Archive for the ‘Romantic Suspense’ Category

virtuefallsLooking for some fast-paced suspense?  Pick up the latest from best-selling author Christina Dodd.

Elizabeth Banner has returned to her hometown of Virtue Falls to study the geology of the area.  It was difficult for her to return home, what with everyone’s conviction that her father, once a respected scientist-now a convicted felon, murdered her mother 20 years ago in a jealous rage. Elizabeth copes with the whispers and speculation by relying on logic and facts, both in her work and her personal life.

The everyday routine of life in Virtue Falls is literally shaken up when a large-scale earthquake hits the area.  Lives are lost; secrets are uncovered. And Elizabeth finds herself investigating her mother’s murder with the help of her ex-husband, Garik, a suspended FBI agent.

The book has short chapters, a lot of action, and plenty of secondary characters to keep it interesting. I particularly liked how Elizabeth developed a relationship with her father, and through his descriptions began to understand the truth about her parents’ relationship. I’m also a sucker for a love story, and I enjoyed seeing Elizabeth and her ex-husband rekindle their romance.

Fans of James Patterson or Nora Roberts should pick up Virtue Falls.  Looks like this is the first in a new series–can’t wait for the next story!

Check the WRL catalog for Virtue Falls

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strikingdistanceLaura Nilsson is slowly rebuilding her life after being rescued from eighteen months of captivity in the Middle East. No longer interested in being in front of the camera, Laura works as a newspaper investigative journalist in Denver. Life is not perfect, but Laura is slowly putting the pieces back together, regaining her professional confidence and trying to regain her confidence as a woman. Javier Corbray hasn’t forgotten his brief and intense weekend getting to know Laura in Dubai before her kidnapping. In fact, she is never far from his thoughts, but he keeps his distance out of respect for her trauma.

While visiting friends in Denver, Javier is surprised, but thrilled, to see Laura at a friend’s barbeque. Laura is happy to see Javier but is less certain about picking up where they left off before her kidnapping. Laura longs to be the confidant woman Javier once knew, but she has secrets that she can’t share for her and her daughter’s safety. Javier won’t be deterred; he values Laura as a friend and a woman, and when she is targeted by a bomb he makes a point to be there to protect her.

Striking Distance is a great combination of character, romance, and suspense. Laura and Javier are both adults dealing with life’s harsh realities. They respect each other as people and take the time to get to know each other. They don’t deny their sexual attraction but neither do they overlook Laura’s trauma. Instead, the focus is on romance and creating a relationship based on trust and respect. Javier is a Navy SEAL, so you’ll have to suspend a little bit of disbelief over the action sequences. Just know the action never overshadows the story nor is it way over the top. The suspense is a great counterbalance to Javier’s and Laura’s budding relationship.

Striking Distance is a part of a series and previous characters appear, but it can be read independently and is one of the best in the series. Pamela Clare is a great writer and creates characters and romance that only make the genre better.

Check the WRL catalog for Striking Distance

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dangerousI’m ending the week with a contemporary romantic suspense by bestselling author Elizabeth Lowell.  Lowell delivers a fast-paced plot with lots to enjoy in addition to the inevitable attraction between the main characters.

In Dangerous Refuge, she puts tough homicide cop Tanner Davis with ranch  conservancy advocate Shaye Townsend. Tanner has returned to his uncle’s ranch near the Sierra Nevada Mountains after the older man’s untimely death. There’s nothing to indicate foul play, but Tanner isn’t convinced the sheriff of the small town asked the right questions before writing this one off as “natural causes.”

Shaye plays a part in Tanner’s unofficial investigation because she’s the one who found his uncle’s body. She had befriended the curmudgeon and worked out a deal with him to deed the land to the conservancy when he died. Tanner finds out that his uncle changed his mind at the last minute, but hadn’t had time to sign the paperwork before his death. Could that have been motive for murder?

Lots of pieces don’t add up, and Shaye offers Tanner her help in finding answers.  But asking questions eventually puts Shaye in danger, and Tanner is her best hope for survival.

Shaye is spunky and able to hold her own with the investigation and the fight for her life. Tanner is cynical, but not without a sense of humor. I can believe they find each other appealing. That added romance makes the investigation and the unraveling of clues more satisfying.

Check the WRL catalog for Dangerous Refuge

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deadsleep This is Heather Graham’s latest romantic suspense. It’s slightly creepy, but not keep-the-lights-on scary. Just my kind of book!

New Orleans is the setting–graveyards, abandoned plantations, and a voodoo priestesses add to the ambiance.

Danni Cafferty’s dad has recently passed away, and Danni thinks she’s following his final instructions correctly by keeping the family’s antique and curio store open for business.

When a distraught woman comes into the store rambling about an evil statue that Danni must take away, Danni’s journey into discovering her family’s true calling begins.

Michael Quinn, a private investigator, has been tracking the statue. He thinks a string of murders and thefts is directly related to whomever last possessed it. And he hopes to find it before more blood is shed.

Michael had worked with Danni’s father on a number of supernatural cases in the past, but he has his doubts about working with Danni. Especially since it seems that Angus had not explained the full nature of his business. The two seem to have no choice but to work together when more murders are committed in the wake of the statue’s possession…

I like that Danni and Quinn don’t particularly like one another when they first meet.  They have to learn to trust one another.  Danni surprises both Quinn and herself when she realizes that she is able to contribute to the investigation–even without understanding what Angus’ cryptic message to “use the light” really means.

I figured out some of the key elements of the story faster than the characters did.  So I’d say the plot was comfortably predictable.  Stay away if you’re looking for twisty, unexpected surprises. But for a solid entertainment ride, check out this first book in the “Cafferty and Quinn” series.  I’m looking forward to seeing what these two paranormal sleuths come up against next.

Check the WRL catalog for Let the Dead Sleep

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HarvestThe psychologically disturbing horrors of the evil-doers in this medical thriller made my spine tingle. Even though I found it hard to believe some of the sticky situations these characters found themselves in, I found myself believing that such corruption, immorality, and greed might indeed be possible in the medical community and I now possess a new suspicion of doctors and hospital systems.

Gerritsen’s adrenaline-charged thrillers followed her earlier career in romantic suspense, but her focus on the medical settings in these crime thrillers is what got my attention. That, and the constantly moving plot of this intricately layered story about a very promising medical resident-cum-amateur detective, Dr. Abby DiMatteo, who finds herself uncovering clues to the disturbing possibility that extremely wealthy heart transplant recipients may be jumping to the head of the non-discriminating transplant list while other patients with a legitimate place lose their lives. Even more disturbing is the possible source of the “donated” organs. From the very first chapter, fascinating characters are introduced in separate plotlines such that the reader suspects but doesn’t know for sure how each of the characters will be connected later on. This was a great stand-alone read with a very satisfying ending. It’s not the entry into a series and it’s one of her early thrillers, but I didn’t find anything about it out of place in time. A romantic plot is threaded into the story as well.

The knowledge that the author was a real-life doctor before she turned to full-time writing gives me confidence in her ability to accurately portray medical students, residents, and practicing physicians. Lovers of suspense and mystery will love Harvest, and the themes are so disturbingly chilling that even horror fans might enjoy Tess Gerritsen, who also incorporates the supernatural into some of her novels.

Look for Harvest in the WRL catalog.

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FBI agent Emma Sharpe has a strong background in fine art recovery.  Her family is renown for investigating and recovering stolen pieces of art.  But she ends up involved in a murder and missing art investigation because she had also once been close to taking vows to become a nun.

One of her mentors at the Sisters of the Joyful Heart convent asked Emma for a favor.  Could she look at a piece of art and give her opinion?  Without any further information, Emma returns to Maine to meet with Sister Joan.  But instead of a simple art evaluation,  she finds that Sister Joan is dead and a painting assumed to be from a local artist has disappeared.

To complicate matters, a local priest has asked his friend, Colin Donovan, to keep an eye on Emma.  Father Finian is new to the parish.  His motives for asking Colin for help are not entirely clear, but Colin agrees.  He’s in the middle of some needed rest & recuperation time (trying to keep the Russian mafia off his tail), but willing to take a side trip to help the attractive FBI agent with her case, whether she wants his help or not.

Colin also works for the FBI, but not at a desk job as his family assumes.  He goes deep undercover and investigates the worst of the FBI’s most wanted.  He wonders if the murder could be related to his latest case.

Emma thinks it is mostly annoying to have this other agent follow her footsteps.   She can’t even continue her investigation in Ireland without Colin and Father Finian showing up.  Is anyone who they seem to be on the surface?

Carla Neggers writes well-paced, plot-based stories.  There are plenty of details building characters and their backgrounds.   And there’s a little romance, always a plus for me.  It may not be convenient and it certainly doesn’t get in the way of the job, but Colin and Emma are definitely attracted to one another.

The story comes to a satisfying conclusion to both the romance and the mystery of the missing painting.

Check the WRL catalog for Saint’s Gate

If you enjoy Saint’s Gate, check out Heron’s Cove, which continues Emma and Colin’s crime-solving partnership.

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In Cover Me, Catherine Mann writes about the pararescuemen of the United States Air Force and offers a fascinating look into this distinct band of brothers. The motto of pararescuemen is “That Others May Live,” and their training in emergency medical, combat, and survival skills allows them to uphold this motto. Their extensive training prepares them to go anywhere in the world to rescue those in need no matter the environment.

Wade Rocha is training off the Aleutian Islands and heading back to base when his unit receives the call about stranded climbers. With no hesitation, Wade parachutes into a blizzard to rescue the trapped climber. He has no clue that Sunny Foster is quite capable of taking care of herself in this blizzard. Sunny is not just any hiker; she runs a wilderness outfit and is herself well-trained in the art of survival both in the wilderness and living in a small off-the-grid community. Sunny is returning home after escorting members of her community back to “civilization” when she’s stranded by weather. Trapped together first by weather and then by the discovery of dead bodies, Wade and Sunny work together to figure out who’s killing former members of Sunny’s community.

The strength of this novel is not in the mystery but the characters. Mann draws a vivid portrait of Wade, a dedicated pararescueman, and Sunny, a well-rounded woman and business owner who happens to have a very isolated life. The chemistry between the two is compelling, and there’s also a wonderful secondary romance that will keep you turning the pages.

Today’s military romances typically do not feature the work of men and women in the armed services outside of war. Given the world we live in, that is not unexpected. We are curious about how our heroes are before, during, and after experiencing war. As romance readers, we have the belief that love can heal all kinds of wounds and that life can and does go on. But it is refreshing to occasionally read stories about the armed forces that highlight the work being done outside of war.

Check the WRL catalog for Cover Me.


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We close this week’s posts with a blog from Christine in Circulation.

Abigail Lowery, formerly Elizabeth Fitch, is a successful computer programmer and business woman running a private security firm from her home in the Ozarks.  With her faithful dog by her side and a secluded home tucked securely into the hills of the Arkansas Ozarks, Abigail has finally settled down and started her new life hiding out but no longer running from the Russian mafia.  But Brooks Gleason, local police chief, won’t let Abigail settle for too much longer.  As Abigail tries to create a quiet life and stay under the radar she only accomplishes the exact opposite.  After a year of politely rebuffing the locals’ conversations, keeping to herself, and shopping online rather than in town, Abigail’s actions only fuel the interest of the police chief and her small-town neighbors.  Following his gut, Brooks sets out to discover Abigail’s secrets.

The other night I caught a brief snippet of a show on HGTV that was talking about set design on the drama “The Good Wife.”  One of the designers made a comment about how the set design was based on the sensibilities of movies from the 1940’s and 1950’s where sets were opulent and grand in order to heighten the senses of the viewer.  Everyday life for most people is not filled with plush offices with designer furniture, boldly-colored accent walls, and elegantly sophisticated bric-a-brac.  So when you tune in to “The Good Wife” you are instantly drawn in by the world that the writers, set designers, and actors have created and are willing to come back for more.

So how does this tie-in with “The Witness?” When the designer made this comment, I couldn’t help but think about this book.  From the moment I picked it up to read I found myself unable to put it down.  The world and the characters Roberts created are grand and amplified.  The heroine is brilliant surviving on wits and instinct for years as she builds a life on the run.  The hero is charming and intelligent with a keen intuition. Abigail and Brooks are reminiscent of other memorable duos, i.e. Nick and Nora, Bones and Booth, but with their own style. The backdrop of the Ozarks and the sense of community and family bring the story full circle.  The fact that Roberts’ focuses on the couple and not the threat of Abigail’s past only enhances the suspense.

Roberts’ 200th title incorporates all her hallmarks of writing but it all comes together so seamlessly that reading this book was effortless fun and rates this book in the top three of Roberts’ oeuvre for me.  If you’re looking for the familiar with a little bit of over the top for your spring and summer reading, this is the book for you.

Check the WRL catalog for The Witness

Or listen to The Witness on audio CD


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Abby Radwell works as a dealer in the rare paranormal books market. She is good at her job and has a solid reputation as being able to unlock psychically encrypted books. She’s very careful about who she works for and by her own admission stays away from the “deep water” of the really dangerous buyers.

Despite her precautions, Abby has attracted the attention of a blackmailer. She contacts Sam Coppersmith to help her find the blackmailer before he can expose her secrets and embarrass her family—having a daughter labeled as a “nut case” because she thinks she has psychic abilities would not help her father’s chances at landing a reality TV show on how to have the perfect blended family.

Sam and Abby’s relationship gets off to a rocky start when the water taxi driver tells Abby not to worry about the recent rumors about Sam. According to the driver, Sam’s too smart to have murdered his fiancee and left her body in his house. If he had wanted to kill her, her body wouldn’t have been found. Hmmm, Abby doesn’t find that very comforting.

But as family pressure, dead book dealers, and psychic dreams pile up, Abby realizes how much she wants and needs Sam’s help. Sam needs Abby’s talents as well. He’s looking for a research notebook that is supposed to detail experiments with powerful crystals. The two cases have much in common.

I listened to this on audiobook during my commute. Tanya Eby did a good job slightly changing her voice to reflect the male and female characters—it was effective.

The story is fast-paced and entertaining. All except one loose end get wrapped up in the end—but this is the first in a series.  Sam has two siblings—and I’d lay money on the next books resolving their stories as well as the mystery of the crystals.

Check the WRL catalog for Copper Beach.

Check the WRL catalog for the audiobook of Copper Beach.


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Living on the Edge is the first in a fast-paced contemporary romance series by Shannon Butcher.

Lucas Ramsey has been ordered by his military mentor to prevent a woman from boarding a plane to South America. He doesn’t have many details, but he’s used to following orders without knowing the reasons why. What he assumes will be an easy task turns out to be quite the opposite as the woman, Sloane Gideon, bests him at every turn. It turns out that Sloane is a member of the “Edge,” an elite group of mercenaries.

When Lucas calls to report his initial failure at stopping Sloane, he finds out that the general who placed the order is trying to protect his daughter. And Lucas is to do anything to get her back to the States safely. Being attracted to the spirited, independent woman is completely out of the question, but of course, he can’t help himself.

As for Sloane, she is just as capable as Lucas in fighting the bad guys. Her job this time is personal; she’s trying to save a friend who has gotten mixed up with a Colombian drug lord. She’ll do anything to save her, including turning to her absentee father for help.

The romance takes a back seat to the explosions, sniper fire, and fleeing for your life action… but the simmer is there from the beginning.

The series promises to answer questions raised about secret labs and medical experiments, and there are plenty of secondary characters to develop in future stories. I’m looking forward to reading more about this elite force.

If you enjoy the Navy SEAL series by Suzanne Brockmann, or the contemporary romances by Pamela Clare, try picking up this new series by Shannon Butcher.

Check the WRL catalog for Living on the Edge.


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The man who thinks of himself as Daniel Hayes isn’t sure of  his real name.  All he has to go by is the insurance card he finds in a BMW he discovers after crawling onto a rocky beach.  Some clothes in the trunk fit him, the cash in an envelope fits him (plus it’s the right color), and he knows all about the gun in the glove compartment.  Based on the trash in the car and the California license plate, he figures whoever left it there (himself?) had driven a long way.

Adopting that persona, “Daniel Hayes” tries to reconstruct a possible life. Was he a carpenter? A butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker?  Tinker, tailor, soldier, spy?  One faint clue comes from a television rerun and the connection he feels to one of its characters.  But before he has time dig deeper, he’s on the run from the cops and heading to the West Coast.

At the same time, a woman in Los Angeles is interrupted in her shower by a coolly vicious character asking for Daniel Hayes.  A young woman is staking out Hayes’ house, watching for a chance to break in and search the place.  And an LA Sheriff’s detective is searching for Daniel Hayes to question him in the disappearance of his famous wife.  When–if– the cross-country traveler shows up, he’s going to be a very popular man, but he won’t have a clue why.

As “Daniel Hayes” begins to unravel the truth behind his memory loss, he is tormented by dreams that convict him of some horrible crime, but in the unsettling way of dreams, they provide him no explanations.  He also learns that the man he believes himself to be is not the man others know him to be.  Sakey uses that gap to explore the concept of identity, but always within the context of a story of increasing complexity and tension.

I had first read Sakey’s The Amateurs, a fun book in its own right, and really liked the character Bennett.  Perhaps not “liked,” but “knew I’d remember as a bad guy capable of anything.”  Bennett makes a follow-up appearance in this story, right back in the role he had in the earlier book– as Sakey describes him, the man who knows people sin, and who makes it his business to be there when they do.  The leverage he holds, and his chilling readiness to use it, gives him any number of frightened but useful tools wherever he goes.

The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes is a perfect summertime read– fast and nimble, but with enough insight into people and places to give it a noir sensibility.  It’s the kind of writing that makes it more memorable than the usual mass-produced suspects on the bestseller list, and one you’d really like to recommend to discerning thriller readers.  It is unfortunate that Sakey and his friends Brett Battles and Gregg Hurwitz (whom he acknowledges in the book) are better writers than the brand-name guys.  With their talents, all three should be sitting on top of those lists.

Search the WRL catalog for The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes


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Out for her morning run, medical examiner Lucy Trask sees a man she believes to be an elderly neighbor slumped over a chess table, clearly dead.  However, she can’t identify him right away because his face has been beaten beyond recognition.  While her heart twists at the horrific murder, Lucy is relieved when additional evidence points to another identity for the victim.  But chills set in as she wonders if the body was left there for her to find.

Baltimore homicide detectives J.D. Fitzpatrick and Stevie Mazzetti are on the case.  J.D. has recently transferred from Narcotics and finds himself attracted to the ME who has a reluctance to talk about herself, even when it seems to be related to the murder investigation.

The romance between Lucy and J.D. is well developed, but it doesn’t overshadow the fast-paced serial-killer investigation.

This police procedural has multiple layers and twists—it’s a book you can’t put down until the mysteries are solved.  I enjoyed how the story slowly reveals the facts about a despicable act that happened 21 years ago which connected so many lives.  I also got a kick out of the fact that Newport News one of the locales for the events, even if its claim to fame was being the place for arson!

This is the first of Karen Rose’s books that I’ve read, and I’ll be looking for others.

If you enjoy Tami Hoag and Elizabeth Lowell, you should give Karen Rose a try.

Check the WRL catalog for You Belong to Me


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Eleven years ago Johnny Grant was convicted of the brutal murder of his high school sweetheart.  Recently paroled, Johnny comes back to Tylerville, Kentucky to work at a small hardware store.  Needless to say the townspeople are not pleased.  Born on the wrong side of the tracks, Johnny was always an outcast.  Now that another woman Johnny dated has been murdered just like Marybeth, the town instantly believes Johnny is guilty and wonder who he’ll kill next.

Rachel Grant returned to Tylerville fresh out of college to teach high school English.  As one of her brightest yet rebellious students, Rachel never believed Johnny Harris guilty of murder.  So when he’s released on parole she offers him a job at her family’s store to help him get back on his feet.  Things soon get complicated as their feelings for each other move towards love and Rachel finds herself in the crosshairs of a jealous murderer.

As the final days of summer wind down, grab this book, find yourself a beach chair and a cool glass of sweet tea and prepare to be engrossed.  One Summer is the best blend of romantic suspense providing a steamy love story, small town politics, and an intriguing murder mystery.  Hints of the paranormal are laced throughout, but do not dominate the plot.  The pacing is perfect for a hot summer day but you won’t notice the heat as you find yourself pulled into the pages of One Summer. Do yourself a favor and don’t miss this one.

Check the WRL catalog for One Summer


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Linda Howard is a popular contemporary romance writer known for suspenseful stories, smart and sassy heroines, and capital “A” alpha heroes.  Many readers know and love her from her popular Silhouette series about the Mackenzies but she has also gained a large following from her more mainstream romantic suspense novels.  One of her most popular titles is Mr. Perfect.  This title provides all of the elements listed above as well as a fast moving, interesting plot, witty barbs, a spine-chilling villain, and more.

One night after work “Happy Hour” gets a little too happy when Jaine Bright and her friends Luna, TJ, and Marci start debating the qualities of the perfect man.  A list that starts off innocently enough with faithfulness, reliability, and gainful employment turns into a list that also includes a few risqué items leaving the girls dying of hilarity.  Little do they know the trouble that will arise when a fellow coworker gets her hands on the list.  Soon the list spreads like wildfire across the Internet sparking debate and inciting someone to start eliminating the ladies one by one.

The list is not the only problem causing Jaine trouble in life.  She is pet sitting a cat that is determined to tear her house apart and her drunk, surly neighbor may just end up being her own Mr. Perfect.  Mr. Drunk and Surly is Sam Donovan, a sleep-deprived, overworked detective on the local violent crimes task force.  From the first meeting Jaine and Sam are instantly knocking heads and trading barbs.  As it becomes obvious that the women are the targets of a madman, Sam is determined to keep the lady of his dreams, or is it nightmares, safe.

Sit back and enjoy a novel that will have you laughing out loud, locking your doors, and flipping the pages well into the night.

Check the WRL catalog for Mr. Perfect


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Amanda Daulton disappeared with her mother in 1975 and for 20 years her grandfather Jesse has been trying to find her. In 1995, Amanda Grant arrives claiming to be Jesse’s long lost granddaughter. But not all is as it seems. Amanda’s memory is spotty at best and there have already been two impersonators trying to lay claim to the Jesse’s vast fortune. Everyone has something to lose with Amanda’s return and as the Daulton family gets closer to the truth someone is determined to make sure Amanda disappears for good. Walker McLellan won’t let anything get in the way of finding out the truth but as he slowly falls in love with Amanda he wonders more and more if she really is the girl from his childhood that he once loved.

Is Amanda who she says she is? What other secrets is she keeping? What happened on that fateful night in 1975 that made her mother run, leaving everything behind? These are all questions we want answered as we’re drawn in to North Carolina’s steamy, sultry summer. Kay Hooper has created a taut suspense novel full of southern gothic atmosphere and passionate, temperamental characters. With a dash of romance and the sinister air of murder you can’t help but be drawn into the mysterious world of the Daultons.

Check the WRL catalog for Amanda


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Brockmann has long appeared on recommended book lists for fast-paced contemporary romances—but I had not read any of her books until now.  What was I waiting for?  This is terrific!

Unsung Hero has three plot lines, all of which are easy to follow and engaging.

The main storyline is about Tom Paoletti,  the commanding officer of an elite eight-member Navy SEAL unit.  Tom is home on medical leave after a near-fatal head injury.  While picking up his bag from the airport, he sees a known terrorist called the “Merchant.”  But when he calls his superior officers, he’s blown off—Navy intelligence says the Merchant died years ago.

On top of wondering whether he’s suffering from delusions caused by the head injury, Tom finds his heart in danger when Kelly Ashton, the girl-next-door he’s loved for years, decides to move their relationship beyond the innocent kisses they shared in high school.

A second plot involves Charles, Kelly’s father, and Joe, Tom’s uncle, who became friends during World War II.  Their hometown is preparing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the “Fighting Fifty-fifth.”  The two men argue over whether Joe should tell the truth about what really happened in France, and it almost destroys their friendship.

The final plot is a sweet attraction between misunderstood Mallory, Tom’s niece, and the geeky college student, David, who wants to use her image for a comic book character.

All three plots blend nicely into a fast-paced climax where Tom and his makeshift team of amateurs and professionals work together to bring down the terrorist.

Brockmann keeps the interest level high as she shifts the plot from romance to thriller and from the present day to World War II.

If you like Unsung Hero, you’re in luck.  This is the first of the Troubleshooters series, which as of 2009 included 15 books.

Check the WRL catalog for Unsung Hero


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Noreen Bernstein of Youth Services provides today’s review:

Move over, Edward and Bella, Sam and Grace have come to town!  As books about vampires, werewolves, zombies, and the undead crowd library and bookstore shelves, the reader begins to notice a similarity among the plots and characters.  The Twilight series for many reasons has become a standard with which many compare the new books.  Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater, should, and will, challenge that standard by raising the bar.

On the surface, Grace is a typical teenager living in Mercy Falls, Minnesota.  Her parents are caring but quirky, leaving Grace alone much of the time.  She is haunted by a childhood memory of being attacked by the wolves that inhabit woods surrounding her home and being saved by a wolf with golden eyes.  Throughout her childhood, Grace remembers seeing “her” wolf during the winter.  What is the connection between them?

Maggie Stiefvater creates her own werewolf mythology based on temperature and occasional traumatic events.  When the town believes that a teen has been killed by the wolves that roam Mercy Falls, the wolves are hunted and Sam, injured by a gunshot, literally falls into Grace’s arms in his human form.  As the relationship between Sam and Grace develops, Stiefvater tells a moving and realistic love story between two teenagers willing to work and fight to develop their relationship.  The emotions and missteps of young love are realistically portrayed.

The task of keeping Sam in his human form is fraught with danger, but Grace and Sam persevere.  The supporting cast in Shiver is as well developed as the two main characters.  They are the teens that populate our world.  The combination of character development and lyrical language keep the reader riveted to the story.  Plus the development of the characters in their wolf personas is equally well-done.  All of this allows the reader to engage in the suspension of disbelief that makes great books and movies work. Shiver works.  It is a complete package of character development, setting, suspense, and romance.  I think most readers will be eagerly awaiting the sequel, Linger, in 2010.  I know I am.

Check the WRL catalog for Shiver.


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bodyFor some reason, which I cannot now recall, I was speaking with one of my colleagues about people who clean up crime scenes. Sadly, this has become a business–cleaning up people’s murders and suicides. In the course of the conversation, she mentioned a fiction series called Body Movers, which I decided to try. The first book, also entitled Body Movers, isn’t nearly as morbid as the title sounds. Although one of the main characters takes a job as a body mover (yes, he helps move dead bodies to the morgue), the book is actually a fun, quick read.

The main character, Carlotta Wren, lives in Atlanta, works for an upscale department store, and is raising her younger brother Wes (now 19), by herself. Her father, who was charged with investment fraud, has fled the country with his wife, leaving Carlotta to pick up the pieces. Her parents have been on the lam for about 10 years, but the local police just won’t give up the search, even assigning a new detective to the case. Wes has a gambling problem, owing a lot of debt to loan sharks, which adds an unsavory element to the plot. Carlotta feels the need to help Wesley, to keep him out of trouble, but in the process becomes involved in a lot of drama and implicated in the murder of her ex-boyfriend’s wife. Add to the murder a love quadrangle, some off-beat friends, and body moving to the mix, and you have yourself a winning combination of romance, mystery, and suspense.

The follow-up, Body Movers: 2 Bodies for the Price of 1, is also equally fast paced, full of drama, and further evolves the love quadrangle.

Check the WRL catalog for Body Movers.

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