Flowers”. But one thing for sure is that Virgil get’s the job done, and what makes this series one of a kind is that Mr. Sandford uses unique and in some cases slightly illegal means to catch the bad guy (s). In this episode he gives us a look at life on the farm like you’ve never expected to view it. You will recognize his dialogue as he uses many of the same characters in both series. His characters are unforgettable, first rate and will stay with the reader for a long while after the last page is turned.

So if you’re looking for an in-between series when you run out of Lucas Davenport you will love this series, if you’re looking for a crime drama that includes a lot of hard tack crime and yet gives you the incredible outdoors of Minnesota than you won’t do better than this. If you like your protagonist to be a hard loving, hard living warrior with the heart of a scholar you can’t go wrong. But the real reason to read this novel and the ones that came before and the ones that come after is because you won’t find a better storyteller anywhere.
Fans of Ridley Pearson’s Walt Fleming series will like this series. If you’re a fan of Paul Doriron author of The Poacher’s Son you will enjoy this too.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Review of Veil of Night by Linda Howard

Veil of Night

Linda Howard

Ballantine Books

340 pages

The wedding planning business can be Wilde, Wilder and even deadly

Jaclyn Wilde co-owns Premier an event but mostly wedding planning business. The last thing she needs in her life are the complications of a man especially after dealing with the bride of Satan all day, fondly known as bridezilla, but we rarely get what we want. Eric Wilder has to admit he likes his life the way it is, after all life for a homicide cop can sometimes be crazy days followed by crazy nights, but even he has to admit that there’s just something about Jaclyn that pushes all the right buttons for him. A murder is just what might put a death to their new relationship, well better their relationship then them.

You’d think with the Romance Writers of America Career Achievement Award under her belt as well as dozens of previous novels, Ms Howard would relax just a bit, well you’d be wrong. The Queen of Romantic Suspense is at it again, this time in a suburb of Atlanta showing us that crime isn’t just for the inner city. And who else would think of combining a bride reality show with a tough cop show, co-mingling the characters into one hot love story and do it all with not only killer drama but laugh out loud scenes from her many wedding scenarios and other humorous situations. And it couldn’t be pulled off without incredible characters that are so three dimensional and life-like that you’d swear you’ve actually met them somewhere before. The romance is rife with meteroic sized pitfalls and as the attraction literally reels this couple in her readers will just have to prepare for the fireworks. The love scenes are hot, sexy and descriptive, so no reading this as a bedtime story for the little ones, in fact keep it in the deepfreeze because that’s where you’ll need to cool down after being a fly on the wall in the bedroom scenes.

This novel will please a multitude of fans, first the contemporary romance fan, then the romantic suspense fan, the thriller fan, the crime drama fan and finally but never least the fan of romance on the sizzle burner.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Review of Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie

Maybe This Time

Jennifer Crusie

St. Martin’s Press

342 pages

All Andie Miller wanted to do was give back the alimony checks to her ex so she can get on with her life, it’s too bad that one look at him brings back all the good times they shared along with the bad, but he begs her for one favor, just one small tiny favor. North Archer hasn’t seen the bane of his existence in 10 years, his ex-wife Andie still stars regularly in x-rated dreams, then one day there she is sitting in his office trying to hand back his alimony checks. In the mean time North has a problem not easily solved, a problem with Andie’s name written all over it now if he can just convince her to grant him one little tiny favor. Two young orphans alone in a wreck of an old house the only family left is one far away (in more ways than one) distant cousin who happens to be their ward then in blows a wind named Andi and everything changes, can she get the kids out of the house safely, can she put herself high enough on the shelf that North won’t touch her, does she want to.

This is classic, wonderful Crusie with her trademark characters you’d find in the dictionary under the definition of quirky, her uniquely imaginative story line with solid realism with just a touch of woo woo. This plot will wow the staunchest unbeliever as the reader winds and weaves through all the mystery, mayhem and intrigue of this one family, a family with secrets and maybe not skeletons in the closet, but would you believe ghosts. Her dialogue is flowing and descriptive at times and at others to the point and matter of fact. Her characters are a group of the most unlikely people to be found under one roof that you will ever have the pleasure of meeting, from the I’m too sexy for my shirt ex-brother in law, to the will sleep with anyone to get ahead TV reporter, to the open minded hippie in her heart mom (of Andie) and the never a hair out of place mom (of North). Then we have the happy couple, well maybe not so happy, but boy do we want them to be, these are one of those couples who you know want to be together, but will beat their heads together, against a wall or anywhere else to avoid having to admit they were wrong, but at the same time they really want to be together and we readers will feel their struggle, struggle with them and hope for the best. The romance is one of my very favorite types, that of second chances. The love scenes are inventive, sensual and we are kept enough outside the door that we have to imagine the scene.

So if you crave the next Crusie, why wait. If you can’t get your fill of crazy characters, you only have to go as far as your nearest bookseller, if you yearn for that all elusive happy ever after, come get it inside the pages of Jennifer Crusie’s latest novel “Maybe This Time”, you won’t be sorry you did.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Review of Sin Undone by Larissa Ione

Sin Undone

Larissa Ione

The Hatchet Group

400 pages

Sin Undone is the 5th in the Demonica series.

Being a paid assassin is nothing compared to the fact that Sinead is the only known female Seminus Demon ever known to exist and along with her twin brother Lore (Ecstasy Unveiled) didn’t know they were anything but human until they hit puberty, then lookout world. Sin has learned not to show or even have feelings for anyone so when she finds herself surrounded by previously unknown and now overprotective brothers, she’s way out of her comfort zone. She’s somehow created a lethal infection where only were-wolves are affected and she and her brothers are on a non-stop mission to stop this deadly disease. Add to that equation a sexy dhampire (half were-wolf/ half vampire) paramedic working at Underworld General who’s just a little too attracted to a certain literal killer of a demon in Sin and watch the fireworks explode.

In this era of overexposure to everything paranormal it’s nice to see an author of that genre that has a little extra something when it comes to imagination. She’s created a civilization of citizens that we blooded folks think go bump in the night living simultaneously yet shaded from the human realm, she made them enemies and yet made one safe haven that they all share, Underworld General and the different species who would normally be enemies working together there. She does it with no-nonsense dialogue filled with words that you’d expect to come out of the mouths of demons. She gives us unimaginable plots that include a look at a pre-apocalyptic earth with the threat of Armageddon and she does it with precise descriptive dialogue which will engage the senses of her readers. Her characters are all over the top being angels and demons, humans and some things somewhere in between that are all intricately woven into the story. The hero Con and the heroine Sin are two definite opposites that are attracted to each other and the results are TNT meets napalm and yet there are fewer who truly deserve their HEA than these two, but getting there might just kill them. The romance is as edgy as the characters involved and the love scenes are earthy and visceral and scream sex first and much later is love.

If your kind of romantic suspense stars creatures from nightmares, if you like your romance on the wild side, if you aspire to be a demon when you grow up, this is your kind of romance. This novel reads well by itself, but to get all the nuances and history of these and all the characters I would suggest reading the whole series.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Review of Hangman by Faye Kellerman


Faye Kellerman

William Morrow

422 pages

Hangman is the 19th novel in the Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus series. And they just keep getting better and better.

The life of a homicide detective is never dull, even if you’re the boss and sometimes because you’re the boss. Pete gets a blast from the past when someone from a previous case asks for help, he may be getting in over his head but he has to try. In the mean time there’s a killer on the loose and it looks like there’s more questions than clues.

In this her 19th novel in the Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus series, you’d think that they’d start to get a little stale, well you’d be barking up the wrong tree because they are just getting better and better. Her story line is always fresh and current with what’s going on in the world of crime fighting, and this time we get more than one case to solve in the tale, so more bang for our buck. Her characters are always interesting and entertaining and since we who are fans of the series know them, it’s like catching up with old friends. Her main protagonists the Deckers are as always, right in the thick of things and that goes for Rina as well as Pete. It’s also refreshing to see a couple who’ve been happily together for a long time, it gives old married people like me someone to empathize with. It’s also nice to see genuine caring and giving people portrayed in literature, it gives me hope still for our world.

Hangman stands very well on it’s own, but why deny yourself the immense pleasure in really getting to know these characters, so if this is your first in the series, go back and be sure to read the rest.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Review of The Wake of Forgiveness

The Wake Of Forgiveness

Bruce Machart

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

309 pages

The Wake of Forgiveness is a poignant must read.

The Skala’s are one imperfect family living in Texas at the turn of the century and this is their story. It’s a story a full generation long of an, I hope unlikely farm family. Karel Skala is the youngest son, he’s a forlorn man trying to better his present by not reliving his past, but in doing so he finds that the past always seems to rise it’s sometimes ugly head, but he also hopes that if one can rise above his past then maybe he’ll find “The Wake of Forgiveness”.

Mr. Machart has a real hit on his hands with this his debut novel The Wake of Forgiveness. He gives us a unique look at the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century USA, Texas from the perspective of one family and the town they call home, it’s before the dust bowl and before the depression but he makes us see just how treacherous and precipitous life can be. He does this using dramatic prose like dialogue that enhances the reader’s enjoyment of the novel by adding stimulus that will definitely affect our senses while it tells the story of this one imperfect family, he adds time jumps that also enlighten us about his characters. His characters are plentiful, colorful, complicated and some are difficult to imagine, while others will tear at your heartstrings. His characters the Skala’s are an unbelievably believable family and Mr. Machart makes them so to his audience by giving us multifaceted looks at the differences and similarities in their personalities. His main protagonist Karel Skala is a character that you will want to get to know, and as we find out bits and pieces of his life so far it will become clear to us why he became the man he did.

This is a love story, it’s a coming of age story, it’s a family drama and will appeal to so many different audiences at the same time. It’s mainly a beautifully written prosaic piece of literary fiction and who ever you are will be better for having read it. And I want to thank Mr. Machart for allowing it to be a part of the Barnes and Noble First Look program.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Interview with Mary Sharratt Author of Daughters of the Witching Hill

Author Mary Sharratt gave me an interview a few days ago.

She' the author of the featured novel of the month at B& General Fiction Book club

join us for the conversation here

Here's the interview

Debbie - I know your bio says that you’re an American Writer living in England, can you tell us what took you to England in the first place and what keeps you there.

Mary - My husband and I were living in California when he husband accepted a job offer based in Greater Manchester, so that's what brought us over. We ended up living in the countryside and are now both self-employed. The landscape here is very beautiful, magical, and inspiring, so that's a big part of what keeps us here. We also put down roots by buying a house and acquiring a horse.

When you write historically accurate fiction does it sometimes feel like you’re writing non-fiction and do you feel that to write historical fiction that it’s necessary to make it accurate.

M-I believe that all good historical fiction draws on extensive research into historical fact. The reader should be able to trust that the author has done all the right research and is telling them the truth about history, insomuch as the fictional format allows one to. If I do take liberties, I say so in the Afterword. I spent about a year researching and trying to understand the story in history before I started writing the novel. The research involved reading, traveling to all the places mentioned in the historical trial, and doing university courses on late medieval belief and superstition, the Reformation, and how resistance to religious reform impacted social history in Northern England.

D-From looking at your previous work it looks as though you prefer writing historical fiction, is this true and if so what draws you to this genre.

M- I love historical fiction because it deals with big issues that still impact us today. I personally find a lot of contemporary fiction too self-referential and lightweight.

When you were growing up did you always aspire to be a writer or was there some particular episode in your life that pulled you in this direction.

M- I was writing stories for as long as I could remember, but I only took myself seriously as an aspiring writer when I was in my mid-twenties and started writing what would become my first novel in my stolen moments after work. I didn't own a television because I preferred writing in my spare time!

Can you tell us what you’re working on now, is it another historical novel?

M-I'm working on a novel tentatively titled KNOW THE WAYS, which will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in Spring 2012. The novel tells the true story of Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179), Benedictine abbess and polymath, who composed an entire corpus of music and wrote books on subjects as diverse as theology, natural science, medicine and human sexuality—a prodigious intellectual outpouring that put most of her male contemporaries to shame. A mystic and visionary, her prophecies earned her the title Sibyl of the Rhine. She is a very inspiring women whose insights on natural medicine, the healing power of nature and of music, and on the feminine aspects of divinity can still teach us a lot today.
Her story arc is unforgettable. Her parents offered her as a tithe to the Church at the age of eight and she became an enclosed anchorite--she was literally bricked into a cell with another girl. She was supposed to have stayed there forever, silent and submissive, but instead, in midlife, she broke out of her prison and went on to become the greatest voice of her age.

Tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.

M- At the age of 39, I started to taking riding lessons and that started a serious horsey addiction. Two years ago, I bought a beautiful Welsh mare who changed my life. I'm like a horse-crazy teenager, except I'm old enough to be a teenager's mom. My horse and I went on the Mary Towneley Loop, a 48 mile, three day trek this August, over rugged old packhorse trails in the Pennines. It's fun to be a late bloomer.

Check out her other work and more about her at her website here

Monday, October 4, 2010

Review of The Second Lie

The Second Lie

Tara Taylor Quinn


336 pages

Chandler Ohio is the all American small town where everyone knows their neighbor and kids don’t need to worry about the terrors of big city crime, someone just forgot to mention that to the criminals because there’s big city type trouble with a capital M for Meth and Chandler has been loosing too many citizens because of it. In the mean time Kelly Chapman the psychologist/expert witness we met in The First Wife has alerted deputy Samantha Jones a life long friend to a possible sexual predator in their midsts and as Sam and Kelly try to get to the bottom of this case they open up a Pandora’s Box of trouble. Sam is fighting demons of her own between living up to her families reputation of what being a cop means as well as her strange relationship with former fiancĂ© Kyle Evans. The question is what will she find when she get’s to “The Second Lie”.

Ms. Quinn get’s right down to business in this her second of four novels in her Chapman Files series with a hard edged and very real plot about a very real crisis small town and large city America is going through with the Meth epidemic. She brings us this with a dialogue that gets to the point without any excess and yet brings her story to life with descriptive narrative that puts her reading audience right there, a fly on the wall with her characters. Speaking of her characters they are outstanding in portraying their roles and each one is extremely important to the telling of the tale and you will find yourself impatient to turn pages to see what happens next. Her heroine Sam and hero Kyle are very deserving of their titles and even more deserving of their Happy Ever After. Will they get it, you’ll have to read to find out. The romance is saucy and the love scenes are sensual and any lover of romantic suspense will definitely get their money’s worth with this one.

So if you’re the type who loves conflict with your romance, loves a non-stop action crime story with your romance or just loves a great romantic suspense read, go no farther than “The Second Lie”. Even though this is part of a series it could easily be read as a stand-a-lone. Be sure and be on the lookout for “The Third Secret” due out November 1, 2010 and “The Forth Victim” due out December 1, 2010 to round out the Chapman Files series.