Friday, October 31, 2008

Bedding Down--Kristina Wright, Gwen Masters, Alison Tyler, Marilyn Jaye Lewis, Isabelle Gray, Sophie Mouette and Shanna Germain

Bedding Down
Kristina Wright, Gwen Masters, Alison Tyler, Marilyn Jaye Lewis, Isabelle Gray, Sophie Mouette and Shanna Germain
Avon, Dec 2008, $13.95
ISBN: 9780061560637

"One Night in Winter" by Kristina Wright. Susannah returns home to Minerva where her former lover Derrick reignites their heat.

"Six Weeks at Sunrise Mountain, Colorado" by Gwen Masters. Stressed to the max, burned-out millionaire Fletcher flees for Sunrise Mountain to escape; there he rescues a frozen bruised Janine who in turn rescues his libido and heart.

"It's Not the Weather" by Alison Tyler. Shelly assumes it is her fault that her boyfriend Roger is cold regardless of what she tries; so she gives up on him only to find warmth and passion with Jeremiah.

"Baby, It's Cold Outside" by Marilyn Jaye Lewis. Married couple Kaylie and Connor becomes snowbound, which gives them time to reenact some of their hottest moments.

"Northern Exposure" by Isabelle Gray. Their marriage is over yet neither Alana nor Gideon can move on as each wonders if they should give it one more try.

"Hidden Treasure" by Sophie Mouette. Brenda and Sean discover a treasure, but will they understand what the real treasure is.

"Sweet Season," by Shanna Germain. After being away for awhile, Dulcie returns to her family's maple syrup business only to find Travis is the real sweetener.

Although the plots are paper thin, the lead couples are developed enough to emit plenty of heat for fans to appreciate this wintry erotic septet.

Harriet Klausner

A Baby in the Bunkhouse-Cathy Gillen Thacker

A Baby in the Bunkhouse
Cathy Gillen Thacker
Harlequin American, Dec 2008
ISBN: 0373752415

On his Texas Hill Country ranch, Rafferty Evans behaves like the Grinch who stole Christmas year round; he is a grump if you ask the other cowboys living there. His new cook pregnant Jacey Lambert is driving him crazy with her kindness and caring for everyone even saying nice things to the grouch who makes Oscar look angelic.

However, Rafferty cannot prevent himself from looking forward to Jacey’s good cheer and to his shock he even likes A BABY INN THE BUNKHOUSE even if the infant is not his. As Jacey begins to turn around the crotchety cantankerous cowboy, they begin to fall in love, but to have a happy ending she must persuade him to move past his tormented past into a loving future.

This entertaining Texas ranch romance stars a crank, a baby, and an angel. Jacey’s optimism is contagious as she sees the glass as half filled while Rafferty would spill out the liquid and claim it is totally empty. Although similar to many sub-genre tales fans will enjoy this fine contemporary as Jacey keeps filling up the glass refusing to quit each time Rafferty empties it.

Harriet Klausner

Once Upon a Christmas-Holly Jacobs

Once Upon a Christmas
Holly Jacobs
Harlequin American, Dec 2008
ISBN: 0373752423

In Erie, Pennsylvania, although only the legal guardian to her nephew Brendan, Michelle Hamilton acts more like the child’s mother and has for five years ever since her sister, his mom, dropped him off explaining she was dying. She loves the lad and would do anything for him; even join the Erie Elementary PTA Social Committee; of course she volunteered when she was too sick to realize what she was doing.

However, when Brendan becomes determined to find his biological father, Michelle is hurt and worried as she fears if the child succeeds, the man will wants custody. Brendan meets his dad Daniel McLean and to her shock Michelle sees he is a terrific male role model. Even more stunning to the “single mom” is the realization she is falling in love with her nephew’s dad after spending several years hiding behind the mommy persona.

Holly Jacobs keeps this engaging Erie Elementary PTA (see ONCE UPON A THANKSGIVING) contemporary romance fresh through three strong protagonists coming together as a family who supersede the often used plot of finding a biological parent. The story line is driven by the changing relationships especially between the adults as each starts off wary and cynical but slowly observe how good the other is with Brendan before knowing they are in love. The fully developed triangle and the support cast make for a fine ONCE UPON A CHRISTMAS tale.

Harriet Klausner

Demon's Hunger-Eve Silver

Demon's Hunger
Eve Silver
Forever, Dec 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 0446618934

In New Orleans Dain Hawkins and his Compact of Sorcerer cohorts seek Hybrid humans who allow Demons to take over their bodies. They are concerned that the Solitary special demon is making an effort to cross the line between his realm and the human world; and has the help of Asher the Ancient Sorcerer who betrayed his oath. Dain collects gris gris voodoo bags with bones inside and plans to visit University of Toronto at Mississippi assistant anthropology professor Dr, Vivian Cairn for her take on his collection. He and his peers also seek a serial sexual killer, who they believe is a rare succubus.

Vivian feels relief that her mom’s latest visit ended though she loves her single mom. Still she wonders why her dad left them when she was two years old leaving behind a velvet bag and a photo of him. Over the years she has found more gris gris bags. However, her big fear is once again twelve hours of her life vanished without her knowing what she did.

Dane and two other sorcerers arrive at Vivian’s home to consult with her. Dane and Vivian are instantly attracted to one another, but he refuses to act on these feelings fearing the same fate for her as his human wife and daughter who were murdered centuries ago. Vivian realizes he is her dream lover. A demon and hybrids attack them; Dane kills the demon and his friends the hybrids. She is not sure what is going on, but uses her skill to stay emotionally detached though she desperately wants Dane, who insists she stay at his home so he can protect her.

This excellent romantic fantasy works because of the relationship between the lead couple and the belief that demons, half-breeds, sorcerers and succubus are genuine. The lost time is a brilliant spin that will leave readers marveling and there are other terrific twists involving the heroine and her mom. Although a pet peeve that the villain Asher boasts to one of his former cohorts much of his plan instead of acting, the audience will enjoy this superb thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Wicked is the Night- Catherine Mulvaney

Wicked is the Night
Catherine Mulvaney
Pocket, Dec 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 1416525580

Racing car driver Patrick “Trick Granger is fortunate to be alive even though his career is over because he injured his knee. He and his assistant Marcello Bellini are driving from Tahoe to Placerville where he recently inherited a home that was once a brothel and is now haunted by nineteenth century hooker turned ghost Blanche.

Nevada White knows two men are after her since she escaped from the Appleton Institute. When a trucker tosses her from his van, Trick notices and gets Marcello to rescue her. She is upset as she lost a gold amulet; her only item from her mom, whoever she was. Nevada has some psychic skills, but they are not helping her remember.

They stop at a truck stop and she leaves them. When she sees the two thugs pursuing her at truck stop, she sneaks back into Trick’s car. Trick finds the man who deserted Nevada on the road dead with tons of blood everywhere. Trick and Marcello continue their drive, but are stopped by Detectives Branson and Collier who insist they are looking for an escaped killer who murdered her father. Trick sends them towards Sacramento as he refuses to believe Nevada is a killer. Over the next few days he tries to protect her, he knows someone wants her dead, but not whom; as they struggle to figure out just who is Nevada White.

The relationship between the lead couple is terrific as they are attracted to one another, but her lack of a past makes her hesitate to trust anyone. Critical to the strong paranormal romantic suspense plot are vampires seems real; especially how messy they can be when they dine on humans. Although not enough explanation on the Appleton Research Facility is provided and for someone with a bad knee, Trick gets around rather easily, sub-genre readers will relish this fine thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Maximum Exposure-Alison Kent

Maximum Exposure
Alison Kent
Kensington Brava, Dec 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758217561

In the South Beach section of Miami Beach, Key Largo based private investigator Finn McLain is taken aback when a total but lovely in a “Latina hot” way stranger comes up to him to ask a favor. Olivia Hammond wants Finn to photograph her for an erotic exhibit. Finn quickly changes his plans from a quick stay in Miami seeking information for a client watching out for Jodi Fontaine a Splash & Flambé boutique manager that is manager of the Flambé half. Roland Green, a shady character, .is the Flambe part.

Olivia owns the boutique and Finn would not mind her owning a piece of him. However, using his upper head in spite of his lower rampaging like a teen, Finn believes Olivia is hiding something from him and so is Roland. He plans to explore every inch of her through his camera’s lens and through his touch; his goal is more than getting inside her as he wants to get inside her soul. As they begin to fall in love, Finn’s investigation of Roland becomes dangerous for him and his beloved as they inadvertently get involved in Operation Bebe Bust.

The four prime characters make for an entertaining South Florida investigative romance with some late suspense enhancing the relationships. Each of the key quartet members, especially Olivia and Finn, are fully developed in and out of bed. Fans will relish this sunny romantic suspense while ironically knowing early on whether Roland is a rat; something the others will learn the hard way.

Harriet Klausner

Divorced, Desperate and Dating-Christie Craig

Divorced, Desperate and Dating
Christie Craig
Love Spell, Dec 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780505527325

The kiss was everything but proved to be nothing. Houston Detective Jason Dodd kissed writer Sue Finley leaving her wanting more from him and wasted for anyone else. Thus when he fails to follow up, Sue is heartbroken calling him a jerk for never calling her and plotting murder with poison.

Jason grew up as a foster child so does not trust relationships even if his heart pleads with him to take a chance on Sue. He feels safer to keep his distance. However, when he learns someone is stalking Sue, he can no longer run from his feelings. Still in spite of protecting her Jason keeps his heart hidden even as Sue wants to know why because she can see by his looks he wants her too.

This is an entertaining character driven romantic suspense sequel to DIVORCED, DESPERATE AND DELICIOUS. The stalking subplot serves as a matchmaker of sorts as Sue does not hide her desire from Jason whom obviously wants her too, but flees even when next to her somewhere inside his mind. Jason makes the tale with his fear that relationships end rapidly and poorly so as a psychological defense mechanism he avoids them as if they are the plague. Fans will enjoy Christie Craig’s charming lighthearted frolic as the author refuses to accept no thanks even if their relationship proves to be a bridge to nowhere.

Harriet Klausner

Divorced, Desperate and Dating-Christie Craig

Divorced, Desperate and Dating
Christie Craig
Love Spell, Dec 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780505527325

The kiss was everything but proved to be nothing. Houston Detective Jason Dodd kissed writer Sue Finley leaving her wanting more from him and wasted for anyone else. Thus when he fails to follow up, Sue is heartbroken calling him a jerk for never calling her and plotting murder with poison.

Jason grew up as a foster child so does not trust relationships even if his heart pleads with him to take a chance on Sue. He feels safer to keep his distance. However, when he learns someone is stalking Sue, he can no longer run from his feelings. Still in spite of protecting her Jason keeps his heart hidden even as Sue wants to know why because she can see by his looks he wants her too.

This is an entertaining character driven romantic suspense sequel to DIVORCED, DESPERATE AND DELICIOUS. The stalking subplot serves as a matchmaker of sorts as Sue does not hide her desire from Jason whom obviously wants her too, but flees even when next to her somewhere inside his mind. Jason makes the tale with his fear that relationships end rapidly and poorly so as a psychological defense mechanism he avoids them as if they are the plague. Fans will enjoy Christie Craig’s charming lighthearted frolic as the author refuses to accept no thanks even if their relationship proves to be a bridge to nowhere.

Harriet Klausner

Tall, Dark, and Kilted-Allie Mackay

Tall, Dark, and Kilted
Allie Mackay
Signet, Nov 2008
ISBN: 978045122551

After her lover dumped her for an odious but wealthy replacement and her rival killed her jewelry business, Cilla Swanner left Yardley, Pennsylvania to spend the summer with her Uncle Mac and Aunt Birdie at their Scottish retirement home Dunroamin Castle. Cilla does not miss her ex even an iota and in fact feels relived, but she is worried that her family will lose the castle.

Hundreds of years ago, Scottish knight Sir Hardwin de Studely is hosting some important VIPs when a travel bard asked for hospitality. Fearing for the lives of his guests, he refused. The bard being a wizard cursed Hardwick as he is called by friends to suffer a different lover for eternity. Over the centuries, he has become disillusioned, but the Dark One gives him a chance for redemption if he avoids arousal for a year; if he fails he will please the darkest females. The problem for the now chaste Hardwick is his attraction to Cilla; who makes matters worse as she is falling in love with the ghost haunting her uncle’s castle.

TALL, DARK, AND KILTED is an engaging urban romantic fantasy with a touch of a mystery and a terific twist in which Hardwick fled to the remote retirement home to avoid young women only to fall in love with the Sword of Damocles hanging over both his heads. The story line is brisk and breezy from the moment the ghost and the American meet and never slows down. With a strong cast, paranormal and human, fans will enjoy Cilla’s Scottish adventure in love.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Alluring Tales-Cathryn Fox, Delilah Devlin, Lisa Renee Jones, Myla Jackson, Sasha White, Sylvia Day and Vivi Anna

Alluring Tales
Cathryn Fox, Delilah Devlin, Lisa Renee Jones, Myla Jackson, Sasha White, Sylvia Day and Vivi Anna
Avon, Nov 2008, $13.95
ISBN: 9780061463174

"Peaches and Cream" by Cathryn Fox. Jennifer is a bartender at Risque pretending to be Peaches the exotic dancer when she meets Jack the research scientist in order to explore her fantasies.

"Indecent Exposure" by Delilah Devlin. Harmony returns home to seduce Sheriff Dalton; her fantasy since high school.

"Forbidden Fruit" by Lisa Renee Jones. Ryan has always been hard whenever he saw his best friend's sister Kelli who has always been wet and hot when she saw him; now she plans to take him her style.

"Billboard Babe" by Myla Jackson. Prim and proper Angie starts an erotic ad campaign to win a sexual evening or three with co-worker Daniel.

"Wish Upon a Star" by Sasha White. Professional dominatrix Miss Sarah wishes upon a star for someone to truly love; Nealon bikes in from out of this world.

“That Old Black Magic" by Sylvia Day. Warlock Max is despondent with grief when his beloved mate Victoria apparently died and he tries all sorts of magic to bring her back to him; however he begins to obsess instead over the feline-female familiar who recently entered his life.

"Silver Waters" by Vivi Anna. On the run, Sangria and Vance take a heated break in the Caribbean.

These seven fun erotic tales are mostly spice with a sprinkle in spite of being very short for any happenings beyond the sexual encounters that run the gamut from ménage a trois, S&M bondage, and anal.

Harriet Klausner

To Sin with a Stranger-Kathryn Caskie

To Sin with a Stranger
Kathryn Caskie
Avon, Dec 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061491009

Their father disgusted with their scandals that has earned them the reputation as the “Seven Deadly Sins” has exiled his offspring and warned them if they do not shape up they will inherit nothing beyond what the law allows. None of the unholy seven Sinclair children take him seriously as he has threatened them before, but they do feel the loss of income since he has cut off the purse.

His heir Sterling keeps himself and his brothers and sisters at a reasonable level of respectability and less significant from starving by prizefighting at Gentleman Jackson’s London gym. Miss Isobel Carrington enters the establishment to ask the wealthy male patrons to donate to her charity. Isobel is attracted to Sterling, but rejects him as being too avaricious to care one iota about the less fortunate. At White’s betting ignites that Sterling who is pursuing her will marry her. She reconsiders her opinion of his being a greedy aristocrat when she realizes he is boxing to support his siblings, but still fears letting her heart go to a man who placed a bet on him winning her.

The gender battle between Isobel and Sterling is an entertaining Regency romance as each is intelligent, knows whet they want, and what they will do to achieve their desires. Although Sterling’s sin is greed, his willingness to take hits for his siblings proves otherwise and has Isobel reconsidering his worth. Fans will enjoy this lighthearted historical while looking forward to more tales starring other Seven Deadly Sins’ siblings.

Harriet Klausner

Never Dare a Duke-Gayle Callen

Never Dare a Duke
Gayle Callen
Avon, Dec 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061235061

Abigail Shaw realistically looks at her father's failing newspaper and knows only one thing can save the family’s journalistic enterprise, a meaty scandal. Titillating sensationalism sells papers as the Ton loves to read about a scandal hammering at a peer. She selects the cleanest reputation she knows of because if she can find dirt on Lord Christopher Cabot, the sales will be through the roof.

Going undercover Abigail obtains an invitation to a party hosted by her targeted duke in which he plans to select one of the attendees as his bride. However, Christopher is attracted to Abigail, who to her chagrin, reciprocates. She offers to help him find his spouse by them pretending a dalliance. The only problems are it is not pretending and the scandal she has uncovered on Christopher has her included in the crosshairs.

This is a fun lighthearted historical romance starring two interesting individuals especially the undercover investigative reporter. Using Rovian logic to go after the strengths of your opponent, Abby picks Christopher, which leads to a series of amusing encounters and love as the heroine learns to NEVER DARE A DUKE; they will accept the challenge and double dare you back.

Harriet Klausner

Everything but a Wedding-Holly Jacobs

Everything but a Wedding
Holly Jacobs
Avalon, Dec 2008
ISBN: 0803499248

Elderly Hungarian matriarch Nana Vancy still regrets the “curse” she issued when she was young and in love with Bela Salo who failed to show up their wedding on time due to an accident. Now decades later her misgivings turn to fear as she worries about bad things happening at Salo family weddings since she angrily cursed big weddings, Bela and his relatives especially since she has proof with two of her grandchildren (see EVERYTHING BUT A BRIDE and EVERYTHING BUT A GROOM).

Her last hope to see the curse defeated in her lifetime resides with her last grandchild Pennsylvania developer Dori Salo. However, Dori shows no interest in men ever since her former boyfriend ended their relationship. Instead perhaps as a mental defense mechanism Dori puts all her energies on the Erie Hazard Hills housing development. Also on the project is architect Carter Hastings IV who pretends to be Bill the interior designer as he wants Dori to hire his cousin CeCe’s firm to design the interior of the model homes. However as they fall in love he must admit his deception and she must challenge the curse.

Returning to Erie, site of her WLVH Radio Romance saga (see LAUGH LINES, NIGHT CALLS, LOVE HANDLES and PICKUP LINES) as well as the prime locale of the Everything But saga, Holly Jacobs provides a charming contemporary romance. The enjoyable story line is fun starting with the likable lead characters although he appears to have committed a professional ethics violation. They in turn are supported by a strong cast of returning characters and the “curse”. Readers will enjoy Holly Jacobs' fine lighthearted tale that contains everything to warm the heart over the holidays.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, October 27, 2008

Four in Hand-Stephanie Laurens

Four in Hand
Stephanie Laurens
HQN, Dec 2008
ISBN: 9780373773091

After a decade as a womanizing viscount with a temper when disturbed, Max Rotherbridge is now the Duke of Twyford. To him it is no big deal as he will continue his prime role as the most notorious aristocratic rake.

The thirty-four years old aristocrat will soon realize how wrong he is about his new inheritance. Besides the title and all its affluence and influence, he learns the hard way of a slightly different bequest when a young Miss Caroline Twinning visits him. He angrily goes to see her and she assumes he is too young and obviously rakish to be the Duke she needs to see. However, he is so she plows on by informing him she and her three sisters are his wards. Making matters worse, Max is attracted to the courageous Caro who diverts his temper from her pretty younger siblings onto her.

This reprint of a 1990s Regency romance is a forerunner of the talented Stephanie Laurens multiple stories like the Bastian Club and the Cynsters. However, unlike those sagas broken into several novels each, FOUR IN HAND is overwhelmed by a cast belonging in a Cecil De Mille movie with several relationships making it difficult to focus on the prime one. Still this is an intriguing tale that showcases the talent of Ms. Laurens as she juggles several romances.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Enchanted Again-Nancy Madore

Enchanted Again
Nancy Madore
Harlequin Spice, Nov 2008, $13.95
ISBN: 0373605218

This spicy collection contains Nancy Madore’s clever erotic spin to eight classic nursery rhymes. The titles tell all as the torrid spoofs include "Birds of a Feather", “Curley Locks”, "Desperate Dan", “Hot Cross Buns”, "Little Miss Muffet", Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater” and Humpty Dumpty”; all contain a sexual face lift inside of a relatively long short stories (the shortest is over thirty pages). The tales are fun whether they are amusing or dark. Each contains reasonably solid lead characters like Carol Curley Locks wanting a commitment from her hot boyfriend who hides his heated darkness from her, Peter giving new meaning to eating pumpkin pie, Georgie wanting more than just stealing kisses and Marcie understanding the true meaning of hot buns, etc. The sequel to ENCHANTED consists of "more erotic bedtime stories for women" as fairy tales can come steamy in Ms. Madore’s enchanting erotic interpretation that Freud would endorse.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Talk of the Town-Karen Hawkins

Talk of the Town
Karen Hawkins
Pocket, Dec 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 141656022X

Roxie Treymayne celebrates Victory Day as her divorce from two hundred and fifty ponds of worthless cheating slug is finalized. She vows no more Ms. Nice Gal behaving properly. Before noon on V-Day she bleaches her hair blond, obtains a tattoo and wears four inch heels with a black mini low top. Her come and get me gear is step one on the wild side.

However, the best laid plans of mice, men and Roxie go astray when her mom suffers a heart attack. She rushes home to Glory, North Carolina to be there for her mother. There she meets Sheriff Nick Sheppard, who she once shared short blissful high school tryst that ended badly duie to a misunderstanding. She decides he is the perfect one for her to walk on the wild side with; he rejects her though he wants her. However, his investigation into a death turns into a homicide case in which Roxie and his great-aunt Clara's Murder Mystery Club members trespass.

Displaying her vast talent Karen Hawkins leaves the historicals that have made her popular and writes a lighthearted wonderful regional investigative romance. The lead couple is a delightful pairing as Roxie goes all out to seduce Nick, but though he has a permanent hard on for her, he refuses to let the lower head do his thinking especially while working a murder investigation. The support cast is great starting with her friend Tundy and his Aunt Clara as fans will want the Glory Murder Mystery Club to work on future amateur sleuth cases while driving the sheriff and his professional law enforcement peers crazy.

Harriet Klausner

Bedtime for Bonsai-Elaine Fox

Bedtime for Bonsai
Elaine Fox
Avon, Dec 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061474644

In Baltimore divorcee Penelope Porter has vowed off men ever since philandering Glenn dumped her and she acted foolishly afterward feeling like a deranged stalker trying to get him back in spite of his cheating. She turns for affection to Mr. Darcy, her mischievous pup, who keeps running across street to the business owned by Dylan Mersey.

He proves kind as he brings Mr. Darcy back to her. She is stunned that she is attracted to him and when Penny learns he is an ex-con she realizes that does not matter. Dylan seeks a fresh start, but owes a favor that could destroy his hopes for the future. He is attracted to the canine and the cute dog’s pet Penny, but he refuses to act on his feelings as his past makes him feel he is an undesirable for someone at Penny’s social level.

Elaine Fox’s latest canine matchmaking romance (see BEWARE OF DOUG and HELLO DOGGY) is an engaging contemporary romance with the twist that Penny is the pursuer and Dylan the reluctant target. The characters are fully developed as Penny is confused about her feelings and Dylan is not. Mr. Darcy adds matchmaking and humor to the kibble mix while characters from the previous canine capers add a sense of homecoming.

Harriet Klausner

A Bride for His Convenience-Edith Layton

A Bride for His Convenience
Edith Layton
Avon, Dec 2008, $5.99
ISBN: 9780061253676

When his father died, Ian Sutcombe became a Marquis only to learn that his dad thought with his wrong head; apparently his sire’s second wife left the estate broke. Sutcombe feels the weight of the world on his shoulders once he learns of his obligations and explores his options with businessman Mr. Foster. He has one, marry for money quickly.

He selects the daughter of an affluent merchant as his spouse. Miss Hannah Leeds has no say in the negotiations between her dad who dances to the idea of a title in the family and her future husband, who makes it clear their relationship will be one of convenience only. Hannah accepts the marriage of convenience arrangement as she disdains love having given her heart away once before Timothy Atkins trampled it. Still she begins to care for and ultimately falls in love with her husband although he behaves at all times as a rigid patrician. When Timothy confesses to Hannah he made a mistake and wants a second chance, she considers her options while Ian wants to inform his wife he loves her and needs a real passionate marriage but fears rejection.

The theme has been used a zillion times in historical romance novels, but master magician Edith Layton refreshes the marriage of convenience premise with excellent characterizations. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing whose relationship changes seem genuine while the support cast enhances the era or in the case of Timothy causes a wedge between Ian and Hannah. A BRIDE FOR CONVENIENCE is an entertaining historical.

Harriet Klausner

22 Nights-Linda Winstead Jones

22 Nights
Linda Winstead Jones
Berkley, Dec 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425224915

Six years ago in an act of desperation to keep her freedom Princess Bela Haythorne of Turis drugged General Merin who was leading a local military force; while he was not fully aware of his situation she bedded and wedded him. He left going off to fight for the newly crowned Columbyanan Emperor Jahn moving up the ranks through blood and sweat to the point where he is the next in line as Minister of Defense while she hid in her Turis village in the Eastern Province.

Now Emperor Jahn is choosing a bride from candidates being brought from the corners of the empire. Merin volunteers to his superior General Hydd to escort Bela to the court in Arthes as almost anyone else would end up losing their head; he admits he might too. In Turis he is greeted by Bela ready to slice off his head. Her brothers and papa want his head too as they know what he did to her. Bela admits the truth including that they are married; stunning her family and her husband. They agree to divorce, which in Turis custom means bound together for 22 days and nights. Her mother believes they will either kill each other or realize they are in love.

The sequel to UNTOUCHABLE is a terrific Emperor’s Bride romantic fantasy with a superb premise of having two enemy combatants bound together while fighting enemies who want one or the other dead. Her mystical “talking” sword Kitty adds uniqueness to the caper as the couple follows her sword into the Forbidden Mountain. Subplots involving other key characters enhance the saga as mom is right with her immediate assessment that the General and the barbaric princess will either die or love in a wonderful sword and sorcery romance.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, October 24, 2008

Highland Sinner-Hannah Howell

Highland Sinner
Hannah Howell
Zebra, Dec., 384 pp., $6.99
ISBN: 0821780018

In 1478 Scotland, Tormand Murray is used to waking up with a hangover and a woman. However, a different type of ache in his head and the smell wake him up this time. His head has a large bump from where he either banged it or someone banged him; the smell comes from the woman sharing his bed as he recognizes the odor of death. Someone murdered his companion.

The witch Morainn Ross has been haunted of late by visions of murder and a hunk with two different eye colors. When she meets a bewildered Tormand she recognizes him as the man of her dreams. Tormand knows immediately the witch is his life mate. He needs to persuade his beloved they belong together and while keeping her safe investigate the homicide of his bed companion starting with how he got there and just who she is.

The latest Highland romance is a fun fresh tale that contains the usual premise of a wild Murray male meeting a brave female and knowing his true love instantly. The story line is refreshed by the homicide inquiry that is part dangerous, part loving and part amusing as if the Thin Man and his wife went back to the fifteenth century. Fans will enjoy Hannah Howell’s Highland romance.

Harriet Klausner

The Parlor House Daughter-Joanne Sundell

The Parlor House Daughter
Joanne Sundell
Five Star, Dec 2008, $25.95
ISBN: 1594147221

In 1863 in Nevada City, Colorado Territory, an assailant murders prostitute Ruby Rose. Her five years old daughter Rebecca moves into a brothel, Jenny Clayton's Palace, where she is raised by the ladies with tenderness and kindness. Madame Jenny even offers to send her east for schooling when she became a teen, but Becca is obsessed with one day finding out who killed her mom and why.

When Becca turns seventeen, customer Morgan Larkspur notices her and is willing to pay top dollar to have her; none of Madam Jenny’s other girls would do. Becca accepts being Morgan’s mistress as she feels that arrangement might help her make progress on her cold case investigation. However, as she begins to fall in love, a crisis threatens to overwhelm them. He must deal with a miner’s strike and she with the unknown culprit trying to kill her. Besides which, Morgan is engaged to another woman.

This Reconstruction Era romance stars two solid lead characters and a strong cast, especially the prostitutes as the story line contains a deep look the plight of females. The plot is fast-paced even the opening scene in which Ruby is bleeding to death and never slows down as Becca forces her mother’s killer to confront her and propels Morgan to confront his feelings and desires. Historical fans will enjoy this fine 1870s Americana tale.

Harriet Klausner

Welcome to Serenity-Sherryl Woods

Welcome to Serenity
Sherryl Woods
Mira, Dec 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778325895

In Serenity, South Carolina, Jeanette Brioche has mixed feelings about her new friends. On the one hand, she welcomes for the first time in her lonely life people who care for her. However, on the other hand although she feels good for her new friends, she envies the loving marriages of Maddie, Helen and Dana Sue as she has no man in her life, never has had one, and never will.

Town manager, Tom McDonald meets Jeannette and does not hide is interest in her. Maddie realizes this and signs up Jeannette as a volunteer on the Serenity’s annual Christmas festival committee. Jeanette and Tom are teamed up with each attracted to one another. However, both have had losses in their lives; whereas Tom has moved on and wants to start again with Jeannette, she has not and fears relationships mean loss.

The return to Serenity for another Sweet magnolia contemporary romance FEELS LIKE FAMILY visiting as the audience finds out what is happening to the stars of previous tales (see STEALING HOME). The lead couple is a fine matching as Tom is a nice person and Jeannette is the last one standing alone although Sherryl Woods hopefully has a few more singles in Serenity. Although there is little action, fans will feel the warn holiday WELCOME TO SERENITY.
Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Down in Texas-Delilah Devlin

Down in Texas
Delilah Devlin
Kensington Aphrodisia, Nov 2008, $12.95
ISBN: 0758228724

"Wearing His Brand”. Ever since Lyssa McDonough met Brand Tynan as a child she understood what her daddy and mama meant when they each defined the worth of a man. Now an adult she must persuade her man that she is his woman.

"Slow Ride". While working as a teenage ranch hand at her husband’s spread Daniel Tynan hid as best he could that he loved Maggie Dermott. Now the much younger man tries to persuade the widow that in spite of their age difference to take a chance on them.

"Straight Up Soldier”. After serving in the theater of operation, Mac McDonough has left the military. Suki Reese knows her ex will hurt her so she accepts Mac’s offer to protect her. Neither expected the distraction of their attraction.

These three hot interrelated Texas romances are all well written tales with deep lead characters in each. Readers will relish the Texas heat as Delilah Devlin delightfully delvers.

Harriet Klausner

Angel Unaware-Elizabeth Sinclair

Angel Unaware
Elizabeth Sinclair
Medallion, Dec 2008, $7.95
ISBN 9781933836317

Dora de Angelo struggles to fit in amidst the angels. She knows she came here differently than most everyone else as her soul went straight to heaven rather than a stop as a mortal. Perhaps that explains her lack of angelic skills.

After some more bungling, her boss grants her wish to become a mortal with the stipulation she returns to heaven once Christmas occurs, three weeks form now. Dora poses as a nanny to six-year-old orphan Penny while showing the child how to be a kid again, and to help Penny's cynical guardian Uncle Tony to learn the meaning of love, which he has forgotten.

This amusing lighthearted angelic romance is fun to read as the nanny from the Celestial Maintenance Department learns human housekeeping chores while helping young Penny regain her smile and Uncle Tony find his heart. The breezy story line is ideal for the Christmas holidays with its uplifting message and with a great final twist reminiscent of the classic Gift of the Magi spin. Fans will enjoy Elizabeth Sinclair’s fine version of Tavares’ “Heaven Must be Missing an Angel”.

Harriet Klausner

A Lost Touch of Magic-Amy Tolnitch

A Lost Touch of Magic
Amy Tolnitch
Medallion, Dec 2008, $7.95
ISBN: 9781934755518

Padruig MacCoinneach left his heritage and his Highland home vowing never to come back to Castle MacCoinneach. However, when his late sister’s ghost demands he go home to protect their sibling and their clan, he does so by becoming the chieftain a role he disdained. Padruig also learns that he must marry Aimili de Grantham, who has placed him on a pedestal since childhood, if he wants an ally; she is the price.

Aimili prefers horses to people as she can communicate better with steeds using her psychic skills. Sad that he crumbled from his place of adulation in her heart, Aimili still loves the brute, who shows not one iota of interest in her. She plans to seduce her spouse even as they must team up to prevent evil creeping through the walls of Castle MacCoinneach.

Medieval paranormal romance fans will appreciate the fourth “Touch of …” thriller due to the behavior of the prime player Padruig who rightfully feels overwhelmed and should be as he stars in two co-equal plots involving women he loves in peril. In some ways the audience will feel as overwhelmed as the hero as the story line constantly switches back and forth between Padruig’s concerns for his sister and his concerns for his wife. Neither truly takes charge nor do they fully merge into one cohesive main plot. Still fans will enjoy Amy Tolnitch’s intriguing historical due to Padruig’s travails.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Man for Me-Gemma Bruce

The Man for Me
Gemma Bruce
Kensington Brava, Dec 2008, $14.00
ISBN 9780758216236

Sports Today is a popular national weekly magazine. Writer J.T. Green writes for the magazine with hopes that players, managers and fans will take her work as honest serious reporting. However, an embarrassing locker room incident leaves her in exile in Pennsylvania covering the news no one but a local would be interested in.

She is covering the Gilbeytown Beavers, a team with a losing streak. In town is renowned superstar pitcher Tommy Bainbridge, who plans to help the Beavers win. When the pitcher and the reporter meet, they are attracted to one another, but between their jobs implying an intimate relationship taboo and their distrust of the other’s vocation, this couple has no chance but to strike out especially when JT uncovers a conspiracy for the team to lose.

This fun sports romance with a nod to the movie Major League is a home run as baseball pulls the nine inning plot. J.T. is a feisty independent reporter doing her job while Tommy is the perfect throwback athletic hero (some will insist caricature). The venue is terrifically described and the investigation filled with suspense. Additionally baseball fans will enjoy their romance as he strikes out with her but keeps swinging the bat in an effort to hit a game winning home run.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Phenomenal Girl 5-A.J. Menden

Phenomenal Girl 5
A.J. Menden
Dorchester Shomi, Nov 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 0505527863

Lainey Livingston is a do-gooder superhero who cares more about doing the right thing than about her image. She is particularly excited about being accepted by the Elite Hands of Justice (EHJ), the top guns of superherodom. However, before she is deployed by the EHJ, Lainey must serve a two year apprenticeship under the guidance of reincarnist Robert Elliot.

Lainey figures two years will go fast and besides she figures she will learn about super tactics from the world’s smartest person. However, she also knows he is the toughest task master of pupils; having kicked out those he felt were not up to the job. However, as Laney accepts all that Robert hand grenades at her, she falls in love with her teacher. She tries to hide her feelings as superheroes don’t do love and besides he will outlive her by a zillion new lives.

This is a lighthearted fun superhero action-packed romance starring three (read the novel for an explanation) “individuals” struggling with love. The story line is faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive as Lainey’s heart leaps over tall buildings in a single beat. Fans who relish something different will want to read this engaging science fiction romance as the teacher and the pupil must first save Megolopolis before their hearts.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, October 17, 2008

Kissing Games of the World-Sandi Kahn Shelton

Kissing Games of the World
Sandi Kahn Shelton
Shaye Areheart (Crown), Nov 2008, $23.00
ISBN: 0307393658

In Chester, Connecticut no one who knows sexagenarian Harris Goddard is shocked when much younger single mom Jamie McClintock accompanied by her asthmatic five-year-old son Arley moves in with him and his five-year-old grandson Christopher. Everyone ignores the kids being the same age and perhaps the mom might be there to care for Christopher; the assumption is womanizing Harris has his latest woman move in with him.

However, rumors and scandal explodes when a naked Harris is found dead in Jamie's bed. Everyone assumes the worst about her and some suspect she killed her paramour. Harris’ son Nate believes Jamie is wrong for his son Christopher so he comes to his late dad’s house determined to take his child with him, sell the home, and kick mother and son to the curb. However shocking both of them, Jamie and Nate are attracted to one another, but both has demons even before his dad was found in her bed.

This is a terrific character driven contemporary romance filled with twists and misconceptions. Nate and Jamie do not want their attraction for several reasons, but nether can prevent it from happening. Their respective kids act like children so they enhance the relationship by both driving the adults together and part. Sandi Kahn Shelton provides a wonderful tale of love using a common theme mad fresh by a strong cast.

Harriet Klausner

Highland Captive-Hannah Howell

Highland Captive
Hannah Howell
Zebra, Nov 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 0821780034

In 1500 in Scotland, Aimil and her brother Leith are riding the moors when the ferocious MacGuin clan captures them. Their leader Black Parlan holds the siblings for ransom as he expects her betrothed and her family to pay a fortune, and plans to make her horse Elfking his. Aimil is frightened of the Laird because of the rumors of his dining on babies. However, except for his desire to steal her steed, she quickly finds her warden is a caring leader; nothing at all like his reputation claims.

Aimil refuses to give him her beloved horse as he demands. He understands the love of a good horse so he offers her an alternative choice; she replaces her horse as his ride. As they battle to love, her fiancé plots to kidnap her and his former lover unites with Aimil’s former intended.

This is a reprint of an early 1990s novel (called ELFKING’S LADY) that showcases Hannah Howell’s talent before she became the Queen of Highland historicals. The lead couple is a fun entry ad their gender war over her horse is amusing but turns warm when they kiss. Although the villains should have known better than to try an abduction with Parlan’s reputation; fans of the author will enjoy one of her fine earlier tales.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, October 6, 2008

Running on Empty- Ken Casper

Running on Empty
Ken Casper
Harlequin NASCAR, Nov 2008, $5.99
ISBN: 9780373217977

Three decades ago, Sylvie Ketchum walked out on her husband Hugo Murphy and their daughter Kim. He moved on burying himself in his work at NASCAR so he would not have to think about relationships beyond loving his daughter.

However Kim desperately needs a kidney so the NASCAR crew chief knows his priorities begins and ends praying for a miracle. A match is found with an anonymous donor who Hugo learns is Sylvie. Forced to reassess what happened thirty years ago, Hugo knows he still loves Sylvie, but Kim has never forgiven her mom for deserting her too; Hugo wonders if he should tell his beloved daughter the full truth while hoping to persuade his Sylvie to come home to them as they need her.

RUNNING ON EMPTY is an intriguing character study as both of Kim’s parents look back as to why she left and realize each has culpability. Their second chance at being a family depends on whether both can take that first step forward. For Kim, who needs the kidney her mom whom she loathes donates, forgiveness is harder. Though NASCAR and romance are minor elements, Ken Casper provides a deep family drama.

Harriet Klausner

Risky Moves-Gina Wilkins

Risky Moves
Gina Wilkins
Harlequin NASCAR, Nov 2008, $5.99
ISBN: 9780373217960

Maximus Racing Owner Dawson Ritter stuns the NASCAR world when he fires respected crew chief Neil Sanchez late into the season when his top driver Kent Grosso is a strong candidate to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Ritter hires Tobey Harris to replace his mentor as crew chief.

At the same time Tobey struggles with exorbitant stress, he finds himself attracted to publicist Amy Barber. She reciprocates his feelings. However she has doubts especially when it seems as if Tobey will crack under the pressure to succeed at work and to move their tenuous relationship to a stronger level.

This engaging NASCAR romance takes a fine spin around the track mostly because of Tobey’s struggles not to break down under the immense pressure of replacing his superstar mentor late into the season. Seceding Sanchez during the off season would have been brutal, but to have it occur while their rider is bidding on the title makes it overwhelming. Thus the romance between Tobey and Amy takes a back seat to his coping and leads to doubts on her part. Fans will enjoy this solid racing car tale.

Harriet Klausner

The Bride Price- Anne Mallory

The Bride Price
Anne Mallory
Avon, Nov 2008, $5.99
ISBN: 9780061579134

In 1822 seven bored English aristocrats decide a game using third and illegitimate sons will spice up the season. The winner of the contest will gain a title, an estate and a wealthy bride. Each agrees to let the games begin.

Sebastian Deville meets the criteria and decides to enter the competition for two competing reasons; first to gain affluence and influence to help the poor and second he also sees this as his only chance to inherit his mom’s estates, which would enable him to avenge the affront of a lifetime. Lord Cheevers’ daughter Sarah Pim is the icing on the cake to the winner as THE BRIDE PRICE, but Sebastian prefers the companion Caroline Martin. As he falls in love with Caroline, Sebastian must choose between his long term dream of acceptance by the Ton and his acceptance of being in love with the wrong female.

This fabulous late Regency romance focuses on the aristocratic status of unmarried women and illegitimate men. The story line is fast-paced from the moment “His Grace” never his father informs Sebastian of THE BRIDE PRICE contest and never slows down as the lead male falls in love with the wrong woman. Ann Mallory provides a well written historical.

Harriet Klausner

Like No Other Lover-Julie Anne Long

Like No Other Lover
Julie Anne Long
Avon, Nov 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061341595

Cynthia Brightly has become desperate as poverty seems a sure shot just around the corner and a brewing scandal will exacerbate her financial problems. She decides her only avenue of survival is to nail a rich spouse while attending the Redmond family’s house party; there may be no more galas after that if she fails.

Field Naturalist Miles Redmond knows his duty to marry his family’s anointed one though he is attracted to scandalous Cynthia. She meanwhile finds three prospects, but the one she cannot obtain Miles is the one she actually covets not just to get her out of a jam. Realistically he must select family over a disgraced woman as that is the right thing to do even if his heart says otherwise.

The lead couple, the last pairing anyone amongst the Ton and regency readers would match up; make for an amusing yet at times poignant historical romance. Cynthia is a charming witch who would never accept an intellectual especially a spare, but behind his glasses he is a hunk and now the heir; the scientist would never go after a shallow beauty who proves to have deep emotional depths. Fans will gain immense pleasure from Julie Anne Long’s entertaining historical romance.

Like No Other Lover-Julie Anne Long

Like No Other Lover
Julie Anne Long
Avon, Nov 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061341595

Cynthia Brightly has become desperate as poverty seems a sure shot just around the corner and a brewing scandal will exacerbate her financial problems. She decides her only avenue of survival is to nail a rich spouse while attending the Redmond family’s house party; there may be no more galas after that if she fails.

Field Naturalist Miles Redmond knows his duty to marry his family’s anointed one though he is attracted to scandalous Cynthia. She meanwhile finds three prospects, but the one she cannot obtain Miles is the one she actually covets not just to get her out of a jam. Realistically he must select family over a disgraced woman as that is the right thing to do even if his heart says otherwise.

The lead couple, the last pairing anyone amongst the Ton and regency readers would match up; make for an amusing yet at times poignant historical romance. Cynthia is a charming witch who would never accept an intellectual especially a spare, but behind his glasses he is a hunk and now the heir; the scientist would never go after a shallow beauty who proves to have deep emotional depths. Fans will gain immense pleasure from Julie Anne Long’s entertaining historical romance.

Harriet Klausner

Traitor's Kiss and Lover's Kiss-Mary Blayney

Traitor's Kiss and Lover's Kiss
Mary Blayney
Bantam, Nov 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780553592122

“Traitor's Kiss”. In 1813 France, English scientist Gabriel Pennistan is imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. His brother offers money to Charlotte Parnell to get him safely out of France. She frees him from the jail and escorts him from Paris to Le Havre with danger every step of the way. As they complete their escape to the Channel, they begin to fall in love. However after a great night of lovemaking, Charlotte vanishes; Gabriel vows to find his beloved.

“Lover's Kiss”. In 1816 although retired from espionage, former soldier Michael Garrett proves he still has his skills when he rescues a nearly totally nude Lady Olivia Pennistan from abduction. Her brothers persuade him to protect their sister, offering him money. He accepts the duty, as he wants her safe, but has doubts about a fee. As they fall in love, Michael knows his lower social class must keep them apart; Olivia thinks otherwise and begins a campaign that the military would admire.

These two exhilarating Pennistan family Regency romances are well written, filled with plenty of action and star great courageous lead characters. Sub-genre fans will enjoy both super tales.

Harriet Klausner

The Decadent Duke-Virginia Henley

The Decadent Duke
Virginia Henley
Signet, Nov 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451225429

Nothing short of a duke or an earl is acceptable by the Duchess of Gordon. Her success rate is perfect with one left. Her fifth and youngest daughter Georgiana has no choice in the matter; she will wed the disreputable rouge, the Duke of Bedford, Francis Russell who some insist is the father of the country as he has illegitimate children everywhere and mistresses in every corner of the nation.

To Georgiana’s chagrin she is attracted to her intended’s kind and caring younger brother John. However, he is unattainable at the moment; besides his sibling being the acceptable one by her family, he is married with children and though his wife is dying, both John and Georgina respect his vows and his spouse. When Francis assaults Georgiana, an ugly scandal explodes while John mourns the death of his wife.

Based on real early nineteenth century persona to include the Gordon and Russell families, Virginia Henley provides her usual superb historical romance. The key characters are fully developed with a strong look into the Ton’s hedonistic activities and that of the matchmaking mamas. Fans of well written deep Regency romances will relish the fictionalized account of THE DECADENT DUKE.

Harriet Klausner

Wish You Were Here-Lani Diane Rich

Wish You Were Here
Lani Diane Rich
Forever, Nov 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 044661825X

Her father Richard, owner of Daly developers, wants the Deer Creek, Idaho campground property owned by single father Nate Brody, who refuses to sell. He sends his daughter Freya Daly to obtain the land although she has no idea why her dad covets this dilapidated campground in the middle of hell. Cincinnati restaurateur Nate explains to Freya he cannot sell because he made a death bed pledge to his late dad. He also says he will sell once he completes his vow to find an heirloom.

Freya’s dad demands she increase the pressure as he needs that land now. She is confused by his attitude and soon learns there is more to her father’s deal than he told her. As she falls in love with the father and his preadolescent daughter Piper, Freya has family issues to confront while Nate and Piper want her to return to Ohio with them as part of their family.

The charming contemporary romance between the lead couple is enhanced by several fascinating subplots that tie back to the prime story line including a unique rare condition in which Freya cries for no apparent reason. The relationship between father and daughter is a model of honesty; quite the opposite of that between Freya and her dad. Except for her dad’s mayoral name, WISH YOU WERE HERE is a terrific sequel to CRAZY IN LOVE.

Harriet Klausner

The House on Tradd Street-Karen White

The House on Tradd Street
Karen White
NAL, Nov 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780451225092

Realtor Melanie Middleton loves the single life that her professional success brings her. Everything is going extremely well. However, Melanie cannot understand why a late client whom she barely knew left her an ancient relic more elephant than house in Charleston, South Carolina; all she has to do to inherit it is live there for a year.

Even stranger to Melanie is her uncanny ability to see dead people. She knows she must look into her haunted past to understand her present. Her family and friends, some of whom have crossed to the other side, remain at her side helping her come to grips with THE HOUSE ON TRADD STREET and much more when investigative reporter Jack Trenholm arrives searching for missing Confederate diamonds that he believes are buried in the house. As they fall in love, encouraged by her family (dead and alive), one mean spirit wants them gone claiming ownership of the diamonds and much more.

The key to this quirky charmer is the depth of the lead characters especially the heroine and even some of the ghosts. Fans of paranormal romantic suspense will want to read this wonderful tale as Karen White provides a fine treasure hunt mystery with a nasty spirit inside a warm romance in which Readers will say yes that they believe in ghosts and in love.

Harriet Klausner

Tall Dark and Texan-Jodi Thomas

Tall Dark and Texan
Jodi Thomas
Jove, Nov 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780515145434

In 1856 Hill Country Texas Teagen McMurray feels lonely as he runs Whispering Mountain Ranch. His brothers are married (see TEXAS PRINCESS and TEXAS RAIN) and his sister is away at school. However while he wants the love of a good woman, he also admits he enjoys the quietness of the spread.

With the death of her rescuer and jailer husband Eli, Widow Jessica Barton flees Chicago with her three preadolescent daughters to escape the “incarceration” her in-laws plan for their late son’s daughters. Leaving behind Barton Bookstore to Eli’s avaricious family, she heads to Whispering Ranch and Eli’s friend Teagan. The four females make it to the ranch where Teagan takes them in. He persuades his guest to marry for the sake of her kids. She agrees but both hide from the other they want more than a marriage of convenience as each is in love; her from the time she read his letters to Eli back in Chicago and him from the moment the fearsome horde invaded his life and heart.

Though the theme has been used quite often, this is an enjoyable pre Civil War Texas romance as the lonely rancher and the frightened widow find love. Filled with passion and courage (trademarks of Ms. Thomas Texas tales), TALL DARK AND TEXAN is a warm historical.

Harriet Klausner

Be With Me-Maya Banks

Be With Me
Maya Banks
Berkley, Nov 2008, $15.00
ISBN: 042522404X

Police officer Regina Fallon is the daughter of an affluent politician, who cared more about his political career than his daughter. At home she was all alone growing up; but outside Regina became friends with three orphaned street urchins (Hutch, Cam and Sawyer) taken in by kind caring Birdie who showered them with love; an emotion she never received at home. The trio and their “mom” gave her companionship until the night she had sex with each of the boys. Embarrassed she fled.

However, in the present Regina misses her buddies as the loneliness is overwhelming. Worse a psychopath stalks her with the intent to kill her and her loved ones. When Hutch, Cam and Sawyer learn from Birdie she was hurt on the job, they arrive to protect her; not understanding that they are targets of a deranged killer since she obviously loves all three of them and Birdie. They reject her pleas for them to leave; instead they offer her their love (figuratively and literally).

BE WITH ME is a fascinating erotic romantic suspense that though well written with strong characters is not for everyone. Regina and the three men in her life are definitely in her life as ménage a quatre makes for a different type of shared passion. The stalker subplot adds tension, but is more of a matchmaking scheme that brings back the former juvenile delinquents into the life of the woman they adore, cherish and love.

Harriet Klausner

Flat-Out Sexy-Erin McCarthy

Flat-Out Sexy
Erin McCarthy
Berkley, Nov 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425224076

Widow Professor Tamara Briggs raises her two children in quiet safe environs. After her husband died in a fiery NASCAR accident, she vowed to keep her kids safe and her heart too.

Driver Elec Monroe has had his fill of groupies. Instead he wants Tamara even if she is a few years older than him and he even likes her two kids. He scores with her in the tryst of a lifetime, but she obstinately refuses his efforts to shift their relationship beyond a one night stand into first gear as he is a dreaded driver like her children’s late dad. He begins a campaign that NASCAR would love as a victory to him is winning Tamara’s heart permanently.

The opening line by Tamara’s friend Suzanne sets the stage of an engaging often humorous contemporary romance when she says Tamara’s boyfriend anthropology Professor Geoffrey Ayers has less testosterone than a teenage girl. The story line accelerates from that terrific observation and never slows down as Elec tries to keep up with his racing heart to win the greatest prize of all, the love of a lifetime while his checkered flag in this race is an obstinate single mom.

Harriet Klausner

Flat-Out Sexy-Erin McCarthy

Flat-Out Sexy
Erin McCarthy
Berkley, Nov 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425224076

Widow Professor Tamara Briggs raises her two children in quiet safe environs. After her husband died in a fiery NASCAR accident, she vowed to keep her kids safe and her heart too.

Driver Elec Monroe has had his fill of groupies. Instead he wants Tamara even if she is a few years older than him and he even likes her two kids. He scores with her in the tryst of a lifetime, but she obstinately refuses his efforts to shift their relationship beyond a one night stand into first gear as he is a dreaded driver like her children’s late dad. He begins a campaign that NASCAR would love as a victory to him is winning Tamara’s heart permanently.

The opening line by Tamara’s friend Suzanne sets the stage of an engaging often humorous contemporary romance when she says Tamara’s boyfriend anthropology Professor Geoffrey Ayers has less testosterone than a teenage girl. The story line accelerates from that terrific observation and never slows down as Elec tries to keep up with his racing heart to win the greatest prize of all, the love of a lifetime while his checkered flag in this race is an obstinate single mom.

Harriet Klausner

Sun Stroked-Cathryn Fox

Sun Stroked
Cathryn Fox
NAL, Nov 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780451225115

“The Sensual Soak”. Danielle Carrigan, Abby Benton and Lauren Sampson visit O Spa, the Oasis of Pleasure, on a small private South Pacific island where each hopes their deepest most secret desires are met as proclaimed about an exclusive magical elixir found only here. Danielle wants a man to dominate her, but she must be able to trust that he will not harm her. She wonders if injured soldier Ethan Sharpe is her passionate “Mr. Hardbody.

“The Pleasure Pool”. Beautiful Lauren wants someone to appreciate the inner soul and not just her body. She remains restless as she wonders whether that recuperating from war injuries military hunk Ryan Thomas can see her inner soul and to herself she admits her body too.

“The Sunset Sauna”. Engaged to marry Artie Drummond, a boring sex partner, Abby wants passion in bed not just with her food. The third recovering soldier buddy Cody Lannon seems perfect but very wary of becoming relationship prey instead of predator.

Mindful of Fantasy Island, but many degrees hotter (it is a Heat imprint); these are three well written whimsical tales of romance with a touch of magic in the air, beach, bedrooms, and a few other places.

Harriet Klausner

Pale Moon Stalker-Shirl Henke

Pale Moon Stalker
Shirl Henke
Leisure, Nov 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 0843961120

In 1884 before he died her spouse made Sky Eyes Brewster promised him she would not kill his murderer. Instead, she works around her pledge by hiring bounty hunter Max "The Limey" Stanhope to kill him.

Max needs a wife to insure his odious cousin does not inherit the estate he left behind in England. He believes his potential new employer would be perfect as his spouse although convincing her might prove impossible. The Limey offers her a deal; he will kill her spouse’s murderer in exchange for her marrying him. Reluctantly she accepts. As they travel together in search of her late husband’s killer, her adversary and another unknown enemy want them dead.

Shirl Henke’s latest cross-Atlantic historical romance is a terrific tale filled with plenty of action from the onset and never slows down as the lead couple lands in one predicament after another. Whereas the Limey and the Indian widow insist they’re not in love, ironically Cheyenne medicine man True Dreamer and the audience amusingly know otherwise. Readers will enjoy this fine western romance as the coupling makes it less safe for both of them with each bringing a deadly foe into their relationship.

Harriet Klausner

Unravel Me-Christie Ridgeway

Unravel Me
Christie Ridgeway
Berkley, Nov 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425224854

Being the widow of an US Army General usually means respect for the surviving woman, but in the case of Juliet Weston she receives none of that even from the tight knit military families. Instead the media condemns her for marrying a much older man while the military and his family scorn her as a gold-digger.

Having enough of the ridicule that she does not deserve, Juliet flees to her home in Malibu where she can grieve her loss without the nasty spins of the pundits or family. Her only companion is her late husband’s trusted aide, Noah. However, she begins to fall for Noah at the same time she learns she has two sisters that she never knew existed.

UNRAVEL ME is an entertaining contemporary romance starring a fascinating lead couple who each has doubts about falling in love with the other out of respect for her deceased husband who was his superior officer; adding to their respective discomfit both knows the timing is bad as she grieves her loss. The newly discovered sisters’ subplot enhances a fine tale that fans of Christie Ridgeway will enjoy while anticipating two more “Malibu and Ewe” novels to follow.

Harriet Klausner

Immortals: The Haunting-Robin T. Popp

Immortals: The Haunting
Robin T. Popp
Love Spell, Nov 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 0505527669

Wood nymph reporter Mai Groves suffers from PTSD following her participation in a battle against a demon. However, the mental scars will heal as she well knows. What disturbs her more is the man she has fallen in love with whom she met on the spirit plane; the problem is she assumes he does not exist and just her imagination running wild with a dream lover.

Spirit walker Nick Blackhawk wonders who his lover he met on the spirit plane is on the mortal realm as he needs her in all aspects of his life. He is unaware that a reporter who insistently demands an interview is his beloved. Her editor warns her to watch herself when her therapist Dr. Barbour is murdered; she, as one of his thirty patients, is a suspect. When trouble arises in her apartment building with the disappearance of another tenant, Nick, aware now of who Mai is, vows to keep his soul mate safe.

This is a superb entry in the excellent Immortals romantic urban fantasy saga written by three authors (Robin T. Popp, Joy Nash and Jennifer Ashley). Mai is fabulous as an intrepid journalist still mentally healing while her world continues to collapse until her dream lover proves real on the mortal plane. The threat to her from unknown seemingly paranormal forces seems real as Ms. Popp returns to the Immortals (see IMMORTALS: THE DARKENING) with a wonderful addition.

Harriet Klausner

Between Light and Dark-Elissa Wilds

Between Light and Dark
Elissa Wilds
Love Spell, Nov 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 05055279X

The Gray God Axiom desperately wants to join the Divine Council of the Light Realm. To achieve his ambition, he readily accepts the Council’s terms; he must impregnate Laurell Pittman, who is oblivious to her heritage or that she is a witch. The Council knows their offspring will become the Earth Balancer god.

Axiom arrives on earth and immediately uses his most powerful weapon in his arsenal, “the yearning”. Laurell is outraged with what the outsider has tried to do to her especially since she is attracted to him without his using his godly power. However in spite of her desire she does not trust the male claiming they are destined to mate in order to conceive a special child.

This is a fascinating romantic fantasy in which the paranormal elements supersede the love subplot. The story line is at its best when it focuses on the fantasy subplots even with a pantheon of characters. The romance never quite comes together as fans will find it difficult to accept the ambitious Gray God falling in love. Still this is an entertaining tale as sub-genre fans will enjoy stepping into Wilds’ world where a basic axiom of the Gods is to be a member of the Divine Council of the Light Realm; in the hero’s case at all cost to others.

Harriet Klausner

Demon Bound-Meljean Brook

Demon Bound
Meljean Brook
Berkley, Nov 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425224533

Guardian Alice “Black Widow” Grey is upset as she is trapped in a Faustian deal with Teqon the demon. She must give to Teqon the heart of the most revered and powerful Guardian, Michael; failure to do so means eternal damnation for Alice. She knows her thoughts are dark as she considers cutting out the heart of the Doyen Michael. Alice also is well aware how difficult that would be as he has proven to be the mightiest of them over thousands of years demonstrated by the Second Battle when the Seraphim bestowed power to him and the others before their retreat.

Guardian Newcomer Jake Hawkins tries to help his mentor Alice by using his teleportation skills. They begin to fall in love, but must find a way for her to escape her deal with the demon without sacrificing her or Michael.

The latest Meljean Brooks Guardian romantic fantasy (see DEMON NIGHT, DEMON MOON and DEMON ANGEL) is an excellent entry in a great series due to the dilemma of the lead female. She refreshes the saga with her moral quandary of either her or Michael being condemned for eternity. The rookie Jake is a perfect junior partner trying to help his trainer while falling in love with her. This is another winner as the multifaceted Guardian saga continues to expand in complexity while remaining entertaining.

Harriet Klausner

Suite 606-J.D. Robb, Mary Blayney, Ruth Ryan Langan and Mary Kay McComas

Suite 606
J.D. Robb, Mary Blayney, Ruth Ryan Langan and Mary Kay McComas
Berkley, Nov 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425224441

"Ritual in Death" by J.D. Robb. NYPD Police Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her spouse Roarke attend a gala that is interrupted by a satanic vicious homicide of an Indiana transplant.

."Love Endures" by Mary Blayney. Recently widowed Summer Cassidy has enough on her plate as a single mom, but must deal with two men in her life; the ghost of her late husband and Lord Stephen Bradley.

"Cold Case" by Ruth Ryan Langan. Former cop Sam Hunter has a car accident that leaves him with no choice except accepting the hospitality of Mary Catherine and her hostile stepfather.

"Wayward Wizard" by Mary Kay McComas. At a museum, Marie Barnett and her son Hugh tumble into an exhibit where they meet Nester Baraka the time travel wizard from Viator.

Fans will enjoy these four well written speculative fiction novellas that run the gamut from science fiction police procedural to urban fantasy to the paranormal triangle.

Harriet Klausner

The Demon King and I-Candace Havens

The Demon King and I
Candace Havens
Berkley, Nov 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425223635

The four Caruthers sisters knew from birth that they were special Guardian Keys protecting humanity from select paranormal killers. Each of the siblings is a specialist with a unique power to fight a specific horde.

Gillian, owner of a Sao Paulo, Brazil art gallery and the CEO of the family owned Texas based Caruthers Corporation, caught her boyfriend in bed with one of her art gallery managers. Her talent being super strength she broke the sink. Her super strength comes in mighty handy when Gillian works her other job, the Assassin of dimension hopping demons. So even she is taken back when Arath, the new king of the demons, asks for a truce so they can team up to battle an unknown third force killing human and demon without regard. Even more shocking to the Guardian is her attraction to her temporary ally

The first of a new romantic urban fantasy is a piece of haven for sub-genre fans. The lead couple is a delightful pairing of beloved enemies fighting against a sly sinister unknown force killing both sides. The story line is fast-paced from the moment that Gillian kicks the butt of her sink and never slows down until the final confrontation; in between are several super twists. Readers will be whistling a happy tune with this superb paranormal romance.

Harriet Klausner

Casting Spells-Barbara Bretton

Casting Spells
Barbara Bretton
Berkley, Nov 2008, $4.00
ISBN: 9780425223642

In Sugar Maple, Vermont, being the daughter of a sorcerer, Chloe Hobbs knows the rules that to inherit her magical power she must fall in love. However, half-breed Chloe, owner of Sticks and Strings knit shop in the northern side of the New England state, has vowed to never repeat her mom’s error of tragically falling in love with a mortal; only the paranormal hunks will do for her.

Boston Homicide Detective Luke MacKenzie is loaned to Vermont to investigate a murder in Sugar Maple when he and Chloe meet. They are attracted to one another, but he is a dreaded human. Still Chloe begins to fall in love, which means she needs to learn how to use her powers even as she must choose between Luke and her town.

Whimsical and satirical, CASTING SPELLS lives up to its title as Barbara Bretton casts a spell on readers with a charming urban fantasy romantic police procedural. The lead couple is a delightful pairing as Chloe’s brains says no, her heart says yes; Luke is confused with what he sees being done by the weird (to him) townsfolk, but is more bewildered by his feelings for the knit store owner. The whodunit is cleverly designed so that the audience will relish visiting northern Vermont in November while wanting sequels starring residents of the small New England town whose ancestors fled Salem.

Harriet Klausner

A McKettrick Christmas-Linda Lael Miller

A McKettrick Christmas
Linda Lael Miller
Harlequin HQN, Nov 2008, $16.95
ISBN: 0373773021

In 1896 after spending two years at Miss Ridgley’s Institute of Deportment and Refinement for Young Women, Lizzie McKettrick is excited to be coming home to her family on the Triple M Ranch in time for Christmas. She looks forward to being the new Indian Rock schoolteacher as well and mostly to introduce her beau Whitley Carson to her family.

An avalanche causes the train wreck stranding the passengers including Beau and her. Dr. Morgan Shane helps the injured while Lizzie assists him even as she waits for her family to rescue everyone. While working with the caring doctor, she reconsiders her feelings towards Whitley, who increasingly compared with Morgan looks like a gold-digger. However, more important than working through her feelings, she knows time is running out on the stranded travelers.

Clearly targeting fans of the McKettrick saga with a holiday toast, this is a warm inspirational historical romance. Lizzie is an intriguing lead character as she compares the two men in her life; one is caring and helpful to strangers while the other is aloof with a not my problem attitude. Although the story line follows a simplistic straight track, readers will enjoy spending A MCKETTRICK CHRISTMAS with the return of one of the daughters.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Christmas Getaway- Anne Stuart, Tina Leonard and Marion Lennox

Christmas Getaway
Anne Stuart, Tina Leonard and Marion Lennox
Harlequin, Nov 2008, $5.99
ISBN: 9780373837298

"Claus and Effect" by Anne Stuart. Boston police officer James Fitzpatrick is stunned when he is suspected of a homicide and a jewel theft. When he heard rumors that Dr. Ellie Pollard possesses information that will prove his innocence, dressed as Santa he abducts her.

"Caught at Christmas" by Tina Leonard. Librarian Jean Norville comes to the Southfork Texas Wedding Chapel to serve as the maid of honor at her best friend's marriage. Just prior to the wedding, shots are fired. The bride’s brother former Texas Ranger Sam Broadbent tries to keep Jean safe.

"Candy Canes and Crossfire" by Marion Lennox. Sam’s sister attorney Molly finds her ceremony to Tommy O’Bannon disrupted by gunfire. Molly finds refuge with Joe Cartland and his three preadolescent orphaned children of his late sister.

These are three well written interrelated exciting holiday romantic suspense thrillers that readers will relish.

Harriet Klausner

Dangerous Heart-Tracey Bateman

Dangerous Heart
Tracey Bateman
Avon, Oct 14 2008, $12.95
ISBN: 9780061246357

For seven years Ginger Freeman, daughter of an outlaw, blames Dr. Grant Kelley for the death of her brother Clem. Now in 1850 her search for this miscreant has ended; she has found him on a wagon train heading west.

She joins the train with plans to kill Grant. Instead she is welcomed by everyone especially Miss Sadie and soon feels like she is part of a family for the first time in her life. Worse Ginger finds Grant to be a caring person trying to help others; nothing like the image she kept in her nightmares for these long seven years. As she finds God, friends and love (with Grant), Ginger feels torn in several directions when her Pa and his cohorts arrive.

The third Westward Hearts Americana inspirational romance (see DANGEROUS HEART and DEFIANT HEART) is a fabulous historical totally owned by Ginger although the rest of the cast is fully developed. Readers will feel they are on the wagon train as the closeness is both endearing and phobic; privacy is impossible. The transformation of Ginger is deftly done by Tracey Bateman to the delight of historical inspiration fans.

Harriet Klausner

The Dragon Master- Allison James

The Dragon Master
Allison James
Berkley, Nov 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780425224717

Her grandmother used to regale restaurateur Carol Juan with supernatural stories. Carol enjoyed the fables, but assumed her grandma was narrating fantasies. That concept changes when she finds a naked male fuming fire from his blazing red hair.

Fire dragon Seth assumes dragon master Carol summoned him although she denies it. Her bewilderment makes him begin to believe her. They soon learn an incarcerated dragon master called for Seth and the malevolent Order of the Black Lotus wants to communicate with their demon god. Only Carol if she learns to use her powers in time that she never knew existed is the only hope to save everyone.

The latest bewitching dragon paranormal romance (see DRAGON HEAT and THE BLACK DRAGON) is a superb thriller as the heroine has no time to adjust to the reality of supernatural species at war. Still it is Carol’s reactions and actions that make THE DRAGON MASTER a masterful tale. Seth is a bit more typical of the Allison James’ species, but even he is fresh due to the bewildered adaptable heroine who must prove to be a super fast learner if she is to save the day.

Harriet Klausner

The Pagan Stone-Nora Roberts

The Pagan Stone
Nora Roberts
Jove, Dec 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780515144666

Hawkins Hollow looks like an ordinary small Maryland town, but every seven years during the seventh month, the villagers go crazy; killing one another, defacing and destroying property, and creating general mayhem. This happens because twenty years ago ten years old Gabe, Caleb and Fox spilled their blood near THE PAGAN STONE, and that liberated the demon incarcerated there.

The men know this time either they or the demon will die. They learn that their women are descendents of the female the demon raped three centuries ago before his binding. Quinn , Layla and Cybil are fated to be in the town during this critical period because their men need their help. If they don’t destroy the demon this time, it will be free to walk the earth spreading its evil wherever it goes. However, none of them has any earthy idea how to perform the deed. With the date coming soon they better figure it out fast or else.

This paranormal romantic suspense is fantastic with the focus being on Gabe and Cybil who both can envision multiple possible futures. Gage, a free spirit, avoids Cybil because he shuns serious relationships and his gut warns him this would be one. However, his heart makes him reconsider as they each have deep feelings for the other. They are also determined to defeat the demon. Nora Roberts is at her best with her final tale of the Sign of the Seven (see BLOOD BROTHERS and THE HOLLOW).

Harriet Klausner

Friday, October 3, 2008

Ready & Willing- Elizabeth Bevarly

Ready & Willing
Elizabeth Bevarly
Berkley, Nov 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425224779

In Kentucky Widow Audrey Magill enters the antique store to browse. She sees a portrait of nineteenth century riverboat Captain Silas Leyton Summerfield and feeling an odd affinity as well as believing the picture would be perfect for her hat shop that she plans to have opened in time for the Derby; she buys the portrait. However, she also learns the Captain once lived in the house she currently occupies.

Silas’ spirit is on a quest to save the soul of his decedent Nathaniel who is about to make a Faustian deal. He asks Audrey to help him. However when the beautiful fruitcake warns Nathaniel that he is selling his soul and her source is great to the nth degree ancestor Captain Silas, he has no doubt that she is a nut. Audrey is taken aback by her attraction to Nathaniel as she never thought of finding love again ever since her spouse passed away. She insures she does not lose sight of her mission: save Nathaniel’s soul.

The romance is well written while the Kentucky Derby serves as a background to Audrey’s efforts to save Nathaniel’s soul. Silas is an interesting matchmaker who knows if anyone can rescue his descendent it is the love of a good woman; in this case Audrey. Elizabeth Bevarly provides her fans an engaging paranormal contemporary romance.

Harriet Klausner

The Missing-Shiloh Walker

The Missing
Shiloh Walker
Berkley, Nov 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425224380

In Gulf Shores, Alabama, psychic Taige Branch uses her skill to find missing children. She had visions of a little girl in trouble, but has no idea who she is or what to do to rescue her.

FBI agent widower Cullen Morgan is desperate as his beloved daughter Jilly has been abducted. Scornful of Taige’s skill as she failed to warn him that a psychopath would kill his mother when they were lovers eight years ago, he goes to her to plead for her help. Taige is stunned to see Cullen, but more shocked when he shows her his daughter’s picture; she is the girl haunting her dreams. As a team, they may be able to save his child from a maniacal predator.

This is a great romantic suspense that grips the audience from the moment that Cullen begs Taige to find Jilly. The story line is action-packed especially when the two lead protagonists are on the rescue search. Sub-genre fans will feel the pain Cullen suffers as a single dad worried about his offspring while appreciating the courageous Taige who still loves the man who dumped her for failing him.

Harriet Klausner

The Rogue and the Rival-Maya Rodale

The Rogue and the Rival
Maya Rodale
Berkley, Nov 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425224526

In 1816, Angela Palmerston was sent to the nearby abbey for causing a scandal that humiliates her family. Over the next six years she behaves with decorum and now plans to take her vows.

Lord Phillip's gambling addiction is out of control. He no longer can pay his debts. While traveling alone he is assaulted and left to die. Instead in severe pain he is brought to the abbey where Angela is assigned to heal him. As he recovers they fall in love. He proposes to her and she accepts. However soon afterward, Philip vanishes. Angela assumes he changed his mind. Despondent and no longer taking her vows, she travels to London to become an illustrator. Kidnapped, Phillip escapes his captivity and rushes to London to win back the hand of the woman he loves.

Maya Rodale provides her readers with a fascinating Regency romance starring two intriguing protagonists who refresh what would otherwise be typical sub-genre novel. The story line is filled with spins especially the key abduction of the hero. As with THE HEIR AND THE SPARE, what makes the tale fun to read is the lead couple who are both stunned and not ready for love.

Harriet Klausner

Enticing the Prince-Patricia Grasso

Enticing the Prince
Patricia Grasso
Zebra, Nov 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780821780732

In 1821 London, Contessa Katerina Garibaldi informs her younger teenage brother Hektor that she plans to soon kill Russian Prince Drako Kazenov who she believes murdered her half-sister Alina and half-brother Ilya leading to the death of their father. Hektor tries to reason with her, but fails.

Two months earlier renowned jeweler Katerina provides a special brooch gift to her best patron Duchess Roxanne Campbell to celebrate the weddings of two of her step-daughters to Russian princes. Roxanne thanks Katrina by inviting her to attend the Beltane Ball she is hosting; the jeweler accepts as she can meet new clients so that her younger sisters, Hektor and her daughter Viveka can continue to live a quality life.

At a ball she meets Drako who she wants dead, but is attracted to him; he desires her too. Russian prince Yuri also wants Katerina although she puts him off. Drako hates Yuri whose seduction of his fiancé Raisa led to her suicide. Roxanne’s husband the Duke warns Drako to beware of the Blond Brigade as the snobbish trio wants royalty as their spouse. Yuri warns Katerina to avoid Drako whose fiancé took her life; Drako warns Katerina to avoid Yuri who ruins women. Roxanne names Katerina queen of the ball and she names Drako her king. They dance and he kisses her; she slaps him and leaves. Thus the players are in place for Katerina to follow her heart battling between the new love and a hate she has carried for five years.

The latest “Prince” Regency romance is an excellent entry due to the strong characterizations. The support cast is solid and includes returning lead characters from the well written previous novels to include the Flambeau sisters while the romance is fun to follow as the heroine is confused about her feelings unlike Drako. The mysteries enhance a fine tale although some might quibble about Katerina’s reactions to Drako.

Harriet Klausner

A NASCAR Holiday 3 -Liz Allison, Wendy Etherington, Brenda Jackson, Marisa Carroll and Jean Brashear

A NASCAR Holiday 3
Liz Allison, Wendy Etherington, Brenda Jackson, Marisa Carroll and Jean Brashear
Harlequin HQN, Nov 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780373773374

"Have a Beachy Little Christmas" by Liz Allison and Wendy Etherington. Tiffany McMillan seems to be nice to everyone except Jesse Harwood. He hopes the trip to the Bahamas on a NASCAR team getaway will make her naughty with him only.

Winning the Race” by Brenda Jackson. Myles Joseph and Lisa St. Claire were in love back in high school, but he chose NASCAR over her. He realizes his mistake and wants both a NASCAR career and Lisa, but must persuade his beloved she comes before racing.

"All They Want for Christmas" by Marisa Carroll. NASCAR driver Trace Collier and his daughter stop at a campground run by single mom Carrie Ferrell. The two single adults are instantly attracted to one another and encouraged by their offspring to pursue a special Christmas.

A Family for Christmas" by Jean Brashear. Cassie Wheeler and Gib Cameron were lovers until she left town eventually marrying someone else. A widow with four children, Cassie and Gib, a NASCAR team crew chief, meet and their love remains strong.

These are four enjoyable NASCAR holiday contemporaries with the right mix of racing and romance.

Harriet Klausner

Mischief Becomes Her-Kasey Michaels

Mischief Becomes Her
Kasey Michaels
Harlequin HQN, Nov 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 0373773188

Former Philadelphia cop turned private investigator Teddy Sunshine is found dead stunning his three adult children, Jolie, Jade and Jessica. However, even more shocking the police say he killed himself and murdered the wife of mayoral candidate Joshua Brainard. None of the three Sunshine sisters believe their father would commit suicide or a homicide; they agree to solve his cases because they feel one of them led to two murders.

Meanwhile TV reporter Jessica teams up with homicide detective Matt Denby who cannot believe his former mentor would commit a murder-suicide. As they fall in love their inquiry spin them into meeting the Beckets and a cursed emerald the Empress

The second Sunshine Girls romantic suspense (see DIAL M FOR MISCHIEF) is a terrific tale that attempts to bring the Michaels recent mythos into one universe with an apparent link to the Beckets of Romney Marsh regency fame. The story line is fast-paced and filled with intelligent often amusing bantering between the reporter and the cop. Although somewhat overloaded with dangling threads (the climax will be a packed gem), fans will appreciate the enjoyable middle caper.

Harriet Klausner

The Pirate Bride-Shannon Drake

The Pirate Bride
Shannon Drake
Harlequin HQN, Nov 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 0373773161

In 1716 one of the most feared Caribbean pirates Red Roberts seeks revenge. The infamous pirate aims to kill Blair Colm, who wants to sell her into marriage; Red Roberts is a woman masquerading as a man. She escaped his efforts by turning to the sea becoming the frightening scourge plundering ships while diligently hunting for Blair.

Red takes the ship captained by Laird Logan Hagarty and holds him prisoner until her vessel is shipwrecked. They end up together on a deserted island where they begin to fall in love. Although he understands how difficult his vow will be, he promises her to bring the odious Colm to face criminal charges, but his prime mission is to persuade Red they belong together after they are rescued.

This is a superb early eighteenth century romance starring a wonderful unique female character and the man who admires her grit and courage. The story line is action-packed at sea and on land. However the exciting plot belongs to the intrepid Red Roberts who since her parents died in 1689 off Scotland has lived for one thing only until Logan enters her life confusing her emotions.

Harriet Klausner

Immortal Warrior-Lisa Hendrix

Immortal Warrior
Lisa Hendrix
Berkley sensation, Nov 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780425224540

The sorceress cursed Viking warrior Ivar Graycloak over two centuries ago. His plight is to be human fighter at night but a soaring eagle during the day. He assumes he will take his plight to the grave.

However, his king directs Ivar to marry Lady Alaida. He is attracted to her and their consummation of their vows is the greatest moment of his life. However, marriage and the curse do not mix. Making him even feels guiltier for concealing the truth from his beloved wife is a seer who warns him to keep her away from him. He never counted on her courage and obstinacy as Alaida refuses to allow her loved one to leave.

Even with no teenage Matthew Broderick, IMMORTAL WARRIOR will remind the audience of Lady Hawke as a terrific historical romantic fantasy. Ivar is a wonderful lead character used to using his “skill” to help the kingdom, but now struggling with what is best for his loved one. However it is the intrepid Alaida who steals the show as she will remain at his side regardless. Lisa Hendrix provides an entertaining tale.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Have Yourself a Naughty Little Santa-Karin Tabke

Have Yourself a Naughty Little Santa
Karin Tabke
Pocket, Nov 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 1416564506

All work and no play Kimberly Michaels is to arrive at Evergreen to finish a deal in which her firm Land’s Edge will take over the town regardless of local feelings. If she succeeds she becomes VP of Acquisitions and shares her boss Nick’s bed. However, a blizzard keeps her one hour from her destination and stuck in a B&B.

Last night she was out of character as she slept with police officer Ricco Mazza. In daylight and struggling how to get to Evergreen, she writes the cop off as a one night ticket. As both are staying his sister’s B&B, that one night becomes a second. They run into each other in Evergreen where a sudden crime wave occurs that she assumes is to foster the sale. As they fall in love though both are commitment phobic, he learns her true agenda and dumps her while she knows to win back his love she must save the town from her boss.

This fun holiday romance stars a cop who enjoys playing Santa and a developer who enjoys being Scrooge. Their pairing lives up the title as the heat is on even during the blizzard. Karen Tabke provides an engaging contemporary holiday romance with some suspense and a Los Angeles based Grinch who wants to steal Evergreen.

Harriet Klausner

The Edge of Impropriety-Pam Rosenthal

The Edge of Impropriety
Pam Rosenthal
Signet, Nov 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 045122230X

In 1829, popular novelist Marina Wyatt relishes being top fodder of gossip as she believes that sells books. Thus when her newest tale is to be released, Marina times that by dumping her current lover Sir Anthony Hedges so that the gossip columns can have a field day with her scandalous behavior and she benefits with higher profits; reputation means nothing except if it infamously increases sales.

Soon after kicking Anthony out of her bed, she meets his scholarly renowned antiquarian Uncle Jasper James Hedges. He is atypical of the all brawn no brain hunks she uses. Instead he is intelligent and believes she is too. He makes it clear he wants her, but takes her on an adventure like none she has ever been on before; way beyond THE EDGE OF IMPROPRIETY and she knows there is no going back.

This is a fabulous erotic late Regency romance starring an interesting unique lead female who uses men as her tool and fool until Jasper turns her concept of the male having all thoughts in the lower head upside down. The story line is well written and fast-paced especially when Jasper arrives in London. Pam Rosenthal writes an engaging historical due to the lead couple especially the refreshing Marina, who is a "man-izer" until the scholar shows her a more complete world.

Harriet Klausner

Unleashed-Lori Borill

Lori Borill
Harlequin Blaze, Nov 2008, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373794348

In San Francisco Texas transplant purse designer Jess Beane, known for her “Beane Bag”, and police detective Rick Marshall meet at a bar at a time she needs to celebrate her business success and he needs a time out from a murder investigation. That night they enjoy the best sex either has ever had.

The next morning he awakens in her apartment to soon find her and his car gone along with key evidence he had in the trunk involving his case. She returns to tell him she thinks her felonious ex husband stole the vehicle. They give chase, which leads them to trysts from the Bay to Texas where Jess’ past arises to bite her butt and each can claim they slept here together.

UNLEASHED is a superb torrid police procedural romance starring two wonderful protagonists. The car chase from Northern California to Texas is heated yet often amusing. Although leaving criminal case evidence in a trunk seems wrong, Rick explains it as thinking with his wrong head. Fans will relish this joy ride due to the fine lead pairing as Lori Borill provides a one sitting thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Reckless-Tori Carrington

Tori Carrington
Harlequin Blaze, Nov 2008, $4.99
ISBN: 0373794371

Heidi Joblowski has come a long way from her white trash Fantasy, Michigan DNA. She worked hard to become a chef and has dreams to open up her own catering business. She also plans to marry Jess Gilbred, who has been her best friend and in many ways mentor since high school although they are the same age; he comes from a much better pedigree, but he feels the same way she does. He was her first and will be her only.

However her vow dies of Jess being her solo sex partner when Heidi meets his best friend, architect Kyle Trapper. She wants him as lust takes over every cell in her body; he feels the same way about her. Their tryst is incredible and both feel love made it that way. However, each feels guilty as they must inform Jess that Heidi is no longer Jesse’s girl.

This is an angst laden contemporary romance in which Heidi’s history that led to her strict plan is fully described so that the audience understands her emotional conflict. Kyle’s need for her comes across as deep. However, readers will be peeved at their RECKLESS behavior as neither comes forth to inform Jesse; whose secret somewhat mitigates the impact on him. Still Team Carrington provides an intriguing Michigan romance.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Too Far Gone-Marliss Melton

Too Far Gone
Marliss Melton
Forever, Nov 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 0446509264

Ten months ago in Virginia Beach, Navy SEAL sniper Sean Harlan allowed single mother Ellie Stuart and her three preadolescent boys to move into one of his rental properties. Since then he has come around a lot playing with the boys and bringing them presents. He hides his attraction to their mother as he is unsure if he should pursue his feelings or not. Just as confused is Ellie who knows the kids come first, but fears she is falling in love with her SEAL.

While driving home on a deserted back road with her three boys,, a van in front of her stops. Two men come out of the vehicle and yank Ellie from her car. They grab the three boys and leave. Ellie calls the police who assume she is responsible for their disappearance and probably killed them. Sean rejects that theory and with Ellie at his side and with the help of his connections begins to investigate. Neither are aware that the Savannah based Centurions led by powerfully connected Owen Dulay is behind the abductions; nor do they know that the FBI undercover agent Drake Donavon is investigating Dulay.

This is a terrific romantic suspense thriller in which the local police are influenced by headlines of mothers killing babies as much as by other evidence that conveniently supports Ellie killing the kids. Ellie quickly learns the hard way how ruthless and amoral her unknown adversary truly is. As a desperate mother, she with Sean leading the way tries to rescue her kids before she is indicted for murder.

Harriet Klausner

All That Matters-Stef Ann Holm

All That Matters
Stef Ann Holm
Harlequin HQN, Nov 2008, $4.99
ISBN: 0373773137

In Boise Not Just Cakes bakery owner Chloe Lawson feels her five month old business is making it. Not only are the local restaurants buying her confectionaries, she hired two helpers since business is booming. She owes it all to her maternal grandma Ethel Lumm, who raised her and encouraged her. Her bakery is next to Ethel’s Boutique in the Grove Marketplace. Her only major mistake as an adult was marrying crappy Bobby-Tom Drake, whom she divorced though he still stalks her when he is drunk.

However she is shocked when the leasing company informs her they are terminating her lease so that the Garretson grocery chain can take over the marketplace. One of her best customers Robert Moretti owner of Pomodoro Italian Restaurant asks his widow brother lawyer John to represent her. He agrees unaware that his firm represents Garretson. When they meet, both are stunned by the attraction as he has not enjoyed steeping out since his wife died in three years and she still is scarred by her failed marriage. Adding to the negatives is his two teen children who have not adjusted to life without mom.

This is an entertaining contemporary romance with a touch of suspense that enhances the basic story line. All the key players seem genuine with flaws and doubts; especially the lead couple. Fans will enjoy this fine second chance at love tale.

Harriet Klausner