Xpress Reviews: Fiction | First Look at New Books, August 17, 2012

Week ending August 17, 2012

Callihan, Kristen. Moonglow. Forever: Grand Central. (Darkest London, Bk. 2). Aug. 2012. c.432p. ISBN 9781455508587. pap. $7.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Blissfully out of mourning for her cruel, manipulative husband and determined to live life to the fullest, Daisy Ellis Craigmore bravely heads off on her first escapade. Her brief walk on the wild side turns deadly when she barely escapes evisceration by a wolflike beast in a London alley and is drawn into a surreal, treacherous, alternate Victorian world of lycans, magic, and elemental power. She is rescued by a man she has every reason to distrust, the enigmatic, wickedly dangerous Ian Ranulf, Marquis of Northrup, but with a lethal predator stalking the city, they have no choice but to join forces. Their adventure threatens to spin out of control and holds startling surprises and earth-shaking revelations for them both. A smart, intrepid heroine who is unaware of her own gifts, a tormented, deeply conflicted hero, and welcome characters from the previous series title combine with breath-taking sexual tension, seductive dialog, and poignant tragedy to propel the complex plot to its intriguing conclusion.
Verdict Dark, violent, and addictively enthralling, this exceptionally steamy tale is a worthy sequel to Callihan’s stunning Firelight and a perfect lure for Winterblaze, the third sister’s tale. Callihan lives in the Washington, DC, area.—Kristin Ramsdell, Libn. Emerita, California State Univ., East Bay

Ford, Jeffrey. Crackpot Palace: Stories. Morrow. Aug. 2012. c.352p. ISBN 9780062122599. pap. $14.99. F
Within the fantasy genre, Ford (The Shadow Year; The Girl in the Glass) is not a writer who is easily categorized. This collection showcases not only the range of his imagination but, based on his own notes describing the origins of many of the stories contained in this collection, also the depth and breadth of his personal interests in science, history, culture, and the human condition. Nor does Ford remain close to the shore of reality merely dipping a toe or finger into the fantastical from time to time. Instead, he wades—often waist-high or deeper—into the often murky waters, deliberately entangling his narrative in the inescapable undertow one finds there. It is here Ford’s writing skills truly shine as he deftly draws the reader into his tale—whether it be one of an ancient science experiment gone awry as in “The Dream of Reason” or the smoke-filled atmosphere of a Prohibition-era jazz club in “Polka Dots and Moonbeams.”
Recommend to readers willing to explore many facets of fantasy writing. [See Prepub Alert, 7/1/12.]—Nancy McNicol, Hamden P.L., CT

Kramer, Kieran. Loving Lady Marcia. St. Martin’s Paperbacks. (House of Brady, Bk. 1). Sept. 2012. c.368p. ISBN 978125000988-3. pap. $7.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Seduced as a lovesick teenager by a callous rogue and now considering herself unmarriageable, Lady Marcia Sherwood (daughter of the Marquess of Brady) resigns herself to spinsterhood and carves out a career as headmistress of a respected girls’ school. But her peaceful world is turned on its head when the school’s waspish owner abruptly dismisses her, her parents decide she must marry, and Duncan Lattimore, Earl of Chadwick, the brother of the cad who took her virtue and the person she blames for her crushed romantic hopes, suddenly reappears in her life. Determined to take charge, Marcia sets out on her own to save the school, her job, and her independence. Her plans are complicated when Duncan decides he needs to rescue her, the school’s owner changes the rules, and Finn Lattimore, Duncan’s charming reprobate brother, shows up with his own devastating agenda.
Verdict Fans will be more than pleased to see Lady Marcia forgive the past and finally get things right in this sprightly tale that features a noble hero you’ll want for your own and an abundance of colorful secondary characters (including an adorable four-year-old and some wonderfully decadent villains). It skillfully sets the stage for the next Brady sibling to find love in this new Regency series. Kramer (If You Give a Girl a Viscount) lives in South Carolina.—Kristin Ramsdell, Libn. Emerita, California State Univ., East Bay

Pierce, Richard. Dead Men. Overlook, dist. by Penguin. 2012. c.288p. ISBN 9781590208687. $25.95. F
Birdie Bowers is obsessed with discovering why Capt. Robert Falcon Scott and his two companions died in 1912 only 11 miles from a supply depot in the Antarctic. With the help of Adam—providing emotional stability and support and who cares for Birdie along the way—the two make their way to the South Pole to find Scott’s resting place and whatever clues may have been preserved. Interwoven with this story is that of Scott’s survivors—his wife and friends—as they deal with his death and move on with life.
In this literary debut, the characters’ initial motives for coming and staying together are dodgy in the beginning, and Pierce’s writing style takes some getting used to. The chapters narrated by Adam feature a stream of consciousness prose with choppy sentences and abrupt structural shifts. However, polar history buffs will enjoy this work as will any fan of historical fiction.—Michelle Martinez, Sam Houston State Univ. Lib., Huntsville, TX

Vichi, Marco. Death in August. Pegasus Crime. Aug. 2012. c.232p. tr. from Italian by Stephen Sartarelli. ISBN 9781605983516. $25.
Set in Florence, Italy, during the steamy summer of 1963, this series debut introduces the tobacco-loving Inspector Bordelli. The elderly, asthmatic Signora Pedretti-Strassen is found dead in her bed, but her home companion, Maria, believes her death was not natural. So begins an often self-consciously quaint mystery replete with odd characters, somber flashbacks of the good inspector’s World War II experiences, and descriptions of food. Bordelli’s first challenge is to produce evidence that the Signora was in fact murdered; the second, to produce the method employed; and the third, to determine which possibly money-hungry relative is responsible. There is a definite lack of tension in all these proceedings, but Bordelli fits the mold of the detective-you-want-to-succeed. The gathering of suspects at the end and keeping them for a marathon interview is straight out of Agatha Christie.
Good for those readers who prefer their mysteries mild with a touch of the travelog about them.—Sally Harrison, Ocean Cty. Lib., Waretown, NJ

Bette-Lee Fox About Bette-Lee Fox

Bette-Lee Fox (blfox@mediasourceinc.com) is Managing Editor, Library Journal.

Now in her 46th year with Library Journal, Bette-Lee also edits LJ's Video Reviews column, six times a year Romance column, and e-original Romance reviews, which post weekly as LJ Xpress Reviews. She received the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Vivian Stephens Industry Award in 2013 for having "contributed to the genre or to RWA in a significant and/or continuing manner"