Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A Perfect Ten: DEADLY GAMBLE by Linda Lael Miller

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DEADLY GAMBLE - Linda Lael Miller
A Perfect 10
Mojo Sheepshanks Series, Book 1
HQN
ISBN-13: 978-0-373-77141-7
ISBN-10: 0-373-77141-X
November 2006
Romantic Thriller

Cave Creek, Arizona - Present Day

Mojo Sheepshanks woke up this morning lying in bed next to her ex-husband, Nick DeLuca. Problem -- Nick’s been dead for two years. And it seems that now the ghost of his former self needs Mojo’s blessing before Nick can make the journey to his final resting place. Nick really, really wants her forgiveness, so he finds her a pet -- her long lost cat Chester. And -- you guessed it -- Chester’s dead too! So now that Mojo is seeing ghosts and talking to them, the fun is only just beginning...

Mary Josephine Mayhugh (Mojo) witnessed the brutal murder of her parents, Evie and Ron, when she was just five years-old. They say her half-brother Geoff is the killer -- Mojo can’t remember any, of it and Geoff went to prison. She does remember being covered in blood and crawling into the clothes dryer to hide. Days later, her baby-sitter Doris snatched her from a foster home and spirited her away. Little Mary became Mojo, and Doris took the name Lillian. They moved around a lot, never staying in one place long -- and they never talked about that terrible day again. Along the way, Lillian rescued another lost girl, Greer, from a bus station, and Greer became Mojo's little sister. And when Lillian married, the two girls inherited another sister, Jolie, whose creamy chocolate skin makes for lots of questions about their blended family.

Mojo, now twenty-eight, has almost no memory of her past, and she hides behind an alias provided by Lillian, who now resides at the Sunset Villa Rest Home in Phoenix, losing what’s left of her memory. After being taken to the cleaners in her divorce from Nick, Mojo lives in the only apartment she can afford -- right above Bad-Ass Bert's Biker Saloon. She doesn't have a regular job but does part-time medical billing and coding. Her latest relationship with undercover cop Tucker Darroch fizzled when Mojo learned that Tucker hasn't quite cut the cord still attached to his ex-wife and their two kids. And even though Tucker is divorced, Mojo doesn't play the "other woman game," so, until Tucker gets his head together, they're no longer heating up the sheets.

And -- as if Mojo doesn't already have enough problems -- her long-lost uncle, Senator Clive Larimer, suddenly shows up at Lillian’s rest home. Clive's been looking for Mojo for over twenty years, or so he says, and now he’s finally found her. He asks Mojo to visit his ranch in Cactus Bend, but that's where little Mary Josephine's life ended, and Mojo is in no hurry to revisit the past -- she has enough problems with her past materializing as ghosts.

DEADLY GAMBLE is a fabulous book all wrapped up in a nifty cover -- even the title is different! (but you have to get the book to check out the dying letter "A" ) Mojo is one of the strongest heroines I’ve read this year. She's survived a life that by any other means would be considered highly dysfunctional. She's vulnerable, a little confused and honest, but Mojo definitely has it all together. She has taken lots of tart lemons and made them into her very own concoction that's sweeter than lemonade and smooth on the tongue. Mojo is a courageous, gutsy young woman who listens to her inner voice and doesn’t take one bit of flack from anyone, even while she's scared out of her skin. She never went to college, much less attended a lot of school with all the moving around they did, but she's learned all she needs to know reading every Damn Fool's Guide to...? (insert desired subject in place of question mark) ever written. Watching her creation and her persona unfold is fascinating and intriguing and the pages zip along.

The secondary characters are so lifelike they jump right off the pages, every single one. Russell, Bert's faithful basset hound, and the ghostly Chester are among Mojo's new animal friends. Her sisters, Greer and Jolie, are with her every step of the way as Mojo tries to outrun a killer's threats, and it's a race who will get to her first -- the person stalking her, or her very own nightmares. Tucker pops in and out of her life often, and even offers her some protection in between assignments, and some heavy breathing when the going gets rough. In the midst of all the danger, Mojo accidentally falls into a new vocation -- she's going to become a private investigator (she's read the Damn Fools Guide to Private Investigation). How hard can it be? Remember, she can see dead people, and they can do things she can't -- like read minds and see through walls and floors, not to mention walk through them, too. She'll start a new business. Sheepshanks, Sheepshanks, and Sheepshanks, a new investigative agency run by Mojo and a friendly ghost...or two...or three...

DEADLY GAMBLE is a winner and A Perfect 10! This is absolutely the best book ever, bringing together a host of fabulous characters, thrilling mysteries, humorous sidelines, and ghosts who come and go. Linda Lael Miller is one of my all time favorite authors, and in this new series she does not disappoint. Read an excerpt from the book and learn more from Mojo herself as she writes a few notes in Linda's blog at www.lindalaelmiller.com. DEADLY GAMBLE is the first of the Mojo Sheepshank series, with DEADLY DECEPTIONS to follow soon.

DEADLY GAMBLE is more than deserving of the Perfect 10 award, and if possible, I would give two awards for one of the most innovative and likable story to grace the shelves in decades!

Diana Risso

Be sure to check all the great reviews at Romance Reviews Today!

PS...check out what Terrie has cooking up for a giveaway in December from RRT.