Saturday, November 29, 2008

Star Bright-Catherine Anderson

Star Bright
Catherine Anderson
Signet, Jan 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 0451225716

Knowing how lethally dangerous her affluent influential husband Peter Danning is as he has killed two previous wives and not desiring to be next when he finally goes over the edge with her, Lorraina Ann with help from her friend Janet arranges for her death on a ship at sea to fool him when he searches for her. Rainie Ann no longer exists as Anna Pritchard is born. Besides altering her appearance, Anna plans to disappear to isolated tiny Crystal Falls, Oregon.

In the small town, Anna obtains work as a bookkeeper at Parker Harrigan's horse ranch. However, Parker believes his new employee is not just hiding secrets, but concealing her identity for whatever reason. As their attraction grows, Anna fears it because she knows all she can give to her beloved employer and his extended family is death if her psychopathic spouse finds her in Crystal Falls.

The third of the five Harrigan siblings romantic suspense tales (see MORNING LIGHT and SUN KISSED) is an exhilarating tale that refreshes the theme of a woman in peril from her insane but connected husband (think of Roberts-Bergen in Sleeping with the Enemy). The story line is fast-paced from the moment Rainie Ann no longer exists and Anna Pritchard with her Elvira wig does. Fans will enjoy the latest Harrigan saga as the besieged brave woman and the readers know the maniacal predator is coming for her.

Harriet Klausner

Lone Star Woman-Sadie Callahan

Lone Star Woman
Sadie Callahan
Signet, Jan 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 0451225775

In West Texas three generations of Campbell-Strayhorn blood own the Circle C Ranch. Grandpa may be the family patriarch, but his son J.D. runs the spread while his granddaughter Jude looks forward to soon take over from her dad. However, the two men in her life prefer Jude to marry and raise the next generation, preferably males.

Independent and upset with her dad and granddad, Jude buys the nearby 6-0 ranch to prove to her chauvinistic kin she can run a spread. However, she finds a stranger nesting on her new property; to her chagrin, recently divorced Brady Fallon makes her warm all over until he asserts he inherited the ranch she just bought. Brady is attracted to Jude, but he is coming off of a nasty divorce and knows better than to fool around with the daughter of his neighbor, who has given him a job that he needs to bring in money to restore the 6-0 ranch. As J.D. mentors Brady to replace him at Circle C, her daddy breaks Jude’s heart again.

LONE STAR WOMAN is a fabulous contemporary ranch romance that is kept fresh by the lifestyle depth of the three generations of Campbell-Strayhorn’s. The storyline us fast-paced as Brady struggles between loyalties and Jude by betrayal by the three men in her life. Readers will appreciate this fine Texas tale starring a strong female and three chauvinists who love her but fail to give her the chance she deserves.

Harriet Klausner

Hot Mail-Janice Maynard

Hot Mail
Janice Maynard
Signet, Jan 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 045122583X

In Statlerville, Tennessee Jane Norman has always wanted her former best friend Ethan Oldham, but he never displayed any inclination of caring for her that way. Their friendship forged as the two tallest kids in junior high school ended four years when Ethan became engaged to a gold-digging pariah. Although Jane sort of moved on, her love for Ethan remains strong.

Deciding he will never take the first step, thirty-two year old Jane decides on an anonymous inane HOT MAIL campaign to win his heart or at least intimate time with him in his bed. She begins sending him love letters so graphic he fears his hands will burn by touching them; once a week they arrive and he finds himself anxiously waiting for the next one even as he wonders who is sending them. When someone burglarizes Jane’s stationary store, Assistant Chief of Police Ethan investigates. As they renew their friendship ironically the erotic letter writer causes a triangle that leaves Jane looking on with desire while her shadow self wins his heart.

HOT MAIL is an amusing contemporary romance that contains underlying issues which strengthens the story line. The lead couple is a terrific pairing even if Ethan is ignorant to the facts while the support cast especially his older sister facing empty nest syndrome with her ex in Florida and her daughter about to attend college at U of South Florida deepens the plot. The letter campaign proves too successful opening up more problems for the heroine whose New Year’s Resolution looks dead with Valentine’s Day approaching. Janice Maynard provides a delightful humorous charmer.

Harriet Klausner

Bedeviled-Maureen Child

Maureen Child
Signet, Jan 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 0451225767

Maggie Donovan goes over to her soon to be former fiancé’s office to return him is ABBA CDs and his classic Star Trek DVDs only to walk in on a nightmare. Something female from a horror flick is dining on poor nice Joe Erickson before turning to chow on Maggie. She grabs the bi*ch’s pendant and uses it against the carnivore, which enables her to survive the demonic assault, but inhales a strange powder that gives her astonishing powers.

Otherworld Fae warrior Culhane feels his hundreds of years waiting impatiently for the right woman which has finally occurred. He believes Maggie, who has Fae blood in her, is destined to fight and defeat the evil Queen Mab. However, in spite of her libido deserting her with her attraction to Culhane, she rejects the Fae until attacks on her human family begin. She knows she must confront Mab who has everything going for her in a one on one battle except for Maggie’s grit to keep her loved one safe from the malevolent witch.

Maggie owns this wonderful urban fantasy although some might argue she adapts to her off kilter new world disorder too easily. She is terrific as the chosen one (at least Culhane’s chosen one), which she believes only places a bulls-eye on her chest for Queen Mab to send her worms to attack her. Readers will enjoy the opening gamut as the Child universe is established in a way that the heroine feels so BEDEVILED she would empathize with Alice falling through the looking glass.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, November 28, 2008

Border Moonlight-Amanda Scott

Border Moonlight
Amanda Scott
Forever, Jan 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 0446541354

In 1386 Edinburgh, at the altar, fourteen years old Sibylla Cavers says no to a marriage to ancient Lord Galston. A year later she is at the altar where she meets her latest groom for the first time, but says no again when he cannot even smile; he vows vengeance for her impudence. Two years later she informs her irate frustrated father Sir Malcolm she will not marry his third choice who spends all his time with his men. Her father writes her off and plans to arrange his next oldest daughter’s marriage, praying she is more biddable.

In 1391, Sibylla is riding alone when she hears a child’s scream. She sees the lass drowning in the nearby river and makes a gallant attempt to rescue the young lass from the current, but is hurt in the unsuccessful process. Laird Simon Murray returning home accompanied by a small contingency saves her while his men rescue the child. He takes the injured Sibylla home even as both recognize one another from her jilting him at the altar over three years ago. As they become better acquainted with one another, they fall in love, but trouble on the border appears ready to divide clans in a potentially ferocious war.

This is an exciting Border romance with plenty of action as strife seems everywhere starting with an abduction. The story line is fast-paced from the opening moment when the intrepid Sybilla says no to the priest in front of her father and others and never slows down until the final clan confrontation. Amanda Scott fans will enjoy her latest medieval romance starring a brave female and the arrogant laird in a terrific historical gender war.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Desert Prince- Constance O'Banyon.

Desert Prince
Constance O'Banyon.
Leisure, Jan 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 0843960078

In 30 BC, the Romans have consolidated their control of Egypt, whose ruler Queen Cleopatra lies dead with her lover Marcus Anthony. In that environs, Cleopatra’s blood relatives flee the country. Badari tribal Prince Julian is in self imposed exile on the island of Bal Forea where he learns to be a warrior and waits for his chance to return home. He especially owes his life to a friend young Sabinah, daughter of a goldsmith, who helped him escape.

When the chance comes for his return to Egypt finally occurs, the exiled DESERT PRINCE jumps at it. Sabinah risks her life again to provide him with information about a treacherous plot involving her ambitious stepmother. Julian risks his life and position to protect the girl he always respected but is now the woman he loves while also trying to keep his beloved country safe from rabble-rousers who will bring the might of Rome on the innocent if allowed.

The latest Constance O’Banyon exhilarating ancient Egypt romance (see LORD OF THE NILE and PRICE OF ROME) is an excellent tale that showcases how the Egyptians especially the royalty survived or died under Roman rule. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Julian returns home from his exile and never slows down. Yet with plenty of action, readers will feel they are crossing the Sahara and the Nile while visiting Alexandria. Fans will fully enjoy the saga of the loving lead couple who understand keeping Egyptians safe is their mission.

Harriet Klausner

The Silver Queen-Jane Candia Coleman

The Silver Queen
Jane Candia Coleman
Leisure, Jan 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 0843961058

In the late 1850s Augusta Pierce and Horace "Haw" Tabor marry and leave Maine for the “Bleeding” Kansas Territory. Soon afterward gold is rumored to have been found in the Rockies so Haw with his wife join the “Fifty-Niners” heading to West Kansas Territory. For the next two decades the flexible Tabors make a living in various jobs amongst the silver-mining towns. When they were short cash, Augusta worked the mines alongside Haw; they were a team.

When they finally become the wealthiest couple in the Colorado Territory as Western Kansas is now called, Augusta remains thrifty as she remembers the bad times. On the other hand Haw relishes his affluence flaunting his nouveau riche status and becoming a successful politician. When he meets Elizabeth “Baby Doe” McCourt, he dumps Augusta. Once their divorce is final he marries "Baby Doe". Augusta knows her soul mate dropped her, but she never quits on life; thriving without her Haw at her side.

This is a superb biographical fiction that focuses on the lives of three intriguing individuals who were major regional figures in the latter half of the nineteenth century in Colorado. The prime focus is actually on THE SILVER QUEEN, Augusta; however because much of what occurs happens with Haw and later with Baby Doe, the story line provides a deep look at their triangle. Fans will appreciate this superb Americana as Jane Candia Coleman writes an insightful look at three strong obstinate people.

Harriet Klausner

Wanted: The Texan-Bobbi Smith

Wanted: The Texan
Bobbi Smith
Leisure, Jan 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 0843958510

In the 1860s bounty hunter Josh Grady decides the time to retire is now after a shootout with two killers left him wounded. He decides to buy in as a junior partner at a ranch and is grateful when Mr. Ryan allows him to do so and work at the Rocking R Ranch in Shotgun, Texas.

When his partner dies, his Philadelphia raised daughter Emmie Ryan inherits. She immediately heads to Texas to run the spread though her experience is limited to summers. Emmie is shocked to learn her late dad had a new partner whom she detests as much as she wants to kiss him. As they fall in love, Josh is declared an outlaw with bounty hunters and a killer going after him with the preference being him dead. He takes a stand alone only to have his obstinate beloved insist she has his back.

This is an engaging western romance starring two likable lead characters with opposite backgrounds that make them an unlikely couple. Although the somewhat thin plot of a prim city miss and a rough westerner falling in love has been used many times, fans will enjoy tough Emmie the Philadelphia lioness refusing to allow her Texan to fight alone. Bobbi Smith provides an engaging Civil War era romance.

Harriet Klausner

Kiss of a Traitor- Kat Linder

Kiss of a Traitor
Kat Linder
Medallion, Jan 2009, $6.95
ISBN: 9781933836515

In South Carolina, zealous Tory Wilhelmina Bellingham opposes the War of Independence siding with the British against the colonists. Believing she must act and knows the swamps as well as any person or fox, Willa decides to capture General Francis Marion. She also wants her marriage to Lord Aidan Sinclair, whom she has never met annulled. Willa assumes the former will prove easier to achieve.

When Sinclair dies in battle, rebel Captain Brendan Ford takes on his late half brother’s identity so that he can spy on the British. This also means he must court his sibling’s widow, but finds her to be quite a handful in spite of her being tinier than a wren. As he seduces Willa to win her to his cause Brendan is stunned with the change in his feelings towards the true blood Tory. Whereas he could not wait to end the masquerade and escape her, he finds he is in love, but fears she reciprocates his feelings except hers is for a dead man.

This is a terrific Revolutionary War romance that emphasizes a large segment of the colonists opposed the revolt supporting England instead. Thus, the divisiveness of the war serves as a wonderful backdrop to a fully developed lead couple who brings real meaning to the phase beloved enemy as their objectives clash. Although there is a cul de sac sidebar that feels like excess padding that never fits inside the story line, KISS OF A TRAITOR is a fabulous look at American Revolution through the loving eyes of two adversaries.

Harriet Klausner

The Warlord's Bride-Margaret Moore

The Warlord's Bride
Margaret Moore
Harlequin HQN, Jan 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780373773480

In 1205 King John orders Lady Roslynn and Welsh Lord Madoc of Llanpowell to marry. Because her late spouse was condemned as a traitor, Roslynn expects guilt by association will mean her monarch dumped her on a grisly brute of a husband whose nickname as the "Bear of Brecan" affirms her belief and exiled her to the wilds of Wales as THE WARLORD’S BRIDE.

Accepting her doomed fate, when she meets her new spouse, she is pleasantly surprised that he is her age and he shows kindness to her and others. Madoc is pleased with his bride who is pretty but caring. However, soon after they exchange their vows, someone slaughters sheep with many believing the new bride involved. When Roslynn finds out about the feud between her husband and outlawed brother-in-law, she tries to intercede as Madoc assumes his sibling is behind the cruel acts while his wife thinks a clever diabolical unknown adversary is the cause.

The above two paragraphs fail to portray what makes a Margaret Moore medieval stand out from much of the rest as on the surface is a typical historical romance. The key is the seemingly effortless interweaving of early thirteenth century Wales as a backdrop so vivid, fans can picture the scenery first hand; yet as stunningly vibrant Wales comes across, the lead couple own the fast-paced story line as they struggle with their relationship at a time someone is using their newness against them. This is a fine King John era romance.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, November 23, 2008

To Seduce a Texan-Georgina Gentry

To Seduce a Texan
Georgina Gentry
Zebra, Jan 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780821779923

In 1864 Texan "Waco" McCain informs his three compadres that they are in deep trouble with the Confederacy and have been directed to travel to Prairie View, Kansas to rob the local bank and bring the loot back to the Texas rebel forces. However, their plan proves impossible as the town is loaded with Union soldiers. Instead, Waco adjusts the scheme to a ransom ploy by kidnapping the banker Godfrey St. John’s stepdaughter, Rosemary Burke.

Rosemary is frightened, but vows to behave like the courageous heroines of the dime novels she reads. She knows her avaricious stepfather sees this as an opportunity to rid himself of a pesky, plump, plain pain in the butt since he has been unable to marry her to his thug of the moment. He needs her dead so he can own the bank. When Godfrey refuses to pay the outlaws, they lower the fee. Rosemary assumes they are morons, who fail to grasp her stepdad wants them to kill her. She revises her scheme to escape by seducing Waco and use him to reclaim her inheritance as his bride; Waco has no say in the matter even as he fears the Confederates will soon come for the four failed felons.

This amusing western romantic spin of the movie Ruthless People will have the audience laughing out loud with the antics of the heroine and the gang who can’t think straight. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the townsfolk except for the banker welcome home Rosemary as a heroine while the four tall Texans arrive in a sea of blue. The relationship between Waco and Rosemary is deftly changing over the course of the abduction as he wonders just who is the captive while willingly risk his life to keep her alive. Georgina Gentry provides an amusing historical that will have readers in stitches as the ransom of Rosemary is a seductive winner.
Harriet Klausner

Friday, November 21, 2008

My Favorite Phantom-Karen Kelly

My Favorite Phantom
Karen Kelly
Kensington Brava, Jan 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 0758225725

Professor Peyton Cache is a bit shocked that his newly purchased Victorian contains a resident, a ghost who plays with his underwear amongst other disgusting habits. He wants to evict the spirit who emits slime everywhere, but also does not want to become a laughing stock at school. He hires serendipitously a professional ghostbuster informing her that his underwear better stay in his drawers within two weeks when he hosts a faculty dinner at his now house

Ghost hunter Kaci Melton shows up at Peyton’s house. She hides the fact that her dad is the ghost hunter from her client and she just a needs a place to hide for a couple of days. She figures how hard can it be although she admits to herself ghosts scare the sh*t out of her and worse the hunk of a professor even frightens her more with her attraction to him.

Although the plot is thin, readers will enjoy this amusing paranormal romance with its not so subtle, make that slimed references, to the Ghostbusters. The story line is fast-paced and breezy as reluctant ghost hunter Kaci and skeptical professor Peyton battle ghosts and their respective hearts as each thinks who you gonna call when you fall in love.

Harriet Klausner

Mortal Temptations-Allyson James

Mortal Temptations
Allyson James
Berkley, Jan 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 97800425223697

In midtown Manhattan psychic Patricia Lake is stunned to find an unconscious hunk with a broken wing lying on the floor of her shop, Lake Antiques. The demigod Nico Stanopolous was cursed by the goddess Hera for his cavalier affront to women; he must spend eternity as a sex slave to females. Nico was in the store seeking an artifact the ostracon that he believed she had that will free him and his equally cursed friend were-leopard Andreas; he explains they own nearby trendy Andre’s. He explains Dyon attacked him though his enemy can maim him but is not allowed to kill him.

Patricia, Nico and Andreas travel across the world seeking a means to free the cursed pair. At every stop, the trio dives into bed for heated trysts. There band grows when a human archaeologist, an Egyptian god and a Greek deity join their adventures while Hera has sent a horde to prevent them from succeeding. None of the band understands that the only potential answer to free at least Nico was not going on tour, but could be found much easier if the mortal and the immortal stopped to listen to their hearts.

Using the Norse mythology concept of Gods interfering and intruding on human lives, but in a modern day context, Allyson James provides a wonder erotic romantic urban fantasy. From the moment they meet until the final climax (figuratively and literally), Nico, Patricia and Andreas will have fans believing in cursed demigods with wings, shift-shapers, and an irate Hera ready to punish those who defy her will; all that and various sexual interludes from female-male partnering to ménage a trois to mano a mano. This is the beginning of what looks like will be a strong saga. Sub-genre fans will relish MORTAL TEMPTATIONS because it is an entertaining hot contemporary quest thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Princess of the Sword-Lynn Kurland

Princess of the Sword
Lynn Kurland
Berkley, Jan 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425225684

Having seen the ugly side of spells, Morgan of Melksham loathes all things and people associated with magic. To make matters worse, she has learned who her father is, an evil magician. She has ignored her own skills but she no longer can afford denial as the world is in trouble. Her father has released evil into the world when he opened the well of spells and she believes she must stop it.

She is accompanied in her quest by Archmage Prince Miach who understands the danger of what they need to retrieve to cast counter spells, but also what the cost of failure is to the Kingdom of Nieroche. He still regrets his earlier treatment of his beloved although his intentions were honorable as he placed his kingdom above his heart. As they set about to stop the leakage, Lothar the malevolent mage still remains dangerously causing trouble as he has his plan to take over the world starting with ridding himself of two pesky do-gooders.

This is an excellent finish to a great romantic quest fantasy (see THE MAGE’S DAUGHTER and STAR OF THE MORNING). The story line is action-packed while Miach has come a long way from the mage in love protecting his woman because he disregarded her skill even as he used her. Now she is equal, perhaps his superior, as they go to undo what her dad did. Readers will relish Ms. Kurland’s superb trilogy.

Harriet Klausner

Daring the Moon- Sherrill Quinn

Daring the Moon
Sherrill Quinn
Kensington Brava, Jan 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758231871

In Tucson, Pima County Attorney's Office investigator Taite Gibson enjoys her job. However, recently she has become concerned with doing field work as a growling werewolf shadows her. Besides having problems accepting there is such a paranormal species, Taite wonders why the creature seems to be stalking her.

When the threat turns physical into dangerous assaults, Taite knows she needs professional help. The only person she can think of is British expatriate horror writer Ryder Merrick, who has the reputation of knowing everything you need to know about werewolves but were afraid to ask. She travels to Ryder’s isolated private island to consult with him. However, Ryder’s werewolf expertise and his life as a hermit are intertwined because he hides from society to contain the beast that he cannot control especially when the moon is full and a beautiful woman is near. His greatest test begins as the moon will soon be full and lovely Taite has arrived, a woman he is attracted to as man and beast. Neither is aware she has been followed.

Taite as a woman in peril from a supernatural beast makes DARING THE MOON a fun paranormal romantic suspense. She carries the load holding the fast-paced story line together while two males “want” her. Ryder is somewhat a throwback lycan with his brooding and moans about trying not to harm others, but now faces the ultimate test of his will. Sub-genre readers will enjoy Sherrill Quinn’s fun werewolf romantic suspense.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Smart Girls Think Twice-Cathie Linz

Smart Girls Think Twice
Cathie Linz
Berkley, Jan 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425226483

Boston sociologist Emma Riley returns to her hometown of Rock Creek, Pennsylvania to attend the weddings of her two sisters and to conduct some local research. However, coming home also places a strain on Emma as she is a victim of déjà vu when she is caught in the middle of her family battles, a role she is quite good at but prefers not to do anymore.

When dependable Emma meets rebel without a cause Jake, she is shocked how attracted she is to him. Jake feels likewise although he cannot understand why he wants the seemingly always mellowing too smart Emma; thus he refuses to act on his desire until he realizes she rejects him as being too rebellious, too much a hunk, and worse too stupid for her. Trying to prove he is her intellectual equal although he hides his secret agenda as to why he is in town from her, they fall in love. Yet each wonders how much they will need to compromise of their essence as they both understand how polar opposites they are in outlook.

Fascinatingly although the premise of lifestyle opposites falling in love has been done a zillion times, Cathie Linz keeps her delightful counterparty romance amusing mostly because of Emma’s dilemmas that make Jake feel somewhat like a snake as he rejects family roles. Whereas Emma does not like to make waves so she effortlessly returns to her expected family function of referee and arbitrator in time for dealing with wedding nonsense; Jake relishes making tsunamis to keep his family away. Smart sub-genre fans will not have to think twice about reading this humorous opposites attract romance.

Harriet Klausner

Warrior of the Highlands-Veronica Wolff

Warrior of the Highlands
Veronica Wolff
Berkley, Jan 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425226759

Harvard University graduate student Haley Fitzpatrick is doing her dissertation on early modern historical weapons although her faculty advisor loathes her topic as being insignificant in the modern world. When she comes across an odd sword circa 1675 and a painting of her with the long dead Highland brutal warrior Alasdair “MacColla” McDonald, she is shocked. She is unaware that a seventeenth century witch Finona doing the bidding of the Campbells has placed a curse on the sword to insure MacColla’s bride comes to distract his mind from war.

Back in modern day Boston when she touches the weapon, Haley is propelled back in time to 1675. As MacColla rescues his sister from his enemy the Campbell clan, he captures a stunned Haley near their encampment. He assumes she is a spy while she knows he is a vicious cold killer. However, as they fall in love, he realizes she is no Campbell agent and she concludes he loathes having to shed one drop of blood even that of his foes. She also sadly knows he will soon die in battle.

WARRIORS OF THE HIGHLANDS is an engaging time travel romance starring a strong pairing as Haley learns first hand that to the victors goes the history books as her beloved is nothing liked the modern day depiction of him. Although she adapts too easily to being sent back over three centuries ago, fans will enjoy Veronica Wolff’s fine tale as the author blends in real persona to anchor the time and place. Readers will enjoy the saga of twenty-first century Harvard meets seventeenth century Highlander.

Harriet Klausner

Seduced at Midnight- Jacquie D'Alessandro

Seduced at Midnight
Jacquie D'Alessandro
Berkley, Jan 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425226759

In 1820 strange paranormal occurrences happen in Mayfair that parallel the plot of a novel The Ghost of Devonshire Manor that the Ladies Literary Society is reading; the London Times mentions ghosts in their article on the robbery-murders of two aristocrats. Worried for his daughter’s safety Lord Bradley hires Bow Street Runner Gideon Mayne to protect his daughter, Lady Julianne. When her dad introduces Julianne to Gideon, she recognizes him as the man she has been waiting for since she began dreaming of love.

Gideon and Julianne understand they are unsuited as she must make a match within her social class. Still as their desire for one another explodes, Gideon remains dedicated to what matters most: keeping his beloved safe from human or ghost.

This entertaining Regency romantic suspense plays out on two levels that nicely converge into a wonderful tale. First there is the “forbidden” romance between the lady and the bodyguard, which has been the theme of many books and movies (for instance the Costner-Houston film The Bodyguard). However the second subplot brings freshness with the Ladies Literary Society (and much of London) asking do you believe in ghosts as the lead duo get embroiled in the robbery murders. Once again Jacquie D'Alessandro will keep her the audience up past Midnight (see CONFESSIONS AT MIDNIGHT and SLEEPLESS AT MIDNIGHT).

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Heart of Courage-Kat Martin

Done Heart of Courage
Kat Martin
Mira, Jan 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778326090

In 1844 London, Lindsey Graham writes a gossip column under the pseudonym "Lady Smart" for Heart to Heart, a ladies' gazette. She enjoys the galas she attends listening serendipitously to secrets and trysts that she can reveal. However, she is stunned when scandal slams her family as her hedonistic brother Rudy is arrested for the Covent Garden murders.

Lindsey plans to prove her sibling’s innocence by investigating the homicides. That means she will make inquiries into dens of iniquity, brothels and opium holes like her brother frequented. Her Gazette editor Krista Hart Draugr’s brother-in-law Thor Draugr will not allow her to visit brothels and opium pits without him; he proclaims himself her bodyguard to her chagrin. As they argue and investigate they fall in love, but besides seeking a serial killer, he knows his station is way too low to be considered as her equal.

The third Heart Victorian romantic suspense mystery (see HEART OF FIRE and HEART OF HONOR) is a terrific tale starring two likable lead characters investigating the Covent Garden homicides. The story line is fast-paced with solid twists as the clues take the two amateur sleuths and the audience on an interesting tour of London; the final spin is superb. Readers will enjoy Kat Martin’s fun trilogy especially the final thriller as the gossip columnist and the brother in law balance falling in love with conducting their dangerous inquiry.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

For the Love of Pete-Julia Harper

For the Love of Pete
Julia Harper
Forever, Jan 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 0446619183

In Chicago, poet Zoey Addler is stunned when she sees hit man Neil Janiowski abducting her baby niece Pete. However, the spunky woman reacts instantly leaping into the car of FBI Special Agent Dante “Lips of Sin” Torelli insisting he give chase. Dante needs no urging as his current task is to keep Pete's father safe especially from the mob, as he is under a federal witness protection program.

Needing a minute to take care of business Neil leaves Pete and his own infant son alone in the car. Indian sisters-in-law Savita-di and Pratima Gupta hijack his car in order to regain the valuable top quality saffron he stole from them. The two women are stunned to realize they have children inside the vehicle. Meanwhile Dante struggles with keeping impish Zoey in line as he tries to find and rescue Pete. However, besides losing his heart, he may lose his freedom as someone inside the agency has set him up as the kidnapper.

This is a wild zany Chicago joy ride from the moment he with Lips of Sin steals sassy Zoey’s parking spot, the only one not buried under January snow and never slows down as the opposites fall in love. Readers will laugh out loud at the antics of Zoey as she drives Dante crazy with her chatter, comments, and overall insanity; he had no choice but to fall in love. Fans will enjoy Julia Harper’s second jocular Midwest FBI romantic suspense (see HOT).

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Beloved Captive-Kathleen Y'Barro

Beloved Captive
Kathleen Y'Barro
Barbour, Nov 2008, $10.97
ISBN: 9781602602304

In 1836 wealthy Emilie Gayarre has finally learned the truth about her heritage that ironically even the family servants knew. She no longer believes the truth will set everyone free though she believes it helped her father whose deathbed confession cleared his conscience before he met the Lord. Still part of her remains in denial even as she knows it is true that dad told her the truth that her biological mother was a slave.

Although still in shock, Emilie leaves New Orleans by sea to return to teaching the kids of Fairweather Keys, Florida. On the Caribbean crossing, she meets Naval Commander Caleb Spencer. They are attracted to one another, but she conceals her mixed heritage while he struggles to overcome his family’s dark past starting with his mother the pirate, his grandfather’s illegal activity and worse his father the politician; their felonious escapades have stymied his military career. As they fall in love, she fears her students will be sent to other Keys for their education by an activist judge since there is no school-building on Fairweather. She also worries how her Caleb will react to a slave’s blood flowing through her at a time he struggles to surmount his family obstacles while someone wants to cut him out permanently of his Caribbean inheritance.

The sequel to BELOVED CASTAWAY is a fabulous historical romantic action adventure thriller that holds the readers’ captive from the moment Emilie and Caleb meet as each is attracted to the other, but hiding something from their beloved. The story line starts as a straightforward Americana romance but splits into two subplots following the separate escapades of each lead character learning to accept their ancestry before merging back together into a dynamic finish. As always Kathleen Y'Barbo provides an entertaining deep soul searching tale that in this case at times is more an action historical story than a romance.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ransom My Heart-Juliette Fay

Ransom My Heart
Princess Mia Thermopolis with Meg Cabot
Avon, Jan 2009, $13.95
ISBN 9780061700071

In 1291 Stephensgate, England the miller Crais’ oldest daughter Mellana is pregnant with the father being a traveling troubadour. Since the family has no money set aside for a dowry, Mellana’s prospects for marriage is zero unless she takes direct action. She persuades her sister Finn to assist her by kidnapping for ransom a wealthy man.

After due diligence, they decide on an Earl just back from the Crusades. Finn abducts Hugh Fitzstephen, who has plenty of gold and jewels that he brought home from his overseas venture. Fitzstephen acts docile more out of curiosity than any threat from his guard. However, to both their shock, Finn and Hugh are attracted to one another, complicating an already out of control plan.

This is an amusing medieval romance “written” by Mia with Meg Cabot’s help. Fans of the author will understand who Mia is especially if they read the last Princess Diaries entry while newcomers will seek her previous starring work. The story line is fast-paced, humorous and at times zany once the gender battle takes shape. Fans will appreciate this fun historical romance, in which the Princess is donating the profit to Greenpeace.

Harriet Klausner

Shelter Me-Juliette Fay

Shelter Me
Juliette Fay
Avon, Jan 2009, $13.95
ISBN 9780061673399

In Pelham, Massachusetts, thirty-eight years old Janie LaMarche is stunned to learn her husband Robby died in a motorcycle accident. She needs to grieve, but must hide her inner torment from their two preschool aged children, Dylan and toddler Carly. Each, but especially the older Dylan questions when will daddy come home?

As a pleasant surprise for his wife, before Robby died four months ago, he hired contractor Tug Malinowski to build a screened-in porch. Divorcee Tug is stunned how attracted he is to the new widow although he tries to hide his feelings out of respect for her grief. She in turn finds herself shockingly wanting someone else who she knows should be beyond temptation; which adds to her overall depression.

Janie is a complete character who owns the novel as she mourns her loss yet tries to put up a strong front for her bewildered children. Her journal entries display her confusion, her fears, and her grief as she doubts she will be able to cope as a single mom raising two children feeling overwhelmed by her trials and tribulations. The two new men in her life add to her overall bewilderment. Juliet Fay provides a deep character study focusing on a depressed person, buried in grief and fear with no outlet for her stress that she hides from her kids while also over time starts to marvel about the beauty and wonder of life.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Secret Bride-Sharol Louise

Secret Bride
Sharol Louise
Five Star, Jan 2009, $25.95
ISBN 9781594147180

In 1794 Viscount Damion Templeton believes his beloved grandmother is dying. He would do anything for her so when she asks him to marry, he knows he must find a bride or better yet hire someone he can introduce to his grandmother as his fiancée. Once his grandma dies, they would end the sham engagement.

Damion hires impoverished schoolteacher Alix Adams to pose as his intended. His ruse works perfect except for two things. His grandmother is not dying and he has fallen in love with his actress. Alix reciprocates even as his past rises to cause him further havoc and threatens his wealth.

Although the theme of a fake engagement has been done a zillion times this late Georgian romance is a warm tale due to the two likable protagonists who like the readers and his grandma know early on they belong together. The story line is breezy and light with the conflict coming from external sources who never quite come across as full blooded sinister villains. Still SECRET BRIDE is an enjoyable fun read as Damion finds more than a fake fiancee, he finds true love.

Harriet Klausner

Passion Flowers-Molly Charles

Passion Flowers
Molly Charles
Five Star, Jan 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594147517

Seattle resident Leigh Cole hates wide open water ever since a childhood tragedy so she wonders why she is flying over the Pacific to Hawaii even as she knows the answer is she owes her boss seventy-eight year old Kearny Enterprises CEO Olivia Kearny for mentoring her. Olivia is ill and wants to see her estranged grandson whom she raised when his parents died in an accident.

At Mike’s Banyon Grill, Olivia meets Deke who is Olivia’s grandson. He refuses to go home as he does not believe her and besides he is a single dad raising his son Sammy. However, he reconsiders his options when Sammy’s mother Courtney who abandoned the child at birth tries to blackmail Deke into giving her money or face a custody challenge by her father, an Illinois senator. His lawyer advises him to avoid Washington State because he can probably win a court case on the islands, but it is not as likely on the mainland. Deke and Leigh fall in love, but he does not trust businesswomen or her agenda in particular while she never obtained closure from that childhood trauma that still haunts her today.

This is an interesting family drama with a contemporary romantic subplot accentuating the relationship issues between the generations. For instance Leigh blames herself for the tragedy while her dad believes she blames him as he does too; their inability to communicate makes the suffering worse for them and her mom. Communication is also a problem between Deke and his grandma. Although the Courtney subplot showcases her desperation to do anything, it seems over the top by those demanding money from her. Still even with the late suspense that appears out of place for the loan sharks, fans will relish this solid tale of healing relationships.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Embracing Midnight-Devyn Quinn

Embracing Midnight
Devyn Quinn
Kensington Aphrodisia, Dec 2008, $12.95
ISBN: 9780758216540

Undercover FBI Agent Callie Whitten is trying to catch serial killer Iollan Drake. When she finally catches up with the clever predator, he seduces her; leaving her bewildered as to why he failed to kill her and irate with herself not so much for failing to capture him but because she wants him.

Iollan is a vampire who has met his blood match in the courageous obstinate Fed. She arouses him like no one has and he understands fully why he is addicted to her as she is his one. However, convincing her to join him as his partner proves vexing except in the boudoir. As she begins to fall in love with him, she struggles to overcome her belief she is also betraying her country and her agency where she cannot forget she pledged her loyalty.

EMBRACING MIDNIGHT is a terrific vampiric erotic romantic suspense starring a typical modern day vampire and his more intriguing blood match. Callie is the key to the fast-paced with fabulous twists story line; she feels pulled in two opposite loyalties over failing her country or her heart. Fans will relish this engaging paranormal police procedural romance as a distraught Callie must choose.

Harriet Klausner

Carnal Desires-Crystal Jordan

Carnal Desires
Crystal Jordan
Kensington Aphrodisia, Dec 2008, $13.95
ISBN: 9780758228994

"In Heat". Although he grieves too, Iger King Vesperi wants his soul mate at his side; however he knows to achieve this he must help his Queen Mahalia the snow tigress to move pass the death of their child.

"In Smoke". Mahalia's friend Lady Katryn returns home to join the harem of Lord Nadir as his mate, but she must adjust to his were-dragon culture that looks at relationships differently than hers; her new mate and his other mate Lord Tarkesh welcome her with open arms and wings.

“In Mist.". Dr. Sera Gibbons is part of a near extinct species, purebred humans as she is one of the last two survivors having been cryogenically frozen five centuries ago and only recently revived. Merman Bretton Hahn saved her life, but as they fall in love his Mer culture rejects a mating between one of them and one of those inferior land dwellers.

This futuristic heated science fiction romance anthology is engagingly refreshing as humanity has genetically engineered the species into several differing genus, which leads to creative sexual encounters in a racist world. Although the novella format leaves the plots thin, fans will want crystallized full length sagas of bi-species star-crossed love tales in the Jordanian future earth.

Harriet Klausner

Primal Male-Sasha White

Primal Male
Sasha White
Kensington Aphrodisia, Dec 2008, $13.95
ISBN: 9780758226611

Empath Drake Wheeler survives by hiding his feelings from the world. However, he worries about teenage Nadya’s lack of ability to control her shapeshifting skills.

He has new hopes when he meets purebred shapeshifter Melissa Montrose in her town although she hides her legacy from her neighbors. He wants her to mentor Nadya. However, although attracted to the enigmatic outsider, she does not trust him ever since a hunter murdered her friend for she fears he is the rogue killer. To his shock, the empathic cannot hide his feelings for Melissa and fears for her safety. They need to rely on one another if they are to prevent a killer from murdering again.

The sequel to SEXY DEVIL is an interesting erotic romantic fantasy that lacks the typical non stop action psychic thrillers expected of a Sasha White thriller. Still Drake and Melissa is an interesting match up as she thinks he is a rogue hunter of shapeshifters while the return of the psychic Devlin siblings and their respective soul mates (from SEXY DEVIL) enhance the tale. Although at times too flaccid (except for that male body part), Ms. White’s fans will overall enjoy Drake’s efforts to persuade Melissa that he is not the menace and they belong together fueled by love in order to stop a psychopath predator from killing again.

Harriet Klausner

Running Wild-Lucinda Betts

Running Wild
Lucinda Betts
Kensington Aphrodisia, Dec 2008, $12.95
ISBN: 9780758222169

Her kingdom is patriarchal with women having no rights except what their spouse or father might grant them; in those cases within the home. Any female who allegedly violates the strict legal code of conduct is beheaded with their head placed on a pike as a warning for other rebellious feminists. Princess Shahrazad was raised in such an environment in which being a royal female means nothing.

On the other hand Prince Tahir grew up in the opposite type of kingdom, women rule in the matriarchal in which young boys offer nothing until they are old enough to be bull breeders. A magician turns Shahrazad turns into a winged horse Pegaz during the daylight to fight demons. When they meet Tahir needs Princess Shahrazad to save his sister the monarch and defeat a demon; afterward to find a way to end the spell and make her his.

More fantasy than romance, RUNNING WILD is an exciting tale of two kingdoms in which the caste systems radically differ. Thus when the two royals meet, they both are submissives used to the other gender being dominant. Although too much is going on in the story line especially with the Shahrazad flying horse subplot that takes away from the prime theme of two people trained to obey falling in love with each needing the other to lead in their relationship and in their battle against an evil demon. Still fans will enjoy Lucinda Betts heated romantic fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Talk Me Down-Victoria Dahl

Talk Me Down
Victoria Dahl
Harlequin HQN, Han 2009, $6.99
ISBN 9780373773565

Molly Jennings uses an alias to write erotic romances. When she comes home to Tumble Creek, Colorado after a decade away, she plans to keep her income maker secret. She also realizes that she still is attracted to Ben Lawson, who has since become the police chief.

Ben is shocked by how much he desires Molly. However, he refuses to act on his need until she confesses to him how she makes money. He soon changes his mind when he fears for her safety from a nosy reporter who wants to uncover how she makes money, her former husband and other dangerous incidents. Ben needs to be next to his beloved to keep her from being harmed even if she fears the closeness.

Although some threads are left unanswered, TALK ME DOWN is an engaging police procedural romantic suspense starring two likable protagonists and a town of enchanting eccentrics. The story line is a lighthearted romantic mystery that fans will relish as Ben and Molly (sound like an ice cream company) stage a wonderful Rocky Mountains gender war.

Harriet Klausner

Mistress of Mellyn-Victoria Holt

Mistress of Mellyn
Victoria Holt
St. Martin’s, Jan 2009, $13.95
ISBN: 0312384157

After their parents died, sisters Martha and Phillida Leigh moved in with Aunt Adelaide. She sponsors a season for each of her wards with Phillida making a good match while Martha failed. Now twenty-four years old and considered on the shelf, Martha has only one course of action: accepting a governess position, which is not easy to attain for someone with no experience.

However, Martha is fortunate that widower Lord Connan Tremellyn needs a governess for his difficult Alvean, who has recently run off three in one year; although in fairness the last one was actually run off by Connan's mistress Lady Treslyn accusing her of theft. As Martha tries to help the troubled Alvean, she falls in love with her employer. However, she begins to learn secrets that make her wonder what happened to Connan’s first wife Alice as she now believes the woman did not “elope” with the neighbor Geoffrey Nansellock as his sister Celestine claims and that Alvean is not Connan’s biological daughter. Her only ally she trusts is Geoffrey's mentally challenged other daughter Gillyflower when she realizes someone wants her dead; perhaps Connan.

This is a reprint of a 1980s gothic romantic suspense that is fun to read though does show some age as adhering to the rules in place back then for this sub-genre. Martha is marvelous as the beleaguered heroine wondering if the brooding hunk she loves is a murderer. With the Cornish castle serving as a backdrop, the gothic audience especially the fans of the late great Victoria Holt will enjoy the MISTRESS OF MELLYN.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, November 10, 2008

Free Pass-Elizabeth Scott

Free Pass
Elizabeth Scott
NAL, Dec 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780451225030

The three couples have each been happily married for over six years. All six are friends enjoying each other’s company on occasion. However, as they approach their seventh year of marriage, each has an itch to explore more than just their beloved mates, but none want to risk their relationship with their significant other. However, they agree to a one time FREE PASS with strangers.

In Miami, Cherisse and Wesley are on a vacation when he using his telescope as good as any peeping Tom could and notices the impish wicked beauty while she covets their lifeguard. At her House of Fit health club Melanie decides on a special exercise program with a visiting guest while her husband Thomas initially watches with a bulging third leg until he joins the ménage. In Greece, Debra and Gordon watch with their tongues hanging out and other body parts wet, a Russian couple putting on a love making XXX performance in which they double the pleasure.

With an irreverent nod to the classic movie The Seven Year Itch, FREE PASS is a fun definitely over the top erotic romance. The story line is hot, hotter, and hottest as the couples widen their sexual escapades. Although no one is fully developed beyond the itch, Elizabeth Scott provides a torrid tale that sub-genre fans will enjoy.

Harriet Klausner

Double the Pleasure-Lori Foster, Deirdre Martin, Jacquie D’Alessandro and Penny McCall

Double the Pleasure
Lori Foster, Deirdre Martin, Jacquie D’Alessandro and Penny McCall
Berkley, Dec 2008, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425224069

“Deuces Wild” by Lori Foster. Wanting to hide his training to join the Supreme Battle Challenge from his family while he trains, Hart Winston persuades his twin brother Dexter to pretend to be him. Dexter reluctantly moves into Hart’s apartment. However, Dexter falls in love with Hart’s neighbor middle school secretary Christy Nash who believes he is Hart.

“The Luck of the Irish” by Deirdre Martin. In Hell’s Kitchen, divorcee Maggie O’Brien and Irish Green Card immigrant Brendan Kelly meet when he assist his Uncle Joe in renovating her family’s Wild Hart Pub. They are attracted to one another, but she is reluctant to act after a bad marriage.

“Your Room or Mine?” by Jacquie D’Alessandro. Java Heaven CEO Gavin Laine informs his CFO Jack Warden that the accountants will attend a team building weekend at Lake Lanier’s Casa di Lago hosted by consultant Madeline “Mad Dog” Price. Jack and Madeline detest their attraction to one another; each expects fireworks at the Georgia resort, but neither is prepared for what occurs between them nor the betrayal.

“Double the Danger: by Penny McCall. Dr. Abigail West moved to Pottersville, under 200 miles from Chicago, from DC to be near her only living relative, her grandfather, but remains an outsider to the “Pottersvillains”. When she opens up a body bag to conduct an autopsy her college lover Drake, who vanished abruptly ten years ago without a trace, steps out alive. He explains he is FBI and they along with her grandfather are in danger. She assumes it is her heart from him

These are four fun well written contemporary romances that contain reasonably deep lead characters. Although the Penny McCall entry feels out of place with its police procedural suspense plot, fans will appreciate the strong quartet of tales with the bonus of Winston twins starring in Lori Foster’s fine contribution.

Harriet Klausner

Heating Up the Holidays-Jill Shalvis, Jacquie D'Alessandro and Jamie Sobrato

Heating Up the Holidays
Jill Shalvis, Jacquie D'Alessandro and Jamie Sobrato
Harlequin Blaze, Dec 2008, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373794393

All He Wants For Christmas by Jill Shalvis. Ocean Harbor Beach, California Emergency Medical technician Dustin Mauer and town firefighter Cristina Lewis share similar wishes for the holidays as both wants the other. However he needs more than a one night stand or even the twelve nights of Christmas while the brave woman would dare building infernos but not one of the heart as she runs from commitments.

My Grown-Up Christmas List by Jacquie D'Alessandro. Florist Toni Rizzo wants nothing to do with egotistical firefighters except to sell them flowers. However, Ocean harbor fireman Brad Griffin wants her not her floral arrangements.

Up On The Housetop by Jamie Sobrato. Dr. Lorelei Gibson returns home to Ocean harbor in order to move on as she never forgot her high school sweetheart who broke her heart when he dumped her. Her plan is to break his heart like firefighter Ryan Quinn did hers. However, she never expected him to rescue her from her rooftop when she was almost naked. She wonders if lighting can strike in the same place.

These are three heated delightful Yuletide romances starring firefighters and their soulmates.

Harriet Klausner

Restless-Tori Carrington

Tori Carrington
Harlequin Blaze, Dec 2008, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373794430

Her married boyfriend Jerry informs lawyer Lizzie Gilbred by text message that he is returning “2 Jen”, his wife. She has remained upset since receiving his cold message seven days ago, but is now ready to take action. Tired of being a loser because she has been a caring good girl, Lizzie decides no more Ms. nice girl. She chooses her renter grunge garage musician Patrick Gauge as her bad boy target.

Gauge is Dion’s Wanderer, who is “never in one place” as he “roams from town to town” but sadly “going nowhere”. However his libido explodes when his landlady proves not to be a frozen tin Lizzie as she seduces him. They share what each thinks is the greatest sexual trysts of their respective lives. As they begin to fall in love, Gauge the “king of the road” considers fleeing; his normal response to any serious commitment since he went homeless, However this time he knows leaving will be more than sweet sorrow; it will be the hardest departure of all as his Lizzie makes him believe in him and them.

Gauge is the key to this terrific contemporary romance as his love for Lizzie and her encouraging nurturing enables him to begin to heal and return to what he once was; only greater now because of her. Lizzie is a bit more typical of the prim and proper good girl determined to test the bad girl waters, but Gauge brings out both sides. Team Tori Carrington provides a superior character driven tale as Lizzie, readers and even Gauge wonder if the boy is back in town fighting for love or picking flight.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Pre-nup-Beth Kendrick

The Pre-nup
Beth Kendrick
Bantam, Dec 2008, $12.00
ISBN: 9780553591507

In Mayfair Estates best friends Ellie Barton, Jen Finnerty and Mara Stroebel are having male issues. Ellie's spouse Michael who on the surface is the poster boy for the ideal husband and father appears to be having a red hot affair. Eric loves Jen, but is thinking of dumping her because he believes she no longer reciprocates his feelings. Mara and her fiancé Josh seem to fight over every little thing starting with the critical prenuptial agreement.

Each of the three amigas is upset with their so called significant other. However, instead of weakening in their resolve, the trio gains strength through their deepening friendship. They abide by Dumas’s mantra “as one for all and all for one” has meaning to the threesome with being there for one another regardless of the male relationship outcome.

Rotating points of view shows the perspectives of each of the women including how they perceive themselves and fascinatingly their two other best friends. The men in their lives come across much thinner as for the most part the life in these males is seen predominately through the eyes of their significant other. Thus the reader never fully sees the viewpoints of Michael, Eric or Josh. Fans of sisterhood contemporary romances will enjoy following the escapades of the three Mayfair Estates musketeers as the buddies navigate the shark infested relationship waters.

Harriet Klausner

No Place Like Home-Margaret Watson

No Place Like Home
Margaret Watson
Harlequin SuperRomance, Dec 2008, $5.50
ISBN: 0373715315315

In Green Bay, single mom Bree McInnes takes an administrative assistant position at Collier College where her father once taught. On her first day on the job, she meets renowned orchid hunter Professor Parker Ellison and to her chagrin she is attracted to the abrupt demanding botanist.

However, although he reciprocates, his desire to obtain her father’s papers make Bree wonder if he cares only for the documents and just using her to get at them. Additionally, the father of her tweener child wannabe herpetologist Charlie, who is taking Parker’s Introduction to Biology summer class as a special student, is also at the college making waves. Bree is used to running from adversity while Parker is used to running from relationships.

The second McInnes triplet’s contemporary romance (See A PLACE LIKE HOME) is a fabulous tale starring two adults used to running away and a precocious tweener whose intellect leaves him as an outsider; Bree’s sisters also make a return engagement. The cast is fully developed while the story line focuses on misconceptions between the lead couple. Whereas Parker assumes that Bree is pushing Charlie to take a college class when she would refer he played with kids his age; Bree believes Parker wants her to get at her dad’s research papers. Fans will enjoy the second McInnes homecoming tale.

Harriet Klausner

Meant for Each Other-Lee Duran

Meant for Each Other
Lee Duran
Harlequin SuperRomance, Dec 2008, $5.50
ISBN: 0373715358

Although they are divorced Frankie Hale never stopped loving her former husband Johnny Davis. Thus when she receives a call in the middle of the night learning he was in a car accident due to crashing after skidding on icy road conditions and suffering an apaprent heart attack, Frankie waits until daylight to rush to St. Louis to be at his side. In town she goes immediately to Memorial Hospital in spite of horrific weather conditions and icy roads.

On the way over, Frankie muses over the past with her beloved Johnny and prays he will be okay. Johnny is euphoric to see his soulmate and tells her he loves her and misses her. They agree to remarry; hoping the fourth time between them is the permanent charm.

This is an intriguing romance starring two fascinating but underdeveloped characters. Much of the tale occurs in the past using flashbacks as readers learn the ballad of Frankie and Johnny contains three refrains and the beginning of a fourth though that is never fully explored. Obviously MEANT FOR EACH OTHER fans will wonder how long marriage number four will survive.

Harriet Klausner

His Only Defense-Carolyn McSparren

His Only Defense
Carolyn McSparren
Harlequin SuperRomance, Dec 2008, $5.50
ISBN: 0373715323

While working a nasty situation, Shelby County Police Negotiator Liz Gibson is shot; worse she is mentally shattered when a hostage she was trying to free was murdered. Liz carries survivor guilt as she keeps going over what happened to see what she could have done differently.

While still traumatized, Liz is assigned cold cases. Currently she is investigating the disappearance of the wife of builder Jud Slaughter seven years ago. Everyone even his stepdaughter and other family members believe Jud killed his spouse. After interviewing him, Liz believes he is not only innocent but he has no idea what happened to his spouse. However, she also knows that her attraction to Jud may make her see the case through rose colored glasses. Either way she plans to uncover the truth.

This superb police procedural romance stars two emotionally scarred individuals who meet due to her investigation. Liz is terrific as she falls in love with her prime suspect but keeps her professionalism even if it means the end of her relationship before it truly begins. Jud is frustrated as everyone including the new cop in his life who has given him back his feelings assumes he killed his wife. Readers will appreciate this strong contemporary Tennessee thriller as Carolyn McSparren keeps the audience wondering is he a victim or a psychopath.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Ecstasy-Jacquelyn Frank

Jacquelyn Frank
Zebra, Jan 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780821780701

Ashla Townsend has been in a New York devoid of people and light with no idea how she got there or what happened to the sun. She is overjoyed to see another person, but her euphoria turns to abject fear when another man arrives trying to kill the first person. Both men are shocked that Ashla can see them because only Shadowdwellers are able to see one another. Trace kills Baylor, but is mortally injured; Ashla saves his life using her healing hands.

Trace assumes that Ashla must be one of the Lost, a wraith whose body is in a coma in Realscape. As a Shadowdweller Trace cannot cope with any form of light, but to remain only in the shadows typically leads to madness. Trace is further stunned that he has feelings for Ashla as she is the first woman in a dozen years he trusts,. He escorts Ashla to his people, but neither is safe there even though the clan wars ended with the Chancellors solidifying their power; some rebels want the peace broken with Ashla and Trace being perfect targets. She risks her life to heal Trace even while a traitor plots to kill both of them.

With her Demon series over, Jacquelyn Frank begins a new romantic urban fantasy saga that fans of the author will find radically different and refreshing. Readers will love this strong provocative and evocative tale that digs deep into the Shadowdweller society. Trace is honorable and yet caring about his people with an ironic emphasis on punishing rule-breakers. The sub-genre audience will be in ECSTASY with this superb thriller and look forward to more light and dark Shadowdweller entries.

Harriet Klausner

Unlaced- Jaci Burton, Jasmine Haynes, Joey W. Hill and Denise Rossetti

Jaci Burton, Jasmine Haynes, Joey W. Hill and Denise Rossetti
Berkley, Dec 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425223819

“The Ties That Bind" by Jaci Burton. Divorced fifteen years ago but still in love, Lisa and Rick would not mind a second chance together.

"Undone" by Jasmine Haynes. Margo feels undone after meeting Dirk, but shocked when she learns what his vocation is.

"Controlled Response" by Joey W. Hill. Due to meeting Lucas, Cassandra knows she no longer needs to hide her deepest ardent emotions; as she can finally let it all hang out.

"Rubies and Black Velvet" by Denise Rossetti. To win the heart of Meg, John must destroy an evil sorceress’ corset.

Tongue in cheek, or perhaps corset in cheek is more apropos as that sexy garb connects these four erotic well written heated romances as the heroes understand their assignments starts with unlacing.

Harriet Klausner

What a Pirate Desires-Michelle Beattie

What a Pirate Desires
Michelle Beattie
Berkley, Dec 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425224939

In 1661 one thing drives Samantha Fine; vengeance against vicious Captain Dervish for what he did five years ago in the Caribbean. He is the reason she became pirate Captain Sam Steele, whose loyal crew know her gender but none will gossip about this factoid because they successfully raid merchant and pirate vessels. They are so good Captain Sam is the most feared person on the sea.

The only person besides her crew to know Sam’s gender is incarcerated Luke Bradley, a former member of Dervish’s cruel crew. Sam rescues Luke demanding he will lead her to Dervish. As they become acquainted with one another while arguing they fall in love, but both agree that destroying Dervish whom they each loathes comes before any future plans beyond that.

This terrific seventeenth century High Seas pirate romance works because Samantha comes across as an avenging sea-she pirate captain. Her verbal battles with Luke are amusing with word play sharper than sword play. Fans will enjoy this fine at sea cat and mouse tale while wondering whether it will be Sam, Samantha, or neither to survive the expected combat with Dervish.

Harriet Klausner

Behind the Shadows- Patricia Potter

Behind the Shadows
Patricia Potter
Berkley, Dec 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425224908

With her beloved mom Katy dying and in need of a kidney, Atlanta reporter Kira Douglas offers one of hers. However, the blood test results affirm they are not just incomparable, but it a 100% certainty that Katy is not her biological mother.

Kira carefully talks to her mom and soon concludes that Katy is unaware that they are not biological mom-daughter. She concludes that somehow a switch occurred over three decades ago. Her private investigative friend Chris Burke helps Kira find the most logical candidate, Leigh Howard, heir to the Westerfield fortune. Leigh’s attorney Max Payton fiercely protects his client as he assumes Kira is pulling a scam. However, he reconsiders his opinion re Kira when someone tries to kill her.

The concept of baby switching at birth has been done many times, but Patricia Potter provides a strong fresh entry. The story line is action-packed once Katy learns the truth, and is driven by her need to know what happened, find a kidney match with her mom’s DNA daughter and to meet her biological family as well. Her desires turn nasty starting with Max who distrusts the newcomer and worse for her besides wanting the outraged lawyer when someone stalks her. Readers will relish this fast-paced one sitting double the fun romantic suspense thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Stormy Weather-Geri Buckley

Stormy Weather
Geri Buckley
Berkley, Dec 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425219492

In the Florida Panhandle having just turned fifty and being married to the same man for thirty of them, Vonda Kay Thayer looks forward to the future with her husband as she believes they live the American dream. Vonda also fantasizes of the time when their teens move on as empty nest sounds heavenly even though her in-law will still be there. Everything changes when she catches Jerome cheating. Upset, Vonda decides to move on without him though she has two teenage daughters (Charlotte and Caroline) and a crusty mother-in-law at home.

However, before she tests her new vision, twin responsibilities leap into her lap. First her pregnant oldest daughter Amelie returns to the already insane fold followed by her ailing father-in-law. When a hurricane hammers the Panhandle, Vonda takes charge of her suddenly expanded family insuring everyone remains safe.

With a chick lit feel even without asides and the dreaded lists, STORMY WEATHER is an amusing yet poignant family drama. Vonda is a superb lead character caught in the eye of the storm even before the hurricane hits. She and the rest of the household and the “douche bag” spouse are fully developed so fans will believe in her ability to take charge during a crisis. Geri Buckley combines humor with seriousness inside an aptly named contemporary tale.

Harriet Klausner

Wicked Burn-Beth Kery

Wicked Burn
Beth Kery
Berkley, Dec 2008, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425224373

In Chicago with so many traumas in her life, no one blames Niall Chandler for hiding from the world. She has had no time to grieve the death of her child or cope with her husband locked away in an institution.

Divorced playwright Vic Savian meets Niall when he intercedes in her rejection of the unwanted advances of Evan Forrester; Vic had seen her twice before and was already attracted to her. She is ready to come out of her shell at least physically; their tryst is heaven in Vic’s mind. However when she prevents his entering her heart and soul, Vic initially thought that was fine but soon realizes that is hell as she gets inside his gut with her nightmarish cries that scream out for hugs. Vic is in love, but her demons make a relationship beyond sex seemingly impossible and then there are the two family intrusions.

This is a poignant contemporary romance starring two scarred lovers who have demons from past relationships. With so much baggage neither feels at first ready for anything more than sex, but soon mindful of the Spinners’ tune And Then Came You makes each reconsider their failed history when it comes to loved ones. Vic soon wants to change the dynamics. Beth Kery provides a deep angst laden tale filled with real characters wanting much more out of life but lessons learned have led to settling for much less.

Harriet Klausner

The Flame-Jean Johnson

The Flame
Jean Johnson
Berkley, Dec 2008, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425224052

The seventh brother Koranen is perhaps the loneliest of the siblings as his skill pyromancy means no passionate touching; he literally burns women. He knows what the prophecy says for him and bolstering his hopes that his bride is an aquamancer as predicted is the recent success of his six brothers in finding their mates. Kor believes she is finally coming to him when four aquamancers from the underwater city of Menomon come to Nightfall to examine the desalinator.

Danau is Kor’s polar opposite as her touch leads to frostbite. Although a pariah in terms of personal relationship, she is in charge of the Menomon delegation. Her icy persona hides her lonely heart, but also angers Kor who wants nothing to do with the frozen beauty. However, destiny could not care less what either thinks even as evil has creeped onto the island.

Events are reaching a climax as Johnson delivers the penultimate chapter in her magical Sons of Destiny series. Watching these characters and this new monarchy develop has been pure fun, with practical kingdom-building considerations mixing cleverly with high-risk danger. Johnson's impressive talent is on full display.

Though somewhat a set up for the grand finale tale in this terrific romantic fantasy saga, this seventh Sons of Destiny tale is kept fresh and exciting by the uniqueness of the lead couple as he is fire and she is ice. Separately they are loners as no one can touch them without being burned; together they make a perfect match. However, in spite of being destiny's darlings they must overcome their learned response that touching including passion literally burns. Jean Johnson provides a character driven enjoyable book seven.

Harriet Klausner

Night Shadow-Cherry Adair

Night Shadow
Cherry Adair
Ballantine, Dec 2008, $23.00
ISBN: 9780345499738

Besides their employment as Terrorist Force Logistical Assault Command (T-FLAC) operatives Lexi and Alex Stone have only on thing else they share, their identical surname. Alex is an experienced operative who rarely comes in from the cold; Lexi the human works data like a wizard in the office.

The T-FLAC leaders fear super field agent Alex the wizard has joined the enemy as there is proof of his staging terrorist events. They want to confirm their suspicion but know a field pro would be outed rather easily by Alex; they send Lexi who never leaves the office to investigate under the guise of assisting him. If she finds proof she must kill him. Alex is irate with his new partner who obviously has never stepped out of the office controlled climate into the field tundra. He has no time to protect Lexi, as something chilling is occurring around the globe. However she proves useful as her data analysis skills begin to uncover a pattern of terrorist strikes .His foster brothers Lucas Fox (see NIGHT SECRETS) and Simon Blackthorne (see NIGHT FALL) try to help the stunned couple deal with an international threat.

The final T-FLAC romantic suspense espionage urban fantasy is a super thriller that teleports readers around the globe as Lexi and Alex struggle with doppelgangers and love; with the latter being more dangerous. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action as once again Cherry Adair makes her realm seem genuine, but also adds self spoofing humor with the names of her lead couple. The return of the T-FLAC heroes from the previous paranormal spy novels enhance a strong finale that will have fans clamoring for more tales in the Adair environs.

Harriet Klausner

Phantom's Touch- Julie Leto

Phantom's Touch
Julie Leto
Signet, Dec 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 0451224906

Action movie star Lauren Cole wants to be taken seriously as an actress, but is contractually trapped to perform one more thriller as Athena for her ex-husband Ross. She is especially angry with her former spouse because he refused to give her an antique sword he purchased in Germany for her. Lauren steals the weapon.

As Lauren practices with the ancient sword, she liberates warrior Aiden Forsyth from his entrapment inside the weapon. However to his disappointment he is not totally free of the curse that first incarcerated him in 1747 when he tried to rescue his sister from gypsy abduction; he remains a phantom during the day but a human able touch others at night. Neither is prepared for unknown adversaries to covet her sword and attempt to murder those in possession of it.

The second Phantom urban romantic fantasy (see PHANTOM PLEASURES) is an engaging tale in which Hollywood collides with real magic. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action as Lauren tries to prove her skills on the silver screen are genuine in real life. Readers will relish Julie Leto’s outstanding touch; especially with a bewildered Aiden. He struggles with understanding a world that makes no sense as he has seen moving pictures of Lauren in action performing incredible feats of daring do that he could never do; yet though competent she is nowhere near that super level of expertise. This is a exhilarating paranormal thriller starring a strong lead couple and a diabolically vile villain.

Harriet Klausner.

No Words Alone-Autumn Dawn

No Words Alone
Autumn Dawn
Love Spell, Dec 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780505528018

Working as a translator for the Galactic Explorers has not been fun in what should have been an uplifting experience for Lieutenant Xera Harris-d. Her captain is a boorish self-conceited macho idiot and the company he represents cares only about the bottom line. Thus she is not shocked when her vessel and that of the Scorpio race get entangled in hostilities with both crash-landing on a nearby hostile planet.

Shockingly Scorpio, Commander Ryven warns the enemy crew of the dangers and offers to escort them to safety. As the sole woman amidst testosterone-thinking thugs on both sides, Xera expects to be a victim. She especially believes her side starting with her captain is the group to fear the most from so she stays close to the Scorpio hunk as he is probably the only safe situation. When another Scorpio ship rescues everyone, Xera knows she is a POW, but her heart captured by Ryven frightens her the most.

NO WORDS ALONE is an exciting science fiction romance driven by the strong cast on both sides of the conflict. The Galactic Explorer’s crew led by the captain is cutthroat coming across as pirates in space while the Scorpio are more disciplined as a professional military unit. The Romeo and Juliet love story in outer space is well written as the audience sees the first hand cultural divides and taboos inside of the superb Autumn Dawning of a new “universe”.

Harriet Klausner

0n The Prowl- Karen MacInerney

0n The Prowl
Karen MacInerney
Ballantine, Nov 25 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780345496263

After her recent escapades with weres and proving her mom a witch was not a killer (see HOWLING THE MOON) Austin werewolf Sophie Garou plans on keeping a low profile like she used to have before her recent problems. She especially prays the powerful Houston pack ignores her solo existence in the midst of them.

Instead, the pack leadership demands Sophie come to them or else. She has no choice if she wants things to remain positive with her boyfriend Heath and at her accounting firm Withers and Young where she made partner. The Houston pack is outraged by her living inside their territory as strays are normally unacceptable, but what makes her worse in their lupine eyes is that the half-breed has been inside their turf under the werewolf radar screen for a few decades. To make amends and calm their fears of a rogue, she agrees to spy on the San Antonio pack, but quickly realizes she is not a good undercover agent and her new accounting client Southeast Airlines CEO Mark Sydney seems to be sniffing around her an awful lot making her wonder if he is ON THE PROWL with her his target.

The second Garou Texas werewolf tale is a terrific follow-up to a strong opener due to the heroine’s actions and reactions as she no longer can hide under the radar scope. Sophie cannot understand how her world has crumbled so fast. However she is strong perhaps because she is the offspring of a witch and a werewolf; so faces her issues with courage albeit reluctant bravery as she would rather hide. Fans will appreciate her howling adventures that give biting meaning to the modern day wild west.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Secret Heiress-Bethany Campbell

The Secret Heiress
Bethany Campbell
Silhouette Thoroughbred Legacy, Dec 2008, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373199372

Andrew Preston travels to Australia to drum up support there in his race to become president of the International Thoroughbred Racing Federation. However, he runs into some trouble down under that derails his campaign.

At the same time he also meets waitress Marie Lafayette whom he is attracted to. He is stunned when their relationship becomes an issue in the election as his opponent indirectly uses her working class background as a means to paint Andrew negatively. Andrew worries about Marie’s safety as he believes his adversary is willing to do anything, including harming an innocent waitress, to become the next president. However, she has a secret too as her mom on her deathbed revealed that Marie might be the missing heiress to Fairchild Acres

THE SECRET HEIRESS is an intriguing thriller in which the romance plays second fiddle to the tense suspense. Andrew and Marie are a wonderful pairing of opposites as he is a sophisticated affluent male and she is a naive working class female. The two prime subplots (his campaign and her secret) come together nicely enhanced by the romance between them as Bethany Campbell provides a strong Thoroughbred Legacy tale.
Harriet Klausner

An Indecent Proposal-Margot Early

An Indecent Proposal
Margot Early
Silhouette Thoroughbred Legacy, Dec 2008, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373199365

Widow Bronwyn Davies hid from her former lover stockbroker Patrick Stafford that he sired a son with her. However, she feels she made a mistake and decides to inform him that he is ten years old Wesley's dad especially since she is looking for work at his family stable.

She applies for a job at Fairchild Acres, owned by Patrick's great-aunt. Although a decade has past since they last saw one another Patrick steals a kiss and accuses her of sleazy conduct as evidenced by Wesley. Outraged she informs him that he is Wesley’s father. Stunned he demands she grant him joint custody or see him in court. Neither trusts the other, but though not intended they each hurt a confused Wesley with their behavior.

Wesley steals the show from the bickering adults as he (and readers) is bewildered by their baffling childish behavior as much as his confusion over meeting his biological father somewhat unnerves him. The second chance at love romance never hooks the reader because Bronwyn and Patrick place their respective hurt before the preadolescent. The perplexed tweener needs honesty and tender loving care from his parents to help him emotionally cope with the abrupt relationship changes, but only receives that as an afterthought of the second chance reconciliation.

Harriet Klausner

Breaking Free-Loreth Anne White

Breaking Free
Loreth Anne White
Silhouette Thoroughbred Legacy, Dec 2008, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373199358

Aunt Louisa Fairchild and her niece corporate lawyer Megan Stafford were estranged for a long time, but finally reconcile; both are pleased as their disagreement hurt the two relatives. However, Megan is stunned when local Aussie police officer Dylan Hastings arrests Louisa for the arson murder at Lochlain Racing (see DARCI’S PRIDE).

Perhaps it is the accusation, but Louisa suffers a heart attack that hospitalizes her. Megan vows to prove her aunt is innocent. However complicating her emotional state is her attraction to the enemy, Dylan, who feels the same way of about the big city slicker as he too wants his adversary.

This Australian romantic legal-police procedural thriller is an entertaining tale as the urban attorney and the country cop mutually detest their attraction because the other represents every trait they hate in a person; proving love works in mysterious ways. The story line is fascinating as the lead couple argues over whether her aunt is an arsonist killer or not. However, the romance never fully comes across as plausible since the lead couple abruptly and very late breaks free of their stereotypical depiction of their beloved.

Harriet Klausner

Darci's Pride-Jenna Mills

Darci's Pride
Jenna Mills
Silhouette Thoroughbred Legacy, Dec 2008, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373199341

Tyler Preston’s dream of retuning his Lochlain Racing to its former glory has turned into a nightmare. He and his stable have been caught up in a thoroughbred doping scandal; leaving the reputations of both shattered.

Meanwhile his former lover, Darci Parnell manages the campaign for the International Thoroughbred Racing Federation presidency of Tyler’s cousin Andrew. The sure shot has been damaged by Andrew’s blood relationship to scandalized Tyler, cleverly used by opponent Jacko Bullock. Darci is in town for damage control. Still attracted to one another, an arson’s fire in a barn kills a hand and placed the stable’s top horse in danger. As Darci and Tyler work together to uncover who wants him destroyed, neither trusts the other with their heart.

DARCI’S PRIDE is a terrific “special edition” of the Thoroughbred Legacy saga due to the lead couple. They were lovers whose relationship died a few years ago on the same night his stable almost perished; now they must trust one another to uncover the truth, but both holds the other culpable for what happened between them. Jenna Mills provides a strong character driven horse racing romance.

Harriet Klausner

Dancing with the Devil-Laura Drewry

Dancing with the Devil
Laura Drewry
Leisure, Dec 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 0843960493

In 1882 after a decade being away from home, Deacon returns to Penance, Texas, to atone for the sin of abandoning the woman he loved. He owes his beloved Rhea an explanation and more. However, his greeting by Rhea is harsher than he expected and used to violence from his outlaw family he anticipated what he thought would be the worst thing to ever happen to him. Instead no wrath matches that of a scorned woman as she shoots him.

Rhea feels guilty that she allowed her temper to ignite. She takes him into her home to nurse him back to health. Deacon is thankful that he has time to prove to Rhea that he loves her and will not leave her again. She has doubts but takes a second chance on love until his sister arrives to persuade him to return to the family’s outlawing ways

DANCING WITH THE DEVIL is a fun late nineteenth century western romance starring a man with outlaw DNA and the woman who loves him but doubts his sincerity as she believes his blood is thicker than their relationship. Readers will appreciate this fine second chance gender war as Deacon tries to prove her wrong but despairs he can as Rhea knows men like him leave. When his family arrives to bring the “back” sheep back into their outlawing ways, even fans will wonder whether he will go with them. This is an engaging character driven western romance.

Harriet Klausner

Untamed-Pamela Clare

Pamela Clare
Leisure, Dec 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 0843954892

In 1757 Frenchwoman Amalie Chauvenet becomes an orphan due to a daring raid by the notorious British militia MacKinnon's Rangers near Fort Ticonderoga. However, the legendary Morgan MacKinnon is injured in the battle and captured by his enemy, the French and their Indian allies the Abenaki.

Amalie who loathes MacKinnon, sight unseen, is shocked when she is assigned to nurse him back to health especially since Brigadier de Bourlamaque plans to allow his Abenaki friends to torture Morgan. Even more stunning to the gentle Frenchwoman is he is far from the brutal berserker she expected; instead he is grateful for her care and remorseful for killing her kin. Morgan is attracted to Amalie, but pretends to switch allegiance from the English to the French. When Amalie realizes he lied, she wants nothing to do with him; instead she is married to him. Before they can figure out what to do next, Morgan and Amalie are on the run with the French, the English, the Indians and his two brothers in pursuit.

The second Mackinnon French and Indian war romance (see SURRENDER) is a great tale due to the interweaving of historical tidbits into the story line including the fact that some of the colonists already resented the English military almost two decades before the Revolution. The story line is action-paced but owned by the fleeing lead couple and the historical backdrop that makes this clearly must reading for Colonial America romance fans.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Simply the Best-Shirley Jump

Simply the Best
Shirley Jump
Zebra, Dec 2008, $5.99
ISBN: 142010036X

For over two decades, Mack Douglas and Alexandra Kenner have been friends and neighbors. They are always there for one another, but neither shows any sexual inclination towards their pal. In fact Mack muses whether Alex even realizes he is not just one of the “girls” and likewise Alex ponders whether Mack knows she is one of the girls. When the reporter’s house is under renovation, Mack invites her to stay in his; which she accepts at the same time she ends another losing relationship.

A confirmed bachelor, Mack finds himself fantasizing about sex with Alex. His upper head is embarrassed by his sexual musing, but the libido of his lower head is rock solid. Meanwhile Alex begins to realize she wants more than friendship with the contractor next door, but how to seduce the commitment wary Mack becomes her obsession even more than her career, which until she moved in was her number one goal.

SIMPLY THE BEST is a fine contemporary romance starring two best buddies falling in love with neither knowing how to proceed. The tale is fun to follow due to the wary antics of Mack and Alex as each covets the other, but hides as best they can their desire to change their relationship. This is simply a lighthearted When Harry Met Sally frolic.

Harriet Klausner

Spy Candy-Gina Robinson

Spy Candy
Gina Robinson
Zebra, Nov 2008, $3.99
ISBN: 1420104721

Jenna Jarvis lives a perfectly sensible but boring life in Seattle. However for one week she looks forward to an espionage adventure in the cold; of course being sensible about her escapade Jenna heads to Fantasy Spy Camp in Arizona where she figures the only downturn of being a Bond female sidekick is the name. Thankfully she is Domino and not Honey, Pussy, Warmflash or Goodhead.

However, all fun and games turn realistically ugly as if someone truly wants Jenna, make that Domino, dead. The instructor, former CIA Agent Torq Toricelli tries to keep Miss Sensible safe even as he wants this wannabe Jane Bond under his covers with him while also trying to uncover what appears to be a spy ring using FSC as a cover.

This is a lighthearted espionage romantic suspense that uses trivia references to the Bond books and movies to enhance the fun. The story line is fast-paced with a sort of Bondian wink to the plot. Domino and Torq are a wonderful pairing as the audience learns what happens to a spy who comes in from the cold; he gets warm with his woman while teaming up to find enemy agents. Camp was never like this as Gina Robinson provides an enjoyable humorous suspense thriller with a perfect homage to Ian Fleming ending: “oh, James”.

Harriet Klausner