It is said that a genre novel creates order out of chaos. Mysteries solve crimes and offer redemption. Science fiction speculates where our current path might lead us, or imagines other worlds. A romance novel, first and foremost, lets one man and one woman have a shot at real happiness together and they do it in myriad ways. Karen Robards' newest offering, Vanished, is a very romantic romantic thriller that doesn't slight on the pacing one bit. Assistant District Attorney Sarah Mason is living a thin, cold life after the disappearance of her daughter seven years ago. If it weren't for her dog, a dysfunctional pit bull mix with abandonment issues, and her best friend Jake, a private eye with an eccentric extended family, Sarah probably would have already given up the ghost. When Death comes calling in a quick-shop robbery on the first page, Sarah is shaken awake to Jake, who loves her, to the possibility of really living, to the chance that she might be of some use in the world. Unfortunately, someone wants her dead. It's going to take everything she's got to stay alive to help another little girl who needs her and maybe find redemption for her own daughter. With its rip-roaring pace and great cast, Vanished is the kind of book you'll carry around the house with your thumb holding your place until you've read the last word.

Barbara Samuel's Lady Luck's Map of Vegas is a 2006 RITA award finalist.

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