Friday, February 29, 2008

A Dangerous Love-Brenda Joyce

A Dangerous Love
Brenda Joyce
Harlequin HQN, Apr 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373772759

In 1820 her family’s aristocratic standing makes Ariella de Warenne part of high society, but her free thinking behavior keeps her outside not looking in; she just does not care what the Ton thinks. So when a Gypsy band sets up camp on her family's Derbyshire estate, she visits without a second thought towards proper behavior. She stunned to find herself attracted to the Roma leader Emilian, who to his inner turmoil reciprocates.

Unbeknownst to Ariella, the recipient of her affection is also her affluent neighbor, Lord Emilian St. Xavier. When he was little, his aristocratic father abducted him from his Roma mother because Emilian was the heir. He detests his title and his peerage as his only desire is vengeance against the mob who murdered his mother. Thus when he feels an attraction to the female de Warenne, Emilian also feels self-loathing until he decides Ariella is an expendable pawn that he will publicly ruin. Emilian does not know that messing with a de Warenne in love is more dangerous than facing the late Napoleon and his French army.

A DANGEROUS LOVE is a strong de Warenne Regency romance starring two aristocratic outsiders who scorn the trappings of the Ton. The story line is fast-paced, but character driven as each of the lead pair has a scheme to win their heart’s desire; hers being him while his being revenge. Though both protagonists are similar to many fictional Regency protagonists, Brenda Joyce refreshes them with Attitude that provides fans with a marvelously entertaining entry in her delightful long running historical saga.

Harriet Klausner

A Mother's Love-Ruth Wind, RaeAnne Thayne and Janice Johnson

A Mother's Love
Ruth Wind, RaeAnne Thayne and Janice Johnson
Harlequin, Apr 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780373837243

"Her Best Friend's Baby" by Ruth Wind. Yogariffic studio owner Kyra Tierney is stunned when Mr. Dylan Jones calls her from Cardiff to inform her that her best friend “Africa” Fletcher and her Welsh husband, Thomas Rhys died in a car crash. She is further shocked to learn she was named their daughter’s guardian. Kyra travels to Wales to meet baby Emma; there she meets Thomas best friend Dylan; both are attracted to one another.

"Daughter of the Bride" by Janice Johnson. Although attracted to the hunk, Leila Foster refuses to go out with Detective Mark Duncan, as she vowed to never date a cop after a disastrous affair. However, Leila is stunned when her mom announces she is remarrying as her dad has only been under the ground for about a year. Mark is there for her as she struggles with wanting to feel good for her mom without betraying the memory of her dad.

"A Mother's Hope" by RaeAnne Thayne. Former rodeo star Jace McCandless provides horse riding therapy to Hope Sullivan who is slowly recovering from a car accident. Jace is attracted to Hope’s mother Christa, but she rejects his flirtations while hiding her desire for him from him. She may want Jace, but she stereotypes him as being no better than the glib cowboy who sired Hope and never looked at his daughter.

Seemingly published a month too early to celebrate Mother’s Day, these three warm family dramas salute moms, who bring nurturing and love year round regardless of their age. Romance and daughters fill out this pleasant anthology.

Harriet Klausner

For Pete's Sake-Linda Windsor

For Pete's Sake
Linda Windsor
Avon, Apr 2008, $12.95
ISBN: 9780061171383

One of the Four Musketeers Ellen Brittingham loves driving a motorcycle but her tomboyish behavior seems to turn off men. She has pretty much settled on the thought she will never meet someone who will embrace the real full Ellen because they will demand she give up her safety helmet for frills. Additionally Ellen has never met a man who makes her melt inside.

That is until Adrian Sinclair moves in next door. Ellen is attracted to the single dad and likes his eleven year old son Peter, whose mom Carol died giving birth to him. However, now that she finally has found the man of her dreams, she knows she cannot compete with his fiancée Selena a stunning tall blonde software marketing rep; besides which she understands Pete must come first.

The second Windsor's Piper Cove tale (see WEDDING BELL BLUES) is an engaging inspirational romance starring two likable individuals who both understand that Pete comes before their needs. That mantra gives Ellen her only edge against her rival, who is beautiful and brilliant, but misses the key to Adrian’s heart. The secondary cast, mostly the other three pals, of course Pete, Carol (through Adrian’s pensive thoughts) and Selena, enhances the deep look at the fully developed lead couple. Fans will appreciate this warm romance.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Coming Soon-Jo Leigh

Coming Soon
Jo Leigh
Harlequin Blaze, Mar 2008, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373793907

Mia Traverse is the concierge at Manhattan’s five-star Hush Hotel. Currently she tries to keep things running smooth as Hollywood is staying at the luxurious inn, which means paparazzi is behind every flower pot.

However, Mia never expected to find the corpse of paparazzo Gerry Geiger, a royal pain in the butt, but not deserving of murder. NYPD Detective Bax Milligan leads the investigation, but realizes he needs a hotel insider; Mia volunteers. As they work together trying to solve the homicide, they fall in love, but can a pair of overworked people make time for one another once the whodunit is solved or closed.

Bax is a fascinating protagonist who is burned out at thirty six with plans to leave in three months to relocate to Boulder. Mia is TV mystery junky who loves her job and enjoys going undercover to assist the sleuth. Although the mystery is fun, it seems unlikely a cop even near his departure date would risk a civilian especially the one he is falling in love with. Still fans will enjoy Jo Leigh’s entertaining romantic whodunit that is entirely not by the book.

Harriet Klausner

Getting Lucky-Joanne Rock

Getting Lucky
Joanne Rock
Harlequin Blaze, Mar 2008, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373793853

Sports agent Dex “Lucky” Brantley has lived a most fortunate life as everything he touches turns to gold; for a dozen years he has been at the top of his vocation that is until his thirty-third birthday when his touch became fool’s gold. Six months later, the family curse has left him mentally and emotionally devastated, symbolized by his new nickname, Dex the Hex.

Desperate to have the curse removed so he can regain a life worth living, Dex asks psychic Lara Wyland to eliminate the blight. Lara agrees to help him although he was scornful of her psychic skills when he was Dex the Lucky. Still she knows he is serious as he is willing to leave the Big Apple for Albany, a place where only politicians from the city go. She rationalizes helping the king of derision as she would be a fool to pass up the money he offers and the knowledge of how much he has crawled by asking her. Besides he is a hunk.

GETTING LUCKY is an engaging paranormal romance with a bit of late suspense that enhances the story line. Dex is terrific as he goes from scornful non believer to desperate doubter to in love fully converted. This is a fun tale as Dex the Hex feels his nothing but bad luck string of blue notes ending in a spite of ghosts, a nasty storm, and someone who wants him to crap out of life just because he won the World Series and Superbowl of his life: the love of Lara.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Baby, I'm Yours-Carrie Weaver

Baby, I'm Yours
Carrie Weaver
Harlequin SuperRomance, Mar 2008, $6.25
ISBN: 9780373782215

Becca Smith is stunned when her spouse Gabe dies without any warning. Following his funeral the grieving Becca turns to Gabe’s business partner, Rick Jensen, also in mourning, for comfort. Although he knows he must not out of respect for his and best friend Gabe he cannot resist offering her sympathy starting with a hug that soon leads to them making love.

Several weeks later, Becca knows she is pregnant, but is unsure whether the late Gabe is the father or Rick. She tells Rick, who wants to be there for the baby regardless of whose DNA is part of the child’s make-up. As he and Becca try to forge a relationship, both remain haunted by guilt and grief.

Although the sex after the funeral seems a disrespectful stretch, fans will appreciate this interesting contemporary tale of grief, guilt, and relationships. Becca is a fascinating lead character as she goes through the grief process compounded by her guilt over having sex with Rick. He is the more fascinating protagonist as he wants to raise the child with the woman he loves, but feels obligated by guilt to assume the baby is Gabe’s even if it really is his. Readers will appreciate this deep look at two people struggling with what is the right thing for everyone but themselves as they each feels they are the least deserving.

Harriet Klausner

Be My Babies-Kathryn Shay

Be My Babies
Kathryn Shay
Harlequin SuperRomance, Mar 2008, $6.25
ISBN: 9780373782246

Her husband may be affluent and a member of high society, but Derek Wakefield fails to grow up as drugs and now women supersede family obligations especially now that his wife is pregnant. Expecting twins and no help from her addicted Peter Pan mate, Lily Wakefield leaves New York City to visit her mother's hometown Fairview, New York. There she hopes her maternal grandfather Gil Gardner, owner of the local newspaper Sentinel, whom she has never met, will help her.

In Fairview, Lily meets newspaper editor Simon McCarthy and his daughter Jenny, who calls Gil “Grandpa Gil”. Soon she meets a stunned Gil who feels guilt for allowing his wife to run off their pregnant daughter Camy when she needed them. He knows Camy died, but was unaware that she had the child, his granddaughter. He needs her to stay and she wants to as her mom only had kind words for her father. Meanwhile Simon fears she has come to take over the paper as he understands how thick blood can be. Still he is attracted to the pregnant woman who might replace him as the editor after she gives birth.

This is a wonderful family drama with likable characters as Gil and Lily get second chances. Simon and Lily are a terrific pairing and love for each other and for Gil brings them together. Although a subplot involving Derek’s vengeful upper crust mother using blackmail seems over the top especially the extortion gamut, fans will enjoy this fine homecoming romance.

Harriet Kalsuner

The Marine's Baby-Rogenna Brewer

The Marine's Baby
Rogenna Brewer
Harlequin SuperRomance, Mar 2008, $6.25
ISBN: 9780373782239

Caitlin Calhoun mourns the death of her Navy SEAL husband Luke Calhoun, Jr. who died in the line of duty. 89 days 9 hours and 9 minutes since the two uniforms knocked on her door with the news she dreaded, Caitlin receives a letter from CryoBank of San Diego asking what to do with his semen specimen. She decides she wants his offspring so she goes to the cryo facility to get impregnated.

However, Caitlin is unaware that her late spouse had an older half-brother with the same name; neither did the sperm bank. She learns later that she has been impregnated by the sperm of Luke Calhoun; just not her Luke Calhoun. Feeling she owes her half-brother-in-law the truth, Caitlin meets and explains to Luke "Lucky" Calhoun about the mix-up. The marine knows what he wants, which are Caitlin and their baby, but she is wary having lost one military officer she loved to the war on terrorism.

Caitlin makes this contemporary romance works as she goes from grief to euphoria to shock to love to guilt in a believable manner. Luke the marine is a caring person who understands much of what his beloved is dealing with as he learns from her that his half-brother was also a good person. Readers will appreciate this strong military romance as Rogenna Brewer brews up a deep lead couple struggling with forming a relationship as the ghost of her late spouse, his brother, lingers in their minds.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Gentleman Rancher-Cathy Gillen Thacker

The Gentleman Rancher
Cathy Gillen Thacker
Harlequin American, Mar 2008, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373752058

Jeremy Carrigan and Taylor O’Quinn attended medical school together until she abruptly quit to become a writer. She left their Texas home for the East to fulfill her dream. He became a doctor while she wrote chick lit novels.

Taylor’s book is being turned into a movie by publicity hounds Zak and Zoe. To escape them and the press, a bone weary Taylor flees for her hometown Laramie, Texas where Jeremy owns a ranch. The Z squad pursues her. Once home, Taylor realizes that she still loves Jeremy who apparently prefers a friendship with her. She needs to decide whether she can handle being a pal or the media seekers even as Jeremy wonders if he can persuade his beloved author she can write novels on their ranch.

The latest Carrigan tale (see THE RANCHER NEXT DOOR and THE RANCHER’ FAMILY THANKSGIVING) is a zany Texas romance somewhat caused by the maniacal Z squared pair. However, the plot belongs to the chick lit author and her beloved as they prove you can keep them down on the ranch after they’ve seen New York with love and a large dose of honest communication.

Harriet Klausner

Going Down to Georgia-Ann DeFee

Going Down to Georgia
Ann DeFee
Harlequin American, Mar 2008, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373752065

Widow Grammy Liza Henderson runs around her hometown of Magnolia Bluffs, Georgia doing errands for her daughter Cassie. Liza loves her daughter, two preadolescent step-grandsons and likes her son-in-law who is half between her age and that of her only child. She detests running errands especially when she is stuck in traffic or involved in an accident that has her buried in a sea of green kudzu. She is running late on her key chore besides buying size six boys shoes and picking up former California police officer turned land developer Zack Maynard.

Zack is in town helping his brother, but is attracted to Liza from the moment they met; he is unaware of the family connection between them. However, he soon wears his former cop hat as someone has threatened Liza and several break-ins make the menace real. As he tries to keep her safe, Liza and Zack fall in love.

This is an entertaining regional romantic suspense that star likable lead protagonists and stereotypical eccentric southern support characters. Liza is a steel magnolia while Zack goes from California titanium to melted metal. Although the mystery of Liza’s missing spouse assumed dead is to simplistically resolved, which takes away from an overall fine plot, fans who appreciate GOING DOWN TO GEORGIA for a visit will want to read Ann DeFee’s fine contemporary.

Harriet Klausner

Klondike Fever-Kate Bridges

Klondike Fever
Kate Bridges
Harlequin Historical, Apr 2008, $5.99
ISBN: 9780373294916

In 1898, Miss Lilybeth “Klondike Lily” Cromwell rides a coach in the Yukon Wilderness on her way to Alaska to find her missing sister Amanda. The wealthiest female in the territory due to gold, the former servant would return to servile work and give up all the gold she possesses if she could find Amanda safe. Also on the coach is undercover Mountie Dylan Wayburn, who is using the guise of a drifter to investigate coach robberies. He and Lily not only know each other, they concealed their love for one another.

The Maddock gang stops the coach and chains together all the prisoners as they know who Lily is. They steal her gold leaving them to die from wild animals or the even wilder climate. However, the pair survives and team up pretending to be married in their quest to rescue Amanda, retrieve Lily’s gold, and end the robberies. During their ordeal, neither can hide their love any longer.

No one brings vividly to life late nineteenth century Canada better than Kate Bridges consistently does with her Mountie historical romances (see KLONDIKE FEVER). The story line is fast-paced from the moment that the coach is robbed and Dylan and Lily are chained together and never slows down until the final confrontation. Lily is terrific as she knows she would give up the gold for her loved ones while Dylan wonders how to prove to his wealthy beloved that he loved her when she was a servant. As always this talented author provides a bridge to bygone era.

Harriet Klausner

Shadows of the Night-Lydia Joyce

Shadows of the Night
Lydia Joyce
Signet, Mar 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451223425

During the courtship Colin and Fern behaved as expected of aristocrats by Victorian society. Both expected a normal somewhat boring relationship as neither showed a tendency to break out of the mold. Then came their wedding night in which Fern displays sass, boldness, and desire, which makes Colin hot for her and dream perhaps they can have an ardent loving marriage that breaks sexual taboos with some safe S&M.

They go on their honeymoon to his most remote estate where she wants independence and he desires more of what they had on their wedding night. They fall in love and enjoy their isolation until Joseph Reston from Colin’s past arrives with demands that shake apart the newlyweds as she realizes he has hidden things from her while he insists they no longer matter as love has changed him from what he was.

SHADOWS OF THE NIGHT is an engaging Victorian romantic suspense in which the peril comes later in the plot, but enhances the story line by causing a major rift between the lead couple who struggle to understand their sexual appetites. Fans will enjoy this heated historical because the conflict comes from within the relationship between Colin and Fern even before Reston arrives and amplifies the already existing issues.

Harriet Klausner

Thigh High-Christina Dodd

Thigh High
Christina Dodd
Signet, Mar 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451223371

In Philadelphia, Jeremiah "Mac" MacNaught is stunned by the behavior of his always professional investigator into the Beaded Bandits robberies of the New Orleans branches of his Premier Central Bank during Mardi Gras. The staid Reed seems full of life as he explains he danced with the prime suspect Ionessa Dahl, who works at the bank and whose family has lived at renowned Dahl House for generations. Arrogant that he will never fall for the Dahl party life that he believes his banks bankroll, Mac assumes this Nessa who graduated Summa Cum Laude from Emery school of business is the brains behind the thefts. Obsessed he travels to Philadelphia to prove his theory.

Nessa Dahl made one error while working at the Premier Central Bank, but hopes that her dedication, hard work, and success at her job will overcome that indiscretion leading to a promotion. Mac goes undercover masquerading as an insurance investigator. However, when they meet during Mardi Gras, he is totally under her spell and that of her zany aunts, who live with her. Their parties are the in place to be, but Mac's fixation has changed radically as he wants Nessa as his, but fears when she learns who he is she will send him home alone.

This zany New Orleans frolic is a humorous over the top wild spin of the Big Easy starring two likable protagonists. Interestingly he has honesty at the top of what makes a good person list and she has trust at the top of hers; ergo the truth may set you free, but separately in this case except her matchmaking eccentric aunts will not allow that to happen. Fans will enjoy Christine Dodd’s amusing romantic dance around New Orleans.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, February 25, 2008

Fully Engaged-Abby Gaines

Fully Engaged
Abby Gaines
Harlequin NASCAR, Mar 2008, $5.99
ISBN: 9780373217878

Public Relations Specialist Sandra Jacobs struggles to satisfy her unimpressable client, Gideon Taney, owner of Taney Motorsports as she needs this job, but so far nothing has worked. When his NASCAR driver Will Branch fails to arrive at Olivia Winton Show where he was to be the guest of honor, three cups of coffee does not abate the trepidations she feels when Taney arrives. Someone must take the fall for this embarrassing debacle on the top breakfast morning TV show so Taney fires Jacobs.

Sandra knows how much she needs this client to pay for her father’s Alzheimer’s medical care so she refuses to slink away. Besides she feels strongly she did everything right as she had worked hard to obtain this coup; it was not her fault that Will pulled his DNF (did not finish). As she struggles to stay afloat, bossy Gideon is impressed with her fortitude, which soon turns to love.

Readers will be FULLY ENGAGED with this fine NASCAR romance due to the strong relationships between the lead couple and within her family. The actual strength of the tale is the contrast between the seriousness of her father’s mental fading away vs. the humor of the relationship between the Motor Medias Group member and her client. Abby Gaines provides a wonderful mostly off track romance.

Harriet Klausner

Truth and Consequences-Bethany Campbell

Truth and Consequences
Bethany Campbell
Harlequin NASCAR, Mar 2008, $5.99
ISBN: 9780373217861

Penny Branch has not told her husband Craig why; only that it is over. She quits modeling and kicks him out of their condo while informing him she is filing for divorce. Although she loves her soon to be ex spouse, she cannot even tell him her secrets that are driving her from him. Even her loving mother in Dallas begs her to explain why as she thought they were the perfect couple, but Penny refuses to say anything.

Craig wants his wife back as he loves her. However, her family has a bigger issue as her father, a business mogul who sponsors NASCAR since he has twin sons as drivers, fled to Switzerland, skipping Daytona, with millions of embezzled company funds. Feeling selfish and opportunistic, Craig is there for Penny because he wants to help her, but also he sees this as his last chance to reconcile with the woman he loves.

Although a tornado is one spin too many, readers will appreciate this deep look behind the scenes at an upstart newcomer family trying to break into the upper tier of NASCAR. The keys to this interesting second chance romance are the Branch family financial woes and Penny’s secret that has placed her relationship with Craig on the brink of crashing; something that only his niece Lilly can commiserate with. Fans will enjoy reading Bethany Campbell’s drive around the racing oval.

Harriet Klausner

The Beast in Him-Shelly Laurenston

The Beast in Him
Shelly Laurenston
Kensington Brava, Apr 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758220370

In Smithtown, Tennessee, werewolf Bobby Ray Smith always protects wild dog Jessie Ann Ward from his sister and her pack. As he is about to join the navy, he wants to kiss Jessie Ann, but controls himself as he knows that once started he will not be able to stop and neither has sexual protection. Jessie Ann is mortified when he seemingly rejects her.

Sixteen years later in New York former SEALs Smitty and his partner were-lion Mace Llewellyn run a security firm. They are currently providing protection to a wild dog pack of computer geeks, Kuznetson Security Systems. The CEO and alpha dog turns out to be Jessie Ann. She pretends she does not remember much about Smitty, who is upset by her action and subsequent behavior towards him. Smitty and Jessie go for coffee where he tells her she is afraid because she wants him. Jessie says she hates him.

Jessie sees Walt Wilson, a cousin to the notorious Smith clan. He means trouble for her pack as his teenage daughter Kristin and her mother Maylin are part of the group. He never cared about them before so she knows he wants something besides Kristin. As she hides how much she loves Smitty from him, he works on keeping her safe and making her his, but fears wildly marking her as a wolf is so much bigger than a dog.

The sequel to THE MANE EVENT affirms that in the Laurenston world, the various breeds of shapeshifters come across as genuine. The lead couple is a nice pairing as both are likable protagonists who have a misinterpreted history, a confusing present, and a potential future as soulmates. Although the climax is too soft, fans will enjoy this lighthearted amusing paranormal second chance at love.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Winding Ways Quilt- Jennifer Chiaverini

The Winding Ways Quilt
Jennifer Chiaverini
Simon & Schuster, Apr 2008, $24.00
ISBN: 9781410403711

The Elm Street Quilters camp is about to reopen and participants eagerly hope to learn more about their craft and meet old friends and make new ones. This year’s opening is bittersweet because some of the founding members are leaving.

Judy wouldn’t leave for anything less than a tenure position at U of Penn and her husband is getting a job at the Philadelphia Inquirer. It is a time for new beginning for pregnant Sara and her husband Matt. Bonnie lost her store Grandmother’s Attic when some thugs destroyed it beyond repair and her husband changed the numbers to their accounts and the locks to their home. Summer who is also one of the founders is taking her doctorate at the University of Chicago. It is time for the Elm Street Quilters to have welcomes and farewells to characters who are coming and leaving.

The characters are fully developed and likable especially bringing in two new faculty members to replace departing instructors adds freshness to the saga. However, the story line feels very similar to previous tales with flashbacks overly employed and there are very little interactions between the main characters as the tale is more of a series of vignettes. Still fans will want to say goodbye to leaving quilters and welcome new members.

Harriet Klausner

Savage Flames-Cassie Edwards

Savage Flames
Cassie Edwards
Leisure, Mar 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780843958775

In 1851 in Florida Lavinia Price lives a perfect life with a loving adoring husband who she thinks the world of and a wonderful daughter. Their plantation home is beautiful and shows their affluence without being gaudy.

One day, Lavinia notices a white cat in a tree on their plantation; before she can blink the feline seems to change into a green-eyed Indian; and before a second blink she sees an empty tree. She has no time to be shook by what she saw because immediately afterward her beloved husband is killed. Her brother-in-law Hiram coveted what his late sibling had, the plantation and Lavinia; he schemes to force the grieving widow into marrying him. However when her daughter vanishes into the nearby Everglades, Lavinia follows. Meanwhile the green-eyed Seminole who watched her from her tree quietly and safely guides the two female Prices to his people’s legendary but secret camp on Mystic Island. Lavinia falls in love with this majestic warrior and his tribe while Hiram, using the soldiers who are forcing Indians onto the reservations, sets out to make her his whether she wants that or not.

As is typical of the Cassie Edwards’ Indian romances a brave morally upright white female, an ethically courageous Indian male and an evil white male form the classic Edwards’ triangle. However, also as always with a Ms. Edwards’ historical, SAVAGE FLAMES is an entertaining tale that shines a light on a Seminole tribe refusing to live on a reservation; opting instead to hide and reside in the swamps. Once again Ms. Edwards provides her fans with a delightful nineteenth century story.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 22, 2008

How To Propose To A Prince-Kathryn Caskie

How To Propose To A Prince
Kathryn Caskie
Avon, Mar 2008
ISBN: 9780061124877

With her two sisters married (see Mary’s tale - HOW TO SEDUCE A DUKE and Anne’s saga - HOW TO ENGAGE AN EARL). the youngest of the Royle sisters, Elizabeth dreams of marrying a prince; nothing less will do for her. She even dreams of the royal she will marry. When she actually sees the royal of her dreams for the first time Elizabeth struggles to keep her deportment especially when she learns her hunk is Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfield.

However, Elizabeth is taken aback when she learns Leopold is intended for the Princess of Wales. Hoping for a miracle, Elizabeth obtains a position as a lady in waiting for Princess Charlotte. As she tries to get close to her dream husband, Elizabeth begins to believe something is not right. She plans to find out what secret Prince Leopold is hiding.

This is a terrific ending to the Royle Regency romances as Elizabeth’s plan is unusual and seemingly insane yet is clever as it allows her entry into the playing field. Fans will appreciate Kathryn Caskie’s superb tale filled with historical persona and tidbits that bring the early nineteenth century to life; plausible twists (especially a final one) that add depth to the plot; amateur sleuthing that enables the audience to understand the heroine’s strength of conviction; and a fun romance.

Harriet Klausner

Making Over Mr. Right-Judi McCoy

Making Over Mr. Right
Judi McCoy
Avon, Mar 2008
ISBN: 9780061341434

In New York successful businessman Theo Maragos is tall, dark, and a geek who needs to change his image before he appears in a national magazine. Zeus’ daughter Zoe, the Muse of Beauty, is assigned the ask of making him over; Zoe knows what failure means as her dad will not tolerate such a fiasco on her part or for that matter her two sisters, Kyra (see ALMOST A GODDESS) and Chloe (ONE NIGHT WITH A GODDESS) who have their own Herculean tasks to contend with.

Her plan is to start with the removal of the brainy wire glasses so that his blue eyes shine bright even if he cannot see. Then there is the need to remove the hair from the face so his dimples can shine bright. Then there are his clothes though Zoe is not sure she wants to put garb on that hunk of a body. As Zoe and Theo fall in love, she worries how her father will react to her wanting more than a simple tryst with a mortal. Still she hides her feelings out of fear that her dad might take out his renowned anger on her beloved. Theo assumes Zoe has her reasons for not telling him how she feels about him, but he wants her and plans to make her his one geek move at a time.

MAKING OVER MR. RIGHT is a fabulous ending to the Zeus offspring romantic trilogy. As with her siblings’ tales, Zoe knows the rules of engagement include no falling in love with a mortal and the price of failure so she muses over what to do about her heart vs. her father’s wrath. Fans will enjoy this lighthearted whimsical romantic fantasy as the Muse of Beauty and a computer geek fall in love to the consternation of Theo’s potential father-in-law.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Return Of The Rogue Donna Fletcher

Return Of The Rogue
Donna Fletcher
Avon, Mar 2008, $5.99
ISBN: 9780061375439

In the late sixteenth century in Scotland, her abusive stepfather Calum Tannach arranges for Honora to wed the oldest son of Laird Sinclare, Artair. However, on their wedding day, Cavan Sinclaire, thought dead, crashes the ceremony. Calum realizes he is the rightful heir and demands he marry Honora. She knows he once saved her life when she was eight years old, but one look at her new betrothed leaves her fearful that this big man will be as brutal as her stepfather although his eyes twinkle with kindness.

Cavan knows his immediate need is to keep his people safe from raiders, but he will honor the wedding contract that states the eldest Sinclaire will marry Honora. Still although he believes she is a pretty lass; he will not allow her to interfere with his obsession to insure his clan’s safety. As passion turns to desire and desire to love, Cavan believes he is fortunate, but now must convince his wife they were intended for one another even as someone causes dissension, despair, and destruction.

Though typical of the historical highlander romance especially the return of the prodigal son, readers will appreciate this fine sixteenth century tale. The lead couple is a fabulous pairing as neither is prepared to marry the other, but obligation (and contracts) supersede their desires; soon love supersedes all desires. Fans will appreciate the RETURN OF THE ROGUE as he understands his duty to his clan and to his wife while she proves his equal.

Harriet Klausner

Let Sleeping Rogues Lie-Sabrina Jeffries

Let Sleeping Rogues Lie
Sabrina Jeffries
Pocket, Mar 2008, $7.50
ISBN: 978141651515

Madeline Prescott is upset that her beloved father has become the laughing stock of the medical profession because he believes the use of nitrous oxide will relieve some of the pain of surgery. His daughter seeks a reputable scientist to prove her dad is correct. To achieve her goal she accepts a teaching position at Mrs. Harris's School for Young Ladies.

She also is realistic enough to know that society will ignore her as a mere female so she needs male assistance to achieve her objective. She asks Lord Anthony Dalton for his help; he agrees as he is fascinated by the female “scientist”. Madeline persuades Mrs. Harris to allow Anthony to teach a session on how to avoid a rake, but although she audits the class, she flunks as she is unscientifically attracted to him. To his amazement he reciprocates her feelings.

The School for Heiresses Regencies are consistently some of the besthistoricals on the market today (see ONLY A DUKE WILL DO and NEVER SEDUCE A SCOUNDREL). Although in many ways the lead couples are similar, Sabrina Jeffries finds a way to refresh them; for instance in this case the medical science angle. Thus readers obtain an entertaining battle of the sexes between a pleasure loving huggable male and a scientific minded beautiful woman.

Harriet Klausner

The Kiss-Sophia Nash

The Kiss
Sophia Nash
Avon, Mar 2008, $5.99
ISBN: 9780061231377

In Cornwall as children Quinn Fortesque, Anthony Fortesque and Georgiana Wilde were best friends. One day Quinn left to marry someone else without warning and a heartbroken Georgiana wedded Anthony although she dreamed of being the wife of Quinn. On their wedding night, Anthony tragically died.

Quinn comes home to Penrose allegedly to inspect his estate, but instead he plans to uncover the root cause of a potential scandal that impacts his and Georgiana’s family. Georgiana expects he will dispossess her leaving her with no place to go. However, Quinn has come home not because he loathes Georgiana, but because he loves her and always has. Obtaining assistance from a merry widows group and his daughter, Quinn begins his campaign to win his beloved’s heart unaware he already has it as he always did.

This is an interesting historical romance starring two obstinate likable protagonists who have a second chance at love if they take that opportunity. The story line is fast-paced once the lead couple sees each other for the first time in fifteen years and never slows down. Although somewhat typical of the sub-genre, Sophia Nash’s strong characters especially the Wilde and Fortesque families make this a strong tale that will send new fans seeking the author’s previous work (see A DANGEROUS BEAUTY).

Harriet Klausner

The Kiss-Sophia Nash

The Kiss
Sophia Nash
Avon, Mar 2008, $5.99
ISBN: 9780061231377

In Cornwall as children Quinn Fortesque, Anthony Fortesque and Georgiana Wilde were best friends. One day Quinn left to marry someone else without warning and a heartbroken Georgiana wedded Anthony although she dreamed of being the wife of Quinn. On their wedding night, Anthony tragically died.

Quinn comes home to Penrose allegedly to inspect his estate, but instead he plans to uncover the root cause of a potential scandal that impacts his and Georgiana’s family. Georgiana expects he will dispossess her leaving her with no place to go. However, Quinn has come home not because he loathes Georgiana, but because he loves her and always has. Obtaining assistance from a merry widows group and his daughter, Quinn begins his campaign to win his beloved’s heart unaware he already has it as he always did.

This is an interesting historical romance starring two obstinate likable protagonists who have a second chance at love if they take that opportunity. The story line is fast-paced once the lead couple sees each other for the first time in fifteen years and never slows down. Although somewhat typical of the sub-genre, Sophia Nash’s strong characters especially the Wilde and Fortesque families make this a strong tale that will send new fans seeking the author’s previous work (see A DANGEROUS BEAUTY).

Harriet Klausner

Vampire, Interrupted-Lynsay Sands

Vampire, Interrupted
Lynsay Sands
Avon, Mar 2008, $6.99
ISBN 9780061229770

After centuries as a vampiric mother, aunt and socialite, Marguerite Argeneau decides she needs a vocation. To the chagrin of her sons Etienne and Bastien and her nephew Thomas, Marguerite decides to become a private investigator. The trio feels good that her partner is Tiny who will keep the family matriarch safe.

Her first client is immortal Christian Notte who wants to know who his mother is; his father Julius refuses to divulge her name to him. When she vanishes in Europe, Thomas and his lifemate Inez search for her (see VAMPIRES ARE FOREVER). Meanwhile someone apparently wants Marguerite dead; Julius decides to protect her from whoever wanted to decapitate her although at times he wonders who will protect him from her. However, Marguerite is irate not so much that Julius plays the role of bodyguard, but that he is her lifemate while he needs to persuade her that they belong together forever.

This terrific Argeneau vampiric romantic suspense was set up in the previous tale, VAMPIRES ARE FOREVER, but stands alone. The fun with the entry actually is with Julius who knows his lifemate is obviously in danger, but not sure why; and knows he is in deeper trouble as he hopes courting is like getting back on a bicycle as he has not chased a skirt in five or so centuries. Fans will enjoy the escapades of a thoroughly modern Marguerite, vampiric investigator.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Bad Blood-L.A. Banks

Bad Blood
L.A. Banks
St. Martin’s, Apr 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780312949112

Most humans remain ignorant to the fact that the Columbia Disaster twenty-five years ago was caused by supernaturals turning against each other. The US military said the drug cartels went crazy and that was why blood ran down the streets like an overflowing river. Sasha Trudeau is part of a Black-Ops organization that consists of people with the werewolf virus in their system, but none has Turned due to the meds they take. Their mission is to prevent werewolves being captured by other nations besides America because werewolf and human DNA merge into a super soldier.

On an operation in Korea, the werewolf Shogun tells Sasha that the dangerous lycans are demon infested while the rest of the species is harmless and in control of the change. Sasha is unaware that her superiors already know that and are trying to breed a super soldier. When the Alpha in her group Turns, Sasha kills him; later she meets Max Hunter, a shadow wolf who is a different species. He insists she is part of his clan and they cannot be infested by demon blood. Both feel the attraction between them and a relationship develops, but she must fight the military who are committing atrocities against humanity and needs the help of her lover if she hopes to succeed.

Book one of the Crimson Moon novels, BAD BLOOD is a fantastic urban fantasy filled with action, intrigue, betrayal, double dealing and plenty of mano a fema as well as romance. The compelling story line uses the concept of the forces of good and evil vying for supremacy with the malevolent side cleverly disguising their activity as altruistic. The protagonists struggle to survive as there are traitors within the were, human, and shadow communities. L.A. Banks provides a spine tingling supernatural thriller that shows why her fans always clamor for more.

Harriet Klausner

Timeless Moon-C.T. Adams & Cathy Clamp

Timeless Moon
C.T. Adams & Cathy Clamp
Tor, Mar 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780765356659

Josette Monier knows the responsibility of being a powerful Sazi seer, but also realizes how much it costs her as she can never live a normal life. She knows being near people leads to pain as she can feel their anguish so the ancient Sazi keeps her distance from everyone. Once over a century ago, Jostte was not a hermit as she fell in love with Rick Johnson, but that ended tragically with his death reminding her what she cannot have.

Meanwhile someone is killing Sazi seers ironically using of all things an incantation; the Sazi Council desperately need help to stop this serial murdering snake. They turn to Rick hoping his surfacing will bring out Aspen who seems immune to the spell. However Josette is irate that she was led to believe her beloved was dead wasting a century they could have had together while the snakes keep on attacking the one person who can prevent their latest nefarious scheme from happening.

The latest Sazi romantic suspense fantasy tale is an exciting addition to this strong saga as the story of a strong legend is told. However that is also the problem with the plot as Josette is one of the most powerful Sazi, but in spite of being the savior she spends much of the time in peril saved by her beloved; instead of the other way around. Still this is an exhilarating entry as the complicated story line filled with twists hooks the audience once the lead couple sets eyes upon one another for the first time in one hundred long lonely years.

Harriet Klausner

Hellbent and Heartfirst- Kassandra Sims

Hellbent and Heartfirst
Kassandra Sims
Tor, Apr 2008, $6.99
ISBN 9780765358011

Anthropology Professor Jacyn Boaz takes a leave of absence from her teaching position at the University of Texas in Austin. Jacyn feels it is important to volunteer in her hometown so she has agreed to help Oxfam in Biloxi, Mississippi cleaning up from Katrina.

Jacyn meets self-proclaimed magic guru Jimmy Wayne Broadus, a beer guzzling barbeque dining, guitar-playing Texan. The hunk insists he is searching for a deadly child-eating lamia attacking the bone weary survivors of Katrina especially the homeless refugees. To their mutual surprise, they are attracted to one another and soon after meeting Jaclyn and Jimmy Wayne make love. However, he continues with his quest traveling to La Batre, Alabama to consult with a voodoo warlock and a witch in order to understand what he must do to destroy the lamia. To his delight Jacyn joins him on the hunt.

This is an interesting and unusual romantic fantasy that provides a unique fresh look at the aftermath of Katrina as the Gulf Coast turns into a massive third world refugee encampment filled with haunted people wondering how their lives were washed away leaving them adrift in trailers. The lead couple is also an odd pairing that works as each finds something they desperately need in the other; she a sense of purpose and he a grounding. Although the shifting geography makes for abrupt changes, fans will enjoy the escapades of the two Js as they battle evil whether it is a cursed necklace or the Lamia as their way to help the Katrina victims.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Beast of Desire-Lisa Renee Jones

Beast of Desire
Lisa Renee Jones
Silhouette Nocturne, Mar 2008$5.25
ISBN: 9780373617838

A Knight of the White, Des is a bit surprised with his current assignment. He searches for an ancient tome The Journal of Solomon that contains a map that will lead to a treasure chest filled with the names of those whose ancient lineage were angels; normally Des is a warrior in direct fight against the evil of the Darkland Beasts in their millennia old civil war for species control. Knowing he will need help to locate the sacred journal Des turns to the Dallas World Museum curator Jessica Montgomery for help in finding the treasure before the enemy obtains it.

Her mother ignored her and her family in a futile lifetime quest to find the ancient journal. She wants to tell him to forget it as it is not worth the time, but Jessica is attracted to the enigmatic Des so decides to assist him on his quest to learn why he is interested in this tome and how he knew she was the right staff person to enlist. As they fall in love, he knows he is just a beast with a soul that could turn dark at any moment and thus unworthy of the angelic daughter of a senator.

The latest Knights of White tale (see THE BEAST WITHIN) is a terrific romantic fantasy starring two courageous heroes falling in love while on a dangerous quest with their enemies in hot pursuit as both studies understand what The Journal of Solomon means. The story line is fast-paced and filled with non-stop action as the danger mounts so does the attraction. Readers will appreciate Lisa Renee Jones’ latest thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Last Wolf Standing-Rhyannon Byrn

Last Wolf Standing
Rhyannon Byrn
Silhouette Nocturne, Mar 2008, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373617821

In Maryland half breed Mason Dillinger and his partner Jason Burns work as Bloodrunners pursuing renegade werewolves who have killed to insure these predators never murder again. While on the hunt for a particular nasty serial killing werewolf, the half-lycan half-human is stunned and extremely unhappy when he smells his soulmate in the crowded The Coffee and Croissant, Torrance Watson. He always pictured falling in love on a full moonlight night not while on a pursuit, but he needs to meet her so he trips her.

However, Mason also knows that his prey will use Torrance as a weapon against him. He must keep his beloved safe, persuade her they are fated for one another, and ultimately bring down the deadly werewolf.

This is an exciting paranormal romantic suspense thriller with police procedural elements. The action is non-stop but the cast makes the tale work especially the relationship between Tory and Mason. The support cast, his partner, her best friend and boss Michaela Doucet, and the killer add to the belief that werewolves exist while also establishing the basic physics and culture of the new Bloodrunners series. Sub-genre fans will relish Rhyannon Byrn’s opening act.

Harriet Klausner

Unleashing the Storm-Sydney Croft

Unleashing the Storm
Sydney Croft
Delta, Mar., 336 pp., $13.00
ISBN: 9780385340816

The Agency for Covert Rare Operatives (ACRO) send their best Ender to “bumble-fuck” Idaho to either bring in or kill animal psychic Kira Donovan. Using his former identity before he joined ACRO, Tom Knight cases Rainbow Ridge Sanctuary unaware that his target has been telepathically talking to Cheech the goat about “Peeping Tom”. She also has hired Derek as her two farmhands vanished; Tom assumes they are dead as he and Derek know each other as enemies.

As Ender struggles to understand the tree hugging vegan, ACRO chiefs argue over whose division gets her while Derek’s gang ITOR want her too. He does not want to kill her but begins to think he will have to. Then he learns she is in heat and needs sex to survive. In between making love, Tom kills Derek, but ITOR is on top of them. Tom persuades Kira they must flee to the safety of his people. They do with the enemy in pursuit, but must stop every few hours to relive her of her heat even as she fears her soulmate will desert her when they reach ACRO.

Normally, I have issues about a couple on the run stopping for sex, but UNLEASHING THE STORM uses the concept of a special human in animal heat as its underlying premise so that in this case the premise works. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action as Kira’s sexual needs forces the pair to stop when escape is critical. Fans will root for the lead protagonists while appreciating this cleverly done romantic suspense erotic fantasy and seek the previous ACRO saga RIDING THE STORM.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, February 18, 2008

Sister’s Choice-Judith Pella

Sister’s Choice
Judith Pella
Bethany House, Mar 2008, $13.99
ISBN: 9780764201349

In 1882 in Maintown, Oregon Maggie Newcomb feels good for her sister who fell in love with the circuit riding preacher and has his affection too (see BACHELOR'S PUZZLE). However, she is a bit envious as her heart is set on someone who does not appear to share her love. Still although she knows she is not that good at quilting and hears how bad she is all the time from Emma Jean Stoddard, she feels that is the way to her beloved. Maggie dreams un-Christian thoughts as she would like to not turn the other cheek and for once tell the woman to stick it where the sun don’t shine. However, she fears alienating the woman she hopes will one day soon be her mother-in-law as she feels she is in love with Emma Jean’s son Colby.

Maggie works extra hard to improve her quilting skills, but apparently all for naught when affluent beauty Tamara Brennan arrives. Colby joins the chorus line of admirers leaving Maggie stunned by his sudden disregard for her. She turns to her close friend Evan for help, which he reluctantly gives as he loves Maggie with all his heart, but understands how unrequited love hurts.

The second Patchwork Quilt inspirational historical romance once gain brings to life the Pacific Northwest during the post Reconstruction Era. Maggie is magnificent as she holds the tale together with her campaign to win the heart of Colby, but soon begins to wonder if she is fickle as she begins to look at her aide differently. More character driven and less action than the first story, fans will appreciate this vivid late nineteenth century tale that picturesquely displays community living.

Harriet Klausner

Wild Jinx-Sandra Hill

Wild Jinx
Sandra Hill
Grand Central, Mar 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780446616539

Fontaine, Louisiana Police Detective John LeDeux hides from the media and the Dixie Mafia until his time to testify in court. However, Little Tee-John cannot stay hidden from his Bayou swamp neighbor his Tante Lulu. She informs her nephew that she hired Jinx, Inc of New Jersey to find pirate treasure on Bayou Black; that is after she blithely informs him he will be married this year.

New Orleans Times-Tribune investigative reporter Celine Arseneaux is a single mom raising a five year old. Like John she was undercover at the notorious Playpen, but he failed to recognize her from when they first met and made love; he is the father of her son, but remains ignorant about siring an offspring as she never told him since her grandfather loathes his family. Her boss editor Bruce Cavanaugh assigns her to cover the treasure hunt. As red neck pirates and the Dixie Mafia come swamp hunting, Tante Lulu ferments her famous juju love potion as she has done before (see PINK JINX and PEARL JINX).

Although the hide the baby from the dad ploy has been used a zillion times in second chance romances as well as shows like the Maury Povich show, Sandra Hill refreshes the plot device with a swamp oil love potion that readers cannot resist. The story line combines plenty of humor with suspense, Cajun style as the LeDeux tribe up and meets the Jinx crew in an all out wacky thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Border Wedding-Amanda Scott

Border Wedding
Amanda Scott
Grand Central, Mar 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780446197984

In 1388 British sympathizer Sir Iagan Murray catches his neighbor stealing cattle that he previously stole from his prisoner Scottish supporter Sir Walter “Wat” Scott. Iagan gives Wat an alternate to hanging; he can marry his daughter Lady Margaret “Muckle-Mouth Meggie” Murray, who besides ripping off men’s skin is not pretty.

He chooses marriage more to save the lives of his loyal men, but has doubts that he made the right selection especially when he expects his betrothed to be dragged to the altar and later to kick his butt (and another part of his anatomy) when he beds her. Instead she seems elated with the marriage as Meg believes this is her time to find happiness. However, as Meg and Wat fall in love, she catches her sibling spying on her spouse for the British. Meg knew her birth family and marital family were in conflict, but never expected to be the rope pulled by each side.

Few authors do medieval romances as consistently excellent as Amanda Scott does. Her current tale brings to life the late fourteenth century near the English-Scottish border, which constantly changes. The romance is a classic gender war battle between two fully developed likable individuals, but it is the historical tidbits that anchor an era filled with betrayal, machinations, and changing loyalty that makes the great Scott’s latest offering a winner.

Harriet Klausner

My Immortal Protector-Jen Holling

My Immortal Protector
Jen Holling
Pocket, Mar 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9781416525851

In 1597 renowned healer William MacKay has found happiness with healer Rose MacDonell (see MY SHADOW WARRIOR), but his daughter Deidra suffers horrific nightmares due to her “gift”. She is an animal whisperer who feels the pain of those begging her for help. Every day she suffers her burden praying for silence.

Twelve years later, Deidra cannot take the cries anymore that leave her growling and whimpering. She knows of the myth of how her skill was formed by an ancient pact between her ancestors and a vampire and that only the vampire can remove the curse and make her normal. Her hope lies with a crippled recluse who will see no one as Stephen Ross bitterly hides from society inside his damp remote castle. Deidra breaks down his fortifications with her enthusiasm and need. He agrees to help her on her quest to find the one who can bring her salvation. Neither understands as they begin their journey that an easier path paved by their love is available if they take a chance.

Following up on the super MacDonell Brides romantic fantasy trilogy (see MY DEVILISH SCOTSMAN and MY WICKED HIGHLANDER), Jen Holling continues the saga with the fantastic tale of Deidra. Readers will feel empathy for the beleaguered lead couple especially Deidra with her special bond to animals that haunts her. The story line enchants the audience as Ms. Holling makes her world seem plausible while her fans will enjoy seeing what happened to Deidra’s dad and stepmom in the dozen years since their story was told. Sub-genre readers will relish the next generation saga.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Into the Mist-Elizabeth Sinclair

Into the Mist
Elizabeth Sinclair
Medallion, Mar 2008, $7.95
ISBN: 9781933836423

The blizzard is crippling as the woman struggles to survive it while she wanders aimlessly the streets of Tarrytown, New York until some strangers tell her that her name is Carrie and she needs to come with them. With no place to go and a chance to get out of cold, she accompanies them to the misty village of Renaissance where they insist her memory will return.

Weaver Clara Webb takes in the lost soul, who begins to recall tidbits of the blood all over the library on Christmas Eve. Dr. Frank Donovan, who learned of the village from his friend Dr. Steven Cameron (see MIRACLE IN THE MIST), is attracted to her, but the widower has two ghosts from his past that haunt him so he refuses to act on his feelings out of fear of hurting another human again. However, Carrie has brought him back to the living and Frank does likewise with her.

The obvious link to Brigadoon aside, the second Mists romantic fantasy is a fascinating entry as the lead duet has demons in their respective souls to overcome before they can consider their feelings for one another. Early on the story line sets the table for an exciting strong plot, but the audience needs to give Elizabeth Sinclair’s tale time to tie the seemingly disentangled divergent subplots together; it is worth it as love and hope for the future complete with grief and fear of the past.

Harriet Klausner

Fortune's Kiss-Lisa Manuel

Fortune's Kiss
Lisa Manuel
Medallion, Mar 2008, $7.95
ISBN: 9781933836355

Her beloved stepfather Everett Foster always promised Moira Hughes and her mom (his widow) that he has insured they will be provided for in the event of his death. Moira understands that the brunt of the estate must by law go to his heir. However to her chagrin the codicil to his will, if it was ever written, is missing not filed with the will in the Prerogative Court in Canterbury; soon afterward the solicitor Mr. Smythe of Smythe and Davis, Legal Consultants is dead.

Desperate to find it, Moira accepts work as a maid at Monteith Hall, the house she once lived in as a lady, so that she can search for the codicil. Meanwhile the heir Egyptologist Graham Foster returns to England, a place he left years ago in scandal, accompanied by his African Sun Spider. He finds his wastrel family pretending to welcome him while unable to hide how they want this usurper back in Egypt so they can spend his estate’s assets without care or control. However, he is attracted to Moira, who reluctantly tells him her story. Being an adventurer and in love, he helps her investigate her late stepfather’s life and helps her search for the missing codicil.

This is an amusing engaging historical romance starring two likable heroes and a zany out of control support cast. The story line is fast-paced and though a nineteenth century tale with its obvious period piece moorings, in some ways the structure of the plot feels more like a 1930s madcap romantic suspense comedy. Fans will enjoy Graham’s efforts to prove to Moira that men like Everett and himself don’t stray from love.

Harriet Klausner

Netherwood-Michelle Lang

Michelle Lang
Dorchester Shomi, Mar 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780505527592

Sheriff Talia Fortune is the prime owner of FortuneCorp. Her current assignment combines her law enforcement duties with her role as the head of the mega-corporation. She seeks her Netherwood cyber lover Kovner known as Avenger for his wanton destruction of technological gizmos on the colony Fresh Havens.

Talia enters the Netherwood cyberspace where she meets Kovner in a forest. She tells him she must arrest him, but he insists the Singularity has begun; artificial intelligent computers have superseded humanity as the prime species. If something is not done soon, mankind will become extinct. To succeed he and his band of merry outlaws need Talia on their side, but she hesitates as all he says contradicts all she knows about the Grid and reality.

NETHERWOOD combines The Matrix with Charlton Heston’s sci fi end of the world flicks like Planet of the Apes and The Omega Man in a fine thriller. The story line is action-packed from the moment the heroine goes after her “terrorist” former lover and never slows down until the final confrontation. Fans will appreciate this exciting futuristic science fiction in which Fresh Haven and Netherwood seem real and the extinction plausible, but the lead couple never comes across as more than just comic book heroes trying to save a way of life (just who’s is the question).

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Kindred Spirits-Jocelyn Kelley

Kindred Spirits
Jocelyn Kelley
Signet, Mar 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451223449

In the North Yorkshire Moors of England, sisters China, Jade, and Sian Nethercott mourn the loss of their father, who recently passed away. However, the middle sibling Jade has moved on since meeting the ghost of murdered Sir Mitchell Renshaw and her soulmate Lord Gideon Bannatyne (see LOST IN SHADOW). China affectionately remembers how he believed in ghosts although she has never seen an apparition. That is until China meets Roman era spirit Quintus Valerius.

The centurion explains to China that he is cursed to wander the earth until he rescues one of his descendents from being killed; since almost two millennia have past since he died, Quintus knows failure. However, his plan this time differs than in the past when he tried to intercede directly. Quintus plans to injure Major Alexander, Lord Braddock, who was admitted into the Order of the Bath for his courage during the Napoleonic Wars. That will mean he is forced to stay home to heal and ergo prevent his murderer from succeeding. China tries to help Alex heal, but the war hero cannot sit still even as they fall in love while Quintus omitted the rest of the story that China’s future is tied Alexander in life or death.

KINDRED SPIRITS is a terrific, lighthearted, paranormal Regency romance that will have everyone believing in ghosts. China is a courageous heroine who rescues Alexander and brings him back to her isolated home Nethercott Castle to heal. Fast-paced, fans will wonder whether the love between them will end the curse with a happily ever after in this life or eternity together in the afterlife (it is a romance). Jocelyn Kelley provides a delightful charmer filled with subtly like setting the time frame ten years after Napoleon claims emperorship, her devoted readers will look forward for Sian’s encounter.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Fiend In Need-Maureen Child

A Fiend In Need
Maureen Child
Signet, Mar 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780451223074

One month ago her mom died, but Cassidy Burke has had little time to grieve her loss as she has become the most powerful demon duster in the world; or at least in California. The thirtyish mother of Thea wonders what next since she began spraying people with her specialized cleaning solution that turns selected people smoking and had to rescue her offspring (see MORE THAN FIENDS). No longer quite shocked by what has happened to her world since she learned about her DNA, Cassidy finds out that someone has posted a reward to the person who kills her on a website; just another day as a duster.

However, Cassidy actually becomes flustered when six feet five inches Brady demands she give him a haven in her home. She figures she would be a light snack for the hunk, but he explains that he is a runaway slave. For the past hundred years, Brady has been a sex slave used and abused by his owner Demon Queen Vanessa. He insists the demon duster is the only one who can keep him safe although that might mean war between her and the Demon horde. As she ponders what to do encouraged by her teenager to keep him, she admits to herself the road to sanctuary is through her stomach as he can cook and through her libido as he is one heck of a hunk.

This amusing chick lit romantic fantasy is an entertaining tale starring a likable save the world from a dusty demons heroine. The story line is fast-paced as Cassidy feels she has enough on her plate between demon dusting and raising a daughter, but to take a runaway slave in means warring with Queen Vanessa and her horde. Her first bite makes up Thea’s mind to keep the hunk who can cook. A FIEND IN NEED is a pest, but a lovable nuisance not quite as weird as having a cheerleader offspring.

Harriet Klausner

Just Desserts-Barbara Bretton

Just Desserts
Barbara Bretton
Jove, Mar 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780515144246

Kind hearted aging rock star Tommy Stiles has hired attorney Finn Rafferty to learn if Hayley Maitland Goldstein is his daughter as he wants to share his fortune with his offspring and his grandchildren. A birth certificate mentions him as her father, but a new one replaced that officially two weeks later stating father unknown. Tommy believes he sired Haley, who was born August 17, 1969 in Lexington, Kentucky to internationally acclaimed oceanographer Jane Maitland. He also knows Haley was married but divorced with one daughter Elizabeth and lives and co-owns Goldy’s Bakery in Lakeside, New Jersey.

Finn leaves Manhattan for South Jersey knowing his client plans to inform his offspring at a time her mother decides to pay a visit. Having Jane insist on staying with them makes Haley suspicious that something earth shattering is coming, but she was unprepared for Tommy’s claim that turned her world upside down; however, it is her reaction to Finn that sends her spinning out of control; he also loses his sense of gravity.

JUST DESSERTS is a warm family drama filled with tender humor. The amazement to the entertaining story line is the ensemble cast including two pets are fully developed and their interrelationships genuine. Fans will appreciate Barbara Bretton’s invasion of South Jersey as everyone receives their JUST DESSERTS.
Harriet Klausner

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Confession of Fitzwilliam Darcy-Mary Street

The Confession of Fitzwilliam Darcy
Mary Street
Berkley, Mar 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425219904

Arrogant to a fault, Fitzwilliam Darcy wonders how Elizabeth Bennet caught his attention when they first met. If he was to choose a Bennet female to have him take more than a first look, it would have been the much prettier Jane; although Elizabeth is lovely. Still, Darcy fondly looks back to how he could not prevent himself from constantly seeking her out even in a mob to find her. Furthermore, once he made his mind up to court her, he succeeded only to allow his PRIDE AND PREJUDICE get in his way leading to losing her before finally winning her completely when he gave her his heart.

Although Jane Austen has been told, retold, and untold so many ways in the past decade, Mary Street provides a fresh perspective with her gender twisting the classic PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by switching viewpoints from Elizabeth to Fitzwilliam. The novelty comes from new segues as the hero lays out his heart to the audience. Fans of Ms. Austen will relish this latest spin while agreeing that Ms. Street deserves more than just a chutzpah award as Darcy comes across as a full blooded confused suitor in love.

Harriet Klausner

To Bed a Beauty-Nicole Jordan

To Bed a Beauty
Nicole Jordan
Ballantine, Mar 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780345494603

In 1817 Roslyn Loring strongly believes that a happy marriage must include an exchange of the hearts; although she also understands that she must keep her spouse sexually satiated. Still abetted by her friend Cyprian Fanny Irwin she attends a masked ball as a courtesan. Andrew Moncrief is drawn to Roslyn, whom he recognizes in spite of her mask.

He offers her a tempting deal in which he will teach her the art of lovemaking if she becomes his mistress; she accepts with the stipulation her reputation must not get ruined by this scandalous behavior as she plans to marry the duke next door; Drew’s mentoring lessons will keep her future husband in her bed and not that of a mistress. The sex is incredible leading Roslyn to wonder if Drew is the one or perhaps she is wanton. He realizes she is the one when an adversary threatens his beloved.

The second Courtship Wars skirmish (see TO PLEASURE A LADY) is a delightful Regency romance starring two likable protagonists. The story line is fast-paced from the moment that Roslyn makes her Faustian deal and never slows down as she begins to comprehend what the devilish details mean to her heart and soul. Readers will appreciate the second battle between sensual sirens and the hunks obsessed with making love with them.

Harriet Klausner

Sweet Surrender-Maya Banks

Sweet Surrender
Maya Banks
Berkley, Mar 2008, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425219430

Mick Winslow and Grayson Montgomery share in common Alex and police work although the former is retired and the latter is on sick leave. Mick was his father while Gray was his partner on the Dallas PD. Both grieve his death and want his killer caught, but the department has failed as they hold the late Alex culpable for “blatant disregard of duty”. The older man provides Gray with a name, Eric Samuels. Gray takes six months leave and travels to Houston where Faith Malone is the only lead to Eric as her mother vanished with the cop killer just after he squeezed the trigger.

Faith dreams of her sexual fantasies being fulfilled by a loving dominant hunk. When she meets Gray she thinks he might be perfect for her SWEET SURRENDER. As they fall in love, she knows he is hiding something from her; Gray has not lost sight of his quest to catch his partner’s killer.

This heated investigative romantic suspense is a terrific tale because of the Dallas cop who knows he is in love when he realizes his submissive SWEET SURRENDER is in peril. Faith and Gray are a wonderful pairing with some light bondage in the boudoir and plenty of love outside of it. Fans will feel Mick’s tormented frustration that enhances an intense transfixing thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Dead Over Heels-MaryJanice Davidson

Dead Over Heels
MaryJanice Davidson
Berkley, Mar 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425219416

"Undead and Wed: A Honeymoon Story". The married monarchs, Queen Betsy and King Sinclair, leave on honeymoon planning to take a bite or two out of the Big Apple. However, instead of sex and shoes, the pair is stalked and staked.

"Survivors". Animal World TV star Con “The Surviving Man” Conlinson is in trouble as he in a rowboat alone on the Pacific with no hope of a rescue as he sent the film crew away before the storm sent him adrift from them. Then Reanesta arrives without a boat and with a beautiful tail. If she was not so lovely, he would have assumed he lost his mind as who falls in love with a mermaid.

"Speed Dating, Werewolf Style Or, Ow, I Think You Broke the Bone". As she nears her thirtieth birthday, Cain the werewolf feels long in the tooth with her Wyndham packmates marrying their soulmate while she has no one. She persuades her best friend Saul to find her a blind date.

Vampires, mermaids and werewolves in one anthology connotes readers have entered the magical zany romantic fantasy realm of MaryJanice Davidson. The three tales are amusing, entertaining and lighthearted fun to read.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

At Her Service-Susan Johnson

At Her Service
Susan Johnson
Kensington Brava, Mar 2008, $15.00
ISBN: 978758209405

In 1855 Aurore Clement travels to Sevastopol in the Crimea to bring her injured veteran brother back home. She is using a wounded sibling Etienne who allegedly lies in one of the filthy hospitals as a cover for her undercover spying for the French government. Meanwhile in the beleaguered city she meets British Marquis, Hugh D'Abernon, who offers a ride to her to the nearby city after he introduces himself as trader Gazi Maksound to hide his secret service work as an undercover British espionage agent.

Aurore and Hugh desire one another from the first moment they met. That wanting leads to an incredible all night tryst. However, when both are exposed as spies, they flee eventually making it to Paris where he must rely on her to keep him safe, but he also has doubts about trusting her or his feelings for her.

AT HER SERVICE is an engaging historical romance starring two courageous likable star-crossed heroes working as spies for their respective governments. The fast-paced storyline hooks fans from the first fateful February meeting in Sevastopol and never slows down until Paris. The 1914 coda is a perfect ending to a great tale as Susan Johnson provides a powerful mid nineteenth century espionage romantic suspense as only she can.

Harriet Klausner

At Her Service-Susan Johnson

At Her Service
Susan Johnson
Kensington Brava, Mar 2008, $15.00
ISBN: 978758209405

In 1855 Aurore Clement travels to Sevastopol in the Crimea to bring her injured veteran brother back home. She is using a wounded sibling Etienne who allegedly lies in one of the filthy hospitals as a cover for her undercover spying for the French government. Meanwhile in the beleaguered city she meets British Marquis, Hugh D'Abernon, who offers a ride to her to the nearby city after he introduces himself as trader Gazi Maksound to hide his secret service work as an undercover British espionage agent.

Aurore and Hugh desire one another from the first moment they met. That wanting leads to an incredible all night tryst. However, when both are exposed as spies, they flee eventually making it to Paris where he must rely on her to keep him safe, but he also has doubts about trusting her or his feelings for her.

AT HER SERVICE is an engaging historical romance starring two courageous likable star-crossed heroes working as spies for their respective governments. The fast-paced storyline hooks fans from the first fateful February meeting in Sevastopol and never slows down until Paris. The 1914 coda is a perfect ending to a great tale as Susan Johnson provides a powerful mid nineteenth century espionage romantic suspense as only she can.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, February 4, 2008

Desperately Seeking a Duke-Celeste Bradley

Desperately Seeking a Duke
Celeste Bradley
St. Martin's, Mar 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780312939687

In 1815 their late grandfather Sir Hamish Pickering, disappointed in his daughters not marrying up, placed a stipulation in his will that has his grandchildren jumping. The first of the trio to marry a duke inherits his fortune.

The competing cousins (the rustic vicar’s daughter Phoebe, the elegant Deirdre and the too tall Sophie) begin their respective quest; if White’s took a book the bets would be overwhelmingly on Deirdre. Phoebe plans to go through the motions of her London season, but refuses to truly participate until she meets Rafe Marbrook, who to her shock seems interested in her. However as he courts her, she learns he is not the heir to the dukedom of Brookhaven, but instead the half-brother to the future Duke Calder; who decides to marry Phoebe. She must choose for love or money.

This amusing take on the Regency marriage go round will have readers laughing out loud with the antics of the first Heiress Bride who must choose between the brother she loves and the brother Sir Hamish would select for her. Adding to the fun is the heroine’s ethics that do not allow her to tell the Marbrooks the truth about the will as she does not want to harm her cousins’ chances (coming in the next couple of months). Celeste Bradley continues her level of historical excellence (see the Royal Four spy romances) with this entertaining charmer.

Harriet Klausner

Double Fantasy-Cheryl Holt

Double Fantasy
Cheryl Holt
St. Martin's, Mar 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780312942564

In 1813, it is bad enough being the poor relatives but sisters Sarah and Anne Carstairs are treated like rubbish by their kin. Having recently inherited an earldom, Jamieson Merrick accompanied by his twin brother Jackson arrives at their new estate Gladstone; their reputation preceded them from being politely called smugglers to being children eaters. When the pairs of siblings meet for the first time, Anne and Jamie are instantly attracted to one another.

Jamie demands all that was stolen from him and his brother when they were babies; as they were exiled and forced to become privateers. He has his title and his estate, but now he demands Anne as his wife; he sees her as the beginning of his vengeance scheme. She loves Jamie, but rejects his command to marry him. At the same time Jack and Sarah hit it off especially after he learns her secrets. However, waiting for the right moment is an adversary who plans to dispatch the brothers Merrick to a place no one ever returns from: the grave.

From the onset when the brothers come home until the final confrontation this is a superb Regency romance that never slows down. The four prime players are fully drawn with each having suffered maltreatment from family. Thus loving someone besides their sibling is emotionally dangerous and very difficult for any of them to accept. Sub-genre fans will thoroughly enjoy Cheryl Holt’s wonderful historical as Jamie must learn that it is okay to love someone while Anne is his teacher.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 1, 2008

Savor Me Slowly-Gena Showalter

Savor Me Slowly
Gena Showalter
Pocket, Dec 2007, $6.99
ISBN: 9781416531630

Mishka “Maria” Le'Ace is a half-breed undercover operative; Maria is part human, part killing machine and a life prisoner as her handler holds the one-button gizmo controlling a death chip inside her brain. Maria is sent to rescue Alien Investigation and Removal Agent Jaxon Tremain tortured by the Delenseans who demand he tell them what he knows about their enemies the Schon. She saves his life killing his capturers without much of a blink.

She is stunned by her human attraction to Jaxon as this has never happened to her before. However though he feels the same way towards Maria, he fears she cannot be trusted as she wants the same information that he refused to provide to the Delenseans although he admits her seductive torture will be harder to elude. As Maria helps Jaxon recover from his ordeal, her handler orders her to take care of business ASAP or else.

The latest Alien Hunter police procedural science fiction romance (see AWAKEN ME DARKLY and ENSLAVE ME SWEETLY) is a great thriller starring two strong individuals; whose strengths differ. She is physically dynamo while his is dedication and loyalty. Their forbidden relationship in which neither quite trusts the other enhances a sharp action-packed story line.

Harriet Klausner

One Sinful Night-Kaitlin O'Riley

One Sinful Night
Kaitlin O'Riley
Zebra, Mar 2008, $4.99
ISBN: 9780821780930

In Galway, Ireland, Aidan Kavanaugh is stunned to see his beloved sixteen year old Vivienne Montgomery being hugged by Nicky Foster. Angry and upset observing the woman he planned to marry in a compromising position, Aidan leaves his hometown; Vivienne’s heart is broken and her reputation ruined although she knows she is innocent and cannot understand why Nicky did what he did.

A decade later in 1870, Vivienne lives with relatives in England; hiding her past from them and everyone else. Successful shipping magnate Aidan has had a bad business week topped off when Gregory Cardwell introduces him to his cousin Vivienne. Aidan is engaged to someone else but like her still feels the attraction. Whereas Aidan refuses to act on it, Vivienne decides to take a chance on love even if she fails means her reputation will be destroyed again, but history repeats itself as he sees her compromised again.

The key to this entertaining Victorian romance is the underlying jocularity to the warm second chance at love plot. Aidan and Vivienne are superb lead characters while the villain makes Karl Rove look like child prankster. This my first Kaitlin O’Riley historical, but will not be my last.

Harriet Klausner

To Wed a Texan-Georgina Gentry

To Wed a Texan
Georgina Gentry
Zebra, Mar 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780821779910

In 1895 Dallas, Jack "Cash" McCalley is hosting a prizefight. Widow Mrs. Bonnie O'Neal Schwartz Purdy, president of the Lone Star Ladies for Decency and Decorum, is hosting a convention. They meet over who will occupy his suite at the Cattleman’s Hotel. When she learns of his plan to bring a fight to town, Bonnie becomes upset as she opposes such brutality. She arranges for her group and several preachers to protest the violent confrontation in which she has the law on her side as Texas has banned boxing; the women and the religious leaders demand the city leaders enforce the law and stop the fight from occurring.

Not one to buck such a trend, Cash decides to relocate the fight, but somehow each site he picks, Bonnie is there although he is not sure how she knows. He decides retreating for another day has failed so he goes on the offensive. He plans on seducing his opponent, not realizing the gender fight he has begun.

In the prologue Georgina Gentry explains this superb historical gender war is based on a true occurrence in which a Texas promoter tried to bring the Fitzsimmons-Corbett heavyweight championship bout to the Lone Star State. The unlimited rounds mixed gender championship is between Cash and the Widow-president is an amusing terrific Gay Nineties romance populated by real people who were part of the original media circus.

Harriet Klausner