Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sorceress-Lisa Jackson

Lisa Jackson
Signet, Sep 2007, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451221988

In 1289 Wales, Bryanna of Penbrooke hates being different, a feeling she has had since as a little girl she could see people and animals that no one else saw. Over time, she learned to hide her curse to see what others could not from her neighbors so that she is not ostracized. However, her time has come to use her gift to fulfill an ancient prophecy. Reluctantly she begins her solo odyssey to Tarth, praying she will find guidance there as she searches for four jewels that make up a magical dagger.

Sixteen years ago, Hallyd the watcher killed a witch who just before she died cursed him to live in the darkness. His only hope to ever see sunlight resides with that witch’s’ daughter Bryanna coming into his shrouded woods. He knows she is the Fates’ chosen one, but before she complete her destiny, he will make her lift her mother’s curse from him

Lord Agendor sends his paid assassins to kill his son Gavyn. They almost succeed, but the severely wounded Gavyn makes it to Bryanna's camp. To his shock, he recognizes her as the female who has haunted his dreams; he believes he must protect her not aware that Hallyd is coming for her nor comprehending he endangers her with his father’s killers coming for him.

This exhilarating medieval romantic fantasy grips the reader from the opening sequence in 1273 when Bryanna flees while her mother is murdered and never slows down as each of the players on Lisa Jackson’s stage come together for a confrontational prophesy in 1289. The cast is solid as Bryanna the orphaned SORCERESS; Hallyd the patient Watcher; Gavyn the dream lover; and Agendor the killing ruler make the tale exciting. It is their destiny to complete the prophecy, but who will survive the ordeal will keep the audience reading SORCERESS in one superb sitting.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Rivals for the Crown -Kathleen Givens

Rivals for the Crown
Kathleen Givens
Pocket, Aug 2007, $14.00
ISBN: 9781416509929

In 1290 Isabel de Burke and Rachel de Anjou have been best friends since they met as children. Although they vowed forever and still love one another as sisters, their friendship seems over as King Edward I decreed that all Jews must leave immediately. Rachel accompanied by her parents and sister leave England for Berwick where they buy an inn; at the same time Isabel becomes a lady-in-waiting to Queen Eleanor.

When Scotland's preadolescent queen dies while traveling to claim her throne, rivals John Balliol and Robert Bruce wage a civil war, which fits nicely into the plans of King Edward I to annex Scotland. Highlander Kieran MacDonald arrives at the de Anjou inn where he is meets and wants Rachel. However, he is fighting with Rory MacGannon to keep the English from ruling over Scotland so has no time for his heart’s desire. Soon Isabel and Rachel reunite with the former and Rory attracted to each other. The two female friends are caught in the intrigue between England and Scotland and must decide between love for the Highlanders and love for England.

RIVALS FOR THE CROWN is a stupendous complex historical romance with the focus on the era. The epic saga uses the love between Rachel and Kieran, and Isabel and Rory to showcase the impact of war and royal intrigue on individuals as the two couples must make difficult choices that mean sacrifice of something cherished (love of country vs. beloved). Few authors can rival Kathleen Givens skill of transporting her audience so much so readers will feel they are along side the key cast members as late thirteenth century Scotland and to a lesser degree England comes alive once again (see the previous tale ON A HIGHLAND SHORE) in her wonderful novel.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Devil’s Right Hand-Lilith Saintcrow

The Devil’s Right Hand
Lilith Saintcrow
Orbit, Sept 2007, $6.99, 437 pp.
ISBN: 9780316021425

In the far distant future on Earth, the phenomena known as the Awakening brought into being a vast number of psionics and those with magical abilities that hid in the shadows before entered this new world. Dante Valentine has found her necromance powers (the ability to raise the dead and ask them questions) that help her earn a living as a bounty hunter. When out on one of her assignments she meets Japhrimel a demon who is part of the Greater Flight, Lucifer’s oldest son and his best assassin.

He gives up his place in hell for her becoming an A’nankhimel a fallen who has tied himself to Dante who he genetically changed into a half demon known as a hedaria. Lucifer calls Dante to him and Japhrimel accompanies her. They make a deal that they will hunt down four greater demons who escaped to earth in exchange for Japhrimel getting his demonic powers back in full. Dante is now under Lucifer’s protection for eternity and full control of the Hellessvront, people places, objects, and money that Lucifer has available on Earth. When Dante finds out whom one of the demons she is to hunt is she wants to back out of the deal but nobody reneges on an agreement with Lucifer and lives to tell the tale.

The story line is fast-paced but devilishly driven by the Faustian deal. Dante is strong and independent but she is also using magic and afraid that good things and people in her life, like Japhrimel will be destroyed. Readers can actually see her struggling to accept Japhrimel’s love for her. It is a torturous process with so many doubts when she feels insecure that the audience will think Japhrimel is a saintly demon for putting up with her. Lilith Saintcrow is one awesome fantasy writers.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Vampire Queen's Servant-Joey W. Hill

Joey W. Hill
Berkley Heat, Jul 2007, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425215906

Vampire Lady Elyssa Yamato Amaterasu Wentworth changed over a millennium ago. In Atlanta, she is upset because her loyal human servant Thomas has died. However, before his death, Thomas arranged for Jacob Green to take over his duties. Jacob informs his mistress that Thomas died peacefully with great affection for her.

Jacob is no Thomas as he is 200 proof alpha male, who has never been submissive in his entire life. He is unused to taking orders especially from a female while Lyssa has grown accustomed to giving direction after centuries of men bowing to her wishes. They are attracted to one another, but that passion for one another seems deeper than life. They begin to understand that they have shared pasts filled with love, but their destiny each time has been loneliness and death. Each prays that this time proves differently.

This vampire romance is hot, exciting, and grip the audience who will wonder which of the two alphas will be on top by the climax, if that is he survives that long. The story line is fast-paced as readers follow the antics of Lyssa and Jacob, who have been together twice before; a third time will prove the charm or his demise. Readers who appreciate a sensual fresh romantic fantasy will want to follow the relationship between THE VAMPIRE QUEEN’S SERVANT and his mistress.

Harriet Klausner

Real Vampires Live Large-Gerry Bartlett

Real Vampires Live Large
Gerry Bartlett
Berkley, Jul 2007, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425215340

Someone firebombs the clothing boutique owned by Glory St. Clair; she assumes the arson was a hate crime against Vampires like her. Her part-time lover, who had converted her (see REAL VAMPIRES HAVE CURVES) Angus Jeremiah Campbell III, and is currently known as Jeremy Blade arranges for extra protection beyond Glory’s bodyguard friend, the shape-shifting dog Valdez. However outraged beyond a berserker Scottish warrior, he also wants to go to the source to prevent a repeat. Prevalent theory is Brent Westwood, a fanatical wealthy vampire hunter, is the arsonist.

However, Blade and Glory have to reconsider the initial assessment when more attempts to harm Glory occur. He realizes that it is her attitude not to accept her vampirism that brings the nasties: drug dealing energy-vampires wanting to sell her to the highest bidder. Still Blade vows to keep Glory safe even though that proves difficult when mobs of mortal, undead, and other ilk arrive to see a mural she is displaying at her shop

The return of ancient vampiress Glory surviving in a modern world is fun to follow as she struggles with her lover, a wannabe lover, vampire killers, and energy-vampires; all want a piece of her in differing ways. Fans of lighthearted paranormal romps will enjoy Gerry Bartlett’s fun tale starring a heroine who has never forgiven Blade for biting her when she was bloated.

Harriet Klausner

High Noon-Nora Roberts

High Noon
Nora Roberts
Putnam, Jul 2007, $26.95
ISBN 0399154345

Savannah Police Lieutenant Phoebe MacNamara is the Georgia city’s top hostage negotiator. Her work is how she meets sports bar owner Duncan Swift when he observes her talk a leaper whom he just fired from jumping. Unable to resist this fascinating woman, Duncan romances her although Phoebe's family baggage, her young daughter and her agoraphobic mother causes difficulty in their relationship.

At the police station, someone assaults Phoebe; battering her after he or she put a hood over her head so she cannot identify who her attacker is. She is stunned as this is the last place she would expect anyone to be so brazen. She looking deep inside herself and remembers when she was a child and she and her family were terrorized by a dangerous intruder in their home. Phoebe refuses to back down and become a victim though she is very shook up. When the terror campaign continues with threats to her loved ones, the frustrated Phoebe decides to uncover the culprit so that she can get into his or her face before her fears of harm to her loved ones cripple her.

This is a one sitting action-packed thriller that grips the audience from the moment they meet the intrepid Phoebe and never slows down until the final confrontation with her unknown adversary. The entertaining cat and mouse police procedural story line is gripping because the beleaguered heroine is likable while her anonymous antagonist remains shadowy adding tension. Fans of Ms. Roberts or anyone who appreciates a tense HIGH NOON drama will want to read Ms. Roberts’ strong Savannah saga.

Harriet Klausner