Sunday, November 23, 2014

Memories Of Flames-Armand Cabasson

Memories Of Flames
Armand Cabasson, Isabel Reid (translator)
ISBN: 9781906040840

In March 1814, less than seventy thousand French troops anxiously wait for the much larger allied armies coming from the east to invade Paris; while the English already have taken Bordeaux and Italy appears ready to fall.  The Emperor’s brother Joseph Bonaparte fears Paris will burn, but adding to his gloomy outlook is the assassination in his home of key military genius, sexagenarian Colonel Berle with burn marks on the corpse.  Aware of Lieutenant Colonel Quentin Margont’s deft handling of a sensitive matter for the Emperor's stepson Prince Eugène de Beauharnais (see The Officer's Prey), Joseph and “The Limping Devil” Talleyrand order him to investigate discreetly Berle’s murder.

Based on paid information provided by Swords of the King member Charles de Varencourt to Joseph, the Emperor’s brother insists Margont join these fiercely dedicated Royalists masquerading as Chevalier Quentin de Langè.  Though Margont expects to die, he is offered no choice besides going undercover inside a fanatical group who vehemently believe the end justifies the means even if thousands of innocent French must die.  As Margont struggles to be accepted by the suspicious Royalists in spite of de Varencourt’s sponsorship, a second homicide similar to that of Berle occurs.

The third Napoleonic Murders (see Wolf Hunt) is a great historical mystery due mostly to the profound look at the mental state of the French troops knowing what most likely will happen to them and the Royalists rationalizing they save France from worse destruction.  Conflicted Margont is fantastic as he fears capture yet needs justice. 

Harriet Klausner

Eagle’s Last Stand-Aimée Thurlo

Eagle’s Last Stand
Aimée Thurlo
Harlequin Intrigue, Nov 18 2014, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373698059

At the Brickhouse Tavern, his five Navaho foster brothers and their families welcome home former undercover FBI agent Rick Cloud.  Working part-time as the event’s coordinator at her uncle Frank’s tavern while going to school, Kim Nelson also greets Rick.  Attracted to each other, he especially appreciates she ignores his scar to look into his eyes as they chat.  When suddenly the party smells a gas leak, they try to leave; but find the door jammed.  Noticing a cut gas line in the kitchen, Rick lifts the unconscious half-owner Frank and with everyone else escapes the trap just before the tavern explodes. 

One of the brothers, Hartley, New Mexico Detective Preston Bowman leads the inquiry.  Thinking he was the target though not by the cartel he infiltrated, Rick wonders if the disappearance of their mentor Hosteen Silver the medicine man is the link to the deliberate attempt to kill him by someone who could not care less about murdering numerous innocents.  As Kim leads Rick to a message left for him on a Copper Canyon wall by Hosteen, he will do anything to keep safe the woman he loves safe from a predator wanting him eliminated before he reads the note.

The sixth Copper Canyon romantic suspense is an excellent final novel in a quality series that showcases the talent of Aimée Thurlo, who passed away in February.  Paying homage to the late author, fans will appreciate this exciting thriller that ties up the major threads of the previous tales (see Undercover Warrior, Power of the Raven, Winter Hawk’s Legend, Falcon’s Run and Secrets of the Lynx).

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Last Chance Christmas-Vicki Lewis Thompson

A Last Chance Christmas
Vicki Lewis Thompson
Harlequin Blaze, Nov 18 2014, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373798278

Ben Radcliffe drives the icy roads from Sheridan to Jackson Hole to deliver a custom made saddle that Jack Chance commissioned as a family birthday present to his mom Sarah on her seventieth birthday.  At the Last Chance Ranch, Jack loves Ben’s artistry, which relieves the tense artisan as this is his biggest commission.

Also staying at the spread, Chance relative Molly Gallagher the genealogist works on a family tree.  When she and Ben meet, each feels a powerful uncomfortable attraction.  As they fall in love, the reclusive Ben revises his opinion about family being undesirable hemorrhoid creators since the loving rowdy Chance clan embraced him as one of them and Molly wants him.

The fourteenth Sons of Chance (see Riding Home, Riding Hard and Riding High) Wyoming ranch romance is a pleasing tale as two professionals with polar opposite views of family fall in love.  Although understandable as apparently this is the last entry, the Chance horde at times overwhelms the romantic storyline.  Still Vicki Lewis Thompson provides her appreciative audience with a nice Christmas present.

Harriet Klausner

Deliverance At Cardwell Ranch-B. J. Daniels

Deliverance At Cardwell Ranch
B. J. Daniels
Harlequin Intrigue, Nov 18 2014, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373698004

Freezing his butt in Montana, Texas Deputy Sheriff Austin Cardwell hates he promised his siblings and his cousin Dana Cardwell Savage (see Crime Scene at Cardwell Ranch) he would spend Christmas with them to celebrate the grand opening of their Texas Boys Barbecue.  Used to Houston traffic and no snow, he drives to his destination while a blizzard makes the roads hazardous.  When he comes across an overturned car, Austin stops to help anyone stranded; only a crazed woman assaults him with a tire iron.  Stopping the attack, Austin asks her name and noticing a child’s car seat in her car asks where her baby is.  She cannot recall her name; insists she has no infant; and that is not her car.  Her watch says Gilliam, but her driver’s license lists her as Rebecca Stewart, but she insists she is not Rebecca. 

Highway patrol arrives and takes her to a hospital in Bozeman.  Her husband Marc Stewart arrives to take his wife home; Austin observes how terrorized she is of him.  Though having doubts and challenging Marc’s claim, Austin leaves for the Cardwell Ranch feeling foolish for getting involved in a domestic dispute; yet the inconsistences haunt him.  As a family favor, Dana’s law enforcement husband Hud chats with Marc who shows him a picture of him with his wife holding their baby and her sister Gillian Cooper.  Still unable to let go of the woman’s terrorized expression, Austin investigates.

The third Texas Cardwell Cousins romantic suspense (see Wedding At Cardwell Ranch and Rescue At Cardwell Ranch) is an action-packed taut thriller with a solid lead triangle.  Series fans will appreciate Big Sky Country takes Austin.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, November 21, 2014

Wild Holiday Nights-Samantha Hunter, Meg Maguire and Debbi Rawlins

Wild Holiday Nights
Samantha Hunter, Meg Maguire and Debbi Rawlins
Harlequin Blaze, Nov 18 2014, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373798292

“Holiday Rush” by Samantha Hunter.  In New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, performance baker creative genius Calla Michaels is tired of the days leading to Christmas as she fills orders.  Related to cops and a firefighter back in Texas; Calla reacts smartly when a robber enters her establishment.  Her brother Nathan’s friend police officer Gideon Stone arrives to keep her safe even as he struggles to control his desire.

“Playing Games” by Meg Maguire.  Due to the weather, Carrie Baxter’s flight from Sacramento to Portland on Christmas Eve is cancelled.  Unable to get a rental, Daniel Barber offers to share his vehicle with her since they both need to be in Grafton, Oregon by morning.  She cringes with the thought of hours in a contained isolated car with the man she secretly craves.

“All Night Long” by Debbi Rawlins.  Paralegal Carly Watts is a grouch because her first vacation in three years is on hold as she works the Emerson case documents in Manhattan instead of being home for Christmas in Pittsburgh.  Equity partner Ryan Dunn gives her a chance to make it home when he sends her to Chicago to obtain Jack Carrington's signature authorizing the sale of his grandfather's company.  As he wants more time to consider what he wants to do with the family firm, Carly wants more time to get to know Jack.

These are three cheerful Christmas contemporaries starring likeable leads.

Harriet Klausner

A Certain Retribution: A Merrick McKnight Novel-Michael Lister

A Certain Retribution: A Merrick McKnight Novel
Michael Lister
Pulpwood, Nov 28 2014, $16.99
ISBN 9781888146455

Merrick McKnight lost his journalist position at a Florida Panhandle newspaper due to downsizing, and his wife and child due to a car accident.  Living in Wewathitchka, Florida he runs into Reggie Summers at the Tiki Grill; she attended Wewa High School like he did.  Though attracted to each other, Reggie doubts a reporter like Merrick would want a too big country-fried trashy single mom raising a teenage football player.  At Tucks, Merrick and Reggie intervene when Deputy Donnie Ray threatens Dahl Rogers.  As Rogers flees the scene, Reggie tasers nasty Donnie Ray.

Not long afterward Gulf County Sheriff Robin Wilson asks Merrick questions re Dahl, who was killed soon after his last call to Merrick though the reporter failed to answer his phone.  Insisting his innocence though the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigates him and his department for alleged wrongdoings, Wilson wants Merrick to cover the inquiry offering full access.  At the same time, using the nuts test Reggie checks on whether Donnie Ray killed his former sheriff department’s peer.  Soon someone kills more cops.

As Prison Chaplain John Jordan (see Blood Sacrifice) and WWII detective Jimmy "Soldier" Riley Series (see The Big Hello) take respites, the second McKnight Panhandle mystery (see Thunder Beach) is a twisting dark investigative thriller.  Adding fun to the mix is Michael Lister entering the Corner Café.  Although the sex distracts from the grim inquiries, the gender role switching enhances an overall exhilarating regional whodunit. 

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Last Goodbye-J.A. Jance

A Last Goodbye
J.A. Jance
Pocket Star eBooks, Nov 24 2014, $1.99
ISBN: 9781501103698

Lovers Ali Reynolds and B. Simpson plan quietly to marry on Christmas Eve in Las Vegas.  However, when friends crash their nuptials, Ali tries to throw together a last second much more complex reception than what she and B decided to have.

Ali’s grandson rescues a miniature dachshund.  Believing someone who loves the canine must be despondent, Ali searches for the owner.  She soon identifies Bella’s owner, elderly Harriet, but cannot locate her.  As Ali and B search for Harriet, they learn she was rushed to a hospital six months ago with aphasia while her son coldly shut down her apartment; Ali fears much worse happened.

The tenth Ali Reynolds investigation (see Moving Target and Deadly Stakes) is a sad Christmas e-novella in spite of the wedding finally occurring.  The inquiry is very minor compared to previous whodunits yet readers will feel deep empathy for Harriet and Bella.

Harriet Klausner