Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hello, Doggy-Elaine Fox

Hello, Doggy
Elaine Fox
Avon, Jan 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061175695

Adviser to women on what men want from them, Keenan James is extremely popular; his weekly roundtable discussion show is a hit. However, he is unhappy that he must work with a co-author, some reticent idiotic shrink on his next book. Almost as bad is that his mom dumped her mutt pampered Barbra Streisand on him.

Dr. Tory Hoffstra is despondent that her publisher demands she work with Keenan James if she wants her book printed. She thinks the handsome host is a fake who takes advantage of insecure females. To determine whether she wants to work with him or forget publication, Tory gets a seat at his table. They are instantly attracted to one another, but she realizes she is the fraud while he cannot believe he has fallen in love and worse asks Barbra for advice.

Although the author is a Fox, no one does canine matchmaking romances as affectionately and amusingly as Elaine Fox does (see BEWARE OF DOUG). HELLO, DOGGY is a lighthearted romp starring a strong lead couple, and solid support cast, and Barbra. As the lead couple’s relationship changes, there interest in helping lonely females continues unabated; this serious undertone makes this overall jocular frolic into a strong contemporary romance.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Just A Taste-Deirdre Martin

Just A Taste
Deirdre Martin
Berkley, Jan 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425218976

Vivi Robitaille gives up on making it as a Parisian chef after a few years of rejection. So she chooses to do what perceives is the next best thing by opening a bistro in Brooklyn’s Bensonhurst neighborhood across the street from Dante's Italian restaurant. Feeling they are not competitors as they offer different fare, Vivi introduces herself to the Dante family, who welcome her to the neighborhood.

She is immediately attracted the head chef and part owner Anthony. To his chagrin he feels the same way. However, as they compare menus and great food, Vivi knows she loves Anthony, but she cannot compete with his late wife, a police officer who died in the line of duty. For his part Anthony believes he has met his food mate, but feels as if he is betraying his deceased spouse.

This sequel to FAIR PLAY is a wonderful contemporary romance in which the puck never drops; instead pots and pans are the main course, recipes included. Vivi is a lively extrovert while Anthony is much more reserved. His efforts to keep his partner, his retired hockey player sibling Michael, out of the restaurant adds humor to an entertaining culinary romance.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Senator’s Daughter-Christine Carroll

The Senator’s Daughter
Christine Carroll
Medallion, Jan 2008, $7.95
ISBN: 9781933836300

The daughter of the U.S. Senator from California, Sylvia Cabot Chatsworth is a tabloid’s delight especially for “On the Spot” reporter Julio Castillo, who makes her look like a spoiled man eating party girl. When he catches what becomes known as the “Kiss”, Julio says San Francisco ADA Lyle Thomas is her next chump. Sylvia’s steel magnolia mom tells her that her scandals hurt the family and she should vanish just like developer Tony Valetti recently disappeared.

Hurt, Sylvia drives towards Napa Valley, but gets into an accident. She walks to the nearby Lava Spring Inn where the owners Mary and Buck Kline assume she is a spousal abuse victim on the run.

Her father offers Lyle money to find his missing daughter as he and his wife believe the Kiss will motivate him. Needing the money and getting a leave of absence due to the Senator, Lyle agrees. Weeks go by with no hint as to where she is as Sylvia does not use her credit cards or call home. Meanwhile Lyle visits Tony’s vintner brother Andre and stays at the Lava Spring Inn where he encounters their cook Sylvia Cabot. As they fall in love, he uncovers a shady deal involving his boss, her father, the Valetti brothers, and the Mafia. He can handle all that as the risks are simple: his job and his life; he cannot handle what will happen when his beloved learns that her father hired him to find her.

This interesting romance with some late intrigue stars two wonderful lead characters whose Kiss will remind the audience of the Gores at the 2000 Democratic Party Convention. The suspense comes very late as Lyle’s inquires hit nerves. Since the audience knows that Sylvia is okay though her parents and Lyle do not, her vanishing is not suspenseful. Christine Carroll cleverly defuses the coincidence factor by stating so rather than pretending otherwise. Although the investigation is abruptly rushed, fans will appreciate this fine contemporary.

Harriet Klausner

One Night With You-Sophie Jordan

One Night With You
Sophie Jordan
Avon, Jan 2008, $5.99
ISBN: 9780061339264

Since her husband died, his family led by her brother-in-law treats Lady Jane Guthrie at best like a poor relative but for the most part as a servant. Jane chaperones her fickle nieces and puts up with the outrageous abuse of her mean spirited sister-in-law.

Jane sneaks out to attend a courtesan masked ball although she knows her behavior is scandalous as she does not belong there. To her misfortune, her in-law catches her, but to her good fortune, Lord Seth Rutledge intercedes. When they were younger she loved Seth, but he chose her sister, who rejected him as he was title-less with no prospects. , Seth has returned from the war angry at society that now finds him acceptable. Only his beloved blind sister can reach him until he meets the masked siren, who vanishes on him. When he next encounters his disguised minx, she seduces him although she fears his reaction if ever finds out that his childhood friend is his secret paramour.

This terrific historical romance star two walking wounded as Jane has not recovered from being a lord’s wife to a second class citizen and Seth suffers from post traumatic stress disorder caused by his combat experience. The story line is fast-paced while also containing neat unexpected but plausible spins. Fans will enjoy Sophie Jordan’s charming nineteenth century romance.

Harriet Klausner

The Wicked Ways of a Duke-Laura Lee Guhrke

The Wicked Ways of a Duke
Laura Lee Guhrke
Avon, Jan 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061143618

In 1894 London impoverished seamstress Prudence Bosworth dreams of Prince Charming sweeping her off her aching feet. She has no hope of her fantasy turning into reality until she inherits a fortune from a father she never knew existed. However, the will contains a stipulation; to obtain the money Prudence must be married or get nothing.

Having no prospects and though she would prefer to marry for love, Prudence believes that Duke Rhys De Winter is a kind person, who would treat her nice. However, she has only seen the Duke perform his one kindness of the century; instead he is a rogue who needs money so he willingly agrees to wed the naive heiress. They marry and everything is great until she learns the truth about her scoundrel spouse, who must persuade his wife that he loves her.

This is an engaging Victorian romance that sub-genre fans will enjoy due to the changing relationship between the lead couple. She loves and respects him while he likes and disrespects her; that changes when he falls in love while she detests him. Fans will appreciate this late nineteenth century Guys and Dolls romance.

Harriet Klausner

Confessions at Midnight-Jacquie D'Alessandro

Confessions at Midnight
Jacquie D'Alessandro
Avon, Jan 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061231391

When the Ladies Literary Society of London selects as its latest novel “Memoirs of a Mistress”, Viscountess Carolyn Turner thinks nothing of it until she reads the titillating content that heats her as much or more than her late spouse did although they worked the sheets. Carolyn considers an affair might cool her need.

Lord Daniel Sutton has loved Carolyn for years, but hid his feelings from her as she was married. With the proper time passing since her husband died, Daniel decides to seduce the widow into being his mistress as marriage is not for him. She accepts his offer believing she can control her emotions while satisfying her body. As they make love, they fall in love, but it takes a killer trying to murder Carolyn that makes him realize he wants her safe as his wife.

The return of the fun loving Ladies Literary Society (see SLEEPLESS AT MIDNIGHT) will have Regency romance fans up at night reading their latest escapades especially that of member Carolyn. The relationship between the lead couple is fun to follow even more than Memoirs of a Mistress. Although the late suspense awakens Daniel to what he could lose, this seems unnecessary as Jacquie D’Alessandro moves readers and club members from Frankenstein to erotica.

Harriet Klausner

A Seduction in Scarlet-Sara Bennett

A Seduction in Scarlet
Sara Bennett
Avon, Jan 2008, $5.99
ISBN: 9780061336348

Lady Portia Ellerslie is bored with living virtuously on a pedestal; however, much of the country admires the widow of "the country's hero" and besides she is a key advisor to Queen Victoria. Thus any scandal she embroils in could harm Her Royal Highness.

Ellerslie needs release so she wears a veil and visits the notorious Aphrodite’s Club. The brothel’s owner asks Lord Marcus Worthorne to pleasure her new client. Marcus agrees, but Ellerslie is stunned to have this rogue attend to her. When she was seventeen, she wanted him, but he ignored her. However, following their tryst he wants more; so does she, but she must consider her friend the Queen before her desires.

The latest Aphrodite’s Victorian romance (see MISTRESS IN SCANDAL and LESSONS IN SEDUCTIONS) is a delightful tale starring two likable protagonists falling in love, but first he must find out who his secret lover is. The story line is fast-paced as the couple cannot resist one another. Although a late spin involving a plot against the Queen is unnecessary but well written, sub-genre fans will appreciate Sara Bennett escorting readers back to the brothel that hopefully has many more nineteenth century romantic scandals to tell fans.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Full Exposure-Diana Duncan

Full Exposure
Diana Duncan
Harlequin Mediterranean Nights, Jan 2008
ISBN: 9780373389674

After seven years working at the Pennsylvania University library, Ariana Bennett is placed on administrative furlough due to budget cuts; she knows better that her father’s fall from disgrace cost her job. As the FBI uses the Patriot Act to take everything including stories she wrote as a teen, Ariana vows to prove her dad, a Philadelphia museum curator is innocent of the charges that the Feds, media and her employer have already convicted him of; she only hopes she succeeds before he drops dead from the accusations.

She needs money, but the reason she takes a position on the cruise ship Alexandra's Dream is she hopes to find information on the smuggling of antiquities. However, her minor progress must have made someone nervous, as she is abducted. Her only hope to survive her ordeal resides with one of her kidnapers Dante Colangelo, who has kept the Philadelphian alive so far. She begins to wonder if she suffers from the Stockholm syndrome as she starts to fall in love with Dante; he hides his reciprocal feelings out of fear she could die if his allies learn the truth. However, a betrayal may cost both their lives.

FULL EXPOSURE is an exhilarating Mediterranean Nights that refreshes the series by taking much of the action off the cruise ship. The story line is action-packed and filled with twists, but owned by the lead couple whose relationship changes during the tale. Diana Duncan provides an enjoyable romantic suspense thriller that fans of the mini series and those of the sub-genre will fully appreciate.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, November 23, 2007

Tempted-Megan Hart

Megan Hart
Harlequin Spice, Feb 2008, $13.95
ISBN: 9780373605194

In Sandusky six years into what outsiders believe is the perfect marriage without knowing that Anne and James Kinney still share great sex; the only negative is his mother demanding an infant for the rest of the gang to play with. Now James’ best friend from his junior high school days Alex Kennedy is coming back to the states after spending time in Singapore and elsewhere. Without a second “f”ing” thought to his wife, James invites Alex to spend the summer with them.

Anne has never met the infamous affluent Alex, but she expects not to like the world traveler. Instead to her shock and chagrin, she is attracted to her spouse’s buddy and him to her. Adding to her confusion is that James seems to encourage them. Soon an acceptable triangle forms with the thought in the back of the heads of the threesome being that Alex would soon move on to his next venture so let’s live for today. However, Anne finds herself further mixed up when she realizes she loves both her sex buddies.

The three lovers come across as genuine especially when the two males use DIRTY language with every other word spoken between them and more so with the bewildered heroine. She knows that her entire universe for moments is the hardened penis of her respective sex partner until the supernova orgasm occurs. Erotica romance fans will appreciate this complex tale as Anne is more than TEMPTED by Alex while her marriage to James is not yet BROKEN, but no longer perfect.

Harriet Klausner

Knave’s Honor-Margaret Moore

Knave’s Honor
Margaret Moore
Harlequin HQN, Jan 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780373772452

In 1204 Lady Elizabeth d'Averette travels through the Midlands to her home in Kent. When her party is attacked by an organized gang, Irishman Sir Oliver de Leslille rescues her. He offers to escort Elizabeth and retinue to a nearby nunnery.

Lizette is in awe of her hero until she learns Sir Oliver is Finn, a low life thief who steals from women their jewelry and kisses. Finn knows he must rescue his brother, incarcerated by Lord Wimarc, but has no reasonable plan as to accomplishing his mission. Apparently, Lord Wimac’s men were the ones who attacked Elizabeth’s party. When she learns of the plight of Finn’s sibling, she offers her help in a dangerous ploy. They masquerade as a newly married couple to gain entrance into Wimac’s stronghold so as to free his brother and learn why the villain wants to abduct Lizette.

Medieval romance fans will not be shocked to find out that Margaret Moore’s latest historical KNAVE’S HONOR is a wonderful tale. The exciting story line contains two strong protagonists with Finn being a unique fascinating knave. The villain is over the top of meanness leading to fans rooting even more for Lady Elizabeth and Finn the thief to defeat Wimac. Their falling in love while fighting against the odds make Ms. Moore’s marvelous medieval must reading for the sub-genre audience.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Trick My Truck but Don’t Mess with My Heart- LuAnn McLane

Trick My Truck but Don’t Mess with My Heart
LuAnn McLane
Signet, Jan 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451222862

Candie Montgomery enjoyed her life in Chicago, but after two years there, she has come home to Pinewood, Kentucky to help save her family owned business, Dapper Dan Used Car Emporium. However, instead of a warm welcoming, she is treated like a pariah. People she has known since she was a child spurn her greetings; 876 accusers including family members. Candie is stunned to learn that everyone, even her twin sister blames her for her sibling’s broken heart although she cannot understand how she can be held culpable for hot shot auto repair shop owner Nick ending it with Sarah.

She learns that everyone believes she is the other woman, who left town because her feelings for Nick drove her to Chicago. Candie informs her sister that when Sarah started to date her best friend Nick, she knew her twin and her buddy were meant for one another. Fearing for her family’s business as sales has plummeted, she decides she must find a way to get Sarah’s engagement unbroken, but not sure how as she is the athletic book worm not the glamour queen like her sibling is. Gorgeous Tommy Tucker offers her a perfect solution as he says he will pretend to be her boyfriend so that no one can accept her as Nick’s woman. Reluctantly she agrees. As she falls in love, she waits for Tommy to mess up her heart when he says no more pretending.

TRICK MY TRUCK BUT DON’T MESS WITH MY HEART is an amusing lighthearted small town romance in which the relationship between the twins is the star attraction over the two romances. The story line is fast-paced as the siblings land in one mess after another while Tommy tries to convince Candie that he is sweet on her and Sarah shows genius for the first time with her “Tricked out truck” ploy to re-nab Nick. Fans will enjoy the Montgomery sisters’ antics in their old Kentucky home.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My Fair Mistress-Tracy Anne Warren

My Fair Mistress
Tracy Anne Warren
Ballantine, Nov 2007, $6.99
ISBN: 9780345495396

In 1812 London Lord Harry Hawthorne confesses to his widow sister Julianna that he has made a mess of their lives; he gambled and lost a fortune and admits he has nothing for their younger sister Maris’ coming out gala. Instead he owes ruthless financier Rafe “Dragon” Pendragon a ton of money that is due.

Julianna visits the Dragon in his lair to persuade him to give them more time. Rafe counters with an offer of the debt paid in full by her being his willing mistress for six months. He expects the prim and proper lady to be outraged, faking a swoon, and walking out angrily; instead she accepts his daring terms to his shock. Both are quickly stunned by the passion of their lovemaking as neither has felt like this before. As each realizes without telling the other that they are in love, his enemy plots to use her to destroy him.

Although the underlying theme has been used a zillion times especially in the Regency sub-genre, Tracy Anne Warren displays her talent by making it so fresh that MY FAIR MISTRESS seems like the first novel to employ a rogue using a debt to buy a mistress. The story line is fast-paced and smoothly converts from an illicit love affair into a caring love affair and finally into protecting one’s beloved at risk to one’s self. This is a terrific Regency romance with two “Mistress” tales to follow.

Harriet Klausner

Antony and Cleopatra-Colleen McCullough

Antony and Cleopatra
Colleen McCullough
Simon & Schuster, Dec 2007, $26.95
ISBN: 9781416552949

Following the death of Julius Caesar in 41 BC, Rome is divided as to who rightfully should rule. Caesar’s ambitious cousin Mark Antony and the late ruler’s adopted son Octavian reach an agreement to divide the vast Empire. Whereas their only rival Lepidus flees to Africa, Antony takes charge of the East while Octavian rules the West. Neither of the two remaining partners from the triumvirate is pleased as both believe they should be the new Caesar.

Antony shows little understanding of financing an army when he over extends his force in a failed war to suppress the rebellious Parthians. Needing a fast replenishment of his treasury before his rival learns of his weakness, Antony travels to Egypt to demand wealthy Queen Cleopatra provide reparations or else. Cleopatra has an agenda of her own to replace Antony and ultimately Octavian with Caesarion, the son she had with Julius when he came courting. To succeed she must make Antony her sex slave, which she easily achieves. Meanwhile Marcus Agrippa and Octavian’s wife coax the co-ruler that the time is right for him to take over the entire Roman Empire. Cleopatra coaxes her pudding head lover to lead his forces against that of Octavian.

Although the history is well known, this is a fabulous Masters of Rome entry as the key players especially the title characters come alive. Readers will appreciate Cleopatra’s seduction that turns Antony into her willing sex salve doing her bidding and likewise Octavian’s strong wife Livia pushing him to become the Emperor. Fans will enjoy Colleen McCullough’s historical saga as two strong females propel their weaker minded mates to battle on an Ancient Mediterranean stage.

Harriet Klausner

Chances-Pamela Nowak

Pamela Nowak
Five Star, Jan 2008, $25.95
ISBN 9781594146374

In 1876 thirty something women’s suffragette activist Sarah Donovan is elated as she obtains a position as a telegrapher for the Kansas Pacific line. She joins the local chapter of the Colorado Suffrage Association. When some children wanting to collect the bounty on stray dogs, shoot the pet of two little girls Kate and Molly, Sarah intercedes too late as Biscuit is shot dead. Making matters worse, her Good Samaritan deed took her away from her job for a moment leading to a telegram she was to deliver to Daniel Petterman the undertaker being gone and so is the body he is to bury.

The two kids introduce their hero Sarah to their widower father Daniel Petterman the undertaker. Sarah and Daniel are attracted to one another, but he is a prim and proper person so will not act on his desires. Meanwhile at work Sarah suffers from male chauvinism accentuated by a peer Frank, who wants her albeit in the kitchen. She also has problems with several CSA females who do frown on her relationship with the undertaker and his children.

This is an interesting look at Reconstruction Era Colorado mostly through the eyes of a woman trying to make it in a man’s world. The secondary cast is strong as they either behave with contempt, jealousy or admiration of Sarah. While Daniel’s courtship is entertaining as he is as stiff as those he buries. Although the ending seems off kilter, readers will appreciate Pamela Nowak’s entertaining historical

Harriet Klausner

Macbeth’s Niece-Peg Herring

Macbeth’s Niece
Peg Herring
Five Star, Jan 2008, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594146503

Following the death of her husband Kenneth, widow Kenna realizing her outspoken daughter will never find a wealthy mate dumps Tessa on her late husband’s brother Thane Macbeth MacGindlaech so that there is one less mouth the feed. In Inverness Castle in Moray, Tessa struggles to keep quiet so as to not alienate Macbeth’s difficult wife Lady Gruoch.

A fourth son Englishman Lord Jeffrey Brixton arrives with a bull that Macbeth bought from the Brixton estate. Whereas everyone believes Jeffrey is a non threatening guest, Tessa thinks otherwise. When she overhears Jeffrey plot with her maternal Uncle Biote Cawder to over throw the aging King Duncan, she plans to tell her paternal Uncle Macbeth. Instead Jeffrey catches her and takes her to England where she meets his kindhearted but dying sister-in-law Eleanor, who takes her and some cousins to London for a season. As Macbeth rises to the Scottish throne, Tessa is married to someone who rejects her. When she learns Jeffrey died in Scotland she races home to learn the truth as she knows he is the one she loves.

Peg Herring shows plenty of chutzpah and insanity to tell the tale of MACBETH’S NIECE as she describes the ambitious Lady and the torn Lord with obvious comparisons to the Bard; she does so in homage as only a high school English teacher could. However, the author wisely moves her heroine out of Scotland rather quickly so that she distances her tale from the original. Tessa is a fascinating courageous heroine while Jeffrey is more enigmatic. However, it is the support cast who steals the show whether they come from Shakespeare or Herring as they add depth to a fine medieval romance filled with “Double, Double, toil and trouble” and love.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, November 19, 2007

Sister’s Ink-Rebecca Seitz

Sister’s Ink
Rebecca Seitz
B&H Publishing, Jan 2008, $14.99
ISBN: 9781598593198

In Orlando, Florida, thirtyish attorney Tandy Sinclair knows logically that she has come a long way from her homeless childhood, but emotionally remains insecure though she hides her doubts at work. Still she works incredible hours at Meyers, Briggs and Stratton keeping clients out of jail and off her to insure the fat check keeps coming. However, the Hope House embezzlement case places Tandy in a morality strait jacket. Her client Harry Simons admitted his guilt of taking funds that target the homeless.

Tandy takes a leave of absence to return home to Stars Hill, Tennessee where her three adopted sisters Meg, Kendra, and Joy still reside. The trio advises their sibling to reconsider her life goals as defending the guilty is ripping her gut even if it keeps her from sleeping on a beach. They also encourage her to give her former boyfriend Clay Kelner a second chance. Through all this her sisters show her the good times commemorated in scrapbooks; some electronic.

The first SISTER’S INK book (three to follow) is an interesting tale starring an unhappy urbanized sibling finding love and happiness by returning to her rural roots. The story line is at its best when Tandy argues for a pragmatic look at life especially the plight of the homeless; shaving, deodorant, and change of clothing are not easily accessible. The use of scrapbooks is a fascinating way to look back on the past without dwelling to long; however that technique is overdone and eventually feels intrusive. Still this is an entertaining tale with a fascinating concept of diverse adopted sisters, who are also best of friends always there for one another as affirmed by the therapeutic scrapbooks they have maintained.

Harriet Klausner

Three Mothers-Sonia Lambert

Three Mothers
Sonia Lambert
Berkley, Jan 2008, $14.00
ISBN 9780425219126

In 1945 Helene gives birth to a daughter, but her spouse stationed in India, writes to tell her to leave the baby with her mom as the climate is not good for a newborn. Susie travels by herself leaving Vera with her mother and her sister Lottie. On her trek overseas, Helene falls in love with a RAF pilot.

Helene's youngest daughter, Vera loves the fervor of the late 1960s as London swings, but Paris lives the passion of the era. She becomes pregnant and debates within herself what to do with the fetus she carries especially since she does the unheard of: leaving her cheating husband and return to her mom for help.

In 1996 although Vera’s second husband Steve, her sister Lottie, and her other adult child Gus are alive and well, her oldest child mid twenties Susie cares for her as she is dying from cancer. Three months after her mom Vera died, Susie is cleaning out the house and is still learning much about her mom and her maternal grandma.

THREE MOTHERS is a fascinating character study that focuses deeply into the interrelated yet separate lives of three generations of English women. The three moms are fully developed protagonists so their love and loathing of one another seems genuine. Keep plenty of tissues handy as this novel hits home as Sonia Lambert provides a powerful look at the changing roles of motherhood in the latter half of the twenty century through the lives of these three women as the cycle of death and rebirth continues with the next generation a decade later.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Jewel Trader of Pegu-Jeffrey Hantover

The Jewel Trader of Pegu
Jeffrey Hantover
Morrow, Jan 2008, $21.95
ISBN: 9780061252709

In 1598 twenty-seven year old Jewish jewel peddler Abraham decides to leave Venice following the death of his wife. His family protests and pleads with him to stay in Venice as they worry about his sitting Shiva on a ship and living amidst gentiles eating non-kosher food. Still ignoring their soulful admonitions, he travels to Pegu, a Burmese kingdom where he opens up an extension of the family business back home by obtaining top of the line gems.

Abraham is pleased with his the results of his decision to leave Europe as he no longer is incarcerated in a ghetto; in Pegu, he can go where he wants when he wants. However, he soon learns that foreigners must perform a duty that will bring good fortune to new brides; failure to do so mean expulsion from the country, but that requirement violates Jewish scripture. He also has an attraction to local Mya, but doubts that love is strong enough to overcome their respective religions.

More a historical character study of predominately two protagonists, THE JEWEL TRADER OF PEGU is a fascinating look at a sixteenth century Jewish European living in an Asian kingdom; a stranger in a strange land. The story line is told mostly by his letters to his family in Venice, but also has interesting interludes that provide Mya’s perspective on some of the same events that Abraham describes. Limited in action; fans who appreciate a deep historical look into star-crossed lovers struggling with personal, religious and national differences.

Harriet Klausner

A Passion for Him-Sylvia Day

A Passion for Him
Sylvia Day
Kensington Brava, Nov 2007, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758217615

Raised by an uncaring father in loneliness except for her friend the gypsy stable boy Colin, six years ago, Amelia Benbridge life turned upside down when her odious father was proven to be a criminal and her beloved Colin died saving her life. The only good to come out of that tragic period was Amelia was reunited with her long lost assumed dead sister Marie and her brother-in-law, a pirate, Christopher St. John (see A PASSION FOR THE GAME for their love story).

Now in 1780 Amelia is expected to marry the kindhearted Lord Ware, but her heart remains with Colin. However, to her shock at a gala she finds herself attracted to a white masked man who seems to only stare at her regardless of where she is in the ballroom. When they meet he remains secretive, but steals a kiss, which ignites her long ebbed passion as she tingles like she did when Colin kissed her. What she does not know is who the masked man is as Colin survived the incident and has since become a spy who still dreams of being forever with his Amelia. He also knows that is not possible as he remains beneath her so he rationalizes to himself that he stays near her to protect her from an enemy who has a score to settle with the Benbridge family, but cannot stop himself from kissing her and more.

This is a terrific Georgian romance starring an interesting woman who has known much tragedy and loneliness in her life and the man who she loved with all her soul. Colin is a hero as he risked his life for her once before and willingly places himself in danger and risks his undercover espionage mission to keep his beloved safe. Readers will have a passion for Sylvia Day’s fine historicals.

Harriet Klausner

Manderley Prep-Carol Culver

Manderley Prep
Carol Culver
Berkley, Dec 2007
ISBN: 9780425217474

In the San Francisco Bay area teenager Cindy Ellis's wealthy dad married Irina Vanderhoffer. Thus she suddenly had two stepsisters Brie and Lauren who she quickly disliked as they were spoiled, slimy and sneaky. Not long after the families blend, her father dies. Irina refuses to allow her stepdaughter a chance to grieve the only person in the world she loved and who in turn cherished her. Instead Irina forces Cindy to work at her spa, while her own daughters are able to join the cheerleading squad and chase the athletes; making matters even more unbearable Brie and Lauren treat Cindy like a slave and their mother condones their behavior.

With no BF or BFF the lonely Cindy feels her only escape in the foreseeable future is a full scholarship so that she can leave the egotistical trio behind. At the exclusive Manderley Prep the lonely Cindy works hard at school and provides English tutoring. Foreign exchange student Marco Valenti, the star of the soccer team, is her current student that she tutors. . She is attracted to the Italian stallion, but assumes he would never go for a girl like her. As her stepsisters pull cruel stunts on her to keep her away from Marco, Cindy decides enough as revenge tastes sweet.

Mindful of Hilary Duff’s A Cinderella Story, high school readers will enjoy this entertaining modern day fairy tale. Cindy is a beleaguered lonely heroine with no one to call BFF; her goal is to escape preferably to an East Coast college where she hopes to make friends. The three female Vanderhoffers are right out of the original Cinderella, as they are wicked stepsisters and stepmother abusing her. Fans of the Duff movie will appreciate the first BFF teen tale.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Scent of Rosa's Oil-Lina Simoni

The Scent of Rosa's Oil
Lina Simoni
Kensington, Jan 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758219244

Near the end of the nineteenth century in Genoa, Rosa was born to a Luna brothel prostitute who died in childbirth; her father is an unknown patron of the facility. Madame C raises Rosa as her own with the help of her girls. However, they hide from the youngster what is going on upstairs in the house of ill repute although Rosa wonders about the "the game" upstairs played by men and her aunts.

On her sixteenth birthday, Rosa’s friend Isabel the witch gives her a magical perfume to wear at a party Madam C is throwing for her. That night the Mayor caught by the essence plays "the game" with Rosa; when Madame C catches them, she angrily blames her ward and tosses Rosa out of the only home she has known because the mayor was the older woman’s dream intended. Isabel takes Rosa in and soon afterward the teen finds a boyfriend longshoreman Renato, but hides her past from him. However, when she learns that she risks Renato's life and their love with her lies and omissions, Rosa must decide whether she should tell her beloved about being raised in a brothel.

This is an entertaining coming of age turn of the century romance starring a likable protagonist. Fans will enjoy the heroine’s abrupt rush to adulthood following Rosa’s olfactory tryst. Although at times Rosa’s escapades seem to obvious for someone growing up in a brothel and moving in with a witch, historical romance readers will enjoy Lina Simoni’s fine aromatic tale.

Harriet Klausner

In Between Men-San Culberson

In Between Men
San Culberson
Dafina, Dec 2007, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758215222

Hope and Ray Williams are raising three children while both work full time jobs. Whereas Hope is a bank supervisor, Ray would prefer she stayed home as they do not need her income to live comfortably even as a family of five; he wants her to be a housewife and full time mother. She admits to herself the job is not fulfilling, but has doubts about staying home 24/7 as that sounds even less satisfying though she loves her family.

A friend introduces Hope and Anthony to one another. Unlike her spouse who grouches a lot about her job, Anthony is kind and caring and makes Hope feel life is good; he fills her with hope. However, their friendship changes when they make love; Anthony wants more of her demanding she dump her husband and three kids for him. He has brought a smile back into her life, but Hope wonders if the price is right or is it with dependable Ray.

This an interesting character study of a woman pulled in two opposite directions with each pole having attractors and detractors. Whereas Anthony makes her feel good, her family needing her makes her feel as good if not better. On the other hand her family’s needs at times are wearying while Anthony’s demand to move on frightens and excites her. San Culberson provides a strong look at a woman who must choose between men that is if her spouse even gives her a ray of hope that he still wants them together.

Harriet Klausner

No Girl Needs a Husband Seven Days a Week-Nina Foxx

No Girl Needs a Husband Seven Days a Week
Nina Foxx
Avon, Dec 2007, $13.95
ISBN: 9780061335273

Although their outlooks on life especially relationships with men are radically different, Marie, Mai and Kennedy remain close friends. The trio agrees a husband can be a good companion, but not half as good as each other. They also agree that a spouse can be good at home repairs, but you can always hire someone to do it right the first time. Finally a husband can be a good lover (hopefully that is), but so can a boyfriend and you do not need either seven days a week trysting.

However they each have specific differing requirements for what they expect of a mate. Marie prefers a househusband to clean the house, make the meals, and take care of their children while she brings in the money. Mai prefers being a trophy wife of an affluent corporate executive. Kennedy the executive believes no husband makes the best spouse; her itch will be handled by her hunk of the moment. That is fine but what will the prospective husband have to say to each of these females.

This African American chick lit tale is a delightful look at relationships from the perspective of the three fully developed protagonists. The story line combines humor especially the discussions between the ladies re the life in the men in their lives; yet also provides a deep look at modern issues that cripple marriages like cheating and taking for granted you partner. Nina Foxx writes a profound contemporary tale that makes the case a girl needs a caring, faithful and dependable mate 24/7 or either get a dog or not at all.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Daughter’s Inheritance-Tracy Peterson and Judith Miller

A Daughter’s Inheritance
Tracy Peterson and Judith Miller
Bethany House, Jan 2008, $13.99
ISBN: 9780764203640

Her father with the help of her paternal grandparents lovingly raised Frances, affectionately called Fanny, after her mother Winifred died. However, when her dad apparently killed himself in 1891 when she was ten, her grandparents fully took over raising her. Fanny may be a child but she already knows that young Michael Atwell, who works for her affluent family, is her soulmate; she believes one day he will know it too. Her best friends are her two female cousins (Sophie and Amanda) who she spends summers with on the family estate Broadmoor Island, one of New York’s Thousand Islands.

When she was seventeen Frannie came home from school to find her beloved grandfather dying. After he passed away, her Uncles Jonas and Quncey and she inherited his vast wealth; Uncle Jonas detests her receiving anything let alone an equal share, but he was named her guardian as the oldest. Her devious uncle wants to keep Frannie’s third of the inheritance so he abuses his trust and has plans to find hr the right spouse, one as avaricious as he is but malleable by him, for her. Thus he fires Michael ordering him to leave. Knowing he needs money to claim the woman he loves, Michael heads to the Yukon seeking his fortune before seeking his Frannie. With the help of her beloved cousins, Frannie survives one attempt after another by her odious uncle to take what is hers.

This is a terrific 1890s Upstate New York historical fiction starring a fabsulous lead protagonist. Fanny does her best to keep the family together in honor of her grandparents’ wishes in spite of her odious uncle’s machinations and greed. Her relationship with her cousins is wonderful as each loves one another trying to be there for each other. Readers will enjoy book one of the Broadmoor Legacy and look forward to future adventures.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Strangely Wonderful Tale of Count Balashazy-Karen Mercury

The Strangely Wonderful Tale of Count Balashazy
Karen Mercury
Medallion, Dec 2007, $15.95
ISBN: 9781933836027

In 1828 in Madagascar, pirate captain and harbormaster exiled Hungarian Count Tomaj Balashazy rescues naturalist Dagny Ravenhurst when she fell from a tree into his lagoon. He takes her to his plantation fortress home where she explains she climbed the tree to grab a rare orchid. When he asks if he can see her, she explains she has a secret lover. Her brother Sal arrives to take her home.

Dagny supports herself, her two brothers (Sal and Zeke), and her research into the island’s unique strangely wonderful animals, by being industrialist Paul Boneaux’s paramour. She is especially interested in a scary looking lemur that the natives fear. As Dagny finds herself falling in love with poetic Tomaj, Paul is constructing a palace for his mistress Malagasy Queen Ranavalona. Soon Paul and Tomaj, already rivals for control of the island’s economy explode over Dagny; in turn the ire of the Queen ignites as she insists her boy toy remain loyal to her exclusively even if that means killing her competror for his affection.

The third Karen Mercury nineteenth century African adventure (see THE HINTERLANDS and THE FOUR QUARTERS OF THE WORLD) is an excellent historical tale in which once again the locale steals the show. The lead triangle is fully developed protagonists whose sexual activities make the equator feel like a polar cap. Using the real Queen Ranavalona, (see Keith Laidler’s book FEMALE CALIGULA RANAVALONA, THE MAD QUEEN OF MADAGASCAR for more about her), adds to the realism of a great historiographic look at Madagascar through THE STRANGELY WONDERFUL TALE OF COUNT BALASHAZY.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sexy Devil-Sasha White

Sexy Devil
Sasha White
Kensington Aphrodisia, Nov 27 2007, $13.95
ISBN: 9780758219909

"The Devil Inside". His last girlfriend dumped Caleb Mann for being a bore in bed. His new girl Gina Devilin knows he is her soulmate even if he does not believe in her psychic abilities or his sexual prowess as he is all the Mann she craves and has known it from her first erotic dream with him before they met.

“Devil's Jewel". Gina's psychic hunter brother Angelo tries to rescue Nadya Kattalis a Gypsy from a demon using her to open a portal from hell. While struggling with his quest, Angelo falls in love with the girl's Jewel of a sister.

These two well written romantic fantasies are a strange blending that works quite nicely together with the connection being the psychic siblings. The first tale is ultra erotic while the second Devilin story is more paranormal. Thus fans who appreciate both genres will enjoy Sasha White’s Devilin psychic thrillers.

Harriet Klausner

One More Time-Celia May Hart

One More Time
Celia May Hart
Kensington Aphrodisia, Nov 27 2007, $12.95
ISBN: 9780758219220

Pilot Abby Deane flies her small plane to the hideaway hotel she has just been hired to manage. However, when she lands, Abby finds something quite unsettling. Somehow she ahs traveled back from the twenty-first century to regency England.

Myles Hardy meets Abby and acts as her host to the early nineteenth century. He finds her story about being from the future improbable yet besides her luggage and clothing, Abby has some terrific sex toys that he plans to use with her. As they enjoy their encounter with nights filled of all types of sexual positions and activities enhanced by her gizmos, they fall in love. However, they know she belongs to the future so they search for a lost statue that will allow her to return home; something she does not want to do.

This torrid time travel romantic fantasy stars two wonderful lead characters, a horde of profligate aristocrats (she’d make a fortune selling her toys to this crowd), and a Greek god seeking passion. The story line is fast-paced even during the heat of passion and yet filled with twists. Loaded with heat, ONE MORE TIME is an erotic tale with plenty of hart.

Harriet Klausner

Night Fire-Vonna Harper

Night Fire
Vonna Harper
Kensington Aphrodisia, Nov 27 2007, $12.95
ISBN: 9780758222176

Hayley McKeon has always dreamed of becoming a jeweler whose work is well received. However, she put her aspirations on hold when she married. Now divorced, she wants to pursue her life’s goal: to become a first rate jeweler.

At a gem show, Hayley finds most of the displays boring. That is until she spots a showcase of beautiful black opals. These gems have a perfect sensual texture and a mesmerizing pattern that has her dreaming of what she can do with them. However, she is more stunned by her instant attraction to the owner of these precious gems, Mazati; especially since she has sworn off men since her marriage ended. This Aztec warrior has her dreaming more than just about his gems. He soon takes her into a realm of sensual bondage like nothing she felt before

Using Aztec mythos to enhance a modern day erotic romance, NIGHT FIRST is a refreshing entertaining tale that will hook the audience from the first moment the heroine notices the opals. Like Hayley, readers will find the hero mystifying yet sensual as he struggles to control his desires while dominating the submissive jeweler who appreciates his stones (opal and otherwise). Mazati brings a unique NIGHT FIRE to this heated bondage tale.

Harriet Klausner

Body Moves-Jodi Lynn Copeland

Body Moves
Jodi Lynn Copeland
Kensington Aphrodisia, Nov 2007, $12.95
ISBN: 9780758222114

“Private Passion". Danica Crosby is extremely proud of her Caribbean resort spa and plastic surgery center Private Indulgence. However, as she insures her clients receive the best, she has never indulged in cosseting herself. That is until Jordan Cameron stuns her when he slowly strips away her clothing and her barriers one kiss at a time. She feels the passion of love until she learns the cold truth of deception.

In "Private Fantasies". Logan Delaney comes to Private indulgence for breast enlargement and the sex she always thought she could have if she had the boobs men crave. Tanner Grey intends to be the hunk indulging in her private fantasies.

These two novellas are fabulous erotic medical romances that readers will enjoy as the couples indulge in private BODY MOVES that will leave readers wanting to visit Danica’s spa.

Harriet Klausner

Private Party-Jamie Alden

Private Party
Jamie Alden
Kensington Aphrodisia, Nov 2007, $12.95
ISBN: 9780758219862

Before they married Brian Dennison was so nice to his fiancée Julie Driscoll that he swept her off her feet. During her wedding celebration Julie searches for her groom so they can cut the cake together. She hears some moaning from inside a broom closet; opens the door to find her new her husband, naked accompanied by his nude assistant; they obviously were doing hanky panky business. Leaving the cake uncut, Julie decides since her spouse looked elsewhere for his wedding sex so will she.

Julie selects the best man her brother-in-law Chris. He has fantasized about making love with her since he first met her five years ago. They share an incredible heat that surpasses his wildest dreams involving her. Afterward he returns to the tropical resort he is building; Julie knows a good thing and follows him.

This is a terrific heated romance starring two likable protagonists and a rat of a groom (making love with someone else on your wedding night is despicable). Readers will appreciate this torrid tale as Chris and Julie prove their room is much hotter than the topics. Yet with all the erotic moments, Jamie Alden lightens her erotic tale with humor and some satire as ironically thanks to the cheater, Julie finds something sweeter (and saltier).

Harriet Klausner

Christmas Presence-Donna Birdsell, Lisa Childs and Susan Crosby

Christmas Presence
Donna Birdsell, Lisa Childs and Susan Crosby
Harlequin Next, Dec 2007, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373881475

“Christmas Presence” by Donna Birdsell. Widow Astrid Martin wants to boycott Christmas as this will be the first year she faces the holidays since her husband died. However, the ghost of her spouse refuses to allow the woman he loved in life to grieve. He forces her to obtain work at the mall where he insures she meets someone else.

“Secret Santa” by Lisa Childs. Single mother Maggie O'Brien worries that she and her children will miss Christmas as the bills are too great. However, a secret Santa keeps sending gifts to her and her family. She wonders who he is and will he arrive at her home gift wrapped on Christmas Eve?

“You're All I Want for Christmas” by Susan Crosby. She was supposed to spend the holidays in the Bahamas, but instead Lauren Wright is grounded at the airport due to weather. However, a fellow stranded passenger begins to cheerfully chat with her; soon she gets into the Christmas spirit as he makes her feel good that she is not in the Bahamas, but instead with him.

These three sugar without spice Yuletide romances will warm the hearts of contemporary romance readers.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, November 12, 2007

Secrets Volume 22-Ellie Marvel, Rachel Carrington, Calista Fox and Elisa Adams

Secrets Volume 22
Ellie Marvel, Rachel Carrington, Calista Fox and Elisa Adams
Red Sage, Dec 2007, $12.00
ISBN: 9781603100021

"Heat" by Ellie Marvel. The Gitternian alien Tarkin enjoys spending time with Terran Sarai until he goes into heat without a Gitter female near so he decides his earthly companion will more than do.

"Breathless" by Rachel Carrington. Lark knows she cannot defeat the monster Diaz who enjoys tormenting his victims. She needs the help of roguish avariciouse wizard Zac to destroy the beast who killed her younger sister Shanae.

"Midnight Rendezvous” by Calista Fox. Three years ago at the Plaza Cat and David shared what should have been the greatest romantic night of their respective lives as the attraction was incredible that her father sensed it; the evening instead proved unromantic as she ended up with a catering disaster instead of him. Now she has a second chance with the man she still lusts over.

"Birthday Wish" by Elisa Adams. Dean asks Anna what she wants for her birthday as she will get her anything she wishes for. She hesitates but he teases her to tell him her fantasy wish. She tells him a weekend with him.

The heat is on when Secrets releases its latest erotic romantic anthology. The four enjoyable novellas run the gamut of sub-genres, but share in common strong characters leaving the audience breathless.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Secrets Volume 21-Cynthia Eden, Larissa Ione, Kate St. James and Mia Varano

Secrets Volume 21
Cynthia Eden, Larissa Ione, Kate St. James and Mia Varano
Red Sage, Dec2007, $12.99
ISBN: 9781603100014

"Caged Wolf" by Cynthia Eden. Werewolf Alerac De Mort senses his mate is near, but when he finds her, Madison Langley shoots and cages this killer even as she fights an urge to touch him.

"Wet Dream" by Larissa Ione. In Southern California agent Brent Logan flees for his life after taking a bullet; he hides on Marina Summers' boat the Wet Dream, but finds much more than just a safe haven.

"Good Vibrations" by Kate St. James. In Calgary, the male college students make working at her Aunt Beth’s shop Grin & Bare It a nightmare, but repeat Toronto based customer Gage Templeton leaves Lexi O'Brien dreaming of lovemaking and even their offspring’s hair. This time he tells her he is here to see her.

"Virgin of the Amazon" by Mia Varano. Touring the Amazon, Northern Connecticut University librarian Anna somehow makes the mistake that she has and the others were warned by their Rainforest Rendezvous guides; not to separate. At least ten hunks in tribal attire arrive and escort her to their god-king Coop, a mad dog Englishman who tells her the shaman had a vision of a blond virgin as his latest wife. Anna must choose between Coop deflowering her before the shaman takes her virginity away.

As always the Secrets collection contains the best erotic romances due to strong characterizations inside of deep plots. The latest quartet provides a fun time for the audience even as it crosses subgenre lines.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, November 9, 2007

Everlasting-Kathleen E. Woodiwiss

Kathleen E. Woodiwiss
Avon October 30 2007, $24.95
ISBN: 9780060545529

In 1135 Abrielle of Harrington is extremely proud that King Henry II is recognizing the valor of her late father, a loyal knight who fought in support of the royal on many battlefields including the Crusades. Ironically, he died from a duel of honor in England. Abrielle hopes her stepfather receives his due to for his service.

Meanwhile many aristocrats want to court the beautiful likable Abrielle, who is expected to have a large dowry. However, at the ceremony bestowing posthumously honors on her dad, the king snubs her stepfather. At the gala, Abrielle accepts only one dance with Scotsman Raven Seabern, but concludes the hunk pities her so she decides to avoid him though attracted to him. He feels the same way about her, but since she mostly ignores him he assumes she does not want him. When he rescues her from a rape, she flees from Raven while agreeing to accept a marriage to her attempted rapist Desmond de Marle as he has the money her family needs.

The last medieval romance by the late legendary Kathleen Woodiwiss is an interesting tale that brings to life mid twelfth century England especially the court intrigue. The story line is fast-paced with the audience rooting for the good guy, honorable Raven while hissing at the caricature of evil Desmond. However, Abrielle is a bit of a disappointment as her behavior seems illogical with her egotistical belief she must save her family by marrying a beast. Still fans of Ms. Woodiwiss will appreciate EVERLASTING as a final tribute to a great influential author.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Looking for Sophie-Roz Denny Fox

Looking for Sophie
Roz Denny Fox
Harlequin SuperRomance, Dec 2007, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373714599

Although he once was ostracized for matching the wrong child to a photo of a kidnapped kid, letter carrier Jack Cavenaugh refuses to back off as he feels strongly about getting involved in kid rescue efforts. Now Jack believes he has spotted another abducted child little Sophie; he informs his son Atlanta police detective Julian Cavenaugh, who in spite of having just completed a difficult case begins LOOKING FOR SOPHIE. He flies to Alaska to talk to the girl's mother, Garnet Patton.

One year ago, her ex-husband and Sophie’s father kidnapped their daughter and vanished. Now Garnet has hope though the Georgia cop tries to tamper her enthusiasm. Also concerning Julian is that the little girl living in rural Georgia seems contented as best he can tell without giving a way his surveillance of the situation. Complicating matters further for Julian is that he is falling in love with the mother who wants her child back.

Using a child kidnapped by her parent as the matchmaking device, Roz Denny Fox provides a deep powerful contemporary romance. The attraction between Julian and Garnet is handled as part of the Sophie issue. The audience will appreciate the tale of the Sophie dilemma because there is no simple answer when neither parent is an abusive brute but instead caring adults who love their offspring, as geography makes custody complicated.

Harriet Klausner

Going for Broke-Linda Style

Going for Broke
Linda Style
Harlequin SuperRomance, Dec 2007, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373714582

Jake Chandler came home to River Bluff, Texas after a decade away for the burial of his Uncle Verne. Even at the funeral he heard the townsfolk call him “fire-starter”, “barn-burner” and horse killer. Almost no one believed he never set the inferno that killed the horses. He has to decide whether to fix up the Wild Card Saloon knowing the hostility he will face.

Her former husband Alex took their money, ruined her decorator business, and vanished; leaving Rachel Diamonte with nothing except their beloved learning disabled baby Zoe. She returns to River Bluff, but her perfect mom refuses to allow her or the imperfect infant in to her home. Desperate she asks Jake for work at the saloon even though she knows he will likely say no as she was his alibi, but she failed to step forward to clear him. However, he says for the kid’s sake he gives her a job; deep inside he knows he gave her work because he still attracted to R.D.

GOING FOR BROKE is a tender second chance at love tale starring two interesting protagonists who have two strong reasons not to come together. The story line focuses more on the changing relationship between Jake and Rachel but that comes at the cost of a superfluous glimpse at a single mom raising a handicapped infant alone instead of a profound character study. Still readers will enjoy wondering whether Jake will forgive the woman he loves for her silence condemned him and whether he, unlike her spouse or her mom, will volunteer to help raise someone else’s handicapped daughter.

Harriet Klausner

One Man to Protect Them-Suzanne Cox

One Man to Protect Them
Suzanne Cox
Harlequin SuperRomance, Dec 2007, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373714629

Veterinarian Jayden Miller returns home to Cypress Landing, Louisiana to care for her recently orphaned two preadolescent nephews (ten years old Elliot and eight years old Garrett). She also was drafted by the sheriff as a search and rescue “volunteer” because of the talent of her dog Kasey to find dead people. However, instead of a peaceful return to a town she fled a decade ago, Jayden has more troubles than helping her family grieve. She finds her tenant vanished and evidence that a local militia group may have abducted and killed the missing person.

Fearing for herself and her two charges, she considers turning to public defender Luke Taylor, but he had a militia member as a client in a murder case; the man who killed Jayden’s sister Caitland Casio and her husband Robert in a car accident. However, he is already in love with Jayden so though she has doubts about his loyalties; Luke does not as he knows where his priorities lie; keeping his beloved and her family safe.

ONE MAN TO PROTECT THEM is an interesting romantic suspense due the relationship between the lead couple. Jayden has no time to mourn her sister’s death as the kids come before her needs. Luke is a professional who believes everyone deserves a reasonable legal defense regardless of the groups they belong too. However, his belief system is somewhat shattered when he must choose between love and values. Susanne Cox provides an entertaining strong contemporary with an absorbing legal thriller twist.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Come Walk With Me-Joan Medlicott

Come Walk With Me
Joan Medlicott
Pocket, Dec 2007
ISBN: 9781416524571

When Phillip Bennett died, his beloved wife Claire thought her world was over. Eighteen months later even with seeing a shrink Dr. Delanny, she remains lifeless. Their antiques business no longer matters and their East Hampton home feels empty.

Needing a new start, Claire leaves for Florida, but still finds nothing fulfilling. When her daughter Mandy asks Claire to come visit her, her fiancé Tom and her future father-in-law Larry Harden in Weaverville, North Caroline, Claire decides to do so as she hopes to reconnect with her offspring and her son Paul; ever since her other son Terrence died in an accident, she has felt estranged from her children. However, she must reach out to them if she wants them to reach out to her; something she desperately wants to do, but is afraid to take that first step.

Though not Covington even if the family tension mostly occurs in North Carolina, Joan Medlicott provides a warm family drama starring fully developed individuals especially the lead character. Claire has a second chance with her children, but will she take the opportunity because the risk of rejection may be more costly than the status quo. Fans of Ms. Medlicott who rival those of Dean Smith in intensity will enjoy her deep character study of a middle aged widow struggling with life almost two years after the death of her husband.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, November 5, 2007

Strokes of Midnight-Hope Tarr

Strokes of Midnight
Hope Tarr
Harlequin Blaze, Dec 2007, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373793686

Author Becky Stone hopes her horoscope proves correct as it states she in for a great year. She assumes if the stars are accurate her goals will be met of landing on the NYT bestseller list and finding a hunk to share her life with

The New Year proves promising when she shares the greatest sex of her life following a writer’s party. However, once the holiday passes, her agent informs her that her bed hopping heroine Angelique is out and that as a mid level author she is in trouble. To survive she must collaborate with male adventure writer Adam Maxwell, who is a recluse living on the top of White Mountain, New England’s highest peak. Becky says no to the proposal she once said romance writing is "housewife porn". However, she reconsiders when she learns the stranger who gave her orgasms like never before lives is the recluse on White Mountain when he is not in town attending a publishing function.

With its “novel” within the novel (extracts from the lead couple’s joint efforts open each chapter), this is a fun well written contemporary romance. The story line is fast-paced from the moment that Becky learns if Angelique is to survive another book she needs to team up with Adam’s action hero Drake and never takes a breather whether their characters or the lead couple is front and center. This a well written creative tale as Hope Tarr entertains sub-genre fans with “two” blazing romances.
Harriet Klausner

Baby It’s Cold Outside-Cathy Yardley

Baby It’s Cold Outside
Cathy Yardley
Harlequin Blaze, Dec 2007, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373793709

Renowned architect and infamous womanizer (if the tabloids are accurate) Colin Reeves is going to spend the Christmas holidays in his hometown Tall Pines, Connecticut. The Paris based Colin needs a room at an inn to escape sharing a room with his boisterous eight year old nephew as the entire Reeves clan has gathered at his parents’ home. He plans to ask his former girlfriend Emily Stanfield to allow him to stay at her renovated former family mansion inn, but blundered when he failed to recognize her although she has always had a monster crush on him.

Meanwhile Emily has decided that two years of sexual abstinence is enough. She decides to seduce Colin to provide her with holiday cheer before he goes back to Paris. However, she trusts him to be a fantastic lover and more important not tell anyone that they shared the sheets as she still has to live here. She did not expect him to want even more of her.

Colin and Emily heat up the inn when they share scorching sex so much so readers will believe it’s hot outside in late December. The support cast is strong as everyone seems to want to bring this pair together, but he relishes his globetrotting freedom and she feels a responsibility as the town’s poster child for decorum. Although the climax (to the plot that is) is too perfectly packaged with a bow, readers will enjoy staying at the inn where it is torrid in at least one room.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Suspense and Sensibility-Carrie Bebris

Suspense and Sensibility
Carrie Bebris
Forge, Nov 2007, $12.95
ISBN: 9780765318442

In 1813, hoping to rusticate after solving the mystery of PRIDE AND PRESCIENCE; instead Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy sponsor her sister Kitty and his sister Georgiana for a season in London. Kitty and Harry Dashwood meet and an attraction between them is instant. However, Fitz takes his sponsorship role seriously so he makes inquiries into Harry. Everyone he speaks with insists Harry is of good moral character, wealthy enough to support a family and a superior catch.

However, just when Fitz is going to allow the sensible Harry to court Kitty, this future brother-in-law begins to behave boorishly starting with insulting a friend. Rumors suddenly surface of Harry owing large amounts of gambling debts and chasing skirts. Elizabeth and Fitz are stunned and appalled that dependable and reliable Harry whom they first met now has become crass and irresponsible. They investigate trying to understand the cause before Kitty is hurt or worse trapped in a terrible marriage; what they find starting with the puzzling Mirror of Narcissus shakes Fitz and Elizabeth to the core of their souls.

This is a reprint of the delightful married Darcy couple amateur sleuth investigations (see NORTH BY NORTHANGER for the third entry). The story line is fun to follow as the regency England of Jane Austen comes alive with the Darcy’s at the center of another whodunit. Although the Mirror seems out of place even if it is a key catalyst to the story, fans will enjoy the return of the stars of Pride and Prejudice (make that Pride and Prescience).

Harriet Klausner

A Fire Within-Kathleen Morgan

A Fire Within
Kathleen Morgan
Revell, Sep 2007, $12.99
ISBN: 9780800759650

In 1568, his outlawed clan exiles Darach MacNaghten for a homicide his brother committed. He feels he will be welcomed back by his clan if he can liberate his sibling held captive by the powerful Campbell clan.

Caitlin Campbell, sister of the clan chief, is nursing a hurt caused by the youth she thought was her soulmate. When she meets Dar, who asks for a room at her clan’s castle, she realizes how mistaken she was re the lad who played with her affections. She is attracted to the newcomer and to his inner turmoil he reciprocates. However, Dar has no plan or time to see where his feelings lead; instead he uses her feelings to abduct her. He will trade his prisoner for the Campbell prisoner. However, although he persuaded himself he can control his heart, he knows he failed as he and Caitlin fall in love.

Although typical of the Scottish historical romance sub-genre of having two strong stubborn people from feuding clans fall in love, readers will enjoy the third These Highland Hills tale (see (see WINGS OF MORNING and CHILD OF THE MIST). The story line is fast-paced as the lead couple exchange barbs and kisses as they travel the countryside. Nothing goes according to his plan (Dar must feel like the sixteenth century Murphy) to the delight of the audience as Kathleen Morgan closes her fine saga with an interesting expected final twist.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Lying in Mid-Air-Anne Tourney

Lying in Mid-Air
Anne Tourney
Cheek (Black Lace), Dec 2007, $12.95
ISBN: 9780352341426

Business consultant Lauryn knows she is a success by the number of clients flying her to assist them. However, with each new project her ennui grows as she has nothing outside of work except her fantasies as her stories are hot and bothersome, but reality is cold and boring.

Graduate student Chloe loves Japanese poetry and dreams of a debauched life in Tokyo preferably with her on her therapist, but fears flying and knows her shrink is a professional. However, in her reverie, they make love in the sky and in Japan; reality is lonely and cold.

Veronica shines shoes at the airport with dreams of owning a Goth escort service. Once again her dreams are heated, but the truth is she doubts she will ever take a chance on fulfilling her vision.

These three women come alive with their respective whimsical desire when they meet Joel, a male journalist, who wants to take each of this trio on a taste of depraved reality based on his sexual fantasies.

This is an interesting erotic character study as the relationship between the hunk and his harem change with each interaction. All four protagonists come across as genuine with flaws, desires and needs. Anne Tourney proves a deep look at relationships though the introspective musings and the encounters and trysts that make LYING IN MID-AIR a much deeper tale than the sub-genre normally contains.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Rancher's Christmas Baby-Cathy Gillen Thacker

The Rancher's Christmas Baby
Cathy Gillen Thacker
Harlequin American, Dec 2007, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373751938

In Laramie, Texas teenagers Amy Carrigan and Teddy McCabe are best friends. They make a pledge that if they fail to find their respective soulmate by the time they turn thirty, they will marry one another and raise a family together.

Years later, Amy’s friends are not only married, but are having babies. Sadly Amy remains single having not met her love of a lifetime, but refuses to settle for less. However, Teddy remembers the vow as if it was yesterday not over a decade ago; so he asks Amy to marry him. She accepts his proposal as she figures if she has to settle for less than everlasting love, no one could match her pal Teddy. Their respective families are shocked to say the least and all have opinions on the upcoming nuptials. However, neither expected to find their soulmate with each other, but that first kiss reveals the truth.

This Texas version of When Harry Met Sally is an amusing contemporary romance starring likable lead characters and eccentric somewhat zany secondary players who have good intentions as they want the best for Amy and Teddy, but cause plenty of humorous havoc. The story line combines warmth with jocularity as the best friends become much more. Readers will enjoy this lighthearted romantic romp.

Harriet Klausner

The Christmas Date-Michele Dunaway

The Christmas Date
Michele Dunaway
Harlequin American, Dec 2007, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373751952

In Orlando, Florida Kate Merrill learned from her handsome womanizing father that hunks don’t believe in permanent relationships; not even with adoring daughters. Thus when international photographer Tyler Nichols moves in next door, she assumes he might hit on her as a temporary distraction, but will depart rather quickly once he is bored with her just like dad did.

Tyler bought the house because his sister and accountant told him he needed a tax break and a swinging condo was not enough. His latest work in Iraq is Pulitzer Prize potential photos so he is looking forward to returning there. However, when he meets kissable Kate, he finds his desires change as she is his thrill, but to persuade her that they can have both a loving relationship and his photography career seems doubtful as she knows men leave.

This warm Yuletide tale star seemingly two opposites as he is a globetrotting player and she is a stay at home sideliner, but her best friends, his mom and sister and readers will learn that first impressions can prove false especially with the right chemistry. Michele Dunaway provides her audience with a charming Yuletide tale as fans will wonder whether love is strong enough for Tyler and Kate to find away for them to remain together after New Year’s.

Harriet Klausner

Christmas Presents and Past-Janice Kay Johnson

Christmas Presents and Past
Janice Kay Johnson
Harlequin Everlasting, Dec 2007, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373654239

In 1968, teens Will and Dinah went out on a date in which he brought her a Christmas present that showed he believed she could make it as a chef; something her family felt was foolish. Whether he was serving in Viet Nam or she spending a summer in Paris, they exchanged holiday presents. Even when they temporarily broke up they exchanged gifts.

Will the builder and Dinah the chef married and raised three children while each year they continued their custom of exchanging presents that symbolized their everlasting love for one another. That is until a tragic car accident ends their relationship and threatens their loving ritual or does it?

This is an interesting relationship drama that when Janice Kay Johnson covers the past feels nostalgic but lacks ardor; when the story line turns to the present following the tragedy, the emotions explode. Once the switch occurs, the plot becomes powerfully angst-laden filled with passion, much of which is negative. Readers will appreciate the gift giving tradition and the deep feelings between the loving couple once Christmas present occurs as this may be the year that the couple fails to exchange gifts as they have done for almost four decades.

Harriet Klausner

A Spirit of Christmas-Margot Early

A Spirit of Christmas
Margot Early
Harlequin Everlasting, Dec 2007, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373654246

Wealthy fifty-five years old Keti Whitechapel owns Bounty Mountain Resort in her hometown of Bounty, Nevada. Kei knows she has come a long way from her lonely impoverished childhood, but though she is rich, she remains alone in spite of having a child with Dr. Martin Collins.

Her only childhood friend Martin ended his relationship with Keti though he loves her because he loathes her lack of business ethics, which extends to her personal relationships. Keti prepares to celebrate Christmas Eve as she always has by herself until she rescues a mutt she names Marley. However this time whether it is a dream or a ghost Keti looks back on the monumental events that shaped her miserable life.

Keti is a modern day female Scrooge who looks back at what made her who she is today. Fans looking for a romance probably should pass though there is a glimpse of her first time with Martin and a possible second chance at love if she risks rejection by telling him how much she loves him. However, although the rest of the cast is never developed except in terms of how they relate to Keti, this well written update of a segment of A Christmas Carol is a character study of how the child becomes the adult.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Winged Creatures-Roy Freirich

Winged Creatures
Roy Freirich
St. Martin’s, Dec 2007, $13.95
ISBN: 9780312378950

In Hunt Landing, Michigan, Dr. Laraby stops for a coffee to go at Carby’s on his way to work as an ER resident at Hunt Landing Medical LLC where his late father was a founder. Not longer after he leaves, a shooting incident occurs at Carby’s.

Laraby tries to save the lives of a victim and the shooter, but both die. Teenagers Anne Hagen and Jimmy Jaspersen are in the hospital when her mom Doris arrives. Also there are Lori and Sue Carline. The three teenage girls share in common that their dads were with them at Carby’s and are now dead as a result of the mass shootings. Jimmy was also there with Annie and her father.

Psychologist Dr. Abler offers help to the survivors and their loved ones. Abler explains to Anne about grief, but she insists she is a witness to God’s plan and she held her brave dad’s hand while she was under a table and he courageously remained exposed to the killer. The psychologist turns to Jimmy, who is unable to speak. Another survivor forty-eight year old Charlie Archenault, a father and husband, was shot, but is okay. He feels lucky to be alive so he just leaves, takes out money and drives to a casino. Twenty-two year old cashier Carla Davenport is shook up, but also just leaves to pick up her baby Davy from the sitter.

This novelization of an upcoming movie contains a strong premise of following what happens to the survivors and their loved ones of a shooting at a public place that left people dead. The ensemble cast contains unique characters with each person coping differently. However, the rotating perspective at times becomes difficult to follow with what is happening to everyone. Still WINGED CREATURES is an intriguing character study that looks deep into the aftermath of a personal tragedy.

Harriet Klausner

The Romance Readers’ Book Club-Julie L. Cannon

The Romance Readers’ Book Club
Julie L. Cannon
Plume, Dec 2007, $13.00
ISBN: 9780452288997

In 1974 Rigby, Georgia, fifteen year old Tammi Elco avoids her guardian Granny as the older woman is deeply religious. Granny’s spouse Pepaw begs the Heavenly Father to end the draught that is destroying his farm whereas Granny believes God is punishing the family for their transgressions. Granny insists there will be no trick or treating as that is a pagan sin. After church, Tammi and her thirty years old childlike cousin Orr sneak out to go trick or treating. Dell Terhune gives Orr candy and Tammi romance novels.

Tammi comes up with the idea of the ROMANCE READERS’ BOOK CLUB. At school she asks LaDonna Tallchief to join the club; Donna says yes. Next she needs a place to meet so she asks her Aunt Minna, if they can come to her home. Minna says yes and joins the club. Minna tells Tammi that her Uncle Finch is dying and his wife Nanette and their teenage son Leon will come to stay.

At the first club meeting, LaDonna brings her older cousin Park. They agree to meet in a month with each having one week to read the first six chapters of a book. Nanette and Leon arrive and Tammi thinks her cousin by marriage not blood is a hunk. Meanwhile Reverend Goodlow warns people that lust is causing the drought, which worries a guilt laden Tammi as she dreams of kisses with Leon as the stars of the romance novels.

This is a well written southern family drama, but the lack of references to the civil rights movement that impacted the region in the 1970s fails to provide an anchor to the period. Still the storyline stars fully developed characters that bring to life 1970s rural Georgia while the use of “trashy” romance novels is a clever device that enables the audience to see the power religious beliefs hold on people. Readers who appreciate something unique will want to read this fine coming of age historical.

Harriet Klausner

Sweet Return-Anna Jeffrey

Sweet Return
Anna Jeffrey
Signet, Dec 2007, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451222718

In Hatlow, Texas Joanna Walsh owns a successful beauty salon business and an equally profitable making janitorial service. However, her latest business venture has proven to smell like rotten eggs. Her close friend of thirteen years cattle rancher Clova Cherry persuaded Joanna to join her in an organic egg enterprise as a means of saving her spread.

Clova has two sons; neither of which has helped her with the ranch. Lane is a drunk while Dalton is an internationally renowned photographer. When Lane ends up in an intensive care unit of Lubbock Memorial Hospital following a DUI accident, Dalton comes home from his Los Angeles base of operations to take his mom’s cattle to market. Instead of cows he finds chickens and a thirty something woman who makes him dream of settling in West Texas. He accuses the chicken farmer of abusing the kindness of his mom; she accuses the wandering son of abandoning his mom fifteen years ago leaving her to struggle to pay her debts. Obviously love is everywhere when these two enemies meet.

SWEET RETURN is a sweet contemporary Texas romance that sub-genre fans will enjoy reading as the lead couple is a workaholic pair who must find time in their busy regiment to battle, argue, and fall in love. Anna Jeffrey provides a warm fun tale.

Harriet Klausner

Laird of the Mist-Paula Quinn

Laird of the Mist
Paula Quinn
Forever, Dec 2007, $6.99
ISBN: 978-0446617857

In the seventeenth century laird Callum MacGregor swears he will not become the latest homicidal statistic of the perfidious Campbells; over the past century members of the Campbell clan have assassinated every MacGregor laird. Instead Callum decides to lead a presumptive strike by attacking his enemy’s stronghold leaving no one behind to ultimately try to kill him.

During the assault, Callum breaks his second rule of taking no prisoners as he abducts angry Kate Campbell with plans to use her as a hostage and an expendable pawn. She plans to escape starting with seducing her clan’s enemy. As they fall in love, the Campbell clan is coming to liberate her with a retaliatory strike that includes leaving no one alive especially the Laird.

This entertaining Scottish historical romance focuses on a Romeo and Juliet with a love that neither of the feuding clans will blithely tolerate. With Callum stubborn when it comes to his belief that his enemy has murdered his predecessors and thus obviously distrustful, it is up to the courageous tolerant heroine to prevent a deadly battle and keep her beloved alive. Brave Kate steals the novel as she faces love, danger and treachery.

Harriet Klausner