Sunday, July 31, 2011

Review: The Silent Girl: A Rizzoli & Isles Novel byTess Gerritsen

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; First Edition first Printing edition (July 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345515501
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345515506

Product Description


Lorraine Bracco loves The Silent Girl, saying "She did it to me again!  I can't get anything done when Tess puts out a new book and this one caught me as I was starting work on Season 2 of "Rizzoli & Isles."  So instead of memorizing my lines, I was sucked up into Boston's Chinatown with Jane, Maura, and company and could not put this one down. Just like the other books. Every time.  And to top it off, now I have to wait for the NEXT one to come out--you're killing me, Tess!  So good..."

No one takes readers to the dark side and back with more razor-sharp jolts and sheer suspense than the storytelling master behind Ice Cold and The Keepsake. When New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen has a tale to tell, put yourself in her expert hands—and prepare for the shocks and thrills that are certain to follow.

Every crime scene tells a story. Some keep you awake at night. Others haunt your dreams. The grisly display homicide cop Jane Rizzoli finds in Boston’s Chinatown will do both.

In the murky shadows of an alley lies a female’s severed hand. On the tenement rooftop above is the corpse belonging to that hand, a red-haired woman dressed all in black, her head nearly severed. Two strands of silver hair—not human—cling to her body. They are Rizzoli’s only clues, but they’re enough for her and medical examiner Maura Isles to make the startling discovery: that this violent death had a chilling prequel.

Nineteen years earlier, a horrifying murder-suicide in a Chinatown restaurant left five people dead. But one woman connected to that massacre is still alive: a mysterious martial arts master who knows a secret she dares not tell, a secret that lives and breathes in the shadows of Chinatown. A secret that may not even be human. Now she’s the target of someone, or something, deeply and relentlessly evil.

Cracking a crime resonating with bone-chilling echoes of an ancient Chinese legend, Rizzoli and Isles must outwit an unseen enemy with centuries of cunning—and a swift, avenging blade. 

About the Author


Tess Gerritsen is a physician and an internationally bestselling author. She gained nationwide acclaim for her first novel of suspense, the New York Times bestseller Harvest. She is also the author of the bestsellers Ice Cold, The Keepsake, The Bone Garden, The Mephisto Club, Vanish, Body Double, The Sinner, The Apprentice, The Surgeon, Life Support, Bloodstream, and Gravity. Tess Gerritsen lives in Maine. 

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.



San Francisco


She gives no indication that she's aware of me, although my rental car is within view of the street corner where she and the other teenagers have gathered this afternoon, doing whatever bored kids do to pass the time. She looks younger than the others, but perhaps it's because she's Asian and petite at seventeen, just a wisp of a girl. Her black hair is cropped as short as a boy's, and her blue jeans are ragged and torn. Not a fashion statement, I think, but a result of hard use and life on the streets. She puffs on a cigarette and exhales a cloud of smoke with the nonchalance of a street thug, an attitude that doesn't match her pale face and delicate Chinese features. She is pretty enough to attract the hungry stares of two men who pass by. The girl notices their looks and glares straight back at them, unafraid, but it's easy to be fearless when danger is merely an abstract concept. Faced with a real threat, how would this girl react, I wonder. Would she put up a fight or would she crumble? I want to know what she's made of, but I have not seen her put to the test.

As evening falls, the teenagers on the corner begin to disband. First one and then another wanders away. In San Francisco, even summer nights are chilly, and those who remain huddle together in their sweaters and jackets, lighting one another's cigarettes, savoring the ephemeral heat of the flame. But cold and hunger eventually disperse the last of them, leaving only the girl, who has nowhere to go. She waves to her departing friends and for a while lingers alone, as though waiting for someone. At last, with a shrug, she leaves the corner and walks in my direction, her hands thrust in her pockets. As she passes my car, she doesn't even glance at me, but looks straight ahead, her gaze focused and fierce, as if she's mentally churning over some dilemma. Perhaps she's thinking about where she's going to scavenge dinner tonight. Or perhaps it's something more consequential. Her future. Her survival.

She's probably unaware that two men are following her.

Seconds after she walks past my car, I spot the men emerging from an alley. I recognize them; it's the same pair who had stared at her earlier. As they move past my car, trailing her, one of the men looks at me through the windshield. It's just a quick glance to assess whether I am a threat. What he sees does not concern him in the least, and he and his companion keep walking. They move like the confident predators they are, stalking weaker prey who cannot possibly fight them off.

I step out of my car and follow them. Just as they are following the girl.

She heads into a neighborhood where too many buildings stand abandoned, where the sidewalk seems paved with broken bottles. The girl betrays no fear, no hesitation, as if this is familiar territory. Not once does she glance back, which tells me she is either foolhardy or clueless about the world and what it can do to girls like her. The men following her don't glance back, either. Even if they were to spot me, which I do not allow to happen, they would see nothing to be afraid of. No one ever does.

A block ahead, the girl turns right, vanishing through a doorway.

I retreat into the shadows and watch what happens next. The two men pause outside the building that the girl has entered, conferring over strategy. Then they, too, step inside.

From the sidewalk, I look up at the boarded-over windows. It is a vacant warehouse posted with a NO TRESPASSING notice. The door hangs ajar. I slip inside, into gloom so thick that I pause to let my eyes adjust as I rely on my other senses to take in what I cannot yet see. I hear the floor creaking. I smell burning candle wax. I see the faint glow of the doorway to my left. Pausing outside it, I peer into the room beyond.

The girl kneels before a makeshift table, her face lit by one flickering candle. Around her are signs of temporary habitation: a sleeping bag, tins of food, and a small camp stove. She is struggling with a balky can opener and is unaware of the two men closing in from behind.

Just as I draw in a breath to shout a warning, the girl whirls around to face the trespassers. All she has in her hand is the can opener, a meager weapon against two larger men.

"This is my home," she says. "Get out."

I had been prepared to intervene. Instead I pause where I am to watch what happens next. To see what the girl is made of.

One of the men laughs. "We're just visiting, honey."

"Did I invite you?"

"You look like you could use the company."

"You look like you could use a brain."

Not a wise way to handle the situation, I think. Now their lust is mingled with anger, a dangerous combination. Yet the girl stands perfectly still, perfectly calm, brandishing that pitiful kitchen utensil. As the men lunge, I am already on the balls of my feet, ready to spring.

She springs first. One leap and her foot thuds straight into the first man's sternum. It's an inelegant but effective blow and he staggers, gripping his chest as if he cannot breathe. Before the second man can react, she is already spinning toward him, and she slams the can opener against the side of his head. He howls and backs away.

This has gotten interesting.

The first man has recovered and rushes at her, slamming her so hard that they both go sprawling onto the floor. She kicks and punches, and her fist cracks into his jaw. But fury has inured him to pain and with a roar he rolls on top of her, immobilizing her with his weight.

Now the second man jumps back in. Grabbing her wrists, he pins them against the floor. Youth and inexperience have landed her in a calamity that she cannot possibly escape. As fierce as she is, the girl is green and untrained, and the inevitable is about to happen. The first man has unzipped her jeans and he yanks them down past her skinny hips. His arousal is evident, his trousers bulging. Never is a man more vulnerable to attack.

He doesn't hear me coming. One moment he's unzipping his fly. The next, he's on the floor, his jaw shattered, loose teeth spilling from his mouth.

The second man barely has time to release the girl's hands and jump up, but he's not quick enough. I am a tiger and he is nothing more than a lumbering buffalo, stupid and helpless against my strike. With a shriek he drops to the ground, and judging by the grotesque angle of his arm, his bone has been snapped in two.

I grab the girl and yank her to her feet. "Are you unhurt?"

She zips up her jeans and stares at me. "Who the hell are you?"

"That's for later. Now we go!" I bark.

"How did you do that? How did you bring them down so fast?"

"Do you want to learn?"


I look at the two men groaning and writhing at our feet. "Then here is the first lesson: Know when to run." I shove her toward the door. "That time would be now."

I WATCH HER EAT. For a small girl, she has the appetite of a wolf, and she devours three chicken tacos, a lake of refried beans, and a large glass of Coca-Cola. Mexican food was what she wanted, so we sit in a café where mariachi music plays and the walls are adorned with gaudy paintings of dancing señoritas. Though the girl's features are Chinese, she is clearly American, from her cropped hair to her tattered jeans. A crude and feral creature who slurps up the last of her Coke before noisily gnawing on the ice cubes.

I begin to doubt the wisdom of this venture. She is already too old to be taught, too wild to learn discipline. I should release her back to the streets, if that's where she wants to go, and find another way. But then I notice the scars on her knuckles and remember how close she came to single-handedly taking down the two men. She has raw talent and is fearless-two things that cannot be taught.

"Do you remember me?" I ask.

The girl sets down her glass and frowns. For an instant I think I see a flash of recognition, but then it's gone. She shakes her head.

"It was a long time ago," I say. "Twelve years." An eternity for a girl so young. "You were small."

She shrugs. "No wonder I don't remember you." She reaches in her jacket, pulls out a cigarette, and starts to light it.

"You're polluting your body."

"It's my body," she retorts.

"Not if you wish to train." I reach across the table and snatch the cigarette from her lips. "If you want to learn, your attitude must change. You must show respect."

She snorts. "You sound like my mother."

"I knew your mother. In Boston."

"Well, she's dead."

"I know. She wrote me last month. She told me she was ill and had very little time left. That's why I'm here."

I'm surprised to see tears glisten in the girl's eyes and she quickly turns away, as though ashamed to reveal weakness. But in that vulnerable instant, before she hides her eyes, she brings to mind my own daughter, who was younger than this girl when I lost her. My eyes sting with tears, but I don't try to hide them. Sorrow has made me who I am. It has been the refining fire that has honed my resolve and sharpened my purpose.

I need this girl. Clearly, she also needs me.

"It's taken me weeks to find you," I tell her.

"Foster home sucked. I'm better off on my own."

"If your mother saw you now, her heart would break."

"She never had time for me."

"Maybe because she was working two jobs, trying to keep you fed? Because she couldn't count on anyone but herself to do it?"

"She let the world walk all over her. Not once did I see her stand up for anything. Not even me."

"She was afraid."

"She was spineless."

I lean forward, enraged by this ungrateful brat. "Your poor mother suffered in ways you can't possibly imagine. Everything she did was for you." In disgust, I toss her cigarette back at her. This is not the girl I'd hoped to find. She may be strong and fearless, but no sense of filial duty binds her to her dead mother and f...

My Review

I discovered Tess Gerritsen's wonderful Rizzoli and Isles series last year with the excellent novel Ice Cold.  Then of course I started reading the earlier novels so it was a pleasure to go forward with The Silent Girl.  In this outing Gerritsen visits her Chinese roots and sets the story in Boston's Chinatown.  As I live in an area, Vancouver, that has a huge Chinese population and a legendary Chinatown that is both intriguing and mysterious I was ready for the mysteries of Boston's Chinatown.

Gerritsen combines ancient Chinese legends with a middle female martial arts expert who happens to wield an ancient sword to set the stage for an amazing adventure.  Iris Fang is the widow of a murdered scholar/waiter and the mother of a missing girl.  Nineteen years earlier a murder-suicide of five occurred in Chinatown that tarnishes its image to the present day.  Iris's husband died in that restaurant massacre. 

This is another engrossing thriller from a great writer.  I love the twists and turns in the plot. I love how the story concludes.  I highly recommend this fantastic crime mystery thriller.

Second Son (Short Story): A Reacher Story by Lee Child

 Just pre-ordered this short story by Lee Child.  It will be released on August 15th.  Will have to keep me going until the September release of the new Jack Reacher adventure:  The Affair.



  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 5 KB
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press (August 15, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005DB6NAW


Product Description

This new Reacher e-original short story from #1 New York Times bestselling author Lee Child—featuring Reacher, his father, and his brother Joe—proves that family ties run deep, and sometimes deadly.

Second Son also includes a thrilling excerpt from Lee Child’s forthcoming novel, The Affair.

Review: The Corruptible by Mark Mynheir

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Multnomah Books (April 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1601420749
  • ISBN-13: 978-1601420749

Product Description


How much money would it take for you to betray the truth?

Ex-homicide detective Ray Quinn never had glamorous thoughts of the life of a private investigator—but being cornered in a bathroom stall by the enraged philandering husband of a client? That’s something he could live without. Retired from homicide and living with a painful disability, Ray’s options are limited. Stick to the job, keep impetuous sidekick Crevis alive, and spend quiet evenings with trusted pal Jim Beam, that’s about the best he can hope for.

As a new client emerges, Ray finds himself in an impossibly large boardroom holding a check with enough zeros to finally lift him from his financial pit. The job seems easy enough: find Logan Ramsey, an ex-cop turned security officer who’s taken off with sensitive corporate information. But few things are easy in Ray’s world, regardless of the amount of zeros in the check.

In what should be an open-and-shut case, Ray stumbles across Logan Ramsey in a seedy motel room. Only Ray wasn’t the first to find him. Now Logan’s dead, the client’s information is nowhere to be found, and Ray’s employer is less than forthcoming with the details. Suddenly the line between the good guys and bad guys isn’t so clear. With a foot in both worlds and an illuminating look at an unhappy ending that could well be his own, which will Ray choose? 

About the Author


Mark Mynheir is the author of the Christy Award nominated The Night Watchman, the first Ray Quinn mystery. He has worked undercover as a narcotics agent, as a SWAT team member, and now investigates violent crimes as a detective with the Criminal Investigations Unit in central Florida, where he lives with his wife and three children. 

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


DYING ON THE TOILET was not how I envisioned leaving this world.

“Ray Quinn, you’re a dead man!” The behemoth’s rumblings reverberated off the bathroom walls like a fully throttled Harley-Davidson.

I locked the stall door and shuffled back against the wall, my good leg using the toilet to keepme upright.My balance was still suspect after the shooting that destroyed my hip and pelvis eighteen months before. I pulled out my phone and typed a hurried text message to my partner, Crevis.

Trapped in bathroom w/maniac. Get here now!
“Where are you, you gumshoe rat?”The goon kicked in the stall door three down from me. Keith Wagner, my large and socially challenged pursuer, didn’t possess much of a sense of humor. His wife suspected he was being unfaithful and hired me to follow him. It wasn’t a difficult job, as he possessed a predilection for young ladies and excessive amounts of booze. Easy money, I thought. Now it seemed Keith was going to extract from my body every dollar his wife paid me.

The lovely and gracious Mrs.Wagner hadn’t thought it important to inform me that she confronted Keith and blamed everything on me until after she went to the gym and met some friends for a brunch date.

I got her flippant warning call as Keith followed me into the restaurant where I was meeting Crevis for lunch, so he was now on a quest to separate my head from the rest of my body. I ducked into the bathroom to avoid him. Not the smartest move I’d made in a while, because now I was cornered. And in my hobbled condition, I couldn’t outrun anyone anywhere. I hoped Crevis got my message, or he would be looking for another employer soon.

“So you wanna ruin other people’s marriages, do ya?” Another stall door fell victim to Keith’s raging foot.

Pointing out that it was his serial adultery and boorish behavior that led to his personal problems probably wouldn’t help the situation, so I remained quiet.

“You wanna stick your face into other people’s business?” The walls rocked again as the stall next to mine endured his assault. I aimed the weighty brass handle of my cane toward the door. Whatever he wanted to do to me would come at great cost.

The door handle jiggled. “Thought you could hide, did you—Ray Quinn, private eye?”

The door exploded open, and I was face to face with Keith, who stood a solid six foot three with a thick lumberjack build that made me wonder if this whole private-investigator gig was worth it. He worked his hands in and out like he was warming up his forearms to throttle me. He smirked, and I hammered the handle of my cane into his bearded face.

A meaty thump filled the air as one of Keith’s teeth smacked the mirror behind him and swirled around in the sink. Keith staggered back, blood pouring down his chin. He snarled—minus a front tooth—and charged back into the stall and snatched me by the neck, smacking the back of my head against the wall. He growled as his beefy hands wrapped around my throat; his crazed eyes widened as he squeezed down hard.

While trying to break his stranglehold, I reached back to my waistband holster for my Glock 9mm. Magilla Gorilla thumped my head against the wall twice more, trapping my pistol between my back and the wall. An uppercut to his man-spot elicited only a groan from him. A follow-up shot caused him to release his grip and stumble backward, hunched over and clutching his groin.

I stabbed the brass tip of my cane down on his foot with both hands, coaxing another yelp from him. He hopped backward on one leg, then fired a cranium-rattling punch intomy cheek, knocking me down onto the toilet. He grabbed me by the shirt and jerked me out of the stall, launching me through the air and dropping me on the sink counter. My cane slid across the floor toward the bathroom door. One of the faucets snapped as we wrestled on the sink top, spraying water like a fountain.

As Keith raised his fist to pound me, the bathroom door smacked against the wall, and Crevis Creighton stepped in.

Crevis, in his gray suit and fedora, streaked toward us and nailed Keith with his shoulder, driving him into the wall and off me. He locked Keith in a bear hug, pressing him against the wall. Keith pushed Crevis’s face back and took a wild swing. Crevis broke away and bobbed under the punch, his much-loved fedora falling to the floor. He fired two deep uppercuts to Keith’s floating ribs, just like I had coached him. Keith gasped and looped another much slower, feeble swing at Crevis, who stepped back out of range as the punch sailed past.Crevis snapped a round kick to Keith’s jaw, knocking him back against the wall. He slid down to the damp floor, unconscious.

The water from the broken faucet drenched us as I lay on the counter like a slab of so much pounded beef, my hip throbbing in pain.

“You all right, Ray?” Crevis said as he snatched his hat from the floor and affixed it back onto his head. Oblivious to the torrents of water jetting around us, he was quick to my side, as usual. The kid was consistent if nothing else. The look of concern on his face was genuine, but he’d seen me battered and beaten before. I’d get up.

I always did—one of my many faults.

“I’ll make it.” I started to scoot myself off of the counter and swing my legs to the floor. A searing bolt of pain rocketed down my spine and hip. “Maybe I’ll wait here for a minute.”

The romantic notion of being a private investigator—righting wrongs, searching for justice, and all the other drivel that zipped through my brain on occasion—seemed a bit foolish as I rested on a bathroom counter, nearly drowning in cold sink water.

Crevis’s gray suit was now a sooty black as the sink continued to spit water at us. Drops poured off the lip of his fedora like a rain gutter in a hurricane. My already broken body cried out again, even more than usual. I hoped Keith hadn’t destroyed any of the doctor’s work on my damaged hip and pelvis. When I caught my breath, I’d try to stand and test it out. But for a moment, I was quite comfortable lying there, taking an unplanned shower. “You might want to call OPD before this goon wakes up,” I said. “I don’t think he’ll be happy.”

Sliding his arm underneath mine, Crevis tipped me up into a sitting position. He eased me off the counter, then stepped over Keith, who was still taking a tile nap, to retrieve my cane for me.

Crevis had packed on about twenty pounds since we’d started working together. The kid had been in the gym every day, lifting weights and doing heavy bag workouts. I’d been coaching him on his boxing and kick-boxing skills, which I recognized now as an investment in my own health. A 9mm bullet to my side had ensured I would never hit the ring again. “Whose idea was this PI thing again?” I asked.

“Yours,” he said.

“Remind me to never listen to myself again.”

My Review

If you read the excerpt above I'm sure you love the first line:  DYING ON THE TOILET was not how I envisioned leaving this world, as much as I did!  I received an ebook copy of The Corruptible by Mark Mynheir from WaterBrook Multnomah for the purpose of this review.  It is the first Christian suspense/crime/detective novel that I've read.  As a Christian who loves reading mysteries it is a welcome concept.  You do not have to be a Christian to enjoy this is great crime/detective novel as well.

This is the second book in the series featuring former police officer turned private detective Ray Quinn.  I have not read the first book and it was not necessary to enjoy this book.  In the first book Ray was seriously and permanently injured resulting in his being in constant pain and having to use a cane.  The love of his life was also killed in that book.  Those two events have result in Ray having a best friend in the bottle or as he calls him "Jim" for Jim Beam.  The first also introduced the character Pam whose brother a minister was ministered. His relationship with Pam allows for the Christian aspects of the book to be introduced.

The relationships between the characters in this book are what make it so special.  In one of many relationships, Ray has a mentor relationship with a young man Crevis who is preparing to write the entrance exam for the police academy.  The story centers around mysterious wealthy investment company that has had information stolen by a company insider...a company insider who used to be a policeman who Ray knew.  Ray is hired to find the stolen information and despite any misgivings he has about his client the money is just too lucrative for the struggling private detective.

Good story though I did have it pretty much solved long before the end.  I liked the realistic storyline of Ray suffering from alcoholism to mask his pain.  And I liked how Christian redemption was introduced without being overbearing.

Good story, good writing style...thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Review: Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put On My Pajamas & Found Happiness by Dominique Browning

  • Hardcover: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Atlas (May 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934633313
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934633311

Product Description


From the beloved author Dominique Browning, a humorous and moving book about losing a job and winning a life.

In November 2007, former editor in chief of House & Garden magazine Dominique Browning experienced what thousands have since experienced. She lost her job. Overnight, her driven, purpose-filled days vanished. With her children leaving home and a long relationship ending, the structure of her days disappeared. She fell into a panic of loss but found humor despite everything, discovering a deeper joy than any she had ever known. It was a life she had not sought, but one that offered pleasures and surprises she didn’t know she lacked.

Slow Love is about wearing your pajamas to the farmers’ market, packing up a beloved home and moving to a more rural setting, making time to play the piano and go kayaking, reinventing yourself, and not cutting corners when it comes to love, muffins, or gardening. This elegant, graceful—and yet funny—book inspires us to dance in the kitchen and seize new directions. 

About the Author


For over a decade, Dominique Browning was the editor in chief of House & Garden. She is the author of Around the House and in the Garden and lives in New York City and Rhode Island.

My Review

I discovered Slow Love shortly after I was laid off from my corporate job after eleven years due to my position being eliminated in corporate downsizing.  It took about six months to really adjust and I can easily relate to the subtitle of this book:  How I Lost My Job, Put On My Pajamas & Found Happiness.  Don't you just love that line.  As soon as I read it, I is me!!! 

Ms. Browning, a former editor in chief of the very prestigious House and Garden magazine, discusses how her job defined who she was and how she went about redefining herself.  It is a self help book for those of us placed in a similar situation as much as it is a memoir of Dominique's very interesting life.  She changed her lifestyle, her domicile and her main relationship.  She developed a new way of looking at life.  I am so inspired by her after reading this book.

Dominique has a website, a blog and is on Facebook.

Dominique's Website

Slow Love Life Blog

Slow Love is out in hard cover now but will be out in paperback on August 31!

Highly recommend this wonderful, insightful and inspiring book!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Review: Devil's Kitchen by Clark Lohr

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 476 KB
  • Publisher: BARZF Press; 2 edition (Feb 21 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00BJC174Q

Product Description


Devil's Kitchen…Southwest noir – crime and romance in the Sonoran Desert… where the sacred feminine traditions conflict with the masculine logic of profit and environmental exploitation. When a severed head shows up at a Tucson landfill, Pima County Sheriff’s Detective Manny Aguilar gets the case. He handily tracks down the dead man’s heroin-addicted friends, and Manny thinks he’s identified the killers—until someone starts killing them. Suddenly Manny finds himself in the middle of a hellish conspiracy between a Mexican drug lord and an Arizona land developer. Aguilar’s redheaded, butt-kicking girlfriend, Reina, along with his Yaqui grandmother help solve the mystery, but it’s Johnny Oaks, a Cherokee PI, who rides with Manny to the showdown in Arizona's remote Skeleton Canyon.

About The Author

Clark Lohr was born in Montana. He has a farm and ranch background and is a Vietnam Vet. Lohr, a professional photographer, has a degree from the University of Arizona. 

My Review

The debut novel, Devil's Kitchen, by Clark Lohr is an incredibly well-written and captivating crime novel.  The novel opens with the discovery of a severed head and with Pima County Sheriffs Department's Detective Manuel (Manny) Aguilar being assigned to the case. A rash of shootings and dead bodies soon result in Manny's being fired and beginning a new career as a private detective.  Tucson's proximity to the Mexican border allows for Mexican drug lords to have quite a bit of influence over the area thus crime abounds.  Lohr also touches on the affects of rampant out of control real estate development in Arizona which is destroying the fragile ecosystem of the Sonoran Desert. Mix these two ingredients and you have a recipe for death and devastation.

What I love about this novel is that I really feel like I'm part of the action.  I am really perceiving a sense of place in that without ever having been to Tuscon, I know what it feels like to be there.  And I love that Manny loves cats!  Manny has a realistic relationship with his girlfriend, friends and his family.  He seems to really understand his girlfriend and is thoughtful about his reactions around her....she has some interesting thoughts on hallucinations, etc.  And he has a very interesting relationship with his grandmother.

The final showdown is at Devil's Kitchen in Skeleton Canyon on the Arizona / New Mexico border near the Mexican border.  The author did not leave any loose ends hanging and the conclusion was satisfying.

Highly, highly recommend this fabulous crime, mystery novel!  I'm looking forward to the next book Clark!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Review: The Chocolate Diaries: Secrets for a Sweeter Journey on the Rocky Road of Life by Karen Linamen

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: WaterBrook Press (May 3, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400074029
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400074020

Product Description


Ready to Make Some Sweet Changes?
Karen Linamen dishes up a satisfying blend of moxie and mocha, sharing stories from dozens of women who reveal savvy strategies for embracing a sweeter life—even while traveling rocky roads. If you’re hungry for more joy, reasons to laugh again, ideas to help you heal, and reliable hope leading to a sweeter future, this journey will leave you satisfied.

Funny, transparent, and uplifting, The Chocolate Diaries is like taking a road trip with good friends who are wise about life. And while you’re at it, indulge (just a little) in the quirky recipes for concocting chocolate delights out of whatever ingredients you can round up in your kitch. The road may still be bumpy, but you’ll be having too much fun to care. 

About the Author


No stranger to good chocolate, Karen Scalf Linamen is a popular speaker and the author of fifteen books for women, including Just Hand Over the Chocolate and No One Will Get Hurt and Chocolatherapy: Satisfying the Deepest Cravings of Your Inner Chick. Karen writes, entertains, cooks, and pursues the sweet life with her family in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

My Review

What I just love about Karen Linamen is that she subscribes to the belief that anything can be made better with chocolate!  And she is so right.  Some of her other books include "Just Hand Over The Chocolate and No One Will Get Hurt"  and "Chocolatherapy".  She has written over a dozen self help books that are both humorous and enlightening.  She writes a blog called "Wit and Wellness" located here:  She also has a website: .  Both are worth taking a look at!

The Chocolate Diaries is a collection of fifteen tales of women's journeys on the rough roads of life and how they coped with these issues.  Coping mechanisms included prayer, confidence, friendships and of course the healing powers of chocolate.  This is a delightful book that would be perfect to pair with a box of chocolates and give to a friend going through a rough time.  It is a great read and I found it to be very inspirational.  I also loved the little recipe tips for quick chocolate fixes.  This book would be suitable to give to both Christian and non-Christian friends.  It is suitable for non-Christian friends as it is a subtle way to introduce the love of the Lord into their lives.

I highly recommend this delightful book.

Review: Only Yours by Susan Mallery

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HQN Books (August 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0373775946
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373775941

Product Description


Montana Hendrix has found her calling — working with therapy dogs. With a career she loves in a hometown she adores, she’s finally ready to look for her own happily ever after. Could one of her dogs help her find Mr. Right... or maybe Dr. Right? Surgeon Simon Bradley prefers the sterility of the hospital to the messiness of real life, especially when real life includes an accident-prone mutt and a woman whose kisses make him want what he knows he can’t have. Scarred since childhood, he avoids emotional entanglement by moving from place to place to heal children who need his skillful touch. Can his growing feelings for Montana lead him to find a home in Fool’s Gold, or will he walk away, taking her broken heart with him? --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

About the Author


Susan Mallery is the New York Times bestselling author of contemporary romance and women’s fiction novels with heart and humor. Her funny and sexy family stories have been named to Booklist's Top 10 Romance Novels lists of 2007, 2008, and 2009.

Mallery's gift for writing humor and tenderness make all her books true gems. -Romantic Times

Romance novels don’t get much better than Mallery's expert blend of emotional nuance, humor and superb storytelling. -Booklist

My Review

I decided to go straight from reading Only Mine to reading the next book in Susan Mallery's Fool's Gold series, Only Yours.  I was already attached to the characters and the townspeople so I thought I would just carry on!  I enjoyed Only Yours as much as I enjoyed Only Mine. Two triplets down, one to go.

Only Yours is the story of Montana Hendrix who works with therapy dogs. The misadventures of one of the dogs helps her to run into Dr. Simon Bradley, a brilliant surgeon. Dr. Bradley of course is only in town temporarily and has no intention of ever settling down.  So will Montana be able to keep him in town...well you will have to read it to find out!

I am looking forward to the next book in the series, Only His, which is the love story of the last triplet.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Virtual Book Tour and Review: Chique Secrets of Dolce Vita by Barbara Conelli

To live a dolce vita means living with an open heart and soul, indulging in life with all your senses. It means having the eyes to see real beauty, having the nose to smell intoxicating scents, having the ears to hear dreamy sounds, having the mouth to taste delicate flavors, having the body to perceive soft sensations. It means being aware of yourself, of your emotions and desires. It means finding happiness in ordinary yet unique things.

There is a place where you can learn all this. A place scented with saffron where you can find a natural paradise among houses with flaked paint, where famous artists play on the streets, where men have not forgotten how to pay compliments, and where women seductively swing their hips. It is a place where people take the art of dolce vita to perfection. Where you can enjoy little pleasures, live every day as if it was your first and last, breath in the air of true freedom and be whatever and whoever you want to be. In this place, where the real Italian heart is still beating, where people are delightfully vain as well as childishly honest, and where passion is more than just a word, you realize that living the sweet life is not as hard as it may seem.

Let’s wander together for a while along Milanese boulevards and the narrow winding streets of the surrounding villages. Let’s go on a journey that will take us to the atelier of untameable Carla, to the sweet heaven of irresistible Antonietta, among the peculiar characters of bohemian Brera, to the silk workshop of Maria Elena, to see Fernanda’s disobedient genius, to the famous La Scala with Francesco and Giovanna, and to the cradle of Milanese high fashion by madam Mila. Then to the hills that once belonged to pirates and today are owned by lovers. On to misty paths haunted by ghosts and then to secret corners that witnessed passionate stories of love, desire, and heartbreak.

Let’s meet the delicious Milanese women, amazing and unique, whose lives have been irreversibly changed by Milan and who have also changed the face and character of Milan forever. Women whose fate has become entwined with the city’s present and past, with its everyday life, and its transformation throughout history. We can also meet the men who have succumbed to the temptation of sultry hips and mysterious voices in the dark. Who, insane from luscious lips and inspired by irresistible legs, have marked the world with their presence and made it a deliciously bittersweet place to be.

Let’s simply uncover all the sweet, passionate, and dark Milanese secrets that have up to now remained unrevealed. The chique secrets that will teach you to live your own dolce vita no matter where in the world you are. Because la vita e bella, life is beautiful, and the most amazing wonders of this world often hide in the simplest things.

Chique Secrets of Dolce Vita Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, June 6
Book reviewed at Mad Moose Mama
Tuesday, June 7
Wednesday, June 8
Guest blogging at Beyond the Books
Thursday, June 9
Interviewed at Examiner
Friday, June 10
Guest blogging at The Writer’s Life
Monday, June 13
Interviewed at Review From Here
Tuesday, June 14
Guest blogging at The Book Faerie Reviews
Wednesday, June 15
Interviewed at Pump Up Your Book
Book trailer featured at If Books Could Talk
Thursday, June 16
Interviewed at Blogcritics
Friday, June 17
Book reviewed at MysteriesEtc.
Monday, June 20
Interview & book giveaway at Write About
Tuesday, June 21
Interviewed at The Book Connection
Wednesday, June 22
Guest blogging at A Writer’s Life
Thursday, June 23
Friday, June 24
Monday, June 27
Book reviewed at Library of Clean Reads
Tuesday, June 28
Guest blogging at Literal Exposure
Wednesday, June 29
Guest blogging at Authors Book Corner
Thursday, June 30
Thursday, July 7
Interviewed at Literarily Speaking
Friday, July 8
Guest blogging at The Book Bin
Friday, July 15
Tuesday, July 19
Friday, Juy 22
Chat & Book Giveaway at Pump Up Your Book Live! Chat
Monday, July 25
Book reviewed at Mysteries Etc.


About The Author

Barbara Conelli is an internationally published author and Chiquenist on the mission to bring Fantastic Fearless Feminine Fun into women’s lives. In her charming, delightful and humorous Chique Books filled with Italian passion, Barb invites women to explore Italy from the comfort of their home with elegance, grace and style, encouraging them to live their own Dolce Vita no matter where they are in the world.

Barb learned to read and write at the age of four, and a year later, she wrote her first bestselling book that became a big hit in local kindergartens. She turned into an overnight success that lasted for twelve exciting hours. Since then, she has never separated from her writing endeavors. Barb writes even in her sleep and she can often be seen sitting on her bed at three a.m. with a flashlight frantically processing her somnambulant ideas. A born nomad and adventurer, she’s been there, she’s done it, and she’s not afraid to write about it.
An entertaining storyteller, Barb has a unique ability to capture the magical atmosphere of the places she writes about. Through the pages of her books, Barb takes your hand and guides you through the irresistible beauty, captivating secrets, unrepeatable spell and fugitive moments of Italy. She makes them come alive easily and spontaneously, and her writing is like a magic carpet that carries you to Italy and back in the blink of an eye. She introduces you to fascinating women who have created the face of Italy, lifts the shroud of their mysteries, and reveals adorable places off the beaten track where the authentic Italian heart hasn’t stopped beating.

As a naturally curious person who loves traveling, meeting new people and discovering their life stories, Barbara founded Chique Show, an entertaining radio show for women and about women. On Chique Show, Barbara shares her Dolce Vita adventures and interviews inspiring women authors and experts who show listeners how to live their sweet life with gusto.

Barb lives between New York and Milan, and as a real globetrotter, she’s always on the move, accompanied by her adorable and very spoiled beagle. To her, writing is like breathing, and she’s currently working on her new book.

Her latest book is Chique Secrets of Dolce Vita, a narrative travel nonfiction book full of charming, poetic, delightful and humorous travel and life stories about extraordinary Milanese women, men who have succumbed to their temptation and the art of living your own dolce vita no matter where in the world you are.
You can visit her website at or connect with her at Twitter at or Facebook at

Read the Excerpt!

If we were to attribute human traits to a city, Milan has a refined spirit, ingenious brain, sensual body, elegant walk, and a sweet soul, maybe the sweetest of all Italian cities. Nowhere else will you find so many cafés, patisseries, and bakeries smelling of vanilla than here. All the sweet traditions of sweet-toothed Italy have met on this Milanese crossroad to show off the best that has been pleasing the soul and tongue of Italians for centuries.

Pasticceria Da Antonietta, or Antonietta’s confectionary, in Via Fontanelli, is a sweet-smelling corner of Southern Italy where the sweet charms of Napels and Palermo have been welded for twenty years. That’s where confectioner Antonietta’s parents came from many years ago to look for work. Antonietta grew up surrounded by traditional southern delicacies enriched with ingredients proven over generations that could not miss on Fiduccis’ table at any family lunch or dinner. She studied the intricate alchemy of icings, creams, and fragile dough, she baked, fried, candied, and filled, until rumor of her exceptional art spread all over Milan.
Antonietta started to create sweet surprises for family celebrations, weddings, and various holidays; her sweet hands were as skilful as the hands of reputable confectioners in restaurants of famous names, maybe even more so, and her creations were even more delicious because she made them with the authentic Neapolitan passion.

When Antonietta was twenty-one years old, her heart got broken by seductive, bewitching Francesco, for whom she had been making his favorite profiterole, fluffy cream puffs with a scrumptious filling, for two years. Antonietta found out that Francesco exchanged her sweet love for a daughter of a Milanese councilman, who did not know how to make profiterole but had a fat dowry from her daddy. When Antonietta recovered from Francesco’s betrayal, she decided she would never again dedicate her sweet art only to one man. She opened Pasticceria Da Antonietta, which soon became a far-famed place and a favorite destination of all the Milanese with a sweet tooth.

Today, Antonietta is forty-one but you would say she is at least ten years younger. Her raven-black hair smells of cinnamon, and her Palermo curves that she had inherited from her Sicilian mother drive young Felipe from next door insane, as well as decent seventy-something Mariano from the opposite house. Although she could have made a much bigger business out of her confectionary a long time ago, she still keeps her small store on the corner and makes all the pastry with her own hands. And although her patisserie is full of delicacies from the whole of Italy and even from neighboring France, most clients come back mostly for the irresistible Neapolitan sfogliatelle, pastiere, and the Sicilian cassata. This is the pastry of Antonietta’s childhood, the treasure of the Fiducci family, and Antonietta’s big love. Its baking runs in her blood and she has taken it to complete and unbeatable perfection. And what’s more, over a cup of mint tea, she will tell you its history because Antonietta knows absolutely everything about the sweet love of her heart.

Sfogliatelle are fluffy sweet rolls from Napels, first created by monks from a certain Neapolitan monastery. For many years, the recipe was a secret domain of the monks, simply because only those within the monastery walls had enough time to bake the laborious sfogliatelle. Sfogliatelle are made of fragile dough that is rolled to create several layers, cut into pieces and then filled with orange ricotta or almond paste. The main ingredient is candied lemon peel, giving sfogliatelle their typical scent. Antonietta has her huge lemons delivered directly from the Amalfi coast where they ripen under the Neapolitan sun and are saturated with sea breeze.

Pastiera is a dessert of many aromas, whose origin goes back to the pagan celebrations of the spring. In the middle ages it was rediscovered by a Neapolitan nun who, led by purely spiritual intentions, created this divine yet sinfully profane temptation. This woman of God wanted to prepare an exceptional dessert that would celebrate Christ’s resurrection and smell like orange trees in the convent garden. She mixed flour with home-made ricotta, added eggs as the symbol of a new life, water smelling of infused orange blossoms, the convent’s very own cider, and a combination of oriental spices that gave a spark of pagan sensuality to her devout doings.

The Sicilian cassata was brought to Italy in the ninth century by Arabs, who ruled Sicily for three hundred years. After they left, nuns of Palermo convents took the cassata to perfection, and thanks to them, the cassata of today harmoniously combines the spicy sweetness of Arabic pastries and fruity
flavors of Sicily. This colorful dessert proves that convents were not just a place of asceticism and spiritual contemplation and that they also witnessed completely unspiritual epicurean pleasure. The Palermo cassata is made of a light sponge biscuit that nuns soaked in chaste-fruit juice, which Antonietta replaced with a totally unchaste liqueur that she invented herself. Slices of the sponge biscuit are then pasted together by layers of ricotta and vanilla or chocolate cream. This base is then poured over with a marzipan icing and on top of that, pink and green sugar icings create colorful stripes on the white marzipan. Finally, the cake is decorated with deep-red Sicilian cherries and juicy citruses. What is there left to say? Maybe only Antonietta’s loving words dedicated to cassata: “Just as well the nuns of Palermo didn’t keep this sweet secret to themselves.”

Whether you decide to savor mint tea and Neapolitan pastries in Antonietta’s sweet-smelling paradise or in any of the countless Milanese pasticcerias, you won’t regret it. Milan literally lures you to lose yourself in the delicious delights the city offers wherever you go. Italian’s sweet life is really sweet, and in Milan, maybe twice as much.

View The Trailer

My Review

This slim volume is a quaint and enjoyable read.  It is a bit of travelogue of the city of Milan and the surrounding area and it is a bit of a women's empowerment book!  Barbara Conelli brings us the magic the Milan.  And she brings us the joy of being a woman in Milan. Chique Secrets is full of delightful stories of the author's time spent in Italy. Ms. Conelli really brings Italy to really feel like you are there experiencing everything that she does.  She brings life to the culture and food of Italy.  And now I really want to try Saffron Risotto!  She makes everything sounds so charming and delightful.  What I particularly liked was that in Italy, a woman can eat solo in a restaurant without everyone looking at her funny.  And that a woman's girlfriends are a very important part of her life.  This book really celebrates being a woman.  And the importance of wearing high heels!

On Barbara's website you can sign up for:  10-Day Chique Dolce Vita Virtual Tour:
The Secret Gems of Italy
Plus Italian Surprise Goodie Bag
for your Sweet Life!

Ok, I'm ready...let's catch a flight to Milan right now!  I recommend this quick, light read for a great summer read or a great read before a trip to Italy.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Review: Only Mine (Fool's Gold #4) by Susan Mallery

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HQN Books; Original edition (July 26, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0373775881
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373775880

Product Description


You can't win if you don't play...
Her town's lack of men may make headlines, but it isn't news to Dakota Hendrix. The beautiful blonde has bigger problems to deal with, such as overseeing the romance reality competition filming in Fool's Gold. Screening eligible bachelors is a difficult enough task, but Dakota hits an unexpected snag when a sexy stranger comes to town.

Finn Anderssen will do anything to keep his twin brothers— the perfect contestants— off the show. Despite Dakota's better judgment, she finds herself drawn to the mysterious outsider. Like her, Finn knows about heartbreak and how a family can fall apart, so she doesn't dare to hope for anything more than a fling. After all, even in the Land of Happy Endings, finding true love is never as easy as it looks on TV.

From the Back Cover


Her town's lack of men may make headlines, but it isn't news to Dakota Hendrix. The beautiful blonde has bigger problems to deal with, such as overseeing the romance reality competition filming in Fool's Gold. Screening eligible bachelors is a difficult enough task, but Dakota hits an unexpected snag when a sexy stranger comes to town.

Finn Anderssen will do anything to keep his twin brothers--the perfect contestants--off the show. Despite Dakota's better judgment, she finds herself drawn to the mysterious outsider. Like her, Finn knows about heartbreak and how a family can fall apart, so she doesn't dare to hope for anything more than a fling. After all, even in the Land of Happy Endings, finding true love is never as easy as it looks on TV.

About the Author


New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery has entertained millions of readers with her witty and emotional stories about women and the relationships that move them. Publisher's Weekly calls Susan's prose "luscious and provocative," and Booklist says, "...novels don't get much better than Mallery's expert blend of emotional nuance, humor and superb storytelling."

While Susan appreciates the critical praise, she is most honored by the enthusiastic readers who write to tell her that her books made them laugh, made them cry, and made the world a happier place to live. Susan lives in Seattle with her husband and her tiny but intrepid toy poodle. She's there for the coffee, not the weather.

"Mallery's gift for writing humor and tenderness make all her books true gems." -RT Book Reviews

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


"What's it going to take to get you to cooperate? Money? Threats? Either works for me."

Dakota Hendrix looked up from her laptop to find a very tall, stern–looking man standing over her. "Excuse me?"

"You heard me. What's it going to take?"

She'd been warned there would be plenty of crazies hanging around, but she hadn't actually believed it. Apparently she'd been wrong.

"You have a lot of attitude for someone wearing a plaid flannel shirt," she said, standing so she was at least something close to eye–level with the guy. If he hadn't been so obviously annoyed, she would have thought he was pretty decent–looking, with dark hair and piercing blue eyes.

He glanced down at himself, then back at her. "What does my shirt have to do with anything?"

"It's plaid."


"It's hard to be intimidated by a man wearing plaid. I'm just saying. And flannel is a friendly fabric. A little down–home for most people. Now if you were in all black, with a leather jacket, I'd be a lot more nervous."
His expression tightened, as did a muscle in his jaw. His gaze sharpened, and she had a feeling that if he were just a little less civilized, he would throw something.

"Having a bad day?" she asked cheerfully.

"Something like that." He spoke between clenched teeth.

"Want to talk about it?"

"I believe that's how I started this conversation."

"No. You started by threatening me." She smiled. "At the risk of sending your annoyance level from an eight to a ten, sometimes being nice is more effective. At least it is with me." She held out her hand. "Hi. I'm Dakota Hendrix."

The man looked as if he would rather rip off her head than be polite, but after a couple of deep breaths, he shook hands with her and muttered, "Finn Andersson."

"Nice to meet you, Mr. Andersson."


"Finn," she repeated, being more perky than usual, simply because she thought it would bug him. "How can I help you?"

"I want to get my brothers off the show."

"Hence the threats."

He frowned. "Hence? Who says that?"

"It's a perfectly good word."

"Not where I come from."

She glanced down at the worn work boots he wore, then back to his shirt. "I'm almost afraid to ask where that is."

"South Salmon, Alaska."

"You're a long way from home."

"Worse, I'm in California."

"Hey, you're in my hometown. I'll thank you to be polite."

He rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Fine. Whatever. You win. Can you help me with my brothers or not?"

"It depends. What's the problem?"

She motioned to the seat across from her small desk. Finn hesitated for a second, then folded his long body into a seated position. She took her chair and waited.

"They're here," he said at last, as if that explained everything.

"Here instead of back in South Salmon?"

"Here instead of finishing their last semester of college. They're twins. They go to UA. University of Alaska," he added.

"But if they're on the show, then they're over eighteen," she said gently, feeling his pain, but knowing there was very little she could do about it.

"Meaning I don't have any legal authority?" he asked, sounding both resigned and bitter. "Tell me about it." He leaned toward her, his gaze intense. "I need your help. Like I said, they're one semester from graduating, and they walked away from that to come here."

Dakota had grown up in the town of Fool's Gold and had chosen to return after she'd finished her schooling, so she didn't understand why anyone wouldn't want to live in town. But she would guess Finn was a lot more worried about his brothers' future than their location.

He stood. "Why am I even talking to you? You're one of those Hollywood types. You're probably happy they've given up everything to be on your stupid show."

She rose as well, then shook her head. "First of all, it's not my stupid show. I'm with the town, not the production company. Second, if you'll give me a moment to think instead of instantly getting angry, maybe I can come up with something that will help. If you're like this with your brothers, I'm not surprised they want to get a couple thousand miles away from you."

Given the little she knew about Finn from their thirty–second relationship, she half expected him to snarl at her, then disappear. Instead he surprised her by grinning.

The curve of his lips, the flash of teeth, wasn't anything unique, but it hit her in the stomach all the same. She felt as if all the air had rushed out of her lungs and she couldn't breathe. Seconds later, she managed to recover and told herself it was a momentary blip on her otherwise emotionally smooth radar. Nothing more than an anomaly. Like a sunspot.

"That's what they said," he admitted, returning to his seat with a sigh. "That they'd hoped being at college would be far enough away, but it wasn't." The grin faded. "Damn, this is hard."

She sat down and rested her hands on the table between them. "What do your parents say about all this?"

"I'm their parents."

"Oh." She swallowed, not sure what tragedy had brought that about. She would guess Finn was all of thirty, maybe thirty–two. "How long ago…?"

"Eight years."

"You've been raising your brothers since they were what? Twelve?"

"They were thirteen, but yes."

"Congratulations. You've done a good job."

The smile faded as he scowled at her. "How would you know that?"

"They made it into college, were successful enough to get to their final semester and now they're emotionally tough enough to stand up to you."

The scowl turned into a sneer. "Let me guess. You're one of those people who calls rain 'liquid sunshine.' If I'd done my job with my brothers, they would still be in college, instead of here, trying to get on some idiotic reality show."

There was that, Dakota thought. From Finn's perspective, nothing about this was good.

He shook his head. "I can't figure out where I went wrong. All I wanted was to get them through college. Three more months. They only needed to stay in school three more months. But could they do that? No. They even sent me an email, telling me where they were—like I'd be happy for them."

She reached for the files on her desk. "What are their names?"

"Sasha and Stephen." His expression cleared. "Is there something you can do to help?"

"I don't know. As I said, I'm here representing the town. The producers came to us with the reality show idea. Believe me, Fool's Gold wasn't looking for this kind of publicity. We wanted to say no, but were concerned they would go ahead and do it anyway. This way, we're involved and hope to have some kind of control over the outcome."

She glanced at him and smiled. "Or at least the illusion of control."

"Trust me. It's not all it's cracked up to be."

"I'm getting that. All the potential contestants were vetted thoroughly, background checks on everyone. We insisted on that."

"Trying to avoid the truly insane?"

"Yes, and criminals. Reality television puts a lot of pressure on people."

"How did the TV people hear about Fool's Gold if the town wasn't courting them?" he asked.

"It was just plain bad luck. A year ago a grad student writing her thesis on human geography discovered we had a chronic man shortage in town. The hows and whys became a chapter in her project. In an effort to bring attention to her work, she shopped her thesis around various media outlets, where the part about Fool's Gold was picked up."

He frowned. "I think I remember hearing about that. Didn't you get busloads of guys coming in from all over?"
"Unfortunately. Most of the reports made us sound like a town of desperate spinsters, which isn't true at all. A few weeks later, Hollywood came calling in the form of the reality show."

She flipped through the stack of applications of those who had made it to final selection. When she saw Sasha Andersson's picture, she winced. "Identical twins?" she asked.

"Yes, why?"

She pulled out Sasha's application and passed it to Finn. "He's adorable." The head shot showed a happy, smiling, younger version of Finn. "If he has a personality more exciting than that of a shoe, he's going to get on the show. What's not to like? Plus, if there are two of them…" She set down the folder. "Let me put it another way. If you were the producer, would you want them on the show?"

Finn dropped the paper. The woman—Dakota—had a point. His brothers were charming, funny and young enough to believe they were immortal. Irresistible to someone looking to pull in ratings.

"I'm not going to let them ruin their lives," he said flatly.

"The show is ten weeks of filming. College will still be there." Her voice was gentle and hinted at compassion. Her dark gaze was steady. She was pretty enough—had he been looking for that kind of thing. All he cared about right now was getting his brothers back to college.

"You think they'll want to go back after all this?" he demanded.

"I don't know. Have you asked them?"

"No." To date he'd only lectured and issued orders— both of which his brothers had ignored.

"Did they say why they wanted to be on this show?"

"Not specifically," he admitted. But he had a theory or two about their thinking. They wanted to be out of Alaska and away from him. ...

My Review

Susan Mallery definitely has a talent for writing and that is what makes this romance novel a great read.  It's a perfect escape read for a sunny summer day.  This novel is from the Fool's Gold series.  This is the first novel in the series that I've read.  It can easily be a  stand alone novel, it is not necessary to have read the previous books.

The main character is Dakota Hendrix, who is overseeing a dating reality show as the town's representative.  The older brother of two of the contestants, Finn Anderrsen, is her love interest.  She is dying to become a mother but has recently discovered due to medical issues that she is unable to.  Finn, lives thousands of miles away in Alaska and has not interest in being a parent as he has raised his two younger brothers after their parent's death.  So will Dakota adopting a baby through a wrench into their romance?

There are two other stories chronically the stories of Finn's twin brothers as they participate in the reality show.  The characters in this book are all very believable and fun to read about.  I definitely recommend Only Mine and look forward to reading the rest of the series.

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