Unprotected Love – Murder on the docks of Manhattan
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Author: John F. Rooney
Format: Kindle, Paperback
Late night on the docks of Manhattan, they find him, carefully laid out, hands crossed, peaceful, and very dead. A close examination of the body finds something usual hidden in his mouth – a condom. Unfortunately, this is not the first victim to be found this way. All are male hustlers and all have the same condom calling card. A serial killer has been born. NYPD special ops is called in and Denny Delany, one of the city’s best is put in charge of the case. He reaches out to sex crimes but intra-department politics start to hamper Denny’s progress. As he battles his own alcoholic demons, the bodies pile up and Denny wonders if his lack of progress is by design. Could the perpetrators be within and if so, how can protect his career as well as his life?
Unprotected Love was my first read of Rooney’s Delany series. Rooney has a knack for storytelling. His characterization, settings and plot all work together to create strong hooks keeping the reader engaged. His style and voice are a little different than the average read which took me a chapter or two to tune my ear to. As with most mysteries, the fun is taking the clues provided and trying to jump ahead and solve who the murderer is. Rooney does a good job at throwing a couple of red herrings in the mix hear and there and had me guessing then second guessing most of the way.
I also found the details of how the relationship between “John’s” and “Hustlers” interesting from a psychological perspective. This detail and the backstory of Denny and Molly gave the work a real and edgy feel. More mystery then thriller, Unprotected Love is an entertaining read.
In the Shadow of Swords – Arabian Fantasy
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Author: Val Gunn
Pursued by an assassin, Hiril Altair races to stay alive long enough to reach sanctuary and deliver the evidence – evidence that will prove the world and their Sultan are not what they had believed. Steps from success he encounters the half-jinn kingslayer Ciris Sarn whose blade quickly ends Altair’s life as well as any chance for the truth to be known.
Val Gunn’s In the Shadow of Swords starts fast immediately grabbing the readers’ attention. The Arabian setting is engaging, the mystery involving their world unsettling and the motivations of a cursed assassin drive the plot forward. The mysticism, exotic local, and fast paced passages are the strengths of this novel.
Gunn’s chapters are quick snippets of action and jump from one character to the next. At times, it feels a bit like changing television channels after only getting a short piece of the story. During the first half of the book, it was a little difficult to follow what was happening and with each chapter and character I found myself wondering who I should be cheering for as they all seemed like bad guys hunting one another for a purpose that was not clear. Fortunately, at the half way point in the novel, these motivations and independent threads start to come together and the action builds to its ultimate climax and resolution.
Gunn builds and interesting and complex world and while this story in itself is complete, its ending leaves the door open for future adventures.
Darlin’ Druid Title aside – this is a great book!!
Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Author: Lyn Horner
After surviving the great Chicago fire, Jessie Delvin is haunted by visions of her future—a future she is compelled to find forcing her to leave home and join her brother’s journey west to find her destiny. But the Wild West turns out to be just that and Jessie’s sharp tongue and fine feminine figure attract the attention of far too many brutish men. Fortunately, Captain David Taylor, a Texan cattle rancher turned soldier saves Jessie from the clutches of a particularly unsavory character. Immediately Jessie and David are passionately attracted to one another, but neither is what they other really wants—or so they think…
I’ll admit I was completely thrown by the title of this book. If for some reason you are as well, “fuhgeddaboudit”! This is an engaging, page turning, can’t put it down, don’t know where the time went, read. In fact, when I received Horner’s book I had already started Steig Larsson’s “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest”; having finished the first two books in Larsson’s series I was anxious to complete the third. But I picked up Horner’s book and frankly the pace was so much faster and the book more engaging that I put best selling Hornet aside in favor of finishing Horner’s book.
The characters, love triangle and compelling plot line compete with the best in this genre. This is a full force romance novel with some unique twists that readers are sure to enjoy. I encourage readers to give it a try. You won’t be disappointed!
The Angel & the Brown-Eyed Boy – Hope at World’s End
Author: Sandy Nathan
A good book elicits an emotional response while being read; Nathan’s book haunts the reader long after the final page is turned. In Angel & the Brown-Eyed Boy two dying worlds fight for survival, their futures dependent on a revolutionary and an angelic otherworldly dancer. Nathan shows us a future Earth whose indifferent citizens and uneducated politicians have allowed their fears to rule them believing everything they are told even in the face of the reality around them. It is world not that many heartbeats away from our own, making the premise chilling.
Hope lies in the few who stand and fight for their beliefs, but they must do so in secrecy. Clandestine operatives in the government are ever watchful of the citizenry, quashing dissension immediately; people literally disappear in the middle of the night never to be heard from again.
Angel explores a number of themes crossing political and cultural boundaries. Should one put their faith solely in their leadership? What about following orders—are there lines that should never be crossed even in support of one’s country? When does one stop trying to change the system from within and instead become a revolutionary? And what of family—what does one do when one’s own family members believe in something diametrically opposed to one’s own beliefs? How far does a person go to save themselves, their friends, their family, and their world?
This future world is dark and disturbing a pre apocalyptic malaise covering the Earth similar to the movie Children of Men. Is there hope? Yes, Jeremy and Eliana are the key. But to what end? Future volumes of the tale will tell.
Blood Opal – The Curse of the Blood Opal!
Rating: 5 of 5
Author: Carole Sutton
Tags: crime fiction, murder, mystery, Cornwall, Goodreads author
After a long day at work, Pug Germaine returns home only to find it in complete disarray. Convinced her husband has tossed it during one of his more and more frequent foul moods, she cautiously searches for his whereabouts only to find him in the arms of another woman both of them covered in blood—murdered! Horrified she contacts the police and soon learns not only has he been cheating but he has leveraged all of their assets on bad investments. In a heartbeat, she’s lost everything—her husband, home, and business. Determined to start anew, she sails off. But Pug’s troubles are only beginning. Her husband’s killers haven’t found what they are looking for and they are convinced Pug has it.
In Blood Opal, Carole Sutton once again demonstrates her prowess in creating rich characters, describing beautiful settings, and formulating an engrossing and complex plot. So drawn was I to her unlikely heroine Pug, that I easily felt her fears and frustrations and wondered as she did who to trust. The legend of the Blood Opal and its curse and back story were fascinating and with the prodding from Celeste—Pug’s friend and confidant—one can not help but wonder if there is some truth to the curse as death follows in its wake.
Sutton’s knack for storytelling quickly engrosses the reader in this well crafted murder mystery and doesn’t let go until the final page is turned. Fans of this genre should quickly add this to their shelves.
The Merry-Go-Round – Opposites Do Attract but do They Stay Together?
Rating: 4 of 5
Author: Donna Fasano
A year after being financially ruined by her husband Greg, Lauren Flynn goes to court to fight for a divorce he will not give her. The court not only grants her request, but to make up for her financial losses she is also awarded Greg’s only asset, a worthless plot of land complete with a rundown barn. Unfortunately, Lauren’s expectations of moving forward with her life are quickly dashed when she learns the barn houses not only a merry-go-round in disrepair, but her ex-husband who would be otherwise homeless. Soon Lauren’s life is much like the carnival ride, going backwards, going forwards, and most of the time just going in circles.
Donna Fasano’s Merry-Go-Round is an easy beach read about one woman’s search for happiness. Her main character, Lauren, has unfortunately built up in her mind what she thinks her life should be like – much like one would build a resume for a career – versus understanding and admitting to herself what truly makes her happy.
I will admit that I didn’t understand why Lauren wanted to divorce Greg. His hardware business does fail causing them financial difficulties and he doesn’t tell her until it is too late. But he seems like a great guy. He treats Lauren well, plans romantic surprises, can fix just about anything, is selfless, good looking, and is constantly helping others. On balance, he seems like a great catch.
Oddly enough, my favorite characters were not Lauren and Greg; rather, Lauren’s father Lew and her co-worker Norma Jean resonated with me. In many ways the evolution of their relationship was more endearing than the tumult between Lauren and Greg. They both have the wisdom and confidence that comes with age and their honesty with others and themselves was refreshing.
Fasano also does a good job building romantic tension throughout the book keeping the pages turning which made for a very enjoyable read. I look forward to her next offering!
Cyber Writers – An African Adventure Tale for Young Readers!
Rating: 4 of 5
Author: Karen Kostlivy
Being a pen pal is fun and young Mason Witt joins a group called Cyber Writers to connect with other kids around the world. One day, however, he learns from his African friend Lutalo that his village is dying due to the theft of their magic Zebra. Wishing he could some how help out his friend, Mason suddenly finds his world around him melt away to be replaced by thick forests of the African jungle. Don’t worry Lutalo – Mason is here – help is on the way!
In Cyber Writers, Karen Kostlivy takes young readers on a fun and entertaining journey to Africa where talking animals and magic arrows help our young heroes track the thieves and save their village. Mason learns, as should all children, the value of friendship, teamwork, and frankly exercise! Running through the forest, climbing trees, shooting arrows, all requires strength and stamina and Mason learns his time in front of the TV or playing video games has left him a little soft unlike his African friend. He also learns that his exploring adventures to be much more fun and rewarding than anything he experiences in front of a television.
Kostlivy has created an interesting premise in Cyber Writers. One that I’m sure lends itself to future interesting volumes for young readers to enjoy.