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28 January 2011

The Untamed Bride (Black Cobra #1)

The Untamed Bride by Stephanie Laurens is the first book in her Black Cobra Quartet.

The Black Cobra is a notorious pirate who, with his cultists, has been terrorizing villages in India. Five special forces soldiers of British East India Company have been tasked with finding him and ending his reign. But when they find that the Black Cobra is an Englishman they know they have to tread carefully.

Working with Dalziel from the Bastion Club series, they devise a plot to bring evidence back to England - once they find evidence that will hold up in a British court. Each man will take a different route back so that the Black Cobra will not know who has the true evidence and who has a copy.

This first volume in the series follows Colonel Derek Delborough from India back to England to deliver his evidence. But as he lands on England with his household from India he finds that his family, having heard of his return has volunteered him to escort a woman from the docks back to his home county.

Of course the last thing Del needs is to add a woman to the dangerous game he is playing. But the woman is not what he expects. Deliah Duncannon is returning to her family home after taking care of her uncle's estate in Jamaica. She is more that capable of taking care of herself and resents that society dictates that she has to travel with Del and on his schedule.

Laurens has written a great historical romance taking all of the elements readers love about her series and adding an exciting new plot device. Characters from both her Bastion Club and Cynster series appear and play important roles in the story. Fans of her other series will be thrilled to see old favorites again. Laurens takes the proscribed gender roles of the time and fills her books with women who will not sit idly by while there is action afoot.

Laurens, Stephanie. (2009). The Untamed Bride. New York: Avon Books

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24 January 2011

A Lady of His Own (Bastion Club #3)

A Lady of His Own by Stephanie Laurens is the third book in her Bastion Club series - a club formed by men who were spies during the Troubles between England and France in the early 1800s. The goal of the club was as a last bastion against the matchmakers of upper society Britain.

Charles St. Austell, the Earl of Lostwitheil, has returned to his family home to follow up on one last spy within the English government. He is to make sure no one was sneaking messages out of Cornwall to the French during the war.

When he returns home he finds Lady Penelope Selborne in one of his guest rooms. She has fled her home where a distance cousin has taken over her brother's household position and is snooping about the local smugglers asking questions.

Together they seek to find out what her brother may have been up to (though she is sure he was a patriot and would not sell secrets), keep an eye on her cousin, and find out who is stirring up trouble.

Laurens is known as a historical romance writer. She has written dozens of books. Her Bastion Club series combines suspense, mystery, espionage, and romance. She is a must-read for romance fans.

Laurens, Stephanie. (2004). A Lady of His Own. New York: Avon Books.

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20 January 2011

Die Trying (Jack Reacher #2)

Die Trying is the second book in Lee Child's Jack Reacher series - an ex-military police detective who wants to explore the US now that he has been discharged.

When Reacher is walking down a Chicago street around lunch time on a Monday, a woman coming out of a dry cleaner drops her cane - she is obviously recovering from an injury and is trying to balance her clothes, the cane and the door. He is helping her get situated when two men stick guns in their stomachs and force them into a car.

Now Reacher is in the back of a truck heading who-knows-where with Holly Johnson. She is an FBI agent working financial crimes. Though she has helped to bring down some major players in her short career, there may be another reason she has been kidnapped.

Holly's coworkers do not know she is missing until 5pm that afternoon when she fails to show up at a meeting. When the figure out that Monday is the day she picks up her dry cleaning, the tape shows them a large man (Reacher) grabbing her cane and clothing and shoving her in the car with two accomplices and a driver - at least that is how the FBI sees the evidence.

Holly, and Reacher by mistake, have been kidnapped and are handcuffed together in the back of a truck being driven away from Chicago. So far from the scene of the crime, they will have to rely on each other to get out of a potentially fatal situation.

Child's Jack Reacher is a likable, capable character who can take care of himself. He has the training and physique to get out of almost any bind and readers will love seeing the trouble he gets himself into (and hopefully out of).

Child, Lee. (1998). Die Trying. New York: Jove Books.

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13 January 2011

Rogue Wave

Rogue Wave by Boyd Morrison is the terrifying story of a tsunami headed for Hawaii.

An apparent earthquake in the Pacific sends a wave outward toward the Pacific islands including Hawaii. After two false alarms in the last few years, Kai Tanaka at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii does not want to issue a Tsunami warning unless there is actually a wave headed toward the islands.

Though time is precious, he decides to wait until the buoy at Christmas Island. It is not likely that the magnitude of the earthquake would cause a Tsunami. Then again, the area of the quake is not on any type of geology that should cause a quake.

Soon it is confirmed that a mega-Tsunami is on its way to Hawaii. The usual evacuation of the beaches -which tells people to go to the major hotels above the 4th floor - will not work with the size of the wave that is coming. And what many people do not know, including the thousands of tourists on the beaches of Hawaii, is that there is more than one wave to a Tsunami.

Kai's wife is the manager of one of the largest hotels. It is her responsibility to get her guests to safety, but how much can she do before she is endangering her own life for others who do not understand the danger in spite of the warnings. Kai's daughter and friend are on Waikiki beach. And the Warning Center is too close to the shore to withstand the first wave.

Morrison has written a great disaster novel full of stress and adrenaline. It is a must-read for adventure fans. Not cheesy like the usual disaster movie, this book will give you nightmares after you stay up too late to finish reading.

Morrison, Boyd. (2010). Rogue Wave. New York: Pocket Books.

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11 January 2011

In Harm's Way (Walt Fleming #4)

In Harm's Way by Ridley Pearson is the forth book in his Walt Fleming series about a Blaine County Idaho sheriff.

Fiona Kenshaw has been in Ketchum for a few years now. She is a fishing guide, photographer, part-time deputy and crime photographer for Sheriff Walt Fleming. Though they have known each other for a while, Walt knows nothing of Fiona's past.

When Fiona rescues a kid from the river, she begs Walt to pressure the newspaper to keep from running her picture. But the picture runs. Now Fiona is scared of something but will not let Walt help her.

When a house is broken into, the sheriff's department begins a hunt for a mountain man. Each summer the area has many people living in the state and national parks and someone is breaking into homes to find food and clothing.

Both story lines may be connected as Pearson's other series main character, Lou Boldt - Seattle police detective, comes to Sun Valley to question two people in a murder case.

Pearson fans will love the overlap of his two most loved characters. Mystery and suspense fans will enjoy a complex mystery. And fans of the Walt Fleming series will rejoice in the relationship between two of the characters finally getting past the awkward stage.

Pearson, Ridley. (2010). In Harm's Way. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.

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08 January 2011

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch is the story of a Jewish girl who wants to fight dragons.

In Hereville everyone is Jewish - orthodox Jewish - where roles for men and women are prescribed by tradition. So even though her time is spent being taught to knit by her step-mother, eleven year-old Mirka's real desire is to fight dragons.

Deutsch has created a graphic novel that explains about Judaism through this beautiful tale of courage and finding ones place in the world. The illustrations are beautiful and the Yiddish words are defined at the bottom of each page. A great read for Jews, fans of graphic novels, fans of strong female protagonists, and anyone who has even wanted to fight dragons.

Deutsch, Barry. (2010). Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword. New York: Amulet Books.

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The Changeling

The Changeling by Alison MacLeod is the tale of the pirate Anne Bonny.

Anne was foretold to be a son - all of the signs pointed to a boy - so when she was born a girl instead she was treated with some suspicion by Annie Fulworth who was her midwife. Anne's mother died in childbirth and so Anne was raised by Annie.

She was born in Ireland but moved to the Carolina territory when she was young. She ran away from home with a pirate, Jim Bonny, and they were married at sea. She took Annie with her when she went and to get around the suspicion of having women on board - Anne went as Anson and Annie went as the ghost of his mother who had unfinished business.

Later she met up with Captain Jack Rackham, aka Calico Jack, and Mark Mead (later to be revealed as Mary Read). Together they terrorized the Carri bean.

Told in a style that reminds me of old-world fairy tales with characters steeped in superstition, the Changeling reads like a novel written long ago. But don't let that lead you to believe that it isn't worth a read. While some of the romanticism of pirates replaced with a more realistic view of the war between ships, it is a fascinating tale of a woman who was not hindered by the gender roles of her time.

MacLeod, Alison. (1996). The Changeling. New York: St. Martin's Press.

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04 January 2011

Killer Summer (Walt Fleming #3)

Killer Summer is the third book in the Walt Fleming series by Ridley Pearson. Walt is a sheriff in Idaho's Sun Valley area.

Due to the wealth of the residents of Sun Valley, Walt covers events most small-town sheriffs don't have to deal with. The upcoming wine auction is one such event.

Three bottles of wine that are said to have been given to John Adams by Thomas Jefferson will be on sale at the auction. But before the security agency delivering them can even reach town, the man is hijacked and killed. Luck keeps the robbers from getting the bottles - luck and Walt Fleming.

Now Walt must keep the wine safe until the sale. When a PhD Candidate turns up and states that the bottles are fake, the mystery grows.

Pearson has written a twisting, well thought-out plot that takes readers from what seems a straight forward heist to a much more elaborate plan by the bad guys. Walt Fleming and the other characters in the series are endearing with their flaws and quirks.

Pearson, Ridley. (2009). Killer Summer. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.

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