Monday, March 31, 2008

She's On Top-Susan Lyons

She's On Top
Susan Lyons
Kensington Aphrodisia, Apr 2008, $12.95
ISBN: 9780758217035

Vancouver Clarinetist Rina Goldberg wants to get married to her soulmate, but has not found anyone to replace her first lover classical pianist Giancarlo Mancini, whom she has not seen in a decade; anyone who believes out of sight out of mind is a fool to Rina When she learns that Giancarlo in town, encouraged by her best friends (see CHAMPAGNE RULES and TOUCH ME), she decides to see if he is as interested in her as she is in him and to determine if the memory is as good as the real thing.

Now a music video director, Giancarlo has never forgotten the lovely Rina. When she calls him, he is ecstatic as he wonders if reality will match his fantasies. Both will soon know whether they belong together as each still dreams of what they had but let go due to career choices ten years ago.

The third Canadian Awesome Foursome tale is a fun entry like its predecessors can stand alone; though the first two stories are entertaining. Rina is fabulous as she is encouraged by the magic of love that has touched her pals Suzanne and Anne so she hopes to make music with the one she never forgot. Giancarlo is her equal when it comes to passion, intensity, intelligence, talent, and love. However will they be able make their relationship permanent or wait another decade as each has issues to overcome. Susan Lyons provides an awesome British Columbia second chance at love romance.

Harriet Klausner

Sins of the Night-Devyn Quinn

Sins of the Night
Devyn Quinn
Kensington Aphrodisia, Apr 2008, $12.95
ISBN: 9780758220189

A century ago Adrien Roth was proud to be a Shadow Stalker who destroyed the Kynn. However, he failed at his task when he was captured by his enemy. They tortured him and he became one of them, a vampire who used sex with mortals as sustenance.

Loathing himself he plans to destroy Kynn chieftain Devon Carnavorn and the vampire’s new wife Rachel in what the former Shadow Stalker knows is probably a suicide mission. However, as he begins his quest, Adrien meets human Cassie Wilson, who somehow reinvigorates the soul he thought the Kynn killed when they brutalized and changed him. As they fall in love, he wants to come out of her shadows into the light of her warmth, but obstinately refuses to give up his quest for vengeance as he targets the Mystique Goth nightclub in Warren, California.

This exciting fantasy thriller returns the lead characters of SINS OF THE DEVIL, but this time they are the objectives of the lead male who sees them as his revenge and redemption. The story line is character driven as Adrien, already feeling somewhat schizoid between his former occupation and his current status, struggles with the thirst for bloody vengeance and love. Although some of the erotic scenes will turn off some readers especially when violent force is applied to a disinclined individual who says no. Devyn Quinn provides an interesting erotic vampire romantic suspense as fans will wonder whether Devon chooses Cassie or suicide.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Gemini Heat-Portia Da Costa

Gemini Heat
Portia Da Costa
Black Lace, May 2008
ISBN: 9780352341877

The Metropolis was already heated when Deana Ferraro attends the “Visions of Eroticism – the de Guile Collection instead of her identical twin sister Delia who is with slimy Russell. Deana realizes coming to this erotic exhibit is exponentially increasing her already over the top sexual frustration of going solo only. She places herself in the images raising her temperature higher than the melted sidewalks outside. Watching her “come” is the artist Jackson K. de Guile, who introduces himself as no talented Jake; she is Dee.

Jake proves an expert on the power of sex. He is the master and she is his obedient servant. He soon turns their S&M pleasures into a competing ménage a trois when Jake brings Delia into the game. Soon the siblings compete as rivals trying to out pleasure each other by winning Jake’s special rewards especially vying for his undivided lower head attention.

Erotic romance readers will enjoy this hot contemporary tale starring three full blooded in heat individuals who seemingly cannot get enough. The story line starts torrid and turns equatorial as Deana and Delia compete for the power of Jake who relishes controlling the twins in and out of the bedroom. This aptly named title showcases one of the sub-genre’s best at writing XXX dramas.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Duke Next Door-Celeste Bradley

The Duke Next Door
Celeste Bradley
St. Martin's, Apr 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780312939694

In 1815 their late grandfather Sir Hamish Pickering, disappointed in his daughters not marrying up, placed a stipulation in his will that has his three granddaughters jumping. The first of the trio to marry a duke inherits his fortune. The competing cousins started with the rustic vicar's daughter Phoebe, the elegant Deirdre and the too tall Sophie, but Phoebe is no longer a contender having fallen in love with a duke’s brother (see DESPERATELY SEEKING A DUKE).

Deirdre hones in on ducal heir, “The Beast of Brookhaven” widow Calder Marbrook known for women jilting him at the altar like Phoebe just did. Deirdre tells Calder the truth just not the whole truth as she figures that is her best chance of winning; Calder agrees to marry her. Soon afterward, Deirdre meets her new spouse’s young child Lady Margaret that she did not know existed; the stepdaughter from hell who does not want a new mama. Upset that her Beast was less than honest with her as he concealed his offspring for her, she wants out, but Calder wants Deidre as they play a sexual game of check and checkmate with one another.

The second Heiress Brides’ Regency romance is an entertaining often amusing historical. Deirdre is a terrific lead character as she wants the title to inherit the fortune, but wants love to come with her duke. She feels that is not asking too much although she reconsiders after meeting Meggie whether the money is worth it. Readers will appreciate their gender war enflamed by their love for one another and the brat.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Legacy-TJ Bennett

The Legacy
TJ Bennett
Medallion, Apr 2008, $7.95
ISBN: 9781933836362

In Electoral Saxony her attempt at freedom from her abusive adopted father the Schenk of Wittenberg Baron Marcus von Ziegler through marriage failed. For years after that futile effort, her dad kept her prisoner. Several years later in 1525 her father gives his daughter Baroness Sabina a choice to marry his chosen one or to remain chained in his rat infested dungeon.

Her hope lies with the reformer Martin Luther, who makes her believe that God will be there for her even as church officials are always bending their knees towards her father. Still she accepts her sire’s terms and agrees to marry widower commoner Wolfgang Behaim, a middle class printer. Her father blackmails Wolfgang into agreeing also if he wants his secret kept concealed. Neither wanted to wed one another and she prays she can get it annulled, but as she meets his kind family including a little girl praying for a momma, Sabina feels contented for the first time perhaps in her life. Meanwhile the peasants are irate with the baron who threatens to kill Sabina and her new family, whom she loves very much and each one of them reciprocate especially her reluctant husband.

This is an interesting sixteenth century Germanic romance due to the machinations of the Schenk as the audience as much as the lead couple needs to know why this pairing; the abusive Schenk is like a poker player hiding his hand until it is time to call. Sabina is a fascinating heroine who survives her father’s torture by following the inspirational rebellious preaching of Martin Luther. Fans will appreciate this engaging historical, which brings a fine romantic subplot enhanced by a spotlight on Martin Luther and the beginning of the Reformation.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, March 24, 2008

Free Fall-Laura Anne Gilman

Free Fall
Laura Anne Gilman
Luna, May 2008, $14.95
ISBN: 9780373802678

In the twenty-first century, magic is not used by reciting spells, but by being able to channel current through their bodies. These adepts are called Talents and the non-human members of the Cosa Nostradamus are named Fatae. The Silence is a top secret private organization that protects the innocent from t abuses, but has become corrupted and believes the Talent and the Fatae must be eradicated.

Retriever Wren Valerie obtains objects for clients. She is separated from her lover Sergei the Null who can not channel current, but is addicted to it. If they make love and her current goes out of control, Sergei will die. He forgives her for their separation and hopes they can find a way back together. Meanwhile he uses his contacts inside the Silence to gather information for the upcoming confrontation with the magic users. Wren is in underground place for a meeting but it is really a trap and she is almost raped and killed by vigilante Nulls who label her as “it”. However she kills them instead and is determined to breach the fortress of the Silence in order to retrieve kidnapped children with Talent being brainwashed for use in some Silence operations. Sergei and Wren’s live-in cuddly demon P.J. plan to keep her safe as the three know something is not right with Wren.

This latest Retriever novel is one of the best tales in an exhilarating series due in part to the separation between Wren and Sergei. Readers see both sides prepare for the upcoming final battle with the current channel practitioners coming together to protect Magical Manhattan. Fans of fantasy and romantic fantasy will appreciate Laura Anne Gilman’s superb FREE FALL.

Harriet Klausner

Cassandra’s Conflict-Fredrica Alleyn

Cassandra’s Conflict
Fredrica Alleyn
Black Lace, Apr 2008, $12.95
ISBN: 9780352341860

In London, her husband Paul Williams tells Cassandra she is frigid; that it her fault he is leaving her for Louise. When she says she has no prospects having never held a job, he coldly tells her not to sell her body as she will starve to death.

Not long afterward, Cassandra applies for a job as a governess to two small girls four years old Helena and two years old Christina, daughters of Austrian widower Baron von Ritter. However, as he offers her the position and she accepts, Cassandra is unaware that the previous governess Abigail was fired because she failed at the sex games, he and his mistress Katya play with the staff. She and her two little charges bond so when they are sent to Austria to visit their family, they are upset as they do not want to leave their governess behind. Although she misses the children whom got into her heart, Cassandra has little time to dwell on her feelings for her preschool companions as the Baron seduces her into joining the sexual games. Although she does not understand the rules, Cassandra has promised the two little girls she will be there for them when they return. She is the first governess with a non-selfish reason to win the sexual contests even as she does not grasp the rules that the Baron and his mistress keep changing.

This is a fascinating erotic character study that looks deep into the soul of the triangle formed when Cassandra replaces Abigail as companion to the girls. The Baron realizes the newcomer is different as Cassandra does not hide her warm motherly affection for the young girls; Katya sees her as another disposable servant for them to abuse. Fans will enjoy Fredrica Alleyn’s intriguing heated contemporary while wondering whether Cassandra will triumph especially since she holds a non-sexual ace in the hole.

Harriet Klausner

Mothers of the Year-Lori Handeland, Rebecca Winters and Anna DeStefano

Mothers of the Year
Lori Handeland, Rebecca Winters and Anna DeStefano
Harlequin SuperRomance, Apr 2008, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373714827

"Mommy for Rent" by Lori Handeland. Preadolescent newcomer Dani Delgado needs to rent a mom for the upcoming Mother’s Day picnic in Kiwanee, Wisconsin or flee back to Florida. She and her dad baseball coach Scott meet and enchant Kelly Rosholt who reciprocates with her inane affectionate nicknames for them.

"Along Came a Daughter" by Rebecca Winters. Widow Abby Chappuis has never cut her hair since it is a memory of her late spouse Andre who loved her long tresses though they areunsuited for her French-Swiss restaurant Chez Andre. Abby hires almost sixteen Brittany Jakeman whose father Richard comes to the restaurant to “unhire” his daughter but he had not reckoned with the teen’s canine guardian angel old Buddy or with falling in love with her employer; Abby reciprocates.

"Baby Steps” by Anna DeStefano. Tyler Brooks is considering leaving his wife Lily because she cannot get past her failure at getting pregnant. However, her student Dakota teaches her that motherhood is much more than giving birth.

These are three warm contemporary tales starring fully developed characters who pay wonderful homage to moms.

Harriet Klausner

Baby Be Mine-Eve Gaddy

Baby Be Mine
Eve Gaddy
Harlequin SuperRomance, Apr 2008, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373714841

When police officer Maggie Barnes finds the abandoned baby she falls in love with the infant. She hopes to adopt baby Grace, but knows a single woman has little chance of success especially one in her dangerous line of work. She asks her best friend, attorney Tucker Jones to marry her so she can adopt the child.

He agrees out of friendship to marry her. However, one week after they exchanged I do, Tucker knows he loves Maggie and wants temporary removed from modifying his husband status. When the baby’s mom returns demanding the return of her child, Maggie is heartbroken but has no choice. Expecting to have separated from Tucker even before losing the child, she is stunned when he says he preferred they stay married. Maggie feels she cannot deal any longer with a platonic relationship with Tucker as she knows she loves him so she plans to end their relationship heartbroken for the second time. However Tucker refuses to give up on his wife; he just needs to persuade her he loves her and believes she loves him.

This is a fascinating contemporary romance starring two amiable individuals who are best friends and lovers. The story line is filled with angst especially when the biological mom returns for Grace as Maggie learns the risk of giving up one’s heart to a foster child. Tucker tries to be there for his beloved, but she has to go through a grief like cycle on her own. Fans will enjoy this fine tale of first comes marriage then comes love.

Harriet Klausner

Return of the Wild Son-Cynthia Thomason

Return of the Wild Son
Cynthia Thomason
Harlequin SuperRomance, Apr 2008, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373714834

Hollywood screenwriter Nathaniel “Nate” Shelton returns to his hometown of Finnegan Cove, Michigan after two decades away because his father asked him to come. When Nate was eighteen, his father Harley was convicted of second degree murder and has spent twenty years behind bars, but is being paroled in five weeks. Nate prefers to stay away and is willing to find a home in California for his dad as the writer has kept his distance from his dysfunctional family. Still he agrees to convert the Lake Michigan lighthouse into his father’s new home.

Nate is attracted to Jenna Malloy, but will not act on it as his father killed her father years ago. Jenna is attracted to Nate, but will not act on it for the same reason and besides she wants the lighthouse he is renovating torn down as it is where his dad committed the homicide. Besides her family loathes his; hell his family hates their dad.

The sins of the father land on their offspring in the character driven contemporary romance RETURN OF THE WILD SON. The cast is solid as the town is exclusively anti Harley even his other son Mike. Fascinatingly he is not released until the end so the audience sees how everyone reacts to his upcoming parole while the romance between Jenna and Nate seems shaky. Fans will enjoy this fine tale from the moment Harley calls Nate until the final news conference announcing the filming of The Redemption of Nathaniel Stone.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Texas Loving-Leigh Greenwood

Texas Loving
Leigh Greenwood
Leisure, Apr 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780843956863

In 1889, Eden Maxwell has lived her young life in Texas Hill Country when a well dressed elderly Englishman arrives at the family’s Broken Circle ranch saying to her she looks just like her grandmother did fifty years ago. Alastair Davenport explains to the bewildered Eden and Isabelle that their late Aunt Deirdre was Isabelle’s mother not her aunt and he also claims that he is Isabelle’s father and Eden’s maternal grandfather. A stunned Isabelle accepts her birth dad’s invitation for her, her spouse Jake and Eden to come to London with him.

Alastair believes that Eden and second son Patrick Worledge would make a perfect match. However to her Texas mind, Patrick is too aristocratically English for her. Instead she falls in love with the older independent brother Edward the heir who is caught in marrying for money to save the Worledge family from ruin. Eden makes a faux pas involving legitimacy that costs Edward dearly, but when he comes to Texas to start over, she plans to be at his side every step of the way if he would only forgive her.

The final Cowboys historical romance is a fabulous ending to one of the best series over the last few years. TEXAS LOVING is a superb Victorian tale starring two likable lead characters and a strong support cast. Fans of the Greenwood saga will applaud the entire baker’s dozen summed up nicely by Jake: “If I had any idea this would be the results of your mother showing up on my ranch with her eight orphans from hell, I would have run all the way to new Mexico without my cows”. Thank goodness he did not although knowing Isabelle and her brood, they would have followed.

Harriet Klausner

Bewitched-Sandra Schwab

Sandra Schwab
Love Spell, Apr 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780505527233

In 1820 it was obviously a magical mistake as she loves her relative, but turning her uncle’s house blue on top of changing the foundation into shaky giant chicken legs leads to Miss Amelia Bourne losing her powers and being exiled to London for the season. She meets several nice young men, but Amelia finds Sebastian "Fox" Stapleton too haughty of a rake. Both act polite towards one another, but each dislikes the other until they drink the spiked punch. Suddenly Fox and Amelia need one another with a deep passion.

They journey to his country estate, but Amy wonders why she went from total loathing to animalistic desire on one sip. She decides to check whether this is love or an illusion. As she investigates without her magic to help her, Amy relies on her knowledge and lore of the arts and her belief that Sebastian is honorable even if he thinks he is god’s gift to women, which she agrees he has a solid argument. However, a devious person has use for Miss Amelia as an expendable pawn in a revenge scheme while not wanting her to know the truth.

This is a fun often amusing Regency romantic fantasy in which spells go wrong leading to romance and love. The story line is lighthearted yet allows the audience to believe in a paranormal early nineteenth century London in which at least in the Schwab universe, magic works though not always for the good. Fans will be BEWITCHED by this enchanting charmer.

Harriet Klausner

Strike Zone-Kate Angell

Strike Zone
Kate Angell
Love Spell, Apr 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780505527080

In Richmond, Virginia three years ago, Taylor Hannah broke her engagement to Rogue pitcher Brek Stryker as she needed to grieve the sudden death of her parents alone. She always felt that once she healed she could go home to heal what she broke off with her beloved Brek until now. Her sister sends the Thrill-seeker guide a clipping from the Virginia Banner announcing that Brek is engaged to marry Mayor Talbot’s daughter Hilary. Leaving Paris for Richmond, Taylor comes home for her Brek.

However, Brek wants nothing to do with the woman who humiliated him three years ago on their wedding day when she fled town even if she does outrageous stunts like being the mascot Rally to get his attention. Meanwhile relief pitcher Sloan McCaffery makes a pitch towards Taylor until he finds himself thinking of her sister Eve as he sits in the bullpen; neither sister wants anything to do with Sloan who wants to kiss her between the strikes if she will kiss him between the balls (paraphrasing Soupy Sales).

This is an excellent baseball romance in which two couples fall in love. Taylor and Brek are the prime show as she tries to prove to her beloved they still belong together like hot dog and mustard. Sloan and Eve almost steal home from the lead pair as their support subplot brings extra runs to the latest Rogue sports tale (see CURVEBALL and SQUEEZE PLAY).

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, March 22, 2008

To Wed A Wicked Prince-Jane Feather

To Wed A Wicked Prince
Jane Feather
Pocket, Apr 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9781416525523

In 1807, although still feeling like a country mouse, Lady Livia Lacy enjoys the London social life now that her recently inherited house has been somewhat fixed and her best friend widow Nell Dagenheim has fallen in love (see A WICKED GENTLEMAN). Livia has one concern; she cannot understand why sophisticated hunk half-English, half-Russian Prince Alexander Prokov pursues her as there are so many prettier and obviously more urbane women than a rustic mouse like her. When he proposes, she has doubts, but in love with her handsome suitor plus encouraged by Nell’s relationship with Bonham, she accepts.

Unsure of herself, Livia begins to question who is Prince Alexander, why her, and who are all these Russian aristocrats hanging around him. She also begins to think her beloved is hiding something from her that she assumes is his real reason for being in London and perhaps courting her. When she finds incriminating old letters that answer much of what she pondered, Livia is heartbroken and prepares to rusticate in loneliness. Alex is caught between his country and his beloved wife.

The second Cavendish Square Regency romance is a wonderful tale starring two likable protagonists caught between their love and international intrigue. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the pair meets and never slows down as passion battles with duty and loyalty to one’s love wars with to one’s nation. Jane Feather is at the top of her game with this superb historical.

Harriet Klausner

XXX Marks the Spot- Kathleen Lawless

XXX Marks the Spot
Kathleen Lawless
Pocket, Apr 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9781416532743

In Seattle, Kennedy James books a wild week at exclusive Walker Island golf resort in North Carolina for her and her two best friends Lisa Green and Justine Bates. Whereas she wants sex, Kennedy knows Lisa struggles with her divorce from her cheating spouse Loser Les and Justine fears her biological clock is counting down. The rules are simple they must compete their Sexcapades list X-rated scavenger hunt to include collecting designated items, scoring items, and have at least six sexual encounters including special pampering by a male slave.

At their first night at the bar Kennedy meets pilot Sam Watson who flew her a few years ago; she persuades him to show her his aviator’s wings. Justin pretends to sleepwalk leading to meeting Eric the superintendent who rescues her from a sprinkler with her giving her hero a kiss. Lisa knows she is behind, but hopes to get a hole in one with golf pro Richard.

This is a fun erotic contemporary romance with three heated love subplots. Each of the lead couples are nice people but it is the women who star as the audience understands their desires and motives. Although relatively straightforward except for some interference by bossy Kennedy, XXX MARKS THE SPOT is a fine tale from boxer to chest hairs to penis photos.

Harriet Klausner

Fifteen Minutes of Shame-Lisa Dailey

Fifteen Minutes of Shame
Lisa Dailey
Plume, Apr 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780452289130

Darby Vaughn has written bestselling self-help books and made many TV appearances, but knows she is America’s dating expert by the sales of her own line of perfume. However, she is mortified when during a TV interview, she finds out her cheating spouse Will has filed for divorce. Since he was also her publicist she has no expert to help her with the media frenzy and how to spin it.

FIFTEEN MINUTES OF SHAME ends with Darby resolute to not just salvage her life, but to make it clear it is the dummy’s loss not hers. After a few days of sisterhood bonding, Darby is ready to spin the tale her way starting with her column whose first entry in two weeks is “The Dreamgirl’s Breakup Survival Guide” and follows up with the Dreamgirl’s Academy. She also publicly dates again at the same she hires Holt, the best lawyer she can to insure numb-nuts is cut off with no blood left in either head. Darby finds herself attracted to her new attorney, but first comes her lifestyle, then mutilating her ex, and finally dating the hunk.

This is an engaging chick lit romance that stars a courageous woman who epitomizes Frank Sinatra’s That’s Life; paraphrasing from the lyrics: she finds herself publicly flat on her face, she picks herself up and gets back in the race. Fans will root for her to succeed with her reengineering of her vocation and with Holt.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, March 21, 2008

Animal Lust-

Animal Lust
Lucy Danes
Kensington Aphrodisia, Mar 2008, $13.95
ISBN: 9780758220585

Their Viking ancestors left the Ursus clan cursed with the blood of the bear and mystic skills but ANIMAL LUST sexual appetites that are never satiated unless they bond with their soulmate.

“Martin”. In 1800 innocent Jane fell in love and gave her virginity to Jonathan whom she thought loved her and would marry her. Instead he left her after he took what he wanted. When she meets Martin, he vows to Jane that he will give back what he lost.

"Mac". In 1801 Rasalette seeks her life mate, but the men selected by her caring royal brother don’t appeal to her until “Mac” arrives.

"Orin". In 1817 when Wilhelmina sees Orin ride out of the forest, she knows she has found her beloved; now to convince him that he has too.

“Devon”. Following her husband’s death Amanda returns to the home of the aunt who raised her. There she meets Devon, whom she once loved and knows still does.

The Ursus brothers’ saga contains four exhilarating paranormal erotic Regency romances starring strong protagonists whose couplings are hot.

Harriet Klausner

Wild: Pack of St. James-Noelle Mack

Wild: Pack of St. James
Noelle Mack
Kensington Brava, Mar 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758222756

In 1815 although he is part Russian wolf, Kyril Taruskin is also one of the three leaders of the Pack of St. James sworn to protect the English crown. However, Kyril becomes concerned when the actions of Vivienne Sheridan may jeopardize his Pack from a werewolf hunter. He vows to find the hiding female and learn her secrets.

At the same time Kyril fears for his clan, the adversary has begun stalking his prey. Meanwhile Kyril finds Vivien hidden in a mansion. He tries to learn her secrets, but finds he wants to reveal his own to this siren who he knows from a previous encounter is his soulmate, but first they must deal with treacherous evil men as everyone converges on the Serpent’s Egg allegedly possessed by Vivienne.

The first Pack of St. James paranormal Regency romantic suspense is a fast-paced, action-packed thriller starring likable lead characters and a strong support cast including the bad guys. The freshness comes from the vivid description of early nineteenth century London’s underbelly where drugs, prostitution and black market contraband are the norm. Noelle Mack provides a wild vivid tale of love, war, and perhaps too much blood with her delightful opening Pack diamond.

Harriet Klausner

Sexy Beast IV-Kate Douglas, Deanna Lee and Dawn Thompson

Sexy Beast IV
Kate Douglas, Deanna Lee and Dawn Thompson
Kensington Aphrodisia, Mar 2008, $12.95
ISBN: 9780758219886

"Chanku Destiny" by Kate Douglas. The Chanku shapeshifting werewolves are elated to locate two more of their species, Adam Wolf and Eve Reynolds, who deeply connect with one another on a soulmate level.

"Abundance” by Deanna Lee. For over three decades King Jude and his Yaw panther shapeshifters have had no contact with purebred humans until Kayla lands her space ship on their world.

"Passion of the Cat" by Dawn Thompson. In 1810 in the Hindu Kush, when a snow leopard viciously attacks Captain Lyle Claridge, Ihita heals him, but after he goes back to England, the full moon makes him sexually in need.

There three erotic shapeshifting romantic fantasies are well written fun short stories filled with various sexual encounters and a little less other action. The Kate Douglas entry feels like the prologue to the upcoming Wolf Tales VI while the other two are more complete. Sub-genre fans will enjoy these shapeshifters in heat tales.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Mistress-Leda Swan

Leda Swan
Avon, Apr 2008, $13.95
ISBN: 9780061431227

Schoolteacher Emily Clemens knows that to keep her position at the exclusive girls' finishing school she must behave with decorum and never be in the middle of scandal. She needs the job, but the endless ennui and the posturing by her superior and the aristocratic parents are driving her crazy. Having no family to turn to, Emily decides to pose for racy photographs hoping she can become the mistress to some affluent rake.

However, Emily is stunned when she finds herself attracted to photographer Eric Twyford. He may not meet her criteria, but she does not care. However, when he fails to show even the slightest thaw in his icy professionalism, a despondent Emily returns to her initial plan, but wonders how she will seduce anyone with B&W photos when she failed to move Eric with her flesh. Still she turns elsewhere even as Eric cannot wait to move past this job because he needs to make love with his latest model-client.

The theme of this nineteenth century English romance of two people in love misunderstanding the motives of each other has been used frequently; however, Leda Swann refreshes the concept with the lewd photos as the matchmaker. E & E are fully developed individuals who fall deeper in love with each other with every shot he takes. . Although Emily makes some asinine selections that feel out of character for her, fans will appreciate the heated historical romance between the model and the photographer.

Harriet Klausner

Emerald Silk-Janet Lane

Emerald Silk
Janet Lane
Five Star, Apr 2008, $25.95
ISBN: 978159416824

In 1448 Father Robert, the Abbot of Cerne Monastery is upset because two gypsies, Erol and Teraf stole a chalice given to his abbey by the Bishop of Winchester who is coming to visit in two weeks. He sends loyal monastic knights led by John Wynter to retrieve the object and arrest the two thieves.

At the Applewood Horse fair, John captures Teraf, but fails to find the chalice. Teraf’s mixed blooded fiancée Kadriya protests, but John shows his disdain towards the gypsies and leaves with his prisoner. Kadriya leads a bold rescue, but one of John’s men and a gypsy die. She captures John, but Teraf remains prisoner of the knights who take him to Cerne while she takes her “guest” to her home Tabor barony. As John gets to know Kadriya he realizes she is honest, loyal and the woman he loves; likewise Kadriya sees the same traits in John. However, a traitor with a taboo sexual secret in the abbey is blackmailed to work with Teraf to help him escape while others want to either kill John or Kadriya depending on whose side you are on.

Almost two decades have past since the first Coin Forest medieval romance (see TABOR'S TRINKET), EMERALD SILK is a refreshing historical due to the blatant prejudice of the hero which makes him a unique protagonist. it is not the attraction and love between Kadriya and John that make this book so special but his need to overcome a lifetime of belief by accepting what he sees and what his heart tells him. The intrigue, betrayal, and sexual blackmail at the Abbey enhance a strong tale in which bias may blind the monastic knight from understanding the truth.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, March 17, 2008

Runaway Cowboy-Judy Christenberry

Runaway Cowboy
Judy Christenberry
Harlequin American, Apr 2008, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373752096

The Ledbetter siblings work extremely hard to try to make a success of their Lazy L dude ranch in Colorado. When New York City slicker Kim Bradford arrives as the manager, the Ledbetter brood are taken somewhat aback as he seems more comfortable at Belmont Park than at a stable. Especially upset with the arrival of the easterner is Jessie Ledbetter.

The Ledbetter patriarch, Jesse’s grandfather brought in James, a former Texan rancher before he became a corporate power broker to save the spread. As he works hard to win over the stakeholders, he succeeds with the brothers, while also finding himself attracted to his most adversarial Ledbetter Jessica. She begins to thaw and soon they fall in love, but his sophisticated Big Apple former girlfriend has arrived to reclaim James as hers.

RUNAWAY COWBOY is an interesting ranch romance starring two adversaries who are attracted to one another, but distrust each other and consequently their respective heart). Although her grandfather selected James and he wins over her brothers, Jessie goes overboard with her deep rooted cynicism about the Texas transplant; thus her negativity makes their forging a loving relationship seem off kilter even as he tries to persuade her otherwise.

Harriet Klausner

Down Home Dixie-Pamela Browning

Down Home Dixie
Pamela Browning
Harlequin American, Apr 2008, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373752126

In Yewville, South Carolina Union soldier Kyle Sherman of Ohio is “shot” while performing at a Civil War reenactment extravaganza. When he meets Dixie Lee Smith, he finds himself attracted to the steel “Jessamine”. She is confused because she reciprocates making her traitor to her home state and the Daughters of the Confederacy as she shelters a Sherman descendent even if he is the first farrier she ever met.

As they fall in love, but struggle with trust issues having been hurt and betrayed in relationships before, their mutual pasts arrive. She displays southern hospitality offering a room in her home to his northern belle. However, although Dixie Lee assumes her beloved Yankee will leave town with his former girlfriend, he will not escape without a fight as she vows the south will rise.

DOWN HOME DIXIE is an intriguing look at the War Between the States still fought in 2008 in Dixie Lee’s home; as each combatant struggles with giving the peace offering of their respective heart. The story line is fun to follow especially during the heat of battle although the hostilities seem to end with sexual encounters and nothing resolved. Still readers will enjoy the gender fight between Ohio and South Carolina in which love makes for a lasting peace.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, March 13, 2008

French Kissing-Nancy Warren

French Kissing
Nancy Warren
Harlequin Blaze, Apr 2008, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373793938

Manhattan based fashion editor of highly regarded Uptown magazine Kimberley “Kimi” Renton is in Paris to cover couture week. To her chagrin at Simone’s gala she is stuck with a guy who makes Colombo look like a fashion plate; private investigator Holden MacGregg is working undercover poorly pretending to be a Minneapolis Daily Tribune photojournalist while trying to expose a fashion crime ring. The guy had to be wearing his grandfather’s tweed coat worn by the older male when he was the age of the younger man and jeans that would make the designers turn ill.

Kimi believes the schlep will be the one exposed unless he undergoes a makeover. He proves to be a hunk out of GQ and soon shows he is a hunk in the nude when they share her bed. As they fall in love, both understand the case comes before the romance, but they have FRENCH KISSING and more interludes to fill in the time.

FRENCH KISSING is a fun romantic suspense starring two amiable protagonists as Kimi becomes a big fan of the Carlyle theory that clothing makes the man when Mac changes from Neanderthal reject into GQ centerfold. The undercover sleuthing is as entertaining as the under cover romance. Readers will appreciate Nancy Warren’s Americans rendition of we “love Paris in the Spring time”.

Harriet Klausner

Drop Dead Gorgeous-Kimberly Raye

Drop Dead Gorgeous
Kimberly Raye
Harlequin Blaze, Apr 2008, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373793945

In Skull Creek, Texas Margaret Sweeny dreams of converting from classic geek to sexy siren. However, she wonders how one changes an image that has been fostered for over two decades starting with being a tomboy.

That thought makes her think about her long time friend and fellow geek, albeit former geek, Dillon Cash. Six months ago he made her look cool, suave and sophisticated; now he is a hunk. She pleads with him to tell her his makeover secret, but he refuses to inform her that his metamorphosis started with a bite. Dillon has always wanted Meg, but was too shy to go after her; now he has vampiric skills that lure every female in town except the one who owns his heart (although that proves to him that vampires may need blood, but are all heart). She finally asks him to teach her how to be a boudoir seductress.

The newest Love at First Bite (see DEAD SEXY) vampiric romance is an amusing contemporary tale that will have the audience in stitches as Meg and Dillon initially try unsuccessfully to seduce one another. The two characters engage in a Texas two step as they both hide their love that existed even when both were crappy kissers. Sub-genre fans will enjoy Kimberly Raye’s jocular tale of love before the first bite.

Harriet Klausner

Gothic Heat-Portia Da Costa

Gothic Heat
Portia Da Costa
Black Lace, May 2008, $12.95
ISBN: 9780352341709

Her college pals Belinda and Jonathan Sumner took Paula Beckett to Sedgwick Priory who they insist is owned by a 200-year old sorcerer Count Andre von kestrel. However, not long afterward, Paula awakens in a hotel naked wondering how she lost two days of her life. She is taken to a hospital, but when her friends visit her she angrily tells them to leave; after a few days of observation she is released.

Paula is scared as a voice inside her head keeps taunting her and getting her to do sexual things that she would never have done before. She realizes she is fighting sorceress Isadora Katori for ownership of her body because the evil one no longer has one. At the Inner Light massage parlor she meets masseuse Rafe Halloway. However, Isadora takes control of their shared body and pins Rafe down before taking him. Later, Paula tells him about the sorcerer who haunts her; he says he will help her. Nearing forty and fearing he will die like his father did at forty-two, Rafe hides his agenda of seeking a long life span; he thinks these sorcerers will enable him to obtain that. However, he also finds he is torn between the two women in his life as he loves sex with both; opposites as one takes charge while the other has him take charge.

This heated paranormal romance enables the reader and Rafe to believe that two minds occupy and battle to possess the body of the female lead. Fascinatingly Rafe loves both women as the aggressive sorcerer takes him in ways he never dreamed a woman could and the original hostess lets him take her anyway he desires. As the women compete for ownership of their shared body and his body (and soul), fans will appreciate Portia Da Costa’s unique erotic triangle as the hero is torn between two lovers with one body affirming sex is as much psychological as physical.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Starstruck-Michelle Celmer

Michelle Celmer
Harlequin Mediterranean Nights, Apr 2008, $5.50
ISBN: 97803739704

Her grandfather 1950s matinee idol Frederick Miles invites Claire Mackenzie to join him as he performs on Alexandra's Dream as part of a Golden Era revival show. Claire accepts as she has not seen her beloved grandfather in a while; ever since she left Hollywood to open a plant nursery in British Columbia.

On board the vessel, Claire meets assistant cruise director Liam Bates. She is attracted to him and visa versa, but she believes he is using her as a ticket to Frederick and the furthering of his career. Liam wants Claire, but more than just for a few nights or as his avenue to the stars. However when Claire claims she just wants a short fling, he is left stunned as he is STARSTRUCK on her.

This is an engaging cruise romance between two likable protagonists though the geriatric generation led by her grandfather in many ways steals the show. Claire’s doubts re Liam’s motives ring true while his efforts to prove he loves her also come across authentic. Although the distance of her being in British Columbia and he cruising seems shallow especially on her part, fans will enjoy the latest Alexandra’s Dream contemporary romance.

Harriet Klausner

To Seduce a Bride-Nicole Jordan

To Seduce a Bride
Nicole Jordan
Ballantine, Apr 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780345494610

Unlike her two sisters who recently said I do (see TO BED A BEAUTY and TO PLEASURE A LADY) Lily Loring vows to never marry as she assumes men and abuse go hand in hand. However Lord Heath “Heartbreaker” Griffin meets and falls in love with her. She likes him, but rejects his courtship. To elude her ardent pursuer, Lily takes a room in a boardinghouse run by former courtesans including her friend Fanny Irwin. They hire her to teach the demimonde proper behavior amidst the Ton.

The former ladies of the night suggest Lily play with Heath’s affection by allowing him a chance to court her. However, as Lily aids a friend in trouble and assists another lady, she takes up the concept of wooing with Heath, but his sword play proves masterful as she falls in love with her devoted suitor.

The third Courtship Wars is an appealing Regency romance in which the third Loring sibling lines up some interesting allies in her gender battle with Lord Heartbreaker. The lead couple’s kissing and fighting make for a fun tale, but it’s the women in Lily’s corner that brings freshness to this winning tale TO SEDUCE A BRIDE.

Harriet Klausner

The Naked Gentleman-Sally Mackenzie

The Naked Gentleman
Sally Mackenzie
Zebra, Apr 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780821780763

If the Ton figured on anyone to be scandal free it would be horticulturist John Parker–Roth who avoids London as if the plague beset the city. However, the one person who can get him to come to town for the season demands he does; John would anything for his beloved mom even face the unmarried horde and their general officer mothers.

Still even in London he spends as much time in the garden as he can. He saves Margaret Peterson from the unwanted assault of Lord Bennington although perhaps her biting amorous Bennie saved the day. Margaret shocks her would be rescuer when she asks John for a kiss; he responds in kind like a true gentleman honoring the lady’s wishes. However, by doing so he may have compromised her. Although she says there will be no scandal, her family and his mother push the gossip to the surface in order to force the couple to marry; even as the pair finds their passion for one another growing exponentially.

The fourth “Naked” romance (see THE NAKED EARL, THE NAKED MARQUIS, and THE NAKED GENTLEMAN) is terrific humorous Regency in which Sally Mackenzie cleverly uses hyperbole to tell her tale and showcase the foibles of the Ton. The story line is fast-paced jocularity as John wants a pragmatic wife who will literally play in the dirt with him until Meg teaches him what rolling in the dirt truly is starting with a simple kiss. The support cast is out of control adding to the overall amusing entertainment of a delightful historical.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ti Marie-Valerie Belgrave

Ti Marie
Valerie Belgrave
iUniverse, Jan 2008, $18.95
ISBN: 9780595440429

By 1796 war seems to be island hopping across the Caribbean. So far Trinidad remains peaceful and quiet, but fears run deep that the hostilities will come here soon. Spaniard Don Diego de Las Flores owns Santa Clara cocoa plantation away from the thriving activities of thriving Santa Fe, but remains serene. He has two young children Jose and Juanita, but lost his wife just after she gave birth to their daughter to yellow fever. Yei the half breed medicine woman runs the household; she has two twin daughters, Carmen and Elena, sired by a white man. French political radical and expatriate Louis is the other member of the household as he tutors Jose.

English abolitionist Barry Wingate arrives at Santa Clara; he falls in love with Elena, who enjoys the passion and idealism of her suitor. However, the French Revolution comes to Trinidad dividing the ruling plantation owners between hostile republican and royalist groups. While France struggles, England takes control of the island and imposes a harsh slave code that upsets the locals and leads to violence.

TI MARIE is a fantastic look at Paradise Lost through a variety of characters representing the island’s social strata during a period in which the goings on in France has swept its way into the Caribbean and now Trinidad. For instance, Elena and Barry love one another with a hope for the future together (if they can communicate their feelings), but once the English arrive, their dream looks hopeless as his family would never accept a mutt like her. There is much more going on than described above as Valerie Belgrave provides a vivid landscape of late eighteenth century Trinidad through Free Blacks, slaves plantation owners, Europeans, and mixed blood, etc. as open hostilities cause havoc on the most southern Caribbean island.

Harriet Klausner

Highlander Ever After-Jennifer Ashley

Highlander Ever After
Jennifer Ashley
Leisure, Apr 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780843960044

Egan McDonald blames himself for the death of his brother in combat although he knows part of his guilt is caused by surviving the battle. He cannot return home to face loved ones so he wanders from place to place until he arrives in Nvengaria. There the royals welcome him and Princess Zarabeth, who cannot read his mind, falls in love with the honorable traveler.

Years later, in 1820 the King of Nvengaria fears for his beloved daughter as assassins and betrayals threaten the royals. The monarch sends Zarabeth to his friend Egan’s home in Scotland for safe keeping. However a storm wrecks Zarabeth’s ship. Egan searches for her and soon follows her “call” for help in his mind that leads him to a rock surrounded by water that she is on. As her family’s enemies try to assassinate her, he falls in love with his charge. However besides surviving the royal killers, they must overcome an ancient curse, the unmarried young debs’ curse, the Adam Ross rivalry curse, and the family matchmaking curse if they want a lifetime together.

HIGHLANDER EVER AFTER is an amusing whimsical Regency romance with a touch of the paranormal enhancing the fun tale. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Zarabeth’s crash lands in the Highlands and never slows down as assassins hunt for her and seemingly half of Scotland intrudes on their relationship. Mindful of PENELOPE AND PRINCE CHARMING, sub-genre fans will enjoy Jennifer Ashley's latest captivating historical.

Harriet Klausner

The Boundless Deep-Kate Brallier

The Boundless Deep
Kate Brallier
Forge, Mar 2008, $14.95
ISBN: 9780765319722

Kitty Bryant invites her niece Jane and her best friend grad student Liza Donovan to spend their summer break on Nantucket. Liza hopes to learn about people she has been dreaming of, especially nineteenth century whaler Obadiah Young. Aunt Kitty owns the Young estate amongst other properties.

On Nantucket Liza meets and dates whaling museum associate curator Adam Gallagher while Kitty's godson Lucian Theriault is also staying with her. Jane has mixed feelings over the latter as he was both friend and pest when she was growing up, but now is quite a hunk. Meanwhile Liza finds her dreams turning towards erotica while also finding her self drawn to the stairs in which Obadiah’s foreign wife Lucy died and still haunts. With Adam’s help, she investigates what happened to the wife over a century and a half ago; hoping to solve the woman’s death and free her from the dreams that haunt her.

More a romance than a mystery, fans will enjoy this fun paranormal tale starring likable modern day protagonists. The story line is fascinating as much of the clues occur in Liza’s dreams; giving the plot an otherworldly feel to it and frustrating Lucian who competes with a dead man for Liza’s affection. Paranormal romance fans will especially enjoy the well written THE BOUNDLESS DEEP and seek Kate Brallier’s previous similarly unique novel, SEAL ISLAND.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Darkest Kiss-Keri Arthur

The Darkest Kiss
Keri Arthur
Dell, May 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780553591149

In Melbourne, Dhampire Riley Jensen takes her work as a Directorate of Other Races guardian seriously for if she did not she would be dead as her cases are dangerous since she is judge, jury, and executioner when a non-human breaks the law. Her boss Jack Parnell orders her to investigate the death of hawk shifter Gerald James, head of the Non Human Rights league that was pushing for political representation. Her partner is horse shifter Kade with wolf shifter Cole working the crime scene. Both Riley and Kade sense something is not right; Cole tells them the victim had quite a sex marathon. While scratches on the deceased’s neck look like they came from a cat. Gerald’s assistant says he was seeing Alana Burns, one of the Torrack Trollops who sell themselves to millionaires in order to live the good life.

Wolf Ben Wilson, manager of the Nonpareil striptease, calls Riley to ask her to look into the death of one of his strippers, Denny, who was into the BDSM scene and died during erotic asphyxiation. She agrees and meets Ben at Denny’s place where she senses a creature similar to a vampire, but different.

Riley investigates both cases following a trail of death. In each the clues point towards the culprits being different than the normal other races that she knows of. However, understanding the danger to herself, her beloved brother, and his soulmate, Riley continues her pursuit of two dangerously deranged unique killers.

The key to the Arthurian universe (see KISSING SIN and DANGEROUS GAMES) is that the prime supernatural species seem genuine especially dhampires, psychic vampires (the ultimate dominant), and shapeshifters. The two serial killer investigations are interesting as the opponents are super paranormals with nasty grudges that has turned deadly. Although the two killers being two different distinct species that almost no one ever heard of loses some plausibility, police procedural fantasy fans will enjoy this strong investigative tale starring a fascinating individual.

Harriet Klausner

The Hollow-Nora Roberts

The Hollow
Nora Roberts
Jove, May 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780515144598

Twenty-one years ago three boys (Caleb, Fox and Gage) camped at the Pagan Stone, a place of great power in the woods of Hawkins Hollow, Illinois. They shared a blood rite that made them blood brothers, but when that serum hit the ground a black evil mass appeared followed by a blinding light that sent the demon back to its dimension. Three centuries ago, the guardian Trent after hundreds of years of battle with the demon Lazarus took an unprecedented step to stop the malevolent one.

In the present, the three blood brothers descendents of Trent have faced the demon who has influence over the townsfolk especially on the seventh day of the seventh month every seven years. Now they have three female allies (Layla, Cybil and Quinn) who are descended from the demon’s rape of Hestern three centuries ago. They must fight as one the evil; this time hoping to dispatch him to hell forever. While the sextet research what to do, Layla and Fox are attracted to one another; feelings that frighten both of them especially her as she fears she will lose her beloved in the next battle.

The demonic powers are stronger than they were in the first Sign of the Seven tale (see BLOOD BROTHERS) as he is able to influence many more people; however, his opponents have also grown. Though it has the Hollow feel of the middle book of an urban romantic fantasy trilogy, Nora Roberts affirms her talent as she has written an exciting and entertaining thriller starring the magnificent six who will earn reader admiration and respect for their courage. Well written, fans of Ms. Roberts will look forward to the final war THE PAGAN STONE.

Harriet Klausner

Lady & the Vamp-Michelle Rowen

Lady & the Vamp
Michelle Rowen
Grand Central Forever, Apr 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780446618632

Dedicated vampire hunters never feared death something they faced on every mission; they worry about being converted to the monstrosities that they hunt. Former vampire hunter Michael Quinn knows first hand the dread of becoming what he killed as he has become a blood sucking predator.

His only hope to return to human and his previous occupation is to make a wish on a magical relic the Eye. However, demon obligated assassin Janie Parker also seeks the Eye to keep her Boss from decapitating her for now and find her missing sister. She knows Michael, whom she has loved unrequitedly since she was a tweener, seeks the artifact. She also knows there is one drawback with the Eye; it can only grant one wish once every millennia.

Fans will enjoy this lighthearted romantic urban fantasy as Michael and Janie compete for the Eye with each believing their cause worthier than that of their rival. The amusing story line is fast-paced from the onset as the former vampire slayer turned hungry biter and the former adulator turned failed assassin fight, snipe and love each other in the latest Michelle Rowen Immortality Bites tales (see FANGED & FABULOUS, and BITTEN & SMITTEN).

Harriet Klausner

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Seduction of an Unknown Lady-Samantha James

The Seduction of an Unknown Lady
Samantha James
Avon, Apr 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780060896492

In 1852 Lord Aidan McBride is stunned to see a single female walking the streets of London by herself. He offers to escort her, but she almost skewers him with the deadly weapon she carries, her parasol. Bookshop owner Fionna Hawkes distrusts the aristocratic hunk who swears he wanted to insure she was safe.

Aidan comes to Fionna’s bookstore seeking the latest horrors tales by F.J. Sparrow. He does not know why, but she seems so much friendlier once he mentions the novels he desires. They argue over the tales such as the demon of Dartmoor and other things and soon walk the city together. However, though she is falling in love, her plate is full between caring for her hospitalized mentally ill mom, running her bookstore, and writing F.J. Sparrow novels. He falls in love too, but he knows she keeps a secret from him that makes him doubt she trusts him. Additionally, neither is aware that an unknown adversary is watching, stalking and waiting for the right moment to catch Fionna alone.

THE SEDUCTION OF AN UNKNOWN LADY is an excellent Victorian romance with some suspense that is slowly simmered throughout the plot. Fionna is terrific as she has no time for romance, but never met anyone like Aidan before who refuses to leave her alone as he fell in love over their Sparrow discussions. Samantha James is a sure shot when it comes to historical romances as affirmed by this strong tale.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Seduced by Sin-Kimberly Logan

Seduced by Sin
Kimberly Logan
Avon, Apr 2008, $5.99
ISBN: 9780061239205

In 1823, Lady Aimee Daventry continues to have the nightmares that she has suffered from since she witnessed the murder of her mother ten years ago when she was nine years old. Although the late killer confessed five years ago, these dreams this time have her mom insisting she remember everything so that she can make them listen. Her two married sisters Maura and Jillian worry about Aimee who is so unlike them or their late mom, the actress Elise. Instead she is a mouse who plans to remain a spinster especially since the man she loves Viscount Royce Grenville rejected her last year as he said he was not interested in mice. Royce hides how much he desires Aimee out of fear that he is cursed to doom those he loves. He blames himself for the deaths of his late brother Alex seven years ago, his sibling’s wonderful fiancée Cordelia nine years ago, and that of his unit at Waterloo.

With her two sisters settled (see SINS OF MIDNIGHT and THE DEVIL'S TEMPTATION) her father hopes to see Aimee married. However, before taking any vows, Aimee begins her quest that she pledge to herself to find her mother’s killer. Aimee turns to Royce for help as her quest places her in danger from a killer who wants the secret of his/her identity to remain concealed.

This is a fabulous ending to the Daventry siblings’ Regency romantic suspense trilogy. The return of the lead couples from the previous novels is more than a feeling of homecoming as they offer advice to the heroine’s concerned father. However, the tale belongs to Aimee who may look and somewhat act like a mouse, but roars with claws out in perilous situations. The mystery of who killed their mother’s murder is cleverly devised so that key threads from the previous tales are tied up nicely. Perhaps the only subtraction is that of a thug paid to kill Aimee turns illogically maniacal in his quest to complete this paying job.
Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Lovers and Ladies-Jo Beverley

Lovers and Ladies
Jo Beverley
Signet, Apr 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780451223364

"The Fortune Hunter". Amethyst “Amy” de Lacy decides to marry for money so that her husband will bestow dowries on her sisters and pay off the debts her late wastrel dad engulfed her brother Jasper with. However, Amy wonders how to meet a wealthy spouse when her family cannot afford a season. Hopes rise when Jasper wins a lottery. The four siblings debate whether to buy real tea or invest until Amy takes the pittance planning to go to London to attract a wealthy suitor. However, she stops off at the new neighbor’s place where she meets Harry Crisp. He falls in love, but before he can propose she reveals her scheme that she must marry money though she is attracted to Harry. Heartbroken that he loves a fortune hunter, Harry leaves.

"Deirdre and Don Juan". A married Earl, Mark Juan Carlos Renfrew is known by the Ton as Don Juan for his numerous affairs. His wife left him for another man early in their marriage so though he remains tied he feels free to chase women. However, when he learns his spouse died, Mark needs a spouse before the Mamas learn he is unshackled and make London unbearable. His mother suggests he marry his friend Lady Deirdre Stowe, who is not what one would call a second looker. She loves Howard Dunstable the mathematician and has a deal with her parents if no one proposes she can wed her beloved. Mark proposes, which Deirdre is forced to accept; one kiss tells him he is no longer a rake, but he must convince her they belong together.

These are two reprints of early 1990s Regency romances that loosely are part of a series (see EMILY AND THE DARK ANGEL) as characters reappear; however these are not the first books in that saga so some references feel unexplained. Still these are two entertaining traditional Regencies starring strong lead characters and solid support casts that Jo Beverly fans will enjoy.

Harriet Klausner

A Lady's Secret-Jo Beverley

A Lady's Secret
Jo Beverley
Signet, Apr 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451224194

In 1764 the ennui that engulfed Earl Robin Fitzvitry ends when he observes a sight he never would have imagined ever seeing. While dining at the Tete de Boeuf Inn in Abbeville, France, he observes Sister Immaculata in the courtyard mumbling curses like a sailor in apparently several languages. Unable to resist her paradoxical profanity, he learns she needs an escort to take her to England; intrigued, Robin agrees to take her.

Sister Immaculata is actually Petra d'Averio hiding in a nun’s outfit. She feels guilty because she is attracted to her escort while wearing a sister’s garb. He also proves to be hiding something from her as he risks his life to keep her safe. Petra may love Robin, but leaves him so that her enemies will leave him alone. Robin refuses to accept that his beloved just left as he needs her safe and at his side.

With wit and humor, Jo Beverley proves a wonderful eighteenth century romance starring two amiable lead characters whose first encounter is one of the best in recent memory. The tale is filled with non-stop action as the rake and the nun fall in love, but out of her fear for his safety she leaves to keep safe while due to his feelings he needs to keep her protected. Jo Beverley provides a tremendous historical due to the antics of this lead couple.

Harriet Klausner

Take Me If You Can-Karen Kendall

Take Me If You Can
Karen Kendall
Signet, Apr 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451223661

ARTemis Inc recovers stolen art for their clients. Part owner Avy Hunt is currently searching for the Sword of Alexander. British art thief Sir Liam James is the prime suspect as the theft has his modus operendi. She tries to learn all she can about her adversary but unbeknownst to her, Liam is doing likewise re his opponent. Liam confronts Avy on his turf, London leaving her angry, confused, and wanting.

As Avy and Liam team up in search of the purloined sword, someone wants to prevent them from uncovering the truth even as their attraction for one another exponentially grows. Avy begins to wonder if she fell in love with a thief or is there something else to her beloved as his behavior does not quite add up to what she expected from a burglar.

This is an exciting romantic suspense thriller that crosses the Atlantic several times as the lead pair “competes” against one another before teaming up. The story line is fast-paced from the onset until the final extortion although the miraculous speed of recovery from on the job injuries seems implausible. Still this is a fun tale as the sassy confident heroine challenges the suave self-assured hero to take her if he can.

Harriet Klausner

Phantom Pleasures-Julie Leto

Phantom Pleasures
Julie Leto
Signet, Apr 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451223654

In 1747 in Valoren just outside Germany, the Forsyth brothers rush to a Gypsy encampment to save their sister Sarina from ruin. Instead of rescuing her, they are turned into statues by some magical curse.

Over two and half centuries later, affluent businesswoman Alexa Chandler learns that her late father left her Isla de Fantasmas, an island off Florida, that includes a partially reconstructed German castle in which the stones were transported from Europe. She thinks she can convert the place into an exclusive hotel. However, Alexa soon learns of a phantom that haunts her castle. Alexa asks her best friend, paranormal researcher Catalina Reyes to help the ghost who becomes physical at night. Damon Forsythe is fascinated by the independent Alexa, He feels with her and Cat helping him, he might escape the curse, but assumes the cost is no longer interacting with his beloved Alexa.

This is a terrific opening paranormal romance that for the most part occurs in 2008, but also details what happened in 1747. The story line is fast-paced from the onset, but accelerates once the female developer realizes that when the castle was moved from Germany to the Florida isle a ghost was brought with it. A secondary plot involving Cat and a Romany scholar Ben augment this pleasurable tale starring the phantom of the castle and the woman whose love gives him hope.

Harriet Klausner

Demon's Fire-Emma Holly

Demon's Fire
Emma Holly
Berkley, Apr 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425220542

After being exiled to the Purple Crane by the Yamish for his inability to lead as much as for being a peeping royal, former second tier Prince Pahndir Shan broke the curse of seven years when he finally masturbated. To celebrate his liberation and to use his knowledge gained as a former prisoner training sex prop, he opens up the Prince’s Flame brothel in the human desert city of Bhamjran. He peddles fantasies, but feels alone as no one fulfills his desires.

Archeologist Lord Charles has come to Bhamjran on a dig. His cousin Beth who is seeking adventure joins him. When they meet Pahndir, sparks fly. The trio forms a ménage a trois of sorts that enables each to explore their wants and desires. However, their bonding is weakened by their past relationships that always ended badly for each of them, their guilt for breaking taboos, and those who want the trio broken apart for their own avaricious reasons.

The latest Tales of the Demon World (see PRINCE OF ICE) will have readers on fire from Emma Holly’s excellent romance as “sex rode the air”; or at least the pages. The lead trio forges a fascinating and complex relationship that enables the audience to see deep inside their souls to learn what motivates them, especially ghosts from each of their pasts. Demon’s FIRE is a heated erotic romantic fantasy that sub-genre fans will savor.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Dagger-Star-Elizabeth Vaughan

Elizabeth Vaughan
Berkley, Apr 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425220610

With the devastating wars apparently over (see Chronicles of the Warlands trilogy), sisters Red Gloves and Bethral seek employment as there is little work available at the moment for mercenaries. They wander into the war-ravaged Palins where they stop for a respite at a demolished farm. Also there is the despondent former Baron of Athelbryght Josiah, whose people were exterminated.

However Josiah suddenly has hopes for the few survivors amongst his people when he notices the birthmark of the Chosen One on Red. He explains she is the one who will save what is left of the Palins as she is destined to sit on the empty throne. Red assumes Josiah never recovered from the war and besides even if he is right about her birthmark, she could not care less about impoverished strangers; she just wants to survive. Even when the Priestess Evelyn validates what Josiah told her, she still prefers to find her next meal not a country’s next repast; of course each time she tells Josiah that he looks hurt, which make her feel guilty as she cannot understand why she needs him to think better of her.

This is an excellent romantic fantasy as the devastated countryside makes the story line feel genuine. Red is a fascinating lead character who has no interest in being a nation’s legendary savior as she is a mercenary to the core of her bone marrow; but Josiah makes her feel guilty with his looks of disappointment and loving devotion at the same time. Readers will enjoy Elizabeth Vaughn’s superb clever return to the desolate Warlands.

Harriet Klausner

Fast and Loose-Elizabeth Bevarly

Fast and Loose
Elizabeth Bevarly
Berkley, Apr 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425220856

With his thoroughbred Silk Purse running in the upcoming Kentucky Derby, trainer Cole Early needs a place to stay in the Louisville area for about two weeks, but nothing is available even as far away as Indiana. He rents a bungalow from a local glass artist Lulu Flannery, who has doubts about allowing a stranger on her property, but she cannot refuse the fee.

Cole and Lulu meet and are attracted to one another, but she knows nothing will come of it as he will have a choice of so many glamorous women. However, Cole knows she is the one for him that he has waited to meet her seemingly forever. Besides hoping to win the first leg of the Triple Crown, the bigger prize is winning Lulu’s heart.

FAST AND LOOSE is an engaging low key Kentucky romance that uses the backdrop of the Derby to set the time and place, which in many ways steals the show. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing as he knows she’s the one for him while she assumes “King Cole” as the press calls him can have any female he desires so why her. Fans will enjoy this lighthearted romp while wondering whether Silk Purse wins the race.

Harriet Klausner

Twisted Creek-Jodi Thomas

Twisted Creek
Jodi Thomas
Berkley, Apr 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425220818

The Texas attorney sends a registered letter informing Allie Daniels that her Uncle Jefferson recently died and she inherited his estate. Although confused since has no Uncle Jefferson, Allie sees this as a good luck opportunity to start anew taking her beloved Nana with her.

Allie and Nana relocate to the Texas lake community of Jefferson’s Crossing. She quickly falls in love with her new home; however, she lives in fear that she will be exposed as a hoax and unceremoniously run out of town. Her biggest fear is her attraction to Luke a drifter whom she believes will be the one to learn the truth about her. Luke is attracted to the newcomer, but his prime mission is to uncover who is using the nearby abandoned cabins as a meth lab.

TWISTED CREEK is a fine contemporary romance starring two likable lead characters, a wonderful Nana, and several eccentric Texans. Interestingly the warmer relationship is between the grandma and granddaughter even with the growing love shared by Allie and Luke which is fun to follow as he tries to hide his mission from the two newcomers. Although the suspense comes very late, fans will enjoy this Texas two step romance.

Harriet Klausner

Enticing the Earl-Nicole Byrd

Enticing the Earl
Nicole Byrd
Berkley, Apr 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780425220979

Unable to cope with the death of his son Robert last year and with no grandchildren Squire Harris left Yorkshire for London where he lost the estate in a game of cards to the Earl of Sutton. Robert’s impoverished widow Lady Lauryn Applegate Harris vows to get the property back as that is her home. Though she knows her sister would welcome her back, Lauryn offers to become mistress to the new owner Marcus in hopes of regaining the deed.

Marcus arrogantly informs her he will give her a two week trial at his country estate. There he realizes immediately that Lauryn is not a courtesan though she stirs his blood like no one ever has. As they fall in love in and out of bed and forge a relationship that includes companionship, a missing ship of his has been found. She decides to give her beloved a gift by investigating what happened to the vessel. Her endeavor and his efforts to keep her safe strengthen their love, but place their lives in danger from a deadly opium smuggler.

This entertaining historical romance is a fun read as a resolute Lauryn and a scandalous Marcus engage in a terrific gender war. Although that theme has been used frequently, the story line is fast-paced from the moment the duo duel and never slows down until their final confrontation. The subplot involving smugglers is exciting, but more critical is that it enhances the battle of the sexes. Nicole Byrd provides an engaging nineteenth century romantic romp.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, March 3, 2008

Knight's Reward-Catherine Kean

Knight's Reward
Catherine Kean
Medallion, Apr 2008, $7.95
ISBN: 9781932815993

In 1194 frightened more for the safety of her son Ewan even if he is the lord’s heir, Gisela Balewyne runs away with her child from her odious abusive husband Rhys. She takes shelter in Clovebury where she obtains work as a tailor. Her goal is to save enough money so that she and her child can travel even further away from Rhys; she hopes one day she can stop looking at every stranger she sees with suspicion that he is the one.

Lord de Lanceau sends his loyal knight Dominic de Terre to find stolen valuable silk. When the trail takes him to Clovebury, Dominic is stunned to see Gisela, who he loved before going off to war, sewing garments from the very cloth he seeks. She is working on a special order for French merchant Crenardieu. Dominic cannot believe she would be part of a theft ring, but the evidence is clear just like he learns who Ewan’s sire really is. He knows his heart loves Gisela, but his head tells him she is untrustworthy of his feelings while Crenardieu sends hooligans to eliminate the investigating knight.

This is an interesting medieval romance that uses a late twelfth century setting to tell a tale that in many ways feels contemporary with a sleuthing warrior and a woman hiding from her husband. The story line is fast-paced, but obviously driven by the relationship between the lead couple as he suspects her of thieving and lying while she prays he proves her love for him is right by protecting Ewan. Catherine Kean writes a fascinating historical tale.

Harriet Klausner

Her Every Pleasure-Gaelen Foley

Her Every Pleasure
Gaelen Foley
Ballantine, Apr 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780345496690

In 1818 with the assassinations of her male family members, Princess Sophia prays the English government will keeps its word to place her on the throne of Kavros though she expects them to use a tight leash on her if they do; her people need the leadership. She also knows the superpowers want to control the small strategically placed island chain off Greece that allows domination of the Mediterranean. However right now she needs shelter as her enemies are coming for her and if they catch her she is at best dead and at worst their token ruler-prisoner. She finds a barn that she feels will give her some temporary respite. However, the farm’s owner Gabriel Knight catches her. Initially assuming he at a minimum he will toss her off his property, Gabriel instead believes his brother sent her to him as a present to help him reconnect with people after his harrowing military experience.

Sophia pretends to be the gift and quickly believes she has stumbled on to her soul-mate. He, in turn, finds his attraction to her brings him back to life. As he learns more about her dire straits, Gabriel shows why he was the Iron major in India until the atrocities he condoned by not interceding ripped his heart apart; she has mended his broken heart.

The latest Knight sibling saga (see HIS WICKED KISS and HER OWN DESIRE) is an excellent Regency romance with a strong base being the rivalry between the various superpowers to control Kavros. Sophia is a fascinating lead female who believes she must go home to help her beleaguered people, but she has not been on the islands in seventeen years having been exiled when she was four. Major Gabriel is the right hero at the right moment as he not only finds love, he finds redemption. Fans will relish this strong early nineteenth century romantic thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Don't Tempt Me-Sylvia Day

Don't Tempt Me
Sylvia Day
Kensington Brava, Apr 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758217639

Forced to marry in 1757, Marquis Marguerite lovingly raises her twin daughters Lysette and Lynette Baillon. However, she becomes heartbroken when she finds out her older daughter Lysette died and was buried in Poland; still she has her beloved Lynette.

In 1780 Paris, Irish mercenary Simon Quinn recognizes Lysette as someone he sold out three years ago to Desjardin. However, although she looks the same she behaves radically different from the tough women he dealt with as she seems girly. Mistaking Lynette for Lysette, she learns that her sister has been an English assassin and is alive in France. She plans to find her sibling to bring her home, but Desjardin has plans for his stubborn pretty captive whom he must break. His chance of succeeding while crossing the Channel with a still confused Simon looks excellent.

This is a brilliant historical romantic suspense as Sylvia Day blends several subplots into a powerful thriller. The story line is fast-paced from the moment that Quinn sees Lynette and never slows down as she changes from girly girl to superhero trying to rescue her twin. The heated asides between her and Quinn feel right as this is one author who will make the readers’ day and night with this strong tale of courage and love in France, a decade before the Revolution.

Harriet Klausner

These Boots are Made for Stomping-Julie Kenner, Jade Lee, Marianne Mancusi

These Boots are Made for Stomping
Julie Kenner, Jade Lee, Marianne Mancusi
Love Spell, Apr 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780505527608

“A Step in the Right Direction” by Julie Kenner. Mortal Lydia Carmichael has no powers and in fact gets in the way of the Protector Nikko the Silver Streak on his mission. The superhero must capture technology thief Rex Ruthless and his cohorts before they cause harm. When Lydia puts on the special footwear everything changes.

“Kung Fu Shoes” by Jade Lee. In Indianapolis English literature teacher Michaela Becker fears for her life but still tries to reach smart student Lucy Varner. Her dreams seem futile until she dons the “Kung Fu Shoes” that turn her into a sexual fighting machine; just ask her boyfriend Joe.

“Karma Kitty Goes to Comic Com” by Marianne Mancusi. Karma Kitty comic book author Hailey Hills and her artist Thomas Carol have a booth at the 2008 New York Comic Con. Though she loves being here, she fears the love of her life Collin Robinson will be too. Their relationship ended when comic publishers rejected his art work on the original Karma Kitty though a misunderstanding caused the final break. As they see one another, both knows they still love the other, but who will make the first dangerous move becomes moot when Hailey gets embroiled in a mess requiring a superhero not a lover.

These three lighthearted satirical romantic romps are fun to read as each stars mortal females turning into superheroes ostensibly because of special shoes; yet they had the fortitude inside them embellished by a loving caring hunk or geek.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Mind Games-Merline Lovelace

Mind Games
Merline Lovelace
Silhouette Nocturne, Apr 2008, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373617845

The Air Force Office of Special Investigations assigns Captain Taylor Chase to learn if scientist Dr. Oscar Hayes is being forcibly held on a Caribbean fortress near St. Kitts. Two months ago, he vanished while working on a top secret government project; he just resurfaced apparently held by or voluntarily joined a consortium planning to sell genetically engineered organs as human harvests on the black market.

To gain access to the island, Taylor heads to Princeton, New Jersey to try to persuade her former graduate professor at the University of Michigan Dr. Mark Wolfson to help her as he has worked closely with Hayes although she has doubts about working with him as she was his lab assistant and lover until she realized the mind games he played with her. Mark reluctantly agrees to pose as her lover. Along with his loyal husky Tikal, they head to the Eastern Caribbean where the pair must deal with their attraction enhanced by their telepathic connection as much as by preventing a billionaire’s evil plan from occurring.

Known for her exhilarating military romantic suspense tales, Merline Lovelace adds a paranormal spin with Mark's ESP skills. Fans will appreciate the lead couple’s banter as they argue, fuss and love mentally and physically, which makes his abilities feel genuine; all this inside a strong suspense thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Last Wolf Hunting-Rhyannon Byrd

Last Wolf Hunting
Rhyannon Byrd
Silhouette Nocturne, Apr 2008, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373617852

Half-human half-werewolf Bloodrunner Jeremy Burns and his partner Cian Hennessey head to the lair of the Silvercrest pack in Shadow Peak, Maryland, a place he vowed never to turn to after leaving years ago. Jeremy and Cian have followed clues to his former pack where someone is persuading the young to go rogue and kill humans. He knows his lifemate the pack’s spirit walker Jillian Murphy will be there, but he will not claim her, as she deserves better than him; besides the pack needs her while he does not want to remain there.

From the first moment they see one another in a decade; Jillian and Jeremy know the attraction remains strong even though she is a bit distracted with a cat fight to the death in the Challenge Circle. Still Jeremy must focus on finding the proof that elder Stefan Drake is agitating the younger members and needs her help as he is as always the half-breed outsider.

The second Bloodrunner werewolf romantic suspense (see Last Wolf Standing) is a terrific tale starring lifemates whose respective life goal means living separate lives. Like Cian, fans will be hooked from the moment that Jillian and Danna fight to the death, as that opening segue provides the audience insight into the Byrd werewolf mythos. Much more follows woven into an exciting paranormal investigative thriller starring two heroes who can’t live together but can’t live apart

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Devil's Daughter-Laura Drewry

The Devil's Daughter
Laura Drewry
Leisure, Apr 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780843960488

Tired of living at home, Lucy Firr persuades her dad to let her move out; however he demands payment for granting her freedom. Lucy agrees to deliver three souls to her father, the devil in exchange for her moving out of Hell.

Lucy arrives in 1891 Redemption at a bride auction attended by Jed Caine, who is not seeking a spouse though he needs a wife. Lucy persuades the recalcitrant homesteader she is the one for the job. Jed agrees and marries her so that Lucy can help his pregnant sister on their spread. Lucy knows the way to Jed’s soul is his libido, which starts to her surprise with his heart not that other bloody organ. However, Lucy falters whenever Jed tenderly looks at her. When her sire sends her brother Deacon to remind her that default means moving home under the pitchfork of their irate father, Lucy must decide between his soul and her heart.

THE DEVIL’S DAUGHTER is a devilishly delightful paranormal western romance starring the literally beauty from Hell and the handsome angelic paragon. Her brain and brother demand she do him wrong while her heart and (don’t tell her papa as he has a fiery temper) soul plead with her to perform a self sacrifice and pay the consequences. The story line is fast-paced as it combines Gay Nineties bawdiness with historical tidbits to anchor time and place. Fans will appreciate this enjoyable tale while this reviewer envisions Mae West and Cary Grant returning to star in Laura Dewry’s devilish debut.

Harriet Klausner

Blame It on Paris-Jennifer Greene

Blame It on Paris
Jennifer Greene
Harlequin HQN, Apr 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780373772780

Forensic accountant Kelly Rochard decides to have one last fling before marrying in South Bend, Indiana. So filled with guilt that feels good, she flies to Paris to enjoy the City of Lights that is the hometown of her father.

At a bakery she stops to buy coffees and croissant only to have someone mug her. She fights to hold onto her bag because of the ratty letters inside as the thug could have her credit cards, Euros, and all other assorted hunk, but high school French failed her. He cuts off her oxygen grabbing her throat. She faints and he flees with her bag. As the gendarme questions her, a man with a Midwest accent and a Notre Dame University sweatshirt Will Maguire comes to her rescue. He fled South Bend with no plans to return as he enjoys his aimless life in France. They are attracted to one another from the onset. However, she explains she came to Paris to resolve paternal issues; not to fall in love; he has paternal issues too that he has avoided until Kel. He knows if he wants his beloved forever he must go home but can you really ever go home.

This is an engaging contemporary romance starring Americans in Paris (Kelly’s name is perfect for this tale whereas Will should have been Les or Mulligan). The key to this fun tale is the metamorphosis of the lead male as love makes him lucidly see his relationship with his dad. Fans will enjoy this amusing poignant tale of love and family in two Notre Dames.

Harriet Klausner