A GOOD DUKE IS HARD TO FIND by Christina Britton

August 3, 2020

8/2020 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

A GOOD DUKE IS HARD TO FIND by Christina Britton. Forever (June 30, 2020). ISBN 978-1538717493. 384p.

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THE REQUEST by David Bell

July 15, 2020

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From the publisher:

When a man agrees to do a favor for a friend, he gets more than he bargained for as he becomes embroiled in a woman’s murder in this new thriller from the USA Today bestselling author of Layover.

Ryan Francis has it all—great job, wonderful wife, beautiful child—and he loves posting photos of his perfect life on social media. Until the night his friend Blake asks him to break into a woman’s home to retrieve incriminating items that implicate Blake in an affair. Ryan refuses to help, but when Blake threatens to reveal Ryan’s darkest secret—which could jeopardize everything in Ryan’s life—Ryan has no choice but to honor Blake’s request.

When he arrives at the woman’s home, Ryan is shocked to find her dead—and just as shocked to realize he knows her. Then his phone chimes, revealing a Facebook friend request from the woman. With police sirens rapidly approaching, Ryan flees, wondering why his friend was setting him up for murder.

Determined to keep his life intact and to clear his name, Ryan must find the real murderer—but solving the crime may lead him closer to home than he ever could have imagined.


I began reading this novel at 11:00 pm. Several hours later I was able to put it down for the very good reason that I had finished it. The book was mesmerizing, completely compelling, and one fantastic read.

Ryan Francis and his best friend Blake had a close relationship for many years taking them through college and then out into the business world. Ryan married Amanda and in due course, the couple had a son they named Henry.

Blake came to visit them and see the baby but committed an error. Holding Henry up he allowed the child’s head to be hit by a decoration causing a red mark. The protective Amanda was angered and practically threw Blake out of their house stating that he should not return there.

Rushing home as was normal, one evening Ryan was called by Blake and asked to do a big favor for him. He asks that Ryan break into a girl’s house and retrieve a packet of incriminating letters that Blake had allowed her to get while they were going together. During their college years, Ryan had committed a crime when driving drunk and had killed a young girl. Blake, driving with him prevented Ryan from being arrested by changing the setup of the drivers in the then wrecked car and putting another man who was with them into the driver’s seat. Blake indicates that he had been going with the girl and inadvertently given her letters outlining Ryan’s crime during their relationship. Blake met another girl, fell in love, and told girl #1 that he was leaving her to get married. He did not get the letters held back, for some reason could not reenter her house and convinced Ryan that it was in his interest to break in and get them.

Ryan had to agree, but when he entered the girl’s home he found her dead on the floor, obviously a murder victim. Ryan flees the scene, realizes that he has probably set himself up as the murderer and makes the determination that it is up to him to find the real killer.

Bell, in a fine piece of writing, takes his readers through a series of events that will cause them to constantly change their minds about who the killer is, and arriving at a logical ending drained. I’m sure that readers of this book will be lined up like I am awaiting David Bell’s next novel and just keep a pot of coffee boiling for that occasion.

7/2020 Paul Lane

THE REQUEST by David Bell. Berkley (June 30, 2020). ISBN: 978-0440000907. 416 pages.

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THE BLACK SWAN OF PARIS by Karen Robards

July 13, 2020

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From the publisher:

From New York Times bestselling author Karen Robards comes one of the most anticipated novels of the summer…

A world at war. A beautiful young star. A mission no one expected.

Paris, 1944

Celebrated singer Genevieve Dumont is both a star and a smokescreen. An unwilling darling of the Nazis, the chanteuse’s position of privilege allows her to go undetected as an ally to the resistance.

When her estranged mother, Lillian de Rocheford, is captured by Nazis, Genevieve knows it won’t be long before the Gestapo succeeds in torturing information out of Lillian that will derail the upcoming Allied invasion. The resistance movement is tasked with silencing her by any means necessary—including assassination. But Genevieve refuses to let her mother become yet one more victim of the war. Reuniting with her long-lost sister, she must find a way to navigate the perilous cross-currents of Occupied France undetected—and in time to save Lillian’s life.

For fans of The Nightingale, The Women in the Castle and The Lost Girls of Paris, this exquisite novel illuminates three women’s strength, courage and capacity for unconditional love.


Karen Robards turns her attention temporarily away from the successful contemporary suspense novels she normally writes in order to give her readers a war story. The book gives the reader many stories in one. It is about war – a bloody one – World War two. It tells the story of the French resistance to Nazi occupation braving the horrors of absolute repression practiced by the German conquerors. It takes place during the last period of the war at a point where an allied invasion is planned and both the Germans and allies are working to bestow their own ending on it. The Germans to find out where it will take place in order to turn it back, and the allies to hide it, surprising the enemy and making it into the final stage against the third Reich. Most importantly, the novel does not detract in any way from the author’s ability to mesmerize her readership and serves only to increase her range with those enjoying her books.

Genevieve Dumont is a singer that has created herself as a persona with an exceptionally good voice, a marvelous stage presence, and the ability to take charge of her audience. She is the daughter of French upper-class people, but has had a falling out with her mother Lillian de Rocheford, and has fled from her family and ending up in Casablanca, Morocco eking out a living singing in various venues to earn some money to live on.

Discovered there by Max, a British officer seconded to the French resistance movement, she is molded by him into a spy and guided into creating scenarios that allow her group to obtain information important to the French Partisans. Over the years they work together their emotions are kept in check, but the author creates a very plausible situation leading to the couple falling in love. The final section of the book finds that Lillian de Rocheford has been captured by the Germans and is being subjected to torture in order to force her to release the location of the coming invasion. Lilian knows the site due to the fact that the allies have given her an important role on the day of the invasion.

Family is family and Genevieve gets Max and her group to try and effect her mother’s release in order to carry out her assigned mission. That the book grabs hold of the readers and doesn’t let go until the end is a given. It is indicative of the literary talent that is Karen Robards and her ability to capture and keep her readers fixed on the book as well as looking for the next one.

7/2020 Paul Lane

THE BLACK SWAN OF PARIS by Karen Robards. MIRA; Original edition (June 30, 2020). ISBN: 978-0778309338. 480 pages.

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PEOPLE OF THE CANYON by Kathleen O’Neal Gear & Michael Gear

June 26, 2020

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A Novel of North America’s Forgotten Past, Book 26

From the publisher:

In People of the Canyons, award-winning archaeologists and New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear bring us a tale of trapped magic, a tyrant who wants to wield its power…and a young girl who could be the key to save a people.

In a magnificent war-torn world cut by soaring red canyons, an evil ruler launches a search for a mystical artifact that he hopes will bring him ultimate power―an ancient witch’s pot that reputedly contains the trapped soul of the most powerful witch ever to have lived.

The aged healer Tocho has to stop him, but to do it he must ally himself with the bitter and broken witch hunter, Maicoh, whose only goal is achieving one last great kill.

Caught in the middle is Tocho’s adopted granddaughter, Tsilu. Her journey will be the most difficult of all for she is about to discover terrifying truths about her dead parents.

Truths that will set the ancient American Southwest afire and bring down a civilization.


The authors are professional archeologists and have carried their professions into their many books depicting life in bygone eras and places. Their forte is the ease in which they bring characters used in their novels to life; speaking and acting as they might have done based on the author’s knowledge of the time and place. The current book is set in the little-known Fremont culture that existed millennia ago in the American great Southwest.

A young girl is cast into the position of saving her people from falling into the hands of a despot using the area of religious beliefs to keep control of the people. Bringing out the beliefs of those living in the area and in the prehistoric time depicted the authors bring to life a society growing from hunter-gatherers to the evolution of living in towns and building cities. Their beliefs include the view of inanimate objects containing spirits that control life and death and death involving a journey to a central place where they meet with those that predeceased them and a hierarchy of shamans that can both kill and bring life back to people.

The shaman looking for consolidation of his power is seeking a pot that is reputed to contain the spirit of the most powerful witch that ever lived. Once he has this artifact, he plans to use the witch to obtain control of the people. Opposing him is Tocho, an elder who is aided by the daughter of the deceased rulers of the area. She has the legal claim to take over as ruler due to her being the rightful heir to the position.

The plot is aided by the discovery by the girl of terrifying truths about her parents. At the same time, the authors’ professional work as archeologists allows them to shape the actions and conversations of the characters in a manner that has a good possibility of being closer to the likelihood of being accurate.

6/2020 Paul Lane

PEOPLE OF THE CANYON by Kathleen O’Neal Gear & Michael Gear. Forge Books (June 23, 2020). ISBN: 978-1250176202. 320 pages.

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NOTHING COMPARES TO THE DUKE by Christy Carlyle

June 25, 2020

NOTHING COMPARES TO THE DUKE by Christy Carlyle. Avon (May 26, 2020). ISBN 978-0062854018. 368 pages.

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WHEN YOU WISH UPON A ROGUE by Anna Bennett

June 20, 2020

WHEN YOU WISH UPON A ROGUE by Anna Bennett. St. Martin’s Paperbacks (May 26, 2020). ISBN 978-1250199508. 336 pages.

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SAY YES TO THE DUKE by Eloisa James

June 10, 2020

SAY YES TO THE DUKE by Eloisa James. Avon (May 19, 2020). ISBN 978-0062878069. 400 p.

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THE EARL TAKES A FANCY by Lorraine Heath

May 27, 2020

THE EARL TAKES A FANCY by Lorraine Heath. Avon (March 31, 2020). ISBN 978-0062951908. 400 p.

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THE VIRGIN AND THE ROGUE by Sophie Jordan

May 16, 2020

THE VIRGIN AND THE ROGUE by Sophie Jordan. Forever (April 28, 2020). ISBN 978-1538700327. 384p.

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A DUKE BY ANY OTHER NAME by Grace Burrowes

May 11, 2020

A DUKE BY ANY OTHER NAME by Grace Burrowes. Forever (April 28, 2020). ISBN 978-1538700327. 384p.

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