Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Shadow Magic-Cheyenne McCray

Shadow Magic
Cheyenne McCray
St. Martin's, May 2008, $8.99
ISBN: 9780312949587

In Otherworld, gray witch Hannah Wentworth plans revenge against the Dark Goddess of Underworld Ceithlenn, who caused so much death and destruction in San Francisco. Using her dragon elemental mirror to scry the future, Hannah is shocked to see humans flee from the Fomorii Demons and her familiar Fire Dragon shoot flames at her. Hannah travels with D’Dannen warriors and fellow D’Anu witch Rhiannon to meet with the latter’s father Drow King Garren ruler of the Dark Elves, considered a traitor by those in the Otherworlds of elves and humans for allowing Ceithlenn and her evil God spouse Balor to escape from Underworld. However, to defeat Ceithlenn, they will need Garren’s support although his elves like him cannot travel in sunlight as they have been cursed.

At the meeting Hannah feels nervous around Garren as they are attracted to one another. However, they ignore their desires and discuss the situation. Garren makes it clear he will do what is right for his people. After escorting Hannah on a tour of the Dark Elves realm, he explains they opened the door to Underworld to let in the light, but erred instead allowing the Fomorii Demons and Ceithlenn to escape; his beloved brother died in the fight to stop them.

In San Francisco, Ceithlenn is weak from her fighting with the witches, warriors, and cops, but most of her anger is at Darkwolf who has stolen her spouse Balor’s Eye. She also fears for her husband as she has not found him and knows he must be very weak and near death. Soon all the parties will converge in a key showdown.

This series is already one the best romantic urban fantasies and SHADOW MAGIC may be the best book to date. The lead couple is a great pairing who the audience will like while the paranormal species all seem genuine as does the attacks in San Francisco. Though there are obviously previous novels in this series and the future is somewhat established, this excellent tale can stand alone as Cheyenne McCray affirms she is a great fantasist.

Harriet Klausner

The Brass Bed-Jennifer Stevenson

The Brass Bed
Jennifer Stevenson
Ballantine, May 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780345486684

Chicago is being overwhelmed by magic seemingly being blown everywhere. The mayor orders his subordinates to conceal what is going on insisting he fears a panic. Chicago Department of Consumer Services investigator Jewel Heiss is unhappy with her boss; with all the goings-one he assigns her to perform surveillance of his wife, who happens to be her best friend.

Her surveillance introduces Jewel to Clay Dawes, who claims his magical brass bed will cure all female sexual problems by simply taking a nap in it. Jewel is upset with the scoundrel who charges an exorbitant fee, but takes him up on his challenge of testing the bed free of charge as long as he is in it with her. However, his brass bed also contains an incubus cursed in the nineteenth century for being a crappy lover while a genie is turning the city into a magical mystery mayhem tour.

The speed is hectic from the onset, but fans of urban investigative romantic fantasies will hop onto THE BRASS BED for the wild ride. Though at times wordy, the lighthearted story line has a lot going on so it bewilders the audience as it does the investigative heroine; who must decide between sexual curse and sexual fraud; either way she wants to test first her hand (and a few other body parts).

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Danger's Kiss-Sarah McKerrigan

Danger's Kiss
Sarah McKerrigan
Forever, May 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 044661887X

In 1250 the Kent shire-reeve Nicholas Grimshaw enforces the law but also insures justice occurs even for prisoners facing the gallows. He oversees the executions of criminals, but insures no one suffers needlessly.

When a convicted killer Hubert Kabyn asks Nicholas to become guardian to his ward his grandchild Desiree; he wants to say no, but agrees so the man can meet his maker with one less concern. Professionally tutored thief Desiree is stunned that the law enforcer has been named her guardian, but if she can persuade him to help her she might learn who framed her teacher for murder. Nicholas is shocked by his attraction to his ward, but more stunned that his finicky feline loves her from the first time they meet each other. A con who uses her lure to trick men into doing her bidding, Desiree finds she feels different towards the enforcer; as the use of her allure to entice him would be degrading her desire. As she turns honest and he a bit con, someone wants her dead. Nicholas will do what it takes even break the law to keep his beloved safe.

DANGER’S KISS is an exciting medical romantic suspense starring two opposites in love. Whereas she is all con artist and he is all law enforcer, their romance makes for strange bedfellows yet each realistically compromises their “values” for the other. Fans will appreciate Sarah McKerrigan's fine thirteenth century tale as Desiree takes over Nicholas’ home, cat, and heart.

Harriet Klausner

Secrets of Surrender-Madeline Hunter

Secrets of Surrender
Madeline Hunter
Dell, May 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780440243953

Lord Norbury has no conscience as Roselyn Longworth has learned the hard way as his mistress; she ranks him below her wastrel brother Timothy who ruined their family and drove her into being a courtesan in order for her to save her sibling’s life. However, even she is unprepared for his latest odious audacity, when he hosts an auction with her as the prize to the highest bidder while her efforts to save Timothy appear futile.

Although he should not get involved, architect Kyle Bradwell has been attracted to the proud but vulnerable Roselyn since he first seen her at the theater two years ago. He competes against the vulgar and though the price is steep he wins her. His kindness is a shocker to Rose and soon she falls in love with her rescuer. He assumes her feelings are constructed on a foundation of hero worship for saving her. However, when she learns his darkest secret, Rose wonders if her beloved is as contemptible as her former paramour is.

SECRETS OF SURRENDER is a terrific historical romance starring a likable lead male even if his dark secret drops him off the pedestal and a fascinating woman who has no reason to trust men. The story line is driven by this couple and the repulsive Norbury who is so sordid his behavior is over the top even for wastrel aristocrats. Fans will appreciate this fine tale as love and the Queensbury Rules take charge.
Harriet Klausner

Act Two-Kimberly Stuart

Act Two
Kimberly Stuart
Thomas Cook, May 2008, $13.99
ISBN: 9781434700117

Classical soprano superstar Sadie Maddox is a diva in every connotation of the word; she lives in Manhattan and thinks her ex husband lives among the barbarians, somewhere on Long Island. However, her CD sales are drooping and her agent Avi “the Shark” Feldman tells her she has no gigs as no one wants a forty years old except Moravia College in Maplewood, Iowa. Desperate she accepts the visiting teaching position in the Corn Belt knowing that she will spend time in a designer shoe store desert.

In farm country, Sadie realizes her peers like voice teacher Kent Johansen loses his voice when she is near him or like conductor Gunther Rienhart flirty and her student assistant Mallory Knight is snippy when she is being kind. However the worst is living on a pig farm with Cal and Jayne Hartley and their three kids. Finally there is the veterinarian Mac who shockingly has her reconsidering her countdown back to the real world of culture even though she is appalled that even though it is not country western, he has never heard her sing.

ACT TWO is a delightful contemporary romance between two opposites as the fish out of water diva and the local vet fall in love in his pond. The story line is owned by Sadie, who finds Iowa to live down to her expectations only somehow she makes caring friends and realizes mentoring Mallory actually makes her feel great.. Mac is her perfect contrary as the city slicker and the country animal doctor prove love has no artificial boundaries except the individual’s construct that can destruct.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, April 28, 2008

Honorable Intentions-Donna MacQuigg

Honorable Intentions
Donna MacQuigg
Five Star, May 2008, $25.95
ISBN: 978159416961

In 1881 Territory of New Mexico, young Josh Barnes shoots visiting Mexico rancher Don Miguel Estrada as he recognized the man as a wanted outlaw Antonio Garcia. The sheriff has Lydia Randolph treat the wound. Two days later the sheriff apologizes as Miguel’s father sends a telegram insisting his son was in town to purchase horses.

Lydia, who is the heir to a duchy, is out riding when she sees vultures in the air; she knows from her new brother-in-law Sayer that means their prey still lives but is near death. She goes to help only to be caught by Raul Martinez and his gang who just robbed Wells Fargo. When Miguel learns about her captivity he poses as Antonio the gang leader in a desperate quest to save Lydia’s life.

Although mistaken identity has been used often in literature, Donna MacQuigg provides a fresh look as the hero employs it to try to save the heroine. Miguel is wonderful as he masquerades as Antonio, but struggles with the part because he is a caring kind person and the role calls for a nasty abusive thug. Adding to his difficulty in keeping in character is his attraction to Lydia. Readers will enjoy his efforts to rescue the woman he loves in this fine western romance and seek the tale of Lydia’s sister (see THE DOCTOR’S DAUGHTER).

Harriet Klausner

Friday, April 25, 2008

The One I Want-Nancy Warren

The One I Want
Nancy Warren
Kensington Brava, May 2008,
ISBN: 9780758210456

London party girl Chloe Flynt is the grandmaster of dumping fiancés and boyfriends leaving them with their pride in tact. However, she realizes she has no skills except partying and her experiences are limited to ending three engagements. She needs a new start, but knows it must be far from London where she has quite a reputation.

She moves to Austin and opens up a personal service business as a professional break-up artist. Business is booming and she soon hires help, but her attraction to her next door neighbor Matthew Tanner goes nowhere because he has a girlfriend Brittany whose “Let’s talk it out” motto is totally wrong for him; Chloe believes let’s sex it out. However to persuade him that she is right for him will take a Texas size maneuver while she is an expatriate London swinger.

THE ONE I WANT is a terrific amusing contemporary romance that showcases the true meaning of globalization as the ultimate London party girl takes Austin for quite a swing. Matthew is a wonderful hunk of beef but it is Chloe’s antics as she ropes in her man that makes Nancy Warren’s tale enjoyable.

Harriet Klausner

Baddest Bad Boys-Shannon McKenna, E.C. Sheedy and Cate Noble

Baddest Bad Boys
Shannon McKenna, E.C. Sheedy and Cate Noble
Kensington Brava, May 2008,
ISBN: 9780758208521

"Anytime, Anywhere" by Shannon McKenna. Robin MacNamara has decided her brother’s friend Jon Amendola is the man to make her a woman. She goes to his lake house to lose her virginity to him, but he has enemies from his current case as a cop who want him dead and collateral damage is not problem to them.

"After the Lovin'" by E.C. Sheedy. Mac Fleming is assigned to protect Tommi Smith from a nasty adversary. They were attracted before, but now their respective hearts have totally taken charge of their heads.

"Deal With the Devil" by Cate Noble. Max “Devil” DeLuca wants to keep Ellie DeLuca safe from a stalker so he offers her a week of sex at a private island retreat. The sex part of the scheme works perfectly, but the outcome fails when Ellie learns some information and flees from him into danger.

Though the well written heated interludes with danger nearby is hard to grab, these three passionate romantic suspense novellas are fun to read as the BADDEST BAD BOYS shield the women they cherish from deadly adversaries, but no one protects their hearts from each other.

Harriet Klausner

Dark Master-Tawney Taylor

Dark Master
Tawney Taylor
Kensington Aphrodisia, May 2008, $12.95
ISBN: 9780758226778

Totally broke, Regan Roslund makes a living selling BDSM paraphernalia from the bondage shop she inherited form her late aunt. She finds her inventory boring until passing time she puts a leather choker around her neck and dreams of its previous user, who in her fantasy leaves her in need of more.

The King of the Undead Degenen, Quinby "Shadow" Sorenson needs to marry in order to come to full power and prevent attacks on his throne. When he meets Regan, he decides she is perfect and they quickly marry undead style. However, someone wants to prevent Shadow from becoming all he can be due to sexual intensity so he goes after his Achilles’ heal, Regan.

This enjoyable paranormal erotic romance is fun to follow, but has abrupt scene changes that can prove a bit jarring. Regan is an interesting protagonist as she wonders how she ended up making a living peddling sex gizmos until the Shadow shows her the fun in testing the BDSM merchandise. Fans will appreciate Regan’s DARK MASTER as he teaches his beloved new spouse, sex with a bite. Even as his opponents need her dead to prevent him from gaining the exponential increase in power that sex with the woman you love engorges his species with power.

Harriet Klausner

Promiscuous-R. Moreen Clarke

R. Moreen Clarke
Kensington Aphrodisia, May 2008, $13.95
ISBN: 9780758216816

Connie Jefferson is a nice woman who never acts out except once with affluent realtor Marshall James before scurrying back to the safety of her boyfriend Steady Victor. Her old high school rival Deandra Morgan loves being a bad girl as she relishes big especially in her men and no one comes juicier or bigger than Marshall James.

Marshall enjoys the uninhibited anything goes show me the money Deandra, but has not forgotten the best sex of his life; that one night with sweet Connie when he got her to let her hair and much more down. When he and Connie meet for the first time since that explosive evening, he thinks he better make up his mind as Connie has his heart and upper head, but Deandra owns his lower head; or does she?

This engaging erotic triangle with a nod to the Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind” is an entertaining contemporary romance. The story line is fast-paced and few male leads come across as fully developed as the confused Marshall does. Although the females are stereotypical polar opposites, fans will enjoy wondering who Marshall will leave behind between uninhibited sex and a complete person in love with him.

Harriet Klausner

Only With a Cowboy-P.J. Mellor, Vonna Harper and Melissa MacNeal

Only With a Cowboy
P.J. Mellor, Vonna Harper and Melissa MacNeal
Kensington Aphrodisia, May 2008, $13.95
ISBN: 9780758220271

"Hard in the Saddle" by P.J. Mellor. Cowboy Sam Austin wants to tame city slick she-cat Madison St. Claire, but has to use a ruse and his body to keep her in town.

"Breeding Season" by Vonna Harper. High school sweethearts Wendi Rennert broke up after Mike Wagner left town, but now he is back and she plans to complete unfinished business with him or at least his body.

"Getting Lucky" by Melissa MacNeal. Following a modeling career Luke McGrew has returned home wanting to save his mother's Wyoming ranch, but bank president Jane Cook rejects his loan request but not his body.

Although there is a bit too much bull from the lead characters, these three heated contemporary erotic romances affirm that cowboys know how to ride hard, fast and slow.

Harriet Klausner

Wild, Wild Women of the West II-Layla Chase, Delilah Devlin and Myla Jackson

Wild, Wild Women of the West II
Layla Chase, Delilah Devlin and Myla Jackson
Kensington Aphrodisia, May 2008, $12.95
ISBN: 9780758223869

"Once Upon a Legend" by Delilah Devlin. In1883 Serendipity, Montana, when writer Prudence Vogel meets model of the lead protagonist of her books Jake White Eagle, she realizes he is even more a hunk.

"Second Wind” by Myla Jackson. In 1884 Thunderstruck, Kansas, when naked balloonist Dolly Sherman falls from the sky, she knocks Seth Turner off his horse and into each others arms.

"Cinnamon and Sparks” by Layla Chase. In 1876 Colorado Territory, when newcomer Oriana Donato Ignacio finds herself in danger, Sheriff Kent Wyman vows to keep her safe.

The second W to the 4th power contains three superb erotic wild west romances starring women who know what they want and go after their respective him.

Harriet Klausner

Hotter After Midnight-Cynthia Eden

Hotter After Midnight
Cynthia Eden
Kensington Brava, May 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758226020

Therapist to the paranormal Emily Drake’s client list includes vampires with a psychotic reaction to blood and legendary Others with phobias. Because of her abnormal caseload, Dr. Drake has been asked to provide profiling skills to the police investigating the Night Butcher murder. She will work with Detective Colin Gyth, who makes her lust for him, but the psychiatrist to the Monster species knows never trust a shifter with your heart, soul or body.

Soon more creatures are killed even and they begin to meet powerful demons, out of control shifters, and an apparent human with special powers. As they get closer to solving the serial killing case, alpha Colin lets the beast out that he has controlled as much as possible to keep his soulmate safe from the Night Butcher who looks forward to tasting Emily’s terror. However, in spite of her impudent rejections that she does not want anything to do with his only natural shape shifting organ, his desire for her has taken charge of him.

This dark yet amusing police procedural romantic fantasy is fast-paced and filled with non stop action. However it is the cast that makes this a superb thriller as nasty demons, disreputable shapeshifters, and other paranormal species prove anything is possible under the sun, and a fabulous abnormal psychiatrist who keeps the whodunit and romance focused. HOTTER AFTER MIDNIGHT is fantastic heat anytime of the day.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Duke Most Wanted-Celeste Bradley

Duke Most Wanted
Celeste Bradley
St. Martin's, May 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780312939700

In 1815 only one of the three cousins remain single with a chance to inherit the Pickering fortune, but bookworm too tall and clumsy twenty-seven year old Sophie is uninterested in their late grandfather’s fortune nor in marriage as she assumes she is on the shelf for life that is if she does not inelegantly fall off. Instead she is having the time of her life especially with her friendship with Graham, the youngest son of a duke with four older brothers.

However, when his father and a brother die, Graham reconsiders his carefree lifestyle and decides he needs a bride. He wants intelligent witty Sophie as his wife. However, Sophie who has always considered herself plain cannot believe her buddy desires her even with fashion tips turning her into a beauty.

The final Heiress Brides tale (see DESPERATELY SEEKING A DUKE and THE DUKE NEXT DOOR) is a delightful Regency romance. The key threads from the previous books are completed and a fabulous twist involving a crooked lethal lawyer (no oxymoron joke intended) adds depth as Phoebe and Deirdre return to help their cousin get her man. Celeste Bradley spins a winner as even the ugly duckling turning into a beautiful swan due to an early nineteenth century makeover seems right.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Fiancé at Her Fingertips-Kathleen Bacus

Fiancé at Her Fingertips
Kathleen Bacus
Love Spell, May 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780505527349

State's Crime Victims Assistance Bureau Counselor Debra Daniels is starting to believe she needs to move to another continent if she is to have any respite from her matchmaking mom, who has set her up with blind dates from hell; her friends and her co-workers who are not much better. They think being married is nirvana and staying single is a curse. Bone marrow wary she wants everyone to stop setting her up.

At a gift shop seeking a birthday present for her best friend Suzi, Debra finds an interestingly titled do-it-yourself kit titled: "Fiancé at Your Fingertips" that contains everything she needs to get the well meaning horde off her butt by persuading one and all that she has met Mr. Right, "Lawyer Logan" Alexander, a make believe boyfriend. Over the next couple of weeks, Debra receives sham phone calls at work and deserves an Oscar pretending she is in love. However while at her parents' house, "Lawyer Logan" arrives for dinner. He insists they have been seeing one another while she swears he came in a box like a Crackerjack’s prize. However, as he continues his campaign to win the heart of his beloved, she begins to wonder does it matter since she loves her novelty lawyer.

Even sans Calamity Jane, this is an amusing whimsical contemporary romance starring a beleaguered heroine still reeling from a decade of bozos and losers culminating with her trooper recently announcing he is going to be a father of someone else’s child. Under siege especially from mom, Debra makes up a fiancé only to have him show up for dinner. Fans will appreciate this humorous engaging tale while waiting for the sequel between Debra’s two best friends, enemy combatants.

Harriet Klausner

These Boots Were Made for Strutting-Lisa Cach, Gemma Halliday and Melanie Jackson

These Boots Were Made for Strutting
Lisa Cach, Gemma Halliday and Melanie Jackson
Love Spell, May 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780505527585

Another lighthearted whimsical shopping trip to cyber-magical (see THESE BOOTS WERE MADE FOR STOMPING) requires readers to suspend belief; but it is worth doing for these three enchanting tales.

"A Rose by Any Other Name” by Lisa Cach. Eccentric Kelsey seeks someone screwier than her, but her new shoes leads her to conclude she don’t know Jack about what she wants.

"So I Dated an Axe Murderer" by Gemma Halliday. Kya wants to become a supermodel until her new shoes lead her into the down side.

"And They Danced" by Melanie Jackson. With new shoes and a new hunk next door, Faith asks him to enter a dance contest as her partner

Harriet Klausner

The Scorpion & the Seducer-Bonnie Vanak

The Scorpion & the Seducer
Bonnie Vanak
Leisure, May 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780843959758

In London, the Ton has always treated half-Egyptian Jasmine Tristan as a pariah disparaging her as the “Brown Scorpion”. Perhaps the only exception besides her adopted father is the Earl Thomas Wallenford, who not only admires her élan, but believes he is in love with her. Although she reciprocates his feelings, she knows they cannot make a match; when he was twelve, his late father made it clear she was a loser two times as a heathen and as an illegit; affirmed by Thomas’ mother.

When his older twin Nigel the “perfect one” dies, Thomas becomes the duke and must ignore his heart for the sake of his title. Still he and Jasmine make a trek to Egypt where she hopes to learn who her natural parents are and he spent time with family there when Nigel was ill back when they were preadolescents. As they admit their love in the desert, the person who killed the twin plans to murder Thomas too.

The latest desert historical romance is a superb tale that brings to life Egypt in the late 1890s. The lead couple is a strong pairing as both knows his mother thinks Jasmine is beneath her socially yet love blossoms between them. The murder mystery is well done, but serves as a minor subplot as Bonnie Vanak provides another strong Victorian Egyptian romance filled with a vivid background.

Harriet Klausner

Gabriel's Lady-Charlotte Hubbard

Gabriel's Lady
Charlotte Hubbard
Leisure, May 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780843960082

Although a decade older than Solace Monroe, Gabriel Getty feels a connection to the young woman. However, he does not act on his confused feelings and marries someone else. Six years later, his pregnant wife dies taking their unborn with her. Having lost his faith, Gabriel gives up his legal practice to return home bitter at God.

A horse trainer and a rider in the Wild West show, Solace also writes dime novels. She comes home too where she informs Gabriel that she loves him and always has. Still grieving his double loss and feeling guilt because of how he feels about Solace, Gabriel fails to act on her declaration. However, when Solace is accused of murder, Gabriel defends the woman he always loved.

This engaging historical romance deftly turns into a wonderful inspirational romantic legal thriller as Gabriel needs a miracle to save the courageous woman he loves. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Gabriel wonders if he is marrying the wrong woman at his wedding and never slows down as he tries to prove Solace is being framed. However it is Solace who brings a strength and uniqueness to the mix; so much so fans will admire this wonderful woman.

Harriet Klausner

Scream For Me-Karen Rose

Scream For Me
Karen Rose
Grand Central, May 2008, $16.99
ISBN: 9780446509206

Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Daniel Vartanian remains in shock and grief as he still reels from discovering his late brother Simon was a serial killer who before his demise murdered their parents, whom the cop just buried (see DIE FOR ME). Still though some at GBI thinks Daniel should take leave, he feels he would be better off working a case instead of brooding.

His superior assigns him to investigate a recent murder that copy cats the unsolved cold case homicide of Alicia Tremaine thirteen years ago. Daniel meets Alice’s twin sister Alex Fallon, who left their hometown of Dutton just after the murder of her sibling. She is home because her stepsister Bailey Creighton vanished leaving her four year old daughter Hope behind and distressed over mommy. As more people are murdered with the same M.O. of thirteen years ago, Daniel wonders who the serial killer is ultimately targeting as he also fears completion of the circle with Alex as the victim; he vows to keep the woman he is falling in love with safe, but from whom.

This exhilarating serial killer thriller grips readers from the onset and never slows down; whether the events occurred thirteen years ago or in the present. Even the well written supportive romance enhances the tale by personalizing the murders in the mind of the hero who is reminded that he “failed” to protect his parents; guilt even if it is unwarranted can rip out one’s gut. Karen Rose proves her publisher was right going hardcover with what is sure to be another bestseller.

Harriet Klausner

Dawn of Desire-Phoebe Conn

Dawn of Desire
Phoebe Conn
Love Spell, May 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780843960105

Egan, the heir to chieftain of the Dai Cais, brings home the prophetess Oriana so she can predict the future for his clan from their sacred stones. However, upon arrival at his home he learns of the tragedy that has befallen his family and his people; someone assassinated his father.

Egan needs Oriana’s help to uncover the identity of the killer. He asks her to pretend to be his mistress; attracted to him, she agrees. However, her mystical skill fails her whenever Egan is nearby because her need for him supersedes her ability to foretell. As they fall in love, they must fight enemies from within and without to protect the Dai Cais people.

This entertaining tale is more a medieval romance than a historical paranormal romance because the love between the lead couple voids the heroine’s prophesies skills. The story line is fun to follow as Egan struggles to uncover the conspiracy while also wanting the prophetess by his side forever; more interesting is Oriana who must choose between love and being a seer, as she cannot have both. DAWN OF DESIRE is an engaging Celtic historical romance with a touch of the extrasensory.

Harriet Klausner

Forbidden The Revolution-Samantha Sommersby

Forbidden The Revolution
Samantha Sommersby
Linden Bay, Mar 2008
ISBN: 9781602020917

Dominie Byron Renfield asks his preternatural Special Forces detective son Dell to learn whether police officer Alexandra Sanchez is the lost Chosen one stolen twenty-five years ago. He needs DNA to learn the truth and his offspring, still marveling how his dad arranged the transfer from Chicago to Los Angeles, promises he will obtain and send a sample.

Dell and Alex are attracted to one another, which should make it easier to go undercover in Las Vegas as a couple to prove that casino owner Raif is laundering drug money. In Vegas they obtain work at Raif’s casino, but Dell is stunned that the man is a vampire and holding Rita a sexual prisoner Rita who is a friend of his father. As the couple falls in love, she explains she remains a virgin because of a protective spell that does not allow anyone to mount her.

FORBIDDEN THE REVOLUTION is an exciting erotic paranormal romantic suspense in which the story can stand alone though newcomers like this reviewer will seek the previous entry FORBIDDEN THE AWAKENING. After a great foreplay buildup, the Vegas escapade is blown away too easily ending without much of a climax except in the boudoir (even with the spell these are clever touches by Samantha Sommersby who keeps the heat on) and no closure to the drug ring. The return home is thrilling and complemented with a couple of terrific spins as the past comes home to roost. Sub-genre fans will appreciate Samantha Sommersby strong entry as a vampire who has never drank blood from a human jugular and the probable chosen one who remains a virgin due to a succubus’ protection spell fall in love.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, April 21, 2008

Up Close and Personal-Joanne Rock

Up Close and Personal
Joanne Rock
Harlequin Blaze, May 2008, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373793990

Her parents were never there for Jessica Winslow so she learned to fend for herself and not trust personal relationships. Instead she buries herself in her work.

Jessica is hosting a sex retreat in which she plans to open up the weekend by showing hands on how to do an erotic massage. Her attendees select waiter Rocco Easton. However as she works her magic on him, he wants to come clean that he is undercover investigating her; he thought she scammed his dad, but now believes someone stole her identity just like she stole his heart.

Using identity theft as a catalyst, Joanne Rock provides her fans with a delightful UP CLOSE AND Personal contemporary romance. Rocco is fabulous as he feels like a traitor for falling in love with the enemy, but rationalizes his feelings by insisting to himself he could never love a thief. However, he hesitates to tell her the truth out of fear of losing her; even before he learns she distrusts relationships. Fans will enjoy this fine contemporary romance with some suspense as Rocco has his work cut out for him.

Harriet Klausner

Up Close and Personal-Joanne Rock

Up Close and Personal
Joanne Rock
Harlequin Blaze, May 2008, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373793990

Her parents were never there for Jessica Winslow so she learned to fend for herself and not trust personal relationships. Instead she buries herself in her work.

Jessica is hosting a sex retreat in which she plans to open up the weekend by showing hands on how to do an erotic massage. Her attendees select waiter Rocco Easton. However as she works her magic on him, he wants to come clean that he is undercover investigating her; he thought she scammed his dad, but now believes someone stole her identity just like she stole his heart.

Using identity theft as a catalyst, Joanne Rock provides her fans with a delightful UP CLOSE AND Personal contemporary romance. Rocco is fabulous as he feels like a traitor for falling in love with the enemy, but rationalizes his feelings by insisting to himself he could never love a thief. However, he hesitates to tell her the truth out of fear of losing her; even before he learns she distrusts relationships. Fans will enjoy this fine contemporary romance with some suspense as Rocco has his work cut out for him.

Harriet Klausner

Have Mercy-Jo Leigh

Have Mercy
Jo Leigh
Harlequin Blaze, May 2008, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373794027

Businessman Will Desmond brings his faithful canine Buster with him while staying at Manhattan’s exclusive Hush Hotel. The hotel’s pet concierge Mercy Jones assumes pampering pets is ridiculous, but does her job as a professional hiding her inner disdain from the owners. Will is attracted to Buster’s temporary handler, but has plans that he believes Mercy is key for his achieving them; although the walks in Central park with her and Buster as chaperone has him reconsidering his objective.

At the same time bitter Drina Dalakis checks into the hotel. The angry Romanian Gypsy seeks vengeance on those whose actions led to the arrest and death of her husband. Her target is at the Hush Hotel where an expensive dog collar will begin her scheme.

Romantic suspense fans will fully appreciate this action-packed story line that never slows down for even a bark once Buster introduces Will to Mercy even after she learns the truth as to who he really is. With a fabulous twist to spice up the tale of the dog collar, fans will enjoy this fine tale as Will finds out love cannot supersede his lies because trust is more important in a relationship and his beloved believes he can lie faster than a blink.

Harriet Klausner

To Taste Temptation-Elizabeth Hoyt

To Taste Temptation
Elizabeth Hoyt
Grand Central, May 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780446406918

In 1764 successful Boston businessman Samuel Hartley comes to London ostensibly to see his younger sister Rebecca enjoy a Season. However, the wealthy colonial has a hidden agenda as well. He believes someone in England betrayed his Regiment; they were slaughtered at the battle of Spinner’s Falls by the Wyandot tribe who seemed to know the militia was there; the former soldier was fortunate to survive, but widow Lady Emeline Gordon’s brother was not. Hiding his connection to her late sibling he persuades Emeline to help train Rebecca for the season.

As Rebecca and Emeline spend time together, the English aristocrat and Samuel begin to fall in love. However, she is engaged to Lord Vale who suits her well and should be a paragon for her eight year old son Daniel to emulate while Samuel must not lose sight of his mission to uncover the traitor.

The first Legend of the Four Soldiers historical romance is a strong tale that starts with the man who went east. Their saga, which opens each chapter, provides a deep look into the demons pushing Samuel. Secondary characters like her friends and family (especially her tante) and his sister play major roles in his inquiry and their romance. However, the lead couple, who know they will not suit, make for a fine Georgian romance.

Harriet Klausner

Dark Needs at Night's Edge-Kresley Cole

Dark Needs at Night's Edge
Kresley Cole
Pocket, May 2008, $6.99
ISBN 9781416547075

In 1927 in New Orleans Neomi Laress was a highly regarded ballerina when she was murdered by her former fiancé Louis Robicheaux. However, she never moved on; instead she has haunted her newly restored estate Elancourt, for the eight decades since he killed her.

Vampire Conrad Wroth hates himself for his inability to control his need for blood. Worried about him, his brothers take him to Elancourt to keep him away from people while hoping he will regain his sanity. However, when he meets the shadowy phantom haunting the estate, he wants to help her, but has no idea how as he cannot even touch her. As they fall in love, Conrad notices his rage and torment has abated andhe prays for a miracle; he turns to paranormal expert Mariketa the Witch to provide the means to achieve his objective.

The Cole mythos (See Immortals After Dark tales such as NO REST FOR WICKED and A HUNGER LIKE NO OTHER) continues to be one of the best romantic fantasy environs for sub-genre fans. The latest is a terrific star-crossed romantic fantasy between a vampire and a ghost; they share in common love and a lust for life though both are not mortally alive. His caring brother and Mariketa add depth to a wonderful tale of a ghost who learns love is so much better on the soul than revenge and an angry vampire who learns love is so much better for the soul than uncontrollable rage. This is another winner from an author who keeps writing super romantic fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Highland Rogue-Tess Mallory

Highland Rogue
Tess Mallory
Berkley, May 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780425220429

In Austin, Texas, Maggie Graham loves everything about historical Scotland; Liam Neeson of Rob Roy fame is her hero. Thus she is euphoric when she receives the letter from Dr. Alexander that she has been accepted to join an archaeological dig near Drymen in the Scottish Highlands.

At the site, Maggie finds a a huge, tri-spiral carving in the floor of the cairn that sends her back in time to 1711 at an importune moment. She drops into the midst of a battle between the forces of Quinn McIntyre and those of the Duke of Montrose. Quinn saves her life taking her to his friend, Ian McGregor for safekeeping. However, when Montrose captures McGregor, Quinn vows to free his friend; Maggie wants to help. Their efforts fail leaving Quinn mortally wounded and McGregor slated for execution. Maggie takes her beloved back to the future where he can get medical treatment that will save his life; she knows they will go back because McGregor still needs rescuing.

This back and forth entertaining time travel romance is a fun tale starring a courageous heroine who has romanticized the Scottish legendary heroes so much so that Quinn wonders if he can measure up to her ideal. Fast-paced fans will enjoy the romance between the modern day starry eyed Texan and her HIGHLAND ROGUE.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Three Nights of Sin-Anne Mallory

Three Nights of Sin
Anne Mallory
Avon, May 2008, $5.99
ISBN: 9780061242410

In 1825, the aristocracy shows its fickleness when they shut out Marietta Winters following the arrest of her brother Kenny for the Middlesex Murder. Impoverished with no place to go, Marietta learns that mysterious Gabriel Noble might be able to help her, but she cannot pay his fee whatever that is as her other brother spendthrift Mark has bankrupted them.

Still desperate to save her brother from hanging, Marietta visits Gabriel. He demands she provide him with three favors in remittance for his help. Her reputation ruined by her sibling’s scandal anyway and with a need to save his life, she agrees to THREE NIGHTS OF SIN. Initially he just has her assist him on his investigation. Soon she falls in love with Gabriel, but fears once the case is solved he will dump her.

The premise of paying her debt in sex has been used before, but Marietta and Gabriel refreshes it with their teaming on the homicide investigation although their falling in love is deftly handled. Gabriel feels the son of a butler and a governess is not good enough for an aristocrat so though he has changed from THREE NIGHTS OF SIN to needing forever, he plans to let his beloved go; Marietta thinks otherwise as she has found her love. The murder mystery is well done, but it is the relationship that makes Ann Mallory’s Regency tale into a terrific romantic whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

A Notorious Proposition-Adele Ashworth

A Notorious Proposition
Adele Ashworth
Avon, May 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061128585

In 1850 at Winter Garden Garrett Burke was investigating for the Crown the theft of the Martello Diamonds when he met and fell in love with Lady Ivy Wentworth. She reciprocated his feelings. However, after making love with her and planning to ask her to marry him, he went out on his assignment that ended badly; he blamed Ivy, whom he believed betrayed him.

Two years later Garrett and Ivy are together at Winter Garden seeking to uncover secrets long buried there. As they begin to find clues of a treasure in the mansion’s secret corridors, their love surfaces as neither stopped wanting the other. However, he does not trust her and she knows how he feels making her angry that her love was not strong enough to persuade him otherwise.

This is an engaging Victorian romantic mystery starring two likable protagonists whose short history together includes making love, falling in love, and distrusting love. Readers will enjoy this amusing suspense tale that takes place in WINTER GARDEN (previous book written in 2000; not read by me) as Adele Ashworth writes another engaging historical as few authors consistently bring to life the 1850s-1860s as consistently vivid as this writer does.

Harriet Klausner

One Night Stand-Cindy Kirk

One Night Stand
Cindy Kirk
Avon, May 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780060847913

At the wedding of her best friend in Chicago, Marcee Robbins looks forward to a one night stand with a guest-stranger. Due to a crying little boy, she meets widower Sam McKelvey. The widower police detective Sam and the unmarried CPA Marcee discuss his daughter and living in a small town. Later they go to her room for a night of sex

Several months later, Marcee returns to her hometown of Ellwood, a place she vowed to never go back, to care for her younger step-brother Cam. She stops at the bakery run by her high school best friend Iris, who is glad to see her. Not long afterward town sheriff Sam enters. Both are stunned to see one another and Marcee looks at her bracelet “Reach High” to remind her she is here for one year and wants no trouble. She tells Sam to tell no one about their one night stand.

Marcee goes to her family home only to have another stepbrother Cam’s guardian Tom leave before he introduces her to Cam, who is asleep. Sam grabs Marcee frightening her before kissing her. He mentions his daughter Fern is out with a punk named Cam. She tells him Cam is her brother and she knows Fern as the friend of the daughter of her best friend. As Marcee falls in love with Sam, she also finds she cares deeply for Cam, but soon must choose between the two men in her life as her lover thinks her brother is not good enough for his daughter.

The prime support cast is solid and adds depth to the story line especially the lead female’s brother. However, it is the romance between the lead couple that makes this a fun contemporary as he stereotypes her brother while she feels she must choose between her sibling and her soulmate. Although too much coincidence enables the plot to move forward, fans will enjoy this fine small town romance.

Harriet Klausner

Wild for Him-Janelle Denison

Wild for Him
Janelle Denison
Berkley, May 27 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425221976

Christy Delacroix’s seemingly ethical father Nathan is running for governor on a values first ticket. However, someone tries to force him to drop out by threatening to harm his daughter. Though he loves his daughter, Nathan refuses to be bullied out of the race. Instead he hires former marine cum bodyguard Ben Cabrera to keep Christy safe.

Christy and Ben know each other and were already sharing an attraction before her father hired him. However, Christy is recovering from a horrific relationship and still escaping her mother’s need for total control while Ben knows she is not a one night stand or even a two week stand. She plans to have fun with Big Ben, but only for a short time. Ben, on the other hand, wants things to remain professional although he cannot resist her lure as he tries to uncover who the threat is and keeping her ex away from her as well as the middle age lothario who wants her. Her plan is for him to pose as her boyfriend; something he wishes was real but he knows she is upper crust while he is a working class stiff.

The bodyguard love story has been used numerous times (for instance the Costner-Houston movie and The First Daughter), but the lead couple makes this an entertaining fresh tale. The story line is fast-paced although the mystery behind the threat is used totally to supplement the romance. In some ways Ben steals the show with his un-Roving approach to election politics. Readers who appreciate a wonderful contemporary between two likable protagonists with some suspense to expedite the prime plot will enjoy WILD FOR HIM.

Harriet KlausnerWild for Him
Janelle Denison
Berkley, May 27 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425221976

Christy Delacroix’s seemingly ethical father Nathan is running for governor on a values first ticket. However, someone tries to force him to drop out by threatening to harm his daughter. Though he loves his daughter, Nathan refuses to be bullied out of the race. Instead he hires former marine cum bodyguard Ben Cabrera to keep Christy safe.

Christy and Ben know each other and were already sharing an attraction before her father hired him. However, Christy is recovering from a horrific relationship and still escaping her mother’s need for total control while Ben knows she is not a one night stand or even a two week stand. She plans to have fun with Big Ben, but only for a short time. Ben, on the other hand, wants things to remain professional although he cannot resist her lure as he tries to uncover who the threat is and keeping her ex away from her as well as the middle age lothario who wants her. Her plan is for him to pose as her boyfriend; something he wishes was real but he knows she is upper crust while he is a working class stiff.

The bodyguard love story has been used numerous times (for instance the Costner-Houston movie and The First Daughter), but the lead couple makes this an entertaining fresh tale. The story line is fast-paced although the mystery behind the threat is used totally to supplement the romance. In some ways Ben steals the show with his un-Roving approach to election politics. Readers who appreciate a wonderful contemporary between two likable protagonists with some suspense to expedite the prime plot will enjoy WILD FOR HIM.

Harriet Klausner

No One Left to Tell-Jordon Dane

No One Left to Tell
Jordon Dane
Avon, May 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061253751

Chicago homicide detectives Raven Mackenzie and Tony Rodriguez investigate the brutal murder of Dunhill Corporation security agent Mickey Blair near downtown’s St. Sebastian’s Chapel. The firm’s chief Fiona Dunhill demands the cops work with the head of security, Christian Delacorte, if they want her cooperation. Having no choice although far from pleased with taking on a civilian “rookie” the detectives acquiesce, but Delacorte objects also though he too ultimately agrees.

She does not trust him since there is a link between a message left at the murder scene and the slaughter of his family two decades ago; while he thinks cops are failures after watching them bungle the investigation into his family’s murders. When her partner is nearly killed, Raven and Christian think Fiona, who raised him, knows how the modern day homicides link to his past, but she is not telling even as a killer plans for NO ONE LEFT TO TELL.

This second No One Left To tale is a superb Chicago mean streets investigative thriller with a solid supporting romantic subplot. Filled with twists from the grave as much as from the chapel, the story line is fast-paced as secrets surface. Fans who appreciate a dark crime thriller starring a likable couple falling in love while on the case will appreciate Jordan Dane’s entertaining walk on the side of Chicago Ferris Bueller avoided.

Harriet Klausner

One Foot in the Grave-Jeaniene Frost

One Foot in the Grave
Jeaniene Frost
Avon, May 2008, $5.99
ISBN: 9780061245091

In Manhasset, Virginia, FBI Special Agent Catrina “Red Reaper” Arthur puts a knife into the heart of vampire Liam Flannery; one twist and he will be gone forever. However she recognizes him as Ian a friend of Bones, who she still loves. For Bones, she lets him go and thinks back to her hometown in Ohio where she and her lover Bones the vampire killed the governor for selling girls to vampires; her grandparents died in the slaughter and she was considered a mass murderer. Don her current boss knew she was a half breed and placed her on his special top secret team to eliminate vampires. She left Bones a goodbye note.

Don informs the team of a graphic murder in the Ohio house that belonged to Cat’s grandparents; a note left behind states: “Here Kitty Kitty”. Someone knows of Cat. She and her team travel to Licking Falls to look at the crime scene. One corpse contains limestone from a nearby cave, which leads Cat to believe Bones is involved. She enters the cave alone. Seven vampires greet her with one explaining the bounty on the Red Reaper. They bring her beloved to her, but it is not Bones. Instead it is a creep she dated once as a teen. She kills the vampires, but not before a member of her team dies.

At her friend’s wedding Cat and Bones meet for the first time since she disappeared four years ago. She explains why she left and he tells her Ian wants her, but will not attack her; he will go after her loved ones. He promises to help her as he still loves her.

This is an action packed second chance at love romantic fantasy stars a solid lead couple and a strong support cast especially her team. The key though somewhat comic book in nature is that the government agency seems genuine. Although the good guys win each encounter too easily, readers will enjoy this exciting sequel to HALFWAY TO THE GRAVE.

Harriet Klausner

Damien-Jacquelyn Frank

Jacquelyn Frank
Zebra, Jun 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780821780688

The Lycanthrope Princess Syreena can help but envy her sister Siena’s loving marriage to the Demon Elijah. Syreena is placed in charge of the guests who come to visit the newly discovered Library concerning all Nightwalker races. When Vampire Price Damien arrives, Syreena remembers her feelings for him, but assumes non reciprocity; she is unaware he feels the same way. Both know that interspecies mating is taboo.

While a taking a walk on the catacombs in the Russian steppes where the Library is buried, Syreena is abducted by Ruth, a mind Demon who practices black magic which is forbidden to all Nightwalker races. 6Damien follows the blood trail Syreena has left behind all the way to France. He helps her escape from Ruth, but she is dying so he takes her to Mistral Territory where that species can heal or harm with their unique voices. They help both of them, who return to their previous lives, but neither can forget the other. They break the taboo that forbids mating, but before then can straighten out the family, social and political ramifications, ruthless Ruth returns.

Readers who have followed the Nighwalker saga will thoroughly appreciate DAMIEN, a tale that reveals more secrets that the Ancients buried. Not everyone from either race is happy about a vampire-shapeshifter romance, but the people directly affected believe it can work because of the pair at the center of the controversy. Although newcomers will find it easier to understand the Frank mythos by reading precious tales, romantic fantasy fans will relish this latest entry.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, April 18, 2008

Hot and Bothered-Dianne Castell

Hot and Bothered
Dianne Castell
Kensington Brava, Apr 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758223593

In Savannah, Charlotte Deshawn and Griffin Parish III have known each other for years as both come from Old South family and money. They have been attracted to one another for a long time, but neither has acted on their most inner feelings beyond harmless teasing. Their circles have somewhat changed as he is a hotel magnate while she is a private investigator.

Griff hires Charlotte to find Jaden Caldwell. Twenty-five years ago, then five years old Jaden’s parents were murdered and she vanished. He and Jaden recently inherited Magnolia House. As they work the case, the kudzu grapevine spreads the word they are an entry because the attraction is thicker than Georgia pine pollen. Although threatened by an unknown adversary, Charlotte begins to uncover the identity of the lost child.

This engaging romantic investigative tale with some paranormal elements stars strong lead and support characters including Savannah as Dianne Castell catches the essence of the city. Charlotte’s inquiry is terrific as clues surface from various sources including eccentric ghosts while the resolution has fabulous final twist and a set up for a sequel. Readers will enjoy the well written kudzu private investigative romance.

Harriet Klausner

Master-Colette Gale

Colette Gale
Signet, May 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780451224125

His name no longer mattered as he became Prisoner # 34. He spoke to no one during his ordeal and only the memory of Mercedes kept him alive. Ten years after he was betrayed he escaped from the prison his enemies sent him too, now in 1822 he takes on the persona of the Count of Monte Cristo; as Edmond Dantes he plans to destroy those who destroyed him.

His first target is the woman he loved Mercedes who betrayed him by marrying his most loathed foe. Edmond pretends to be Sinbad the sailor; in that masquerade he kidnaps Mercedes and seduces her. When she meets him as the Count, she begins to realize this is her beloved Edmond, whose acrimoniousness hurts her. She wants him happy, but also wants him as she never stopped loving him whether he is Sinbad, the Count or just her Edmond.

As she did with the Phantom of the Opera (see UNMASQUED), Colette Gale heats up the exciting Dumas’ classic The Adventures of the Count of Monte Cristo by adding sexual themes such as bondage, domination, ménage and voyeurism. Edmond is much more sinister than in the novel or the movies as he holds Mercedes culpable for betraying him and enacts vengeance by dominating her. However, he will soon learn the error of his ways as his captive knows who he is from the kisses even though he is different, filled with more animal rage than her tender Edmond. Regency exotic romance fans will appreciate this much darker version of the tale, but those who cherish the original will take umbrage with Ms. Gale’s liberties.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Black Silk-Sharon Page

Black Silk
Sharon Page
Kensington Aphrodisia, Apr 2008, $12.95
ISBN: 9780758214713

In London Maryanne Hamilton found the season quite tedious so she decides to attend the infamous party at Mrs. Master’s salon. However, she also is editing the memoirs of aging prostitutes so they can earn a retirement income from their published works. Maryanne is especially excited by the exploits of Lord Dashiel Blackmore, who lives up to his name as every prostitute insists he adds dash to the boudoir.

When Dash meets Maryanne in a house of ill repute that no lady would enter, he assumes she is a courtesan; not the innocent she is. He wants her and lets her know he plans to take her. She wants to flee yet cannot resist his lure.

This is a superb erotic Regency romance in which the audience will agree with the prostitutes that Dash adds that and more to a fine mix. Maryanne is a wonderful counter to Dash as he assumes she is a courtesan and she does not fully correct him. This is a delightful page-turner that will have sub-genre fans seeking the author’s other works (see SIN) as Sharon Page heats up the era.

Harriet Klausner

Exposing Casey-Deanna Lee

Exposing Casey
Deanna Lee
Kensington Aphrodisia, Apr 2008, $12.95
ISBN: 9780758214874

"Watching Casey". Casey Andrews is stunned to realize a stalker has videoed her trysts with Connor Grant, head of security at the Holman Gallery. Besides outrage she is frightened as the taping has occurred in her bedroom, which means the creep was in her room to install his equipment. Her new neighbor detective Shawn Tranner plans to keep her safe while insuring no filming of his sexual encounters with Casey occurs.

"Seducing Lisa". The Boston based Holman Gallery owner James Brooks plans to seduce artist Lisa, the hillbilly porn artist, but knows he will need to create a masterpiece of a plan to get through her defenses. Although his sophisticated ex wife Cecilia Banks seems to always be in the unwelcome way, James continues his pursuit of his favorite artist.

These two erotic romantic novellas are entertaining tales that connect to the Holman Gallery as does Deanna Lee’s well written previous books UNDRESSING MERCY and BARENAKED JANE. Each tale is fun to read, but leaves too much unanswered dangling at the climax; definitely not that male organ. Still fans will appreciate both entries while wondering if two novels might have made them 10s.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Because Your Vampire Said So-Michelle Bardsley

Because Your Vampire Said So
Michelle Bardsley
Signet, May 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 978045122869

In Broken Heart, Oklahoma, beautician Patsy Donahue struggles with being a single mom raising a teenage boy while also being recently converted to the undead life of a vampire. Her son Wilson is hard enough to cope with as he is at the age in which he fails to heed the basic advice of DON’T TALK BACK TO YOUR VAMPIRE even if she is your mom and finding blood more tasteful than chocolate is kind of difficult and strange, but not aging past forty works and her shop is loaded with repeat customers as the Lycan crowd have a lot of split hairs. However, Patsy and her paranormal peers are more anxious over the horde of ancients who have arrived in Broken Heart to prevent a prophecy from occurring; at least that is what they claim.

Gabriel the Lycan saves Patsy from a demon assault. He insists she is the one who will bring supernatural enemies, vampires and lycans together to battle the demons. She assumes he is handing her a male line, but likes his claim they are soul mates. Still fighting is not good for one’s nails yet Patsy turns lioness when her Wilson becomes a target.

The latest Broken Heart paranormal romantic fantasy is an extremely amusing chick lit tale as Patsy’s outlook on her parlor, the undead and other such ilk especially lycans and demons, and her loved ones make for a wonderful tale. Dripping not so much with blood but with passion and love, BECAUSE YOUR VAMPIRE SAID SO explores the trepidations of being a single parent with an offspring whose brain is fried by raging hormones at the same her hormones are raging wildly while she also has to ho hum save the town. Readers will appreciate her sarcastic asides and seek Michelle Bardsley’s previous single mom vampires soonest (see I’M THE VAMPIRE THAT’S WHY).

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Something Reckless-Jess Michaels

Something Reckless
Jess Michaels
Avon, Apr 2008, $13.95
ISBN: 9780061283970

In 1819 the "Upper Ten Thousand” male aristocracy members are irate that the Widow Penelope Norman has challenged them for their sensual excesses; she was sick of her late spouse’s philandering and assumers other women detest their husbands’ unfaithfulness. The Upper Ten Thousand choose a duke wastrel Jeremy Vaughn to end Penelope’s campaign.

Although he prefers to stay out of the mess, the challenge to his pride is too great from friends he has known seemingly forever; so Jeremy agrees to end the reign of terror. He figures the easiest means to achieve success is seduce and blackmail Penelope into silence. In daylight Jeremy becomes a friend of Penelope; at night he sneaks into her bedroom wearing a mask. He accomplishes his mission, but feels like he lost the war as he has fallen in love with passionate prude.

The changing relationship between Jeremy and Penelope make for an entertaining Regency romance in which EVERYTHING FORBIDDEN becomes SOMETHING RECKLESS but worth pursuing. The lead couple makes this a fine read as he starts as a cad and she as a crusading prude; over time respect and ultimately love flourishes. However, she loathes the overindulgences of the Upper Ten Thousand at the cost of women and children while he is a card carrying member. Fans will enjoy this fine tale of just who seduced whom.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, April 14, 2008

Midnight Never Come-Marie Brennan

Midnight Never Come
Marie Brennan
Orbit, Jun 2008, $14.99
ISBN 9780316020299

Three decades have past since Elizabeth became Queen of England, ushering in an age of Gloriana. However underneath in the bowels of the catacombs, ruthless Invidiana rules the fae with an iron hand.

Working as a courier under the tutelage of his mentor spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham, Michael Deven meets bewitching Lady Lune, an undercover fae wearing a mortal disguise. Lune fears her dark Queen Invidiana so in order to avoid her rage and worse, she infiltrates Walsingham's network. She plans to use and discard Michael who obviously wants her. However, to Lune’s trepidation and dread she is as attracted to the bewitching human as she thinks he is to her. However, she knows he could not survive in her realm while she cannot remain in his as her Queen would never allow her or him to live.

MIDNIGHT NEVER COME is an intriguing Elizabethan romantic fantasy in which Marie Brennan makes her two realms seem real by using historical events via flashbacks to anchor the Tudor reign and enabling the darkness to grow stronger in the shadows. Fans will enjoy the star-crossed love between the Fae and the mortal as honor and loyalty war with ambition for power in a Faustian age of deceit.

Harriet Klausner

Bring Down the Sun-Judith Tarr

Bring Down the Sun
Judith Tarr
Tor, Jun 2008, $22.95
ISBN 9780765303974

The flirtatious Polyxena knows she is a beauty and acts accordingly though that is not normal behavior of an acolyte of the Mother goddess. When Philip of Macedon meets the enticing playful Polyxena, he is enchanted by her beauty and her sexual lure. He calls her Myrtale the “crowned one” and pledges to make her his queen when he becomes king.

No longer using the name Polyxena, Myrtale ruthlessly uses her sexual appeal and her connection to the Mother goddess to further the ambitions of her now husband Philip. Her plan is to do likewise when her unborn son the heir is old enough. No one will stand in the way of Myrtale as she plots power and greatness for her family.

The power behind the throne of Philip is his ambitious cunning wife; that is the essence of this engaging biographical fictional account of the mother of Alexander the Great. The story line actually ends with the birth of Alexander; so expect a sequel when her son becomes the ruler and her ambition is as strong as ever. Although the opening sequence when she is still Polyxena pales next to her as Myrtale, fans will appreciate this deep look at a woman the history texts ignore, but proves as powerful in her way as her more famous husband and son.

Harriet Klausner

Warrior Rising-P.C. Cast

Warrior Rising
P.C. Cast
Berkley, May 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425221372

Hera, Venus and Athena are tired of masculinity stupidity as the Trojan War is over thirteen years old. The three goddesses conclude that the fighting is all about male penises, the prime organ in man’s superego. Worse the female trio is sick to hear these dumb braggarts claim the goddesses or Helen started the combat and that they fight in their honor. The poster boy for inane masculine pretentiousness is Achilles. So the goddesses decide the only way to end the war is to get Achilles to stop fighting; the only way to get him to stop fighting is occupy his penis with a woman who will keep the blood rage from turning him into a berserker warrior.

Venus visits modern day Tulsa to see if she can obtain the services of a specialist sex siren. When their car crashes, psychologist Dr. Kat and her best friend trauma nurse die. Venus brings the pair back to the Trojan War to entice those brutes Achilles and Patroclus with a lifetime of making love not war.

Only this author could cast a modern day romance in an ancient Greek mythos and make it seem real and fun. With a nod to the Trojan Horse tale and Lysistrata, P.C. Cast provides a strong Goddess tale starring spirited intelligent twenty-first century women battling the invincible Achilles (whose heel proves not to be his vulnerable body part) and his best buddy in a gender war that supersedes the Trojan War.

Harriet Klausner

Ghost Moon-Rebecca York

Ghost Moon
Rebecca York
Berkley, May 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425222454

For the sixth time Quinn comes through the portal from her parallel universe to land in a Maryland wooded area far from Baltimore but not enough to escape auto fumes. She has met a werewolf clan her that has welcomed her so much so she has sat in a moving car with them. She is taking pregnant Zarah to this isolated woodland so she can give birth in a safe environs.

However, on this trip, Quinn meets the ghost of werewolf Caleb Marshall, who was murdered by his cousin over a woman in 1933. To Caleb this is a miracle caused by his instant attraction to her, as for the first time in the seven plus decades since his demise someone living knows he exists. When a human is murdered nearby Caleb’s restless spirit takes over the corpse. He realizes through fleeting flickers of the deceased man’s memories a terrorist attack is forthcoming. With Quinn’s help he hopes to prevent an imminent tragedy even as they begin to fall in love.

Rebecca York’s latest “Moon” romantic fantasy is an entertaining suspense thriller that stars a courageous female with a fascinating unique male. The story line is fast-paced and filled with plenty of action as the heroic duo try to prevent a terrorist attack. Although Caleb adjusts too easily to his return to the living, fans will appreciate GHOST MOON as the action never quits yet the romance that crosses barriers is fully developed.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Stargazer’s Woman-Aimee Thurlo

Stargazer’s Woman
Aimee Thurlo
Harlequin Intrigue, May 2008, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373693313

Former US Marine Intelligence office Kris Reynolds saw violence during her military time overseas, but it was the murder of her sister Police Officer Tina that has shaken her the most. Tina’s partner Max Notoni visits Kris at her place of business the Smiling Cactus Nursery knowing she wanted to see him. Kris explains that she refuses to sit quietly while the Farmington cops, the Navaho Tribal police, and who knows who else investigate with she and her late sibling the prime suspects in a rumored theft of a half million dollars and some valuable Indian jewelry.

Max agrees to work with her as he explains he conducts investigations for the Tribal leadership. He thinks she can help him find stolen platinum and he will help her prove Tina’s innocence as he agrees with Kris’ assertion re her sibling. As they work together, their initial attraction at their first head banging meeting turns hotter than the southwest climate. Still each knows danger mounts with each step they take.

This Brotherhood of Warriors tale is a terrific investigative romantic suspense. The story line is action-packed as Kris and Max make inquiries they fall in love. He is a fascinating protagonist as he is the tribe’s mystical Stargazer with mystical powers, but prefers to use his police training on the investigation. Kris is a nice combination of tough independence yet as Max notices sweet and prickly. Fans will enjoy Aimee Thurlo's strong Navajo thriller.

Harriet Klausner

The Courtesan's Secret-Claudia Dain

The Courtesan's Secret
Claudia Dain
Berkley, May 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425221365

In 1800 during her first season, Lady Louisa Kirkland fell in love with the Marquess of Dutton; but two years later he shows no indication of returning her feelings. Desperate to seduce Dutton, Louisa asks retired courtesan Lady Sophia Dalby for help as the woman proved a wizard when she manipulated her daughter’s love match (see THE COURTESAN'S DAUGHTER).

Somewhat amused that her Machiavellian matchmaking skills are admired; the Countess agrees to help Louisa wins her heart’s desire. However, she knows that Dutton would not look twice at Louisa, but Lord Henry Blakesly would look eternally at her though he tries to hide his regard behind a cynical demeanor. Although Louisa sees Henry as a friend, Sophia persuades her to kiss him in order allegedly to make Dutton jealous.

Humor abounds in this engaging Regency romance as the former courtesan steals the show from the lead couple. Louisa is a fascinating protagonist as her desperation takes her to her new hero, Sophia whose exploits with Caro and Ash are Regency legend. Henry is also an interesting character who hides his deep feelings for Louisa behind a mask of sarcasm, but Sophia sees through to the heart of the matter. Fans will enjoy the return of the matchmaking courtesan.

Harriet Klausner

A Fatal Waltz-Tasha Alexander

A Fatal Waltz
Tasha Alexander
Morrow, Jun 2008, $23.95
ISBN 9780061174223

At the request of her friend Ivy Brandon, Lady Emily Ashton attends a party at the country manor of odious advisor to the Queen Lord Basil Fortescue, a toad Emily loathes. Making what would be an evening of torturous boredom worse is Austrian Countess Kristiana von Lange who is also attending. She allegedly has had her moments with Emily’s fiancé, royal investigator of potential embarrassing situations Colin Hargreaves.

However, ennui is the last thing that occurs that night as someone kills the host. Ivy’s spouse Robert is the prime suspect as he had motive, means and opportunity being the repulsive Basil’s political follower. For Ivy’s sake and believing Robert is innocent though an aristocratic traditionalist throwback, Emily invesigates the homicide. Her only potential clue is a letter describing an assassination in Austria. Emily leaves London for Vienna, where Colin is stationed. In Vienna, Emily and Colin enjoy their reunion, but she places both of them in danger as spies and anarchists without conscience are everywhere and eliminating a nosy English lady is fine as far as all these agents are concerned.

This is an exciting late Victorian amateur sleuth tale that uses famous Austrians like Klim to anchor time and place. The story line is fast-paced and filled with plenty of twists especially since double agents abound; one spin in particular is wonderful as Emily teams up with her rival the Countess. Although thoroughly modern Emily seems more twenty first century than late nienteenth, fans will enjoy her spunk and courage as she investigates in Austria, an English country murder (see AND ONLY TO DECEIVE and THE POISONED SEASON for her previous sleuthing).

Harriet Klausner

Gone With the Witch-Annette Blair

Gone With the Witch
Annette Blair
Berkley, May 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780425221211

At her sister Harmony’s wedding bridesmaid Storm Cartwright tells best man Aiden McCloud that he must help her find the baby that she hears in her head whenever she is near him. He tells her to leave him alone as he has two weeks off and does not plan to follow the nutty voice. The clairvoyant thinks otherwise as she and her allies plan to have her and him search for who Storm believes is his child. Their attraction only encourages her.

Since he refuses to cooperate, Storm seductively abducts Aiden. Adding insult she uses his RV. As she heeds the crying voice, Aiden reluctantly agrees to follow her lead. He falls in love with his magical companion while she remains in denial though leaving him frightens her. Still there is the crying baby that must be found first as Storm’s psychic skill in finding kids impresses her cynical dragon mate.

The second Cartwright romantic fantasy (see SEX AND THE PSYCHIC WITCH) is a delightful charmer due to the changing relationship between the lead couple. The story line is fast-paced from the moment that Storm handcuffs Aiden and never slows down until the climax. Fans will appreciate this lighthearted warm road tale and look forward to the final triplet’s saga NEVER BEEN WITCHED starring Morgan’s Destiny.

Harriet Klausner

Eclipse-Stephenie Meyer

Stephenie Meyer
Little, Brown, Sep 2007, $19.99
ISBN: 9780316160209

Washington State feels like a place under siege as a rash of strange homicides has frightened everyone. Meanwhile Isabella “Bella” Swan, relatively new to the town of Fork where her father is chief of police has two boys interested in her. She likes both of them, but loves Edward the vampire, who fears his family’s blood lust could harm her; she also has befriended Jake the werewolf whose natural enemy is a vampire. Their love for Bella makes them even more bitter rivals than their species already are. She fears picking one over the other might ignite a local species war.

A previous incident involving Bella has come home to roost leaving her in danger. When Jake and Edward realize the threat, they reluctantly team up as Bella’s safety supersedes their animosity though each wants to be the hero left standing with the woman they love.

Though similar in story line to the first two Bella in peril paranormal thrillers (see NEW MOON and TWILIGHT) the paranormal species seem genuine as the three teens struggle with adult issues that none want to deal with; treat us like adults except hold us accountable like a child. Stephenie Meyers continues to pay homage to the energy and vigor of first love as ECLIPSE is a strong young adult romantic suspense fantasy, but the triangle only glacially moves closer to resolution. Still fans will appreciate this fun and entertaining thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Jewel-Beverly Jenkins

Beverly Jenkins
Avon, May 2008, $5.99
ISBN: 9780061161353

In 1881 Grayson Grove, Michigan Eli Grayson hopes to persuade an interested potential backer G.W. Hicks to help finance the reopening of his newspaper the Gazette. His only concern is his notoriety as a womanizer though that is ancient history; Eli fears his benefactor will not trust him to avoid being the scandalous news. Though he knows ethically this is wrong, desperately he asks Jewel Crowley to pretend to be his wife for the night that Hicks is in town; Jewel is attracted to the handsome rogue and thinking this might be fun without her testosterone guards watching over her like a bird in a gilded cage she agree .

However, Eli made one miscalculation; by morning everyone in Grayson Grove especially the six male Crowley’s learn that he and Jewel are married. By that night to save her rep and his newspaper they are married. Both soon find passion and love until his past arrives in town.

The latest Grayson Grove African-American historical romance (see EDGE OF MIDNIGHT and EDGE OF DAWN) is a superb late nineteenth century tale that enables the audience to obtain a deep look at a bygone Americana era in which the history texts mostly ignore. The story line is the usual Beverly Jenkins’ mix of emotional yet amusing wit inside a romance filled with deep insight into blacks living and running a town in late nineteenth century Michigan. The Grayson gang saga is a great series.

Harriet Klausner

Dreamwalker-Kathleen Dante

Kathleen Dante
Berkley Heat, May 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425219638

Shapeshifter Aurora “Rory” diScipio uses her lamia skills to effortlessly steal valuable items from seemingly impenetrable sources. Government assassin Damon Venizelos is an incubus dreamwalker trained-killer who murders assigned victims while they are sleeping.

His current mission is to locate and retrieve a missing nuclear bomb before terrorists obtain it. To assist him the Feds try to enlist master thief Rory as she is stealing a Monet. He admires her spunk and expertise; and she his skill as a “ghost” haunting her thoughts. To both their amazement, the pair are attracted to one another even before they meet. However, once they meet the heat is on with finding the nuke even as Rory and Damon fail to control their desire and passion though they try until mission accomplished.

DREAMWALKER is a terrific erotic fantasy thriller starring two likable protagonists who understand the importance of the assignment while struggling with the heat each emits. The story line is fast-paced from the first encounter between the lead pair and never slows down as Rory’s shapeshifting skills makes life in bed quite fascinating as she can get into the role literally while Damon’s ability of getting into your head and your body adds to the sexual encounters. Readers will enjoy Kathleen Dante's action-packed creative prevent terrorism in between trysts tale.

Harriet Klausner

Playing With Fire- Kate MacAlister

Playing With Fire
Kate MacAlister
Signet, May 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451223784

While spellbound to the demon lord Magoth, naiad Cyrene created her doppelganger twin May Northcott to take some of the demands off her. Due to her connection to Cyrene, May is also obligated to Magoth. The demon uses her to steal valuable magical objects.

While on a mission for her liege, she is caught in spite of her skills to hide in shadows. Gabriel Tauhou of the Silver Dragons learns she is his soulmate when she survives his fire. However, although she desires the hunk, who somehow always sees her; she has other horribles besides her heart to contend with. Her twin worries that May is in menopause since she is no longer fun to be with; a powerful outraged mage has invoked the Otherworld law and set a price on her head for her head; a black dragon demands fiery satisfaction from an affront he accuses her of doing; and finally Magoth owns her.

HOLY SMOKES this Aisling Grey sidebar romantic fantasy will have readers rooting for the heroine who lands in more fiery situations than a fire spirit. The story line is fast-paced as May proves she can play lead instead of third fiddle. Fans of the series will enjoy the first feature length Silver Dragons tale as Kate MacAlister proves her skill as a magician when PLAYING WITH FIRE, she places Aisling in a secondary role yet enchants her audience.

Harriet Klausner

Romancing the Dead-Tate Holloway

Romancing the Dead
Tate Holloway
Berkley, May 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425221334

Witch Garnet Lacey, who has the Goddess Lilith living inside her, wants to buy the Mercury Crossing Occult Bookstore that she manages. Her vampiric fiancé Sebastian von Straum encourages her to do so. The pair also hopes to create a new coven to replace those who sadly died from a Vatican anti-vampire assault team. At the first new coven meeting, Garnet mentions Lilith to the group and Sebastian claims he is a vampire; most have some doubts with what each says.

Garnet goes to the university to attend a lecture given by Sebastian on herbs. He is late, which is a shocker as he is always punctual. His son Matyas, who sent the Vatican assassins after them, arrives. Garnet and Matyas do not like each other as she knows he sent the Vatican after them and he believes she is just Sebastian’s favorite chew toy. When Sebastian fails to arrive at all, Matyas assumes he is feeding from one of his ghouls while Garnet thinks he is in trouble.

Though enemies they go to Sebastian’s farmhouse, but he is not there. Garnet traces Sebastian’s path on the astral plane, but to her shock it splinters into many threads; something she has never seen before. She also sees a wolf with human eyes so she flees back to the farmhouse. They find Sebastian’s black book listing his sustenance ghouls. They know he is in trouble, but begin a quest to save him starting with an interview of his ghouls.

As always in a Tate Hallaway fantasy, the various types of paranormal species seem genuine and Madison, Wisconsin is a perfect setting for this the action thriller that never slows down for a moment. Readers will thoroughly appreciate this stand alone tale that also refers back to incidents in the previous two novels (see tall sexy and tall, dark & dead). Although ROMANCING THE DEAD lacks the humor that the audience expects from this talented author, this superb tale affirms the theory that “life’s a witch” worth reading about.

Harriet Klausner

Fallen-Erin McCarthy

Erin McCarthy
Jove, May 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780515144628

In 1849 New Orleans Anne Donovan loves John Thiroux and would do anything for him even die. John is actually the fallen angel Gabriel St. John sent to earth to help humans, but failed to cope with mortal suffering and turned to absinthe to drown his woes. When Anne violently dies, Gabriel is unsure whether he killed her as he was intoxicated at the time. He pledged to his heavenly boss to remain sober even as he is acquitted by a jury of his not peers of the homicide.

In present day New Orleans, true-crime author Gabriel is stunned by the parallels between the murder of Jessie Michaels and that of his Annie. Once again the accused Dr. Rafe Marino in this case is exonerated after a trial. Jesse’s daughter Sara Michaels has left Florida to uncover the truth about her mother’s murder; Gabriel plans to write a book on the subject. These two wounded souls collaborate seeking peace from closure, but neither knows how connected the mid nineteenth century murder and the recent one are to one another.

This is an engaging murder mystery investigative fantasy starring two angst laden individuals seeking solace by bringing rest to their beloved dead. The story line is fast-paced as the duo follow clues in trying to solve two homicides. Although the climax seems to have fallen from nowhere, fans will enjoy Erin McCarthy’s fine tale.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, April 11, 2008

Highland Rogue-Tess Mallory

Highland Rogue
Tess Mallory
Berkley, May 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780425220429

In Austin, Texas, Maggie Graham loves everything about historical Scotland; Liam Neeson of Rob Roy fame is her hero. Thus she is euphoric when she receives the letter from Dr. Alexander that she has been accepted to join an archaeological dig near Drymen in the Scottish Highlands.

At the site, Maggie finds a parchment that sends her back in time to 1711 at an importune moment. She drops into the midst of a battle between the forces of Quinn McIntyre and those of the Duke of Montrose. Quinn saves her life taking her to his friend, Ian McGregor for safekeeping. However, when Montrose captures McGregor, Quinn vows to free his friend; Maggie wants to help. Their efforts fail leaving Quinn mortally wounded and McGregor slated for execution. Maggie takes her beloved back to the future where he can get medical treatment that will save his life; she knows they will go back because McGregor still needs rescuing.

This back and forth entertaining time travel romance is a fun tale starring a courageous heroine who has romanticized the Scottish legendary heroes so much so that Quinn wonders if he can measure up to her ideal. Fast-paced fans will enjoy the romance between the modern day starry eyed Texan and her HIGHLAND ROGUE.

Harriet Klausner

Captain Wentworth's Diary-Amanda Grange

Captain Wentworth's Diary
Amanda Grange
Berkley, May 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425223529

In 1806, naval officer Frederick Wentworth is on leave as he knows he must return to duty with the Napoleonic Wars ravaging the continent and threatening England. In Somerset to visit his brother, Frederick meets and falls in love with Anne Elliot. She feels as strongly as he does. They become engaged, but heeding the advice of her godmother Lady Russell, she persuades Anne to break off with Frederick the next day. Stunned and outraged the now acrimonious sailor returns to sea no longer innocent in affairs of the heart.

Eight years later, affluent Captain Wentworth has come home to find a bride who shows the slightest deference to the navy; any female except Anne. However, when he sees Anne for the first time since she informed him she changed her mind, Wentworth knows he still loves her. He does not want to pursue her, but cannot help but chase after her. Anne regrets her error as she never stopped loving Frederick, but fears it is too late for them.

Her second dairy historical romance (see MR. KNIGHTLY’S DIARY) is an engaging second chance regency romance told mostly by Captain Wentworth in a log like manner. The story line breaks into two periods in which the audience sees the young unsure Anne and the gentle Frederick fall in love but split and the more mature couple still in love. Readers will appreciate Amanda Grange’s fine tale.

Harriet Klausner

Taking the Heat-Kathryn Shay

Taking the Heat
Kathryn Shay
Berkley, May 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425222003

Three years ago Liam O'Neil’s wife Kitty died leaving him to raise their young sons by himself; though he gets help from his caring beloved family. In New York he meets firefighter Sophie Tyler at his family owned Bailey’s Irish Pub, and to his amazement and shock he is attracted to the beautiful strawberry blonde, Sophie reciprocates his allure.

However, with 9/11 still fresh after another anniversary, Liam fears dating Sophie because he rationalizes his sons could not cope with her dangerous occupation if something tragic should happen to her. Sophie has her own 9/11 memory that interferes with her seeing any man. Yet they begin seeing each other until a deadly serial arsonist sets booby-trapped fires to kill firefighters; Liam and Sophie begin to reconsider their relationship.

This is an enjoyable second chance at love romantic suspense thriller. The story line is action-packed in terms of the arsonist subplot and filled with angst re the relationship between Liam and Sophie. Although TAKING THE HEAT stands alone, with the O’Neil family playing major roles, reading the previous tales (see CLOSE TO YOU and SOMEONE TO BELIEVE) enhances the experience. Once again Kathryn Shay pays homage to the brave firefighters.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Ex-Debutante-Linda Francis Lee

The Ex-Debutante
Linda Francis Lee
St. Martin's, Apr 2008, $23.95
ISBN: 9780312354961

Two prime reasons propelled Carlisle Wainwright Cushing to leave Willow Creek, Texas three years ago. First the lawyer could not deal with her family’s lofty social position especially her mother’s marriage of the moment; worse she needed to leave behind Jack Blair, the man she has loved for fifteen years going back to high school.

She returns home when her mom asks her to represent her in her umpteenth divorce after divorce lawyer number four botched the proceedings so that ex hubby four has a line on the family accounting sheet. Her mom’s spouse hires Jack. To her chagrin although engaged to Boston Brahmin attorney Phillip, she still wants Jack; he feels the same way. As she gets roped into planning the annual debutante gala hosted forever by her family but on the verge of collapse, Jack makes a move on her to regain the woman he let get away.

This is an amusing contemporary romance starring two likable lead characters, a horde of eccentric protagonists especially the families and the debutantes and an out of place Bostonian fiancé. The story line is humorous as Carlisle with her chick lit asides understands how Michael Corleone felt about being dragged home into the family business. Readers will laugh with the vulnerable heroine who wonders whether she can escape her DNA in time to keep her brain from frying while also pondering about her and Jack especially after the men’s room incident.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, April 7, 2008

Dark Obsession-Allison Chase

Dark Obsession
Allison Chase
Signet, May 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451223876

In 1830 London, a nervous but ecstatic Nora Thorngoode looks forward to the showing of her Portrait of a Southward Madam at the Marshall Street Art Gallery. However, she and her outraged parents see a scandalous painting instead. Nora’s mentor artist Signore Alessio di Paolo tells her this is proof of his love for her and informs her parents they must marry. He father says she will be a wife and widow in seconds.

Grayson Lowell needs money for his dilapidated estate on Blackheath Grange. Though he loathes wedding the Paramour Painting model, he accepts her father’s terms. Nora has no say in the matter while wondering if her fiancé killed his brother as rumored. They wed in a marriage of convenience, but Nora is attracted to her kindhearted spouse. That is until he takes her to his foreboding home on the Moors. There he becomes distant making her wonder if he did murder his sibling. However, she hears the whispers and sees the ghosts that only tickled his senses. She believes her beloved Gray is innocent and that the ghosts are begging her to prove he is and to uncover the real culprit.

This engaging late Regency gothic paranormal romance with a touch of amateur sleuth suspense will hook sub-genre fans once the newlyweds leave London; as Gray becomes a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Nora is fabulous as the innocent heroine who comes to live in the foreboding home with her dark beloved. DARK OBSESSION is an enjoyable historical.

Harriet Klausner

Under Darkness-Savannah Russe

Under Darkness
Savannah Russe
Signet, May 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451223852

Daphne Urban knows after four centuries that “a vampire is as a vampire does”, but with her keen insight and allergy to garlic, she has a job with the Feds; Daphne Urban, American spy works for Top Secret Darkwings, a vampire operatives cell.

On a voyage from Pier Eighty-six in Manhattan to Norfolk for repairs, the WWII Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum vanishes. Daphne and her partner (in and out of bed) Julian St. Maurice investigate the vanishing, which her superiors assume is part of a terrorist plot; Daphne knows that the government leadership blames everything even acne on their offspring on terrorists especially in election season when code orange and red are the norm. However, while team Darkwings work that case, the city is flooded with a seemingly invasion of obsessive vampire slayers. With them is their former MVP Darius della Chiesa, now a vampire who Daphne knows is Mr. Wrong for her except he is BENEATH THE SKIN and IN THE BLOOD.

Although too many BEYOND THE PALE chick lit asides interrupt the flow of the latest Darkwing Chronicles thriller, fans of the series will enjoy the latest escapades as the vampire unit investigates the missing vessel while dodging persistent fundamentalist slayers. The story line is filled with sex, action, and sex inside a well drawn mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Duke Of Shadows-Meredith Duran

The Duke Of Shadows
Meredith Duran
Pocket, Apr 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9781416567035

In 1857 her parents died in the shipwreck that Emmaline Martin was fortunate to survive. Although grieving she continues the journey to Delhi, India to meet up with her fiancé Marcus. He not only proves arrogant and snooty, he betrays her as the sepoy native soldiers revolt against the British. Half native and English heir Julian Sinclair saves her life bringing her to safety in the independent desert city Sheened, but they are separated when he follows his duty back to Delhi to negotiate a peace between the warring parties. When he returns to Sheened, she is gone; he can not find her so he sadly assumes she died. Shortly afterward Julian goes to England as a duke.

In 1861, paintings of India become the rage of London. Julian is ecstatic to find the artist is Emma as he never forgot her from their brief moments together. As they finish what they had no time to peruse in India, falling in love, someone tries to kill his Emma. Julian risks his life to keep her safe as he will not allow anyone ever again to split them apart.

Though somewhat typical of the Victorian romance, fans of the sub-genre will appreciate THE DUKE OF SHADOWS as two honorable individuals, outcasts in many ways, fall in love. Especially refreshing is the India sequence as readers observe the Anglo-native interactions. Emma and Julian turn Meredith Duran’s historical into an entertaining read.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, April 4, 2008

Her Mr. Right?-Karen Rose Smith

Her Mr. Right?
Karen Rose Smith
Silhouette Special Edition, May 2008, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373248971

Massachusetts Attorney General's Office investigator Neil Kane is looking into allegations of insurance fraud at Walnut River Hospital. He interviews social worker Isobel Suarez who seems hostile towards him, but he thinks she is telling him truth although he admits to himself his attraction to her may be prejudicing his beliefs. Isobel struggles with her desire for Neil while also fearing a successful hostile takeover by bottom line only Northeastern HealthCare.

As Isobel helps him work through the bureaucratic maze, they begin to fall in love. When she is accused of the fraud, he must report the accusation although that rips at his heart. However, he throws away the book for the first time in his career in order to prove his beloved is innocent.

The latest Wilder Family tale (previous books written by other authors) is an entertaining contemporary romance starring two dedicated people who fall in love in spite of her being the prime suspect in his insurance fraud investigation. Neil believes in his heart that Isobel is innocent but his brain insists he is thinking with the wrong organ. Karen Rose Smith consistently provides sub-genre fans with enjoyable character driven tales and there is no question that HER MR. RIGHT? affirms her talent.
Harriet Klausner

What Happens in Vegas-Jodi Lynn Copeland, Anya Bast, Lauren Dane and Kit Tunstall

What Happens in Vegas
Jodi Lynn Copeland, Anya Bast, Lauren Dane and Kit Tunstall
Harlequin Spice, May 2008, $13.95
ISBN: 9780373605248

"Hot for You” by Jodi Lynn Copeland. Cocktail waitress Carinna wants an all nighter with no morning after strings with Jack the firefighter; he wants much more.

“Stripped” by Lauren Dane. Exotic dancer Dahlia ignores the casino’s wealthy patrons, but businessman Nash manages to get her in his bed.

"Red-Handed" by Kit Tunstall. When the casino security caught Amy helping her cousin cheat at roulette, the owner Roan gives her a choice of jail or six weeks as his sex slave.

"The Deal” by Anya Bast. Casino shill Cassidy has vowed to never fall in love, but needs sex so she chooses her friend James as her partner.

These are four semi-heated entertaining contemporary romances starring likable protagonists.

Harriet Klausner

Beneath the Surface-Meredith Fletcher

Beneath the Surface
Meredith Fletcher
Silhouette Athena Force, May 2008, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373389810

In DC freelance information specialist Vincent Drago tells television news reporter Shannon Connor that he will kill her for exposing his stealth ninja operation to the Feds. Although frightened she is stunned when he mentions the government as she is having a difficult time accepting the Feds are cyber feeding her negative information on the Athena Academy that expelled her.

Athena graduate Allison Gracelyn assigned Rafe Santorini to watch Shannon, who appears to have a grudge for her wrongful expelling; evidence points to Shannon aligned with Arachne. He prevents Vincent from further harming her but is upset that he wants her because he fears she works for the enemy. However as they fall in love she persuades him of her innocence and they team up to try to expose who in Arachne’s crowd is using the reporter and find out why although they think they know the answer to both questions.

Shannon refreshes the latest Athena story as she is the one female kicked out of the academy and since she believes unfairly has a motive for revenge. Rafe knows all this while falling in love with her; he struggles to remain open-minded, but fears his heart is hiding the truth about his beloved. That black mark from her salad days stands between them and with clever manipulation could lead to an Arachne success while definitely leading to a great entry for fans of the series.

Harriet Klausner

Last Wolf Watching-Rhyannon Byrd

Last Wolf Watching
Rhyannon Byrd
Silhouette Nocturne, May 2008, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373617869

In Bayou country paranormal boutique owner Michaela Doucet cannot stand her lack of privacy ever since a rogue werewolf attacked her friend Torrance; she understands why half human–half Lycan Bloodrunner Brody Carter is assigned to protect her and her brother Max. However, even more frustrating is her attraction to the scarred acrimonious Brody as he refuses to allow her to even befriend him let alone love him.

Brody wants the beautiful Cajun like nothing he ever desired before. However, he will not even hint at his need because someone as lovely as Michaela would not be seen dead with an oaf like him. Besides if he is not diligent she literally could be dead.

The third Bayou paranormal romantic suspense Bloodlines thriller (see LAST WOLF STANDING and LAST WOLF HUNTING is a fast-paced tale that like its predecessors enables readers to believe in the fantasy elements especially the otherworldly species. The story line is action-packed from the onset but driven by the lead couple as she wants him and he reciprocates but ignores his and her desires until she takes the half wolf in hand. Sub-genre readers will enjoy Rhyannon Byrd’s Bayou Bloodlines thriller that stands alone, but definitely is enhanced by the previous tales as characters from those novels return.

Harriet Klausner

Scions: Insurrection-Patrice Michelle

Scions: Insurrection
Patrice Michelle
Silhouette Nocturne, May 2008, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373617876

NYPD police officer Kaitlyn McKinney responds to a call about a fire in a Morningside Park. As she looks at the strange burned body, private investigator Landon Rourke arrives on the scene. He refuses to acknowledge her belief there is something odd about the corpse although she sees the obvious.

Landon hides from Kaitlyn that he is an exiled werewolf kicked out of his pack. He vows to keep the cop safe but hides his desire for her from her as he has since they first met. When two vampires attack her, Landon saves her life. As he continues to protect her, already half in love with one another before his diligence began, the pair fall totally in love. However since they are caught in the middle of a cold war turning hot between werewolves and vampires, safety and preventing a calamity comes before their desires.

The sequel to SCIONS: RESURRECTION is an exhilarating contemporary romantic fantasy police procedural. The key to this engaging work is the paranormals seem genuine as the audience will believe that a lone werewolf and a human can fall in love while vampires try to take a bite out of the Big Apple.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Loner-Geralyn Dawson

The Loner
Geralyn Dawson
Harlequin HQN, May 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780373772933

In 1899 Caroline Kirkpatrick is worried about her missing foster father Ben. She needs help to find him and an alleged hidden Bad Luck Treasure. She decides her best bet is mercenary range detective Logan "Lucky" Grey so she heads to Austin to obtain the services of “The luckiest man in Texas”, whom she married fifteen years ago.

He believes his luck is all bad and so warns women to avoid him. However he is unaware that the one female he wants, Caroline is his legal wife. When they exchanged “I do”, he thought it was a fake and forget about it as he moved on. He also is unaware until now that she gave birth to his son Will. When Logan learns the truth about his marital status he is dumbfounded but will do what it takes to insure his wife is safe; Caroline is just as determined to persuade her beloved that he brings her all good luck.

Following up the Bad Luck Brides with the first of the Good Luck Grooms, Geralyn Dawson provides an amusing western romance starring two fascinating protagonists. Caroline the Valkyrie starts things off right when she knocks out a dangerous outlaw; the adventures keep on coming for her and THE LONER she loves. Throw in the McBride gang to add to the chaos and that leads to delightful spins inside this wonderful historical romance.

Harriet Klausner