Wednesday, June 15, 2011

More Urban Fantasy

Moon Cursed
Lori Handeland
St. Martin’s, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312389352

With the cancellation of her TV show the Hoax Hunters, Kristin Daniels knows she will need a miracle to revitalize her career. Not one to idly sit around waiting for divine intervention, Kristin believes proving a legendary monster is a fake is the ticket back to the small screen. She chooses the Loch Ness monster as her target.

Kristin arrives in Drumnadrochit, Scotland to begin her hoax busting. However, she finds the corpse of a drowned female who some locals insist was murdered by Nessie. At the ruins of Urquhart Castle, Kristin and Liam Grant meet and are attracted to one another though she feels he conceals something dark from her. Meanwhile, Edward Mandenauer offers her a lot of money to assist him on his obsessive quest to find Nessie.

The tenth “Moon” Nightcreature urban romantic fantasy takes a terrific twist as the village of Drumnadrochit seems cursed by Nessie. In the gloomy dark atmosphere, the Hoax Hunter sets out to prove the killer is human, not mythical. The predator (Nessie or human), Liam and Edward form the rest of the Moon Cursed inquiry into whom or what is the psychopathic serial killer (can Nessie be a psychopath?). Fans will Crave the Moon saga as Lori Handeland provides a great entry in a strong series. Harriet Klausner

Katherine Irons
Kensington Brava,$14.00
ISBN: 9780758261403

Thirtyish and a former Olympic team rider, Claire Bishop recently inherited Seaborne, an estate in Maine. Over the objections of her caring father Richard and her odious former husband Justin, she has decided to stay at Seaborne by herself. Since she suffered an injury in a boating accident, Claire has been wheelchair bound. Her dad fears for her safety; and her ex has other schemes in mind.

Off of Coastal Maine, Atlantean Prince Morgan senses Claire’s anguish. He comes out of the ocean and takes Claire with him into the sea where he escorts her around his undersea world and like magic her useless legs work perfectly. However, Morgan has broken the strict Atlantean legal code by mingling with the humans as his half-brother Caddoc witnessed and demands legal action. As they fall in taboo love, adversaries from each of their worlds want the star-crossed couple separated and death is the best means to achieve this objective.

This is a delightful oceanic fantasy as Katherine Irons makes the underwater realm of the Atlanteans seem real from the moment the blue man-dolphin rescues a human child and never slows down until the surprising brilliant final tidal wave. Although their two respective prime enemies have no redeeming qualities, readers will root for the lead couple as Ms. Irons provides a wonderful under the sea tour.
Harriet Klausner

Con and Conjure
Lisa Shearin
Ace, $7.99
ISBN: 9780441020188

Raine Benares has always been the black sheep of her family as the seeker of the lost while her blood relatives are thieves; in fact her kin are the most infamous criminal clan in the seven kingdoms. However, Raine turns to her family for help after she and the Saghred soul-stealing stone bond; not to de-link them but to help her pull off a necessary con to end the stalking by elves and goblins who want the power of the rock.

The King of the Goblins Sathik Mal’Salin and the darkest mage Sarad Nukpana each plans to use the Saghred for personnel gain at the cost of the kingdoms. The elven leaders Taltek Balmorlan and Magus Carnades Silvanus send her former fiancĂ© Rache Kai the elven assassin to hunt her down as her powerful enemies have no monetary problems. With her allies Mychael and Tam and her con artist family, Raine sets in motion a diabolical counter scheme.

The fifth Benares fantasy is a terrific tale that moves forward the overarching saga theme of the apocalypse soon seemingly a certainty. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action while the wise cracking heroine learns the depth of her power at the same time eluding a horde of foes who want to use her to use the stone. Series fans will enjoy the latest entry (see Bewitched and Betrayed and The Trouble With Demons) as Con and Conjure is a sly family affair stone included.
Harriet Klausner

In the Arms of Stone Angels
Jordan Dane
Harlequin Teen
ISBN: 9780373210299

In Shawano, Oklahoma when Brenna Nash was fourteen years old, she came upon her best friend Isaac (White Bird) Henry rocking over the corpse of Heather Madsen in his hands and mumbling insanely. She called 911. Fearing retaliation from the townsfolk for her daughter doing the responsible thing, Mom takes Brenna with her as she moves to North Carolina leaving behind their family.

Two years later, Brenna’s maternal grandmother dies. Mom accompanied by a reluctant Brenna returns home to fix up the house in order to sell it. Unable to ignore White Bird, Brenna learns he is in a catatonic state in an asylum. Although she believes her Brenna was involved in the Madsen murder, Mom proves right about the town; Sheriff Logan also thinks Brenna was involved in the homicide and teens vandalize their home. However, though warned to stay away from White Bird, Brenna somehow communicates with him when she touches him at the mental hospital. The horror she “sees’ is the hell he resides in filled with demons and worse. Her only recourse is to turn to Joe “Spirit Walker” Sunne who does not trust her.

In the Arms of Stone Angels
is an engaging teen rural fantasy starring a strong cast who evolve as events happen, especially the young lead. Brenna at first is overwhelmingly filled with remorse for turning in her BFF, but knows she did the right thing though her emotional regret supersedes her defense mechanism logic. Although too many threads are left unanswered, readers will enjoy a stop at “A Town Without Pity” (Gene Pitney) as Native American mythos blends with a whodunit in Jordan Dane’s entertaining tale. Harriet Klausner

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