When their realm is invaded by a tyrant determined to exterminate all magic, apprentice spellcasters/orphans Dirklus and Annah are caught between opposing armies of pirates, dwarves, knights, comically greedy merchants, big-hearted prostitutes and their conflicted feelings for each other.

Fans of Piers Anthony’s Xanth novels and Terry Pratchett’s comical fantasies are the ideal readership for this fractured-fairytale romp. In revenge for a witch’s humiliating hex that punished his sexual depredations, wicked King Archon obsessively crusades to destroy all magic-wielders. Young Dirklus and Annah are sent to safety on a spell-shrouded peninsula, where they grow up apprenticed to a haughty, detached wizard, seemingly more annoyed than anything else at the posturing mortals around him, especially a colony of über-capitalist merchants renown for their sweet onions (which, when hurled, can serve as stun weapons) and their beautiful daughters groomed to be the most pleasantly accommodating of prostitutes. When Archonians rather ineffectually invade the peninsula, they primarily succeed in carrying off the colony’s prized whore, Nooki, who happens to be Dirklus’ sweetheart. Dirklus goes on a careening rescue-quest, despite his barely controllable sorceries and tomboy Annah’s jealous insistence that she, not Nooki, is the right girl for him, never mind the gossip that the two apprentices are blood relatives. The abundant sexual repartee is charmingly bawdy in nonexplicit, old-school fashion, and Beach does well evoking the magical action in brief, slapstick-y brush-strokes, though rarely inspiring actual awe, just satisfied smirks (even if a horde of treelike giants are a shameless steal from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “ents”). While some of the punning-ly named characters could have used a bit more depth, they prove to be capable of surprising. Granted that a “to be continued…” shingle hangs at the end of the tale, Beach’s work avoids any cliffhanger endings to function neatly as a standalone. Even so, fantasy-genre readers with a penchant for sly stuff that never takes itself too seriously—and remains coyly naughty around the margins—won’t mind a return to Beach’s shores. Cheeky, tongue-in-cheek mock fantasy not without flaws, but captivates nonetheless.


Pub Date: Dec. 28, 2008

ISBN: 978-1440111877

Page Count: 315

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 2011

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Another success for the publishing phenom.


An abused boy fights back, escapes, then returns as an attorney to his beloved hometown, but just as he’s falling in love with a transplanted landscaper, a series of attacks from shadowy enemies jeopardizes their happiness.

“From the outside, the house in Lakeview Terrace looked perfect.” Which of course means that it wasn't. We're introduced to the horrifying Dr. Graham Bigelow, who beats his wife and, increasingly as the boy gets older, his son, Zane. On the night of Zane’s prom, a particularly savage attack puts him and his sister in the hospital, and his father blames Zane, landing him in jail. Then his sister stands up for him, enlisting the aid of their aunt, and everything changes, mainly due to Zane’s secret diaries. Nearly 20 years later, Zane leaves a successful career as a lawyer to return to Lakeview, where his aunt and sister live with their families, deciding to hang a shingle as a small-town lawyer. Then he meets Darby McCray, the landscaper who’s recently relocated and taken the town by storm, starting with the transformation of his family’s rental bungalows. The two are instantly intrigued by each other, but they move slowly into a relationship neither is looking for. Darby has a violent past of her own, so she is more than willing to take on the risk of antagonizing a boorish local family when she and Zane help an abused wife. Suddenly Zane and Darby face one attack after another, and even as they grow ever closer under the pressure, the dangers become more insidious. Roberts’ latest title feels a little long and the story is slightly cumbersome, but her greatest strength is in making the reader feel connected to her characters, so “unnecessary details” can also charm and engage.

Another success for the publishing phenom.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-20709-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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A romantic suspense that skillfully balances both elements.


A successful businesswoman hires a smooth-talking bounty hunter to find a lead on her sister’s murder.

Kate Gallagher was the only one available to identify her younger sister Chrissy’s body after she was found dead, having run away from home two years earlier. Since Chrissy succumbed to drugs and turned to sex work to survive, her murder isn't taken seriously by the local homicide department. Kate is filled with grief and regret at not having been there for her sister, and she’s determined to find her killer as a kind of penance. Jason Maddox is the charming man Kate almost hooked up with at a local bar. He also happens to be on the payroll of the most successful investigation company in Dallas. He’s all too eager to help Kate out and spend more time getting to know the blonde he danced with at the Sagebrush Saloon. At first, Kate and Jason vow to keep things professional until the case is solved; there’s obvious attraction that they’re willing to pursue at a later date. But the increasing sense of danger mixed with Kate and Jason’s close proximity proves to be too heady of a combination. The tension never lets up as the pair visit seedy bars and interrogate unsavory characters. With a steamy romance and undeniably hot chemistry, the main characters are well matched. They’re both driven, slightly stubborn, and enjoy the adrenaline rush of catching criminals. Martin (The Conspiracy, 2019, etc.) doesn’t skimp on graphic, violent details as Chrissy’s murder leads her couple to something much bigger: human trafficking. Though not for the faint of heart given its weighty material, this is an un-put-down-able page-turner that’s sure to satisfy fans of romance and thrillers alike.

A romantic suspense that skillfully balances both elements.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-335-00769-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harlequin HQN

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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