Thursday, April 30, 2015

Spotlight Review:

The Wicked Series , Book 1
Jove Books
ISBN: 978-0-515-15516-7
March 2015
Historical Romance

Regency England

The late Duke of Aylesbury acknowledged four sons, three of them legitimate: Percival, his heir and the present duke; and Lords Lancelot, and Ywain (called Ives). The fourth is Gareth Fitzallan, born of the late duke's beloved mistress. Gareth is in Amsterdam brokering the sale of some paintings when he learns of the sudden death of his eldest half-brother, the duke. It's a good thing Gareth was out of the country, for he and Percy were not friends. Percy was claiming in court that Gareth's inheritance from their father truly belonged to him. So now Lance is duke (a rather wild one), and he and Ives, a barrister, are well-disposed to their half-brother. The disputed house and estate have been unoccupied for several years, and the citizens nearby have made free of the house's contents, even of the rocks from the garden wall.

Eva Russell and her sister Rebecca live not far from the neglected house. They are all that is left of their once prosperous family. Only necessity made Eva help herself to a bit of furniture to sell to feed them. But while searching the old house, she came upon a hidden attic filled with beautiful paintings. She could never take anything like that, but she thought she could copy them well enough that her copies might sell. She found a stationer in Birmingham who took them on consignment, and she was able to start putting coin by to give Rebecca a chance at a good marriage.

Gareth and Eva meet suddenly as he rides up toward his new house. It's not a friendly meeting; his horse scares her, and she's carrying home another painting to copy, fortunately well covered in old burlap.

Meanwhile, someone important wants Ives to look into a matter of valuable paintings belonging to many in the House of Lords that disappeared after being sent into hiding during the time the country feared invasion by Napoleon's forces. Napoleon was known to liberate such treasures.

So now we have the makings of a volatile romance and a bit of mystery in a character rich tale. It's a good tale, though some may find the lusty and detailed loves scenes interrupt the flow, while others may relish them. On the whole, HIS WICKED REPUTATION is well worth the read. And you will want to catch the next in the series, TALL, DARK, AND WICKED, previewed in the back of the book, and starring the intriguing Lord Ywain (Ives).

Jane Bowers

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Blurb for.............. BE AFRAID by Mary Burton

The Fear Is Terrifying

When police rescue five-year-old Jenna Thompson from the dark closet where she's been held captive for days, they tell her she's a lucky girl. Compared to the rest of her family, it's true. But even with their killer dead of an overdose, Jenna is still trying to find peace twenty-five years later.

But The Truth

On leave from her forensic artist job, Jenna returns to Nashville, the city where she lost so much. Instead of closure, she finds a new horror. Detective Rick Morgan needs Jenna's expertise in identifying the skeletal remains of a young child. The case jogs hazy half-buried memories--and a nagging dread that Jenna's ordeal hasn't ended.

Is Even Worse

Now other women are dying. And as the links between these brutal killings and Jenna's past becomes clear, she knows this time, a madman will leave no survivors.

          Mary Burton enjoys hunting serial killers.  A New York Times and USA Today bestselling novelist, she’s tracked them down in her hometown of Richmond, Old Town Alexandria, Austin and Nashville in books that have brought her acclaim and a loyal ever growing readership.
Mary’s been intrigued by investigative work and the people who do it since Virginia was stung by a string of serial killings spanning more than twenty years.  So, it’s not surprising that many of her novels, for which she’s been compared to Steig Larson*, Lisa Gardner**, and Lisa Jackson***, are propelled by the acts of multiple killers and the people who pursue them. BE AFRAID, her latest, follows suit and is the second of her stories set in Nashville featuring the Morgans, Music City’s preeminent law enforcement family.  The first, Cover Your Eyes, became a USA Today bestseller in its first week on sale. The third, I’ll Never Let You Go will be published in November 2015 followed by Vulnerable in April 2016.
            Mary's admiration for real life police and investigative work and the skills, insights and tools they require, is evidenced in her books and by her commitment to researching procedures and forensic details.  She is a graduate of the Richmond FBI Citizen's Academy and the Henrico County Citizens Police Academy. She has attended Sisters in Crime's Forensic University program and, annually,  Writers Police Academy, where the curriculum has included undercover work, autopsies, and theories of why people kill.
            Despite her emphasis on hard facts in the crimes she portrays, Mary's approach to each new novel is psychological. To begin her story she needs answers to three questions about her killers:  Why do they kill? What demons drive them? And, how do they choose their victims?  The answers are as critical to her plot, she says, as they are to detectives solving a murder.
            A Richmond native with family roots as deep as the nation's, Mary has made her home there for most of her life.  She is a graduate of Virginia's Hollins University and worked in marketing before committing to write full time. Her first book was published in 2000.
            Mary is the author of twenty-six published novels and five novellas. In addition to her books featuring the Morgan family, Mary’s other "connected" stories are Senseless, Merciless and Before She Dies, all set in Alexandria, and The Seventh Victim, No Escape and You’re Not Safe, featuring investigators from the Texas Rangers.  She is a member of International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. She travels frequently for signings, book club visits, and speaking engagements at conferences, book festivals, bookstores and libraries. She is also known for her highly regarded "Unraveling Romantic Suspense" workshop and her day-long program "Writing Your Book...The First Step.”
            An avid baker and an accomplished cook, Mary's discovered that the creativity of the kitchen entwines with her professional routine in unanticipated ways.  It’s her ideal retreat when the writing hits a rough spot. Once there, she's working out dialogue, untangling plot lines and figuring out how to trap a killer before the oven has a chance to preheat.
            When not committing murder, Mary, who has completed her Baking & Pastry Arts Certificate at the University of Richmond's Culinary Arts Program, is now pursuing her Culinary Arts Certificate. She’s also involved in adoption issues and has made appearances on behalf of Coordinators2inc, a lifetime adoption resource organization.  She and her husband spend time alternately enjoying and lamenting their newly empty nest and spoiling their miniature dachshunds Buddy, Bella and Tiki.
            Mary has just completed her fourth “Morgan” book, Vulnerable, and is at work on her next suspense novel while enjoying the May 2015 publication of both BE AFRAID and her latest work of contemporary women’s fiction At the Corner of King Street, written as Mary Ellen Taylor. 

*Publishers Weekly, **Library Journal, ***Library Journal



Welcome, Mary, and thanks for joining us!

Your last book, Cover Your Eyes, was the first of four featuring the three brothers and sister that make up the Morgan family—all in law enforcement as was their father—and it became a USA Today bestseller in its first week on sale.  How exciting was that?
             Very! I’m always a little anxious to see if readers like a new book, especially if, like Cover Your Eyes, it’s the first of several connected stories. I have to say, though, that even more exciting and rewarding is the response I received from readers in person and online.  The fact that so many took the time to comment on the siblings and family as well as the plot means a lot.  I enjoy these characters so much and do want them to resonate with readers.  Can’t wait to hear what they think of BE AFRAID and Rick and Jenna.

Where do Rick and Jenna they fit in with the other characters?
Well, Rick’s a Morgan and, like his brothers and sister, has been drawn into the world of law enforcement in large part due to his legendary detective father’s life and legacy.  Rick is the second oldest of the brothers and when we leave him at the close of Cover Your Eyes he’s at the tail end of his recovery from a gunshot wound received in the line of duty.  In BE AFRAID, he’s back on the force but has moved to the Homicide Unit.  Jenna, who once lived in Nashville but left at an early age, has only a tentative connection to the city.  A forensic artist on leave from her job with the Baltimore Police Department, Jenna’s keeping some secrets, in particular the reason behind her return.

So what brings them together?
Their connection begins after an unidentified child’s body is found.  A pink blanket, teeth and records showing a thirty year time line for the body to have been concealed are all authorities have to go on.  Jenna, well known for her skill in facial reconstruction, is the department’s best hope of identifying the victim.  Rick and his partner have caught both cases.  As Rick spends time with Jenna he becomes more and more intrigued with her and with why she’s so silent about her past. He’s a detective, so you know what he does next. He starts poking his nose into Jenna’s history, uncovering shocking details as well as unexpected connections, not only to the two murders, but to Jenna’s childhood.

Tell us a bit about facial reconstruction, please. Is it computer generated? Done with clay? I know the Bones fans among us sometimes see it done on that show by character Angela Montenegro.
Jenna starts with a clean sample, which means the bone has been stripped of any flesh and is ready to accept the clay she uses to create muscle and flesh. She works with clay, paints and sculpting tools. She covers the skull with rubber plugs that indicate skin depth.  Imagination plays a role as she begins to visualize the muscles that band across a human face, giving it shape and depth, and skin, hair and eyes.  Jenna’s craft is as much art as it is science as she weaves her knowledge of biology with her artistic skills. 

How do the other Morgan’s fit into the story?
Well, Deke’s now head of Homicide so he’s keeping tabs on progress in the case and checking in frequently with Rick and also with Georgia, who’s in Forensics and deeply involved as well.  We get to find out more about Georgia professionally and she’s the one who campaigns with both the department and Jenna to bring her on board. Alex, who’s an agent with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, is only peripherally involved in the cases, but is the catalyst when a long-simmering family issue comes to a head and threatens to drive a permanent wedge between him and Rick.  We spend time with Rachel, too. A woman she’s defending is a victim of rape and Jenna has offered to create a sketch of the suspect.  Oh, and as the story opens, we meet  KC, Deke’s former partner, and find out he’s retired and taken over Rudy’s bar, so we catch up a bit with him and doings there.  Turns out, even before Georgia connects with her, Jenna approaches KC for the okay to set up outside of Rudy’s to draw portraits of his customers. She knows KC was one of the homicide detectives who years ago investigated her parents’ and sister’s murder.

You’ve said there’s more to come on the Morgans. What’s next?
Thanks for asking.  First up is Alex, taking center stage in I’ll Never Let You Go, which is out in November 2015. Then last, but not least, is Georgia’s story in Vulnerable, which is being published in April 2016. 

Where can we find out more about those book and what else you’re up to?
            I post updates and photos and check in often on Facebook so there's lots of info there.  And my site is always open for business.  Plus, as my calendar continues to shape up for the end of 2015 and into 2016, I expect to have a number of opportunities to visit with readers and other writers.  Event listings can be found at
            Thanks for having me!