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Christy's Bookshelf.

For Six Good Reasons: A Smoky Mountain Novel

Lin Stepp

Canterbury House Publishing

225 Ira Harmon Road, Vilas, NC 28692

9780982905418, $15.95, paperback, $0.99 ebook

Social worker Alice Graham has trouble placing six orphaned children without breaking them up, which she does not want to do, so Alice decides to foster the children. Needing a larger home, she finds a beautiful house in Greenbrier, Tennessee. While touring the home, she notices a man astride a horse on a ridge above, watching her. Alice feels a pull toward him that is puzzling. When she and the children move into the home, Alice discovers the man, Harrison Ramsey, is her neighbor. Chemistry definitely sizzles between them but Alice, a widow, feels her priority is raising the six children, and Harrison, left at the altar by two different women, has no desire to get involved with another one. But circumstances keep throwing the two together and both turn to God for an answer to the future of their relationship.

This heartwarming story, third in the Smoky Mountain Novel series, will engage the reader from beginning to end. Stepp nicely develops the chemistry between Alice and Harrison, along with the prickliness of their relationship as the two go through a bit of an emotional roller-coaster with their feelings and interactions. Readers will root for the relationship to bloom as Alice's foster children develop a fondness for Harrison, and he for them. Stepp skillfully blends romance, inspiration and the intricacies of family dynamics into a charming, uplifting book.

Getorix: Games of the Underworld

Judith Geary

Ingalls Publishing Group

P.O. Box 2500, Banner Elk, NC 28604

9781932158892, $15.95, paperback, $5.99 ebook

In the sequel to Getorix: The Eagle and the Bull, Getorix, a former Celtic slave, plans to leave Rome for his native country, where he intends to return his deceased father's signet brooch to its rightful place. But before he can do so, his friend Lucius, son of a Roman general, is kidnapped by Celtic raiders costumed only in blue paint. Lucius's mother implores Getorix to save her son, and he sets out to find Lucius aided by Keltus and Brosch, two Celtic slaves from Lucius's household, and Senias, a druid prophet. Getorix discovers that the kidnapping was at the behest of Consul Marius, a Roman general and very powerful man. When the warehouse where Lucius was being housed burns to the ground, most assume the body found is that of Lucius, who was instead rescued by Getorix and his allies. But Lucius's mother does not want this secret known to Marius so Lucius plans to escape with Getorix to Gaul but the two seem doomed to become pawns in a political struggle to oust Marius.

Very few authors have the skill to pull their reader into the time and place as if they are actually there, walking along the streets, experiencing sights, sounds, and smells. Judith Geary does this with much finesse, which this reviewer finds even more admirable due to the fact that she writes about ancient history circa 100 BCE. Her portrayal of the political turmoil in Rome at that time through characters and scenarios is fascinating and informative. The plot is fast-moving and suspenseful and readers will be reluctant to put the book aside.

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

Shelly Fredman

Aquinas and Krone Publishing LLC

6730 Githens Avenue Floor 1

Pennsauken, NJ 08109-2418

9780980044812, $12.00, paperback, $2.99 ebook

Brandy Alexander has a new job as puff piece reporter for a local television station in Philadelphia. Brandy replaced a popular reporter who was fired for being too hefty and none of her coworkers likes her because of this with the exception of anchorperson Tamra Rhineholt who befriends Brandy. But their friendship is short-lived when Tamra is found dead, apparently of a suicide. Brandy thinks there's more to it than that and is intent on proving her friend didn't kill herself, which places her own life in danger. To the rescue are the two sexy guys in her life, exboy friend and cop Robert DiCarlo and new friend and bad-boy Nicholas Santiago. It's bad enough someone's trying to kill her but to make matters worse, Brandy's mother and father return to Philadelphia to attend the bar mitzvah of Brandy's brother and Brandy's still dealing with nightmares from her last life-threatening escapade.

Shelly Fredman's Brandy Alexander No Such Thing As series offers readers humor, suspense, romance, and mystery, all delivered with great panache. Brandy is an endearing character, a somewhat klutzy woman who finds herself torn between her feelings for two men, one from the past, the other in the present and hopefully future. Her attempts at amateur sleuthing always get her in trouble but Brandy manages with each installment to land on her feet, ready to take on the world.

One Shot Too Many

Appalachian Adventure Mystery

Maggie Bishop

Ingalls Publishing Group

P.O. Box 2500, Banner Elk, NC 2864

9781932158953, $12.00 paperback, $5.99 ebook

CSI wannabe Jemma Chase is back for another thrilling adventure in the latest addition to the Appalachian Adventure Mystery series. Jemma's hosting a meeting of the local photography club when newspaper photographer Scott Barker convulses and dies. Jemma calls her boyfriend, Detective Tucker with the Watauga County Sheriff's Department, to the scene. Knowing Jemma's propensity to engage in amateur sleuthing, Tucker warns her to quell any desire to help investigate. Jemma's life is pretty busy as trail-leader, photographer and carpenter for her parents' dude ranch, yet she keeps her ears open for any information she can pass on to Tucker. Once poisoning is confirmed, Tucker and his partner begin to focus on the members of the photography group and it seems everyone has a secret that could possibly lead to murder if revealed. When a past love steps back into Tucker's life, he tries not to let this distract him from his case or his feelings for Jemma.

Maggie Bishop excels at pulling her reader into the moment with vivid, colorful descriptions of locale and fauna. Jemma Chase is an appealing character, a strong young woman who matures more with each book. Her life as trail-leader for the dude ranch is an intriguing concept and Bishop's description of daily activities at the ranch is interesting and fun. With great skill, Bishop delivers subtle clues as to the murderer, providing her readers with a challenging mystery.

When Pigs Fly

Bob Sanchez

iUniverse, Inc.

c/o Author House

1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403

9780595407705, $18.95, paperback, $2.99 Kindle

Dietrich Kohl, who calls himself Diet Cola, thinks he has the winning ticket for the lottery, but he's scheduled to go into the pen for the next little while so breaks into the home of Brody and Carrick Durgin and hides the winning ticket in a vase on their mantle. The vase is actually an urn containing the ashes of the partner and friend of their son Mack Durgin, a retired cop who has relocated to Arizona. The Durgins send the urn to Mack, who carries it with him while he decides what to do with the ashes and along the way meets up with Calliope Vrattos, who's on her way to California, trying to escape an overzealous Elvis impersonator whose jaw she broke. When Diet Cola gets out of prison, he breaks into the Durgins' home only to learn the urn is now in Arizona. During the bus ride to Arizona, Diet Cola hooks up with Frosty and Ace, two dim-witted shoplifters who know Mack and are just dumb enough to think they can get in on whatever Diet Cola's after. Once there, they pair up with the Elvis impersonator stalking Calliope who has planted a GPS on her car. Into the fray steps Zippy, a druggie with a shaved head toting a zipper tattoo, who thinks Mack's having an affair with his girlfriend. And one can't forget Poindexter, the javelina, who's been set free in the desert and misses eating brussel sprouts and TV time with his owner yet manages to lumber his way into the lottery ticket caper.

Bob Sanchez provides his reader with one hilarious romp, rapidly firing scenes so over the top and humorous, the reader is constantly smiling or laughing. Sanchez even offers the javelina's point of view on occasion, raising the comedic bar even more. Think Elmore Leonard meets Carl Hiaasen, which makes for a fun, enjoyable read.

Christy Tillery French, Reviewer
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Title Annotation:novels
Author:French, Christy Tillery
Publication:Reviewer's Bookwatch
Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 1, 2012
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