THE NINTH DAY, by Jamie Freveletti

4/series. Another fast-paced, edge-of-the-seat, totally gruelling story starring Iron Woman and biochemist Emma Caldridge. While searching for rare night-blooming plants in the Arizona dessert, mega-runner Emma runs afoul of coyotes, human traffickers, and can't outrun them. She winds up in the clutches of a drug cartel leader (this is not exactly a spoiler, which you know I absolutely would never inflict upon you) whose endless fields of pot seem to be under attack by a mysterious virus. The virus, whatever its source, seems also to be infecting the field workers who actually harvest the pot. The drug lord, whose typical reaction to bad news is to torture the messenger, demands that Emma find out what's causing the problems. Click for more...

HOTSHOT, by Julie Garwood

When Peyton Lockhart and her two sisters are given a luxury Florida resort to manage for one year, their goal is to show their Uncle Len (the donor) they can turn a profit. If they do it, beautiful Bishop's Cove is theirs. Peyton, a French-trained chef, had just quit her job as restaurant critic for the world's sleaziest boss (sexual harassment a specialty) and was ready to call the shots in her own life. On her way out of the Minnesota town where the sleazoid rules, she's tailgated and rammed. Enter Finn MacBain, whose life reads like a modern version of a Horatio Alger novel. Click for more...



Subtitled A Jaded Gentleman Novel. Set in the mid 1800's, this tale of suspense and derring-do offers historical romance devotees an inventive author with a talent for spicy encounters. British Army sharpshooter Michael Rutherford endured a rajah's prison but escaped with a group of fellow soldiers and officers, returning to London with a legendary magical stone. Michael, a man with no family, vowed to protect his new-found brothers-in-arms at the cost of his own life, if necessary. The band named themselves The Jaded, and are being pursued by the Jackal, a shadowy figure seeking the priceless stone. Enter Grace Porter, a stunning blonde who has been told all her life she is of no value. Click for more...



One of Hoag's earlier works, a multi-thread contemporary romantic suspense set in Montana. Marilee Jennings, impulsively fleeing a life she's come to hate, arrives in New Eden to visit Lucy MacAdam, an old friend. And finds Lucy's dead, shot in a hunting accident. Here's the part where I, as book reviewer, have to decide what is a spoiler and what is only set-up. Mari's viewed by long-time locals such as sexy rancher J. D. Rafferty with disdain and suspicion. The valley's being taken over by wealthy outsiders and the traditional way of life that J.D. prizes above all else is threatened. Click for more...

WET GRAVE, by Barbara Hambly

6/series. A Free Man of Color begins this compelling series, set in the early 1830's in New Orleans. As a powerfully-built 6'3" black man, Benjamin January is often taken as a field slave, but he's a free man of color, a physician and a musician. His mother, a placee (part-colored mistress - often a former slave - of a white man, usually a plantation owner), was bought from the cane fields by her protector, who also bought her two children. The entire series is compelling, and a disquieting look into the lives of both blacks and whites in New Orleans during its formative years. Billed as the Jean Lafitte Treasure Book, this story begins with the murder of a one-time mistress of one of Lafitte's captains. The victim is black, desperately poor, selling herself for a cup of rum to anyone with the price. Click for more...


THE DARK AFFAIR, by Maire Claremont

3/series. Set in mid-Victorian London, Viscount Powers wakes from an opium binge to find himself in a mental institution, put there by his despairing father. Powers' counselor is Lady Margaret Cassidy, an Irishwoman with a dark, unhappy past: daughter of Irish nobility, survivor of the on-going Irish famine that killed millions, and a Crimean war nurse who has seen it all. Powers, beset by dark memories he tries to drown with drugs and living dangerously, has finally got himself too far down the road to ruin. Margaret is convinced by Power's father to become more than merely a nurse. For reasons of her own,...Click for more...



2/series. Ava Lee could well be your next take-no-prisoners heroine. The Toronto-based professional auditor works for "Uncle", an ancient Hong Kong-based businessman with connections to the world's movers and shakers. And that's a very good thing, as Ava must go head to head with some very influential characters, few of whom have much interest beyond their own concerns. This novel begins with the theft of sixty million dollars from a Vancouver businessman whose company is controlled from Manilla. But things are not as they at first seem, Click for more...


BEAUTIFUL LIES, by Emilie Richards

A multi-family, multi-generational, multi-crime, multi-revenge, trans-oceanic roller coaster sure to please devotees of high-emotion, wide-screen writing. Well, that says it all, doesn't it? Sometimes writing book reviews is a blast.
It all starts with the 19th century pearl fishers in western Australia, and what one American man will do to gain possession of "The Pearl of Great Price". His greed spawns a generational rivalry that poisons two families. Richards nails the privations and dangers of the profession; she's clearly spent a lot of time in Australia and has delved into the national psyche...Click for more...

THE GOD OF THE HIVE, by Laurie R. King

10/series. Once again, Laurie R. King puts Mary Russell and her husband Sherlock Holmes through the wringer, this time bringing in the next two Holmes generations: Damien Adler, son of Sherlock and Stella Adler, and Damien's delightful three year-old daughter. Everyone's on the lam: Holmes makes his laborious way off the Orkney Islands where the action starts. Mary, with the granddaughter, flee the islands in a new-fangled aeroplane, but with catastrophic results. Enter enigmatic hermit Robert Goodman, a shell-shocked young man living deep in a forest in the Lakes District. The Holmes' separation makes for a fascinating story, you're almost getting two tales for the price of one.



8/series. Devotees of high-octane international thrillers will probably be familiar with author Alex Berenson', whose debut novel The Faithful Spy became an almost-instant favorite, winning the Edgar Award for Best First Novel. Starring CIA undercover agent John Wells. The series has gone from (pardon the cliche) strength to strength, with Wells going through as many personal ups and down as the CIA, for whom he - kind of - works. The Counterfeit Agent begins with a woman picking up contraband A-bomb material. Then we skip to Wells on a Caribbean cruise (!) proposing marriage to his current girlfriend, something I never thought the man would do.



2/series. Another volume of the charming Jane Austen mystery spin-off; even the original author might enjoy these true-to-their-origin puzzles. Once again Mr. and Mrs. Darcy are faced with an unusual mystery when they bring Kitty, Elizabeth’s remaining unmarried sister, to London for the Season. Kitty makes a conquest in Mr. Dashwood, distant relative to the notorious, long-dead founder of the Hellfire Club, whose portrait still hangs in their ancestral home. Then Kitty’s charming would-be husband has a bizarre change of personality so sinister as to be unbelievable. But author Bebris will make you believe, with a spine-chilling scene that will keep you enthralled. A fun-filled, gently-written series; you don't have to be an Austin fan to enjoy these. This is a 4.5, and a series that could give you (at the rate I read, anyway) a long summer's weekend of pleasure. Read more reviews at www.nuts4books.com


ONCE UPON A LIE, by Maggie Barbieri

1/series. You may have been faced with this dilemma: What would you do if you had a chance to avenge evil done many years ago? Evil done to others? Evil done to yourself? Maeve Conlon, divorced mother of two teenaged girls, owner of a just-making-it cupcake shop, daughter of an ex-cop with early Alzheimer's, takes her father to the wake of her cousin. Maggie and Sean Donovan have a lot of history, much of it not pretty. Domineering and cruel, Sean had been found in his car, pants around his knees, a bullet in his head. When suspicion falls on her father, Jack, Maggie enlists the help of her lawyer ex-husband.


Marvelous! The title pulled me in, the set-up locked me, and I had to read it almost in one sitting. Eleanor Falkner, refinisher of furniture, expects her husband Greg when there's a knock on the front door. Maybe he's lost his keys. But it's two police officers with devastating news: Greg has died in an auto accident. But even more devastating: he didn't die alone, another woman was in the car. Why was Greg at that remote place in an abandoned industrial area? Who was the woman? Was he having an affair? How had Ellie not known, not realized, not guessed? She embarks on a quest to understand what happened, if Greg really was having an affair. Gradually, her friends come to think she's lost her bearings, that this is more than just grief gone wrong. When she strikes out in a new direction, she tells no one. Hard to keep spoilers out of this book review. A marvelous combination of emotion and fear, confusion and guilt, of all the basic emotions that drive us. A 4. A prolific wife-husband team you should get to know.


TEAR YOU APART, by Megan Hart

From the title, it could be slasher, could be almost anything: it's not romance, it's listed on the author's website as erotica. Hard-hitting, totally frank, very explicit romance/relationship/affair between long-married mother of twin girls Elizabeth and single New York City photographer Will.
Hart is a prolific writer of everything romantic from historical to contemporary (plus some horror; perhaps it's fair to say what she doesn't write? westerns? cookbooks?). She also writes in varying degrees of "heat". This novel tells the forthright, very hot story of an engaging woman with an amazingly unconnected husband, and what happens when she meets a man she feels drawn to. Yes, it's very sexy; yes, it's explicit; yes, Elizabeth goes places many of us might not ever go (but might really want to). And, yes, it's well done enough that it's a one-sitting read. It's a 4. The sex is 4+.


WICKED INTENTIONS, by Elizabeth Hoyt

Romances, by their very nature, promise the HEA: Happily Ever After. This is one of those authors who keep the reader on the edge of their seat while delivering those sexy goods. Will she? Won't he? Will they? Do-gooding widow Temperance Dews works endless hours in the unsavory area of St. Giles in her family's orphanage.
In the mid-1700's, St. Giles was notorious for gin shops, bordellos, and some of the worst poverty and violence in the city. Lazarus Huntington, Lord Caire, wants access to St. Giles; he offers Temperance employment. She refuses, and makes a counter proposal. Caire, intrigued by Mrs. Dews virtuous appearance, has plans beyond the immediate bargain they strike. But the dissolute lord, widely known as a man with unorthodox sexual tastes, does not know what secrets are being hidden by his pretty guide. With plausible motives, authentic details, and a plethora of steamy not-your-usual-technique sex scenes, you'll enjoy this historical romance, one of many by this New York Times best-selling author.
It's a 4; sex is a 4 as well. More book reviews can be found at www.nuts4books.com


BURNING BRIGHT, by Tracy Chevalier

When it comes to historical fiction, few authors today can touch Tracy Chevalier. In this work, she's chosen to focus on two years in the life of English poet and writer William Blake. The French Revolution is entering its bloodiest phase, and reaction in England is severe: to protect the monarchy (even in the form of George III, not the most effective ruler the country had ever suffered under) at all costs. As history shows, this kind of status-quo-at-any-cost reaction leads to its own form of repression (think of the McCarthy era, or our Japanese internment of WW2). The story, told from the point of view of the Kellaways, a countryside family newly arrived in London. Soon swept into the orbit of the famous Astley's Circus, all the Kellaways, plus their impecunious neighbors the Butterworths, are affected by the upheaval across the channel, the English reaction, and the almost otherworldly writings of their neighbor William Blake. A 4, with mesmerizing detail that evokes this turbulent era. A fine choice for a book group, as all Chevalier's books are.
Who's your favorite historical fiction author? Share your preferences with us at www.nuts4books.com!