Thursday, February 04, 2016

Confessions of an Aging Adulterer

By Laura Rittenhouse
238 Pages
Cover art by Trisha FitzGerald

On the surface, Vicky's a contented woman with grown children and a happy marriage. Below that surface, Vicky struggles with a dissatisfaction she can't quite put her finger on but the reason is all too obvious: she's having an affair with her boss. Her New Year's resolution is simple, figure out why she's behaving like a fool by writing an honest account of her actions and observations in a diary. As honest as she can be, anyway.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Love?: A Samantha Barclay Mystery

By Suzanne Hurley
Mystery,  348 Pages
Cover art by Trisha FitzGerald

Stuffed in a barrel, buried under cement, a dead body is found in the basement of Psychologist/FBI Samantha Barclay’s cabin. Her beloved step-mother, retired Sheriff Irena Edwards, is arrested for murder. On the trail to uncover the real killer, Samantha discovers the length people will go – all in the name of love.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Assassin’s Lair

By Michael Staton
Science Fiction, 418 pages
Cover art by Richard Stroud

Peace has returned to the Setor Empire. A new emperor sits on the throne. Setor’s nemesis, the sorceress Illisandra Zayla, died in a river tower soon after the thief Stealth rescued Prince Derrius Hextor from kidnappers. But an amnesic woman walks the warrens of the border city of Opal, and when she regains her memory she’ll decide the fate of the empire. In the Winter Palace, the emperor’s brother Myron has been corrupted by tainted magic and plots a civil war. Soon, a cataclysmic battle will take place, one that will be the scene of powerful war magic not unleashed in a thousand years. Stealth has her own battle to wage inside the walls of the Winter Palace. Enraged by the sexual intrigues, she must decide if she’ll stay with her lover Derrius or steal away to resume her thieving ways. What Stealth and the amnesic woman decide will not only determine the coming battle’s winner but the fate of the magical sword Larenia’s Shadow, hidden away inside the Assassins’ Guild’s mountaintop keep.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Privileged

By Jim Daddio
Mystery, 290 pages
Cover art by Trisha FitzGerald

Michelle Thorne Johnston, a wealthy and well known socialite, is found murdered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. There is enough evidence and motive to arrest her husband, Clay. He proclaims his innocence and hires a well-publicized private investigator, Art Decco, to find the real killer.

Art dives into the case and quickly uncovers several suspects. As he tries to learn who is telling the truth something else is bothering him. It appears that Clay doesn't seem too concerned. He is convinced, even if he went to trial, he never would be found guilty. He is rich and powerful and one of The Privileged.

Friday, January 01, 2016

The Dead Sea Codex

By Sarah Wisseman
Suspense, 255 pages
Cover art by: Richard Stroud


Archaeologist Lisa Donahue travels to Israel to arrange a loan of artifacts for her Philadelphia museum. Even before she finds a scrap of ancient manuscript in a ceramic jar, she is the subject of intense interest from strangers. A Lebanese computer salesman follows her to her Jerusalem hotel where someone has delivered a mysterious message for her. Then she runs into an old boyfriend who hints at an extraordinary archaeological  find being sold in pieces on the black market.

Instead of spending her visit in a dusty storeroom documenting old pottery, Lisa finds herself hanging off a cliff and exploring caves near the Dead Sea, racing to find a lost codex before Christian fanatics destroy it.


All eyes focused on her long blond braid and American blue jeans. Not for the first time, Lisa Donahue wished she had better protective coloring for traveling in the Middle East. Any moment now, someone would holler the remembered tag, “Hey, blondini!”

She inhaled the mixed aromas of deep-fried chickpea balls, roasted spiced lamb, and corn sold by the aggressive street vendors around her. Fragments of Hebrew, Arabic, French, and English assaulted her ears as native Israelis and visitors from many nations milled around the Tel Aviv plaza.

It was wonderful to be back. She’d been afraid the reality wouldn’t live up to her rose-colored memories of seven years earlier, when she’d been a wide-eyed archaeology student. She needn’t have worried—Israel was still noisy, vibrant, smelly, and altogether enchanting.

A live chicken, destined for dinner, squatted and clucked in a string shopping bag near Lisa’s feet. Above the bag stood a plump housewife, obviously daydreaming about chicken stew with dumplings. A few feet away, several Orthodox Jewish men wearing black hats and long curls muttered and gesticulated. Two female soldiers wearing dark green uniforms gossiped and smoked French cigarettes, and a Bedouin in flowing robes talked loudly on his cell phone.

When the Egged bus showed up, the crowd surged towards the door. As Lisa struggled to stay in front, she remembered that Israelis didn’t like the idea of “lining up.” The best way of getting on a bus—or through any kind of door—was to pretend you were an Israelite crossing the Red Sea, vigorously parting the crowd with your elbows.

Lisa bagged a prime window seat and pushed her purse under the seat in front of her. A thirty-something businessman with sleepy brown eyes and a five-o’clock shadow took the seat next to her. She dozed as they left Tel Aviv, opening her eyes occasionally to see palm trees swaying against a metallic blue sky and tall tan buildings.

As they traveled out of the city, cement high-rises and modest houses gave way to scruffy bushes and reddish-brown soil—soil that blanketed thousands of years of history.

No one could sink a spade anywhere in Israel without turning up potsherds or scrolls or ancient fortifications. When Lisa was an undergraduate here, a friend suggested the easiest way to become an archaeologist was to convert to Judaism, marry an Israeli, and dig up her new backyard.

The Hebrew chatter from the driver’s radio kept Lisa from really sleeping. As she felt the bus begin to climb, she forced her eyes open so she wouldn’t miss her favorite scenery—the passage through the Judean Hills. The flatness of the land around Tel Aviv gave way to rounded, undulating hills, girdled with stone walls. The brown earth looked thirsty, as it did everywhere except in the cool green uplands in Galilee to the north.

She glanced sideways to see the businessman watching her. Normally, Lisa liked talking to people when she was traveling. It was part of the adventure and she could try out her half-forgotten Hebrew or bits of French or Italian.

But this man’s gaze reminded her of the Chevrolet salesman with slicked-back hair who put a hand on her knee when she was sixteen on her way to visit colleges by Greyhound bus. She moved the hand. He put it back. She moved it again, sliding as far away from him as she could. Now, ten years later, she wished she’d stood and yelled, “Get your hand off my knee, you pervert!”

Lisa caught herself before she smiled. Glancing sideways, she noticed the businessman’s thick eyebrows and coffee-colored skin and wondered uneasily how long he’d been observing her reclining form. His gaze, no longer sleepy, made her feel undressed. She sat up straighter.

“You are from America, yes?” he asked with an oily little smile.

“Yes,” Lisa replied curtly, sick of being hit upon because she was young, blonde, and foreign. She began a mental catalogue of tips for young women traveling in the Middle East: Do dye your hair brown or black; Don’t wear jeans; Don’t fall asleep on public transportation…

“On holiday, perhaps. You visit our museums and archaeological sites?”
Did she look like a museum curator? She met his brown eyes briefly. “Business trip. I work for a museum at home.”

“How very interesting. Then surely you visit the Israel Museum and the Shrine of the Book—the home of the famous Dead Sea Scrolls?”

Lisa was startled. He seemed to know about her, which was impossible. “Yes, actually. I’m an archaeologist, here to look at some ancient ceramics.”

“Perhaps you plan an exhibit for your own museum?”

Several alarm bells went off in her mind. Was he an Israeli Customs officer trying to prevent the export of illegally acquired antiquities? But he was wearing a well-tailored gray suit and polished black shoes, not a uniform.

“Are you in the museum business, too?” she asked.

The man laughed gently. “No, no, I am archaeology enthusiast only. I sell computer parts—for the Beirut branch of Microsoft.”

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Annie's Faith

By Lilly Linville
Inspirational Romance, 314 pages
Cover art by Trisha FitzGerald

Blurb: Annie sits at her piano, hoping the music will ease the tension from her earlier discussion with her husband. She’d only reminded him that the electric bill was past due. Never expecting his reaction to be so angry as he yelled and cursed and stomped out the door.
Annaleah Preston cringed when the back door slammed. She’d only mentioned to John that the electric company called again reminding her that their bill was overdue.

She could still hear her husband’s angry voice, “Dammit, Annie, it’ll have to wait. I don’t get paid until Friday and my paycheck will only go so far.” Before leaving, he’d also informed her he didn’t know when he’d be home after work.

Close to tears from John’s harsh, hateful words, Annie was relieved that Rafe had offered to drop his sister Leah off at school on his way to work. Thankfully they’d left while John was still in the shower and before their discussion.

Annie sat at her piano and placed her shaking fingers on the keys, hoping the music would ease the anxiety coursing through her body. Almost without thinking, she began to play DeBussy’s, Clair de Lune.

The old piano remained her most prized possession; a gift from her parents on her tenth birthday. The music began to work its magic as she closed her eyes and allowed the tension in her shoulders to relax.

Later she decided to make her children their favorite meal for supper and checked to make sure she had the ingredients for a butterscotch pie.

John’s behavior wore deeply on her mind and heart throughout the day. He seemed to be in a bad mood most of the time and after many attempts to talk with him, she’d learned it was best to stay out of his way. His sense of humor and the relationship they once shared were the things she missed the most. It felt as if he had walked out one day and a stranger returned. Annie hated to admit she was glad to see him leave in the morning and dreaded him coming home.

~ * ~

When Annie heard the door open, she glanced at the wall clock hanging over the refrigerator and it surprised her to see it was time for Leah to come in from school.

“Hi Mom, do I smell butterscotch pie?”

“You might.” Annie opened the oven door. “It’s ready to come out.”

“What’s the occasion?” Leah took off her coat and sat it on top of her books.

“I decided to make you and your brother’s favorite meal.”

Leah lifted the lids off each pot on the stove, “Country style steak, mashed potatoes and green beans. Rafe better be on time, or there might not be anything left.”

“I think there will be plenty, but you can afford to eat as much as you like; you’re slim as a reed.”

“Luckily, I take after my mom.” Leah gave Annie a quick hug. “If it’s okay, I’ll get my homework assignments done.”

“Sure honey, Rafe won’t be home for at least an hour. Why don’t you sit at the table? I’d like your company.”

After Leah completed her school work and took her books to her room, she returned to the den and sat beside Annie on the piano bench. “Let’s play a duet; you start and I’ll join in. I’ll never be as good as you or Rafe, but I’m glad you taught me to play and read music.”

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Captain and the Cheerleader

By Elaine Cantrell
Mainstream, 334 pages
Cover art by Trisha FitzGerald

Blurb: Susan English can’t stand Robin Lanford! She’s so full of herself she irritates everyone on the faculty of Fairfield High. When Robin bets Susan fifty dollars that she can’t get a date with Kurt Deveraux, the head football coach, Susan jumps at the chance to put the little heifer in her place. She had no idea that teaching Robin a lesson would irrevocably change her life, strain treasured friendships, and throw two families into chaos.

Robin Landford swept into the room and plopped down into an orange plastic chair beside Susan English. “I think Kurt Deveraux is gay.”

It was Friday afternoon, but Robin’s statement halted the teacher exodus from the faculty lounge.

“Why do you say that, Robin?” Susan asked. Yeah, her voice sounded chilly and a bit snooty, but she couldn’t help herself. Robin was fresh out of college and seemed to think she was God’s gift to men; she flirted with anything in pants. This annoying little creature had probably made a play for Kurt’s attention and been rejected. Of course, in Robin’s defense, she’d have to say that not many women could ignore Kurt Deveraux. There might be a man somewhere who had more sex appeal than the blond, blue-eyed coach, but Susan doubted it.

She watched as Robin tossed her hair and pouted. “If I can’t get his attention he isn’t interested in women.”

Several people rolled their eyes. “Oh, I don’t think that’s the problem at all.” Susan smiled her most serene smile at her irritating colleague. “You just don’t know how to attract a man like Kurt.”

“And you do?” Robin’s eyebrows shot straight up. “If that’s true why haven’t you already gone out with him? Don’t tell me you wouldn’t be interested. He’s hot.”

“Until recently I was involved with someone else. I had no desire to see Kurt or any other man socially.”

“Well, I think you’re full of it,” Robin sniffed. “If I couldn’t get him to notice me, I know you can’t.”

Around the faculty lounge a murmur of delighted, horrified voices broke out.

Susan finished her soft drink and tossed the can into a nearby recycling bin. “I could make Kurt ask me out if I wanted to.”

“Yeah? Prove it. Get him to ask you out. I’ll bet you fifty dollars you can’t do it,” Robin taunted. “All he’s interested in is football.”

Melissa Taylor, Susan’s best friend, cleared her throat. “How long would she have to get the date?”

“Two weeks ought to be enough for an old pro like Susan.” Robin snickered as her gaze swept around the lounge. “Would the rest of you like to get a piece of the action?”

All at once a carnival atmosphere permeated the room. They chose Don Brooks who taught art to keep track of the bets, and everyone hurried to put money on his or her favorite.

From the corner of her eye, Susan watched as Robin smirked at everyone in the room. Why did Mr. Dennis hire such an undisciplined, annoying child? It would be a pleasure to give Robin her comeuppance.

Don recorded the last bet on a sheet of copier paper. “It’s about fifty-fifty. Sorry, Robin, but my money’s on Susan. When she enters a room, men sit up and take notice.”

Melissa, who stood near the door, wildly waved her hand to get their attention. “Here comes Kurt now.”

Kurt looked surprised to find so many teachers in the lounge. He probably was; on Friday the school usually emptied in a hurry.

“What’s up?” Kurt inquired of the room at large as he rounded the corner and turned toward his mailbox. “Why are you all so quiet?”