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Kiss Me (Fool's Gold)
Kiss Me (Fool's Gold)
by Susan Mallery
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $6.19
72 used & new from $1.96

4.0 out of 5 stars delightful cattle drive romance, August 1, 2015
Kiss Me
Susan Mallery
Harlequin HQN, Jun 30 2015, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373780129

In Fool’s Gold, California Zane Nicholson raises his rebellious teenage half-brother Chase. Unlike Zane who relishes his hermitic existence, Chase loathes life on his older sibling’s ranch. Always seeking a ticket out of Hicksville, Chase finds a means to fund his robotics. He sells a cattle drive reality “show” to fools. Zane rages at his irresponsible younger brother as he is the sucker forced to keep safe paying customers, whose only knowledge of cattle come from eating.

Flighty Phoebe Kitzke is suspended from work for crossing a professional line even if her motive and intentions were out of kindness. Her BFF Maya persuades her to come with her to Fool’s Gold where her stepbrothers host a cattle drive spectacular. Filled with ire, Zane has polar opposite reactions to Pollyanna Phoebe who holds chats with animals (including his cattle). Her always rah-rah optimism drives him crazy, but not as much as his desire for her.

The nineteenth Fool’s Gold contemporary (see Hold Me) is at its best during the cattle drive as two paragons of virtue (and psychological issues) fall in love. The lead couple making a match of it in near record time seems doubtful; as per his siblings Zane keeps a standard of conduct unattainable by anyone except perhaps Mother Teresa; while Phoebe is all shoot from the heart with apparently no social awareness of crossing taboos. Still Susan Mallory authors a delightful tale as armchair readers will relish this cattle drive romance.

Harriet Klausner

1636: The Cardinal Virtues (The Ring of Fire)
1636: The Cardinal Virtues (The Ring of Fire)
by Eric Flint
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.31
49 used & new from $14.16

4.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable alternate history, August 1, 2015
1636: The Cardinal Virtues
Eric Flint and Walter H Hunt
Baen, Jul 7 2015, $26.00
ISBN: 9781476780610

In the summer of 1635 in Paris, King Louis still waits for a child he and his French subjects can call heir, but in spite of two decades of an alliance marriage to the daughter of Spain's King Philip III, Queen Aña Maria Mauricia, no baby has been born. The monarch in waiting remains his brother Gaston d’Orleans.

Cardinal Richelieu deploys a scheme to allow him to maintain his position of power. His efforts succeed in impregnating her royal highness. To keep the Queen safe, Richelieu hides her from those Frenchmen like d’Orleans and foreign governments who prefer the current ruler goes to his grave without siring the next king. As a civil war seems imminent in divided France, outside interests take sides.

The nineteenth Ring of Fire alternate history focuses on France, which has been a major but never prime locale in the long running saga. The cast is solid though overwhelmingly abundant even with the Grantville crowd limited; while readers learn more about recurring characters like Richelieu and d’Orleans. The storyline contains plenty of escapades and for the most part moves quickly forward; but never climaxes as The Cardinal Virtues is the appetizer for at least the next entry.

Harriet Klausner

The Calamity Janes: Lauren
The Calamity Janes: Lauren
by Sherryl Woods
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $6.79
30 used & new from $2.79

4.0 out of 5 stars engaging romance, July 31, 2015
The Calamity Janes: Lauren
Sherryl Woods
Mira, Jul 28 2015, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778317883

Only twenty-eight, Hollywood romantic comedy movie superstar Lauren Winters has had a string of critically acclaimed box office smash hits, but feels her Southern California life as shallow especially after two failed marriages and a rejection of a face lift. She misses her family ranch (though sold by her parents at her encouragement) and her Calamity Janes’ girlfriends (Gina, Emma, Cassie and Karen); so she rushes home to Winding River, Wyoming whenever she can, which recently has been frequent.

In return for room and board, Karen and her husband Grady hire Lauren to work with fractious horses like Midnight; as she is incredible with skittish steeds. New ranch wrangler Wade Owens almost has a heart attack when he spots Lauren rubbing dangerous Midnight though he admits to himself he also is jealous. Unaware who she is except as a friend of his boss, Wade and Lauren fall in love. Nevertheless, her movie fame and particularly her wealth proves an impediment; since raised by a single mom and ignored by his wealthy, married and cheating father, Wade loathes the money gentry.

The fifth Calamity Janes contemporary (see the recent reprints of the first four romances originally published approximately fifteen years ago) is an engaging tale of love not being enough to overcome the emotional trauma and bias Wade has towards the 1%; as the adult is the child. Readers will relish Lauren’s storyline in spite of its predictability mostly because of Wade’s bone marrow deep distrust as well as a chance to catch up with the four other Janes.

Harriet Klausner
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 1, 2015 6:25 PM PDT

The Hotter You Burn (Original Heartbreakers)
The Hotter You Burn (Original Heartbreakers)
by Gena Showalter
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $6.79
37 used & new from $2.78

4.0 out of 5 stars pleasant contemporary, July 31, 2015
The Hotter You Burn
Gena Showalter
Harlequin HQN, Jul 28 2015, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373779697

In Strawberry Valley, Oklahoma, former teen bully Harlow Glass struggles to survive as she secretly lives in a tent on the ranch her family once owned and as the pariah she has no prospects for obtaining a job. Hungry and expecting no one home; Harlow sneaks into her former house now owned by Beck Ockley and his two foster care brothers (Jase Hollister and Lincoln West) to steal food.

However, Beck catches her inside his house. Although a womanizer who trusts no one except his “siblings”; Beck recognizes a lonely kindred spirit in Harlow. As they begin a tryst, Harlow soon realizes she wants more from this man she loves. However, Beck cannot commit to her or any female even at the same he irrationally fears her leaving him

The latest Original Heartbreakers Sooner romance (see e-novella: The One You Want) is a pleasant contemporary that besides the main plot also updates the readers on what is happening to other key townsfolk. The lead couple’s relationship seems similar to that of Jase and Brook Lynn Dillon (see The Closer You Come), especially Beck’s behavior; while Harlow tries climbing out of a deep crater with or without her beloved giving her an uplifting hand although I wonder why she stays in a “Town Without Pity”.

Harriet Klausner
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 1, 2015 6:26 PM PDT

The Secret Sister
The Secret Sister
by Brenda Novak
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.81
30 used & new from $8.72

4.0 out of 5 stars suspenseful, mesmerizing family mystery, July 30, 2015
This review is from: The Secret Sister (Paperback)
The Secret Sister
Brenda Novak
Mira, Jul 28 2015, $14.95
ISBN: 9780778317807

Paralleling her ugly divorce, Maisey Lazarow’s brother Keith attempted suicide. Thus believing her sibling needs her (and deep down in her soul, she knows she needs him too), Maisey returns home to a place she loathes, Fairham, South Carolina. Her mother, self-anointed city Queen Josephine, fails to meet and greet her; which Maisey is happy with after a decade old riff.

Maisey avoids her ‘royal” mom by renting a different home rather than moving back into the family place. Next door is Rafe Romero, who she fell in love with as a teen and still finds him extremely attractive. When Maisey finds old photos of a familiar looking girl; memories begin to surface. Though she adheres to the belief her only sibling is Keith, Maisey and her brother have vague memories of a forgotten sister.

The Secret Sister is a suspenseful family drama starring a fully-developed cast. The well-written romantic subplot between Maisey and Rafe (and his matchmaking preadolescent daughter) intrudes on the mesmerizing mystery; as the search for the missing Secret Sister grips the audience from the first revelation to the climatic resolution.

Harriet Klausner
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 1, 2015 11:39 AM PDT

Prisoners of Tomorrow (BAEN)
Prisoners of Tomorrow (BAEN)
by James P Hogan
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.16
43 used & new from $8.01

4.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable, thought-provoking science fiction thrillers, July 30, 2015
Prisoners Of Tomorrow
James P. Hogan
Baen, Jul 7 2015, $14.00
ISBN: 9781476780658

“Endgame Enigma.” Russia proudly constructs Valentina Tereshkova, an orbiting city space station. However, America remains suspicious of their former Cold War enemy especially when information from reliable sources claims this is a nuclear weapon launch pad. While the world marvel at Russia’s success, agent Lew McCain and scientist Dr. Paula Bryce arrive at the Valentina Tereshkova to confirm the claims of Russian duplicity. They are locked in an inescapable prison even as the countdown to a North American nuclear winter begins.

“Voyage from Yesteryear.” The colony on Chiron in the Alpha Centauri sector became isolated from the mother planet when WWIII devastated the Earth. Decades later the Earth’s three superpowers engage in a space race to renew contact with the descendants of the original Chiron colonists. The Americans arrive first with a dictatorial dogma to impose their belief system on the people of Chiron, who adheres strongly in the belief that everyone has the right to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

These reprints of two 1980s science fictions showcase James P. Hogan’s ability to tell enjoyable yet thought-provoking thrillers. Though the casts are one-dimensional stereotypes; Endgame Enigma provides an intriguing look at the Cuban Missile Crisis in planetary orbit and the Prometheus Award winning Voyage from Yesteryear timely focuses on the seemingly human need to impose one’s deepest personal beliefs on unwilling others.

Harriet Klausner
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 1, 2015 6:28 PM PDT

Lone Rider (The Montana Hamiltons)
Lone Rider (The Montana Hamiltons)
by B. J. Daniels
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $6.19
35 used & new from $2.19

4.0 out of 5 stars exciting rustic romantic suspense, July 29, 2015
Lone Rider
B.J. Daniels
Harlequin HQN, Jul 28 2015, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373788415

In Big Timber, Montana, worried Emily Calder tells her brother Jace that her boss at the Sarah Hamilton Foundation Bo Hamilton failed to return from a night of camping. Emily says depressed Bo arranged for auditors to look into embezzlement of foundation funds. They were to interview her; but she failed to make the meeting.

Jace prefers to stay far away from the woman who rejected his proposal, but fears something happened to Bo. Though in the minority, he strongly believes she did not take the money nor would deliberately miss the appointment with the auditors especially since she found the discrepancies. In the nearby mountains, fearful Jace learns why Bo missed her session with the auditors she contacted.

The second Montana Hamiltons romantic suspense (see Wild Horses) is an exciting rustic thriller. The lead couple and the villain make for an interesting potentially deadly triangle in which the life-threatening danger rightfully supersedes the romance. Although there are too many subplots started for future entries (in fairness there are six Hamilton siblings and their mom back from the grave after a two plus decade vanishing needing a scorecard), Lone Rider is a wonderful second chance, if they survive, contemporary.

Harriet Klausner
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 30, 2015 4:51 PM PDT

Silent Creed (A Ryder Creed Novel)
Silent Creed (A Ryder Creed Novel)
by Alex Kava
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.10
33 used & new from $13.48

4.0 out of 5 stars exhilarating thriller, July 29, 2015
Silent Creed
Alex Kava
G.P. Putnam's Sons, Jul 28 2015, $26.95
ISBN: 9780399170775

In Haywood County, North Carolina, heavy rain leads to a deadly landslide. The precipitation continues hampering efforts to rescue trapped survivors. Lieutenant Colonel Peter Logan contacts K-9 CrimeScents Hannah Washington; specifically requesting her partner rescue dog trainer Ryder Creed to search for forty-five missing and most likely dead people trapped in the avalanche. Logan sends a jet to bring Ryder and his dogs like America’s favorite canine Grace to the disaster. Ryder loathes Logan, who was his superior officer in Afghanistan, but besides the business needing the commission there might be people still alive and in need of rescue rather than recovery once the inundation stops.

At the same time Ryder flies to North Carolina, FBI Agent Maggie O'Dell comes to the scene as Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency scientists are among the missing. Having recently worked together (see Breaking Creed) Creed and O’Dell team up when they realize Mother Nature did not kill a recovered corpse; a human committed the homicide.

The second Ryder Creed suspense is a non-stop exhilarating thriller that grips the audience from the moment the protagonist arrives at the deadly avalanche site (after a leisurely paced opening) and never slows down. Filled with twists and two types of mud (the other being flung by Congress) Alex Kava authors a winning drama starring two human heroes, a sneaky vile villain (mindful of X Files’ Cancer Man) and show-stealing K9s.

Harriet Klausner
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 30, 2015 4:52 PM PDT

Lady Be Good (Rules for the Reckless)
Lady Be Good (Rules for the Reckless)
by Meredith Duran
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $5.13
29 used & new from $1.03

5.0 out of 5 stars thrilling Victorian, July 28, 2015
Lady Be Good
Meredith Duran
Pocket Books, Jul 28 2015, $7.99
ISBN: 9781476741376

In London, Viscount Kit Stratton worries about the lunatic threatening his loved ones. This military hero believes Catherine Everleigh, co-owner with her brother Peter of Eveleigh’s Auction House, can lure the maniac into the open so that Kit can end the danger to his family.

When Kit catches Everleigh Girl hostess Lilah Marshall stealing letters from her employer, he seizes an opportunity to catch the homicidal enemy. Kit blackmails Lilah into helping him with his crusade. Thus Lilah, who left her crime family kin behind four years ago, travels with her boss to Kit’s estate. However, neither Kit nor Lilah expected to fall in love, which makes her the prime target of a psychopath.

The latest Rules for the Reckless Victorian (see Fool Me Twice, That Scandalous Summer and E-novella Your Wicked Heart) is a thrilling romantic suspense filled with tension and a vibrant resilient lead couple. The entertaining relationship hooks the audience as on the surface Lilah is from Venus and Kit from Mars, but readers know before the protagonists how much they actually have in common. The merciless predator brings out the good and fear in the targeted prey as fans of historical novels anticipate High Noon in 1886 England.

Harriet Klausner
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The Devil's Seal: A Mystery of Ancient Ireland (Mysteries of Ancient Ireland)
The Devil's Seal: A Mystery of Ancient Ireland (Mysteries of Ancient Ireland)
by Peter Tremayne
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.85
28 used & new from $11.86

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable medieval whodunit, July 28, 2015
The Devil’s Seal
Peter Tremayne
Minotaur Books, Jul 28 2015, $26.99
ISBN: 9781250059727

In 671 Ireland, religious leaders are irate over the latest Papal decree of Rule of the Blessed Benedict. They come to Cashel to debate over how to implement and more important ignore the dictate by the Council of Autun. One of the attendees Anglo-Saxon Brother Egric survives a shipwreck that killed his three traveling companions. He claims to be Brother Eadulf’s brother who the latter thought died years ago.

Before the divided discussion between the Irish and Anglo-Saxon delegates commences someone slices the throat of Saxon emissary Brother Cerdic; leaving his corpse in a position of prayer. At Cashel, Mumen King Colgu assigns his sister (Eadulf’s wife) Sister Fidelma to investigate in hopes of preventing more homicides from occurring. As she makes her inquiries, additional killings happen including Cill Naile steward Sister Dianaimh.

The silver anniversary Mysteries of Ancient Ireland (see Atonement of Blood) is an enjoyable medieval whodunit. The fascinating focus on the various religious leaders’ reactions to the Papal decree anchors the novel in time and place. Sister Fidelma’s intriguing investigation entertains the faithful, but the climax lacks the vigor of most entries (including this novel) in one of the consistently best historical series.

Harriet Klausner
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 30, 2015 4:54 PM PDT

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