Monday, June 30, 2008

Never Romance a Rake-Liz Carlyle

Never Romance a Rake
Liz Carlyle
Pocket, Aug 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9781416527169

Comte de Valigny and Baron Rothewell play cards with the stake being the former’s beautiful daughter Camille Marchand. However, neither rake factored in the reaction of the stakes. Camille loathes her father who had no use for a female offspring until she turned into a rare beauty he could peddle amidst the Ton. She knows the Baron’s reputation as a scoundrel who prefers spending time with his mistress than any Ton social event. However, he is shocked when his winning comes willingly as she sees the rogue as the lesser of two evils.

As they spend time together, Camille finds herself attracted to the tender caring Kieran. She is able to somehow see past his façade into his soul yearning for more but expecting less. Kiernan is shocked how much he cares for Camille as he sees inside her heart to find the identical darkness covering a yearning for love. However, her father ruthlessly plans to use her as a tool to harm Kieran with a secret about his daughter that she is unaware of; but dear old dad placed his bets against love.

This is an engaging Regency romance starring two likable protagonists who readers will bet against them forging a permanent relationship; he is a true blood rake and she distrusts aristocratic males as her father taught her well. Sub-genre fans will enjoy their battles as love has left both bewildered and frightened while her opportunistic vile daddy dearest sees a chance to win a pot with this pair. Liz Carlyle deals three of kind with this fine NEVER ROMANCE A RAKE (see NEVER DECEIVE A DUKE and NEVER LIE TO A LADY).

Harriet Klausner

The Midnight Man-Charlotte Mede

The Midnight Man
Charlotte Mede
Kensington Brava, Aug 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 0758223676

In 1860, recently widowed Helena Hartford is infamous for her scandalous paintings. However, it is not her art that has her in trouble; it is her wealth she inherited that others covet and plan to use her paintings as proof she needs to be committed to an asylum. Bedlam would kill this young woman who relishes freedom.

Even more affluent than her, Nicholas Ramsay orders Helena to trust him as he will keep her safe and free. However, he hides from her his real agenda as she is his pawn to reap revenge. Instead he finds himself falling in love and takes her to South America on a science expedition and to keep her truly safe; however, those after her money follow as she must be removed either into an asylum or a coffin.

This EXPLOSIVE historical romantic suspense grips the audience from the moment the suspicious Helena (and readers) distrusts Nicholas when he says trust me. The story line is fast-paced with Darwinism used to anchor the era. The lead couple is a fabulous pairing as love supersedes hate in Nicholas’ case. Fans will appreciate Charlotte Mede’s strong thriller as the tension continually mounts until the final confrontation with a fascinating low key villain.

Harriet Klausner

The Black Sheep and the English Rose-Donna Kaufman

The Black Sheep and the English Rose
Donna Kaufman
Kensington Brava, Aug 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 0758217293

In New York City, Finn Dalton sneaks into a hotel suite only to find jewel thief Felicity Jane Trent tied naked to the bed. They have a history competing for precious jewels, but have not seen one another since Prague two years ago. Finn offers to team up with Felicity Jane to retrieve the Byzantium gem that both want; she asks how to split one stone and he says he is not sure, but there are other things he desires. She explains that artifact dealer John Reese caught her looking into his things. He tied her up and left with the stone. He is meeting his buyer’s contact. Finn asks Felicity Jane why steal when she is wealthy and runs a renowned charity. She will not respond, but he assumes it is the thrill.

Finn and Felicity Jane join Reese and his client Andreev, who is buying the gem for octogenarian collector Chesnokov. Andreev leaves followed by Reese. Finn and Felicity Jane go to Reese’s hotel room where they know an unknown woman had been there. They take a glass that might have her fingerprints on it. At his Manhattan sanctuary he learns the prints belong to Julia Forsythe, a San Francisco art dealer; they find her itinerary on the net. They believe Reese went to California with her so they follow them. Finn and Felicity Jane want one another, but he insists she stop stealing; she refuses.

The lead couple is terrific as they share an odd confrontational loving history filled with sexual innuendos while the return of the lead characters from the previous “Black Sheep” tales adds depth as they perform critical but minimized support roles. The mystery of what is truly going on is cleverly disguised; however, the “villain” never makes a first person appearance leaving the audience somewhat dissatisfied. Still this is a fine romantic suspense.

Harriet Klausner

Wanton-Noelle Mack

Noelle Mack
Kensington Brava, Aug 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 0758222769

In 1816 London, the members of the Pack of St. James are concerned with the recent murders of two women who were seen with the Pack’s men. The Pack also received a heinous message warning them more fallen women who are seen with them will die. Since leader Kyril Taruskin and his be loved Vivienne are in the WILD of the Russian port of Archangel, his brother Marko investigates.

His inquiries lead Marko to Severin, whose half-sister was a victim. She seems to know too much intricate details to satisfy Marko of her innocence. However he knows immediately she is clever and brilliant, and her allure is overpowering. Still he is not a Pack leader, who succumbs easily to a siren. When he tries to use his sensual skills to gain the upper hand and learn the truth, she turns up the heat. Soon he realizes to keep her safe he must not be seen with this scandalous woman whom he loves

This WANTON tale starts off WILD, hot and sexy as Marko and Severin are in instant heat for one another. However, the whodunit takes over the story line rather quickly; as it should with lives at stake including that of Severin. Thus fans will appreciate this fine historical mystery with the right amount of romance enhancing Marko’s desperate inquiry to catch a serial killer so that he and his soulmate can love one another for a long lifetime.

Harriet Klausner

The Bride of Time-Dawn Thompson

The Bride of Time
Dawn Thompson
Love Spell, Aug 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 0505527286

In 1903, London scullery maid Tessa La Prelle lives a hard life as her job is not an easy one. However, adding to her drudgery is the shock that everyone recognizes her as the model who posed in Giles Longworth's portrait, THE BRIDE OF TIME. The only problem with the assumption that she sat for the artist is that the painting is a century old.

While walking in a pea soup thick fog in London, Tessa suddenly finds herself at the Longworth's home in Cornwall with no idea how she got there and quickly hired as governess to his nephew; as no one except desperate people accept employment there. Almost everyone fears Longworth, who is rumored to be a shapeshifter who mutilates humans. Tessa knows Giles would never kill anyone; she is not quite as sure about his strange behaving nephew. As Tessa falls in love, she wonders if her heart is coloring her mind from evil.

As she has consistently done over the years, the late great Dawn Thompson provides an entertaining paranormal historical “bridal” romance in which she combines elements she has used before into an exciting tale. The author employs time travel (see THE FALCON'S BRIDE) with a werewolf saga (see THE RAVENCLIFF BRIDE) to provide her fans with a delightful gothic romance in which the suspense and the comparative historical eras enhance a fitting tribute.

Harriet Klausner

The Druid Made Me Do It-Natalie Stenzel

The Druid Made Me Do It
Natalie Stenzel
Love Spell, Aug 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 0505527774

Eight years ago Dr. Janelle Corrington met Kane. They had a heated one night stand and she suddenly believed in love at first sight as she thought she finally met her soulmate until he suddenly vanished in the morning.

However, Kane recently committed a bad error in judgment; for that misdeed Faerie King Oberon punishes his once favorite son who he knows as Robin Goodfellow, magical seducer of women. He names Janelle as his guardian while she is also granted special mental healing skills to compensate for her time. Kane’s punishment besides having to bow to a woman is to atone for his sins with all his victims. To his shock, Kane, who has always been a 4F kind of guy falls in love with Janelle; but he sadly knows they have no future together.

The sequel to PANDORA'S BOX is as wacky as that tale was as Robin makes a return engagement, which means Janelle is in for plenty of “Pandemina”. The amusing story line is fun to follow as the lead couple has plenty of tsuris especially with their apparent no future together. Fans of romantic fantasy will appreciate THE DRUID MADE ME DO IT as Robin Goodfellow learns a lesson about the real magic of love.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, June 27, 2008

First Blood-Susan Sizemore, Erin McCarthy, Chris Marie Green, and Meljean Brook

First Blood
Susan Sizemore, Erin McCarthy, Chris Marie Green, and Meljean Brook
Berkley, Aug 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425224007

"Cave Cane" by Susan Sizemore. In the Laws of the Blood universe, vampire law enforcer Dan Conover and werewolf Tess Sirella form a reluctant team seeking to rescue kidnapped pups.

"Russian Roulette" by Erin McCarthy. After losing her “day” job, former vampire slayer born again vampire Sasha Checkikov flees Vegas for New Orleans in order to jump start her undead life, but needs rescuing by vampire Alistair Kirk.

"Double the Bite," by Chris Marie Green. In the Vampire Babylon world, twin vampires stalk mortal Ben Tyree until one of the siblings Ginny falls in love while her sister claims ownership of the human.

"Thicker Than Blood" by Meljean Brook. When Annie Gallagher was human she loved FBI Agent Jack Harrington; but when she became a vampire she gave him up though she still loves him. Now they team up to rescue an abducted young girl.

Vampire romantic suspense fans will enjoy biting into these four well written novellas; with the added treat of the return visits by fans of Ms. Sizemore and Ms. Green to their renowned realms.

Harriet Klausner

First Blood-Susan Sizemore, Erin McCarthy, Chris Marie Green, and Meljean Brook

First Blood
Susan Sizemore, Erin McCarthy, Chris Marie Green, and Meljean Brook
Berkley, Aug 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425224007

"Cave Cane" by Susan Sizemore. In the Laws of the Blood universe, vampire law enforcer Dan Conover and werewolf Tess Sirella form a reluctant team seeking to rescue kidnapped pups.

"Russian Roulette" by Erin McCarthy. After losing her “day” job, former vampire slayer born again vampire Sasha Checkikov flees Vegas for New Orleans in order to jump start her undead life, but needs rescuing by vampire Alistair Kirk.

"Double the Bite," by Chris Marie Green. In the Vampire Babylon world, twin vampires stalk mortal Ben Tyree until one of the siblings Ginny falls in love while her sister claims ownership of the human.

"Thicker Than Blood" by Meljean Brook. When Annie Gallagher was human she loved FBI Agent Jack Harrington; but when she became a vampire she gave him up though she still loves him. Now they team up to rescue an abducted young girl.

Vampire romantic suspense fans will enjoy biting into these four well written novellas; with the added treat of the return visits by fans of Ms. Sizemore and Ms. Green to their renowned realms.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Child Comes First-Elizabeth Ashtree

The Child Comes First
Elizabeth Ashtree
Harlequin SuperRomance, Jul 2008, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373715039

In Baltimore, the state accuses eleven-year-old Tiffany Thompson of willfully killing three-year-old Derek Baldridge. The Third Circuit Court judge ruled that the preadolescent will be tried as an adult because of the shocking homicide and the accused documented history of violence. Attorney Simon Montgomery is assigned the pro bono case in which a public defender failed to get the venue changed back to Juvenile Court. Other court rulings handled poorly by his predecessor further hampers his ability to mount a strong defense

Meanwhile social worker Jayda Kavanagh totally believes Tiffany did not kill the younger child. She demands the new lawyer do a better job than the previous one did. As Jayda and Simon begin to fall in love, both are also charmed by the young girl on trial. However, besides understanding THE CHILD COMES FIRST, all three have issues to overcome if relationships are to forge permanently.

This entertaining romantic legal thriller works because the lead couple of this aptly titled tale focuses on defending the child over their attraction. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Derek picks up the pro bono defense of Tiffany and never slows down as he struggles with issues left by the previous lawyer, his client’s history and brooding reluctance to speak, and his desire for Jayda. Her idealism matches his skepticism as fans will enjoy this fine contemporary.
Harriet Klausner

Trusting Ryan-Tara Taylor Quinn

Trusting Ryan
Tara Taylor Quinn
Harlequin SuperRomance, Jul 2008, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373715008

Columbus Special Victims Bureau Police Detective Ryan Mercedes and thirty-five year old lawyer Audrey Lincoln are attracted to one another from the first moment they met six months ago while both were working. They go out on non-dates, watch videos like Almighty Bruce and the Reds play, and have fun together. They begin baring their souls to each other and soon made love. However, Audrey has deep concerns when she learns her boyfriend is still in his twenties.

Besides the age gap that has started a rift between them, the pair finds themselves on opposite sides of a controversial case. With their relationship seemingly barely on life support, love may not be enough between the younger man and the older woman who cherish each other, but also have trust issues from their respective salad days.

This is an enjoyable contemporary romance due to the relationship between the lead couple as their vocations, their histories, and their thirteen year gap come between them while the case especially the child that divides the duet adds poignancy to the fine story line. Trusting Tara Taylor Quinn to provide a strong tale, fans will appreciate this older woman-younger man tale of love and doubt.

Harriet Klausner

The Way Home-Jean Brashear

The Way Home
Jean Brashear
Harlequin SuperRomance, Jul 2008, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373715053

Isabella “Bella” Parker wakes up in Lucky Drawn, Colorado suffering from amnesia while her fifty-eight year old spouse and their children worry over where she is. In Parker’s Ridge, Alabama James worries over whether his beloved wife of over three decades is safe as she is missing; he blames himself for her leaving. He and their adult kids are relieved to learn where Bella is due to a newspaper article revealing her story and location, but is concerned about her memory loss.

James wants her to come home, but in spite of her lack of memory her instincts tell her she was running from him. James knows why she was thinking of leaving him; they had lost their ability to play and have fun with each other until he cheated on her. Now a desperate James hopes to convince his spouse that if she gives him a second chance he will never wander and they will enjoy life to the fullest instead of just all business all the time.

THE WAY HOME is a touching second chance at love tale refreshingly starring two people in their fifties. Character driven, fans will relish Jean Brashear's heartfelt contemporary as the flawed lead couple makes the spat real enough to threaten to end a thirty-five years old relationship while the support cast ensure her amnesia is not a gimmick used to wipe the slate clean like an Etchosketch..

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Erotomania-Francis Levy

Francis Levy
Two Dollar Radio, Aug 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780976389576

James Moran would not have said he was addicted to sex before he bed her, but now he lives for the out of control trysts with a woman whose name he does not even know. He gives up on gourmet meals to be with her before her boyfriend comes home. After each mind boggling incredibly physical session, James wanders the streets in a sex induced fog unable to tell anyone even his name while all he could think of is ye who enter will never go back.

However, increasingly James begins to think of a wider relationship with his Jane Doe. He even learns her name is Monica and they begin trying other things besides sexual nirvana. However, although they have fun together, their camaraderie pales next to the sex. Both begins to worry is that all there is in their relationship and in life in general and how shallow they are as they grow tighter yet find no common ground outside of their erotic mania. They are so out of control sexually they use a bomb shelter in order to avoid being labeled dangerous weapons of destruction by neighbors.

When the audience meets James he has kept his greatest sex partner nameless so that he can limit the relationship; Monica does likewise. As each obsesses over the incredible uninhibited carnality, they eventually need more as they begin to become real people with other needs. Thus EROTOMANIA turns into a superb well written character study that will have the audience compare the changing needs of James and Monica to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The pair starts off ecstatic as they linger contentedly at the Physiological and Safey lowest levels of the Pyramid, but over time begin to want much more as each seeks growth in their relationship seeking Belonging, Esteem and Self Actualization. Francis Levy provides a wonderfully poignant character driven relationship drama.

Harriet Klausner

Daughter of Egypt- Constance O'Banyon

Daughter of Egypt
Constance O'Banyon
Leisure, Jul 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780843960068

In 44 BC at a Roman marketplace, Thalia tries to steal food, but is seen. She flees hiding behind a noble woman who says nothing to her pursuers. The wealthy Egyptian Lady Adhania takes the street urchin home with her to raise her as her daughter. Over time she forgot her beggar existence across the Mediterranean until in 36 BC a one-eyed man, who had stalked her years earlier in Rome, kidnaps her. Frightened, she becomes further shocked when warrior Count Ashtyn kidnaps her.

Thalia cannot fathom why the sudden interest in her. She soon learns the answer to her question when Ashtyn takes her to the island kingdom Bal Forea where she is Princess Thalia and soon to be Queen and Ashtyn her husband the king.

Almost a decade since the events of LORD OF THE NILE and SWORD OF ROME, DAUGHTER OF EGYPT is a terrific ancient historical romance that starts in Rome, moves to Egypt, and ends up on an island. Thalia is a brave person who learned to adapt to the situation as a beggar while the courageous Ashyny proves her equal willing to die to keep her safe. As with the previous two historical tales, this excellent entry that uses real persona like Antony and Cleopatra bring to life the Mediterranean in the first century BC.

Harriet Klausner

Siren's Song-Trish Albright

Siren's Song
Trish Albright
Leisure, Jul 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 0843960868

Alexandra Stafford loves sailing the high seas especially as the captain of her ship. Although danger can come from pirates, slave traders, official navies, the weather, or in her case her stalking enemy Paxton nothing fazes the courageous sailor. Even when she captured and sold into slavery in Monaco, Alex remains optimistic as she assumes this is another adventure for her.

That is until the Duke of Worthington, Joshua rescues Alex from slavery. Afterward he meets her at galas hosted by the Ton in London. He already admired her spirit and has a desire to help her learn the meaning of a prophecy involving the SIREN’S SONG although he fears for her life. She feels fear for the first time in her life as she prays her obsession will not lead to the death of her beloved Joshua or her family

This an exiting late eighteenth century action-packed pirate romance in which Captain Trish Albert and her crew of readers sail the seven seas. The plot is a bit over the top, but no one will care because of Alex who sets the tone with her courage and need to know; which proves infectious as the admiring audience will want to know also.
Harriet Klausner

Electra Galaxy's Mr. Interstellar Feller-Candace Sams

Electra Galaxy's Mr. Interstellar Feller
Candace Sams
Love Spell, Jul 2008, $6.99
ISBN: ISBN: 0505527626

If the assignment was anything but illegal intergalactic weapons dealers Earth Protectorate Force Captain Sagan Carter would have pleaded with her superior to find some other agent. However, the earth cop knows how dangerous weapons of mass destruction in the wrong hands can be; so she grimaces as she must work with arrogant Oceanun Enforcer Keir Trask to prevent the deal. To enable them to go undercover, Keir enters Mr. Interstellar Feller competition where the exchange is expected to occur.

Keir assumes he will be paired with an idiot as he stereotypes earth dwellers as being stupid and uncivilized. However, he finds his new partner has beauty and brains as she handles their assignment with finesse except when he stares at her eyes and sees the heat he feels there. However, he also feels guilt as he has hidden from Sagan his other mission.

Gender bending Sandra Bullock’s version of the Miss America contest and placing it inside a romantic science fiction police procedural thriller, Candace Sams provides readers with an engaging lighthearted frolic. The lead couple is a fun pairing as each comes to the police teaming with major biases about the other’s species. In an interesting galaxy and starring two strong lead characters, the plot is enjoyable and filled with peril but it is not deep tale. Still fans will appreciate this entertaining creative tale while demanding Pluto Pillow Mints.

Harriet Klausner

Nightwalker-Jocelynn Drake

Jocelynn Drake
Harper, Aug 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061542770

Although the NIGHTWALKERS are a formidable almost invincible breed, Mira is unique as the only master of the element fire. The Fire Starter has lived for six hundred and three years quietly patrolling and stalking the night in her sector to rid the earth of the evil Naturi, but the ability to kill her adversaries with fire keeps her apart from even the Ancient Ones.

Danaus the vampire hunter is unique also as he does not wear the protective silver cross; he has killed several vampires over the past month in her zone as Mira has observed him in action while her tongue erotically massages her fangs. He knows she has seen him and begins stalking Mira. She must choose between fight and flight so she challenges him. He proves more than human with his skills, but neither goes for the final kill at this time. However, a seemingly deadlier foe for both of them has emerged.

This is an engaging urban fantasy as the audience will appreciate the tense gender battles between the Fire Starter and the more than human Vampire Hunter even if their physical fight is over the top with too much bravado and neither goes for the final kill. The story line is fast-paced with mounting tension from the onset that never abates. Sub-genre fans will enjoy entering Drake’s world as this is a fun paranormal thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Storm Born-Richelle Mead

Storm Born
Richelle Mead
Zebra, Aug 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420100969

Her stepfather trained shaman Eugenie “Odile” Markham in how to send back creatures who cross over from the Otherworld. Eugenie is excellent at her vocation, but now has a much more complex issue confronting her after she exorcised the lost soul from the sole of the sneaker. Wil Delaney asks Odile to rescue his sister Jasmine, who he says fairies abducted her; taking the girl back to their realm, which Odile knows is Otherworld. Although her beloved stepfather warned her never to cross over, Eugenie knows she must try to rescue the child.

When she crosses over Eugenie finds herself the target of almost every male in Otherworld for they know she is the Dark Swan; the focus of a key prophesy involving a child she will birth. She also meets her biological father the Storm King who will sell her to the highest bidder while two men, Kiyo the spirit fox and King Dorian offer to help her retrieve the female and take her back to the mortal side; however Eugenie trusts no one but herself on this side.

The tale begins as an amusing urban fantasy, but once Eugenie leaves behind the world of “Nike” to cross over it turns into a humorous investigative “quest” fantasy. The story line is fast-paced from the opening sneaker ploy and filled with non-stop action and characters who bring Otherworld to life. However, though the plot is obviously the introduction to the Black Swan saga, the sarcastic self deprecating heroine who is the focus of every Y chromosome bearer makes STORM BORN a fine fun fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Match Made in Hell-Terri Garey

A Match Made in Hell
Terri Garey
Avon, Jul 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061136160

In Atlanta, Nicki Styx is grateful to her new boyfriend, ER Dr. Joe Bascombe whom she met when he saved her life though lacking exact change for ferryman to escort her across her surname river also proved a factor (see DEAD GIRLS ARE EASY). Returning to the living she dedicates her life to helping the dearly departed cross over to the other side.

However, life takes a wacky spin for Nicki when Joe’s soon to be former wife Kelly suddenly reappears in his life and hers as a car accident victim rushed to the hospital. She is Nikki's identical twin. Helping them with the awkward reunion is their biological mother who happens to a ghost. Finally a devil of a hunk wants Nikki as his girlfriend.

The second Nikki Styx romantic fantasy is a lighthearted romp as the heroine’s family adds to the fun. Readers who appreciate the adventures of the “Ghoulfriend” working Little Five Points in downtown Atlanta as Nicki adapts from shoes in the closet to literally skeletons in the closet. Although the story line is a bit fluffy, the amusing A MATCH MADE IN HELL is an entertaining frolic.

Harriet Klausner

Finding Stefanie-Susan May Warren

Finding Stefanie
Susan May Warren
Tyndale, Jul 2008, $12.99
ISBN: 9781414310190

Stefanie Noble is tired of being the responsible one while her two brothers (see RECLAIMING NICK and TAMING RAFE) got to do what they wanted. Unlike her siblings, who have seen a lot of the United States searching for their respective selves, she ventured off the family Silver Buckle Ranch for one term at college. Worse she has no dreams anymore wondering what happened to that little girl who wanted so much.

Action movie star Lincoln Cash has come a long way from his youth when everyone frightened him and picked on him. Although he puts on the tough guy facade, inside he remains the same scared little kid. When he meets Stefanie, he feels a deep attraction that she shares with him. However, neither can make that first move besides the neighbors are natural enemies as he wants to open an annual film festival nearby she opposes Hollywood trampling her beloved Big Sky Country.

The third Noble Legacy tale is a wonderful contemporary Montana romantic suspense with an arsonist wrecking Lincoln’s dreams. The two likable stars each bring tons of baggage to their relationship with no place to store it except internally making no room for love unless they clean out some of their fears. The story line belongs to the lead couple as Hollywood is his façade to hide his misgivings and flaws while ranching is her façade hiding her uncertainties and faults. With much more going on, fans will enjoy Susan may Warren’s latest Big Sky Noble saga.

Harriet Klausner

Rites of Spring (Break)-Diana Peterfreund

Rites of Spring (Break)
Diana Peterfreund
Delta, Jul 2008, $10.00
ISBN: 9780385341936

Eli University senior Amy Haskel belongs to the Rose and Grave secret society where her moniker is Bugaboo. The R&G diggers try to break into the building hosting their rival secret society the Dragon’s Head. However, the Dragonheads identify one person in the break-in, Amy. They assault her with a vengeance using childish pranks while destroying her property without any regard to the harm they cause her.

Amy’s former boyfriend Brandon asks her to help him with fellowship packages, which shocks her as he is the math whiz and she avoided numbers at all cost. Even more surprising he begins to hang out again with her when she knows his girlfriend belongs to DH. During spring break, Amy joins the diggers on an R& G owned island, but on the boat trip, she as a non-swimmer falls overboard and her life jacket fails her falling off instead. If she makes it to the island, more danger awaits her and the other Diggers.

With a cast of quadrillion, young adult readers will need an access database to keep track of who is doing what and why to whom; yet somehow author Diana Peterfreund insures her myriad of secondary players, including a family and another group not mentioned above, have differing traits. Still this is Amy’s tale as she finds her senior year RITES OF SPRING (BREAK) initially prank-filled but soon dangerously deadly. Over the top absolutely, but fun as Amy and the teen audience will wonder what’s going on.

Harriet Klausner

The Vampire Julian-Ann B. Morris

The Vampire Julian
Ann B. Morris
ImaJinn, Jun 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9781933417202

Not long after the destruction Hurricane Katrina caused, Simone LeClerc comes to New Orleans to find her missing step-sister Dottie, who went to the Big Easy seeking a missing woman only to drop out of sight. Determined to find her sibling, Simone obtains work and an apartment at Mike’s After Dark bar; the owner Julian Whitcombe is a hundred and fifty years old vampire; there she meets the bartender who is a shapeshifter.

Julian believes Simone is the woman the Goddess Lilith prophesized would come to him when the need is great. Lilith knows that if Simone loves Julian deep enough, she will convert him back from vampire to mortal as only humans can; and he will fulfill his destiny to save the world. Simone remains skeptical that vampires exist and that Zurik and his clan drink human blood until their victims die and the news is all over the media. Julian and his clan fight them depending on synthetic blood for sustenance. As she sees the truth, she knows she loves Julian and if he needs her to do something prophesized by the Goddess Lilith, she will do it for him.

The first Whitcombe Legacies tale stars one of triplets who in times of catastrophe must find the respective women who will allow each to achieve their destiny. This vampiric romance is refreshing due to an original plot that uses the Katrina destruction as a horrific backdrop. Ann B. Morris leaves her audience anxiously waiting for the next two bites led by the other two triplets.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, June 23, 2008

Lessons from a Courtesan-Jenna Peterson

Lessons from a Courtesan
Jenna Peterson
Avon, Jul 2008, $5.99
ISBN: 9780061138140

In 1812 Justin Talbot and Victoria Reed marry although they do not know one another. The Earl and his new bride share a passionate night together as he explores every inch of her delightful body. The next morning she wakes up to learn her husband left without a word. For the next three years, she runs his estate, but he never returns from London and she never goes there.

In 1815 Victoria learns of the disappearance of a close friend widow Chloe Hillsborough in London. Thus she decides to go to the big city to see if she can find Chloe. She masquerades as Ria, the sexy courtesan, who has the Ton in a titter; the men want her while the women want her to leave. Justin knows who she is, but is outraged when he hears men claim they took her. As he makes his bid to regain the trust of his wife, they fall in love, but he knows finding her friend is the only way she will believe he is sincere this time.

LESSONS FROM A COURTESAN is an exciting Regency romance starring two stubborn lead characters who refuse to admit their love for one another. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Justin realizes the talk of the Ton is his wife and Ria realizes the only touch she desires is that of her husband. Jenna Peterson provides an enjoyable early nineteenth century romp starring the battling Talbots.

Harriet Klausner

Reckless-Selena Montgomery

Selena Montgomery
Avon, Jul 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061376030

Atlanta attorney Kell Jameson left her hometown Hallden and the orphanage she grew up in behind; vowing never to return. However, the only person she would go back to help needs her and she is summoned back to her hometown after years of running away since the fiery incident back in 1991 broke up the Three Musketeers (Kell, Fin and Julia). Mrs. Faraday, the kind head of the orphanage where she lived, is accused of murder.

Sheriff Luke Calder investigates the homicide of a local drug dealer. He stops Kell for a traffic violation, but she flees the scene. Luke follows Kell to the diner where he hands her the tickets and asks her out. As they work the case and related matters, they fall in love. However besides the commute, Kell fears telling him the truth because she needs to protect Fin Borders and Julia Warner and believes he will not just reject her when he learns her darkest secrets from 1991 he will expose them.

RECKLESS is an action-packed romantic suspense thriller that sets the tone of the story line with its 1991 prologue and never slows down afterward. The cast is strong as it brings to life small town Georgia even some players from the past and from beyond. However, the tale is owned by the feisty courageous yet vulnerable heroine who finds love with the one person who can destroy her. Selena Montgomery allows her recovery specialists to rest (see SECRETS AND LIES, and HIDDEN SINS) with an entertaining regional thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, June 22, 2008

La Petite Four-Regina Scott

La Petite Four
Regina Scott
Razorbill, Jul 2008, $8.99
ISBN: 9781595142085

La Petite Four met at the Bardsley School and became close friends for life. Lady Emily Southwell, Miss Priscilla Tate, Miss Ariadne Courdebas and Miss Daphne Courdebas are one for all and all for one even as they look forward to graduating and taking London by storm in their first season.

However, Emily is stunned to learn that her father’s arranged betrothal to Lord Robert Townsend has been announced and she will marry him before her season. She refuses as she has dreams of becoming an artist asked to join the Royal Society for the Beaux Arts. Emily and her Petite Four friends seek to find a blemish that would prove Lord Robert is unworthy to be her mate. She alos finds herself attracted to Mr. James Cropper whose loathing of Lord Robert should make him an ally, but she fears he is using her as a pawn in his feud. This LA PETITE FOUR begin the quest.

This first of four tales is a terrific young adult Regency romantic suspense tales starring fully developed characters. Each of the female quartet is physically and emotionally different, which enhances a strong historical tale. The two antagonists who compete for Lady Emily’s affection augment the fine story line further. Regency fans of all ages will appreciate the opening salvo with three petite females storming high society to follow.

Harriet Klausner

Game for Anything-Bella Andre

Game for Anything
Bella Andre
Pocket, Jul 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9781416558415

NFL superstar San Francisco Outlaws quarterback Ty Calhoun won the Super Bowl on the last play with an incredible run. While the accolades pour in especially for his amazing final play, public relations specialist Julie Spencer watched the game and its final play on TV and expected Ty to score the winning points. She never forgot his scoring with her when he took her virginity and heart without a look back ten years ago.

Behind his impish demeanor, Ty hides the fact he never forgot that high school graduation night that shook him to the core and made him flee like a coward. Now he would give away every trophy and his throwing arm for one more night of uninhibited sex with Julie; even the thought makes him hard.

The new owner of the San Francisco Outlaws believes professional athletes are role models and wants them to behave accordingly in public. For his star quarterback that means a PR remake starting with nuking his current image. Julie, known for her spin skills, is hired to the delight of Ty. Whereas she tries to avoid his efforts to sack her, she knows even mentally thinking about his touch leaves her feeling tackled; he has a game plan to win back her heart starting with her trust as he has a chance to make up the one errant pass of his life by blitzkrieging her heart.

Even no football fans will appreciate this fun second chance at love sports romance as the two stars are likeable characters. Ty knows he must gain his beloved’s trust which is off the board for taking bets as he has to overcome his desertion and ignoring her afterward. Fans will appreciate this fun lighthearted romp with the only quibble being a team named the Outlaws probably belongs in Oakland ( at least at one time that is).

Harriet Klausner

Calico Canyon-Mary Connealy

Calico Canyon
Mary Connealy
Barbour, Jul 2008, $10.97
ISBN: 9781597899383

In 1867 Mosqueros, Texas, new schoolteacher Grace Calhoun dreads the arrival of the “Five Horsemen of the Apocalypse”. As always her class of seven girls and eight boys consist of ten angels and the five Reeves’ demons; ten years old twins Abraham and Isaac, and five years old triplets Mark, Luke and John. The rowdy rascals have Grace questioning her teaching skills while their widow father Daniel writes off their pranks as boys being boys. Deciding on peace the school board Solomon-like fires Grace and expels Daniel’s children.

Grave is heartbroken as she feels justice was not served and besides she needs the money to bring her ragtag family Hannah and the other children from Chicago. Worse, she knows her insane daddy Parrish, who has stalked her and ruined her life everywhere she flees to escape him, has physically arrived. In heavy rain with a ripped nightgown torn by Parrish, Grave flees through the window into the night cutting herself as she falls. Seeing a wagon, she jumps inside the back although she feels that God has forsaken her like everyone else has. In the wintry mix, Daniel goes home unaware of the stowaway. When he discovers her she is cut up badly and fevered. He takes her home, but the Reverend catches them and demands they marry; reluctantly they do as she fears he will be another Parrish who still stalks her expecting payment in full.

This engaging return to post Civil War Texas (see PETTICOAT RANCH) is an enjoyable western romantic suspense. The cast is strong especially the lead pairing, the impish quintet, and the villain. Readers will wonder if Grace survives her daddy, will she survive the rowdy rascally Reeves sextet as she feels she has gone from the frying pan into the fire.

Harriet Klausner

Gentlemen Behaving Badly-Michelle Marcos

Gentlemen Behaving Badly
Michelle Marcos
St. Martin’s, Jul 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 0312948506

Her father was arrested for a crime that Mina Halliday knows he did not commit; his jewelry shop taken from him and his family. While he lingers in ruin in prison, Mina went to the Pleasure Emporium seeking employment although she lacked the beauty and skills of the ladies. However, Madam Finch, the tall owner, hires her to serve drinks and to lure men with her sensual letters. Mina also hops to find the aristocratic miscreant who framed her father.

Chief Constable Salter Lambrick investigates a homicide of a government official. His only clue is the sexy letter he found inside the victim’s pocket. Salter goes to the Pleasure Emporium to interrogate the authoress, but finds a strange intriguing mystery there. The writer is obvious a woman of innocence serving drinks at the brothel’s bar. He finds her pretty and intelligent; a lethal combo for the detective who agrees to help her uncover the villain who destroyed her family.

The second Regency Pleasure Emporium brothel tale (see WHEN A LADY MISBEHAVES) stars a charming "bad girl" whose wickedness is to write sensual letters enticing the male Ton to come to the bordello. The story line is fast-paced and filled with mystery, suspense and romance. Fans will relish the strong lead couple pairing and the antics of the support cast especially those inside the brothel. Although somewhat similar in tone to the first unique entry, sub-genre readers will enjoy this engaging tale of love inside a house of ill repute.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, June 20, 2008

Seduction Becomes Her-Shirlee Busbee

Seduction Becomes Her
Shirlee Busbee
Zebra, Jul 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780821780268

Daphne Beaumont has always been there for her family as she loves them. When her brother inherits a title and estate in Cornwall, she expects a rise in their standard of living. She hopes the new affluence will enable her to find happiness.

Charles Weston has come to Cornwall looking for closure; he wants to know more about the death of his odious younger half-brother Raoul. When he and Daphne are trapped inside a cave by an avalanche, he knows they must marry to avoid a scandal. Daphne is attracted to Charles, but has doubts about marrying him as she just wants time to take care of herself following years of family responsibility. However, someone else has caused problems for Charles and Daphne that makes a scandal seem like a Hyde Park picnic; he assumes his sibling the “Monster” who allegedly died two years ago somehow survived his lethal wounds and still lives.

SEDUCTION BECOMES HER is an engaging historical romance starring two likable protagonists who fall in love, but the potential scandal, their family histories, and an unknown villain make it seem that they will never be together. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Charles, obsessing with a need to know, arrives in Cornwall; the locale adds freshness to this fine Regency romantic suspense that fans will want to read Shirlee Busbee’s fine tale of love and danger.

Harriet Klausner

Nailed-Amie Stuart

Amie Stuart
Kensington Aphrodisia, Jul 2008, $12.95
ISBN: 9780758218933

In Cielo, Texas, Bonnie James pays her bills by repairing the other apartments in the complex where she lives. She also relishes peeping at the other residents especially when they are into something erotic; she forges sexual fantasies about many of them from her erotic distance.

On a late night, setting up surveillance at an apartment complex in Cielo where he seeks Julie Burt or her sister Karen Lyons at where he thinks is the end of the world, bounty hunter Wynn Collier notices the beautiful Peeping Thomasina. He knows to ignore her and stick with the stakeout, but she makes the torrid evening sweltering. He decides to pay the voyeur a visit to see if he can teach her a sexual encounter of the first kind is much more gratifying than that of the third kind.

This is an exciting erotic romantic suspense that grips the audience the first time the bounty hunter sees the voyeur and never slows down even with a few obvious but delightful twists. Bonnie and Wynn are a delightful pair as he detours from the mission that his dad sent him on. Amie Stuart NAILED this fine tale due to the lead coupling.

Harriet Klausner

Always a Mother-Linda Warren

Always a Mother
Linda Warren
Harlequin SuperRomance, Jun 2008, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373782444

They were high school sweethearts, who had kids as teens. Dean became a football star while Claire stayed home to raise their children. Now the kids are grown and Claire looks forward to finally completing her college degree and obtaining a full time job outside the home that she put on hold.

There is only one problem confronting Claire; she is pregnant for the first time in two decades. Stunned she is not sure she wants to raise another child and give up her plans. Needing to be by herself, Claire leaves Dean to think. Accompanied by their love letters, she slowly rereads how much her spouse loved her then and that is true now.

Linda Warren provides an entertaining contemporary family crisis tale that stars a wonderful nurturing woman who needs to find herself beyond being a loving mother and wife. This is clearly Claire’s tale as she loves her family, but is not sure she can raise a late life child, but in isolation begins to conclude she will always be a mother and always love her husband and kids including the unborn one. Although the need to leave seems off kilter for Claire even if she feels over the edge; fans will appreciate ALWAYS A MOTHER as Claire ponders whether she can handle raising a child again, remain a loving devoted wife, and work at obtaining her degree.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, June 19, 2008

By Appointment Only-Janice Maynard

By Appointment Only
Janice Maynard
Signet, Jul 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780451224071

In downtown Orlando, Hannah Quarles races out of a church almost knocking over passerby Morgan Webber, who thinks she is a runaway bride as she apologizes and races across the street while car horns explode. However, he reappraises his first impression when no one races out of the church. She takes something from her car and runs back into the church. He follows only to see the elderly bride Miss Beverly needing her pills due to angina. Unable to resist, Morgan is in love although two minutes earlier he would have scorned the notion of at first sight.

Morgan begins to court Hannah, but though she seems to like him too, she hides her feelings behind a veneer of cynical acerbic humor. Eventually he gets her to admit she loves him too. They become engaged, but she suffers from commitment phobia so they go for premarital counseling, but will that and his love be enough to persuade Hannah not to become a runaway bride.

Tying heat with jocularity, Janice Maynard provides an engaging contemporary romance in which the hero knows what he wants from their first nudging encounter while the heroine fears what she wants. These two protagonists, supported by a strong secondary cast mostly the energetic geriatric generation, make for a fun time in Orlando.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hot City Nights-Sandra Marton, Sarah Mayberry and Emilie Rose

Hot City Nights
Sandra Marton, Sarah Mayberry and Emilie Rose
Harlequin, Jul 2008, $5.99
ISBN: 9780373837267

"Summer in the City” by Sandra Marton. Lincoln Aldridge becomes guardian of his niece Jenny after his sister Kathryn and her husband Mark die. He needs to find a proper nanny to take care of the child, but none seem right until Brazilian Ana Marquez, whom he met in one loving night in Rio, takes the position.

"Back to You" by Sarah Mayberry. In Sydney, Becky Taylor decides to attend the ten year reunion based on the assumption that her ex-lover, divorcee Cal MacKenzie will not be there; as he hurt her badly. He is there and still wants her.

"Forgotten Lover” by Emilie Rose. At Grady Memorial, Talia Rivera suffers amnesia from an accident; she gave as her contact information her former lover Jake Larson, whom she has not seen in four years. He assumes she is lying but agrees to take care of her and her son Adam whom he wonders if he is his.

These are three entertaining second chance at love contemporary romances starring likable protagonists in each tale.

Harriet Klausner

Power Play-Nancy Girard

Power Play
Dara Girard
Harlequin Kimani, Jul 2008, $5.99
ISBN: 9780373860746

Mary Reyland is the poster woman for someone to pick on; a victim preferring flight over fight, Mart is used and abused at work and treated even worse in her relationships. Tired of it all, she decides no more crap on the job and no more dates with SOBs who treat her like dirt.

When the Black Stockings Society invites her to join, she initially was going to decline feeling unworthy; but thinking of her vow she decides to wear the power stockings at important business meetings and in her personal life. Edmund Davis decides Mary is perfect to oversee his investment into The New Day Senior Living Community project because he assumes he can pound the mouse into strict adherence to his concept. Instead he is stunned that Mary pushes back and that he likes her pushing back.

Mary is a fabulous lead character as she has a zillion mental issues starting with esteem so low, it can’t be measured. Edmund is somewhat cold with his “arctic” eyes, but he is fully developed and arrogant from start to finish. However the first Black Stockings saga belongs to the heroine whose efforts to find a backbone and show some spunk for a change make for an insightful tale as she is the “Cowardly Lion” seeking courage with the wizard being her peers at the society she joined.

Harriet Klausner

Magic in His Kiss-Shari Anton

Magic in His Kiss
Shari Anton
Forever, Jul 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 0446617563

King Stephen has kept his ward Nicole de Leon locked away at Bedloe Abbey for eight years waiting for the right deal to make. In 1153 the monarch decides the time is right for Nicole to marry a Welsh noble in order to tighten his rule.

Frustrated with the king’s misuse of his niece and having his own ambitious plans for her, Nicole's uncle arranges for her kidnapping. He asks Rhodri ap Dafydd to perform the abduction, but the warrior bard looks forward to competing for the Bard of Wales contest and wants no part of being caught between his liege lord and the king. Still he has little choice in the matter. However, Rhodri finds himself attracted to the outspoken brave psychic, but does nothing about his feelings as she is an aristocrat and he a commoner except risking his life to keep her safe.

The third magical medieval romance (see MIDNIGHT MAGIC and TWILIGHT MAGIC) is a strong tale of love. The heroine is a political pawn the King uses to strengthen his rule; she serves no other purpose to the monarch or any of those in power. However, the Bard is the more fascinating protagonist as he is a fighter who hates fighting and would rather write poetic music, play the harp and sing. Although Nicole is the psychic, Rhodi makes the tale sing as the loving magic is in the music and the music is in him (paraphrasing the Lovin’ Spoonful).

Harriet Klausner

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Fall Of Rome-Beth Ciotta

The Fall Of Rome
Beth Ciotta
Medallion, Jul 2008, $7.95
ISBN: 9781933836041

Rome Garrett was renowned for bringing hardened criminals to justice; his fame made him a legend in dime-store novels. However, the Wells Fargo detective fell from grace over six years ago when he killed a man while overextending the law and was with his pants down and gun un-holstered with a married woman. His beloved Kat Simmons left him and simply vanished.

Rome falls apart, but now in 1878 he has started to regain his equilibrium with a position as a detective for the President Hayes sponsored Peacemaker Alliance (PMA). His assignment is to bring down train robber Bulls-eye Brady and to insure Kat's niece Frankie is safe from him. Kat resurfaces to bait Bulls-eye Brady but will need a totally responsible Rome, not the drunken womanizer she remembers, to help her.

The return of PMA agents and their spouses (see ROMANCING THE WEST) enhances an enjoyable second chance at love western romance. The lead couple is a delightful pairing as she left him when he fell from grace; in her mind due to his cheating; others because he crossed the ethical line when he killed a man; in his mind he let down people especially his beloved. With a chance for redemption and love, the rise of Rome seems precarious as he knows defeating Brady and rescuing Frankie is not enough; winning back Kat is everything, but failure means the freefall of Rome. Beth Ciotta provides another excellent Reconstruction Era tale (see LASSO THE MOON).

Harriet Klausner

After the Kiss-Suzanne Enoch

After the Kiss
Suzanne Enoch
Avon, Jul 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780060843090

A year after being shot as an officer serving in the Peninsular War; highly regarded horse breeder Sullivan Waring lives a secret life. During the day the Ton admires his work with horses; at night they treat him with contempt. He does not care how they feel; instead he wants what was stolen from him; so in the evening he sneaks into the homes of the affluent to take back his late mother’s paintings.

However Lady Isabel Chalsey catches the notorious Mayfair Marauder in the act of thieving. He is stunned by her beauty and cannot stop himself from taking a kiss; he is further shocked when she demands he train a horse for her use or she will expose him. As he falls in love, he prepares a mare for Isabel while helping her overcome her fear of horses; but may not be able to overcome his own dark secrets that eat at his soul.

The first Notorious Gentlemen tale (Sully’s Peninsular War buddies to follow) is a terrific Regency romantic mystery that hooks readers when the heroine going for a late snack catches the notorious gentleman removing a portrait from the wall. The story line never slows down as Lady Isabel “blackmails” the thief after a witty exchange. Readers will enjoy their antics AFTER THE KISS as Suzanne Enoch provides a superb opening act.

Harriet Klausner

In Bed with the Devil-Lorraine Heath

In Bed with the Devil
Lorraine Heath
Avon, Jul 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061355578

In 1851 when Lucian “the Devil Earl” Langdon enters a ballroom, everyone especially the females turn their eyes away from him; society shuns him for allegedly murdering his uncle. However this time when the Earl of Claybourne enters a ballroom uninvited as always, one woman stares right back at him. Lady Catherine Mabry refuses to blink or look away.

Raised on London's mean streets as one of Feagan's den of child thieves and urchin con artists, Lucian and his friends Jack and Frannie were rescued by his grandfather. To Catherine, he is the one man strong enough to save her from her ruthless guardian. But she's playing with fire when she propositions the devil. Others may fear him, but she sees his innate goodness. Catherine will do whatever she must to save him from himself and force him to believe in his right to hold the title and her heart.

This is reminiscent of Oliver Twist as an adult treated by the Ton as a murdering scoundrel except for one courageous woman who sees him as her heroic savior, who she hopes lives up to his reputation and proves deadlier than her cruel guardian; yet she also discovers the caring nature underneath that begs to belong. Lorraine Heath writes an excellent Victorian romantic suspense that hooks audience from the opening journal entry of Lucien to the closing entry.

Harriet Klausner

The Flirt-Kathleen Tessaro

The Flirt
Kathleen Tessaro
Avon, Jun 24 2008, $13.95
ISBN: 9780061125768

Unemployed wannabe actor Hughie Armstrong Venables-Smythe needs to make some quick money so he can continue to seek his big break. He responds to an odd ad and is hired as a flirt; he assumes his acting skills will make hum successful at his new hopefully temporary vocation though he plans to give Oscar winning performances when on the job.

However, Hughie is attracted lingerie boutique owner Leticia Vane, who is much older than him. She shocks him with her belief that trysts should be short, quick and especially with no attachment strings. When the notes and cards containing clues begin to arrive, she is fascinated by her secret admirer. As Hughie continues his campaign, he and Leticia begin to fall in love, but her interest remains with an unknown paramour

This terrific most likely implausible contemporary tale reminds this reader of Deuce Bigelow with its combining humor and the serious issues especially loneliness confronting the female clients. Already confused about his life, Hughie takes the role seriously and gives his best performance, which enables readers to better understand what disturbs the women he flirts with. Readers will appreciate Kathleen Tessaro’s fine London Swings but underneath the swingers face difficult decisions re what they want out of their respective lives.

Harriet Klausner

Return to Summerhouse-Jude Deveraux

Return to Summerhouse
Jude Deveraux
Pocket, Jul 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9781416509738

The three women suffer from recent distress that leaves each feeling the anguish and pain. Following a miscarriage, a depressed Amy soul searchingly looks at her marriage with Stephen and their offspring with sadness. Widow Faith feels guilt for not grieving for her husband Eddie, but for another man Ty whom she last saw sixteen years ago. Artist Zoe is a pariah in her hometown, but an accident has left her with amnesia so is unsure why.

Each runs away from their woes ending up as “Jeanne’s Crazies” at a summerhouse in Maine. They meet the enigmatic sisters Madame Zoya and Primrose, who have the talent to transport a person back in time to correct a destiny that has gone off kilter. Amy wants to go back to eighteenth century England, but needs hesitant Zoe and Faith to accompany her. She believes they can rectify the past to find happiness in the future.

The RETURN TO SUMMERHOUSE is an engaging tale built on the same premise as the first trip to the magical Maine location; if you can go back to correct the past would you and what are the consequences in the current present. The three female guests are fully developed nice people while the siblings continue with their aura of mysticism. Although the trips between present and past and back to the present seem abrupt; readers will enjoy this fine time travel character study of three strangers. Each seeks the same goal of rectifying what they respectively consider a big mistake in their lives but though having nothing similar between them forge forever friendships.

Harriet Klausner

That's Amore-Wendy Markham

That's Amore
Wendy Markham
Forever, Jul 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780446618441

Psychic rolling stone Daria Marshall has no ties preferring the life of the road to settling anywhere. She feels she is just like her mom who never could stay in one place; especially after a failed marriage. Thus Daria, who literally runs from the ghosts she can see, prefers being the queen of the road. She comes to New York to visit her sister.

On the other hand Ralphie Chickalini has lived in the same Astoria, Queens house his entire life surrounded by his loving Italian-American family. However, when his father dies, his siblings want to sell the house and equally split the profits. Ralphie is the only holdout as he grieves Pops. When Daria and Ralphie meet for the first time, each feels the attraction in the melancholy face of the other, but this pair is polar opposites so love is not enough; or is it. In between and during Italian feasts, his late father plays matchmaker between his son and the woman who can still see him.

This is a warm paranormal contemporary romance starring two nice people who do not relish change, but will need to adapt if they are to make it. The Astoria location is a delight as it provides readers a fascinating side of New York City as this part of Queens is more a suburban town than the typical Big Apple urban high rise environs. Although the constant changing perspective provides insight into key players due to wider perspectives on the same event, that technique also makes some moments difficult to follow; still fans will appreciate THAT’S AMORE expecting any moment the ghost of Dean Martin to sing the title of love in the burbs.

Harriet Klausner

Pleasure Unbound-Larissa Ione

Pleasure Unbound
Larissa Ione
Forever, Jul 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 044640103X

After overcoming the shock though not the grief of watching a demon murder her mother Tayla Mancuso is fixated into becoming a slayer. She joins the Aegis network of demon slayers as a human Guardian warrior and over time has become one of the best demon killers.

During her last quest, she was brutally injured; ironically ending up in a demon hospital. Incubus Dr. Eidolon treats her over the objections of his brothers, who want the slayer dead; he refuses though he fears she is the avenging angel killing his species without regard. He learns a dark secret about his patient that changes both their outlooks. While she knows she mist kill the demon who saved her life to prove to her Aegis peers she remains true to the mission when all she wants to do is personally passionately pay him her hospital bill.

The Ione world is dark and dangerous except for the flicker of hope caused by the light of forbidden love between the Guardian and the Incubus. The story line is fast-paced from the opening sequence when Eidolon at the hospital wants to kill his patient, but tries to save the ingrate’s life instead. The tale never slows down as pressure mounts from the peers of the lead couple to assassinate their beloved while betrayal stalks and entices them. Romantic fantasy fans will appreciate the first Demonica tale as New York seems so bleak yet hopeful.

Harriet Klausner

Into the Shadow-Christina Dodd

Into the Shadow
Christina Dodd
Signet, Jul 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451224514

His family believes he died, but they are wrong. Shapeshifting panther Adrik Wilders has succumbed to the family Varinski Curse having turned to his demon side using the name Warlord as he and his mercenaries destroy anything in their path.

Karen Sonnet creates themed adventure hotels. When the Warlord sees her he abducts her as he wants her; she reciprocates his passionate desire. However, when the demonic Varinski cousins attack Adrik and his men, he insures Karen is safe, but vows to find her once his current battle ends. For two years he obsessively hunted for Karen until he finally finds her. They still are attracted to one another, but two years is a long time for anyone to wait even for love though he becomes her secret nocturnal lover. Meanwhile his vicious evil Varinski kin will kill to take an icon they want that Karen possesses.

The third Darkness Chosen romantic urban fantasy is an engaging entry that fans will enjoy in spite of INTO THE SHADOW failing to move forward the saga. The story line is action-packed with a dark fallen lead male protagonist who finds redemption with his love for Karen. Well written filled with passion and suspense, Christina Dodd’s audience will relish Adrik’s efforts to overcome the curse with Karen’s tough love help, but newcomers should read SCENT OF DARKNESS and TOUCH OF DARKNESS first to obtain the full flavor of the series.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Power of Love-Edited by Lori Foster

The Power of Love
Edited by Lori Foster
Berkley, Jun 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425221488

Twelve romance authors contributed to this superb anthology in which each donated their proceeds to the YWCA Battered Women’s Shelter of Cincinnati. Besides the worthy cause, each entry is well written and inspiring; focusing on a second chance at love by females previously battered (mentally and or physically) in their relationships. Readers will root for the stars who hesitantly risk their souls for love. The tales run the gamut of the genre with my personal favorites being “Unpredictable” BY Erin McCarthy as no one can resist a French fry eating dog and LuAnn McLane’s home remedy “Chicken Soup for Annie”. Yet the other ten are entertaining as well as there are no let down clinkers as THE POWER OF LOVE is the essence of living.

The authors are a who’s who of the genre as every contributor is acclaimed for their works and more important to THE POWER OF LOVE didn’t skimp in the short story format. Besides editor Foster, Toni Blake, Dianne Castell, Karen Kelley, Rosemary Laurey, Janice Maynard, LuAnn McLane, Lucy Monroe, Patricia Sargeant, Kay Stockholm and J.C. Wilder provide warm uplifting entries; this top grade authors list says it all for this charming compilation.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, June 13, 2008

Bed on Arrival-Kelley St. John

Bed on Arrival
Kelley St. John
Harlequin Blaze, Jul 2008, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373794133

Like her cousins social worker Jenee Vicknair helps lost spirits reach the other side. Jenee’s forte is assisting deceased children arrive at their destination.

However, her newest lost soul is a sexy adult who is devastating her sleep. Private investigator and fellow psychic Nick Madere is seeking a missing child. His specialty is to use photographs of his target to guide him to the child. However, something strange seems to happen lately as he uses his gift. Instead of the trail of a youngster, his spirit ends up in bed alongside beautiful Jenee. He knows she is real and wants to meet her as he is very attracted to her, but first the case comes before his desire. She, on the other hand is confused as she wants this hunk, but has only seem his spirit, which she assumes is lost.

BED ON ARRIVAL is an enjoyable paranormal romantic suspense starring two likable protagonists who first meet in her dreams. Although Nick obsesses over meeting in the flesh Jenee, he also knows the missing child comes before his desires. Sub-genre fans will appreciate this fine Sixth Sense entry (see FIRE IN THE BLOOD; not read by this reviewer) that stands alone as a delightful tale of love forming in the astral realm between two caring people with special skills used to help children in differing ways.

Harriet Klausner

Bound to Please-Hope Tarr

Bound to Please
Hope Tarr
Harlequin Blaze, Jul 2008, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373794119

In 1460 on the Isle of Skye, the Macleod Laird risks a fighting feud with their neighboring clan the Frasers by kidnapping a high ranking family member. The Laird plans to insure a baby is produced between them so no one can challenge her claim as the Macleod laird.

Ewan Fraser is stunned what has happened to him as he is the brother to the powerful clan Laird. He knows Brianna Macleod, who abducted him, from when them met ten years ago and vowed to one day marry though he scoffed at her belief she will be the laird. She informs him that he will make her pregnant. Irate at himself as much as he is with her he is looking forward to her having her way with him while he is in chains.

BOUND TO PLEASE is a fabulous historical romance in which Hope Tarr uses gender bending in the positions of leadership, captivity, and the boudoir to refresh the Scottish historical theme. The story line is fast-paced; mostly driven by the chained hero and his female capturer who takes him although there is a troublemaking villain trying to use the situation for personal gain. Readers will enjoy this amusing aptly titled novel.

Harriet Klausner

Trust a Cowboy-Judy Christenberry

Trust a Cowboy
Judy Christenberry
Harlequin American, Jul 2008, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373752249

At the Lazy L cattle and dude ranch just outside Steamboat Springs, Colorado Pete Ledbetter is stunned when his granddad decides Pete needs a wife. Desperate to remain a bachelor, Pete concocts a delaying tactic by having a fake fiancée.

He knows that he and ranch chef Mary Jo Michaels are an ideal pair following a heated summer fling that ended. However, as Pete makes a bid to get her back in his personal life especially his bed, Mary no longer trusts the man who broke her heart. Granddad thinks she is perfect so Pete better watch his step or the old guy will adopt her and dump him.

This is an entertaining ranch romance although one must wonder why Mary Jo just did not quit as the line between courting and sexual harassment seems to have been crossed by Pete. Although she loves him, she rejects his touch, but he keeps on coming because he believes they belong together. Contemporary fans will enjoy this tale but lose respect for the heroine while wondering how strong the story line could have been if Judy Christenberry explored the emotional impact of employer-employee sexual harassment.

Harriet Klausner

Hannah’s Baby-Cathy Gillen Thacker

Hannah’s Baby
Cathy Gillen Thacker
Harlequin American, Jul 2008, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373752225

Hannah Callahan is euphoric as her adopted baby Isabelle Zhu Ming has finally arrived in Texas. She looks forward to raising her daughter in her hometown of Summit.

Hannah's friend thirty-five years old Joe Daugherty helped her pick up the ten month old child over from Taiwan. She believes he would make the perfect daddy to her child, but knows the famous world traveling writer would never settle down. Joe on the other hand has fallen in love with mother and child; he begins to wonder if with Hannah and Isabelle he could finally belong to a family; something has not felt he was part of in a long time.

This is a superb contemporary drama as Hannah fulfills her dream with the adoption (over the opposition of her dad who insists marriage before the baby carriage); but now that her wish has been granted, she must adapt to raising an infant. Her falling in love with rolling stone Joe just complicates her suddenly complex life as she learns that babies nuke lifestyles. Fans will enjoy this strong tale of love as baby makes two and Joe might make three.

Harriet Klausner

Wicked Hot-Charlene Teglia

Wicked Hot
Charlene Teglia
St. Martin’s, Aug 2008, $13.95
ISBN: 9780312369460

As a Saxon, Edana killed a Norman in 1066, damning her to hell. When Nick makes her a succubus; for centuries her whole being enticed men into giving up their souls for a chance to have sex with her. She never has sex because she drains her victims before they can do the deed; so she remains a virgin because before she was one a when she was a human. This time when she returns to Nick he has a special assignment waiting for her.

He want the succubus to destroy the Nephilim, the beings born between the mating of angels and human females. They were destroyed by the Flood, but they are back to restore the balance between humanity and a surplus of demons. Eli has the power to conjure and bind the demon to him so that she must do what he says or be punished in the Void of nothingness. When Edana meets Eli and his brother Del, she learns the Nephilim are given another chance to protect humanity from the overabundance of demons. However Edana has feelings for Eli, but their relationship seems doomed from the start because if she succeeds on her mission he is doomed; while if he succeeds on his mission she is doomed.

This wickedly hot romantic fantasy is filled with sexual encounters of all kind including ménage a trois and light bondage that enhance the intriguing story line. The Nephilim are being tested to see if they control their lust while Edana is the target of all sides as the lure. The dilemma of loving the enemy is devilishly designed in Charlene Teglia’s evocative XXX supernatural romance.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Bad Boys Guide to the Galaxy- Karen Kelley

The Bad Boys Guide to the Galaxy
Karen Kelley
Kensington Brava, Jul 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 0758217692

Texas police officer Sam Jones sort of knows what to expect from a Nerakian so he wants to say no, but he reluctantly agrees to escort Lara to his cabin. In spite of his expectations, Sam is stunned by his reaction to Lara and her nakedness.

Lara has come to Earth on a mercy mission; she seeks the cure for a beloved sick elder; her planet is unused to illness having none. Before arriving on earth she was aware of the temptations, she vowed to ignore all especially chocolate. However, she is unprepared for spending a weekend with Sam especially since she believes Nerakians are superior beings.

The latest Nerakian ET invasion is like its predecessors (see CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF A SEXY KIND) a humorous science fiction romance. The zany story line is fun to follow as the earth cop and the “medical” alien are unable to adhere to their personal pledges due to the magnetic attraction of opposites being stronger than the greatest force in the universe: chocolate. Fans of the series will especially enjoy this fine entry as Karen Kelley provides insider information re planet Nerak.

Harriet Klausner

Just for Her-Katherine O'Neal

Just for Her
Katherine O'Neal
Kensington Brava, Jul 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 0758210620

In 1926 everyone believes Jules Habsburg lives a perfect life of luxury with her fairy tale Prince Charming of a husband Dominic DeRohan. Everyone that is except Jules who knows her spouse is an abusive robber baron; she lives a nightmare.

After Dominic shoots her lover, Jules runs away; taking refuge amidst artists, authors, and bohemians in the French Riviera’s Cote d'Azur. The notorious cat burglar Panther enters her home through a window, but she catches him. She believes he is one man who can eliminate Dominic before he finds her. However, he demands remittance staring with her heart and ending with her soul. As she falls in love, Jules is unaware that the Panther is the one person who knows something about her that if revealed will destroy her.

This engaging historical thriller grips readers from the onset as a desperate Jules wonders if she jumped from the frying pan into the fire when she chose the Panther to battle her husband. The story line is fast-paced and filled with a few nice twists especially an excellent plausible last one that will shock the audience. Fans will appreciate this character driven tale as readers will need to know who is left standing with whom.

Harriet Klausner

Hard as Nails-HelenKay Dimon

Hard as Nails
HelenKay Dimon
Kensington Brava, Jul 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 0758215835

"This Old House”. In affluent Dupont Circle DC his partners Adam and Whit Thomas ask Cole Carruthers to persuade the elderly woman who sold them the Victorian fixer upper house to please leave so they can get on with the reconstruction project. However, he is greeted by sexy Aubrey Matheson who rejects his efforts to remove her; insisting the house is hers. She does not reject his attempts to examine the bedroom first hand together.

"All About Adam”. When they kissed, a stunned Becky Carter fled from the arms of realty rehabber Adam Thomas. However she regrets her panic and he wants to raise the heat.

"Man at the Door". After receiving unwanted notoriety artist Erin McHugh wants to be left alone except from renovating her home. However site foreman Ray Hammond persuades Erin to let him live in the house to reduce the calendar time it takes to finish the job; he has not told her this job includes a lifetime guarantee with her.

The link between these three contemporary romances is the Dupont Circle project in which the lead couples (and readers) will discover every nook and cranny can be used for a tryst. HARD AS NAILS is a fun anthology although the hunks at times become wet noodles instead of nails. Fans will enjoy this fun fixer upper collection.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Reckless-Saskia Walker

Saskia Walker
Berkley, Jul 2008, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425221389

Sergio Teodoro pleads with seemingly prim and proper Katrina Hammond of Pocklington Auction House to come to Catalonia, Spain to evaluate his private collection and hands her his list of items he owns. Katrina explains that her auction house limits assessments to the greater London area, but Mr. sexy and suave makes her fantasize about day and night at his luxurious country home, Torre del Castagona. He hides from her that he sees a work of art underneath her buttoned to the top of the neck garb that he wants to own.

Katrina goes to Spain somewhat fearful that her fantasies will be fulfilled, but hoping to be RECKLESS with her host. However, she finds herself also attracted to Sergio's younger brother Nicolas, an artist estranged from his family. Confused as she wants both siblings; each teach her their version of erotica.

This hot erotic contemporary triangle works because Katrina seems real when the siblings DOUBLE DARE her to turn her fantasy desires into hot passionate KINK. Sub-genre fans and their significant other will enjoy Saskia Walker’s hot days and nights in Spain while wondering who if either or both brothers will be with Katrina at the climax.

Harriet Klausner

Show and Tell-Jasmine Haynes

Show and Tell
Jasmine Haynes
Berkley, Jul 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425221587

Trinity Green has always behaved prim and proper in public, but dreams of wild dirty passion. She never expects to find hot sex since Harper, her husband of six months, is a stick in the mud except on the golf course. At least that is what she thought until she finds him doing to another woman what she fantasized he do to her.

Trinity decides it is time to stop pleasing everyone else, an impossible chore, and begin pleasing herself; starting with dumping her cheating spouse. When she meets business executive divorcee Scott Sinclair, Trinity decides he is the one to show her the carnal pleasures in life. They have a heated affair that he wants to continue, but Trinity has demands too. As they venture into dicey trysts, they endanger their respective jobs and lay bare their families to scandals, but neither can stop the obsession which increases the risks.

This is an entertaining heated contemporary romance starring two victims of marriage; whereas her spouse cheated; his left. The promiscuous behavior between the lead couple, strangers in the night in which lovemaking started with a glance in a hotel, sends a bad message. Still fans will enjoy Scott and Trinity finding passion and love with each other in this erotic second chance at love.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action-LuAnn McLane

A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action
LuAnn McLane
Signet, Jul 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451224606

Macy has been attracted to her friend “bodacious” Luke Carter for what seems like forever; however she knows he does not reciprocate her feelings as he never makes the slightest pass at her. Until now that is. Whatever reason it may be suddenly Luke finds he wants his buddy Macy in a way he has never felt before.

Still both have decisions to make before testing the relationship waters outside of friendship. He has a terrific coaching offer in Florida; she has a fabulous opportunity as a hairdresser in Nashville to music superstars. Each must decide between what could be a lifetime of love or a vocational opportunity of a lifetime.

Macy and Luke are fabulous lead protagonists who each must make critical choices at a time they discover one another; neither believes a long distance relationship can work when being neighbors it never happened until recently. Both also encourage the other to pursue the opportunity as neither wants the other to one day resent a lost chance. They make this tale work as a deep yet humorous character study with a strong support cast encouraging the lead pair to do A LITTLE LESS TALK AND A LOT MORE ACTION.

Harriet Klausner

Mystic Rider-Patricia Rice

Mystic Rider
Patricia Rice
Signet, Jul 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451224583

Due to his visions the Gods assign Sky Rider Ian Olympus to travel to the outer realm in order to find and return home with the sacred chalice of Aelynn. He also knows that French revolutionary musician Chantal Orateur Deveau, who possesses the chalice is his soulmate; having seen her in a vision and kept that lovely sight in his dreams.

Ian arrives in dangerous Paris where the Revolution has taken hold. He finds his woman who quickly reciprocates his attraction. However, before he can return home with the chalice and his soulmate, someone steals the cup as the streets turn deadly and bloody. Afraid for Chantal’s safety Ian must choose between the quest and the woman he plans to marry although he fears his people will reject her as his "amacara"

The second Mystic Isles tales (see MYSTIC GUARDIAN) is an engaging romantic fantasy in which French Revolution plays a powerful perilous backdrop to the encounter between the lead couple. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Ian knows who Chantal is, but though she reciprocates struggles to persuade her they belong together. Readers will appreciate this entertaining quirky tale of love amidst the quest for the chalice while revolutionaries are shouting off with their heads.
Harriet Klausner

If Wishing Made It So-Lucy Finn

If Wishing Made It So
Lucy Finn
Signet, Jul 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451224590

A decade ago, Hildy Caldwell was voted the Girl Most Likely to Succeed at Lake Lehman High School by her class; now with the ten year reunion coming she feels like a failure as she never followed her dreams to paint in New York or Tahiti. Instead Hildy teaches English at her Alma Mata and has no man or children in her life; she lives with two cats.

She never forgot her high school boyfriend, Big Mike Amante, who is attending the reunion accompanied by his fiancée, famous celebrity photographer Tiki, Kiki, Wiki whatever. Seeking a change, she rents a summer cottage on the Jersey shore; there she finds an antique bottle in which a genie calls home. He will grant her wish, but sometimes you get what you ask for.

The Genie plays critical but small role in this whimsical lighthearted second chance at love tale. Hildy is wonderful with her reflections on her marmalade life, her unfulfilled teenage dreams, and her men; for instance the last hunk made her choose between her cats and him; no contest. Big Mike is a fine significant other though it takes a bit of magical glitter at times to enhance love.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, June 9, 2008

Doggone-Gabriella Herkert

Gabriella Herkert
Obsidian, Aug 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451224736

Legal investigator Sara Townley is sent to San Diego to investigate fraud, involving identity theft; Sara is very happy to go there because she has a chance to see her husband Connor McNamara, a Navy SEAL stationed there. A rich recluse Mr. Charles Smiths had $2,000,000 taken from his accounts. Her client, the bank, wants their money back and needs to know how the perpetrator stole it. This happened about the time a persosn claiming to be Charles went on the radio insisting he had amnesia for years. Sara calls this man John Doe.

The client whose money was stolen has lived an unhappy life starting from the moment he saw his parents murdered. To do her job properly, Sara has to speak with the talk show host, the maid who was there when the police was called about the deaths of Charles’ parents and the retired cop who will get the case notes from his partner’s widow. Too bad that two of these people she must see have been murdered recently and a third injured since Sara arrived in Southern California.

The title character is about a dog who seems to show up at critical moments who is owned by John Doe. Unlike her husband Sara feels sorry for John as she does not believe he is a killer let alone dangerous; in fact she partially believes he is the real Charles. Fans will feel CATNAPPED by Gabriella Herkert as DOGGONE it has an eccentric cast including plenty of suspects that make for a five bark mystery; as readers ponder will the real Charles Smith please stand up (alive)?

Harriet Klausner

Soul of Fire-Sarah A. Hoyt

Soul of Fire
Sarah A. Hoyt
Bantam, Aug 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780553589672

Her parents make Sofie Warington return from England to her home in India where she is to marry Raj Ajith of the Tiger Realm; he’ll accept as her dowry a flawed ruby. British noble Peter Farewell is banished from his country when his father realized that he is a were-dragon; shape-shifters are killed in England because Queen Victoria believes they are abominations.

Peter seeks the Soul of Fire ruby, the stone used by Charlemagne to bind all magic in Europe to him and his descendants. Nigel has its twin the Heart of Light; Peter plans to give the ruby to Nigel once he finds it. Nigel will then take it back to its rightful place in Africa. He knows the cost of failure is the world will continue to split apart until it destroys itself.

While flying, Peter sees Sofie falling from her balcony as she escapes from her parents and her fiance who demand she marry now. When Peter reveals his identity to her, she feels safe with him although the Tigers pursue them to capture her and the ruby; which is with her servant; they want the stone, the woman, and the magic bound to India in order to toss the British out; whereas Peter believes if the Tigers succeed, the world will end.

SOUL OF FIRE, the companion piece to THE HEART OF LIGHT is a wonderful urban fantasy on an alternate earth where magic works and shapeshifters exist. In India shapeshifters are accepted while in England they are hunted. Thus Peter is tormented as his native land wants him dead and a nation that would accept his duality would let him live if he gave up his beloved and the ruby. Fans will appreciate his dilemma as exile is not what he covets until he meets his Sofie, who gives him the personal reason to complete his quest.
Harriet Klausner

Bound by Shadow-Anna Windsor

Bound by Shadow
Anna Windsor
Ballantine, Jul 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780345498533

The Sybils are powerful women who have pledged to use their skills to keep the evil Legion from enslaving humanity. In New York, the three Sybil Dumain sisters Riana, Cynda and Merilee are shocked when they meet Occult Crimes Unit police detective Creed Lowell, as he is different; not quite fully human yet not any other known species.

Creed knows what he is not as every moment he is battling to keep his "other" self under control. When a murderous demon attacks the siblings, they know they are in deep trouble. Creed is at their side, but the Dumain sisters, especially Riana even though she is falling in love with the half human, have doubts he is on their side.

Fans of dark urban romantic fantasy will want to read Anna Windsor’s paranormal Manhattan police procedural as the action is non stop, the atmosphere pure grit, and the cast badass. The story is fast-paced as Riana and Creed are falling in love while battling a serial killing demon and their feelings. With two Sybil siblings to follow, sub-genre fans will feel “bound” to read Cynda and Merilee’s futuristic thrillers.

Harriet Klausner

Let the Night Begin-Kathryn Smith

Let the Night Begin
Kathryn Smith
Avon, Jul 2008, $5.99
ISBN: 9780061245039

In 1899 in Clovelly, England Olivia Gavin is looked upon as an eccentric who sleeps during the day and works at night. Nobody connects her to the men who disappear and end up in a place where they have no idea how they got there. She is a vampire who never wanted to be one; her husband Reign turned her against her will on their wedding night. Irate she walked out on him cutting off all ties and has not communicated with him since. A messenger gives her a letter stating her nephew James who she raised has been abducted; if she wants him back alive she is to hand over Reign to them.

She goes to Reign to ask for his help in finding and rescuing James, but conceals the demand she hand him over to his enemies. Reign unexpectedly agrees although he doesn’t trust her and knows she is not telling him the entire truth. He demands they behave like husband and wife while on the quest. They learn James went to Scotland with friends who know his aunt is a vampire; their fathers belong to belong to the Order of the Silver Palm who will use Olivia and James as expendable pawns to get the Blood Grail they think Reign has.

This is a stand alone book so the audience will not have to read the previous related tales (see NIGHT OF THE HUNTRESS and TAKEN BY THE NIGHT) although that enhances this Victorian paranormal suspense thriller. The vampires seem real making the hunt for them feel genuine; while the romantic second chance at love subplot is cleverly developed as both have a lot of trust issues to overcome although Reign seems indifferent to his knowing that his wife was going to betray him feels off base. Still LET THE NIGHT BEGIN is an enjoyable vampire historical romantic suspense in which the sleuthing and confrontation is supported by the romance.

Harriet Klausner

Eternal Pleasure-Nina Bangs

Eternal Pleasure
Nina Bangs
Leisure, Jul 2008, $7.99

For 65 million years, Ty’s essence has been locked away until it is time; his last body he possessed was a Ty Rex. However, now his chief Fin has summoned him and ten other prehistoric predators to save mankind; a species they are unfamiliar with. The Eleven must battle the evil Nine who plans to destroy humanity on 12-21-12 as the Mayans predicted. Thus Ty and his dinosaur companions are quickly given enough information on humanity to mingle.

On 11/11/11 at 11:11, Ty returns to earth landing in Ireland, but must go on to Texas. Kelly Maloy is hired to chauffeur Ty Endeka around Houston for the next few weeks. She has no earthly idea who her client is or the paranormal war he is engaged in against powerful foes. She knows he is hot with a dangerous predatory look about him as if he wants to eat her. She will soon learn more than she would have wanted to know.

ETERNAL PLEASURES stars off with a bang and never slows down from the moment that innocent Kelly picks up Ty, a man who has seen his first stars in 65 million years. The story line never slows down as the enemy takes the battle to the streets of Houston. Although Kelly adjust rather well perhaps too easily to her world of twenty first century physics turned upside down and in and out, readers will appreciate this powerful urban romantic fantasy as fans will believe these star crossed lovers who team up to try stop the end of the universe from creeping closer to happening will find a way to be together eternally.

Harriet Klausner

Hidden-Eve Kenin

Eve Kenin
Dorchester Shomi, Jul 2008, $6.99
ISBN: ISBN:050-527618

In 2093 in the sub zero Northern Wastelands Like her siblings Wizard and Yuriko Tatiana is a special person due to her incredible genetic skills. However, she has not sat on her potential; pushed beyond endurance by Duncan Bane she has honed herself into a super person reading minds and using a quick chop of her hand which can slice off a limb. However, it is her mind that makes her unique as nothing disturbs her.

Nothing disturbs her in the slightest until now when she meets Tristan; her sixth sense tells her to kill him so there is no doubt whether he is her enemy or not; however, her body betrays her for the first time as she knows he has the power to make her heart beat out of control. Neither has time to explore their attraction. They are trapped in an isolated deep underground lab stalked by a maniac who plans to release a plague on humanity as the culprit has on Tatiana and Tristan. Time is running out for them to escape, but both fears that if they leave the compound they might prove to be pandemic carriers.

High octane from the moment the audience joins Tatiana in the late twenty-first century in Port Uranium and five years later in the Northern Waste (graphic geography in a few concise words). Tatiana is a tough kick butt heroine and readers will wonder whose side the enigmatic Tristan is on as well as how he knows about Little League. However, the paradox facing the lead couple makes this superb futuristic science fiction so worth reading. Each wonders what to do trapped underground in a wasteland in which they doubt they can ever leave.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Bearskin Rug-Jennifer Stevenson

The Bearskin Rug
Jennifer Stevenson
Ballantine, Jul 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780345500243

Chicago Department of Consumer Service detective Jewel Heiss and her partner former con artist Clay Dawes are going undercover. Joining them is the Randy the sex demon she freed from THE BRASS BED. Her assignment is to look into first hand erotic weirdness at a film studio.

Jewel assumes that a studio making porn would have hinky kinky erotica, but it is Randy who becomes an actor and Clay who becomes an avatar to a sex goddess who get the roles. Concerned over how easily her two male companions have been sexually entranced, Jewel goes deep undercover to end the siren enchantment of sexual harassment that leaves pathetic men like Clay and Randy thinking with their lower heads and women stars of the grope.

The third Jewel lighthearted urban fantasy continues the adventures of the heroine in a somewhat magical Chicago; although almost everyone is in denial that magic exists. The story line is fast-paced as the trio assaults the studio with differing results. The triangle seems to have been resolved, but the audience should read the previous two tales (see THE VELVET CHAIR) to better understand how Jewel ended up with two males in her life.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Velvet Chair-Jennifer Stevenson

The Velvet Chair
Jennifer Stevenson
Ballantine, Jun 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780345486691

After spending the day insuring gas stations were not gouging customers, Chicago Department of Consumer Service detective Jewel Heiss and her partner former con artist Clay Dawes are going undercover. Joining them is the Randy the sex demon she freed from THE BRASS BED. They are to investigate the claims of the owner of the suddenly very popular the Venus Machine.

The owner claims the velvet chair can make anyone attractive. Jewel assumes they are dealing with a professional con artist. Her flim flam theory is affirmed when the trio soon learns that the Venus Machine is connected to Clay's dad, who mentored his offspring re the art of the con and tied also to another investigation involving a spa. To prove fraud, Jewel sits on the velvet chair, but to her shock something strange and fascinating begins to happen to her.

This is an engaging lighthearted urban fantasy starring an intriguing heroine and her retinue. The story line is fast-paced, but newcomers should read the first Jewel of a tale to better understand how the lead female ended up with two male hunks as “partners”. Very creative, sub-genre fans will enjoy the antics of THE VELVET CHAIR.

Harriet Klausner

Hard to Get-Alyssa Brooks

Hard to Get
Alyssa Brooks
Berkley, Jul 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425221754

In Aspen, Colorado at her successful club wealthy Lizzie hosts a bachelorette party for her stepsister Elisa engaged to Maxim. She detests Maxim, as she believes all men except for her adopted father are rats who leave. She prefers dildos. When the cowboy stripper she hired talks; she recognizes the voice as that of Ty Black, who broke her heart as a teen. Ty dances to pay for college, but still dreams of meeting his Elizabeth again. On stage he notices the pink haired Lizzie and realizes she is his Elizabeth. Lizzie leaves as Ty took her virginity before deserting her on the mean LA streets.

Ty follows and kisses Elizabeth who tells him to go back to work and leave her alone. Ty refuses. She reminds him after rescuing her from a drunken stepfather in Tennessee he left her sick and hungry when he vanished. Ty swears he did not desert her; he was arrested for stealing an engagement ring. She says he was stupid; Ty agrees. Lizzie says it is too late as she prefers dildos to give her orgasms. He picks her up and dumps her in the same car he took her in a decade ago when they fled Tennessee. He vows to make her climax while Lizzie feels excited and humiliated. He pulls off the road and tells her he will screw her here or they talk; she fears his return will lead to heartbreak again.

The lead couple is a likable pairing in this fun second chance at love romance. Elizabeth is the more fascinating character especially since her inability to orgasm adds interesting depth to her and the story line. Although sudden revelations seem unlikely and a minor quibble that Lizzie abruptly needs to rush home to confront her family so she drives from Colorado to Tennessee though she can afford to fly, this is an engaging contemporary romance in which the past haunts the present and future.

Harriet Klausner

Sea Witch-Virginia Kantra

Sea Witch
Virginia Kantra
Berkley, Jul 2998, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425221990

Widow Margred is a Selkie half-human half seal who can change shape as long as she wears her pelt. If a human takes her pelt she can never live in the water again. She wants sex so she takes human form and swims to World’s End, an island off the coast of Maine. She meets chief of police Caleb Hunter who is instantly attracted to her. They make mad passionate love. Maggie returns to the sea without telling him and goes to Sanctuary where her friend Dylan advises her to stay in the sea and mate with a Selkie because their numbers are decreasing in exchange for immortality. As long as they die with their pelts on they are reborn. He also warns her there is a disturbance in the demon realm.

She can’t forget Caleb so she decides to see him again. She hides her pelt but a demon gets it; Caleb arrives as the demon jumps into a fire burning Maggie’s pelt. She is depressed as she is doomed to stay on land. He takes her to the home of his sister Lucy to rest. Maggie thinks Lucy is part Mer. Caleb tells her that his mother took off with her other son Dylan; Maggie realizes her friend Dylan is Caleb’s brother although he is pure human. They make love and even though she won’t tell him about herself his feelings for Maggie deepen. Meanwhile the demon takes possession of a human host and kills Selkies in hopes of a Mer-human war.

The romance between Caleb and Margred is enjoyable as she makes the ultimate sacrifice out of love for him and he has issues from his military stint in Iraq. The demon attack comes very late but adds suspense to a fine romantic fantasy. However Selkie society is never developed so that readers will have problems accepting the species as real especially a Selkie human half-breed. Still fans will relish the love between the lead pair.

Harriet Klausner

Dragon Wytch-Yasmine Galenorn

Dragon Wytch
Yasmine Galenorn
Berkley, Jul 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425222393

In Seattle half-fae half human Camille D’Artigo smells the pixie dust that suddenly floods the air inside her Indigo Crescent bookstore when a unicorn says hello to her; followed by a hostile goblin, Sawberry fae and bugbear who demand that Feddrah Dahns turn over the pixie or else. Camille fires bolts at the goblin and bugbear while Feddrah knocks out the fae. A car runs over the bugbear while the fae escapes and the goblin is tied up. Camille calls the boyfriend of her were-cat sister Delilah police detective Chase to clean up the mess; the goblin escapes.

When Camille’s other sister Menolly the vampire joins them as well as Iris the priestess, Feddrah explains that his aide Mistletoe the pixie carried an item to deliver to her, but the three thugs interceded. Mistletoe regained the item, the powerful horn of the rare black unicorn. Meanwhile a Raksasas Persian Demon is apparently in town causing further havoc while Smoky the dragon arrives to remind Camille she owes him a week of sex, but has need for her to talk with Morgaine who has camped in his barrow before he makes the fae his lunch. Camille fears Morgaine might be trying to raise the former Seelie Queen Titania or the former Unseelie Queen Aeval for some purpose. Rounding out the visits is one of Camille’s two lovers Trillian, but her other Morio remains missing. However, her ultimate fear is that the demon Shadow Wing will find the seals that keep the portals closed and be able to enter earthside and otherworld destroying both.

The various types of paranormal species seem genuine in the Seattle setting. The action never slows down for a moment and although the story line builds on threads from the previous “sisters of the moon” books, DRAGON WYTCH can stand alone. The climax is quite a shocker making the fascinating tale even more spellbinding even if readers need a scorecard to keep track of the myriad of key players supporting the prime star.

Harriet Klausner