Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Naughty by Nature-Barbara Pierce

Naughty by Nature
Barbara Pierce
St. Martin's, Dec 2007, $6.99
ISBN: 9780312947965

In 1808 teenager Patience Farnlay met and fell in love with an actor. She ran off with him joining his traveling troupe. However, not long afterward she learns a lesson re the fickleness of love when he abandons her and his troupe. She takes over, but being inexperienced and young finds the other performers ignore her.

When Earl Fowler “Ram” Knowden meets Patience, he knows she is the perfect companion for his reclusive sister Meredith, whose visage was scarred in a fire. She accepts the position. As she tries to be a friend to Meredith, Patience falls in love with her employer; he reciprocates. However, she distrusts men and love while he has a bad experience with a woman to overcome too.

This is a fascinating regency romance mostly because of the uniqueness of the two prime females. Readers will sympathize with Meredith whose life in her opinion and much of the Ton went up in flames and like her peers believe she would have been better off dead. Patience is an interesting protagonist as she lives up to her name when it comes to Meredith, but become impatient when it comes to Ram, who is typical of the male of the sub-genre. Fans will appreciate this fine historical.

Harriet Klausner

A Perfect Marriage-Karen Kendall

A Perfect Marriage
Karen Kendall
Harlequin Mediterranean Nights, Dec 2007, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373389667

As the public relations director Katherine Stamos is well aware of the fun of cruising the Mediterranean on the Alexandra's Dream although she has not done so. She decides a cruise is perfect to bring a positive uplift to her boring marriage of twenty years. She persuades her workaholic spouse Charles to get away with her on the luxury ship.

However, in spite of the delightful setting and Katherine’s efforts, Charles cannot leave his work behind. He spends much of the time on his projects. Disappointed, Katherine turns elsewhere on the ship for entertainment and begins to consider leaving Charles though she loves him. Charles is totally shocked that Katherine is considering a divorce as he never saw it coming because he was to busy with his work.

A PERFECT MARRIAGE is an interesting look at marital relationship that after two decades has become stale and stuck in a rut. Whereas Katherine sees a dying marriage, Charles remains ignorant until he may be too late. Filled with angst, Karen Kendall provides a deep drama that is quite good when it homes in on the lead couple, but loses some sailing speed with other ship board sidebars.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Southern Seduction-Alexandria Scott

Southern Seduction
Alexandria Scott
Zebra, Dec 2007, $5.99
ISBN: 9780821778241

Brooke Hammond leaves England to take possession of Moss Grove plantation, a present from the aristocrat who kept her. She sees her journey to in Louisiana as a chance to start over.

However, upon arriving in Bayou country, Brooke meets her partner Travis Montgomery. With hard work and intelligent decisions, he has turned Moss Grove from a failed plantation into a money-making operation. Travis refuses to provide his father’s mistress any breaks; although he is very attracted to the Englishwoman. However, his avoidance fails him when a storm strands them together forcing him to break a prior engagement and marry Brooke. As they fall in love, less honorable people want to rip asunder the marriage between the co-owners.

Brooke is a fascinating lead character as she bravely travels to Louisiana in search of a new life, but finds prejudice meets her, which in turn she courageously confronts. Her relationship with Travis slowly evolves from disdain to love. Thus she makes the exciting historical romance work with her strong sense of self worth as the audience will root for her to win her new home and his heart, both going up against incredible odds.

Harriet Klausner

Christmas Heat-Devon Vaughn Archer

Christmas Heat
Devon Vaughn Archer
Harlequin Kimani Romance, Dec 2007, $5.99
ISBN: 9780373860470

Seven years old Audrey Beaumont is excited as she expects presents from Santa Claus having been a good girl for the most part all years. She says goodnight to her parents and goes to sleep so St. Nick can come and do his job. However, she awakens to the smell of smoke and the sound of fire. Pearson the firefighter rescues her but dies when he goes back to bring her parents out; they die too.

Over two decades later, Audrey raises her seven year old daughter Stacy by herself; the father ended their relationship once he learned she was pregnant. Audrey honored the courageous firefighter who saved her life with a portrait of her hero. Conrad Pearson has come home after years away to visit his late father. He holds the little girl that his dad died rescuing culpable for his father’s death. Unable to let go he meets Audrey and Stacy, but hides his identity from the two females. He learns how much Audrey honors his dad by listening to Stacy tell him the story of the brave firefighter who saved her mom at the cost of his life as much as by the hero worshipping portrait. As he falls in love with mother and daughter, he found closure with his dad, but will never obtain closure with Audrey and Stacy once they learn who he is.

CHRISTMAS HEAT is a terrific contemporary romance starring two individuals who never met before but are connected by the tragic fire that killed her parents and his father. Audrey and Stacy are perhaps too well-adjusted with all that has happened to them especially the mom. However, Conrad steals the show as the audience will know early on when he talks to his dad at the cemetery how much he still hurts and misses his father. Fans of deep character driven tales will want to read Devon Vaughn Archer’s strong story of love coming out of the ashes of tragedy.

Harriet Klausner

Harstairs House-Amanda Grange

Harstairs House
Amanda Grange
Berkley, Dec 2007, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425217733

In 1793 governess Susannah Thorpe learns she inherited Harstairs House from a Mr. Harstairs whose great love was her late Aunt Caroline; in fact her spinster aunt married the man, but an incident at the wedding ceremony left them apart in life. As she leaves for her estate, she hopes the two found each other in the afterlife.

Susannah is taken aback to find a tenant living at Harstairs House even if Oliver Barstow’s lease runs out in one month. She feels obligated to allow him to remain there for the next thirty days so that he has time to find adequate lodging. However, strange things happen making her wonder if Oliver is trying to scare her away, but his motive remains elusive even as Susannah finds herself falling in love with her border.

This is an entertaining Georgian gothic romantic suspense with all the elements of the sub-genre clearly included in the fine story line. Susannah is the young innocent in peril in her new foreboding home while her beloved is the menacing male who acts more he wants her to leave than as her champion. Readers will enjoy visiting HARSTAIRS HOUSE.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, October 29, 2007

Hart's Victory-Michele Dunaway

Hart's Victory
Michele Dunaway
Harlequin NASCAR, Dec 2007, $5.99
ISBN: 9780373217823

Single mom Kellie Thompson’s beloved son Charlie is battling for his life against cancer. Charlie is a rabid NASCAR fan; so when a NASCAR camp for terminally ill children is arranged, Kellie insures her child attends.

Charlie's hero NASCAR driver Hart Hampton has been in a slump so is relegated to the charity event for the terminally ill. After meeting mother and son, Hart agrees with Charlie that he and Kellie are perfect for one another. However, she rejects his attention although she is attracted to him; her focus is Charlie. Hart wants both in his life, but though he won the kid over and the mom recognizes he is a caring soul, she still refuses his overtures; Charlie comes in first, second and third.

The romance places second and NASCAR shows up third as the star of this heart-wrenching tale is Charlie as he fights for his life yet wants the best for his mom whom he believes is his hero Hart. The three prime players are fully developed leading to readers feeling deep emotions almost as if they know the ailing child and care for him as much as Hart does. Michele Dunaway provides an angst-laden five tissue box character driven tale.

Harriet Klausner

Miles Apart-Ken Casper

Miles Apart
Ken Casper
Harlequin NASCAR, Dec 2007, $5.99
ISBN: 9780373217816

NASCAR superstar Jack Dolman has mixed feelings when he learns about the death of his former wife. He wouldn’t have wanted her to die, but when he goes to the funeral he also sees this as a chance to perhaps reconcile with their strange son Johnny. However, Jack knows the track will be hazardous as his former late wife’s second husband has told many fabrications about him over the years including that Jack had abandoned him when eh was four years old. In fact Johnny became a chip off the old stepfather’s block when he turned to famous Formula One driving.

Johnny hates his father and decides to join NASCAR to punish his biological dad. Meanwhile Jack and his former love Meg Truesdale rekindle what both thought died. She also tries to bring father and son together although she has daughter troubles of her own.

This is a fun NASCAR romance that combines a second chance at love with a family reconciliation drama. Jack is a fabulous protagonist as he struggles with being part of Johnny’s life, but his offspring has spent a quarter of a century hating him. Although a subplot involving Meg’s daughter is unnecessary crowding on the oval, readers will enjoy Ken Casper’s fine tale of a champion driver trying to overcome life’s worst SPEED BUMPS.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Warrior-Kinley MacGregor

The Warrior
Kinley MacGregor
Avon, Dec 2007, $6.99
ISBN: 9780060796679

In Scotland, from birth Laird Lochlan MacAllister was trained to lead his clan; thus he has never been away from home as responsibility to his people has always come before any personal desire.

However, he also never had a reason to go away until now. His late brother's plaid is returned to him and his family implying his sibling lives. He vows to find his sibling and if alive rescue him. On his quest, Lochlan comes to the rescue of Catarina, the illegitimate daughter of King Phillip of France, from an attempted abduction by the monarch’s men. Realizing she is safer with Lochlan than with some toad her sire wants her to marry, Catarina accompanies him as he searches for his sibling from tournament to tournament.

This Brotherhood of the Sword historical romance is an exciting tale due to the changing relationship between the lead couple as he investigates what happened to his brother. The duo initially distrusts one another, begin to admire one another, and finally fall in love with one another. Readers will appreciate Kinley MacGregor’s fine tale that combines a bit of a mystery with adventure, romance and humor. Only this author can create such a spellbinding tale.

Harriet Klausner

One Knight Only-Julia Latham

One Knight Only
Julia Latham
Avon, Dec 2007, $5.99
ISBN: 9780061235160

In 1486 Yorkshire, Anne Kendall is proud to be a member of the secretive League of the Blade. So when she has a chance to go on an adventure to keep the king safe she volunteers. Her assignment is go undercover pretending to be seeking a husband while trying to uncover the identity of those plotting to assassinate His Highness.

Her ploy works perfectly until she meets Knight Sir Philip Clifford. They shared an evening of passion that left Anne wanting more, but as a Blade she knows the mission comes first. Still she needs a bodyguard and no one ever guarded her body like he did. As they fall in love, the assassins get closer to achieving their nefarious plan unless Anne and Phillip can stop them, but they still remain ignorant as to whom they are.

With her latest female masquerade thriller (see THRILL OF THE KNIGHT) Julia Latham provides an exciting historical. The sword and romance tale is owned by Anne who displays calmness, courage and cleverness even under hostile attack. Phillip proves her equal as he risks his life to keep his beloved out of harm's way. Fans will root for this couple as they go the extra kilometer to keep their monarch safe.

Harriet Klausner

To Wed A Highland Bride-Sarah Gabriel

To Wed A Highland Bride
Sarah Gabriel
Avon, Dec 2007, $5.99
ISBN: 9780061234965

In 1822 Scotland Viscount James MacCarran returns to his family home Straun House following the death of his crazy grandmother. Per her will to inherit the estate, he must complete her tome on fairy lore and marry a woman with fairy blood. A warrior more comfortable on the field of combat, he figures finishing the book will prove rather easy compared to finding a female fairy as he does not believe in the existence of the magical species.

Elspeth MacArthur sprains her ankle on the Straun estate during a nasty storm. James takes her into his home to get her out of the weather, but they are alone. After the torrent ends, he escorts her back to her home where he speaks to her grandfather about marrying her because she was compromised. Her grandfather refuses to make Elspeth marry the Viscount because he understands first hand the fairy curse that hurts his family. Elspeth agrees to marry him if they can find the hidden fairy treasure that will break the curse.

This is an interesting Regency romantic fantasy due to the lead couple as he finds love, but she finds a reason to reject his marital offer. The story line is entertaining, but the otherworldly elements never feel as if they belong unlike the previous magical MacCarran tale (see KEEPING KATE). Still fans will appreciate the Viscount’s efforts TO WED A HIGHLAND BRIDE with fairy in her blood.

Harriet Klausner

Untouched-Anna Campbell

Anna Campbell
Avon, Dec 2007, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061234927

In 1822 Grace Paget has no idea why the thugs came for her; all she knows is they kidnapped her from the family farm in Ripon and brought her to an isolated Somerset manor house. That is until her “hosts” offer her as a whore to the lunatic they hold prisoner Lord Sheene. Although he has needs, Sheene refuses to touch the gift they bestow on him.

However, Sheene realizes that like him Grace wants her freedom; Grace realizes that the alleged insane aristocrat is not crazy and by not taking her proves he is not abusive either. As they fall in love, Sheene knows he has a more compelling reason than ever to escape his jailers; as he wants to insure his Grace regains her liberty even if it means dying to achieve his revised goal.

This dark historical romance grips readers from the moment the lead couple meets. Sheene is a tortured soul who wants his freedom back, but Grace gives him the extra incentive he needs. Their changing relationship from fear to admiration and respect to love is beautifully rendered by Anna Campbell. Fans will appreciate this fine tale wanting to know why his jailers insist Sheene is crazy while also seeking the author’s previous tale (see CLAIMING THE COURTESAN).

Harriet Klausner

Satisfaction-Marianne Stillings

Marianne Stillings
Avon, Dec 2007, $5.99
ISBN: 9780060850661

KALM-TV manager Osgood Horton hires Paladin Private Investigations to keep their star Georgiana Mundy, the cooking queen of CaliforniYum, safe as he thinks someone wants to harm her. Former cop turned private investigator Ethan Darling is assigned to protect Georgie.

Ethan and Georgie already met on the building’s elevator when she rushing to catch it accidentally attacked him and stomped on his foot. However, while he discusses the job with Osgood, she fakes a faint AROUSING SUSPICIONS in Ethan’s mind that she is hiding something behind a sham; Ethan cannot fathom what that is. As he stays close, they fall in love, her secret implodes leaving her in danger, but Ethan, though he is not sure from what or who, will not allow anyone to harm his darling “Grasshopper” even if she drives him crazy with her moving his furniture feng shui style.

The Darlings may be the most dysfunctional detective family around, but few lead characters are as zany and weirdly functional as New Age Georgie is. The story line is fast-paced and filled with humor while the danger enhances a wild contemporary romance. Readers will enjoy this Darling drama, as Mr. Short-tempered turns into Mr. SATISFACTION when he falls in love with Ms. Strange temptation.

Harriet Klausner

One G-String Short of Crazy-Desiree Day

One G-String Short of Crazy
Desiree Day
Pocket, Oct 2007, $14.00
ISBN: 9781416543169

Not identical twins Aisha and Felicia Goodman have always done everything together as they have always been best friends. They live together in Atlanta and run an accounting business together. However, recently Felecia has had second thoughts although she loves her sibling. She detests Aisha’s promiscuous lifestyle. Aisha has also had second thoughts; she hates her sister’s prudish lifestyle. However, both fears stepping out by themselves.

A close friend of the twins Tarik offers them a solution to their dilemma with the apartment building he owns on Peachtree. He rents one apartment each on the same floor to the girls. Meanwhile his childhood friend attorney Derrick has relocated from Chicago for two reasons: first he has a great career opportunity and second he was fleeing his former drama queen girlfriend Darla. Meanwhile, Felicia realizes she loves Tarik and Aisha is falling in love with Derrick, but both have other females in their lives; Tarik considers marrying his current girlfriend Tara and Darla arrives claiming she is carrying Derrick’s child.

The title is apropos as this is a zany and erotic look at the swinging singles. Each of the prime six characters is fully developed especially the twins so that the explicitly described sex scenes and the turmoil of the convoluted relationships make for a zany time on Peachtree.

Harriet Klausner

Finding Father Christmas-Robin Jones Gunn

Finding Father Christmas
Robin Jones Gunn
Faith Words, Oct 2007, $13.99
ISBN: 9780446526296

In San Francisco raised by her single mother, Miranda Carson feels profoundly lonely and finds a deep need to meet her biological father, a man she has never met. Her clues as to who he is are somewhat meager. She has an old photograph that she assumes is her father while on its back is stamped a studio in Carlton Heath, England; a birth certificate; and a playbill for The Tempest starring her mother in a Michigan theatre.

With nothing to keep her in the states, Miranda decides to spend Christmas in England in search of her father. From London she goes to Bexley Lane, the address in the photo. There she is treated with warmth and friendship starting with a cup of tea and ending at the community production of A Christmas Carol and the party afterward. Although she feels some guilty for not revealing who she or her mission especially when she realizes her dad is hero to these kind people, Miranda feels at home for the first time in a long time.

The deep characterizations make this Christmas tale a winner. The English family and Miranda seem real as she debates telling these loving people the truth, which mean hurting an image they have of her father. Mindful of While You Were Sleeping, FINDING FATHER CHRISTMAS is a wonderful uplifting Yuletide tale that emphasizes everyone needs to feel welcomed and loved.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, October 26, 2007

Forget About It-Caprice Crane

Forget About It
Caprice Crane
5 Spot, Aug 2007, $13.99
ISBN: 9780446697552

At work advertising expert Jordan Landau’s boss bypasses her to promote a less talented squeaky wheel yet has no qualms about taking full credit for Jordan’s brilliant ideas because she knows her star employee is a wuss. Her personal life stinks too as her boyfriend is a cheater and her mother and younger sister disdain her as a wimp.

Being despondent over not fighting back over all that seems to have gone wrong, Jordan wants to start anew. She gets her chance when she is in a bicycle accident; she pretends to suffer from amnesia. Jordan begins to open her mouth at work, with her family and with kicking the cheater to the curb. She receives a promotion and begins dating the driver of the car that hit her and her bike.

The metamorphosis of Jordan from doormat to assertive is cleverly yet realistically designed so that reader believes in the heroine’s changes. The support cast enhances the alteration as they must change in their side of the relationship to keep up with the suddenly self-assured Jordan. Fans will enjoy her ripping skin from her boss, her mom, her sis, and booting her boyfriend out of her life. Though the romance with the driver is unnecessary, readers will appreciate this fine character study as Caprice Crane’s novels are proving intelligent and contagious.

Harriet Klausner

A Time to Die-Beverly Barton

A Time to Die
Beverly Barton
Harlequin HQN, Dec 2007, $6.99
ISBN: 9780373772490

A decade ago, journalist Lexie Murrough was covering a story overseas when Deke Bronson led his special-ops team on an assassination of the dictator mission. She was severely hurt in the confusion. Several years past before she physically recovered; mentally Lexie knows she has not as she no longer is a reporter. Instead she is president of Helping Hands, a charity based in Chattanooga.

When someone threatens her harm, the Dundee Agency assigns private security expert Deke as her bodyguard. Although he knows he can never mitigate what he did to her, he sees this as an opportunity to somewhat make up for what happened to her on his mission even though she does know his involvement in that fiasco; his bullet paralyzed her leading to years of physical therapy. Deke muses that guilt and love are two powerful emotions and he knows he willingly would die to keep Lexie safe, but fears his feelings may fog his judgment.

The latest Protectors’ tale (see MOST LIKELY TO DIE and DANGEROUS DECEPTION) is an action-packed romantic suspense thriller that never stops to let the audience catch our breath whether the lead couple is kissing, trying to stay alive, and much more. Lexie is stronger than she realizes as she struggles to cope with the return of the nightmare; Deke is the more interesting protagonist as Lexie tears his insides apart. The twists especially at the end will have readers thankful that they took the time to read Beverly Barton’s taut thriller in one sitting.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

To Love a Knight-Wayne Jordan

To Love a Knight
Wayne Jordan
Harlequin Kimani, Nov 2007, $5.99
ISBN: 9780373860432

Veterinarian Tamara Knight knew as a child what her calling in life would be; she always nurtured injured animals. However, when it comes to the male of her species that is a different story all together as she is a failure though she dreams of a relationship like her brother Shayne has with Carla. As a teen she was in love with Kyle Austin, but he failed to feel the same way.

Five years ago, West Indies cricket superstar Kyle Austin was in a car accident that forced his retirement from the game he loves. However, emotionally the scars prove devastating as they on top of his already childhood abandonment have turned him into a hermit. He does not believe in love; for that matter he loathes the month of December as his Yuletide philosophy is “bah humbug” to the holiday and his tenth of December birthday. However, Tamara besides seeing him as a wounded beast, she realizes he is her forever love and this time refuses to accept his rejection. She bullies him into accepting his disability, his loathing for the holiday season, and his love of her.

Wayne Jordan provides a beautiful Barbados contemporary romance starring two wonderful lead protagonists. Besides the delightful Caribbean setting, the cast makes for a warm tale. Readers will enjoy Tamara on a mission of mercy that disguises her hidden agenda to reach the heart of her soul mate s in order for him TO LOVE A KNIGHT. Fans, who have not discovered Mr. Jordan, is missing out on a fresh author whose characters interactions lead to wonderful story lines (see EMBRACING THE MOONLIGHT and ONE GENTLE KNIGHT).

Harriet Klausner

The Price of Pleasure-Connie Mason

The Price of Pleasure
Connie Mason
Leisure, Dec 2007, $6.99
ISBN: 9780843957457

In 1798 Reed Harwood is incarcerated in the infamous French Devil's Chateau for espionage; Reed expects to die as no one locked inside this hellhole survives. However, British agent Fleur “the Black Widow” Fontaine buys his freedom.

Reed has heard rumors that the Black Widow uses her purchases as sex toys before discarding them. However, instead Fleur is kind to him and emits a sense of purity about her. She never tries to seduce him although he admits to himself he is seduced by her innocent lure. He returns to England where he learns he is now an earl, but the woman he loves remains in France. Risking his life, Reed goes back to France to bring Fleur home with him as his wife, but danger follows them across the Channel.

This exhilarating historical romance stars two terrific protagonists who risk their lives to save one another. Fleur is a fascinating character as her reputation is that of sexually devouring male prisoners that she bought for her entertainment, but Reed quickly realizes that is a sham used by her to help her buy freedom for the imprisoned. Although a late suspense seems unnecessary, readers will appreciate Connie Mason’s strong late eighteenth century romantic tale of love in two cities.

Harriet Klausner

To the Edge of the Stars-Joyce Henderson

To the Edge of the Stars
Joyce Henderson
Leisure, Dec 2007, $6.99
ISBN: 9780843959963

In 1870 in Texas, Kalen Barrett seeks work. She is terrific with animals having the hands of a healer. To herself she admits she stinks with humans having not felt tender loving care in what seems like a century. Her only chance as a single woman to obtain work is as a ranch-hand at the spread of half-breed Taylor Savage.

As an outcast who has felt the racism of Texans towards a partial Comanche, Taylor empathizes with Kalen’s plight and hires her. She soon finds her yearning for someone to love her especially when she witnesses how kind and nurturing Taylor is towards his family especially his blind mom; they reciprocate his deep feelings. When her uncle dies, he shows her compassion, but now she wants more; she wants her employer’s love.

The key to this fine Texas historical romance is the setting including the secondary characters who bring out the traits in the lead couple. Taylor is tough yet nurturing and vulnerable when it comes to his family, his animals, and his land; Kalen is as tough yet also as nurturing and vulnerable when it comes to his animals and, over time, his family. Joyce Henderson provides a warm nineteenth century Americana tale starring two protagonists who find love truly takes them TO THE EDGE OF THE STARS.

Harriet Klausner

A Red Hot New Year- Cynthia Eden, Diana Mercury, Virginia Reede and Denise

A Red Hot New Year
Cynthia Eden, Diana Mercury, Virginia Reede and Denise Rossetti
Avon, Dec 2007
ISBN: 9780061451478

“New Year's Bites” by Cynthia Eden. On New Year’s Eve, a wolfman bit Anna Summers changing her physically and mentally. Jon York saves her life and escorts her on her trek into becoming a “bad girl” with a bite.

“Night Resolutions” by Diana Mercury. Chantal attends a New Year’s Eve party hoping to find the passion that has vanished between her and her boyfriend, but instead his best friend heats her bones to the melting point.

“Snow Blind” by Virginia Reede. Gerry and Maggie and Jules and Joe go on a New Year's weekend vacation at a remote mountainous cabin in Colorado. Although wintry, one of them brought shorts, but none of the foursome was prepared for the heat generated that keeps everyone toasted.

“Coming On Strong” by Denise Rossetti. Angst laden Gina McBride rarely goes anywhere because she fears excitement, which turns her into a dragon. Sam Jones knows that there are two sides to Gina, but plans to excite her in ways she has never felt before.

Although the tales range from fantasy to contemporary, A RED HOT NEW YEAR contains four delightful erotic romances that star solid characters who would be fun to read about even in not XXX settings.

Harriet Klausner

Beloved Castaway-Kathleen Y'Barbo

Beloved Castaway
Kathleen Y'Barbo
Barbour, Nov 2007, $9.97
ISBN: 9781597895934

In 1834 in New Orleans, twenty years old female Quadroon slave Isabelle Gayarre has decided to run away before she is used by her current owner. She seeks refuge in Europe because there is no safe haven for a runaway in the States. Her only hope to cross the Atlantic rests with The Jude sailing shortly.

Ship's captain Josiah Carter does not want the trouble have the enticing Isabelle on board his vessel. Still he takes her when they leave New Orleans. On the journey, he begins to admire her courage and conviction; she his strength and caring. Soon they fall in love, but laws forbid a marriage between a Quadroon and a white. Will they defy the laws and public opinion for a chance at happiness together.

This inspirational historical romance entertains readers from the moment that Isabelle seeks freedom by pleading her case to come on board the Jude and never slows down until the final kiss. The action is extremely high at sea, but it is the timely deep look at racial martial taboo laws and a society that enforces them that provide insight into the historical sanctuary of marriage.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Fortune Hunter-Jasmine Haynes

The Fortune Hunter
Jasmine Haynes
Berkley, Nov 2007
ISBN: 978042521971

Wealthy Faith Castle hates the trappings of being an heiress. Instead she finds great satisfaction as a kindergarten teacher, as she loves her students. However although she has dreamed seemingly forever to have a husband who cherishes and moves her and have children with him, she has no male in her life. The men she meets see dollar signs not Faith.

Faith meets handsome Connor Kingston, who having grown up in a series of foster care homes, wants a family of his own to finally belong to. He offers her marriage and offspring in return for a no emotional attachment relationship. Although that only gives her part of her fantasy, she accepts his terms as she knows the sex is great and the kids will be greater. However, neither expected to fall in love with the other, but both fear admitting their feelings as love means vulnerability.

THE FORTUNE HUNTER is a heated contemporary romance starring two likable but wary protagonists, who are great in bed together, but have doubts outside the boudoir. Her father is a classic A-hole who makes his daughter feel worthless; Connor gives her confidence in her self. Readers will enjoy this delightful tale in which the whole is greater than the parts. Jasmine Haynes needs to follow up quickly with the romance of Faith’s best friend.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Splitting Harriet-Tamara Leigh

Splitting Harriet
Tamara Leigh
Multnomah, Nov 2007, $12.99
ISBN: 9781590529287

As the daughter of a minister in Franklin, Tennessee, Harriet Bisset was expected to behave with utmost decorum. Instead as a teen she was the poster child for open rebellion.

Now twenty-seven years old, the former running wild as a child displays prim and proper behavior even working part-time as the women's ministry director at her father’s church First Grace. She also earns money as a waitress at Gloria's Morning Café, which she hopes to one day own. Her church hires reformed bad boy Maddox McCray to help bring new members to the congregation. As he brings in innovative ideas like music and computers, Harriet worries about the impact his changes will make on her. Worse he pushes her buttons as he wants more of the bad girl persona that he senses underneath her “image”. He is attracted to the woman who is addicted to jelly belly and detests the minister’s daughter running from a jelly belly.

This interestring chick lit inspirational romance argues that the way to bring young people into the Church is through modern technology like computer access and music; this is not a new assertion, but makes a strong case that contemporary marketing is needed before more of the next generation seeks a different Word in the electronics. Harriet is terrific as she feels split between her rebellious youth that Maddox encourages and her prime and proper adult behavior that her dad supports. SPLITTING HARRIET between the men in her life leads to a humorous with a serious metaphoric geometric leap in her addiction to jelly beans. With a deep look at this young woman caught between traditionalism and modernization, Tamara Leigh provides an enjoyable tale; of course her first name doesn’t hurt her rating.

Harriet Klausner

An Affair Before Christmas-Eloisa James

An Affair Before Christmas
Eloisa James
Avon, Nov 2007, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061245541

1778 in Paris, Lady Perdita “Poppy” Selby and the Duke of Fletcher “Fletch” meet and fall in love. They marry and both expect their desire and attraction to last forever. Four years later, Poppy decides to live a separate life from her spouse; Fletch plans otherwise as he wants to woo back the woman he still loves into his arms and bed. His goal is to start anew with AN AFFAIR BEFORE CHRISTMAS that this time he intends as a “second once in a lifetime” (mindful of Peabo Bryson’s song If Ever You're In My Arms Again).

Meanwhile the Duchess of Beaumont Jemma and her husband live for the most part apart except for the stimulating chess games; they may still love one another, but that's not enough apparently as each tries to checkmate the other. On top of that is the scandal and fear as Jemma's brother and the Duke of Villiers duel. However, Jemma and Poppy find some solace from their spousal relationship problems in the re-energizing of their friendship even as Villiers heals from the duel with Lady Caroline attending to his needs.

The latest DESPERATE DUCHESSES saga is a powerful character driven Georgian romance that grips the audience who will feel as if friends are facing marital and other woes. The three subplots are well written and intermingle cleverly like a DNA double (make that triple) helix. Fans will appreciate Eloisa James wonderfully complex historical as the cast provides the audience with a tremendous tale.

Harriet Klausner

A Week from Sunday-Dorothy Garlock

A Week from Sunday
Dorothy Garlock
Grand Central, Nov 2007, $22.99
ISBN: 9780446695336

Twenty-one year old heiress Adrianna Moore has no time to grieve the death of her father when she learns he placed the family fortune in a trust fund totally controlled by his former banking partner attorney Richard Pope. To make matters worse for the despondent Adrianna, Richard blithely informs her she will marry him next week.

Adrianna refuses to allow an odious lecher like Richard run her life. Instead while he is away on business, she flees her home only to lose control during inclement weather and crashes into a truck in Louisiana. The truck driver Quinn Baxter offers Adriana work while her automobile is repaired and to pay off the damage she caused to his vehicle; she will play the piano in his bar and to help him and his nasty Cajun housekeeper Lola Oxnard with his teenage handicapped brother. As Quinn notices how kind Adrianna is to his sibling, they fall in love. However, Lola tries to destroy their relationship as she intends to wed the bar owner sans his brother and Richard is coming for his “fiancée”.

Dorothy Garlock fans will appreciate this entertaining romance in which extreme good battles against excessive evil. Adrianna is a wonderful person who refuses to be pushed into a marriage she does not want nor allow anyone to hurt Quinn’s brother. Besides the bad duo having no redeeming qualities and deserve each other (not sure why Quinn employed Lola), the relationship between the lead couple is pleasant to follow as Adrianna brings a caring heart to the Baxter brothers. Readers will enjoy this Bayou battle.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Made for Sex-Joan Elizabeth Lloyd

Made for Sex
Joan Elizabeth Lloyd
Kensington, Nov 2007, $15.00
ISBN: 9780758212771

“Sex For Sale”. Carla Barrett, a single mother of three, knows their ennui safe suburban lifestyle is great for her kids, but boring for her. However, following a sexual fantasy dream with a student leading to a Manhattan fender bender, her college roommate at Michigan State over fifteen years ago Ronnie Talmidge offers Carla a chance to have suburbia and the thrill of the big city as a high-priced prostitute. Initially hesitant Carla takes to the job a like fish to sea as she deals with different men and their sexual fantasies.

“Sex To Savor”. Under the pseudonym Nichole St. Michelle, Fran writes erotic tales that she herself has never tasted. However, she haw won a prestigious prize that will be awarded in Manhattan. Prim and proper Fran tours the city during the day while at night Nicki takes a sexual bite out of the apple.

These two well written erotic novellas star lead females in which each has an alterego sex machine with quite an appetite. Although some will question Carla disciplining her “students” in a teacher-student role play and her sexual dream causing a car accident, fans of XXX trysts will enjoy the antics of the two female’s attractions taking New York by the penis.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, October 19, 2007

I Only Want to Be With You-Lisa Norato

I Only Want to Be With You
Lisa Norato
Five Star, Dec 2007, $26.95
ISBN 9781594146114

In Manhattan Gracious Living magazine associate Marcella Tartaglia dreams of running the publication sometime in the near future. In the meantime, the assiduously hard working Marcella does whatever is assigned to her and more. Her current project is to report on the wedding of the magazine's departing senior editor; a job that Marcella wants with every ambitious cell in her body.

In England for the nuptials, Marcella meets gorgeous biker “bad boy” William Stafford, the son of an aristocrat. However her initial impression proves false as William is a vicar. They are immediately attracted to one another, but he rejects the notion of a weekender. Instead he knows he loves her and proposes marriage under the condition that she joins his world as a vicar’s wife. Having doubts that she can perform as expected of the spouse of a minister and unable to give up on her plans to run the magazine, she flees back across planning to bury herself at work.

This cross Atlantic contemporary romance is a sweet tale starring two fully developed likable individuals who believe their choices are all or nothing. The lead couple drives the story line as love does not seem enough for them to make it. Readers will wonder whether Marcella will give up her dream to be to with the man she dreams of, find a compromise solution with her beloved, or give up on their relationship as being impossible.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, October 18, 2007

In Stereo Where Available-Becky Anderson

In Stereo Where Available
Becky Anderson
Medallion, Nov 2007, $15.95
ISBN: 9781933836201

In Silver Springs, Maryland twenty-nine years old first grade school teacher Phoebe Kassner remains a virgin, not by choice, but by circumstance. She thought her latest boyfriend Bill would be the one but he dumped her before they slept together.

Phoebe knows she is the complete opposite of her twin sister Grace “call me Madison”, who hopes to make it in Hollywood. After begin tossed in the first round of Singing Sensation, Madison is on the Yank team of the Belle of Georgia reality show.

Meanwhile Phoebe gets a call from high school teacher Jerry Sullivan, who thinks she is Karen, a teacher eh met at a recent conference. Apparently Karen not only gave out the wrong number, but Phoebe’s email address too. Feeling sorry for Jerry, Phoebe meets him and they start dating before falling in love even as Madison finds a southern gentleman to her liking.

Teenage stepsister Alexa, who is in Jerry’s English class, sums up the plot quite well with the potential of her having three sibling-in-laws (there is an older stepbrother) if the twins get their acts together. The amusing story line is lighthearted fun as Phoebe and Jerry fall in love while in the background reality TV is satirized by the antics of Madison and her rivals. With a neat afterward involving Karen, readers will appreciate the double the fun misadventures of the twins IN STEREO WHERE AVAILABLE.

Harriet Klausner

Dangerous...-Tori Carrington

Tori Carrington
Harlequin Blaze, Nov 2007, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373793631

Dress designer Gia Trainella escaped the criminal world of her family for the fashion realm with a vow to never look back. However, she feels she has no choice but to return to the Hood when her father and brother are gunned down gangland style. Those double murders are personal as she vows to take down those who killed her family members.

Lucas Paretti lived in the same neighborhood as the Trainella gang and was considering joining them until his brother was killed. He vowed to stay away from gangs, but with the return of his former girlfriend Tia, who to his chagrin has come home to run the family business, he cannot stay away. He revises his pledge to keeping his beloved safe even though she risks her life with her vendetta.

This terrific dark romantic suspense thriller grips the audience with its deep look at crime mobs and the mean streets they own. The lead couple is a delightful paring as he wants a second chance at love while she thirsts for vengeance. Although the ending does not fit this sinister tale, fans will enjoy getting there as Tori Carrington spins a powerful gloomy crime thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Sex Bomb-Jamie Sobrato

Sex Bomb
Jamie Sobrato
Harlequin Blaze, Nov 2007, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373793617

Makeup artist Ellie Jameson studied self defense and took up all sorts of weapon training; not surprising when your father is a leader of a violet radical group. However, Ellie has nothing to do with her dad, whom she assumes is deranged.

When Enforcer crime-fighter Christian Navarro enters her bedroom via the window, he offers her a deal she cannot refuse. He wants her help in his plan to destroy her father and his group’s terrorist plan. He also dangles the carrot of her joining his team. With two sweeteners in the pot, she quickly accepts. The plan is for them to pretend to be lovers so he can use her to infiltrate her dad’s compound even if father and daughter are currently estranged. However, Christian never expected to fall in love with the woman he lied to as he has no plans to get her onto his team and as to her father he is a trained assassin out to get him.

SEX BOMB is a wild over the top romantic suspense starring a unique lead couple. Whereas he is the debonair spy, she is the kick butt heroine wanting an opportunity to prove that in spite of her gender she can mix it up with any male. The story line is action-packed as Ellie and Christian join forces to bring down her father. Both were prepared for any contingency except love. Jamie Sobrato writes a zany heated thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Betting on Santa-Debra Salonen

Betting on Santa
Debra Salonen
Harlequin SuperRomance, Nov 2007, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373781973

With her sister’s critical injury, Tessa Jamison is left with her two year old nephew Joey. However, although she loves the child, she feels the father should be made aware of what happened; but she has no idea who sired Joey.

Her sister’s diary mentions the kindness of and much more about Cole Lawry of River Bluff, Texas. Deciding he is the prime suspect, Tessa and Joey travel to the small town. She explains why she came to see him, but he persuades her that though he knew her sister and cared for her when she was in town, he is not Joey’s dad. Cole joins Tessa in her search to find Joey’s biological father even as she falls in love with her host, who denies he feels the same way as she does.

The lead couple makes BETTING ON SANTA a wonderful holiday romance enhanced by a fine mystery. Tessa knows how she feels about Cole and refuses to accept his insistence that he’s not in love. The amateur sleuth investigation adds to the fun as neither knows what they are doing. This contemporary is an entertaining sure bet.

Harriet Klausner

A Christmas to Remember-Kay Stockham

A Christmas to Remember
Kay Stockham
Harlequin SuperRomance, Nov 2007, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373714537

Following an explosion that left him in a comatose state, US Marine Beau Buchanan finally wakes up in a hospital room. However, besides not being sure how he got there, Beau realizes he suffers from amnesia. Once the doctor okays him to leave, his father brings Beau home to Kentucky with him to help him further recover.

While recuperating Beau meets landscaper Marley Pierce, who claims he deserted her after making her pregnant when they were eighteen years old. He is shocked by her accusatory revelation as Beau feels that is out of character for a person like him, who he feels would never run from responsibility. As he falls in love with her, which feels right to him, and she realizes she never stopped loving him, he regains his memories; Beau is in for an even greater shock.

This interesting second chance at love contains a fascinating confused hero, the woman who loves and hates him, and a strong secondary cast who enhance the plot with modern day issues and family bickering. Readers will enjoy this fine tale as Beau begins to recall his past especially what happened when he “deserted” Marley several years ago.

Harriet Klausner

The Christmas Baby-Eve Gaddy

The Christmas Baby
Eve Gaddy
Harlequin SuperRomance, Nov 2007, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373714575

International globetrotter Brian Kincaid enjoys his job that enables him to meet so many different women. However, Brian’s carefree existence is nuked when he learns he is the father of a ten month old child and that the mother is dead. To care for his son Will and continue his womanizing lifestyle, he hires a live-in nanny, single mother Faith McClain

Brian is further stunned when he finds he is attracted to the nanny. Faith reciprocates, but will do nothing to harm their children or jeopardize the job she desperately needs. As their attraction turns into love, Faith must persuade Brian that he is good for her and their kids as he believes he is not worthy of her love.

THE CHRISTMAS BABY is a warm holiday romance in which the lead couple and their offspring make for an interesting extended family. Brian is the key to the story line as he loves his baby and his nanny, but fears he is not good for either of them. Readers will appreciate Eve Gaddy’s fine contemporary as the heroine has faith in her man that he will be there for all of them.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Bedded By Her Lord-Denise Lynn

Bedded By Her Lord
Denise Lynn
Harlequin Historical, Nov 2007, $5.99
ISBN: 9780373294749

Guy of Hartford had gone off to war, but failed to come home. His men thought he died and informed his wife Elizabeth as such. However, instead the enemy captured and incarcerated him for seven years with only his thoughts of his wife keeping him alive.

In 1177 Guy comes home, but his formerly loyal men at arms fail to recognize this scarred emaciated man. Worse his wife is giving birth even as he enters the birthing room. He is upset and somewhat cold towards her, but Elizabeth vows to regain his trust. Guy soon learns the truth about who sired her child and how, but most important to him is that he loves his Elizabeth and wants to raise their child together.

Mindful of The Return of Martin Guerre, BEDDED BY HER LORD is a strong character driven medieval romance that grips sub-genre from start to finish. The story line is filled with angst yet remains fast-paced as Guy and the audience learns the shocking truth re his wife’s lover. Sub-genre readers and historiographers will appreciate the sequel to COMMANDED TO HIS BED, as the same event covered in both historicals are seen somewhat differently by two people who were there.

Harriet Klausner

A Chance Worth Taking-Carrie Weaver

A Chance Worth Taking
Carrie Weaver
Harlequin NASCAR, Nov 2007
ISBN: 9780373217809

Stanford University offers eighteen year old science genius Michael McIntyre a full scholarship to the euphoria of his single mom Tess. However NASCAR racing team owner Sam Kinkaid thinks the teen has the talent to be a superstar and offers him a position as a driver. Over his mom’s objections, Michael chooses driving the oval instead of going to college.

Mother and son travel to Charlotte where he begins his NASCAR career with incredible success. Tess, who planned to loathe Sam, finds him caring and concerned about his new employee. As she falls in love with her son’s employer; he reciprocates. However, both have other concerns that place their growing relationship on suspension as Michael proves immature allowing fame to go to his head.

This terrific family drama combines a coming of age subplot with a romance between two middle aged protagonists. Michael is terrific as he discovers women and alcohol, but not tolerance and control until he almost throws it all away. Tess and Sam put their love on hold because they fear for Michael as his choices have been abominable. NASCAR takes a back seat to the lead trio.

Harriet Klausner

Turn Two-Nancy Warren

Turn Two
Nancy Warren
Harlequin NASCAR, Nov 2007
ISBN: 9780373217830

With some regret, Taylor Robinson and Mike Lundquist divorced one another with neither expecting to ever see the other again. However, Mike has become a highly regarded NASCAR journalist. Taylor, through a friend, has become the public relations specialist for a driving team.

When they see each other for the first time since they went their separate ways, both are stunned. However, more shocking is that they must work together as she deals with the media as part of her job and he is the media. Mike and Taylor realize separately that they remain attracted to their ex. When they conspire to hide a driver’s marriage from the public, the pair wonders if they were too hasty with their divorce. However, neither wants to be the first to tell the other they still love them.

This is an entertaining NASCAR romance although car racing serves as a catalyst that forces the lead couple to spend time together. Taylor and Mike are likable characters, who readers will believe belong together and wonder why the divorce in the first place. Still this is a fine second chance at love spin around the oval.

Harriet Klausner

Christmas at Blue Moon Ranch-Lynnette Kent

Christmas at Blue Moon Ranch
Lynnette Kent
Harlequin American, Nov 2007, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373751914

In Texas, widow rancher Willa Mercado is heartbroken when she realizes that to survive she must sell some portions of her husband’s Blue Moon Ranch to support her and their family. However, she vowed to her late spouse that she will be peculiar in who she sells to as it must be someone who will do justice to the land.

Major Daniel Trent, wounded while on duty in Iraq, makes an offer, but Willa believes his injuries make him unsuited as a buyer. He offers to lease the property for three months to prove his worthiness to her; if she is satisfied with his performance she will sell it to him; if not he will leave. Daniel’s hidden agenda is to share Christmas with the widow he loves and overcome the obstacles of her distrusting children.

The key to whether Daniel is spending CHRISTMAS AT BLUE MOON RANCH is whether he can succeed in spite of the efforts of her children to run him out of Texas. The story line is a deep drama as the kids detest the newcomer as they see him intruding on their late dad and Willa who has doubts re the land and their relationship as the kids come first.

Harriet Klausner

All I Want for Christmas-Ann Roth

All I Want for Christmas
Ann Roth
Harlequin American, Nov 2007, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373751921

When her adoptive mother needs tender loving care to recover form surgery Tina Morell took time off from her Seattle job though that might cost her a promotion to provide for the beloved woman who raised her. They drive and take the ferry to spend the holidays together on Halo Island.

Widower Ryan Chase has left the rat race of the big city to raise his young daughter Maggie as a single father. Although attracted to her, Ryan tries to avoid Tina because he fears once she leaves to go back to Seattle, Maggie will be crushed since he believes she has never recovered fully from losing her mom. Still all Maggie wants for Christmas is a mommy named Tina.

This is an entertaining Christmas romance starring a likable lead couple and a precocious perhaps too perfect princess who knows exactly what she wants for the holidays. Readers will enjoy Ryan’s attempts at denial and avoidance; Tina’s assumption that this is short time as location crimps their relationship; and Maggie forcing the reluctant couple to come together although she needs a Pacific Northwest equivalent of a Miracle on 34th Street.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Midnight’s Bride-Sophia Johnson

Midnight’s Bride
Sophia Johnson
Zebra, Oct 2007, $5.99
ISBN: 9780821780497

In 1073 England, Baron Wycliffe is wary of his beloved daughter Lynette ever getting married. Every male he brings home she finds fault with. Frustrated and wanting her out of the castle, he decides she will marry the next male to enter the gates.

Netta disguises herself as a servant to elude her father's plot when Mereck of Blackthorn enters. Although the warrior knows since he was a little boy that he is cursed with the berserker strain that killed his mother in childbirth, he must marry; however, Mereck will adhere to the vow he made as a seven year old in 1050 to never love a woman. He meets Netta and agrees to help her escape while also signing the betrothal documents. On the trek back to his home Blackthorn castle in Scotland, she seeks a kindhearted caring person concerned for her safety and as much as possible her comfort. Netta falls in love with her host, but rejects the concept that she could admire and cherish a berserker; now to convince her betrothed that he will make a great husband and father when he spent his life persuaded otherwise.

MIDNIGHT’S BRIDE is an entertaining medieval romance starring a likable “picky” heroine and a fascinating champion with enough mental issues that the British Psychological Society would have a fabulous case study. Although the Berserker romantic subplot has been used often, Sophia Johnson provides an intelligent story line that maintains high tension and critically and slowly evolves the relationship between the lead couple from wary partnership to admiration and trust and more. Readers will appreciate this deep character driven historical in which the love of a caring woman struggles to overcome the lessons imprinted as a small boy as the child is the man.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Secret Goddess Code-Peggy Webb

The Secret Goddess Code
Peggy Webb
Harlequin Next, Nov 2007, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373881468

Forty-five year old soap opera star Gloria Hart is stunned when her character is killed off and she is fired from the show Love in the Fast Lane because some sexier younger upstart stole her role as the TV Goddess. Struggling to comprehend what happened as she heads to her childhood home in Jackson, she closes her eyes for a moment while driving her Ferrari Spider in Mooreville, Mississippi; the subsequent crash destroys her car and leaves her injured.

Log cabin restaurateur Rick Miller invites Gloria to stay at his house while she recovers from her injuries; though slight she accepts his kind southern hospitality. Gloria and her host’s wife Jenny get on like old friends especially when the actress mentors the pie-maker on applying THE SECRET GODDESS CODE to waken the passion in her marriage. As Jenny tries to bring life into her relationship with Rick and their teenage daughter has romance troubles, Gloria meets rancher Matt Tucker, who kisses her as if he means since there is no camera around to film their lips locking.

This is an entertaining look at the impact on a small southern town when a Hollywood superstar arrives. The story line contains two mature romances with the Millers reclaiming their relationship and that of the actress and the rancher; the subplot with the daughter adds a teen romance to the spin. However, predominantly rotating the first person perspective between the characters provides more insight into what disturbs these individuals, yet also proves somewhat jarring to follow as the audience ironically never gets close to anyone. Still readers will enjoy the Hollywood diva’s return to her Mississippi roots.

Harriet Klausner

I’m Your Man--Susan Crosby

I’m Your Man
Susan Crosby
Harlequin Next, Nov 2007, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373881451

In San Francisco thirty-nine year old single mom Maureen Hart feels she has come a long way since she was an unwed teen mother as she is seeing a good man and doing well at work although she is a workaholic and has little time for fun. She especially misses her estranged daughter Jess and barely knows her six years old grandchild Riley. Everything changes abruptly when single mom Jess arrives at Maureen’s home to leave Riley with his maternal grandmother for a few months instead of his paternal grandfather, who they were living with.

Riley’s grandfather Daniel Clegg leaves Seattle to follow his grandson. He arrives in San Francisco insisting he is there for Riley. Already resenting him for “stealing” her daughter from her following the death of his son (Riley’s father), Maureen is angry with herself because she is attracted to Daniel when she is seeing someone else and considers him the enemy.

Although the ending is tied up too perfectly, readers will appreciate this enjoyable family drama starring two grandparents fighting and fussing over their grandchild and their attraction to one another. Maureen is a fascinating protagonist as she learned from her one mistake turning into an all work no fun responsible person; her daughter went the other way with her “loving” error. Daniel is a little of both as he feels work is important, but frolicking with Riley is even more important; ergo that is why he is in San Francisco. Susan Crosby provides a warm entertaining tale.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A NASCAR Holiday 2-Pamela Britton, Gina Wilkins, Ken Casper and Abby Gaines

A NASCAR Holiday 2
Pamela Britton, Gina Wilkins, Ken Casper and Abby Gaines
Harlequin HQN, Nov 2007, $6.99
ISBN: 9780373773329

"Miracle Season" by Pamela Britton. Single mom Maggie has easily hidden her attraction to former NASCAR driver Mike Morgan by keeping her distance, but now they will work closely on a charity fundraiser.

"Season of Dreams" by Gina Wilkins. Once a NASCAR champion Tom has been in a three year slump much of it during the time he has dated Melissa. He wonders if she is a distraction as he finished seventeenth this year or as he is in his thirties his life mate.

"Taking Control” by Ken Casper. Ellie inherits a part-ownership of Satterfield Racing, but having no interest in the sport plans to sell; that is until she finds an interest when she meets her partner, driver Aiden.

"The Natural" by Abby Gaines. After NASCAR driver Danny runs over a dog, he takes the injured canine to veterinarian Madison.

These four superb yuletide contemporary romances are driven by NASCAR hunks and the women who take them for a spin around the track of love.

Harriet Klausner

Beckett’s Last Stand-Kasey Michaels

Beckett’s Last Stand
Kasey Michaels
Harlequin HQN, Nov 2007, $6.99
ISBN: 9780373772810

In 1815, the Beckets of Romney Marsh know the final confrontation with their adversary is coming shortly. As the odd family anxiously waits for the altercation to occur, they stand together as one in spite of their various bloodlines. This family will stand with their beloved patriarch regardless of the personnel danger as they know Edmund Beales is coming for their beloved Papa.

Becket's adopted son Courtland continues to protect his father’s only natural offspring Cassandra as he has since her mother was murdered. Their peers and spouses know these two love one another, but whereas Cass pursues Court; he hesitates as he feels she deserves better and that he is more an older brother to her. Still, love flourishes even in the darkest moments when betrayal threatens to harm all of them even as the next generation arrives at a dangerous moment.

This is a strong finish to a delightful Regency romantic suspense mini-series. Unlike the previous tales that stand alone, the audience will be better off reading the other Becket books first because this one answers questions surfaced in them. Still fans of the saga will enjoy the climax as Kasey Michaels provides a wonderful tale of family love and loyalty.

Harriet Klausner

Lord Deverill’s Secret-Amanda Grange

Lord Deverill’s Secret
Amanda Grange
Berkley, Nov 2007, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425217726

Her brother Rupert died in an accident last year, but Miss Cassandra Paxton could not go through his personal things until recently. She found a letter in which Rupert lamented feeling haunted by leaving a young woman seduced without any support. Not sure what it means, Cassandra visits Rupert’s friend Lord Deverill who says to forget it as there is no young woman. She still plans to follow up just in case someone needs her help even as she places the family summer house in Brighton for sale; as the family is broke.

Cassandra follows up on her inquiries with other friends of Rupert while Deverill has her followed for her safety as much as not wanting the truth revealed. However, someone is more sensitive than Deverill with concealing what happened to Rupert and much more; that individual arranges for deadly accidents to occur to Cassandra with Deverill saving her life. As they fall in love, she begins to uncover the truth about her wastrel brother even as she and Deverill seek to uncover the identity of the culprit trying to silence her

This is an exciting Regency romantic suspense thriller in which the obstinate courageous heroine refuses to halt her inquiries into the truth about her late sibling. Deverill admires her, but also fears for her life more so than a possible future together that he knows is doubtful especially if she learns what he and other “conspirators” hide her. Although she forgives him too easily, fans will want to know just what LORD DEVERILL’S SECRET is.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Bad Girl-Mario Vargas Llosa

The Bad Girl
Mario Vargas Llosa
FSG, Oct 15 2007, $25.00
ISBN: 9780374182434

Extraordinary things happened in the summer of 1950 in the Barrio Alegre neighborhood of Lima, Peru. Whereas everyone seemed to be falling in and out and in of love, the premier event at least in the mind of resident Ricardo Somocurcio is the arrival of the two teenage sisters, fourteen or fifteen years old Lily and her slightly younger sibling Lucy. The pair claimed to have come from Chile and Ricardo quickly fell in love with Lily. However, when their claims of escaping their homeland prove false, they vanish leaving Ricardo heartbroken.

Several years later in Paris, Peruvian expatriate Ricardo meets exiled Cuban activist “Comrade Arlette” whom he knew as Lily though she denies it; once again he falls in love with her until she leaves him behind. As the years go by, he keeps meeting his Lily as she becomes Madame Robert Arnoux the wife of a UNESCO official and Kuriko the mistress of a Japanese businessman. Each time they meet she treats him with icy aloofness as he hopes she makes this encounter a wonderful thing because he cherishes his Lily even if he does not know who she really is.

THE BAD GIRL is a fascinating character study that affirms that as you grow older you can only go home to your youth in your memories. Lily and Ricardo are interesting protagonists as the audience never knows who either truly is as Lily remains an enigma throughout and Ricardo no longer has his Peruvian roots to ground him. Their relationship over the years never changes even as she denies each time that she was who he claims she was. Always providing an intelligent thought provoking read, Mario Vargas Llosa writes an odd entertaining tale of two people adrift in a sea of humanity that is also drifting along the ebb tide with memories as the only anchor.

Harriet Klausner

Thrill Of The Chase -Christina Crooks

Thrill Of The Chase
Christina Crooks
Five Star, Nov 2007, $26.95
ISBN: 9781594146701

Sarah Matell grew up on racing car fumes as her father owns an automotive speed shop. She is talented in turning a wrench and in defeating males at the track. However, her professional success also causes her personal failure. She has loved dragster Craig Keller seemingly forever, but he rejects her as he only goes out with feminine beauties who are fast to his bed not the oval.

Her father hires a business suit Gordon Devine to run the shop; upsetting Sarah. He believes she is a spoiled brat while she thinks he is a know it all upstart. Shockingly they both match each other for obstinacy and he knows his way under the hood. As they begin to fall in love, Craig takes a second look at the woman he rejected, forming a relationship triangle that is at odds with the oval.

THRILL OF THE CHASE is an interesting contemporary romance that uses drag racing to refreshes the classic triangle story line. Readers will appreciate the unique heroine who beats the men at the track, but struggles with connecting with them off the track until the two men in her life become rivals for her affection. Who gets the checkered flag requires reading a fine character driven tale.

Harriet Klausner

The Love of His Brother-Jennifer AlLee

The Love of His Brother
Jennifer AlLee
Five Star, Nov 2007, $26.95
ISBN: 9781594146091

She liked both Poulten brothers when she was in high school, but Whitney married the younger one Cliff rather than the quarterback Doug. Now a photographer, Whitney is a widow ever since her husband died in a small plane crash. She misses his inane what if questions, but refuses not to get on with her life with the support of his parents and her faith that God has taken her beloved to a better place.

However, this time when she and her dog Digger go to visit the Poultens, she is shocked as the black sheep Doug has come home after being away for eight years; he left without a goodbye following a football injury that ended his promising career in his senior year at high school. Doug is stunned to learn that his sibling died and that Whitney is pregnant. As they fall in love, he fears he will never replace his brother nor does he want to; and she is afraid to fall in love again because it hurts and she does not want to harm her memory of Cliff.

Although in some ways a four tissue box tear jerker, THE LOVE OF HIS BROTHER is an interesting romantic family drama. Though often used in literature, the fascinating triangle will hook readers from the onset in high school and never let go until the final confrontation after Katie is born. Readers will enjoy this fine contemporary romance starring a strong lead couple and a solid support cast especially the memory of Cliff.

Harriet Klausner

Slow Burn-Brenda Jackson

Slow Burn
Brenda Jackson
St. Martin’s, Nov 2007, $6.99
ISBN: 9780312940492

Slade Maderis was visiting his cousin Dr. Justin Maderis and his wife Lorren when he meets Skye Barclay. They are immediately attracted to one another, but she is on a mission that takes precedence. Skye, from Augusta, Maine, recently learned that she was given up at birth for adoption and that she is the half-sister of Justin’s son Vincent, who was also adopted when his parents died in a car crash. After telling them her bombshell, she explains she overheard her aunt pleading with her parents to tell her the truth as she was marrying Wayne Bigelow until he called off their engagement when he told her choose between him and Vincent; thus her being in Texas brings joy to Slade’s mind.

Whereas Skye wants to be in Vincent’s life like the big sister she should have been, Slade knows she is his beloved life mate. He plans to marry her, but goes slow as to not spook her; he even provides her a job while she becomes acquainted with Vincent. What he failed to calculate was her New England former fiancé coming to Texas to claim her or else cause problems like threatening Vincent. There is quite a lot of money at stake and the identity of the biological father remains an enigma.

The latest Maderis family saga is a fantastic romantic suspense tale that grips the audience from the moment Skye informs Justin and Lorren who she is and never slows down until the final confrontation occurs. Readers will need to set aside time for a one sitting experience as Brenda Jackson enticingly reveals secrets that make for quite a thriller. The romance between the lead couple enhances the excellent SLOW BURN.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, October 12, 2007

Sword of Rome-Constance O'Banyon

Sword of Rome
Constance O'Banyon
Leisure, Nov 2007, $7.99
ISBN: 9780843958225

In 47 BC Lord Ramtat, leader of the nomadic western desert tribes sends his adult sister Adhania to the court of Queen Cleopatra so that she can be properly trained as a lady. Also at the ruler’s castle is Marcellus, who fell in love with her when they met during a warrior’s games in the desert.

The Queen pays Marcellus the Roman VIP a high honor when she assigns Adhania to live amidst Marcellus’ household. He vows to keep his newcomer safe, but wonders how he will keep her from him as his desire for his guest remains obsessive. However, he may dream of Adhania being at his side forever butMarcellus knows the law does not allow them to marry. Although he struggles with his attraction, he does not neglect his duty; he has learned that someone has planned a devious scheme to kill Julius Caesar; his vows to uncover the identity of the wannabe assassin leader.

The sequel to the exhilarating ancient Egypt romance LORD OF THE NILE stars the sister of the hero of the first story. The sense of time and place through interwoven tidbits lead readers to believe they are in BC in the desert and in Cairo. Adhania and Marcellus are star-crossed lovers, who pray they can find away to become a couple, but besides the legal taboo the assassination scheme to kill Caesar must be prevented or all hell will break loose. Constance O’Banyon provides a strong historical romance that transports the audience to the time of Cleopatra and Caesar.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Grace-Deneane Clark

Deneane Clark
Leisure, Nov 2007,
ISBN: 9780843959970

As an earl, Trevor Caldwell knows he must marry in order to begat the heir and the spare, but has no interest in taking on the responsibility of a wife or children. Instead the wealthy aristocrat defers finding a spouse.

However, Trevor changes his mind about bachelorhood when he meets and falls in love with spunky Lady Grace Ackerly. The fiery woman likes the earl and even concedes she probably loves him, but prefers single status as she plans to remain a spinster. As he does everything in what seems to the increasingly frustrated Trevor futile power to persuade her they are perfect for one another, she thwarts his efforts until he is ready to cede that he has lost at love. Grace realizes what her obstinacy might cost her, but wonders if it too late to accept Trevor’s proposal as he has apparently given up trying to make her his wife.

The cast especially the lead couple make for a fine Regency romance as Trevor chases after Grace, who seems immune to his charm and not care about his wealth. The secondary characters also feel fully developed as they enhance the enjoyable marriage go round story line.

Harriet Klausner

To Catch a Cheat-Kelley St. John

To Catch a Cheat
Kelley St. John
Grand Central Forever, Nov 2007, $6.99
ISBN: 9780446401227

Marissa Kincaid compared her history with males to her pals at AtlantaTellAll Poll and finds she ahs always managed to date cheaters. Frustrated with men she decides to open up an Internet site exposing these two-timers where women can anecdote these losers.

She starts with Trenton Jackson who canceled a date with then teen Marissa to go out with another girl. Trent learns of Melissa’s web page and sees an opportunity to publicize his webzine so he responds. She sees a plus to his answering her charges and they form a He Said She Said debate over the net. The media enjoys the dispute and a radio arranges for the pair to share an apartment for a week. As they fall in love, she refuses to take a second chance on him as once a cheater always a cheater; he will do anything to convince her they belong together forever.

Readers obtain three fun contemporary romances (including a proposal in a dugout). The lead duo is fully developed characters so that Trent’s desperation seems genuine and Marissa’s mistrust as real. Although the premise that he sees a PR advantage to her site that insulted him seems inane, readers will not care as they will root for the heroine to finally catch her cheat.

Harriet Klausner

Below Deck-Dorien Kelly

Below Deck
Dorien Kelly
Harlequin Mediterranean Nights, Nov 2007, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373389650

Apparently agents of the Chinese government assassinated human rights activist Wei Chan leaving his wife of three years Mei Lin Wang as a single parent raising their baby boy alone. To escape the fate of her spouse, Mei Lin obtains work as a massage therapist on board the Alexandra’s Dream luxury liner that is cruising the Mediterranean. Although she wants to continue her husband’s work, she knows her priority is their son who she sneaks on board planning to depart once she reaches France.

Months pass with her hiding her child from on leave Mossad agent Gideon Dayan, who is the ship’s security officer as he recovers from injuries suffered in the line of duty; his lover died in that same terrorist bombing. He knows Mei Lin is hiding something, but not sure what. He plans to learn the truth even as they fall in love. However, she has a child to raise, a mission to continue, and ultimately vengeance for her husband’s murder; Gideon does not seem to make her list; neither knows that those who killed her spouse plan to complete the job.

The key to this terrific romantic suspense is the lead couple playing cat and mouse while a serene cruise occurs; Mei Lin tries to remain one step ahead of Gideon who knows she is pulling some sort of stunt, but not sure what it is. Both are survivors of terrorism that took away a loved one from each so each is wary. Fans will wonder if they have healed enough to take another chance on love with one another.

Harriet Klausner

A Rendezvous to Remember-Geri Krotow

A Rendezvous to Remember
Geri Krotow
Harlequin Everlasting, Nov 2007, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373654222

Speechwriter Melinda Busher-Thompson visits her grieving grandfather Jack Busher following the death of her beloved grandmother Esmee. She too mourns her loss, but she has issues of her own as her divorce is coming soon. Grandpa Jack gives Melinda a package from his late wife.

The cover note tells her to reconsider tossing away the love of her life. Inside is a journal from the 1940s in which her grandparents documented their activities. They both worked for the Belgium Resistance during World War II when one mistake would leave your compatriots dead. As she continues to read the harrowing experiences, Melinda realizes her grandparents shared courage that kept them together as much as respect and love for one another. She also turns introspective as she wonders if she should give her marriage a second chance as granny is right; she still loves her husband.

World War II and its aftermath in Belgium comes alive through the diary of Esmee and Jack Busher, resistance fighters, who enable Melinda and the audience to understand how much freedom lovers were willing to sacrifice. Thus Melinda begins to consider whether recently she never gave her marriage a chance. Geri Krotow uses a historical backdrop to remind readers it takes work for any relationship to flourish.

Harriet Klausner

The Soldier and the Rose-Linda Barrett

The Soldier and the Rose
Linda Barrett
Harlequin Everlasting, Nov 2007, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373654215

During World War II, Rose Kaufman’s beloved spouse Joe died in combat without once seeing his daughter, born after he left to go overseas. His friend Charlie Shapiro survived war physically, but struggles emotionally. He had vowed to his brother in arms that if Joe died and he lived, he would visit Rose when he returned to Brooklyn to tell her he loved her. However, Charlie soon knows he loves Rose and Joe’s daughter; although he assumes she does not return his feelings, Charlie persuades Rose to marry him, which she does.

In the present history repeats itself as their granddaughter Liz is expecting a child while her spouse Matt is in Iraq. This, as they celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of their marriage, leads Rose and Charlie to reflect on their life together. He believes his cherished wife never loved him as he could never compete with the ghost of Joe although in truth he never wanted to as Joe was his buddy.

This engaging relationship drama contains two strong lead characters and an incredibly developed support cast, mostly family members. Charlie’s muse of loving his wife for sixty years through not believing she returned his feelings and Rose’s thoughts on how she feels about her caring second husband and her first A Guy Named Joe make for a deep character study. Although the action is limited, fans who appreciate a deep introspective tale will enjoy the SOLDIER AND THE ROSE.

Harriet Klausner

Mademoiselle Boleyn-Robin Maxwell

Mademoiselle Boleyn
Robin Maxwell
NAL, Nov 2007, $14.00
ISBN: 9780451222091

At eight years old Anne Boleyn accompanies her family to the Netherlands where she is deserted at the court of Archduchess Margaret of Burgundy. Feeling all alone she learns to cope as the foreigner in a strange place; even teaching herself to understand French. A year later, after a brief respite back home, she is sent to live at the French King Louis XII’s court as part of Princess Mary’s retinue when she wed the French monarch. Unlike her previous regal stay, Anne learns to fit in even as her homeland is at war with her current country. The most valuable lesson a young female can have is to gain knowledge that can be used to counterbalance the power of men have over women; to do that she learns the lesson of being in plain sight yet remain indistinguishable from the rest of the retinue. She observes how women are nothing except chattel as her father “sells” her then eleven year old sister Mary to serve as mistress to the French King and she is expected to spy on the French rulers who treat her with care and respect unlike her own family. Over the next eight years she stayed on the continent where Anne concludes that unless a woman marries into power as Princess Mary Tudor did when she wed her ancient French monarch, she is subject to abuse by all males; not just her spouse, father, or brother. Anne learns her lessons well when King Henry comes for her.

MADEMOISELLE BOLEYN is one of the best biographical fiction works of the year. The insight into how Anne learned survival techniques in a male dominant world will shock the audience as females are sexual pawns even when they are as young as eleven years old and expendable as eight years old. Robin Maxwell further supports her premise with a deep look at the royal support cast and the Bolyn family. Sub-genre readers especially those who appreciate the Henry the Eighth era will want to read this powerful look at the fifteenth century and know “we’ve come a long way baby”, but not far enough.

Harriet Klausner

Trilby-Diana Palmer

Diana Palmer
Harlequin, Oct 2007, $14.95
ISBN: 9780373772261

In 1910 Miss Trilby Lang left her Louisiana home to move on a ranch she recently inherited in the Arizona Territory. For Trilby the move meant leaving behind her beloved Richard Bates and her proper lady-like lifestyle to start anew near the Mexican border.

Rumors about the newcomer spread like wildfire as everyone assumes a single female stranger must be loose. Her neighbor rancher Thornton Vance likes what he sees and makes an indiscreet proposition that angers Miss Trilby. She rips his skin off as only a Louisiana bred woman could do. Feeling remorseful for his heeding spiteful gossip and still wanting her, Thornton tries to court Miss Trilby although he struggles not to touch and kiss her senseless. They ultimately marry even as Richard arrives to claim Miss Trilby as his.

TRILBY is a reprint of an interesting early twentieth century Americana ranch romance starring a courageous heroine and a repentant neighbor who fall in love, but have doubts all the way especially when Richard arrives. Except for a fabulous secondary romance between two seemingly star-crossed lovers (Richard’s educated sister and a classy Apache), the other subplots feel unnecessary padding or underdeveloped. Still fans of Diana Palmer will enjoy her latest tale although it is not up to her usual bar of excellence in spite an entertaining prime love story.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Blackthorne's Bride-Shana Galen

Blackthorne's Bride
Shana Galen
Avon, Nov 2007, $5.99
ISBN: 9780061124976

In 1801 London, the four preadolescent female cousins vowed to never marry. They form the Spinster’s Club.

Ten years later, two of the members have had “Misadventures in Matrimony (see NO MAN’S BRIDE and GOOD GROOM’S HUNTING). A third one Madeleine, tired of insincere proposals, plans to run away with scholarly Conlon Dover, a father of two. However, the fourth member, still unmarried Ashley jumps into the coach with them. Dover tells Madeleine they need a chaperone anyway; she asks why since they are eloping.

At a café, Marques John Martingale quietly drinks coffee when his brother Nicholas arrives. Nick explains that he humiliated Duke Bleven by calling him a rapist at a party. Bleven sent thugs after Nick, who explains that he also quoted Jack as calling Bleven an asshole. A moment later Bleven and his armed thugs arrive. Jack and Nick flee. As Ashley, Madeleine and Dover are leaving, Jack with his nose bloodied and clothing stained by coffee dives into their coach. Nick replaces the coachman and drives. Jack is instantly attracted to Madeleine who demands he take them to Gretna Green; Jack says no. Madeleine is attracted to the roguish Jack, who steps out of the coach only to find Ashley’s dad has caught them. Nick jumps her dad. Jack insists he must marry Ashley as they jump back into the coach and flee for Gretna Green with two dads, Bleven accompanied by his thugs, and who knows who else in pursuit.

This amusing Regency romance will have fans in stitches as the runaways land in one predicament after another. The lead couple is a nice pairing while her cousin and his brother provide strong support once the audience understands their bickering started from meeting one another prior to this romp. Although the villain is dispatched too easily; making the climax too fast and weak, readers will appreciate this hilarious historical.

Harriet Klausner

In My Wildest Fantasies-Julienne MacLean

In My Wildest Fantasies
Julienne MacLean
Avon, Nov., 384 pp., $6.99) HOT
ISBN: 9780060819491

In 1870 heiress Rebecca Newland refuses to marry the man chosen by her family. She decides to find her dream lover Devon Sinclair, the heir to a dukedom as she has never forgotten him although she has not seen her hero in four years since he saved her life in a runaway coach.

Devon’s father the duke is irate with his hedonistic ways; he demands his son marry by Christmas or lose everything. He searches for a biddable bride when Rebecca finds him. He knows she hero-worships him so figures he can bully her to do his bidding in bed and with her money. However, he soon admires her and falls in love with his new wife; she has loved him for four years but recognizes her hero has flaws.

The first Pembroke Palace Victorian romance is a warm charmer starring a likable lead couple although readers will need time to warm up to devious delectable Devon and realize that Rebecca is not a worshipping bonehead. The story line is simply fun with the hero beginning to understand the treasure he obtained when he married is not his wife’s wealth, but is her. Julienne MacLean provides an enjoyable late nineteenth century romp.

Harriet Klausner

Not The Marrying Kind-Hailey North

Not The Marrying Kind
Hailey North
Avon, Nov 2007, $5.99
ISBN: 9780060582470

New York artist Harriet and her son Zach are going to Doolittle, Arkansas to visit his maternal grandmother for the Christmas vacation. In Doolittle Ted "Colonel" Porter plans to propose to the retired schoolteacher he met over the Internet. Finally Ted’s son Los Angeles music producer Jake Porter is coming to town at the bequest of his dad to meet his fiancée.

At the local B & B Jake does not recognize Harriet as the nerd he met at Doolittle High School sixteen years ago and took to the prom. All he knows is that he is attracted to this sophisticated woman. However, she knows him as the boy she loved in high school, who vanished the morning after the dance. As Jake tries to make Harriet his, she remains aloof although deep in her gut she realizes she still loves the cad who broke her teenage heart.

The Doolittle B & B is host to a couple of second chance at love romances that fans will enjoy especially that of the younger set. Insisting he is “NOT THE MARRYING KIND”, Jake cannot convince cynical Harriet that he needs her as she remembers the first rejection as if it was yesterday. Although relationships especially between Jake and Harriet feel a bit forced as she has no reason to trust him with her heart, readers will enjoy spending Christmas in Doolittle.

Harriet Klausner

Deadly Sexy-Beverly Jenkins

Deadly Sexy
Beverly Jenkins
Avon, Nov 2007, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061246395

Successful Jessi Teresa "JT" Blake is wealthy, pretty and intelligent so even the toughest male athlete is intimidated by her; as no one messes with Lady Blake as she is referred to by her rivals. When her car breaks down on a California freeway in the Bay area, trucker Reese Anthony stops and offers the beautiful lady in distress a lift to Oakland, which she gladly accepts.

Reese initially hides from her that he is a former cop turned investigator looking into a murder in professional football. When someone threatens JT’s life, he tells her who he is and offers to protect her. Although she feels confident that nothing will happen to her, she gladly accepts as much because she wants him as an undercover bodyguard protecting her as she wants him under the cover guarding her body close up.

DEADLY SEXY is an exhilarating sports romantic suspense with the emphasis on the romance. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing as they exchange barbed tongues throughout the humorous story line. Whereas the two mysteries provide supporting subplots and the sports milieu serves as a backdrop, the prime focus is on the feisty Lexus driver and the tough truck driver falling in love.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Lady Betrayed-Nicole Byrd

Lady Betrayed
Nicole Byrd
Berkley, Nov 2007, $6.99
ISBN: 9780425218433

The Viscount saw the nearby gazebo as the place to stay out of the heavy rain. However when he steps inside its shelter, Adrian Carter immediately sees he is not alone, lying unconscious on the floor is Madeline Applegate. Through the freezing wet night, he keeps her warm the only way he can by holding her close. In the morning they are caught in this compromising position that saved her life, but irregardless of his good intentions, he does the honorable thing especially since they are caught hugging one another.

To his shock, she rejects his proposal. He warms her through the night, and when they're found the next morning, Adrian honorably proposes marriage. Madeline knows her lot in life is to take care of her invalid father rather than marry the caring hunk. When they make love, she knows she cannot let him go. Adrian admits to her that he is no prize since a duel went bad; as his ruthless cousin wants him dead. When Madeline and her friends begin suffering from suspicious accidents, Adrian believes his time of reckoning has past.

LADY BETRAYED is an enjoyable historical romantic suspense starring two nurturing individuals with issues to contend with if they are to marry. Although both loves one another, neither one believes they are worthy of their beloved as each carries baggage. Fans will appreciate Nicole Byrd’s tense thriller even if his cousin is too deviously cartoon evil.

Harriet Klausner

Rogue’s Lady-Julia Justiss

Rogue’s Lady
Julia Justiss
Harlequin HQN, Nov 2007, $6.99
ISBN: 9780373772230

Lord William Tavener knows he must give up his womanizing ways to find a wealthy wife as his estates are impoverished and sinking deeper into debt. At the same time he gives up on hedonism for money and an heir and spare, Allegra Antinori, daughter of a broke musician, is having a season due to the kindness of caring relatives who hope she makes an affluent match.

When Allegra and Will first meet, he feels an attraction like nothing he ever felt before; she likes him, but apparently her affection goes to Rob Lynton, who she has secretly adored forever. Still although Will knows he cannot afford a relationship with Allegra, as neither brings any money to the table, he proposes marriage anyway. However, as she considers taking him up on his offer as Rob is an impossible dream, fate seems to want to keep them apart although she is beginning to fall in love with her persistent roguish suitor.

Although a late twist makes it easier on the lead couple, readers will enjoy this superb historical romance because of the witty exchanges between Allegra and Will. The captivating tale hooks sub-genre fans as the hero proves where there’s a Will there’s a way as he wants nothing but his beloved Allegra as his wife.

Harriet Klausner

A Gentle Rain-Deborah Smith

A Gentle Rain
Deborah Smith
Belle Books, Nov 2007, $16.95
ISBN: 9780976876076

Although she has no doubts that her parents love and cherish her, Kara Whittenbrook has always felt inferior next to their achievements. However, when they tragically die in an accident, Kara learns how remarkable the Whittenbrooks were; they adopted her. She further finds out her biological mother and father Lily and Mac are mentally challenged individuals living at the Thocco Ranch in Florida.

The spread is run by Ben Thocco, who is the care-keeper of his Down syndrome brother Joey. His ranch has become home to a lot of people facing challenges in the outside world, but able to be productive and keep their self esteem here. When Kara arrives to meet Lily and Mac, she and Ben never expected the attraction between them. However, will both take a chance on love for the first time in their respective lives?

GENTLE RAIN is a fantastic character driven love story starring two caring but wary individuals and a host of matchmaking fully developed secondary players. The well written poignant storyline is beautiful and the first person accounts between Kara and Ben are astounding. They both face a new kind of love frightening in its intensity. Deborah Smith writes a deep touching tale as Ben and Kara find new strength when they found one another.

Harriet Klausner

Black lace Quickies 6-Hannah Brophy, Kimberly Dean, Portia Da Costa, Alison Tyler, Mae Nixon and Cal Jago

Black lace Quickies 6
Hannah Brophy, Kimberly Dean, Portia Da Costa, Alison Tyler, Mae Nixon and Cal Jago
Black Lace, Nov 2007, $4.99
ISBN: 9780352341334

“Learning Procedures” by Hannah Brophy. Since his secretary Liz quit a month ago, Kevin has gone through three temps. His latest is blue haired Katie who proves efficient at the office and effective into luring him into a bondage scene with a Xena mistress out for vengeance one whip at a time.

“Rocky Mountain Rendezvous” by Kimberly Dean. In the Rockies near Denver, Jenna waits for her lover Shane who is late. When he shows up they have the best sex ever until she listens to her voice mail that Shane will be late and his twin Shawn is coming.

“Are We There Yet?” by Portia Da Costa. Mr. Stone drives a blindfolded and handcuffed Ms. Lewis to a special place for their sex game. However this time she will soon realizes how clever her Bobby is.

“Coffee Break” by Alison Tyler. At the café, Danielle may be seeing Marlow, but it is the coffee delivery king Declan who heats her up.

“Private Performance” by Mae Nixon. At the video store Peter the pianist reintroduces himself to Tess who loves music. They play quite a duet together.

“Beautiful Things” by Cal Jago. She loves the thrill of a theft as much as she loves sex with Alex; he loves it even more as he knows when she steals he has his best sex.

Just like the title says these BLACK LACE QUICKIES are six fun heated tales; just leave your morality on the outside the bedroom door.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, October 8, 2007

The House of Lanyon-Valerie Anand

The House of Lanyon
Valerie Anand
Mira, Nov 2007, $24.95
ISBN: 9780778325024

In Exmoor, England Richard Lanyon always resented the fact that his father was a tenant farmer working for aristocratic affluent Sweetwater clan. Richard wants to be free by owning his land not slaving for someone else to gain the profits of his toil; as the case with his recently deceased dad. Ambitious, he will shape the future through his son.

His goal seems achieved when he arranges for his offspring Peter to marry wealthy Liza Weaver. However, Peter loves Marion Locke and his fiancée loves someone else. Neither are pleased with the arrangement, but both accept the inevitably of their marriage as they understand their duty to family. Meanwhile the widow Richard is attracted to Marion. While his brokenhearted son and equally despondent daughter-in-law struggle together, Richard has a dark secret that fosters a deep guilt that haunts his gut and a fear that if revealed THE HOUSE OF LANYON will topple like a deck of cards.

This is an interesting family drama that sprawls across the late fifteenth century. The story line provides a fascinating look at the dysfunctional relationship between social classes especially outside of London. However, the historical tale targets those readers who enjoy a Barbara Taylor Bradford like saga occurring prior to and during the War of the Roses era.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Mark’s Story-Tim LaHaye & Jerry B. Jenkins

Mark’s Story
Tim LaHaye & Jerry B. Jenkins
Putnam, Oct 2007, $24.95, 308 pp.
ISBN 9780399154478

Mark was not one of the twelve disciples but he was a friend of Peter and it was at his home that the Last Supper was served. He isn’t sure that Jesus is the Messiah at first but senses there is something special about Jesus. He hears the prophecies Christ predicts before his death and sees them all come true. After the Crucifixion, he learns that many have seen Jesus and when he sees him as well he is convinced that he is looking at the Son of God.

He wants to preach and be part of the ministry but he is still too young and has much to learn. The twelve disciples were given powers to heal and they start preaching the ministry begins to grow. One of his most bitter enemies Saul of Taurus claims he heard Christ speak from heaven. A schism arose in the ministry when gentiles become Christ followers and did not have to adhere to law. Mark finally accompanied Peter to Rome where the believers were growing at an amazing rate. The more Nero tried to snuff it out, the more believers listened to the preaching of Mark and Peter. Mark writes the stories that Peter told him of Christ and it becomes one of the gospels. After Peter, his wife and Paul were executed, God sends Mark to Alexandra to start up a new church.

Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins writes so that readers can understand the preaching of Christ, how the church spread and the terrors believers had to endure because they were considered enemies of the state. These talented writers chronicle Mark’s belief as he and others perform heroic deeds in a dangerous atmosphere that in many ways will remind the audience of what is happening to day in Myramer. Readers well feel love, heartache and hope as they read this special tale based on the Word.

Harriet Klausner

Amazing Grace-Danielle Steel

Amazing Grace
Danielle Steel
Delacorte, Nov 2007, $27.00
ISBN: 9780385340236

On a warm San Franciscan night, Sarah Sloane the socialite wife of a financier hosts the black tie Littlest Angels Ball fund-raiser at the downtown Ritz-Carleton. The entertainment for this black-tie evening comes from award winning teenage rock star Melanie Free, who has problems with her martinet mom-agent. Covering the affair is Everett Carson, a former war correspondent who suffers from battle fatigue syndrome having seen too many atrocities. Attending as a rare outsider is Sister Maggie Kent whose flock is the homeless.

These four have nothing in common beyond the charity event until a deadly earthquake hammers the city. Sarah learns that her spouse has conducted nefarious illegal transactions that will cost the family more than just their reputation and place in high society as he may do time. Melanie has gained freedom from her mother and volunteers at the temporary shelter to help victims and makes non musical friends like Tom the archeology student. Maggie and Everett forge a friendship that both knows is love, but as they confide their feelings they must consider she is a nun.

AMAZING GRACE is an interesting look at the impact of a major disaster on the lives of various people especially the prime four described above. The story line provides a convincing description of people struggling with the calamity, but is nowhere near the depth of non-fiction accounts of Katrina or Burke’s JESUS OUT TO SEA; nor does it use the World Series earthquake as a realistic anchor. Additionally, none of the main quartet seems fully developed with Everett and Maggie especially feeling one dimensional. Still Danielle Steel provides an entertaining look at the aftermath of a disaster.

Harriet Klausner