A promising start that could use another edit.


Lost Pants Mine: Gold, Love, Adventure

A geologist finds gold-mining adventure in Brandt’s debut novel.

Mark Mackenzie, a rising geology professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, has a beautiful young lover named Ursula Sadler, heiress to the Sadler Corporation, long a Reno institution. Frank Adams, an old prospector with whom Mark has become friendly, thinks he can find the legendary Lost Pants gold mine, located, he thinks, near the headwaters of a river on the east side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. “I need your help to pull it off,” Frank tells Mark. “I’m too damn old to go it alone, and I am essentially broke. The story of my life.” So he, Mark, and Mark’s flaky younger brother, Quid, traipse into the High Sierra in search of it. Mark wants to get and sell enough gold so he’s no longer intimidated by Sadler money; Frank wants to satisfy his belief that the mine actually exists; Quid just wants money, lots of it. They locate the Lost Pants—or, anyway, some abandoned mine—and find “free” (unbound) gold lying about, some old tools, and a skeleton. Then three banditos show up, though Quid gets the drop on them and sends them packing (we haven’t seen the last of them). Winter sets in, and an earthquake shakes things up. The trio goes back and forth, hoping some research will help their mission. Meanwhile, old Reinhold Sadler dies, so Ursula takes charge and has to save the shaky Sadler enterprises, at which point the narrative action swings between dangerous gold mine and tense boardroom. Details about gold mining and business maneuvering show Brandt at his best. Does it all work out in the end? Mostly, though Brandt leaves some questions unanswered: where did Quid and his latest girlfriend fetch up? Whose skeleton was that? Was the mine, in fact, the Lost Pants, and was it really salted? In the crowded plot, unnecessary details pop up—Goldman Sachs, readers are reminded, is “a multinational investment firm”—and word choice can be off target. But this is more entertainment than serious novel, and the story moves at a smart pace while delivering some solid thrills.

A promising start that could use another edit.

Pub Date: July 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5084-1939-6

Page Count: 452

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2015

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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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