Archive for February, 2012

Exogene-T.C. McCarthy

February 29, 2012

Exogene

T.C. McCarthy

Orbit, Mar 1 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780316128155

 

As the war between Russia and America continues unabated, both sides use genetic warrior exogenes.  Imprinted in these lab-created teen killers is strict adherence to “faith and death”.  These soldiers know deep in their DNA that death is their only path to honor and salvation.

 

Sixteen and half years old Catherine is a killing machine; the greatest lab produced soldier made in America.  However, Catherine begins to doubt her suicidal mission as she wants to live.  Her phobic fear of dying appears to be early ramifications of the “spoiling” that exogenes suffer when they reach their eighteenth birthday.  Catherine flees her sisters in arms and takes a chance she will survive the spoiling though her creators insist that is impossible.  She encounters Russian male genetically created soldiers, learns of the Russian Exogenic Enhancement and observes firsthand the folly of armchair warriors when she looks at the North Korean nuclear wasteland.  As she struggles to control flashbacks of her violent past that leaves her vulnerable, Catherine wonders if her only choices are death, the Americans or the Russians; she loathes all three options.

 

Though filled with plenty action especially combat, the superb second Subterrene War military science fiction (see Germline) is a great character study as readers get inside the mind of a former zealot born again as a doubter.  Ironically Catherine’s doubts are not about killing as that is wired into her brain; but instead she questions killing as a weapon of mass destruction deployed by fat cats rather than her selecting who her enemy is.  With a profound look at organized governments and religions tenet to kill in God’s name as a stairway to heaven for expendable soldiers, readers will relish learning who Catherine is. 

 

Harriet Klausner

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Bear Meets Girl-Shelly Laurenston

February 27, 2012

Bear Meets Girl

Shelly Laurenston

Kensington Brava, Mar 27 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758265203

 

NYPD Detective Lou “Crush” Crushek the polar bear shifter wakes up after eating too many shots of Jell-O pieces made with alcohol only to find a she-tiger in the bed with him.  Smith Wolf Pack (New York) Marcella “Bare-Knuckles” Malone is a hockey player known for her belligerent style.  Whereas he turns red, she smirks.

 

Cella blackmails a mortified Crush to pretend to be her boyfriend so her family leaves her alone.  He investigates a serial killer who is murdering the punks he planned to get locked away.  She investigates the predator hunting her species.  They team up in a bare knuckles relationship as the pride of New York, the bear and the tiger fall in love.

 

The latest amusing kick tail Smith Wolf Pack and Friends romantic urban fantasy (see Big Bad Beast) is an engaging police procedural starring two opposites in demeanor falling in love; though at first both would rather be dead.  The storyline makes the shifter species seem genuine but also has too many subplots detracting from the main bare knuckles crush plot.  Still fans will enjoy a visit to the world of the Laurenston mythos.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Seduction of Phaeton Black-Jillian Stone

February 27, 2012

The Seduction of Phaeton Black

Jillian Stone

Kensington Brava, Mar 27 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758268969

 

In 1889, Scotland Yard uses Phaeton Black to investigate those cases that defy logic as he is the best at solving the impossible.  Known for his sex skills even in the brothel where he resides, Black uses opium and absinthe when the call of the paranormal overwhelms his brain.

 

A serial killer is stalking London.  The predator drinks the blood of his or her victims leaving behind fang marks.  Black thinks these murders are tied to the Ripper killings; but that the beast is an Egyptian goddess vampire.  While investigating he meets America Jones several times.  The daughter of a powerful Cajun witch, America is in London searching for the pirates who stole her sea merchant father’s ships.  They team up on both cases as they need each other if they are to survive the supernatural and the natural monsters.

 

The first Black-Jones late Victorian romantic investigative fantasy is a lighthearted fun thriller that combines a tongue in cheek steampunk venue with an exciting paranormal whodunit.  With a nod to Sherlock Homes: “When you have eliminated the impossible , whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”, the Devil and Muss Jones make a wonderful pairing as they battle pirates, mummies, Ripper and the vampire, but their biggest adversary is the Scotland Yard brass.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

 

A SEAL In Wolf’s Clothing-Terry Spear

February 26, 2012

A SEAL In Wolf’s Clothing

Terry Spear

Sourcebooks, Mar 6 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781402258909

 

(Werewolf SEAL) Hunter and (human wildlife photographer) Tessa Greymere (see To Tempt The Wolf) are on a honeymoon; which his twin sister Meara feels liberating as seemingly forever her sibling focused on find her mate instead of his.  Her plan is to rent the Oregon cabins her brother and her own to alphas in order to search for her mate.

 

However, assassins with insider information target Hunter, his SEAL mates and anyone they cherish.  SEAL Finn Emerson arrives to keep Meara safe to her chagrin as she does not want a clone of Hunter interfering with her quest.  However, instead of counting potential mates, corpses pile up.  As he vows to keep his friend’s sister unharmed, he wonders who will keep Meara safe from his desire.

 

The latest Heart Of The Wolf werewolf romance is an engaging thriller as the protagonists sing I’m Not In Love” (by 10Cc) while also trying to prevent either joining the kill rate.  Fast-paced, with a surprising villain and an unlikely hero refreshing the series, fans of the Terry Spear Lycan saga will want to read the twin falling in love with A SEAL In Wolf’s Clothing.

 

Harriet Klausner

Warrior Rising-Pamela Palmer

February 26, 2012

Warrior Rising

Pamela Palmer

Harlequin Nocturne, Mar 20 2012, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373618811

 

In DC, computer company CEO Harrison Rand prepares for the war against the hated Esri Kingdom now that the Dark Gate and other portals between the realms have been breached.  The few Sitheen humans with Esri blood are the last hope for mankind to prevent becoming enslaved by ruthless King Rith.  Harrison has doubts he belongs with warriors like his brother Charlie who went through a gate to rescue Princess Ilaria (see A Warrior’s Desire) or Kaderil the Dark Esri who joined their side due to loving a human (see Dark Deceiver).

 

In fact the divorced Harrison prefers to protect his children, but his sibling needs someone he trusts to protect Ilaria.  Although he loathes the Esri, Harrison finds himself attracted to the exiled royal and soon realizes she is caring and kind towards humans and worries about her people like he does for his.  She seeks two stones to prevent Rith from completing the destruction of two worlds.

 

This is a terrific finish to a strong romantic urban fantasy saga as Harrison learns not to be a racist profiler when the Princess destroys his beliefs about her people.  Fast-paced and filled with action and romance, fans of the Esri series will appreciate the wonderful magical ending.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Werewolf’s Wife-Michele Hauf

February 26, 2012

The Werewolf’s Wife

Michele Hauf

Harlequin Nocturne, Mar 20 2012, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373618804

 

Near the Twin Cities, werewolf Ridge Addison the lumberjack is the Principal of a dwindling pack.  He and Jason are the only ones left on the compound while two pack members live with their spouses nearby. The rest of the pack died or fled after Ridge’s predecessors caused a war with the vampires. 

 

Ridge needs a real wife to start a family so he decides it is time to divorce Abigail Rowan the witch he married thirteen years ago while intoxicated in Vegas.  In Minneapolis he seeks her out only to learn she is on a desperate hunt to save her twelve year old son Ryan, who was abducted at the Detroit Airport while on his way home from Switzerland by a person claiming to be part of the Light.  The kidnapper uses the tweener as a hostage chip to force his mom to rescue a vampire being used in a blood sport in exchange for her child.  The werewolf agrees to help his spouse, who he claims placed a spell that has left him unable to procreate, as long as she signs the divorce papers.

 

Fast-paced from the moment Abigail receives the nightmarish call and never slows down until the final marital confrontation, fans will relish this engaging romantic urban fantasy.  The lead couple is a delightful pairing as they argue, fuss and fight on their way to a second chance at love.  Most women would cherish Abigail’s below the belt skill while men would cringe.  Brilliantly refreshing common romance tropes, Michele Hauf provides a wonderful visit to the “Land of 10000 Lakes.”

 

Harriet Klausner

The Shape Of Desire- Sharon Shinn

February 25, 2012

The Shape Of Desire 

Sharon Shinn

Ace, Apr 3 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9781937007171

 

For over a decade Maria Devane has loved Dante Romano and believes with all her heart that he loves her too.  She accepts that he holds back his feelings out of fear that he would lose control of the beast and harm his Maria; especially when he has no control over his monthly change into the beast.  Dante also fears the animal is taking over his soul as he spends longer time as a beast and wanders wider areas.

 

Although Maria knows she sees her mate through rose colored glasses, she believes he would harm no one.  However, she becomes fearful that the animal has won when brutal assaults by a feral beast begin occurring in nearby parks.  She needs to report him to the law, but her heart has been shattered as if claws ripped it into strips.

 

This is a great urban romantic fantasy as love seems not enough for this couple struggling with an increasingly dysfunctional relationship which also makes shapeshifting seem genuine.  The protagonists are magnificent as each goes through their customized version of grief as if they buried what they have had for the last fifteen years.  The mystery of the attacks engages the reader further as Maria knows all the evidence points to Dante, which leaves her in hell as Sharon Shinn provides another super paranormal thriller.

 

Harriet Klausner

Timeless-Gail Carriger

February 25, 2012

Timeless

Gail Carriger

Orbit, Mar 2 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780316127189

 

In London, the parents, friends, clan and servants of Prudence suffer from the wrath of the terrible two’s.  Making matters more difficult for others the toddler can “borrow” the supernatural powers of people by touching them until her soulless mom releases the stolen skills.  That is why her parents, Alpha of the Woolsey werewolf clan Lord Conall and Lady Alexia, use mostly drones as servants as well as their friend vampire Lord Akeldama, who actually adopted the baby to help.  Still the doting mama and papa relish their domestic lunacy.

 

The Queen of the Alexandria Hive orders Alexia to come to her city.  Knowing you never refuse a royal summons, Alexia, Conall, Prudence and actress Ivy Tunstell head to Egypt by steamer.  However, in Egypt the God-Breaker Plague has erupted.  The mysteries of the summons and the plague pale compared to how the world’s worst actress Ivy is an overnight sensation as the most popular actress in the British Empire.

 

The Parasol Protectorate Victorian fantasy ends with a great globetrotting fast-paced thriller.  Once again, Gail Carriger combines humor with tense action while tying up the major threads from the previous entries in the series (see Soulless, Changeless, Blameless and Heartless).  The females are superb while Conall looks foolish as he remains doubting Thomas (after all that has occurred including three years of marital bliss, you would think he would trust his wife).  Still Alexia and her troupe provide a strong final curtain performance.

 

Harriet Klausner

Caine’s Law-Matthew Stover

February 25, 2012

Caine’s Law

Matthew Stover

Del Rey, Apr 3 2012, $16.00

ISBN: 9780345455895

 

Professional Simon Faller begs Badlands Facility Director Administrator Gayle Keller to not make him do the mission as he is very afraid.  Faller has seen first-hand what prisoner Chairman Hori “Caine” Michaelson can do to his enemies.  Keller is scared even knowing that Caine is held in check by the Studio, but tells Faller their roles is to get Caine to try to kill them than those outside the facility.  The two frightened men visit Caine in his cell.  They inform him that the Board rejected his proposal on access to the Overwold in exchange for amnesty.  Instead they counter with a fried brain wiring or accepting the oily elixir that insures total loyalty.  With no real option especially after seeing what happened to a dedicated follower of his, he takes the chemical.

 

However, everyone underestimates the ruthless Caine; as he understands acting is to build off the sh*t that motivates you.  His allies enable Caine to escape to the Overwold’ which he once saved from genocide by the ruling elite of Earth.  Caine begins a time and space odyssey that will either bring him what he lost or eradicate the universe.

 

The latest Caine speculative fiction thriller is a gory yet intelligent and entertaining tale.  The storyline is convoluted as time proves liquid (as Matthew Stover notes) with this entry in the Act of Atonement saga coming before, during and after the events of the previous novel Caine Black Knife; to further complicate matters, incidents that were real at one time vanish as if they never happened.  Readers will appreciate this exciting complex thriller while wondering if the universe ended would anyone notice.

 

Harriet Klausner

Forerunner-Andre Norton

February 24, 2012

Forerunner

Andre Norton

Baen, Mar 6 2012, $12.00

ISBN: 9781451638080

 

Forerunner.  On Kuxortal, Sims worked as a scavenger for Ferwar until the old woman dies.  She, like many of the Guild, lives off the ancient ruins and burrows of the Forerunners.  However, she is unique with her blue-black skin coloring and with her telepathic connection to Zass the zorsal and her children.  Off-worlder Thom arrives from space seeking his missing brother.  He realizes Simsa is more than just different.  They explore the Forerunner caverns where she was first found as a baby.  However, neither is prepared for what they discover.

 

Forerunner: The Second Venture.  Simsa escaped Kuxortal, but now the off planet scientists imprison her as a “guest” but she feels more like a lab rat as they want to extract what she knows about the highly advanced technology of the Forerunners.  Her companion Zass the zorsal enables her to escape, but Simsa crashes on another world in which the Forerunners impacted.  While sentient natives want the outsider dead, something inside her wants control of her.  However, neither understands how resolute Simsa is to live free.

 

This reprint of the entertaining first two Forerunner science fiction thrillers is a fun collection.  Simsa is a great protagonist surrounded by a horde of villains (too many) in both novels as ethics mean nothing to the interchangeable Guild, archeologists and scientists.  Still readers will appreciate these exciting outer space tales as Simsa refuses to sit idly by while others use her for their personal gain.

 

Harriet Klausner