Monday, March 30, 2009

The Nude-Dorothy McFalls

The Nude
Dorothy McFalls
Five Star, May 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594147678

In 1814 following the death of her husband in the Peninsular War against Napoleon, impoverished Countess Elsbeth Mercer moves into the home of her uncle, his wife and two daughters. Everything is fine until a painting of her is found. Upset, Elsbeth seeks out the artist, Dionysus, of whom she has never met, but fell in love with his landscapes years ago; he tricked her into thinking Mercer was the artist.

Marquess Nigel Purbeck refuses to divulge the identity of the artist to the demanding irate Countess who wants the artist to tell the Ton she did not pose for it. Still he is attracted to her and seduces the widow. However, his actions leave her in danger and he too from apparently a friend accused of smuggling while she struggles between her long time love of the artist and of the reclusive Marquess.

THE NUDE is a wonderful refreshing Regency romantic suspense starring two fully developed fascinating lead characters. Elsbeth is a delight as she demands the Marquess introduce her to the painter who has scandalized her. Nigel is the more mesmerizing protagonist as the audience will wonder why he is a semi-hermit with the influence he obviously has amidst the Ton. The artist comes alive mostly in the minds of Elsbeth and Nigel making for an entertaining historical triangular romance.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Forbidden Moon-Elysa Hendricks

Forbidden Moon
Elysa Hendricks
ImaJinn, Mar 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 1933417218

Exiled from Dramon due to her father’s avaricious attempts to steal the throne, Laila DiSanti lives alone in the mountains distrusting everyone and killing slave raiders and bandits while rescuing good people who find themselves in trouble. She sells her services, but no one wants to buy them more than Pace Alastar, who lives in the magically hidden Andacor Valley where the residents are immortal due to crystals; they pay the price of no emotions or desires

When they meet, she believes his valley is a myth; he explains about the earthquake that led to the breaking of some of the crystals. However, the remaining crystals are failing and consequently the people are dying. Their only hope of surviving is with his daughter Aria who can return the crystals back to health, but left the valley when her mother decided to leave because immortality without feelings is like death.. Laila agrees to help him find Aria. On their quest, they meet dangerous foes including the mountains, but it is the attraction between them that is most lethal; as he begins to learn what immortality’s true price is, but to pay the fee of love means leaving his beloved as a widow.

Elysa Hendricks’s delightful updating of Shangri-La is a beautiful adult fairy tale filled with romance, danger form various sentient species, other obstacles, and a quest filled with spins and detours. Part of the tension comes from the romance as viewers of the final scenes of the classic Capra film The Lost Horizon will wonder if that is how this couple’s relationship will end. Filled with varying cultures, the return to the Hendricks Moon realm of crystals (see CRYSTAL MOON and SHADOW MOON) is a winner.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Kissing The Man Next Door-Devon Vaughn Archer

Kissing The Man Next Door
Devon Vaughn Archer
Harlequin Kimani, May 2009, $5.99
ISBN: 037386115X

In Cheri Village, Vermont, Mackenzie Reese actually feels pretty good about the empty nest when her fifteen years old son Ryan moves to Los Angeles to live with his father Brent and stepmother. She looks forward to enjoying life with no relationship entanglements especially fostering her career as a jazz singer while feeling Brent will be good for Ryan who needs a male role model.

Leaving Westport, Connecticut, Ian Kelly accompanied by Otis the Labrador move next door to Mackenzie. The DJ at KRDQ, the jazz all the time radio station, Ian is attracted to Mackenzie and likes the idea her son moved out as he never dates any female with children. As their lives are jazzed up by their attraction, Ryan returns home with am angry chip on his shoulder; he hassles his stressed out mother. His ugliness forces Mackenzie to choose between her love for Ian who reconsiders his wisdom of no child left behind with him and her son who she still cherishes but has been difficult since returning to New England.

The “triangle makes for an interesting contemporary romance as the teen nukes the relationship between his mother and his enemy next door. Ryan makes the tale as he comes home filled with anger and resentment as he takes his ire out on his mom and indirectly her lover. His actions force the lead couple to decide whether love is enough. Although Ian is never fully developed, fans will enjoy Mackenzie’s heart breaking dilemma between KISSING THE MAN NEXT DOOR and dumping the man next door.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Mistake She Made-Linda Style

The Mistake She Made
Linda Style
Harlequin SuperRomance, Apr 2009, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373715572

In Arizona Artist Tori Amhearst is stunned when DNA proved Linc Crusoe is not the man who raped her. She is appalled as her testimony put him behind bars where he stayed for a decade. To make matters worse, just before he is to be freed, he is badly injured in a prison assault that rushed him to Scottsdale Trauma Center for emergency treatment; when he regains consciousness from the medically induced coma, he suffers from amnesia.

His only visitor is Tori who feels strongly she owes him for her wrongful accusation. He fails to recognize her so she explains she is a friend from college. As she falls in love with him, she knows she owes him the truth, but fears once aware of who she is he will rightfully end their relationship. She also knows he probably will regain his memory or someone will recognize her and tell him who she is.

THE MISTAKE SHE MADE is a fabulous romance starring a heroine who knows she cannot take back her error but wants to do whatever she can to make it easier on her victim. Linc is simplified by his condition, but the tormented Tori more than makes up for it with her anguish. The story line has a neat twist involving what really happened and a condemnation of states quick to convict with while ignoring DNA evidence as is Linc’s case (until another criminal offered additional information). Fans will relish this second chance at life between the accuser and the accused.

Harriet Klausner

The House Of Secrets-Elizabeth Blackwell

The House Of Secrets
Elizabeth Blackwell
Harlequin SuperRomance, Apr 2009, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373715596

The previous family, the renowned affluent Brewster clan who has a Baltimore street named for them, owned the dilapidated Oak Hill house. The large Brewster mansion was built in 1904 and remained used by the family for decades until a death drove them away. Perhaps the finality to her on and off for four years relationship with Brad represented by the house is the impetus, but designer Alissa Franklin is intrigued with the tale of those occupants.

Her contractor Daniel Pierce assists Alyssa on her investigation into the Brewster clan, but he hides from her his real reason in assisting her. As they fall in love, each conceals truths that if revealed could end their relationship while both realize there is a lot more to a deadly accident than they first realized while putting together the puzzle of the Brewster family and what was once their magnificent house.

This is an enjoyable contemporary romance with an engaging amateur sleuth investigation into the history of a house and its previous occupants. The story line works on both levels; that of a tale of love and secrets, and a mystery of love and secrets. Elizabeth Blackwell provides an entertaining novel as the hunk handyman and the delightful designer bring love back to the HOUSE OF SECRETS.
Harriet Klausner

Home At Last-Margaret Watson

Home At Last
Margaret Watson
Harlequin SuperRomance, Apr 2009, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373715541

Her sisters forced the third triplet jewelry designer Fiona McInnes to come home to Spruce Lake to help them with their late Pulitzer Prize winning father’s estate. This is the one place she does not want to be as she loathes her famous father and still nurses a broken heart though she denies it though she has avoided veterinarian Jackson Grant for five months while worrying and something is wrong with her business as her manager Barb has vanished apparently with her funds.

Babysitting her nephew Charlie while her triplet sister goes on a honeymoon, she runs into Jackson who comes to her family home while she is having a tirade over her father’s picture as she hated her dad. He is looking for his two kids Logan and Lindy. Jackson remains irate with Fiona who deserted him years ago to flee for New York, but admits he never got over her as he still wants her. As they consider a second chance at love, both have issues to work through and then there is Lindy.

The third McInnes Triplet contemporary romance (see A PLACE CALLED HOME and NO PLACE LIKE HOME) proves you can come home if love is there. The support cast is solid, but the tale belongs to the lead couple as Jackson must get over his ire and intense feelings of betrayal while Fiona must overcome her fears of commitments. Fans will enjoy this second chance at love due to the strong characterizations.

Harriet Klausner

The Demon’s Librarian-Lilith Saintcrow

The Demon’s Librarian
Lilith Saintcrow
ImaJinn, Mar 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9781933417448

She is the librarian in Jericho City who found a secret room filled with books of magical instructions and information. When Francesca “Chess” Barnes sees a demon eating a child, she vows to do something about that. She reads the books written by the founder of the Order, an organization pledged to keep humans safe. Chess learns spells including casting a demon out and owns a magic knife called Fang that can kill hell’s spawn, which she uses to eliminate one of these ugly amoral creatures.

Two men claiming to be from the Order arrive and ask if the founder of the Order’s library is in her library and she denies it. They smell the use of sorcery and Paul the Malik,, a human mage with magical powers, and Ryan, the Drakul half demon, which makes him a second class citizen in the Order, are in the front line war with the demons. Ryan follows Chess while Paul turns to another human he believes is using magic. Ryan realizes that Chess is using magic, but is much more as a Golden almost pure Phoenicus practitioner who if she attains her full potential will be able to kill even the almost invincible demonic High Ones. To his shock, Ryan falls in love with Chess, which may be the only reason she might survive as a traitor inside the Order knowing who she is wants to give her to the Inkani demons as a sacrifice for a rare rite.

The outwardly prim and proper (and underpaid) librarian gets down and dirty when she realizes the lethal threat to schools kids as her library is a battle zone between the paranormal and the normal. Ryan is the more intriguing character as he always assumed he was tainted with bad blood and the Order enforced his lack of self esteem (outside of his fighting demons); but Chess soothes the troubled beast through love. Lilith Saintcrow has written an enjoyable romantic urban fantasy in which the book world will agree don’t mess with THE DEMON’S LIBRARIAN as she silences the evil ones.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, March 23, 2009

More Than Words Volume 5-Heather Graham, Candace Camp, Stephanie Bond, Brenda Jackson and Tara Taylor Quinn

More Than Words Volume 5
Heather Graham, Candace Camp, Stephanie Bond, Brenda Jackson and Tara Taylor Quinn
Harlequin, Apr 2009, $16.95
ISBN: 0373836694

“If I Were Queen Of The World” by Heather Graham. They met and shared a game of “If I was Queen or King” at the Care for the Children Hospital in Pittsburgh when she was a teen patient and he a twenty-one years old visitor seeing his sister. They both become dedicated to helping ailing kids like Toys.Calm does and meet five years later because of their passion.

“Breaking Line” by Candace Camp. Nicole starved herself for dancing, but wonders whether the price is right especially since she believes her best friend has anorexia as described by The Alliance for Eating Disorders Alliance and her love of her life shares her passion for photography.

“It's Not About The Dress” by Stephanie Bond. When the groom breaks off the engagement the bride donates her customized dress. When the groom calls on the wedding, the bride goes to retrieve her dress which is for sale by a charity like Windfall Clothing Service. She volunteers to get back her dress but falls in love with another volunteer.

“Whispers Of The Heart” by Brenda Jackson. They meet over his plans for his daughter’s party and are attracted to one another, but he rejects her concerns about his daughter’s asthmatic condition. After his daughter is hospitalized, he and his daughter join the Allergy & Asthma Network that the party planner belongs to.

“The Mechanics Of Love” by Tara Taylor Quinn. At the garage, they both come from dysfunctional families so expect to remain single. However, he begins to fall in love with her. She distrusts intimacy as a former abuse victim, but she knows he is tender and caring as a supporter of shelters like Strengthen Our Sisters.

The latest romantic homage to community volunteers is a terific anthology that focuses on neighborhood heroism with a love story to sweeten the plots. Everyone but die hard scorning Republicans will appreciate this fine salute to those who try to help others with action more than words.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, March 19, 2009

You're So Vein-Christine Warren

You're So Vein
Christine Warren
St. Martin’s, Mar 31 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780312947927

The European Council of Vampires has sent Vladimir "Dima" Rurikovich to America to find the rogue vampire serial killing humans. Although she hates the monsters of the Others, Ava Markham is fortunate that Dima arrives in time to rescue her from the assault of the predator he seeks. However, he failed to arrive in time to prevent her draining and biting.

Ava is changing and Dima helps her by giving her his blood. Instead of euphoria, Ava awakens in rage as he has changed her to what she detests most in the world. Almost as bad is her attraction to the eight hundred years old vampire who knows he has found his soulmate, but she prefers ripping out his heart. However, the worst as far as the fledgling is concerned is the demand by a royal vampiress that Ava pledge her loyalty.

If a reader was trapped on WALK ON THE WILD SIDE and had to fight an eight century old vampire or the tyro to survive, we would go after Dima. Few characters are as ferociously angry as the heroine, who makes the tale fresh with her shove it up your butt mentality. The arrogant alpha Dima figuratively and literally loses a few gallons of blood while alos having his esteem trashed trying to mentor his “Nenaglyadnaya”, but knows it is worth every ounce as he will never grow tired of her. Fans will appreciate this super Others urban romantic fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Montana Creeds: Tyler-Linda Lael Miller

Montana Creeds: Tyler
Linda Lael Miller
Harlequin HQN, Apr 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373773640

Still reeling from her estranged husband Burke purposely crashing his small private plane into a bridge last year, widow Lily Ryder Kenyon, accompanied by her six year old daughter Tess returns home to Stillwater Springs, Montana to care for her septuagenarian father Hal. Also returning to town is her former crush Tyler Creed, who trades his Cadillac for a dilapidated ten year old truck; he plans to ignore his two brothers Dylan and Logan, who he detests.

Tyler meets teenager Davie, who he believes may be his son; he provides a home for the apparently abused lad. He also finds himself attracted to Lily and her precocious daughter. Lily shares his feelings, but prefers to ignore him as he is unsafe for her heart at a time she must focus on being the sandwich generation caretaker.

The final Creed brother Big Sky romance (see MONTANA CREEDS: DYLAN and MONTANA CREEDS: LOGAN) loses some of the freshness of the previous story as the prime plot is similar in tone to the previous entries especially that of Logan. The support cast is solid especially how Lily’s curmudgeon father and precocious daughter team up on her. However, the freshness is in the anticipated battle royale between the Creed siblings
Harriet Klausner

When His Kiss Is Wicked-Kaitlin O'Riley

When His Kiss Is Wicked
Kaitlin O'Riley
Zebra, Apr 2009, $5.99
ISBN: 9781420104462

With the death of her father, Colette Hamilton takes over running the family bookstore in which she supports her mom and four sisters. However, her uncle and mother are appalled with her working as they want her to marry wealth and sell the shop; Colette prefers work over marriage.

In 1870 an earl, Lord Lucien Waverley stops at the bookstore to buy books for his father. He and the shopkeeper are attracted to one another as he begins to understand the adage “You can’t judge a book by its cover” and she “The family that plays together”. However, though they see each other at social events, their potential courtship is derailed over a philosophical difference about whether women should be allowed to own and run a store as he wants a throwback to the Regency era and she reminds him of who runs the empire.

The strong gender war over the role of women in Victorian society makes for an amusing, entertaining yet profound historical story. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the beloved enemy combatants meet in her family bookstore and never slows down as they fall in love while debating whether women should be allowed in business. Sub-genre fans will relish the first Hamilton sister tale and look forward to more engaging mid nineteenth century romances.

Harriet Klausner

Last Gasp-Carla Cassidy

Last Gasp
Carla Cassidy
Signet, Apr 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451226600

Fifteen years ago in Crow’s Creek, Kansas, a vicious killer decapitated Joleen Donovan and murdered her ten year old son Johnny and seven years old daughter Jennifer. Sixteen year old Allison stepped off the school bus to open the door to the horror of her family slaughtered. She fell into a coma. Her father Hank was arrested and convicted of the homicides.

In the present Widow Allison Clemmins teaches school while raising her twelve years old son Sam alone. She spent a year at a mental hospital where her mind healed by compartmentalizing the tragedy into the forget category and did likewise when her childhood sweetheart died one year after their marriage. However, Hank’s lawyer Seth Walker arrives in town to prove his client never killed anyone and that the real killer remains free. He tries to persuade Allison that her dad is innocent, but she initially ignores his plea for her to look back at what she knows. When the killings start again, Allison wonders whether a new predator is on the loose or could Seth be right.

This is a fast-paced romantic suspense thriller from one of the sub-genre’s top guns (see EVERY MOVE YOU MAKE). The story line hooks the audience with the opening gruesome scene and accelerates once Seth arrives. Although the new killings add incredible layers of suspense, they detract from the overarching premise that the daughter believes her dad is the killer and his lawyer deems otherwise. Filled with numerous suspects who easily could be the Butcher of Crow’s Creek, Carla Cassidy provides an exhilarating tense thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Kiss of Darkness-Jennifer St. Giles

Kiss of Darkness
Jennifer St. Giles
Pocket, Mar 31 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9781416563396

The recent victory cannot be celebrated as the Shadowmen and their allies continue their vigil as their lethal enemy persists on their assault. One mistake could cost them their lives as the malevolent demons and vampires keep the pressure on.

A vampire bit her husband Eric six years ago in England taking him to the dark side and leaving clairvoyant Emerald Linton alone in fear for her now eleven year old daughter Meggie and a need to relocate and conceal her heritage from everyone. In Twilight, Tennessee human Sheriff Sam Sheridan knows Emerald, who resides there with Meggie, is hiding something, but he fails to get her to open up to him. She knows what a vampire bite can do and he was bitten when Cinatas and his evil minion arrive. Preferring flight rather than fight, reluctantly Emerald has no choice for Meggie’s sake except to turn to Sam if she can heal him somehow.

The latest Shadowmen romantic urban fantasy (see TOUCH A DARK WOLF and Lure of the Wolf) is a fabulous action-packed thriller from the opening prologue in Wiltshire, England six years ago to the final naked truffle epilogue. The lead couple is a strong pairing of two people banging heads even before the vampiric invasion. Fans of the saga will appreciate the tale as the clairvoyant and the bitten sheriff battle evil in small-town Tennessee.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, March 16, 2009

Out Of Control-Julie Miller

Out Of Control
Julie Miller
Harlequin Blaze, Apr 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 0373794630

Nashville police detective Jack Riley is investigating a drug case, but changes venues to rescue mechanic Alexandra Morgan from the date from hell. Following the murder of her brother, Alex has come to town seeking sexual freedom having worked under the close thumb of her father at his garage in Dahlia, Tennessee.

Without exchanging names, Jack and Alex have incredible sex before going their separate ways. She returns to her hometown as a good girl while he goes back undercover working the drug case. A lead takes him to the Dahlia Speedway where his love of fast cars enables him to pretend to be a race-car driver. When they meet up, each knows the attraction remains strong. However, both share the same mission of finding the cold blooded killer who murdered her brother and his police partner.

OUT OF CONTROL is fast-paced in the bedroom, the race track and several places in between as Jack and Alex prove the body can go from zero to ninety in nanoseconds. The police procedural romance is filled with suspense and tension as each investigates related homicides until they team up as he fears she will be next if she remains OUT OF CONTROL; that is outside his touch. Although the shared allure between the cop and the amateur sleuth never fully shifts into gear, readers will enjoy this heated romantic suspense.

Harriet Klausner

She's Got It Bad-Sarah Mayberry

She's Got It Bad
Sarah Mayberry
Harlequin Blaze, Apr 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 0373794681

In 1997 in Melbourne, Australia when Zoe Ford was fifteen years old, seventeen year old Liam Masters moved into her family home following the death of his mother. Zoe fell in love almost instantly with the new border, but though attracted to her, Liam knew this was not right at this time. Instead, he left the Ford home as soon as he could so as not to betray his guardians or his friend her brother Tom.

A dozen years later, Liam is a self made millionaire who creates customized motorcycles. He obtains a nude painting of Zoe and decides to find her as he still wants her. When they meet up, he is shocked that the cute sweet teen who could turn him hard with a look is long gone replaced by a tattoo artist; apparently she fell apart after Liam left her hot and bothered. They remain attracted to one another, but will that prove strong enough in their late twenties when it failed when they were teens as her goal is to make him need it worse than she did then and does now.

This is an exciting contemporary Australian romance starring two refreshing lead characters and a strong support cast that brings the locale alive. Zoe steals the show as a unique female star with her prickly yet caring personality. Liam knows he did the right thing twelve years ago although it was the hardest (pun intended) choice he ever made, but still regrets leaving her as he never foresaw the consequences on her. Readers will appreciate this brisk second chance at love.

Harriet Klausner

She's Got It Bad-Sarah Mayberry

She's Got It Bad
Sarah Mayberry
Harlequin Blaze, Apr 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 0373794681

In 1997 in Melbourne, Australia when Zoe Ford was fifteen years old, seventeen year old Liam Masters moved into her family home following the death of his mother. Zoe fell in love almost instantly with the new border, but though attracted to her, Liam knew this was not right at this time. Instead, he left the Ford home as soon as he could so as not to betray his guardians or his friend her brother Tom.

A dozen years later, Liam is a self made millionaire who creates customized motorcycles. He obtains a nude painting of Zoe and decides to find her as he still wants her. When they meet up, he is shocked that the cute sweet teen who could turn him hard with a look is long gone replaced by a tattoo artist; apparently she fell apart after Liam left her hot and bothered. They remain attracted to one another, but will that prove strong enough in their late twenties when it failed when they were teens as her goal is to make him need it worse than she did then and does now.

This is an exciting contemporary Australian romance starring two refreshing lead characters and a strong support cast that brings the locale alive. Zoe steals the show as a unique female star with her prickly yet caring personality. Liam knows he did the right thing twelve years ago although it was the hardest (pun intended) choice he ever made, but still regrets leaving her as he never foresaw the consequences on her. Readers will appreciate this brisk second chance at love.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Tory Widow-Christine Blevins

The Tory Widow
Christine Blevins
Berkley, Apr 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425226018

In 1766 in New York Jack Hampton, excited to hear of the appeal of the Stamp Act, kisses Anne Peabody. Although she enjoyed the kiss, nothing can come of it. She has no say as her father Amos saves his failing Peabody Printshop and keeps his son from becoming someone else’s apprentice by selling her. He negotiates a deal with NYC based super printer to the carriage crowd Peter Merrick forcing his daughter to marry his friend, a man his age.

Living in New York, when he dies, Widow Merrick finds herself in dire straits. She takes over her late spouse’s printing business, which spouts support to Tory causes in an attempt to make a living. However, in 1775, the Sons of Liberty destroy her press. Anne reopens as the Liberty Coffeehouse with one of the rebels who devastated her previous store Jack Hampton as her best customer. Having never been in love, Anne is stunned by her attraction to Jack; he believes he is falling for her based on the amount of coffee he consumes.

This is a refreshing look at the early days of the American Revolution from the eyes of a young widow eking out a living. Anna owns the insightful story line with her courage to survive regardless of who controlled the city. Jack is a super patriot, but allows his zeal at times to hurt innocent people like Anna though he insists collateral damage is part of any freedom fight. Christine Blevins provides an engaging American Revolution romance that sub-genre fans who especially value historical tidbits and strong characterizations will relish.

Harriet Klausner

Bad Boy-Maya Reynolds

Bad Boy
Maya Reynolds
NAL Heat, Apr 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780451226013

In the Dallas suburb Oak Cliff, chief editor of the e-zine ultra popular Heat, Leah Reece covers the hip 69 Club that caters to any cravings of affluent swingers. While in the club, she meets the owners’ bodyguard, Quin Perez, who admits he enjoys her column especially her imagination. She modestly gives credit to everyone else, but he cuts her off saying he reads her column not the magazine.

Both are attracted to one another, a feeling neither wants. He understands the need to focus on his job and not a sexy editor; she understands the need to focus on her job and not a sexy bodyguard. However, unable to ignore the heat, they begin to fall in love, but end up working together under the covers and undercover as they investigate a sex auction.

The sequel to the police procedural erotic romance BAD GIRL is an intriguing erotic romantic investigative thriller. Sandy the voyeur and Zeke the cop, co-stars of the previous Dallas area tale, introduce Leah to Quin before they take off on their own escapades and sexcapades. Readers will enjoy the heat of Leah and Quin, which can intrude on the crime caper inquiry, but is fun to read as they discuss the “Adventures of Letterman” (nod to the Electric Company) whether a tattoo letter “P” should add one more diagonal line to it.

Harriet Klausner

Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark-Donna Lea Simpson

Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark
Donna Lea Simpson
Sourcebooks, Apr 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9781402217913

The letter from her best friend Lady Lydia Bestwick seemed hysterical to sensible Lady Anne Addison. However, concerned about her buddy’s mad rant regarding werewolf sightings, Anne travels to Darkefeel Castle in Yorkshire to prove her wrong and bring some peace of mind to Lydia.

Forced to go on foot to complete her trek to the remote castle, Anne hears the scream of a woman in the dark gloomy woods before stumbling upon a corpse. As she investigates the homicide she tripped over and the alleged werewolf sightings sworn to God by the villagers and employees of the castle, Anne realizes the evidence points towards the only uncooperative person in the vicinity, Lydia’s recalcitrant brother-in-law the Marquess of Darkefell. As Anne finds indications of a poorly developed frame with ties to the bustling slave trade, the Marquess makes it clear he wants her in spite of his objection to her independence and courage.

This is a fabulous historical amateur sleuth that introduces readers to a terrific Georgian Era gender bending detective. The story line contains three wonderful subplots that tie together with a Moebius Knot twist: romance, investigation including into potentially paranormal and the profound look at the slave trade with its biblical “Curse of Ham” misinterpretation rationalization. With a nod to The Hound of the Baskervilles albeit a century plus earlier, Donna Lea Simpson’s first Lady Anne eighteenth century mystery is a howling success.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tempted at Midnight-Jacquie D'Alessandro

Tempted at Midnight
Jacquie D'Alessandro
Berkley, Apr 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425226995

In London Lady Emily Stapleford needs money or she will end up in the poor house. Her choices are to sell her novel or marry rich. She prefers the effort to sell her book starring a female vampire. She is stunned when her publishers reject her work.

Still choosing to lesser of two evils; selling her novel over marrying, Emily decides on a desperate ploy to garner interest in her heroine. She appears as a strange female wandering the night like a vampiress. The Ton is agog with everyone wanting to know who this woman is even as Emily sells her novel. Visiting American businessman Logan Jennsen knows a scam when he sees one and believes Emily has pulled a ruse. As he is beset by a series of accidents, he plans to take advantage of Emily’s scheme to further his business, but neither he nor his authoress expected to fall in love.

The latest Mayfair Ladies Literary Society tale (see SEDUCED AT MIDNIGHT, CONFESSIONS AT MIDNIGHT and SLEEPLESS AT MIDNIGHT) once again will keep the audience up past Midnight an amusing late Regency romance. The whimsical story line is fast-paced from the moment Lady Emily decides on direct public relations with the nocturnal appearance of her vampiress. Logan is her perfect opponent as he plans to take a bite out of the schemer’s plot for his use. Jacquie D'Alessandro provides a delightful Mayfair Ladies Literary Society historical.

Harriet Klausner

Taken and Seduced-Julia Latham

Taken and Seduced
Julia Latham
Avon, Apr 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 0061433004

Adam Hillard lives for one thing vengeance against the lord who murdered his parents and left him as a youth with nothing. He was fortunate that the League of the Blade took him in, raised and trained him.

In 1486 he feels he has the instrument to strike back at vicious Lord Becket when he kidnaps his enemy’s youngest daughter Lady Florence as she heads for life at a convent. However, she shocks him with her courage rather than showing fear. As they fall in love, Florrie encourages him to go after his heritage as the Earl of Keswick in spite of the odds and the fact achieving his birthright means killing the villainous father of his beloved though he vowed to himself after meeting her not to harm her.

The latest League of the Blade fifteenth century romance (see SECRETS OF THE NIGHT, THRILL OF THE KNIGHT and ONE KNIGHT ONLY) is an enjoyable tale starring two fascinating lead characters. Adam is a super protagonist who quickly admires the woman he abducted. Florrie brings freshness as the disregarded offspring partly due to her limp. Fans will appreciate this gender bending Blades entry.

Harriet Klausner

Taken and Seduced-Julia Latham

Taken and Seduced
Julia Latham
Avon, Apr 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 0061433004

Adam Hillard lives for one thing vengeance against the lord who murdered his parents and left him as a youth with nothing. He was fortunate that the League of the Blade took him in, raised and trained him.

In 1486 he feels he has the instrument to strike back at vicious Lord Becket when he kidnaps his enemy’s youngest daughter Lady Florence as she heads for life at a convent. However, she shocks him with her courage rather than showing fear. As they fall in love, Florrie encourages him to go after his heritage as the Earl of Keswick in spite of the odds and the fact achieving his birthright means killing the villainous father of his beloved though he vowed to himself after meeting her not to harm her.

The latest League of the Blade fifteenth century romance (see SECRETS OF THE NIGHT, THRILL OF THE KNIGHT and ONE KNIGHT ONLY) is an enjoyable tale starring two fascinating lead characters. Adam is a super protagonist who quickly admires the woman he abducted. Florrie brings freshness as the disregarded offspring partly due to her limp. Fans will appreciate this gender bending Blades entry.

Harriet Klausner

Sins of a Wicked Duke-Sophie Jordan

Sins of a Wicked Duke
Sophie Jordan
Avon, Apr 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061579172

Orphan Fallon O'Rourke is sent to the Penwich School for Virtuous Girls where forty or so young girls are routinely punished. Master Brocklehurst battered Fallen with a strap for removing her cap. The beating leads her to make friends with Evie and Marguerite who all make a wish on a shooting star.

Upon leaving the abusive school, Fallon finds work as a servant, but her beauty and unwillingness to be a sex toy for the males in the households consistently lead to her firing. Desperate and tall and solid at least for a female, she cuts her hair and dresses up as a male. She obtains a job as a footman working for Dominic “Demon Duke” Hale. However, Fallon never counted on falling in love with her employer who is renowned for his seductions. Meanwhile he wonders why the new footman remains in his head seemingly all the time until he realizes why and plans his next seduction.

This is a fabulous historical romance starring two individuals with deep scars caused by childhood tragedies. The theme of a woman masquerading as a man has been done many times (Shakespeare in Love for instance), but Sophie Jordan keeps it brisk and amusing through her lead couple who know life’s prime lesson is you always walk alone; that is until now. Fans will enjoy this fun frolic as the Demon Duke falls in love with his “footman”.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Confessions of a Little Black Gown- Elizabeth Boyle

Confessions of a Little Black Gown
Elizabeth Boyle
Avon, Apr 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061373237

In 1814 the Crown’s master spy Lord Larken is assigned to assassinate Dashwell the American pirate who just escaped incarceration. Though he hates the assignment as he and Dashwell were friends before the second war with the colonies erupted; to accomplish his mission, Larken pretends to be a bumbling somewhat reticent vicar, Ryder, a cousin to a duke.

The Langley sisters Thalia and Felicity (see LOVE LETTERS FROM A DUKE) helped Dashwell escape from prison. Thalia’s luggage goes missing, but she receives someone else’s trunk containing a little black gown that she puts on. When Thalia and the vicar meet, she rejects the notion this man is shy and clumsy; instead she believes he is hiding behind an image as she sees his gracefulness. He knows she abetted the pirate, but though he wants to arrest her he finds her arrestingly beautiful while she hides Dashwell from Ryder, a man who scares her because she is attracted to what he conceals.

This is a wild Regency romance in which the War of 1812 has made friends and lovers into enemies. Larken seeks the woman who possesses the black gown because she will enable him to expose Napoleonic agents. However, he ends up with the wrong female due to the luggage mishandling. Filled with spins and twists, the latest Bachelor Chronicles is a terrific amusing historical filled with a warm romance and pot “boyled” intrigue.

Harriet Klausner

All of Me-Lori Wilde

All of Me
Lori Wilde
Forever, Apr 2009, $6.99
ISBN 9780446502054

Struggling to cope with the death of his wife Aimee, architect Tucker Manning leaves for his self imposed exile to Salvation, Colorado. He hopes to grieve in peace at the lake house his father-in-law Blake gave him.

Houston attorney Jillian Samuels arrives to find Tucker there. She insists the lake house is hers as her beloved mentor Blake meant for her to inherit the Salvation home. Rather than fight in court, Jillian and Tuck reach an agreement to co-share the house for now until they can come up with a more suitable arrangement. Both are stunned by the attraction each feels from the first encounter. Whereas Tuck feels remorse and betrayal of his love for Aimee though she passed away two years ago, Jillian takes a chance on love if he allows her.

The fourth Wedding Veil Wishes tales (see THERE GOES THE BRIDE, ONCE SMITTEN, TWICE SHY and ADDICTED TO LOVE) is a warm serene character study. Jillian in a fully developed person, but the relationship drama is owned by Tuck as Lori Wilde goes deep inside his soul. Fans who appreciate a sometimes amusing but always pathos second chance at life (and love) will enjoy this profound contemporary.

Harriet Klausner

Vision in White-Nora Roberts

Vision in White
Nora Roberts
Berkley, Apr 28 2009, $16.00
ISBN: 9780425227510

Mac, Parker, Emma and Laurel have been friends forever so it is not a shocker that these buddies formed a business together; nor that their company Vows provides wedding and event planning, as they used to play at bride and groom as kids. When Parker’s parents died, she renovated the house so her friends could comfortably move in with her as well as be on site at all times for the business.

During the planning of a wedding, Mac (short for Mackenzie) runs into classmate Carter Maguire; he had a crush on her back in their school days. Mac fears relationships ever since her father abandoned his family to marry someone else and her mother’s marriages turned her trepidation into a phobia. While Carter courts her thinking long term, she prefers a short fling. Meanwhile Mac’s mother Linda makes a zillion selfish demands on her, but that does not disturb Mac as much as her feelings for Carter do.

The first book in the Bride Quartet is a deep contemporary tale that contains the profundity expected of a Nora Roberts story. Mac is still hurt by her mother, but hides from understanding what is happening because she is expected to love her mom right or wrong. Carter has the patience of a saint as he tries to be there for his Mac and demonstrate love does not mean abuse. Ms. Roberts provides a deep relationship drama starring a wedding photographer caught on the one hand in a dysfunctional relationship with her mom and if she reaches out with the other hand a warm caring sharing with her beloved.

Harriet Klausner

Stakes & Stilettos-Michelle Rowen

Stakes & Stilettos
Michelle Rowen
Forever, Apr 1 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 0446505846

In Toronto fledgling vampire Sarah Dearly tries to retain her former human life though since the blind date from hell with the late Gordon Richards who converted her over two months ago (see BITTEN AND SMITTEN) that has proven impossible. Even crazier is that amidst the vamps and hunters she is called Slayer of Slayers for killing a vampire hunter, pure luck did it (see FANGED AND FABULOUS). However, her fortune holds when she is staked but saved by that masked hombre Red Devil the vampire.

Her parents worry that their daughter is seeing a much older probably married man (so Master Vampire Thierry de Bennicoeur is little older than her parents at six hundred years or so) while Sarah muses over tasting the blood of two ancient vampire masters (Thierry and the late Nicolai). At her high school reunion, a still furious from their teen days (talk about not letting go) schoolmate who was rejected as a cheerleader so became a witch curses Sarah, turning her into an obsessed blood addicted vampire that leaves the heroine fearing for her loved ones.

The fourth Immortality urban fantasy (see LADY & THE VAMP) is an amusing over the top of the CN Tower that series fans will enjoy though the story line leaves the major plot lines wide open for a sequel. Sarah is terrific as she is a paranormal magnet for evil doers. Fun albeit thin, readers will enjoy her latest capers as she has another vampire in her undead existence.

Harriet Klausner

Passion Unleashed-Larissa Ione

Passion Unleashed
Larissa Ione
Forever, Apr 1 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780446401050

In Brooklyn Seminus demon Wraith chooses his prey carefully as all predators do, but also being a vampire he adheres to the Vampire Council ruling of one human kill a month. Still he enjoys hunting down the Upir gang, human vermin owned by vampires who appreciate blood sports especially since he can kill the vamps as if they are rodents. However, this time an unknown demon species hits him with a poisoned dart.

Two weeks later, he awakens from unconsciousness to learn from his peers he has been poisoned and will die in four to six weeks unless he can obtain a charm possesses by archeologist Serena Kelley, who must willingly give him her artifact by giving him her virginity. Egotistical about his seduction prowess as an Incubus class demon, Wraith goes on the hunt with his prey being Serena. When she was seven years old, her mother gave her the charm that he covets and which has made her immortal; the only stipulation is that she must remain a virgin. However, he is not alone as the demon Byzamoth also wants that charm for a nefarious evil purpose.

The third Demonica romantic urban fantasy (see PLEASURE UNBOUND and DESIRE UNCHAINED) is fast-paced from the onset in Brownsville and never slows down until the exhilarating climax in which much more than just two “souls” are at stake. Readers will be enthralled by the action and the charmed lead couple as the irresistible object (an incubus demon) meets the immovable force (an immortal mortal) as one must give up their immortality though both have eternal dreams; while also simply saving the world (something seems to always intrude).

Harriet Klausner

Night's Rose-Annaliese Evans

Night's Rose
Annaliese Evans
Tor, Mar 31 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780765361660

In 1750 in Bedfordshire, England, in Lord Drummand’s garden Comtesse Rosemarie Edenberg kills an evil ogre, who has been dining on servants. However, she did not expect the late culprit Sir Walter Pithwater to have other members of his ogre tribe to arrive. Vampire Lord Gareth Barrows assists her in killing the ogres. The winners enjoy a post game tryst.

Rosemarie’s Fey de la Nuit partner and advisor for the past century (ever since she was rudely awakened without the necessary happily ever after kiss before completing her hundred year nap) is fey Ambrose Minuit. He is outraged that she is seeing the rakish Gareth. However, as the two males compete for Rosemarie’s love, she begins to see the world differently as if her rose colored glasses were removed. Before she can explore her new wisdom, Rosemarie and her Fey de la Nuit group must learn why the ogres after behaving the same stupid way for a century have changed their patterns radically.

This is a wild spin to Sleeping Beauty that turns the classic fairy tale into a historical urban fantasy. Rosemarie is an interesting protagonist as a female soldier in the ogre wars who a bit grumpily (her nap was interrupted not in the fairy tale way) has always followed orders until Gareth enters her life to introduce her to the more pleasing adventures of sex. Fans will want to follow the escapades of Annaliese Evans’ not so Sleeping Beauty as the heroine balances the two hunks who each pull an arm of hers making a wish that she belongs to him.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, March 9, 2009

Take Me Two Times-Karen Kendall

Take Me Two Times
Karen Kendall
Signet, Apr 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451226624

Art recovery agent Gwen Davies is proud of receiving her license and excited when ARTemis, Inc assigns her first client to her. Jaworski Labs CEO Quinn Lawson wants her to retrieve a valuable stolen gold Borgia Venetian mask imbedded with jewels and a reputation for a curse. Though anyone but Quinn as her client would have made her first case perfect as he is her ex husband, she conducts her business and proves successful.

However, her euphoria turns to excrement when Quinn informs her she recovered a fake; a brilliant replica but still a fake. The previous CEO Ed Jaworski holds his replacement Quinn accountable so the beleaguered Lawson turns to Gwen for help to extract him out of trouble by finding the real mask. Their inquires take them from Miami to Venice where an unknown adversary with insider information wants them dead and the mask’s curse seems to abet this lethal enemy’s efforts. As their attraction reignites, both know they must unmask the killer or become part of the mask’s deadly legend.

The latest ARTemis romantic suspense thriller (see TAKE ME IF YOU CAN) is a fun tale that takes readers from South Florida to the old canals of Venice. The story line is fast-paced once Quinn realizes his former wife stole a fake and really takes off in Italy. Although recovery is too fast from the various endeavors and injuries, readers will enjoy this second chance at love if the lead pair can stay alive long enough to pursue try number two.

Harriet Klausner

Dangerous Games-Charlotte Mede

Dangerous Games
Charlotte Mede
Kensington Brava, Apr 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758223692

In London her late husband would relish what is happening to his design for the Crystal Palace at the 1851 Exhibition in Hyde Park. There Queen Victoria will receive the renowned diamond Koh-I-Noor provided to her by East India Company representative Isambard Bellamy. The monarch and her agents are unaware of Bellamy’s secret agenda; he plans to replace the monarch with himself.

Lilly Clarence Hampton's euphoria for her deceased spouse’s success turns to acid when Bellamy’s henchman, former English Agent Julian St. Martin, extorts the Crystal Place architectural designs from her as he uses her secret re her marriage against her. As Julian seduces the widow she wonders whose side is he really on and what can she do to thwart the villain.

DANGEROUS GAMES is a fast-paced Victorian Era action-adventurer thriller that grips the audience once the key three players appear. Lilly is a solid lead female who is falling in love with Julian, but fears he is betraying their country. Julian is an enigma to the widow he desires and the audience who like Lilly ponder if he is a seductive traitor. However, though his appearances are limited, the obsessed villain steals the show with his plan to destroy the British Empire replacing it with him as the dictatorial ruler.

Harriet Klausner

A Husband’s Wicked Ways-Jane Feather

A Husband’s Wicked Ways
Jane Feather
Pocket, Mar 24 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9781416525530

In 1809 on the streets of London, Colonel Sir Greville Falconer breaks convention by introducing himself to Widow Aurelia Farnham, a single mom raising her six year old daughter Franny. He tells her he was a friend of her late husband Frederick, a First Lieutenant and has a letter from him for her.

She is shocked that Frederick wrote he was spying for England in Spain and the Colonel was his friend as well as an espionage agent. The Colonel further explains her spouse did not die three years ago as she was told by the War Ministry, but this year at the Battle of Corunna. He also says he needs her help to ferret out a Spanish espionage ring working in England. She proves worthy from the onset and hides their spying endeavor by pretending a courtship. They soon fall in love, but his mission has changed somewhat as keeping Aurelia and Franny safe move to the top of the list.

The third “wicked” Regency romance (see TO WED A WICKED PRINCE and A WICKED GENTLEMAN), is a fabulous historical espionage thriller with two strong lead characters. The tension grows throughout until the final confrontation as does the attraction. Filled with war intrigue, Jane Feather provides sub-genre fans with a thrilling Napoleonic Era romantic suspense.

Harriet Klausner

Immortal Danger-Cynthia Eden

Immortal Danger
Cynthia Eden
Kensington Brava, Apr 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758226068

When she worked for LAPD, Maya Black was known as a tough cop. Now she adds mean to her adjectives ever since she became a vampire, a change she did not want and still does not appreciate. Still kicking felonious butt, her targets are no longer human scum; she cleans Los Angeles of the paranormal dregs.

Adam Brody needs specialized help to rescue his abducted niece Cammie from a vampire horde that plans her to be a wake up snack for their master who has been asleep for ages. He is told to beg Maya to take on the job as no one else would be macho stupid or capable. Though vampires are the king and queen of liars, he is so desperate he offers his blood as payment for her saving his niece. Neither Adam nor Maya expected the attraction between them.

The romance between the lead characters is excellent as he distrusts vampires and she distrusts anyone who breathes. The suspense is terrific as Maya and Adam attempt the rescue mission. However, what makes this enjoyable urban fantasy super is the paranormal species all contain differing personalities, which makes the world of Eden seem plausible. Sub-genre readers will appreciate IMMORTAL DANGER as the protagonists struggle with the attraction for one another while fighting lethal adversaries.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Riding on Instinct-Jaci Burton

Riding on Instinct
Jaci Burton
Berkley, Apr 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425226452

In New Orleans rookie DOJ agent Shadoe Grayson is assigned her first undercover mission as a stripper at the Wild Rose Club where a DEA agent is tipping off the Columbian cartel whenever a sting is set; she will identify the betrayer. The rogue has insider information so DEA has gone outside to expose him or her. Wild Riders operative Spencer “Spence” King, who will also work at the club takes one look at his new partner Shadoe and tells his boss General Lee, she is no stripper as her clothes look like prim and proper justice department while strippers wear less to church.

Shadoe shocks Spence when she proves a natural on the stage. As she gives him private lap dances, they fall in love; but nether understands what love means as Spence and Shadoe never was the recipient of this emotion before. Still the case comes first as one slip of her stiletto could mean death.

The latest Wild Riders romantic suspense thriller (see RIDING WILD and RIDING TEMPTATION) is a fun tale that starts off with quite an opening sequence as Spence strips skin off of Shadoe when he insists she is no stripper. Their volatile relationship takes off from there at times overwhelming the mission. Shadoe proves to be quite the competent stripper although her professional skills at striptease seem unrealistic yet entertaining. Still fans will enjoy the undercover duo working together to expose the DEA traitor while struggling to comprehend the alien feeling of love as each wants to know who possesses their mind and heart; they know who possesses their body.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, March 6, 2009

Edge of Hunger-Rhyannon Byrd

Edge of Hunger
Rhyannon Byrd
Harlequin HQN, Apr 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 0373773676

Before his mom Elaina died five months ago, Ian Buchanan and she were somewhat estranged as she wanted him to be a perfect southern gentleman and he preferred being a rebel without a cause. He does not hide the fact he is not grieving her.

In Henning, Colorado psychic Molly Stratton informs Ian that his mother has contacted her because she wants to speak to him. Ian is scornful of Molly’s claim that his mom sent her to warn him someone close to him will die if he fails to heed her. He also tells Molly he has no reason to listen to his mom when he didn’t pay attention to her when she lived. Ian’s mom is worried about her son as she failed to warn him about his Merrick supernatural blood that he must accept without any doubts. Several centuries ago, his ancestor fought, defeated, but could not kill so he exiled the evil Casus. However, Casus escaped banishment and has returned with the intent of killing Ian and his loved ones. Ian’s girlfriend Kendra is killed and the culprit targets a feisty psychic whom he recently met through his dead mother while he dreams of discussions with his mom.

The first Primal Instincts urban fantasy romance will grip the audience from the moment Molly accosts Ian and never slows down as the heroine struggles to persuade Ian of the danger. The keys to this fine opening tale are Byrd land seems genuine as evil arrives due mostly to Ian’s initial reactions of being attracted to a psychotic and the romantic subplot simmers with attraction, but never supersedes the danger. EDGE OF HUNGER is a terrific thriller starring a reluctant hero, a fascinating psychic, and a chilling malevolence who calmly kills as if he is biting into a sandwich.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Savage Sun-Cassie Edwards

Savage Sun
Cassie Edwards
Leisure, Apr 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 0843958790

The Civil War left Rowena Dowell with nothing forcing her to live at her uncle's logging camp in Arkansas. While the war forced Rowena to relocate, half-breed Cherokee Chief Tall Moon was also forced to move; he takes his Bird Clan people from Georgia to the forests of Arkansas.

By 1871, Tall Moon becomes concerned once again as the Whites encroach on his tribe’s land. Making things even more painful is the leader of the encroachment is his father, who exiled him to his mother’s people. He also sees Rowena at the logging camp and feels an attraction. When they meet, each realizes they have found their soul mate, but her cousin has plans for her that excludes a half-breed in the way of progress.

As always with a Cassie Edwards’ “Savage” Indian romance, the story line is well written and fun to read though similar to the numerous previous tales. Tall Moon is a fascinating lead character, having been rejected by his white father; whereas Rowena is the stereotype C. Edwardian heroine as a white person who sees the noble kind heart of the Indian chief and the dark withered soul of her family. Still fans of Ms. Edwards will enjoy her latest historical.

Harriet Klausner

Texas Hold Him-Lisa Cooke

Texas Hold Him
Lisa Cooke
Leisure, Apr 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 0843962542

In 1870 in New Orleans, Dyer Straights is one of the city’s best cardsharps and almost as famous for his skill with the ladies. However, gambling and women are not his passion; he lives for one thing: vengeance.

Southern belle Lottie Mason is in desperate need of money in order to keep her sick father out of prison. She enters a riverboat card tournament expecting to win though she has no idea how to play. She asks Dyer for some lesions. He has no time for a loser even one so beautiful so he asks for payment of her sleeping with him for tutoring lessons. He assumes she will flee back to whatever haven or hovel she has left; but she shocks him by calling his bluff.

TEXAS HOLD HIM is an enjoyable lighthearted historical frolic due mostly to the antics of Lottie and the reactions to her exploits by Dyer; the interaction between them sort of reminded this reviewer of Solo and Leia (Episode IV). Poker is a metaphor for their relationship as the ante is the heart, bluffs are tried, countered, and called, and a royal flush straight cannot trump their strange romance. Lisa Cooke writes a wonderful Post Civil War game of chance in which the stakes are love and broken hearts.

Harriet Klausner

The Lady and the Libertine-Bonnie Vanak

The Lady and the Libertine
Bonnie Vanak
Leisure, Apr 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 0843959762

In 1908 Englishman Nigel Wallenford is a womanizing thief until he regains his birthright as a titled earl. He vows to change his scandalous rascally ways once he has the wealth to live as an earl should live. He knows exactly how to achieve his goal with little work. He will go to Egypt to steal a fabled ruby that will lead him to a hidden treasure.

Illegitimate Anne Mitchell was born and raised in a workhouse until her father exiled her to Egypt. There she became a member of the Bedouin Khamsin tribe, an honor that has given her incredible self esteem after being a nothing back home. Using the name Karida, she is guardian of the ruby that Nigel has come to steal. As they end up on a long journey, she knows he is her one, but though attracted to her, he rejects her love as he knows that emotion only hurts.

Moving forward a couple of decades from her late nineteenth century Egyptian romantic suspense thrillers (see THE SCORPION and THE SEDUCER, THE FALCON AND THE DOVE, and THE COBRA AND THE CONCUBINE, etc), .Bonnie Vanak provides another fabulous historical. The story line stars two battered souls who reacted differently to their pasts; whereas Anne overcomes her childhood turning into a Bedouin heroic guardian; Nigel engulfs his past with debauchery and thievery. Their gender war over love and ownership of the ruby makes for another great historical adventure romantic epic.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Mother’s Heart-Sharon Sala, Isabel Sharpe and Linda Cardillo

A Mother’s Heart
Sharon Sala, Isabel Sharpe and Linda Cardillo
Harlequin, Apr 2009, $5.99
ISBN: 9780373837311s

“The Promise” by Sharon Sala. In Azalea, Tennessee on Sammy’s eighth birthday, his single mom Liberty is injured in a car accident. While his mom heals in the hospital, Sammy seeks his unknown father Sam using the web to help him.

“You Belong to Me” by Isabel Sharpe. Suffering from stress that borders on burnout, executive Maggie visits her biological mom Clara who gave her up at birth only to find her first love Grant lives next door.

“A Daughter's Journey” by Linda Cardillo. Reporter Melanie takes her adopted daughter Tien, whom she rescued back in 1975 when she was Newsweek and her child was an infant, back to her birth place then called Saigon to meet the child’s family. To her delightful shock, Melanie meets Dr. Phil, who was her lover back in Nam in 1975.

These are three strong tales of various relationships tied together by love. Especially poignant is A Daughter’s Journey as the contrasts of Vietnam is incredible.

Harriet Kausner

An Indecent Proposition-Emma Wildes

An Indecent Proposition
Emma Wildes
Signet, Apr 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451227089

In 1812 Widow Caroline Wynn learns about the notorious bet over who is the better lover between two notorious rakes, best friends Derek Drake and Nicholas Manning. Everyone understands they need an impartial female who is intimate with both of them. Caroline, who vows to never marry again after a horrific first experience, sends the duo a challenging unsigned note in which she insists they prove to her that sex is not boring. The lords are interested although Derek expects to lose the wager as his heart is not in it. Instead he has fallen in love with his Uncle Thomas’ ward Annabel, but he broke her heart; she is engaged to nice Lord Alfred Hyatt.

At the inn Caroline explains her terms and they agree. Nicholas goes first for one week followed by Derek. Nicholas and Caroline meet at one of his remote estates. They talk and she explains she likes to read and hates her family which includes her father and her late spouse. She says she will never marry again as each agrees no strings. He kisses her and is surprised she lacks experience and is afraid. He asks her if she prefers to leave, but she says no. He kisses and touches her until she has the first orgasm of her life; he has a boner, but tells her he can wait until later. Instead they walk and talk. As they fall in love, Caroline wishes it was real, which panics Nicholas who leaves for London as it is now Derek’s turn.

This is a fun Regency romance as the concept of a wager is refreshing due to the reactions of the four fully developed lead characters. Although the villain is pathetic, the two romances are entertaining yet different.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Naughty Intentions-Lora Leigh

Naughty Intentions
Lora Leigh
Berkley, Apr 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 0425226050

Dayle MacKay calls his daughter Janey telling her that her brother Natches was hurt. Although she detests her father, she loves her brother whom she was never allowed to see as a child. She rushes home from California to Kentucky only to have her dad and her Aunt Nadine drug her. Janey knows she must show no pain although her aunt touching her breasts nauseates her. She expects her neighbor Major Alexander Jansen to save her. Alex kills Nadine and Natches subdues his traitorous father who sold missiles to the enemy. Alex kisses Janey before he vanishes.

Six months later, Janey owns MacKay’s restaurant in Somerset though most people think she is a traitor like her dad and unlike her heroic brother. Alex visits Janey for the first time since he saved her life and demands a kiss although he knows if Natches catches him he is dead. He tells her he wants her wet with desire for him. She tells him to leave, but he says it is too late. Alex learns Janey received three warning notes telling the traitorous slut to leave. He informs the MacKay males who confront Janey. She says she is staying and Alex can play night guard. As the couple fall in love, he must focus on keeping her safe and not just her cute buns.

The latest “Naughty Boys” contemporary romantic suspense is an exciting tale starring a strong paring and supported by the return of stars from the previous tales (see NAUGHTY DREAMS and NAUGHTY BOY) who play major roles in the plot. The action is fast and heated from the onset. Although it feels implausible that the villain who comes out of nowhere outfoxes the trained military men, the heroine’s family and FBI agents, fans will relish the love story of Janey and Alex, two deserving people who encourage readers to forget plausibility.

Harriet Klausner

The Warrior-Sharon Sala

The Warrior
Sharon Sala
Mira, Apr 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778326335

Alicia Ponte finds her sheltered home shattered when she learns her father Richard, CEO of an arms manufacturing firm, is selling his company’s most deadly products to terrorists. Upset she flees, but her angry father sends a thug to retrieve his daughter, who always obeyed him before.

John Nightwalker helps Alicia elude her controlling father’s henchmen. She is attracted to her protector, but remains ignorant as to his mission. For centuries through numerous lives, Nightwalker has tried but always failed to bring Ponte to karmic justice. He knows he must tell her, but doubts she will believe in reincarnation or that he is attracted to her; instead he assumes she will try to run away from a lunatic.

This terrific romantic fantasy is not an easy tale to read with the complications of reincarnation compounded by the premise of how to kill an apparent immortal. Nightwalker is a great hero who keeps trying though he feels he is running on a treadmill sort of like the movie Groundhog’s Day; the hard part of returning for the next battle is to know that after this one you will return for the next battle for eternity. Alicia is an innocent who is shocked to learn her caring father is actually a nasty international villain; she cannot handle much more as she flees, but deeper earthquakes to her mental state comes. Readers will relish this super thriller with a fabulous karma finish that seems right but quite the stunner.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, March 2, 2009

Mistletoe Cinderella-Tanya Michaels

Mistletoe Cinderella
Tanya Michaels
Harlequin American, Apr 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373752591

In Mistletoe, programmer Chloe Malcolm envies her recently deceased sexagenarian Aunt Jane Walters who was the ultimate free spirit; the complete opposite of her “programmed” niece. Perhaps it was the asthma that Chloe suffered from as a child or her parents’ reaction to it; only Aunt Jane made it seem inconsequential by nicknaming her “Wheezy”. She wishes she could be more like her beloved late aunt.

Chloe’s best friend Natalie Young convinces her to attend the ten year high school reunion. Also there is Dylan Echols, a former major league baseball player and the hunk she wanted back then, but was to shy to come out of her mouse hole; rationalizing it was an unrequited infatuation. Aunt Jane sent Chloe one last package, a sexy dress that shows off her assets. She wears it to the reunion and attracts Dylan. However, reticent Chloe cannot deal with it so adopting her aunt’s confidence she tells him her name is C.J. He realizes C.J. is Chloe, but says nothing as he is curious and attracted.

The second Mistletoe contemporary romance (see MISTLETOE BABY) is an entertaining lighthearted frolic. Dylan is a terrific male lead, but the amusing story line belongs to the heroine who falls in love and believes he reciprocates but not with Chloe. Fans will enjoy his efforts to prove otherwise and her struggles to keep the personalities of C.J. and Chloe straight.

Harriet Klausner

The Good Father-Kara Lennox

The Good Father
Kara Lennox
Harlequin American, Apr 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373752607

In Port Clara, Texas, Jane Selwyn cannot believe her marriage is over with the final straw being her husband’s reaction to the flirting by Remington Agency CEO Max Remington. She needs a job to support her and their three years old daughter Kaylee since she asked for little from Scott, but with a résumé so thin a wafer looks obese she has no hope of gainful employment. Her last chance is to persuade Max to hire her as an artist at his advertising agency.

She reminds him that Scott was going to drag Max’s name in the mud at a time he needed a positive reputation if she asked for a large settlement. He agrees to hire her on a trial basis since she lacks any experience. Jane proves herself as the right choice, but though extremely attracted to her and liking her precious preschooler, Max sticks to his policies that sex in the work place is a mistake and don’t get involved with single moms.

This is an engaging contemporary romance starring a stay at home mom suddenly thrust into the workplace if she finds a job. Although Jane settling for less in the divorce especially with a child due to a threat that Scott could not prove seems inane, fans of the Port Clara series will enjoy watching Max trying not to fall in love. Newcomers will feel overwhelmed as stars of the previous novels in the Second Sons’ saga (see THE PREGNANCY SURPRISE and RELUCTANT PARTNERS) make critical appearances.

Harriet Klausner

Knight's Temptation-Catherine Kean

Knight's Temptation
Catherine Kean
Medallion, Apr 2009, $7.95
ISBN: 9781933836522

In 1183 Moydenshire, England, Aldwin Treynarde, son of an earl was playing with his friend Ward Ransley when they tied up the latter’s younger sister Leona. Their game turns dangerous when a bee hive is shook and the bees attack Leona. Aldwin saves her life, but his irate father exiles him for un-chivalrous behavior though he is just eleven years old.

Owing his liege Lord Geoffrey de Lanceau for a terrible wrong he committed, Aldwin volunteers to find a stolen family heirloom before it falls into the treacherous hands of Baron Sedgewick and his evil wife Lady Veronique as someone is offering it for sale to the highest bidder. Aldwin hates the deceitful glib Sedgewick so he agrees to go alone in case of a trap to meet the woman who claims she possesses the pendant. Lady L recognizes Aldwin though she has not seen him in twelve years, but he does realize his hostess is Leona. He believes she is toying with him so abducts her hoping to get her to give him the pendant. As they fall in love, danger mounts; but to survive they must protect each other’s back.

The third Lord de Lanceau romance (see KNIGHT REWARD and A KNIGHT'S VENGEANCE) is an exciting action-packed medieval romance. The story line is fast-paced once Aldwin begins his quest in 1195 and never slows down. Fans will enjoy the gender war between the immovable object and the irresistible force who when they team up battle the odds. Catherine Kean provides another knightly winner.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Some Like It Wild-Teresa Medeiros

Some Like It Wild
Teresa Medeiros
Avon, Apr 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061235368

In 1814 the impoverished half-sisters, actresses Pamela and Sophie Darby, seek a Highlander dolt who is all brawn and no brain so they can outwit him while using him to masquerade as a long lost British heir. When highwayman Connor Kincaid stops their coach, he is stunned by the audacious Pamela who instead of handing him her valuables; alas there are none except her and her sister’s respective virtue, which is why they are in this mess; she offers the brute a deal.

Sill feeling like a moron, Connor accepts and soon he and the half sisters are in London where he will pose as the long lost heir. Nothing goes right from the moment they arrive at the city. Almost immediately Pamela finds herself living in the home of Connor’s father somehow engaged to the dimwit. As they fall in love, both Pamela and Connor want their masquerade to be real.

The sequel to SOME LIKE IT WICKED is a bawdy entertaining Regency romance starring a wild Highlander who feels overwhelmed by hurricane Pamela, but cannot help wanting more of her insane decadence. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Connor wonders what happened to a simple coach robbery and never slows down as he turns to seduction and pleasuring to somewhat level the playing field with his feisty masquerading partner. Teresa Medeiros is at her best with this humorous battle of wits and passion that sub-genre readers will find wickedly wild and wantonly wonderful.

Harriet Klausner

Sierra Ransom-Emma Craig

Sierra Ransom
Emma Craig
Five Star, Apr 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594147524

In 1852, on the lam from the law as he is wanted in several states, Sam Ransom arrives in the gold camp town Muddy Flats, an apropos name for a place with mostly tents at the foothills of the Sierras. He buys dinner at Zee’s Stew Kitchen where he gets a kick out of observing the feisty petit woman order the big men around like they were her children. Sam also saw the “Help Wanted” sign so applies for the job. Zee Gray is reluctant to hire him as she learned the hard way that handsome men are lazy or bullies. Still she gives him a job without consulting with her partner and only true friend Chinaman Lee Yung.

That night, a frantic Caleb arrives at Zee’s tent needing her help as his woman Sue Ellen is in labor and not looking good. Zee and Sam arrive to save the baby Mary but Sue Ellen dies. Zee takes the newborn with her while Sam assists her by constructing a bottle nipple and offering a shoulder for a bereaving Caleb whom he just met. As they fall in love, Zee knows she must tell Sam about her family ruled by a Massachusetts martinet brimstone preacher who tossed her out; Sam knows he must tell Zee his full name is Sam Ransom Glover, part of an outlaw family.

This is an engaging California Gold Rush romance starring two caring likable protagonists with each containing a family history that makes a relationship difficult for either to fathom. Sam is the more fascinating character as he believes he is not worthy of his beloved, but his actions with two babies, and tweener Pauley prove otherwise as does his work ethic. Although there are no major conflicts between the lead couple even when his outlaw past arrives in Muddy Flats shaking her nerves because he never told her, fans will enjoy this vivid look at life in a California gold camp town.

Harriet Klausner