Crisis, heroic enthusiasm, romance in today’s top sellers

New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews returns to the Kate Daniels series with “Magic Rises.”

Kate is right in the middle of a terrible crisis with her mate, Curran, the Beast Lord. A bunch of teenage shapeshifters in their clan are turning loup, unable to control their shifts, and settling into an inbetween-state, driven mad. Most of the time shifters in this state are killed, and when Kate’s adopted daughter’s best friend goes loup, Kate cannot bear to see anymore children killed. A small amount of medicine that can cure the disease is found, but the clan needs more. And the only way to get it is through the European packs.

The European packs are a group of dangerous political rivals, and they agree to help Curran and Kate, if they will protect the woman birthing the heir from kidnapping and/or murder until the latest dispute is settled. Kate and Curran believe they are walking into a trap, but see no way out of this. With the help of their clan and sometimes enemy and sometimes friend, they travel to Europe and get right in the middle of political warfare. There, Kate finds she is looked down on for being a human and finds there is a female shapeshifter who has her eye on Curran. Worse yet, Currant seems to be interested too. And while Kate’s romantic relationship may be going down in flames, she finds a friend of her murderous father is close by, putting her in danger once more. Will anyone survive this deadly game of politics and will Kate and Curran still be together by the end?

Kate and Curran have always been favorites of mine and this latest story has plenty of twists and turns and danger for the two. The political shenanigans didn’t interest me as much, but Kate’s fight with her father’s warrior had plenty of action.

“Magic Rises” is published by Ace. It is $7.99 and 355 pages long.

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New York Times bestselling author MaryJanice Davidson returns to her Queen Betsy series in “Undead and Unsure.”

Betsy, Queen of the Vampires, is trying to make nice with her half-sister, Laura, who recently inherited a job from her devil mother thanks to Betsy killing her. Needless to say, their relationship is more than a little strained. Betsy’s husband Sinclair, has recently been able to walk in the sunlight again, making him a giddy vampire, and Betsy is a bit freaked by his enthusiasm and by his two new puppies. Meanwhile, Betsy’s best friend, Jessica, is nearing the end of her pregnancy – or is she? No one can seem to remember when she got pregnant, her ever going to a doctor and no one seems concerned about this except Betsy’s mom. Does all of this have to do with Betsy’s recent tinkering with the timeline? Can she make nice with Laura? Or has things in Betsy’s undead life become even more chaotic?

This series took a dark turn recently, and seems to be going back more to the way it was before, with tongue-in-cheek humor, a ditzy but hilarious heroine and her group of unconventional vampire (and now zombie) friends. Though there’s still plenty of trouble headed Betsy’s way, she seems capable of handling it, and wearing fabulous footwear while doing so.

“Undead and Unsure” is published by Berkley. It is $25.95 and 297 pages long.

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A combination mystery, romance and paranormal book comes in New York Times bestselling author Karen Robards’ “The Last Kiss Goodbye.”

Dr. Charlotte Stone helps profile serial killers. Having a personal connection from almost being murdered by one has lead her into the business, but being able to see and speak with ghosts of those who died violently only helps. And Charlie also has her own personal ghost – convicted killer Michael Garland, who claims he was innocent and whom Charlie saw murdered in front of her. Michael and Charlie’s complicated relationship has become romantic, despite the fact that he’s dead and Charlie’s unsure of his innocence. Trying for a chance of somewhat normal, she tries to start a relationship with a handsome FBI agent, Tony Bartoli, much to Michael’s anger.

But romantic entanglements take a backseat when a serial killer’s almost-victim shows up at Charlie’s house one night. Charlie is drawn into the case of the Gingerbread Man, a serial killer who catches several people and makes them kill each other, letting one go to tell the tale. Sending notes to taunt the authorities, he seems to have focused in on Charlie. But why? Can her own bad boy ghost keep her safe or will Charlie be joining him soon on the other side?

This is a captivating series of a woman who hunts serial killers with a little help from their victims, and her strange and complicated relationship with a ghost. Is Michael innocent or is he playing Charlie? Readers will have to keep on reading to find out!

“The Last Kiss Goodbye” is published by Ballantine Books. It is $26 and 317 pages long.

Contact Amy Phelps at aphelps@newsandsentinel.com