Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Scandal-Carolyn Jewel

Carolyn Jewel
Berkley, Feb 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425225516

Gwilym, the Earl of Banallt, relishes his reputation as a rake of the first order. However, he has one clink in his roguish armor; he loves Sophie Evans, wife of a womanizing friend and sister to another. In other words, she is untouchable even if her marriage was scandalously over the anvil elopement.

In 1814 Sophie has become a widow, so Gwilym decides to pursue the intelligent independent Sophie. However, she rejects his advances, not wanting a tryst or two with any man as love failed her once already. Gwilym knows what he wants is not a short affair, but a lifetime with his beloved while Sophie hides her deepest love for him; he no longer fancies his reputation as he must overcome his bad reputations She illogically fears if she submits to her desire he will use her like Evans did and go on to his next conquest while she knows if he stays she will lose her independence.

Sophie makes this character driven Regency romance into a great story as she has learned her lesson re falling in love with rakes as unlike the myths that they make the most faithful dedicated spouses, they remain rogues charming to others while ignoring their wives. Thus Gwilym knows he has an extremely difficult task ahead to prove to his beloved he is just like the legends of reformed rakes and not like her late spouse. Fans will relish this jewel of a historical.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Second Chance Pass-Robyn Carr

Second Chance Pass
Robyn Carr
Mira, Feb 2009, $5.99
ISBN: 0778326462

Friends Matt Rutledge and Paul Haggerty meet flight attendant Vanessa Booth, the daughter of a retired general. Matt pursued Vanni until they married; while Paul ever the marine stayed out of the way of their romance though he loved her too. However, Matt died leaving behind his pregnant widow.

Vanni raises their son Matt in Virgin River. She wants to move on with her life, but wants to do so with Paul who she loves. Paul loves her and her son, but he cannot act on his feelings out of honor to his fallen comrade who was killed in Baghdad and knowing he owes all to his pregnant lover Terri; he will do what is right by her and their offspring once the child is born and by his late best friend and his family.

The latest Virgin River contemporary romance (see SHELTER MOUNTAIN, WHISPERING ROCK, A VIRGIN RIVER CHRISTMAS, and VIRGIN RIVER) is an enjoyable tale that displays Robyn Carr’s talent as the plot skirts but never quite enters soap opera territory. The extended cast is strong (a trademark of this series). Although Paul seems too principled at times to be human, his morality makes the tale work as he tries to do what he believes in his marine heart is the honorable choice, but each step he takes seems filled with IEDs. Fans will relish this fine tale as the marine learns that values are complex and convoluted when it runs up against the values of others especially when heart felt in relationships forge.

Harriet Klausner

Fireside-Susan Wiggs

Susan Wiggs
Mira, Feb 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778326175

Public relations expert Kimberly van Dorn is reeling. Her professional basketball star lover dumped her following a public argument. Soon after that spat, she is fired by her firm. Needing time to recuperate and decide what next, Kim goes home to stay with her widowed mom for a while.

However, mom has converted their house into a boardinghouse; more shocking is she is dating one of her renters. Also residing there is baseball pitcher Bo Crutcher, who is about to reach the majors playing for the Yanks, and his son AJ. The child stays with him since AJ’s mom got into serious immigration issues and is probably going to be deported. However, Bo is caught between two conflicting spitballs as he has never met his kid before the dumping while he must attend the Fame School if he wants to play for the Yankees. Bo hires Kim to be his PR guru. Though attracted to one another, he can’t get to first base with her as she has vowed to never date professional athletes ever again.

The latest Lakeshore Chronicles (see SNOWFALL AT WILLOW LAKE, DOCKSIDE, THE WINTER LODGE and SUMMER AT WILLOW LAKE) is a fabulous lighthearted romantic romp. Susan Wiggs cleverly combines humor with a strong cast working through a difficult situation as life after striking out Kim has thrown two splitters at Bo just when he is about to join the Yankees.

Harriet Klausner

Gallant Match-Jennifer Blake

Gallant Match
Jennifer Blake
Mira, Feb 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 0778326195

In 1846 in New Orleans, Kentuckian sword master Kerr Wallace is proud to have earned the honor of being recognized as a maitre d'armes after years of obsessive training. However, through all that hard work, he also has not lost his focus. He lives for one thing; to avenge the death of his brother killed by Pierre Rouillard who resides like a noble in Mexico.

When Pierre decides to bring his Creole fiancé Mademoiselle Sonia Bonneval to him in Vera Cruz, he hires Kerr to escort her; unaware of the man’s deep grudge against him. Sonia surprises Kerr as she refuses to marry Pierre in a marriage arranged by her family. However, though attracted to her he ignores her wishes as he has two vows to complete. First he pledged to deliver her to Pierre safe and sound; second he pledged to his late sibling he will kill Pierre. The trek is dangerous, but the biggest peril awaits the travelers in Vera Cruz.

The latest Master at Arms historical romance (see CHALLENGE TO HONOR, GUARDED HEART, and ROGUE’S SALUTE) is terrific entry in a strong mid nineteenth century saga. The story line is refreshed by partially moving out of New Orleans (especially in Mexico) and by the Kentucky hero who has become a maitre d'armes for all the wrong reasons. Fans will relish how the French Creole Mademoiselle Sonia bursts his unshakeable resolve with love as his objective turns from killing her fiancé to keeping her safe especially from her fiancé. GALLANT MATCH lives up to its title as an exciting pairing of two wonderful protagonists.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Give Me A Cowboy-Jodi Thomas, DeWanna Pace, Linda Broday, and Phyliss Miranda

Give Me A Cowboy
Jodi Thomas, DeWanna Pace, Linda Broday, and Phyliss Miranda
Zebra, Feb 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 1420103717

"Silent Partner" by Jodi Thomas. After time in prison, Rowdy Darnell comes home to Kasota Springs planning to earn some money in the rodeo. However, he needs the fee to be paid to enter so seeks a silent partner as no one would want to publicly bankroll a felon. Laurel Hayes wants nothing to do with the convict she once considered a friend, but their kisses speak otherwise. A charmer

"Luck of the Draw" by DeWanna Pace. They reunite at the Kasota Springs rodeo, but Dally Angelo must conquer the bull who killed his father and "Gus" Garrison must reveal a secret to him that she fears will send him running away before they can consider a second chance at love. Heartwarming

"Texas Tempest" by Linda Broday. Rancher Tempest LeDoux comes to the Kasota Springs rodeo seeking husband Numero 6. Gunfighter McKenna Smith comes to town only to be wanted by Tempest. Somehow she has out gunned the gunfighter or why else would he participate in a rodeo. Exciting

"Roping the Wind" by Phyliss Miranda. Undercover Pinkerton agent Morgan Payne is in Kasota Springs during the rodeo seeking to catch cattle rustlers. However the detective is distracted by kick-butt tomboy Alaine LeDoux who considers him a citified suit and would not suit with her except for those kisses. Adorable

The follow-up western romance anthology to GIVE ME A TEXAN (not read by me) contains four wonderful novellas that occur in the summer of 1890 in Kasota Springs. Each tale stars delightful lead characters who provide different perspective to the same event. Sub-genre fans will appreciate this fabulous compilation insisting like the heroines the authors GIVE ME A COWBOY.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Sins of Lord Easterbrook-Madeline Hunter

The Sins of Lord Easterbrook
Madeline Hunter
Dell, Feb 3 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780440243960

The Marquis of Easterbrook Christian has traveled the globe to learn how to cope with his inner secrets. In Macao, China pretending to be a commoner, Christian meets Leona Montgomery, the daughter of a trading house tycoon. Their attraction frightens both of them, but a young Leona flees from him fearing her feelings. He is heartbroken as she is the only person he ever met who keeps his demons at bay.

Seven years after they first met, Leona is in England seeking answers to her family’s devastated business now run by her brother while also seeking needed capital investment. Her late father blamed the government sponsored Opium for Tea triangular colonialism trade anchored by the English opium monopoly for destroying his firm. Christian has waited for her all these years. Though he will help her on her quest, this time he will not allow her to run from love.

This mid nineteenth century romance is fast-paced and filled with action as love and intrigue make for an excellent historical. The relationship between the lead couple is worth the cost of this fine early Victorian, but it is the insight into the octopus tentacles of the Opium Trade for tea that brings depth to this passionate tale.

Harriet Klausner

The Bikini Diaries-Lacey Alexander

The Bikini Diaries
Lacey Alexander
NAL, Feb 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780451225900

Wendy Carnes is on a business trip to Florida. While walking on a beach on the Emerald Coast, she notices the ultra confident “White Bikini Babe” who has men salivating and women envying her daring openness that she is looking for a super lay. Wendy writes in her journal how much she would relish being that confident female.

Deciding to see if a bikini would give her that sexual approach for a fling with a hunk or be like that old song, Wendy takes the plunge if nothing else to see what she has been missing. Men keep staring at her like a VOYEUR; while CEO Brandon meets Wendy and calls her Bunny. As they heat the Florida coast, they begin to fall in love; but she clings to her plan of brief while he wants much more.

This heated erotic romance star two likable characters who meet when “she wore an itsy bitsy teeny weenie … bikini”. Wendy’s attitude changes with her wardrobe modification though perhaps too easily as she loses a lot of her self consciousness. The plot is a bit thin, but fun as fans will enjoy THE BIKINI DIARIES due to the heroine going from gun shy to gun sly while her champion struggles with telling her how much he cares about the whole Wendy.

Harriet Klausner

The First Sin-Cheyenne McCray

The First Sin
Cheyenne McCray
St. Martin's, Feb 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 0312946449

At NSA Recovery Enforcement Division (RED) Human Trafficking and Sex Crimes Division, field agent Alexi Steele has been promoted to a team supervisor position. The current assignment, Operation Cinderella, consisting of the former Special Forces sniper and her team is undercover making the Boston S&M scene in order rescue thirteen abducted college age females from being auctioned as sex slaves to the highest bidder.

However, something goes wrong and one of her teammates Stacey Randolph was raped and murdered; her body found in Boston Harbor. Lexi wants revenge against the perpetrators, but to do so must get deep inside. She is partnered with a new co-leader Nick Donovan, who thirsts for vengeance too as this predatory group kidnapped and sold his sister Kristin in bondage. He wants to rescue his sibling and take out the sex slavery ring. To do they must enter the S&M world as a couple with her being his submissive and him as her “Control”.

Boston has never looked grittier and dirtier even when Bush 41 accused Dukakis of crapping up the harbor or any Parker case then Cheyenne McCray’s exciting but extremely dark portrayal of the human sexual slavery market. The story line is fast-paced from the opening scene when the abductee informs Kristin he would F her, but knows the rules of business starts with not to screw with the merchandise. That sets the tone of a terrific erotic police procedural starring a petit fiery dragon and her beloved Control.

Harriet Klausner

MacGowan’s Ghost-Cindy Miles

MacGowan’s Ghost
Cindy Miles
Signet, Feb 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 0451226186

Allie Morgan is a for hire ghostbuster who is proud of liberating spirits so that they can move on. Her current client takes her from the States, her last job being in Raleigh, to the Northwest coast of Scotland. Odin's Thumb Inn and Pub is loaded with irritating ghosts.

However this assignment in Sealladh na Mara is different than any she previously performed. She quickly learns that every resident can communicate with the ghosts, which makes her realize she is not as unique as she thought, but also wonders why her customer the pub owner Gabe MacGowan needs an outsider like her; to do so he must sell the pub; to sell the pub he must rid it of its otherworldly infestation including his late wife. Neither Jake nor the ghosts want to leave their home, so they have teamed up to drive potential buyers away. However, Allie is attracted to the gloomy Gabe and likes his sons and the lively spirits so instead of driving them out, she joins their side hoping to understand what is disturbing her client’s soul.

This is a fun paranormal romance starring a likable heroine, a Grinch of a male lead, and a fine cast of ghosts who play matchmaker along with his son. The story line is lighthearted fun while also digging deep into relationships even with those beyond the grave; especially Gabe’s late wife. Fans will enjoy this enchanting romantic fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

My Man Michael-Lori Foster

My Man Michael
Lori Foster
Berkley, Feb 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425226292

Twenty-six years old Michael “Mallet” Manchester is a month away from his SBC title shot that he and most pundits believe he will win. That was before the car accident left his right leg mangled, his fighting career over, and since he knows nothing else he is moping and bitter. He believes his life is over.

Kayle Raine enters his hospital room calling him a loser as a warrior never mopes regardless of the conditions of her limbs. She offers him an intriguing deal. Though Mallet believes he must be hallucinating from the pain medicine, he accepts her transaction; she will heal his injuries in exchange he will go back to the future with her people have become weak couch potatoes. She hides her real mission in taking him to 2220, which is his mating with a woman; but the rules forbid Kayle from being that lucky female.

This is an entertaining major twist to Lori Foster’s SBC contemporary romances as the story line is a fascinating futuristic science fiction romance. Mallet is fabulous as he goes from total sulking ready to withdraw from life to stunned champion. Though the early twenty-third century does not seem quite real (could it be his drugs?), fans will relish the love between the rescuer and the rescued if they can each overcome their inadequacy fears.

Harriet Klausner

Mortal Sins-Eileen Wilks

Mortal Sins
Eileen Wilks
Berkley, Feb 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425225523

FBI Agent Lily Yu and her soulmate California’s Nokolai clan werewolf Rule Turner are in North Carolina planning to bring home his son, Toby, who lives with his grandma. While on a wolf run near the Lediolf clan’s home, he smells death. He follows the scent to a grave containing three corpses and the lingering infection of death magic.

Since Agent Lily is already at the crime scene, she is put in charge of the official investigation. Another "death magic" homicide occurs; leading Lily to believe that something new at least to her is the serial killer. Werewolf sorcerer Cullen tells Lily someone has created a deadly wraith, but offers no clues how ends the reign of terror.

The latest Agent Yu “Mortal” urban fantasy police procedural is refreshed by the family element and by a unique serial killer who the FBI operative, her werewolf significant other and the sorcerer have no earthly idea how to defeat it. Thus solving the whodunit turns out relatively easy while solving how to prevent further deaths proves seemingly impossible. Eileen Wilks provides a strong entry in her Yu thrillers (see MORTAL DANGER).

Harriet Klausner

Night’s Pleasures-Amanda Ashley

Night’s Pleasures
Amanda Ashley
Zebra, Feb 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 082178062X

Journalist Savanah Gentry first met the magician when she was a little girl and her late single dad took her to watch him perform as the Remarkable Renaldo. Sixteen years later he still works the small town circuit but calls himself Santoro the Magnificent. In the Northern California audience he recognizes Savanah who somehow seems to follow his shows. Savanah wants to interview the magician, but though he wants her and has for years, vampire Rane Cordova has avoided his need to taste her blood. This time when she waits for him, he surprises both of them by asking her out.

Humanity has achieved universal peace until Vampires and Weres each believed they should run the earth so they finally went to war to decide who would rule (see NIGHT’S MASTER). Their fragile ceasefire is teetering as both sides seek the hunter who possesses a special reference book that lists all vampires. Savanah inherited the tome from her late mom, a renowned vampire hunter. Rane keeps her safe even as they fall in love.

This is an exciting paranormal romantic suspense starring star-crossed lovers as he is vampire and she's a slayer. The story line starts off at hyperspeed, get a bit anemic in the middle, but accelerates to the finish. Fans will enjoy this fine urban romantic fantasy as the paranormal species and Amanda Ashley’s alternate earth seem real.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, December 26, 2008

When a Stranger Loves Me-Julianne MacLean

When a Stranger Loves Me
Julianne MacLean
Avon, Feb 2009, $ 6.99
ISBN: 9780061456855

In 1874 on the Western tip of the Jersey Islands, Lady Chelsea is besides herself after receiving a note from Lord Jerome Carruthers. He coldly informs her that her brother Lord Neufeld has no offspring after a decade of marriage and is ailing; he will inherit leaving her and her mom homeless unless she marries him, a man many years her senior. When she finds a man lying on the beach having been washed from the sea, she thinks she has the answer to finding an heir. She will seduce the stranger who has no idea who he is as he suffers from amnesia. Her pregnancy will keep the estate and her from odious Carruthers.

However, Chelsea’s plan goes astray when she falls in love with the kind amnesiac. His family arrives to bring him home and he realizes how his nurse used him. As he learns more about the cause of his memory loss, he too is in love, but no longer trusts his hostess.

Though readers might assume Chelsea’s risky plan as inane, her desperation will convince the audience that she sees no alternative unless she marries the despicable Jerome. She and her amnesiac make for a fun Victorian tale although his mystery memory loss seems too easily resolved. Still historical romance fans will appreciate Julianne MacLean’s fine Victorian romance e (see MY WILDEST FANTASIES and THE MISTRESS DIARIES).

Harriet Klausner

Hot Flash-Kathy Carmichael

Hot Flash
Kathy Carmichael
Medallion, Feb 2009, $7.95
ISBN: 9781934755037

In Las Vegas, La Papillon sous chef Jill Morgan Storm turns forty today. After rescuing a kitchen helper form the chef and the freezer, the single mom celebrates her milestone with friends when she decides she needs a husband right now, but only for a week. Her first marriage failed and since the divorce she has not met anyone whom she is attracted to until now. Ignoring her heart, her brain insists she marry a traveling salesman. He would bring in needed money to send her son Stephen to college without the albatross of a monster student loan while only requiring satisfaction one week each month; three weeks on the road sounds perfect to Jill. He would also provide cover from breast grabber Chef Radkin.

However there is one major obstacle to Jill's perfect plan, schoolteacher Davin Wesley. He wants her and she is attracted to him. However, he is home four weeks out of a month, which makes his demands on her perpetual. On the other hand his kisses melt her brain. Years with no one activating her libido and now that she has the plan, he shows up keeping her in constant heat.

This lighthearted amusing romp contains amiable characters especially the lead couple supported by eccentrics at the restaurant, school and family. Mother and son are a dynamic duo who seems to land in one amusing situation after another especially since Davin enters the relationship. Although somewhat too frivolous, contemporary romance fans who want plenty of laughs will enjoy the frolics of HOT FLASH.

Harriet Klausner

Shattered-JoAnn Ross

JoAnn Ross
Signet, Feb 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 0451226127

Over a year ago, Army Night Stalker pilot and Army Dr. Kirby Campbell met in Baghdad and shared a great tryst. However when he crashed during a mission, he lost his leg; he never returned to Kirby. She assumes he died while on a SOAR mission. Shane returns to the States where he is fitted with a prosthetic leg. He never forgot Kirby, but has too much on his plate trying to rebuild his life in his hometown of Somersett, South Carolina.

Kirby is in Monteleon, Central America providing medical relief as a WMR physician to the residents of the jungle nation run by Dictator President General Vasquez. When her friend and boss Dr. Rachel Moore is abducted and held hostage, she joins the Phoenix Team led by Tremayne and McKade planning the rescue. Shane also insists on joining the rescue team. As the pair reignite whet they started in the Middle East, they both knows this is love, but is that enough to overcome what happens the first time they are together in a non “High Risk” scenario.

This action-packed romantic suspense thriller (see FREEFALL and CROSSFIRE for the previous High Risk thrillers) is fast-paced from the onset in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq and never slows with a brief respite in the States and then onto Central America. Fans get a deep look at issues facing veterans coming home after a deployment in the war zone. Shayne is a great hero as he adapts to his lost leg by teaching aviation and a willingness to test breakthrough prosthetic technology; as a medical volunteer in hot spots Kirby is as brave as he is. Readers will relish their exhilarating High Risk tale.

Harriet Klausner

The Warlord’s Daughter-Susan Grant

The Warlord’s Daughter
Susan Grant
Harlequin HQN, Feb 2009, $ 6.99
ISBN: 0373773617

The two powerful civilizations are on the brink of the final battle to determine who will dominate the galaxy. The brutal Draaken Empire informs Battlelord Aral Mawdarr that none of the Coalition fleet is to get past the Warlord’s Flotilla. However, he has switched alliances and plans to see the end of the brutal empire that his father worships as a man of power. Aral expects his award will be THE WARLORD’S DAUGHTER, Awrenkka promised to him as his bride ten years ago when she was thirteen.

His treachery works leaving the Warlord dead, but the offspring in danger as everyone wants her; the Draaken to begin a revival while the Coalition to end that revival; even earth is interested in her. Forging a Triad, they seek her while Aral also searches for his vanished fiancée, who plans to destroy a mythical treasure to keep it out of the hands of any warrior regardless of loyalties. That was her intention until she reconsiders when Aral finds his Wren.

The latest Borderlands military science fiction romance (see MOONSTRUCK, YOUR PLANET OR MINE, MY FAVORITE EARTHLING, and HOW TO LOSE AN EXTRATERRESTRIAL IN 10 DAYS) is a terific entry as betrayal for various reasons is the norm. Aral is a fascinating character who has played the dangerous game of traitor for several years while inside the inner most advisory circle to the Warlord; his stealth skill might seem implausible but espionage cases like Ames and Walker prove otherwise. In many ways Wren is the more intriguing protagonist as she goes from total isolation to being the most wanted person in the galaxy. Fans of the Draaken-Coalition War will enjoy the latest saga as the battles may be over for now, but the hostility remains heated.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Instant Attraction-Jill Shalvis

Instant Attraction
Jill Shalvis
Kensington, Feb 2009, $14.00
ISBN 9780758231239

Los Angeles accountant Katie Kramer did everything by the book keeping in mind the bottom line until the accident. Feeling fortunate to be alive, Katie vows to live life to the fullest as she understands you have one chance and hiding cubicles is not what one would call living. Katie applies for a job with Wilder Adventures in the Sierra Madre mountain town of Wishful and to her euphoria is hired.

The accident ended Cameron Wilder’s career as a champion snowboarder. Feeling at a loss as what to next, he has wandered around but has come home to Wishful. He is shocked to find a beautiful woman sleeping in his bed in his cabin. She is shocked to find a man sharing her bed when she awakens the next morning. Each don’t need caffeine to feel in their gut the INSTANT ATTRACTION between them. As they fall in love, one daredevil stunt at a time, she is unprepared for a relationship beyond the moment and he has doubts that love lasts though his “mom” Annie and her husband Nick prove otherwise.

The lead couple is a fascinating pairing as neither wants a relationship, but has no choice as the Wilder bunch insures they remain together. The Wilder bunch makes the story line fun with their antics yet key members are drawn with depth and poignancy especially the matriarch and her spouse. Readers will enjoy Jill Shalvis’ fun contemporary romance as everyone seems to embrace love when they feel the emotion even in others except for Katie and Cameron who want to flee love.
Harriet Klausner

Montana Creeds: Logan-Linda Lael Miller

Montana Creeds: Logan
Linda Lael Miller
Harlequin HQN, Feb 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 0373773536

After a successful career with the rodeo and a failure twice at marriage, Logan Creed returns to the family dilapidated Stillwater Springs Ranch in Montana; though he is somewhat estranged with his brothers Dylan and Tyler. He is wealthy, but ironically he made his money not from the rodeo, but from self-help legal services over the net.

Dylan has allowed Briana Grant and her two sons ten year old Josh and eight year old Alec to live in Logan’s house since her rat of an ex Vance deserted her, their kids and their dog two years ago in Stillwater Springs. Logan likes the children and is attracted to their mother. When it appears that someone wants to hurt Briana, Logan vows to keep her and her children safe while fixing up the ranch and reconciling with his brothers.

Linda Lael Miller expands her McKettrick universe with their Big Sky cousins: the Creeds. The first tale stars big brother Logan and a courageous single mom who shows how much she cares about people by making it her mission to pull weeds from the nearby cemetery’s gravesites. The Creeds are as dysfunctional as a family can be. Ms. Miller uses broken relationships like a master mage. Obviously targeting the McKettrick mob, fans of the author will appreciate her latest entry as the saga grows and two more siblings to follow.

Harriet Klausner

The Courtship Dance-Candace Camp

The Courtship Dance
Candace Camp
Harlequin HQN, Feb 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 0373773544

Fifteen years ago, then eighteen years old Lady Francesca Haughtson and the Duke of Rochford were engaged though they told no one as he insisted she enjoy her first season. However, she ended their relationship when she learned the truth about her fiancé with Lady Daphne Swithington; she married someone else. All these years Sinclair has never met anyone else he wanted to marry; besides he does not trust women as he tried to explain to his beloved, but she refused to listen.

A widow for five years after an unhappy marriage, Francesca is filled with remorse and guilt because she knows the truth that she was duped with lies when she dumped her beloved Rochford. She wants to rectify her error and though it will hurt use her matchmaking skills to find him a proper wife who will believe his word. However, to find him a suitable wife means being with him. Francesca knows at first look she still loves him; Sinclair has never stopped living her. Although he wants her he knows he can never trust she will stay with him if another misunderstanding surfaces.

The fourth delightful Matchmaker Regency romance (see THE WEDDING CHALLENGE, THE MARRIAGE WAGER and THE BRIDAL QUEST) is a superb tale as this time Francesca’s efforts are much more personalized as she owes Rochfort for doubting him. The engaging story line is driven by her and Rochford as she wants to make amends and he wants her; the days of reckoning between them that Candace Camp’s fans have waited for have finally occurred.
Harriet Klausner

Full Exposure-Tracy Wolff

Full Exposure
Tracy Wolff
NAL, Jan 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780451225962

Years ago photographer Serena Macafee was the victim of a brutal assault. She physically healed but emotionally she fears intimacy with men.

In Baton Rouge, her current project is to take pictures of highly regarded sculptor Kevin Riley. To her shock she is attracted to her subject as he awakens a part of her that she thought died with the vicious attack. Kevin wants her as much as she desires him. Both struggle with their need for the other. Especially adding to their difficulties is there is no respite from their respective hearts as she is living in his house during the shoot. As they fall in love and make love, he wants forever, but she fears relationships. Kevin soon realizes her paranoia has a current base as someone filled with rage stalks her. He pleads with her to go to the cops, but she says done that and have the mental scars to prove it so she insists no cops. He reluctantly accepts her proclamation fearing she might leave otherwise and vows to keep her safe.

Although Kevin seems too perfect especially his patience level, FULL EXPOSURE is an exciting romantic suspense thriller due to the heroine who needs a forklift to carry her baggage. Serena makes the tale work as her past, her kin, and her emotional withdrawal make her a fascinating protagonist. The stalker enhances her most crippling quirks. Fans will wonder whether the photographer will be able to overcome her phobias and stay with Kevin; or will she flee from love as Tracey Wolff provides a strong contemporary in which the answer to stay or not to stay is in the photos.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Courtesan’s Wager-Claudia Dain

The Courtesan’s Wager
Claudia Dain
Berkley, Feb 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425225806

In 1802 London, Lady Amelia Caversham perfectly meets the criteria for a duchess. She has excellent breeding as the daughter of a duke, no whiff of scandal, polite, and most important is that she has a sizable dowry. In spite of her assets, no male seems interested in her.

She decides she needs help from a professional when it comes to the males of the Ton. She asks notorious courtesan turned notorious matchmaker Lady Sophia Dalby to assist her. Dalby agrees feeling this will liven up a slow season. She arranges interviews of men who must meet her eligibility criteria to become Amelia’s husband. The Ton explodes with delight and men line up for the job. Alas only Lord Cranleigh refuses to make a fool of himself except wanting to protect his reticent younger brother from doing so. His plan is to seduce the twit only he finds the seduction too enticing to walk away from.

Once again though a secondary player, Dalby steals the show (see THE COURTESAN'S DAUGHTER and THE COURTESAN'S SECRET) in this well written amusing Regency romance. The frolic is fast-paced from the moment a desperate Amelia turns to the notorious one and never slows from that first encounter. Readers will enjoy this terific jocular caper as Cranleigh’s behaves as amusingly shameful as Dalby and Amelia do.

Harriet Klausner

Devil of the Highlands-Lynsay Sands

Devil of the Highlands
Lynsay Sands
Avon, Feb 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061344770

In 1273 England, Lady Edda asks King Edward to arrange for her stepdaughter Evelinde of d’Aumesbury to marry the “Devil of Donnachaidh”. The stepmother loathes her late husband’s offspring and detests sharing the fruits of her deceased husband’s barony, which is beneath her needs as it is She also wants to punish Evelinde for being the brave daughter of her despicable dead spouse; so assumes the Scottish aristocratic barbarian will be a perfect brute for Evelinde. The monarch arranges for the couple to meet. Each is shocked that their preconceptions re the other is totally wrong. She expected an abusive thug, but he is kind and caring; he anticipated a cold aloof shrew, but she is warm and daring.

After they exchange marital vows, they head to his home in Scotland as she wonders why the nickname as he nothing like his ferocious reputation. She learns the epithet was given to him due to the murder of his father and the alleged suicide of his cousin; everyone assumes he caused both. Everyone except Evelinde until someone tries to kill her. She wonders if her husband is actually insane or is someone trying to make him seem like a berserker murderer; she plans to learn the truth or die trying.

Starting with the evil stepmother, DEVIL OF THE HIGHLANDS is a fabulous medieval romance starring two charming courageous characters. Evelinde is somewhat typical of the sub-genre except that she matures with a keen understanding that the man she loves proves his caring of her and his people through what he does for them. The whodunit adds to a strong thirteenth century tale as the heroine realizes her spouse is the angel of Donnachaidh.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, December 22, 2008

Six-Opal Carew

Opal Carew
St. Martin's, Jan. 2009, $13.95
ISBN: 0312384793

They met almost a year ago at a Colorado ski resort, began seeing one another exclusively, and fell in love. Aiden Curtis proposes to his Harmony, who wants to say yes, but delays her response. She knows she has hidden one side of her inner self from her beloved. In college and once a year since, she and her best pals, “the Group of Six” come together for orgies.

Harmony decides rather than try to explain her desires to him; she will show him first hand as the annual all holds sexual tryst is about to begin. She worries whether Aiden will join the mix or be horrified by what is going on and not want to marry her. However, before Aiden has a chance to accept the sexual invite or take flight, his former girlfriend Mia arrives at the retreat.

This is a fascinating couple swapping tale of four men and four women switching partners. The story line is driven by the cast especially the lead couple as she fears his rejection and he not being adequate. Although the climax feels like premature ejaculation, erotic romance fans will enjoy this heated vivid orgy.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Tangled Up in Love-Heidi Betts

Tangled Up in Love
Heidi Betts
St. Martin’s, Feb 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 0312946716

Over a year ago, Dylan Stone was selected as the Cleveland Herald columnist beating rival Veronica Chasen for the position. Ronnie is not a good loser as she takes a columnist position at the lesser read Cleveland Sentinel. They begin a weekly challenge of dares in which each claims their gender’s superiority. She has played ice hockey goalie and bungee jumped while he leaped out of a plane in spite of his fear of heights; neither will surrender the contest although she has won from him his prize possession the Harrison Award trophy.

However, her latest challenge may prove the toughest yet even more than her tattoo on her butt. She dares Dylan to knit a polished item within a month. Dylan tries self help manuals but fails. He visits the Knit Wits club at the Yarn Barn run by Ronnie’s Aunt Charlotte Langan who agrees to give him knitting lessons; which she ironically turns him over to her niece. Dylan offers Ronnie $1000 to teach him; so she wins either way. Charlotte knows the two obstinate adversaries are attracted to one another; so she brings down her grandmother’s “magical” spinning wheel to knit the knot of love one stitch at a time.

TANGLED UP IN LOVE is an enjoyable whimsical contemporary romance starring two rivals whose attraction begins with the butt as he grows stiff admiring hers and she thinks he is Mr. Jackass. Fans will enjoy this lighthearted romp while wondering whether Charlotte’s spinning wheel worked its magical spell as she believes or just being together outside The Penalty Box gave love the opportunity to knit two people into one relationship.

Harriet Klausner

Only Pleasure-Lora Leigh

Only Pleasure
Lora Leigh
St. Martin’s, Jan 6 2009, $14.95
ISBN: 9780312368739

Kia Stanton, soon to return to her maiden name Rutherford, makes it clear to her estranged spouse Drew that she will never go back to him; nor deny the rumors that he and his friend tried to rape her at her Alexandria home or that they belong to some elitist sex Club. Drew warns her that Chase Falladay and his goons will visit her if she stays mute re the existence of the Club. She vows not to gossip but remain resolutely silent about what occurred although her best friend, make that former best friend, spread what she told her in confidence. Just after her father calls telling her they are in financial trouble if she fails to deny the existence of the Club, Chase arrives at her home to persuade her to state the Club does not exist; she agrees in return he will keep her safe from Drew.

For the next two years Kia limits her social activities. She meets Chase at a party and he convinces her to leave with him and his "third" Khalid to come with them to the Club. She is nervous but has been curious about the Club since the rape attempt. The trio enjoys the sexual tryst. As Chase and Kia fall in love, someone who loathes yet loves him has finally found a means to hurt him by killing Kia.

The latest erotic “Pleasure” Club romance stars a courageous female and the return of Chase (see WICKED PLEASURES where he served as the “third” to his twin Cam and Jaci). The story line is fast-paced even when it switches gear into a woman in peril subplot; as the culprit will be a shocking pleasure to fans of the series. Although first time readers will need time to comprehend the kinky Club policies, Lora Leigh provides a pleasurable addition to her fine saga of sex amongst the powerful in DC.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Too Good To Be True-Kristan Higgins

Too Good To Be True
Kristan Higgins
Harlequin HQN, Feb 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 0373773552

In Connecticut, Manning Academy History Teacher Grace Emerson has a two decade plus history of making up boyfriends. Thus tired of her family’s pity since her former fiance Andrew Carson dumped her for her younger sister Natalie and hoping to alleviate her sibling’s feelings of guilt, she makes up the too perfect pediatric surgeon Wyatt Dunn as her beau. Only her older sister Margaret knows this is a sham to get everyone off the “dumping”.

At night Grace notices a man looking around the vacant house next door. She calls the cops, but when the stranger knocks on her door she hits him with a field hockey stick while her canine takes a nip on him leg. He turns out to be her new neighbor Callahan O’Shea who bought the house unseen after spending time as a guest at Petersburg Federal Prison for embezzlement. While his eye is black, she hits him again accidentally with a rake. Soon Cal and Grace begin to fall in love, but she has a man in her life; just ask her family.

With plenty of slapstick enhancing this enchanting warm contemporary romance, Kristan Higgins provides an enjoyable tale of love if he can survive the early rounds. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Grace smacks her new neighbor with the stick and remains somewhat pugilistic as her left hook is something George Foreman would be proud of. Fans who appreciate a jocular tale filled with a solid cast (family, friends, faulty, and students) will want to read Grace’s madcap story of love, lies, and not knowing Jack about either.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Kiss Of A Demon King-Kresley Cole

Kiss Of A Demon King
Kresley Cole
Poclet, Jan 20 2009, $7,99
ISBN: 9781416580942

Rydstrom Woede knows how far he has fallen when he rejects the human females’ offer of a lap dance at the Tongue and Groove Strip Club in Louisiana. The former Demon King of the Rothkalina plane plots to regain his Castle Tornin throne lost to the sorcerer Omort the Deathless who cannot die. Hell he beheaded his foe nine centuries ago and instead of victory Rydstrom was fortunate to escape alive. His current ally Groot is Omort’s brother who wants the Deathless one dead; Rydstrom’s theory is simply your enemy’s enemy, etc.

Omort’s half-sister Sabine the Sorceress of Illusions is as evil as her siblings with one exception; her need especially when she was a tweener more than a century ago is to protect her younger sister Lanthe from their kin and the Vreckners. When she meets and captures Rydstrom, she makes him prisoner of her body. However, though she knows she needs to deliver his head on a silver platter to Omort, something strange occurs as he somehow conquers her heart: Likewise Rydstrom knows he must kill her before she betrays him, but somehow she has captured his heart and soul (though he doubts he has the latter as that is a human frailty). As they fall in love, both need to team up to survive her family especially Omort, but neither trusts the other; instead they make love, fight foes and anticipate duplicity.

The latest Immortals After Dark saga (See DARK NEEDS AT NIGHT'S EDGE, NO REST FOR WICKED and A HUNGER LIKE NO OTHER) is a wonderful urban romantic fantasy starring two fascinating individuals whose respective morality differs radically from most Americans. The story line is fast-paced from the onset as the demon warrior and the sorceress queen compete for the top position in their relationship. Fans of the Cole mythos will relish this superb entry succinctly summed up at the beginning by Rydstrom: “This sorceress might be an evil b*tch, but she’s my evil b*tch. And I’ll have no other.”

Harriet Klausner

Marked by Passion-Kate Perry

Marked by Passion
Kate Perry
Forever, Feb 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 0446541001

In San Francisco Gabrielle Sansouci Chin works as a bartender so she can eat while hoping her paintings will soon pay her way. However, when her father dies, Gabrielle has little time to grieve her loss as she inherited a role she does not want. She is the latest guardian of the ancient Chinese scroll of Earth that each generation Chin has past down to the next seemingly forever.

On the plus side is some neat new powers, but on the down side she has no idea how to use them even as her late father’s spirit keeps encouraging her to hang on as it will get easier. Gabe chooses to ignore her responsibility, which frustrates her late father. Meanwhile treasure-hunter Rhys Llewellyn wants the scroll, but Gabe so far has refused though his seduction and her pondering not having to deal any longer with the duty makes handing it over feel like nirvana. Still, when danger mounts, Gabe has no choice but to take charge of her task.

This engaging romantic urban fantasy stars a woman in total denial in spite of the evidence that she has no choice but to get involved. The story line is action-packed as Gabe eludes her responsibility and is fortunate the enemy fails at killing her and stealing the scroll. Still in spite of much of the story line focusing on her dodging her inherited duty as much as the villain, Gabe brings a freshness to the sub-genre as she fails to dive head first into the battle; instead choosing to hide her head in the sand. Fans will enjoy her escapades MARKED BY PASSION although the same spin is told too often losing some of the early briskness her refusal to participate brings to the plot.

Harriet Klausner

Magic’s Design-Cat Adams

Magic’s Design
Cat Adams
Tor, Feb 2009, $6.99
ISBN 9780765359636

Ukrainian egg artist Mila Penkin is concerned with the blackouts that have recently increased. Meanwhile Overworld Police Operative Talos Onan is assigned to recapture an escaped convict who broke out of a high security magical underground prison. When Mila and Talos meet he is severely injured; she psychically heals him to her amazement as she had no idea she possessed such a skill.

Mila and Talos team up to learn how she did what she did and to prevent Vegre’s evil plan to destroy the Tree of Life. They learn she is a firecraft mage, whose mother took away her memories. Neither can understand why. Mila hopes her mom was protecting her from the danger, but she has doubts that it is so as her gut insists the reason was more selfish. As they work together, they fall in love, but Mila is the only hope to heal the dying Tree of Life if she can learn to focus her firecraft magic before doomsday strikes.

Going solo without her Sazi partner Cathy Camp, Cat Adams provides her fans with a wonderful romantic urban fantasy starring a heroine who takes to her role with honor and her soul mate who encourages her every step of the way while covering her back. Interestingly even with a world at stake, the theme seems narrower as the big picture doomsday never fully evolves. Still that small spotlight leads to a charming tense thriller as love blossoms while two intrepid warriors set out to save the world.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What I Did for Love-Susan Elizabeth Phillips

What I Did for Love
Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Morrow, Feb 2009, $25.99
ISBN 9780061351501

The stars of the popular Sitcom Skip and Scooter simply loathe each other in real life. Actress Georgie York is a feisty beauty while her costar, the womanizing Bram Shepard is a “Bad Boy” hunk. Bram’s latest tryst leads to their show being canceled and both their careers in jeopardy; Georgie has even more reason to detest Bram.

Eight years later neither of their Hollywood careers have recovered from his sexcapade although she has married star Lance Marks. However, he dumps her for a new wife, Jade Gentry, a former perfect 10 actress who has become an international activist saving the world. In Vegas, Bram and Georgie see each other for the first time since the show’s debacle when they wake up in the same bed with hangovers and a marriage license. Reluctantly they agree to pretend to stay married as Georgie wants to recover from what her ex has done to her in public and Lance sees a second chance at love to rectify the error of his life.

WHAT I DID FOR LOVE is an amusing satirical look at romance, Hollywood style, which means girl meets boy, girl hates boy, girl loves boy while the matchmaking paparazzi photographs every step in the courtship. Fans will laugh out loud at this amusing tale of beloved enemies as two actors perform their fake relationship so realistically they deserve an Oscar except for one problem; neither needs to act in this particular role. Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Is a master storyteller.

Harriet Klausner

Night After Night-Kathryn Smith

Night After Night
Kathryn Smith
Avon, Feb 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061632709

In 1899 Europe, Temple the vampire knows he must kill his six foot plus jailer, but something prevents him from harming Vivian though she is aligned with his enemies the Order of the Silver Palm and their leader Rupert Villiers. Still he tastes her blood that he covets, which stuns him giving him hope. When he asks her what she is, she flees hurt that he reminded her she is a freak. She loved his bite and fears she will betray Rupert. Temple realizes she treats the evil Rupert like a loving father and realizes his evil foe set a trap for his four vampiric friends. When he escapes, Rupert sends Vivian to follow him explaining he will flee to Clare Island, Ireland. Her task is to make the vampire believe she is his so that Rupert can catch all five of them.

On Clare Island, Temple waits for Vivian as he knows she pursues him. They fight and she does extremely well until he finally pins her. They make love and he takes her blood though he does not trust Vivian. He also knows Rupert lost his fiancée to a vampire twenty years ago, but believes his enemy wants much more than vengeance. Vivian explains Rupert rescued her from a freak show that her father sold her to; she is torn between loyalty to Rupert and love for Temple.

The latest Brotherhood of the Blood historical romantic fantasy (see NIGHT OF THE HUNTRESS, TAKEN BY THE NIGHT and LET THE NIGHT BEGIN) is an exhilarating tale starring a fabulous unique heroine. The relationship between the lead couple is terrific as they are attracted to one another and fall in love, but distrust one another while the ending contains a terrific final twist. Although the villain is brilliant yet is unable to accept his ward has changed sides in spite of the evidence and the five vampires fail to implement an obvious strategy, saga fans will want to read Kathryn Smith’s exciting “Night” tale.

Harriet Klausner

Ravenous: The Dark Forgotten-Sharon Ashwood

Ravenous: The Dark Forgotten
Sharon Ashwood
Signet, Feb 2009, $6.99
ISBN 9780451226174

In Fairview, Registered Witch Holly Carver of the Three Sisters Agency is a house cleaner who rids homes of haunting, poltergeists and other paranormal varmints. She is having a tough time with Steve Raglan’s Victorian better known as the dangerous Flanders place. If she didn’t need tuition money she would never take on the job of kicking the butt of a haunt from this Amityville-like abode especially since she realizes the house is hungry and she does not want to be fast food. However, six people including kids are trapped inside as lunch if not rescued. She succeeds with the help of her undead business partner Alessandro Caravelli but the haunted house almost dined on her.

Soon afterward her boyfriend dumps her and she learns a demon escaped from a portal her ancestors failed to shut properly. Holly feels responsibility since her family failed to do their job. She is not a highly regarded spellcaster, but vows to kick the demon in the butt back to the other side and shut the gateway. Her grandmother advises her and police detective Conall Macmillan helps her though he suffers from “psychic flu” he caught from kissing a siren in a bar. Alessandro tries to to help the love of his life Holly, but knows to do so will alienate his vampire Queen Omara, who demands total loyalty from her vamps. Besides everyone knows vampires are like chocolates; tempting to keep biting but too much can prove a sweet death.

This tongue in cheek, action-packed jocular urban fantasy hooks the reader from the opening moment when the audience sees Holly’s business card and never slows down as she becomes popular, as the most sought after individual in the area from hordes who want her dead before she can close the portal. Well written with Fairview seemingly real as coming acrsss as the paranormal capital of the world and the supernatural feeling natural, the sub-genre audible will relish the adventures of Holly Carver, Registered Witch.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, December 15, 2008

Seeing Red-Susan Crandall

Seeing Red
Susan Crandall
Forever, Feb 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 0446178578

Fifteen years ago on Belle Island, South Carolina, Laura Greene was kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and murdered. Her family blames Nate Vance, a boy from the wrong side of the tracks who wanted Laura as his girlfriend. Laura’s cousin teenage Ellis defends Nate; insisting he was innocent and in court on her fourteenth birthday testified against Hollis Alexander, who went to prison.

In the present, many islanders still believe the wrong man went to jail as they insist Nate killed Laura; out of prison on parole Hollis bribes reporter Wayne Carr to investigate the case as he swears he was innocent. He also goes after the Greene family that never emotionally recovered from the trauma of the homicide. Nate returns to Belle Island after being away for years, but is no longer the helpless teen being driven off by the haughty Greene clan; he is also attracted to Ellis, a schoolteacher. Ellis reciprocates though she has been seeing Rory for several years. As Ellis and Nate dance around their feelings, they begin to uncover what really happened fifteen years ago; however, this is one time the truth will not set them free because someone wants the past to remain as is and is willing to kill to insure secrets remain concealed.

This is an exciting romantic suspense in which the victim’s family never received closure although someone went to jail for the crime; as most of the Greene brood believes like most islanders that the wrong man went to jail. The action-packed story line moves briskly from the moment Ellis and Nate see each other for the first since just after the tragedy and never slows down as Hollis sets in motion his scheme. Readers will enjoy this tense thriller as the truth will set you free if it doesn’t kill you.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Flirting With Temptation-Kelley St. John

Flirting With Temptation
Kelley St. John
Forever, Feb 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 044661923X

In Birmingham, thirty-four years old Babette Robinson knows herself too well as her lack of commitment has led to failures. She is the best person at almost anything until she reaches what the NFL calls the Red Zone where she fumbles away the touchdown. Her family insists she is a kind person who is always there to help other people with problems. They persuade her she should open up her own business as a relationship repairwoman.

Feeling good about the concept, Babette creates a match-mending consulting firm the `Love Doctor”. Business is booming almost immediately and within a few months, Babette is the talk of the town as her success rate is phenomenal. She knows she has made it when affluent society queen Kitty Carelle hires her to patch things up with her ex fiancé Jeff Eubanks, who apparently does not want a second engagement after being dumped one month before the wedding. However, there is a couple of spitballs in bringing together Jeff and Kitty as he was Babette’s lover for several years. She realizes she wants to patch up their broken relationship that she ended because she could not commit. Her quandary is if she fails Kitty, Jeff will affirm his belief Babette cannot stay the course and would only dump him again if they start over.

This is a fun second chance at love starring fully developed lead characters and strong support players. The story line is fast-paced from the onset but focuses deeply on the fears and hopes of several cast members, but especially Babette. With some slices of humor, but mostly a poignant look at relationships, FLIRTING WITH TEMPTATIONS is a delightful character driven contemporary romance.

Harriet Klausner

Sexile-Lisa Lawrence

Lisa Lawrence
Delta (Dell), Feb 3 2009, $13.00
ISBN: 9780385342339

Children’s book author and sometime private investigator (see STRIP POKER and BEG ME for her previous cases); Teresa Knight is hired to go undercover at London-based porn filmmaker Silky Pictures. The owner Luis Antunes has been accused of illegally working as a pimp pressuring his actresses into prostitution and those reluctant to having sex on film. Teresa obtains work as a director and quickly feels comfortable working trip X sequences and a few X to the nth degree sexual exploits.

Her efforts behind the camera lead to clues of an international sex-slave trade headquartered in Rio while also fleeing French and English law enforcement who accuse her of pushing her new boss off a hotel balcony. As she works to end the lucrative sex trade and clear her name of a homicide rap, Teresa finds herself in deeper trouble as she is accused by authorities of being a Jihadist terrorist. As usual Teresa depends on herself to find the fitting climax.

The third Knight sexploits is a fun over the top of Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Christ the Redeemer at the peak of Corcovado Mountain. Teresa, as always, lands in trouble and sex as she leaps from one fiery encounter to another. The story line is fast-paced from the onset and never slows even with a zillion and one sexual interludes, as Lisa Lawrence provides an entertaining heated tale as the heroine is forced into SEXILE from her home in order to clear her name one following clues one tryst at a time.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Kisses Like the Devil-Diane Whiteside

Kisses Like the Devil
Diane Whiteside
Kensington Brava, Feb 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758225153

In 1900 Vice President Teddy Roosevelt meets with a former subordinate soldier from the Cuban operation Brian Donovan to ask for his help. Teddy knows the influential Donovan family is gathering in Europe to make efforts to rescue Brian’s brother trapped in Peeling. Teddy wants Brian to attend the annual Grand Duchy of Eisengau armor sale to buy a gigantic cannon for the American army.

It has been four years since Meredith Duncan began working for Colonel Zorndoff, head of the Foundry and Cannon Sales sector of the government. She has stolen the plans for a gigantic cannon because she will use them to obtain freedom for the working class. She attends a meeting of her working class party but is shocked to see Russian agent Sazanov as a guest. She does not trust the Russian and tells everyone she has not stolen the plans yet.

At a beerhouse, Meredith and her friends hold a rally. The cops break it up and Brian who was there helps Meredith escape. He escorts her to the Grand Hotel where to her regret her parents catch her. They are unhappy to see her with an American though they somewhat hide their feelings as he is a weapons buyer. The next day her parents inform Meredith that they are aware of her seditious activity and have accepted a marriage proposal from Zorndoff, whose first wife was beaten to death by him. Meredith asks Brian to ruin her by making her his mistress. Shocked he agrees. As they fall in love, they remain divided over her belief that his father exploits the workers.

The weapons competition is fascinating as countries compete for the best armor. Readers will admire the heroine, a courageous idealist who risks her life for her beliefs, and her dog Morro who is always protecting her. The actions of the good guys lead to the deaths of many innocent people adding realism, however, their remorse never comes across as more than an afterthought. Still this is a fascinating late Victorian era romantic suspense.

Harriet Klausner

Vexing the Viscount-Emily Bryan

Vexing the Viscount
Emily Bryan
Leisure, Feb 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 0843961341

Over a decade ago, Daisy Drake defeated Lucian Beaumont in a duel with play swords; the scar on his chin is a reminder of his childhood defeat. However, the South Seas Company scandal caused a schism between their families. Now ten years later, Daisy recognizes her childhood friend whom she had not seen in years. They briefly chat before the Viscount leaves to provide a pitch for funding his dig to the members of the Society of Antiquaries as he has recently found ancient Roman relics. No one will support Lucian because his father is blamed for the South Seas Company scandal and subsequent failure; that is no one except Daisy. However, his father holds her uncle culpable for the South Seas Company failure so he cannot accept funds from a Drake if he wants peace.

Daisy's great-aunt Lady Wexford was a renowned courtesan "Isabella" who kept a diary that her niece is reading. She also finds the memoirs of French courtesan Mademoiselle Blanche La Tour. With Isabella urging her, Daisy attends her aunt’s masquerade as Blanche; in that disguise she becomes Lucian's investment partner and his tutor on pleasing a lady. The only problem is that his kisses leave her wanting more.

Daisy really works the story line as she is herself during the day especially with her family, Blanche in the evening especially with Lucian, and Miss Clavenhook with Lucian's father who hates all Drakes and would detest Blanche for bringing more scandals to the family. Her masquerades make for a fun historical romance with a bit of suspense brought by unscrupulous people wanting the ancient loot for themselves. Fans will enjoy Daisy and Blanche VEXING THE VISCOUNT, who falls in love with both “women”.

Harriet Klausner

The Horse Tamer's Challenge-G.K. Aalborg

The Horse Tamer's Challenge
G.K. Aalborg
Five Star, Feb 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594147425

In 1876, Rebecca Susan Bennett joins her father Otis in the Montana Territory after her mother died. They are delivering wagons and horses to Helena where the paleontologist Edward Cope is forming an expedition. On the trail, the Sugdren gang captures Otis and torture him in order to make him reveal where he hid gold. He escapes without revealing his secret, but dies upon reaching Rebecca; before his death he had his daughter swear she will continue his quest to find her twin sister Amy, abducted by Indians nine years ago.

At a gala hosted by the governor for Cope, Rebecca meets Lucas Swallow, the bone hunter’s guide. When he sees her wearing a bear claw as a necklace he asks her where she got it. She says her father was given this by a Metris Luc “The Tamer of Wild Horses” L’Hirondelle for saving his life and that she seeks that man to help find her sister. He accepts her on the Cope expedition though he fears she is too gentle for the rigors of the dangerous terrain and hides that he is the Horse Tamer she seeks. As they fall in love, Sugdren wants to torture her into revealing the gold her late father hid.

This is an exciting western romance starring an intriguing courageous woman who is a fish out of water and a hero who understands the difference between French Canadian, Metris and half breed on the Great Plains where borders mean nothing and how you are classified everything. The story line is fast-paced from the onset when Sugdren and his gang stalk Rebecca and never slows down while the cast for the most part comes across very realistic with human flaws. Fans will enjoy this fine historical.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, December 8, 2008

Pictures of Us-Amy Garvey

Pictures of Us
Amy Garvey
Harlequin SuperRomance, Jan 2009, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373782864

Tess and Michael Butterfield have been a happily married couple for eighteen years except for one time before they married they separated and almost broke up. They reconciled and moved pass this bump in their relationship and raised their now fifteen years old daughter Emma together. Thus when the call at night occurs that Michael sired a son with Sophia Keating, both are shocked even if his indiscretion happened during the period when divorce seemed imminent; as even he had no idea that he has another child until now. The call only came because twenty-years old Drew is dying of cancer unless he receives a bone marrow transplant and his maternal side failed to match.

Tess and Michael inform Emma that she has a half brother Drew living in Boston. Michael proves incompatible, but Emma is; she is the only hope to save the life of her sibling, a total stranger.

This is an enjoyable family drama starring fully developed characters dealing with a double shocker as they both struggle to cope with the news of his previously unknown son and with his need for an instant bone marrow transplant. Adding to the dilemma is that their daughter is the only match. Readers will relish this fine tale of a New Jersey suburban family struggling to come to grips with a new reality.
Harriet Klausner

A Forever Family-Jamie Sobrato

A Forever Family
Jamie Sobrato
Harlequin SuperRomance, Jan 2009, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373715367

Following her divorce from her Nob Hill banker husband seeking spirituality in Tibet, architect Emmy Van Amsted and her son move into her family’s vacation home in Promise Lake, California. She vowed no men besides her family, but is taken aback when her Stanford University sweetheart, military peacekeeper Aidan Caldwell is also residing in the cottage at the invitation of her father. Emmy is a bit abashed because she dumped Aidan to marry her now ex spouse.

Emmy is outraged that she and her son are consigned to the one-room guest cottage as Aidan has the main house. However, she begins to change her mind when she realizes Aidan suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder following his captivity as a war hostage. Emmy feels she owes Aidan whose proposal she rejected and helps him regain his equilibrium even as she concludes she still loves her former lover.

The subplots involving a hidden treasure and a seemingly ghost serve as background to a wonderful second chance at love romance. The key theme of the story line is the basic need to belong with being loved and to love the prime elements. Aidan knows first hand the horrors of war as he has described in “From Through a Soldier's Eyes”, but that writing has not freed him from his nightmares; Emmy’s love has though he fears she will leave again; and watching her with her son are the keys to give him hope, something he lost overseas. This is a strong character driven tale though some might insist love cannot heal all wounds; others like Aidan will counter with it helps.

Harriet Klausner

Daddy by Surprise-Debra Salonen

Daddy by Surprise
Debra Salonen
Harlequin SuperRomance, Jan 2009, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373715404

Following the end of his engagement, dentist Jack Treadwell goes on vacation in Deadwood, South Dakota where the celebration of the “Days of ’76 gold rush occurs. There he meets Kat Petroski, a twice divorced mother of two (Tag and Jordie) at the bar she works as her first ex says in a “tits for tips” job; they share an instant attraction to one another. Motorcycle riding Jack hires Kat to be his guide in the area.

As Jack and Kat fall in love; each has a problem. She knows she falls for his type of “swoo” hunks who run on the wild side while he has issues wondering if he can be a good father to her sons; besides he also knows he is more a dentist than the ride like the wind image he has shown her while on vacation.

Title aside, this is a wonderful Black Hills romance due to the eccentric support cast who bring South Dakota alive one week before the Sturgis bike event is to occur. The lead couple is a nice pairing as she falls for swoo, but he may be “looking for adventure out on the highway” (Steppenwolf), but deep inside he is born to be a dentist not going wild. Fans will enjoy this engaging contemporary with strong characters who hook readers from the onset.

Harriet Klausner

Drive Me Wild-P.J. Mellor

Drive Me Wild
P.J. Mellor
Kensington Aphrodisia, Jan 2009, $13.95
ISBN: 9780758220240

“Double Trouble”. Ryan Wright is tired of bailing out his twin brother Braeden by switching places, but agrees one last time. He is thankful because the woman next door is perfect for Ryan except to his chagrin he is Braeden for now.

"Double the Pleasure”. Twins Megan and Suzanne Hartley attend their high school reunion with plans for sex with no attachments. However, Megan knows she can no longer adhere to the “no attachment” pact once she sees her high school crush Jake Stanton

"Double the Fun”. Megan’s sister Suzanne is spending a weekend at her friend's beach house when she meets Braeden Wright. Her interests change immediately from being alone to being a duet.

These three interrelated erotic contemporary romances are lighthearted yet heated fun that follows the sexual escapades of twins on the prowl.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, December 5, 2008

Stand-in Groom-Kaye Dacus

Stand-in Groom
Kaye Dacus
Barbour, Jan 28 2009, $4.95
ISBN: 9781602605244

In Bonneterre Louisiana, English expatriate George Laurence and wedding planner Ann Hawthorne meet in a restaurant through her cousin Forbes the lawyer, who tells each they are not meant to be. The next day, George and his fiancée Courtney Landry enter Ann’s wedding-planning office, Happy Endings, to hire her to plan their nuptials. The six foot size eighteen Ann is disappointed once again while George is despondent because he cannot tell this Amazonian woman he wants her with all his soul and the truth being that he is not the groom; his employer is. If he reveals the masquerade he will be retuned to England.

As Ann and George work together on his wedding, their initial attraction turns to love. He desperately wants to tell her the truth even if that means deportation, but he now fears that she will reject him having been burned by her now famous former fiancé, Cliff Ballantine who is back in the picture.

Fans of amusing contemporary romances with an interwoven inspirational message will enjoy this fine tale of misconceptions and forgiveness. Ann sets up the theme early on when she turns to God to whine that the Lord is punishing her for her inability to forgive Cliff by having her plan the wedding of a man she believes is her soul mate. Kaye Dacus provides a warm Bayou romance as to forgive is human; to fall in love is divine.

Harriet Klausner

The Red Siren-M.L. Tyndall

The Red Siren
M.L. Tyndall
Barbour, Jan 28 2009, $10.97
ISBN: 9781602605251

Outraged that with her father away, her sister Charity was forced to marry an abusive man, Faith Westcott vows never her and if she can help it and never her two other sisters Grace and Hope too. During the day she is a lady charming the ton, but at night she becomes a notorious pirate bringing in needed loot to keep the abusers away.

British naval officer Captain Dajon White leaves his patrolling of Coastal Carolina for home because he has an obligation there. Off of Portsmouth, England, he rescues Faith only to have her take over his ship. Ashamed as the Lady Em was his father’s gem, Dajon vows to hunt down the she pirate who humiliated him and all other pirates. However, first he must deal with the obligation of taking guardianship of the unmarried Westcott siblings.

Though the plot of a sea pirate besting a male at sea is not new, fans will fully appreciate the fine opening Charles Town Belles’ tale. Faith is an interesting lead character as she lost her faith in God with what happened to Charity and has turned to piracy to keep it from happening to her and her other sisters. Dajon has family issues too as he feels he fails to live up to his father’s reputation. Known for her buccaneer historical romances, M. L. Tyndall provides another fine at sea thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Stolen Fury-Elisabeth Naughton

Stolen Fury
Elisabeth Naughton
Love Spell, Jan 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 0505527936

In Italy archeologist Dr. Lisa Maxwell puts aside her life goal of uniting the three statues of the Furies, dedicated fifteen years ago when her lover died, for the night. She celebrates her finding her first ancient Greek Furies statue, Alecto, by having a tryst with Rafe Sullivan. However, he seduces and then drugs her. The next morning she is furious and frustrated with herself for letting her hair down and irate with her one night stand lover who turns out to be an art thief. He stole Alecto from her.

She vows to find him and take back what is rightfully her discovery. Her twin brother Chicago detective Shane Maxwell traces Rafe to Key West where he believes he will locate Megaera. Lisa arrives shocking him while making it clear to him that without her he will not have more than the one he took from her. Feeling some guilt, but plotting to abscond with Megaera and Tisiphone when she finds them, Rafe cuts a deal with Lisa. However, other treasure hunters, a lot more dangerous than either Lisa or Rafe combined are on the prowl and willing to kill anyone who possesses any of the Furies. To stay alive and to find the Furies, they need each other; and to fall in love, they need each other.

This is an exciting romantic suspense thriller that starts off hot with the sexual encounter and from there turns up the heart and the action. Rafe is sort of a modern day Hans Solo-Indiana Jones rogue while Lisa is more of the by the book professional. To find the statues and survive, they each need to adapt some of the other’s core values; love complicates the already difficult task. Elisabeth Naughton provides readers with a stirring archeological thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Few Good Men-Tori Carrington

A Few Good Men
Tori Carrington
Harlequin Blaze, Jan 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373794492

“Eric”. In Virginia Marine Corporal Eric Armstrong looks forward to meeting his pen pal while on leave; however, she keeps avoiding him.

“Eddie”. In North Carolina Marine Corporal Eddie Cash may be known for his risk taking even in combat, but he fears his current task: take care of the woman carrying his child preferably by marrying her; a female six months and two days pregnant who rejects his help.

“Mateo”. In Ohio Marine Lieutenant Matt Guerrero comes home for R&R, but instead wonders if serving his country with honor has ended his marriage.

“Justice”. In Florida Marine Captain Brian Justice faces a court-martial due to the incident in Nicosia, Cypress that will kick him out of the marines dishonorably. He has no hope for the future until he meets Angela Mitchell, but fears he will lose her at the same time his career ends.

These four well written marine romantic novellas pay homage to the men in uniform and the women who love them while worrying about their deployments. The stories are stand alone but interact through the Cyprian incident and the subsequent court martial. Fans will enjoy A FEW GOOD MEN and want more perhaps with soldiers including women coming from the war zone to homes west of the Mississippi.

Harriet Klausner

Every Breath You Take-Hope Tarr

Every Breath You Take
Hope Tarr
Harlequin Blaze, Jan 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373794454

While working undercover in Denver masquerading as country and western singer Cole Coleman, FBI special agent Cole Whittaker fell in love with biotechnology expert Alexandra “Alex” Kendall; she reciprocated with all her heart, soul and body. However, when he suddenly vanished without a trace, she felt betrayed so deep it penetrated into every cell of her body.

Five years later Cole has left the Feds to run his own security company. Biotech expert Alex works for Traxton Biotechnologies, Inc., and is engaged to the firm’s CEO Randall Traxton. Cole is hired to provide protection to Alex, who has received a viable threat while in Belize on business. Alex remains bone marrow deep with outrage by Cole’s abandonment, but he remains inside her gut; she assumes if she sleeps with him, she can exorcise her demon.

This is an engaging second chance at love suspense starring two fascinating lead characters whose previous relationship was killed by national security interests. Although the threat to Alex never comes across as viable, fans will enjoy Cole willing to risk his life (and to him more significant his chance for happiness) to keep his beloved safe.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, December 1, 2008

Wanted-Shelley Shepard Gray

Shelley Shepard Gray
Avon, Jan 6 2009, $12.95
ISBN: 9780061474460

Growing up in her parents’ owned Amish Brenneman Bed and Breakfast and recently watching her older brother fall in love with her outsider friend (see HIDDEN), twenty years old Katie Brennerman dreams of Jonathan Lundy. She has loved him forever even more so after she left the Amish community for a while, but did nothing except hide her regard as he was married with two kids. When his wife dies, a grieving Jonathan asks Katie to help care for his daughters. She accepts although she initially thought he might be proposing, but quickly realizes he is talking about a nanny position.

Still this gives Katie hope that one day Jonathan will return what has always been her one sided love. However, when Katie receives a letter that reminds her of her Rumspringa days of doing things her people forbid and still shames her, she fears how her beloved and her Amish family will react if the truth is revealed. She prays to God for guidance though she also knows her prayers to gain Jonathan’s love has gone unanswered.

The second Sisters of the Heart Amish romance is an engaging contemporary tale starring two fully developed flawed individuals and a strong support cast. The story line is driven by Katie who prays that Jonathan loves her back while also hiding from him and her family things she did that she is now abashed when she thinks of them. With plenty of good inspirational commentary interwoven into the fine plot, WANTED is a strong tale although the ending feels rushed and shortened.

Harriet Klausner

Mommy in Training-Shelley Galloway

Mommy in Training
Shelley Galloway
Harlequin American, Jan 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 0373752482

Matt Madigan left his hometown of Crescent View, Texas at the first opportunity he could. He never recovered from when he was a high school senior whose father died leaving him an orphan; he moved in with the kind neighbor Mrs. Wyzecki. He applied for scholarships, got one, and left Texas including his high school sweetheart Paige behind although he was dumping her anyway for doing the football team. Once he left he never came back even for Paige’s funeral after she and her husband died in a car accident.

Now he is back in town opening up a SavNGo superstore that he believes will save the dying town. He knows Paige’s younger sister Minnie Clark is raising his late girlfriend’s five year old daughter Kimber and runs a local gift store. He also knows he is attracted to Minnie though she and much of the town’s storeowners loath what he is bringing to Crescent View as a superstore means they will soon be having out of business sales.

This is an intriguing contemporary family drama as the aunt and her niece struggle to move on since the latter’s mommy died last year; ironically though he literally moved on, Matt also struggles with emotionally moving on. As Minnie and Matt fall in love, he wonders if he has come home for the first time since his dad’s death. Fans will enjoy this fine contemporary small-town Texas romance refreshed by Minnie’s amusing commentaries are her shortfalls while Matt thinks she is the perfect Clark sister.

Harriet Klausner

Baby on Board-Lisa Ruff

Baby on Board
Lisa Ruff
Harlequin American, Jan 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 0373752474

Glass artist Kate Stevens makes a difficult decision when she learns she is pregnant. She decides to hide the truth from the father, boat racer Patrick Berzani. He has never made any time for her as his prime interest is racing; and believes he would be an absentee father, which is not a good dad for a baby.

During his last event, Patrick was away for three months; in that time he sent no email, no text message, no flowers, and one phone call. She decides the party animal will not hurt their child when he fails to be there. Kate begins seeking someone else to be the father of her child. However, Patrick learns of the pregnancy and Kate’s campaign; he begins his own to prove to her will be a good husband and will be a great father if she gives him a chance.

Although the topic of hiding a child from the father has been done many times before, BABY ON BOARD is refreshed by Patrick’s awareness before his offspring is born. His efforts to prove he will be there for Kate and their child make for a fine tale, but neither him nor her come across as empathetic as each seems stubbornly selfish. Still Lisa Ruff provides a fine contemporary maybe a family drama.

Harriet Klausner