Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Cowboy For Hire-Marie Ferrarella

Cowboy For Hire
Marie Ferrarella
Harlequin American Romance, Nov 1 2014, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373755448

With a deep need for her dad’s approval and representing her family’s firm, Carmichael Construction Corporation, Constance Carmichael arrives in Forever, Texas to supervise the building of a hotel.  When Constance sees the quality work done to a ranch house, she takes a risk and hires the lead Finn Murphy as foreman of the hotel project.

Constance and Finn are attracted to each other, but the big city easterner and the small town local also share a reluctance to act on their feelings.  As their respect and admiration grow while working together on the hotel construction, they begin to fall in love; but she is not a Texas Forever person and he is.

The eleventh return to Forever, the fine contemporary romance focuses on the middle Murphy brother (see Her Forever Cowboy for his brother Brett’s tale; a third sibling to follow as the book twelve lead).  The protagonists are a likable pair whose relationship changes from boss-employee to loving equals (with the right steps in between) while the townsfolk and readers joyfully observe. 


Harriet Klausner

Thursday, October 30, 2014

‘Tis The Season-Robyn Carr

‘Tis The Season
Robyn Carr
Harlequin MIRA, Oct 28 2014, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778316640

“Under the Christmas Tree.”  Hairstylist Annie stops to admire a Virgin River Christmas tree only to find eight newborn puppies underneath it. Obviously abandoned, Annie brings the canines to the town `s vet Nathaniel.

“Midnight Confessions.”  One year ago on New Year’s Eve, Sunny’s fiancĂ© Glen jilted her.  Though she wants to celebrate this New Year's Eve alone at home, her Uncle Nathanial and his fiancĂ©e Annie insist she accompany them to Jack’s Bar.  UCLA Orthopedic resident Drew Foley and Sunny meet at the bar; whereas she rejects his attempts to get to know each other, he refuses to quit trying.

“Backward Glance.”  In Durango five years have passed since John last saw his beloved Leigh, but every time he drives passed her mom Jess’ house he looks to see if she is visiting.  Jess tells John she has a bad ticker but is not seeing the doctor.  Worried about her mom’s health, Leigh, accompanied by her four year old twins (Mitch and Ty), returns home.  When John and Leigh meet, they have a fight over who was at fault; as they reconcile another argument may destroy their love. 

The first two tales are warm reprints of Virgin River novellas though the leads of Midnight Confessions seem unlikely to overcome their respective failed relationships as the prime icon etched in their respective brains.  Backward Glance is a pre-Virgin River second chance but with an overused premise. 

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Mighty Quinns: Ryan-Kate Hoffmann

The Mighty Quinns: Ryan
Kate Hoffmann
Harlequin Blaze, Oct 21 2014, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373798254

Hollywood based Greenmoor Studios chief Thom Perry hires Ryan Quinn to keep his soon to be star Hollywood actress Serena Hightower out of trouble until she marries; as bad publicity just before the release of a blockbuster movie could prove devastating.  The New Zealander assumes his latest gig will be R&R while his brother Rogan says Ryan is lucky as a baby-sitter to five hens including the soon to be bride Hollywood actress Serena Hightower at her bachelorette party in vacation paradise Fiji.  

As soon as Serena leaves the plane, Ryan knows he is in trouble.  He wants her and she feels the same way; but he will not poach on someone else’s woman.  That changes when he learns Serena plans to end her engagement to Ben Thayer.  They head to New Zealand to determine whether they can make it at the risk of her career and for him to tell his family what he desires in life before he and his two brothers accompanied by their father climb Mt. Everest.

The third New Zealand branch of the Mighty Quinns (see Rogan and Malcom) is an enjoyable contemporary romance as a Hollywood starlet and a rugged outdoor guide fall in love.  The two leads mature as their relationship intensifies with each learning the meanings of family and commitment.  There will not be a dry eye with the climax at the top of the world.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, October 27, 2014

Oh, Naughty Night!-Leslie Kelly

Oh, Naughty Night!
Leslie Kelly
Harlequin Blaze, Oct 21 2014, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373798247

After an internship in Rwanda, twenty-six year old Lucille Vandenberg settles down in Washington.  Her first month in D.C. was getting used to her job and the city.  Now, Lulu is on the prowl for a superman (in bed that is). 

At a Halloween Party, Lulu and her two friends (Amelia and Viv) salivate over a hunk when she recognizes him as journalist Chaz Browning; whom she has not seen since high school, almost a decade ago.  She is stunned that the scrawny nerd she tortured when they were teenage enemies has become a stud.  Chaz fails to recognize Lulu as they enjoy the night together before she vanishes.  Chaz and Lulu meet as neighbors, but he fails to realize his teen queen of mean adversary is the Halloween beauty he craves and she omits informing him that she is the star of his wet dreams; confusing him further is his desire to make it with Lulu.

The premise is terrific with one protagonist aware and the other not; while the execution is excellent.  Oh, Naughty Night! is a heated jovial contemporary made stronger by some of the ways Lulu irritated besieged Chaz as youngsters.  Readers will toast Leslie Kelly with a Capri Sun for this beguiling blazing romance.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Christmas Celebration-Nancy Robards Thompson

A Christmas Celebration
Nancy Robards Thompson
Harlequin Special Edition, Oct 21 2014, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373658503

When his best friend Greg Thomas and his BFF’s wife Rosa died in a car crash, Celebration Memorial Hospital Chief of Staff Dr. Cullen Dunlevy takes in their four young mourning children (ranging in age from five to ten).  Rather than let the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services divide the quartet, Cullen plans to keep them with him until he finds a suitable family who will raise the fearsome foursome.  However, he works sixteen hour days and his housekeeper quits as the growing blue foam was the last straw.

After explaining to Lily Palmer the kids act out of grief and she replies they seek attention; he hires the second grade schoolteacher as their nanny not just because he is desperate, which he is, but he sees how gently she reached out to the youngest Hannah through Franklin the dog.  He also admires how well Lily deals with the oldest Megan, the only boy George and the second youngest Bridge.  As the six bonds into a warm family, “Uncle” Cullen struggles with his desires to adopt the kids while falling in love with the nanny because he is married to his job.

The fourth Celebrations, Inc. Texas romance (see Celebration’s Bride, Celebration’s Family and Celebration’s Baby) is an uplifting Yuletide family drama.  The lead couple is a nice pairing whose plans are nuked by the needy grieving youngsters.  With a nod to Nanny McPhee (sans the magic except inside the hearts of all of them) and mindful of W.C. Fields’ admonition: "Never work with animals or children” the troubled kids steal the show from the adults.

Harriet Klausner

Boneyard Ridge-Paula Graves

Boneyard Ridge
Paula Graves
Harlequin Intrigue, Oct 21 2014, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373697960

In Purgatory, Tennessee event planner Susannah Marsh hosts a law enforcement conference.  However, unbeknownst to Susannah, the Blue Ridge Infantry anti-authority fanatics have a deadly plan for the attendees; but first must rid themselves of Marsh in order to deploy their scheme. 

Gates’ employee Hunter Bragg has worked undercover as a maintenance man for three months to get inside the militia.  He informs his Gates superior Alexander Quinn that the assault starts tonight; the former CIA agent tells the Army veteran with a bad leg and anger management issues he needs to go it alone until reinforcements can arrive.  Thus he becomes Susannah’s mule carrying the reluctant planner away from those shooting at her.  However she also conceals a dark deadly secret involving the local crime family who also pursues Susannah.

The third Gates romantic suspense (see Crybaby Falls and Dead Man Curve) is a high-octane thriller starring two seemingly opposites; though scratch the heroine’s present persona to her past reveals how similar the pair really is.  Fast-paced, readers will root for the protagonists as they try to stay alive while a couple of hordes target the perfectly polished planner and guilt by protective association the medically retired sergeant.

Harriet Klausner

Snowfall: A Days of Redemption Christmas Novella-Shelley Shepard Gray

Snowfall: A Days of Redemption Christmas Novella
Shelley Shepard Gray
Avon Inspire, Oct 21 2014, $12.99
ISBN: 9780062204547

Twentyish Ruth Stutzman enjoys being a care provider to retirees at a nursing home.  When her position is abolished and Ruth let go due to budget cuts, she is despondent because she likes being with the elderly. 

When sexagenarian Lovina Keim quits as nanny to widower Martin Rodes’ six horrible children, she recommends he hires Ruth to take care of his kids whose ages range from four to nine.  Initially Ruth feels overwhelmed but sympathetic towards her six motherless wards since she lost her parents as a young child.  The preadolescents slowly warm up to her cheerful enthusiasm; but perhaps not as much as their concerned father who keeps his distance out of guilt and memory of his late wife, and for the sake of his brood though attracted to his new employee.  However, when Ruth is offered her former position, she feels pulled in two directions as she loves and adores Martin and his munchkins while they cherish her for bringing a Ray of Light back into their grieving lives.

The latest Days of Redemption entry is an engaging Amish Christmas family drama.  The ensemble cast includes returnees from previous novels (see Eventide and Daybreak); while the two nurturing adults try to help the six troubled children as they struggle to accept being without their beloved mother.  Shelley Shepard Gray authors a delightful holiday story that needs a miracle delivered by six impish elves.

Harriet Klausner