An assortment of reviews from Harriet.
Bantam, May 19 2009, $12.00
A secret organization consisting of a few hundred people of Noreela search out and kill Strangers who look human, but have gills on their neck and tendrils on the outside of their spine. The Strangers d not cooperate with the Core who they believe are the advances scouts before an invasion. Collateral damage of innocent people by the Core is deemed acceptable if it meant the destruction of the Strangers.
When Core agent Kel Boon observed six innocent children murdered during an attack by his side, his anguish and outrage leads to the unimaginable for a dedicate agent; he quits. He goes to the village of Pavmouth Breaks where he is known as Kell the Woodchopper and loves the witch Namior Feeron. A brutal storm hammers the coast. When the torrent ends, a new island Komadia is nearby. Kel has a bad feeling as visitors from the island arrive at the sleepy fishing village. He wants to make sure the newcomers have no gills so that the villagers he cherishes will not be harmed. No gills or tendrils are evident by the Strangers but he fears they do not belong to Noreela. He and Namior begin to learn an inconvenient truth when they visit Komadia to find out what the islanders want with Noreela; a truth that could destroy civilization as he knows it.
Tim Lebbon provides readers with a spellbinding horror-fantasy tale from the moment the ISLAND appears and never loosens its grip until the climax. His world is filled with magic as anyone can become a Practitioner, but Kel has become wary of something he does not understand. Ironically, he runs ways from a situation only to run into a scenario even potentially more gruesome. He knows he must make a stand; even his beloved expects him choose fiight over flight. Fans will be hooked wanting to know why he ran away from his Core values and like the lead couple readers will want to know what do Komadians want with Noreela. Mr. Lebbon cleverly blends two genres with a refreshing romantic subplot into a sleepless night of reading. Harriet Klausner
Grand Central, May 29 2009, $13.99
The town of Santa Olivia lies in between the United States and Mexico in a sort of no “flag” zone except the American military owns this isolated wasteland. Santa Olivia sprung up around a military base where human reengineering and other experiments are conducted that would be illegal in both countries.
The goal of the “Wolf Man” is to genetically alter humans to make them Captain America-like super soldiers. One of these Wolf Men impregnated a normal female who gave birth to aptly named Loup Garron. To keep her safe from the scientists, her mom and brother hid her existence, but her father was forced to flee. When her mother dies, she is forced to live with other orphans at the nearby church. Though the other kids are normal humans, they not only know she is a half-breed they go out of their way to help her hide her paternal heritage. The orphans know her secret and help her to conceal it, while they also try to make Santa Olivia a better place to live. However when her brother dies in a camp boxing match, Loup vows to challenge the winner though that will surely expose who she is to the commander.
Using a Dr. Moreau like science fiction background, Jacqueline Carey provides a deep well drawn coming of age character study of a half-breed offspring of an experiment. The exciting story line finds its groove once Loup joins the other orphans, as they accept her as one of them although they recognize she is radically different and protect her secrets from the military who would exploit her. Like her “peers”, Loup seeks her mate for life; knowing the danger she places any male in especially a purebred human when the day of reckoning she expects finally comes. This is a terrific romantic sci fi thriller starring a wonderful heroine. Harriet Klausner
Sexy Beast VI
Kate Douglas, Anya Howard, Lydia Parks
Kensington Aphrodisia, Apr 2009, $12.95
Chanku Honor” by Kate Douglas. The Wolfpack begins to turn into a Chanku family led by Logan and his lover Jazzy Blue along with four others; as they start to discover their shapeshifting legacy and sexual prowess.
“Wings of The Swan” by Anya Howard. Deep in the northern Germanic woods, the Saxon chief sees the daughter of the Goddess come from behind a waterfall, but knows she must not be human as no mortal could be that beautiful.
“Animal Instinct” by Lydia Parks. Rachel investigates the serial killings that look like a sentient animal as the culprit. Her inquiry leads to Siberia where she works with shapeshifting Russian detective Nikolai, whom she is attracted to but fears he knows more than he is telling her about the predator.
These hot erotic paranormal romances are entertaining tales though the novella format never enables the full loving relationships to gel to the point that the fantasy elements seem real. Still series fans will relish the latest “Sexy Beast” torrid tales as once again the heat is on amidst the mystical legends. Harriet Klausner
Diane Mott Davidson
Morrow, Apr 7 2009, $25.99
Aspen Meadow, Colorado caterer Goldy Schulz has no time to breathe as she works on two wedding receptions. Balancing both would be tough enough, but one of the brides is out of control with last second demands. Trying to satisfy the poster girl of bridezillas is taking a toll on Goldy.
Traveling to one of the ceremonies, retired Harold "Doc" Finn dies in mysterious circumstances. Goldy considers Doc might have been murdered though she admits to herself it could have been a tragic accident. When someone attacks Goldy’s godfather Jack Carmichael, who was Doc’s buddy, the caterer feels her hunch is affirmed. While her police husband Tom wants her to remain in the kitchen, Goldy investigates anyway.
The latest Goldy culinary amateur sleuth (with some limited police procedural elements hovering sort of in the background) is an amusing yet suspenseful tale as nothing seems to go right for the caterer to the delight of her fans. The story line easily shifts gear between the humorous antics of Bridezilla (funny as long as you are not the target) and others to the whodunit. Goldy, Tom, assistant culinary assistant, Julian and the rest of the cast make for a SWEET REVENGE cozy. Harriet Klausner