Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bound by Love- Rosemary Rogers

Bound by Love
Rosemary Rogers
Harlequin HQN, Aug 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373773961

In 1821 Leonida Karkoff arrives as a welcome guest of Lord Edmond and his wife Brianna (see SCANDALOUS DECEPTION). However, Leonida finds herself attracted to her shock to her host’s twin brother Stefan, the Duke of Huntley. Stefan distrusts Leonida, who as the illegitimate daughter of Czar Alexander has no reason to be in England unless she has some diabolical plot to harm the Russian ruler.

However, Stefan is more upset with himself for wanting a woman he distrusts. Leonida feels guilt as she is pulled in two directions as her mother sent her to retrieve letters that will hurt the czar if exposed and her desire perhaps even love for Stefan. He seduces her, but soon afterward she vanishes with the letters to the content with him in pursuit. In St. Petersburg, Stefan catches up with his Leonida, who has fled his bed for fear her heart will die if she remains with her beloved.

The St. Petersburg setting refreshes a wonderful Regency romance sequel starring two beloved enemies. Besides the enticing Russian backdrop, Leonida is a refreshing protagonist pulled by her mother in one direction and yanked in the opposite by her love for Stefan. Fans will enjoy this brisk tale as Rosemary Rogers shows why she is consistently one of the historical romance sub-genre sure things.

Harriet Klausner

The Undoing of a Lady-Nicola Cornick

The Undoing of a Lady
Nicola Cornick
Harlequin HQN, Aug 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373773954

In 1810 Lady Elizabeth “Lizzie” Scarlett is concerned that her childhood friend Lord Nathaniel Waterhouse is marrying someone he does not love out of a sense of duty. She knows Nat has always been there for her so she decides to be there for him even if he does not appreciate what she does. She kidnaps him to keep him from marrying Miss Flora Minchin of Fortune’s Folly as this is no love match with his title in exchange for her money.

Lizzie's attempts to seduce Nat lead to their being compromised. Nat breaks off his engagement, but needs money to pay off a blackmailer. His solution is to marry wealthy Lizzie, which he does. However, though both feel a deep desire for the other and passion blazes between them, neither trusts the other any longer and pride leaves bot hiding their love out of fear of rejection.

Although similar in tone to the previous Brides of Fortune series (see THE CONFESSIONS OF A DUCHESS and THE SCANDALS OF THE INNOCENT) especially the lead characters, fans will enjoy this charming regency romance. The amusing story line starts off with a terrific opening abduction by an innocent woman who is seduced by her angry captive leading to THE UNDOING OF A LADY now in love. Fans will enjoy the gender war as neither seems to have the guts to tell the other how they feel.

Harriet Klausner

Bridegroom-Linda Lael Miller

Linda Lael Miller
Harlequin HQN, Aug 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373773886

In 1915 Arizona Lydia Fairmont finds her options near zero as she either marries the local banker or lose her property to the local banker; she fears losing the spread because of where will her sexagenarian kind spinster aunts go. Her childhood friend Gideon Yarbro learns Lydia is caught between a rock and a hard place as the cold aloof banker Mr. Fitch offers her no other option; so the undercover agent decides to save her in spite of her acceptance of the inevitable.

Gideon abducts Lydia taking her to his home in Stone Creek. He forces her to marry him vowing to protect and cherish her while she assumes they will have a platonic marriage of convenience although she is unsure what he gets from their matrimony. However, when someone tries to kill Gideon, Lydia realizes she loves her friend. Meanwhile Gideon struggles between a nasty squabble between the miners and the mine owners that is turning dangerous even as he fears for the safety of his beloved Lydia from the assassin trying to kill him.

The latest Stone Creek early twentieth century romance (see Gideon’s older brothers’ tales; Wyatt as THE RUSTLER and Rowdy as A WANTED MAN) is a charming tale starring two likable protagonists. However, though he coerces her to say I do, he is caught off guard by the tigress he marries. He planned to keep her safe but did not expect his new bride trying to keep her BRIDEGROOM safe even if he objects. Fans will enjoy this fun Arizona tale as the honeymoon includes party crashers who want Gideon dead for different reasons.

Harriet Klausner

Dark Lover-Brenda Joyce

Dark Lover
Brenda Joyce
Harlequin HQN, Aug 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373773701

In New York City, Center for Demonic Activity, Historical Crimes Unit demon slaying witch Samantha Rose misses her sister Tabitha (see DARK VICTORY) and her cousin Brianna (see DARK EMBRACE) as her fellow agents married Highlanders and live several centuries in the past. She focuses even more on her work with her latest assignment to retrieve the Duisean, a valuable Celtic manuscript owned by Rubert Hemmer.

International art thief Ian Maclean is known for being able to obtain any masterpiece for his clients. He and Sam had a run in when they met in Scotland that left her humiliated and furious. They meet again as he is seducing the wife of Rupert to foster his plan to steal the Duisean in order to sell to the highest bidder. Sam and Ian team up to try to steal the valuable artifact though neither wants that teaming. Worse they are attracted to one another and begin to depend on one another although both fear the directions their respective feelings are taking them.

The latest Masters of Time romantic urban fantasy is a super complex tale as the kick butt adversaries must unite but both have doubts distrusting the other and even more their hearts. He uses a suave uncaring demeanor to hide his darkest secret that the demons once imprisoned and tortured him for seemingly eternity; she has never forgotten or gotten over his rejection in Scotland. However, they have no choice if they are to prevent an ancient dark one from arising; time is of the essence as they plunge into his worse nightmare that of his own past.

Harriet Klausner

Sentinels: Lion Heart- Doranna Durgin

Sentinels: Lion Heart
Doranna Durgin
Silhouette Nocturne, Aug 2009, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373618170

Ocelot shapeshifter Lyn Maines is assigned to investigate whether a Sentinel is betraying the cause. She heads to the Arizona mountains Dook’o’osliid to determine if mountain-lion shifter Joe Ryan has gone to the dark evil Atrum Core while also hunting the retreating regional Drozhar (prince) after his side lost a battle recently. Based on what she knows about the case, she assumes Joe is a traitor.

After a few days with Joe, Lyn begins to reassess her opinion. She believes he is either an Oscar Award level actor or innocent. As she falls in love with Joe, she fears her heart is rose coloring her eyes or someone diabolically clever is framing him. Now she needs his help to deal with the Atrum Core Drozhar using the mountain's power to restore his own, but all the evidence affirms Joe is betraying their cause.

Although the plot feels a bit emaciated at first, the latest Sentinels Arizonan urban fantasy romance (see JAGUAR NIGHT) picks up momentum and turns into a wonderful entry due to the suspicion by Lyn and the Sentinels that Joe is the traitor. Thus their relationship starts off on the wrong foot, but as they fall in love, Lyn refuses to believe her beloved whose obvious love of the mountains would sell out to someone destroying his revered snowy peaks. LION HEART is a solid entry with a bit of a mystery to enhance the fun plot.

Harriet Klausner

Time Raiders: The Seeker-Lindsay McKenna

Time Raiders: The Seeker
Lindsay McKenna
Silhouette Nocturne, Aug 2009, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373618163

Time raiders Delia Sebastian and Jake Tyler are assigned to work together in finding the first piece of an alien artifact the Karanovo Bronze Seal in ancient Rome during the time of Julius Caesar. Delia does not want to go with Jake as her partner as she has a past with him that left her hurt. On the other hand, Jake looks forward to spending time with her.

Their Italian vacation posing as Grecian mercenaries proves dangerous as Caesar's mistress Servilia has an agenda of her own yet the artifact is in her Pompeii villa. Worse, an alien seeks the artifact and is using the body of the scribe to hide inside. As the peril mounts, Delia and Jake must cover each other’s back if they are to survive the mission and have any hope of successfully accomplishing it.

This is the opening act of a new romantic science fiction series in which different authors over the next few months will provide novels. THE SEEKER is a fine tale starring two leads who battle one another and two insidious enemies. The story line starts slow as the key background information is provided, but once the protagonists (some might say antagonists) go back in time to 44 BC, the action turns fast-paced and the lead couple’s attraction could ignite Ancient Rome. Fans will enjoy Lindsay McKenna’s solid thriller as Ancient Rome comes alive and the table is set for Cindy Dees in September to go after the next segment of the Karanovo Bronze Seal.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, June 26, 2009

Caitlyn's Prize-Linda Warren

Caitlyn's Prize
Linda Warren
Harlequin SuperRomance, Jul 14 2009, $6.25
ISBN: 9780373783199

Following the death of her father Dane, Caitlyn Belle learns the family High Five ranch is in financial trouble due to her late dad’s gambling debts that he somewhat paid off by the money making selling gas and oil royalties. Their neighbor Southern Cross ranch Judd Calhoun explains she has six months to turn a profit or sell the ranch to him at fair market value. Several years ago she ended their engagement when he refused to say he loved her; instead he felt he was honest when he responded he has no idea what love means.

When someone begins vandalizing the ranch, Caitlyn, who distrusts Judd with her heart, knows he is her only hope to save the spread though he might be the saboteur as part of his vengeance for her dumping him. Judd holds a mean grudge not forgiving her for dumping him, but every time he looks into her eyes; his icy heart melts though he works extra time to refreeze it.

The first Belles of Texas is a fabulous ranch romance starring two beloved enemies as the heroine will not marry for anything less than a shared love while the lead male insists honesty is more important than an undefined whimsical emotion like love. Her late father’s beliefs that sound Regency in nature in which women should not deal with finances is ironic because he left his daughters and their grandmother in fiscal trouble. The story line is fast-paced yet also enhanced by the strong support cast making CAITLYN'S PRIZE a great opening “Cowboy Country” second chance at love romance.

Harriet Klausner

A Ranch Called Home-Candy Halliday

A Ranch Called Home
Candy Halliday
Harlequin SuperRomance, Jul 14 2009, $6.25
ISBN: 9780373783205

When Bill Coulter died at the World Champion Rodeo Finals in Vegas, his brother Gabe hired an investigator to locate his five years old nephew Ben. Gabe obsesses over bringing the child to his Colorado family ranch to raise the boy though he also has doubts whether the lad he never met is his blood.

In Conrad, Texas Ben’s mom Sara Watson is a lioness protecting her cub from the Coulter clan; she is always ready to run away with her son and start anew though that means poverty; she does not trust anyone who shares Bill’s DNA. She tells Gabe who looks just like Ben what he can do with his $50,000 as his nephew will remains with her though not in the lap of luxury. Gabe reassesses his pre-meeting perception of what Sarah would be like and likes what he has found out about her. He offers her a deal to come live on the ranch as his wife in a marriage of convenience so they both can be there to raise Ben, but also there will be no conjugal relationship between them. However, neither expected the inferno attraction between them as Gabe wants their marriage to be totally real, Sarah does too but assumes he wed her to bring Ben “home”.

This is an intriguing ranch romance due to the lead characters desire to protect Ben although the marriage of convenience seems unnecessary and somewhat contrived. The story line grips the audience when Gabe meets Sara waitressing in Conrad where the locals are as protective of her as she is of Ben. With real people in Texas and especially Colorado, fans will enjoy this “Cowboy Country” contemporary.

Harriet Klausner

No Hero Like Him-Elaine Grant

No Hero Like Him
Elaine Grant
Harlequin SuperRomance, Jul 14 2009, $6.25
ISBN: 9780373783182

Rodeo bronco rider Seth Morgan suffers a severe injury that forces him off the circuit while he heals. Clair Ford desperately needs a cowboy to teach riding at her newly opened summer horse-riding camp for troubled kids. Thus she hires Seth who needs something to take his mind off not participating in the rodeo.

However, Seth finds Claire keeps his brain from wandering back to the circuit; although she is also attracted to him, bull riding comes between them. He cannot give up his first love for his second love especially with his obsession to climb back on the bull that nearly killed him while she cannot cope with the danger of his profession especially his fixation to challenge the matchmaking bull that brought them together.

This is a super triangle relationship romance in which a bull stands between the lead couple making it as each in their way obsesses over that animal. The story line is driven by the conflict between Claire and Seth in which love does not seem enough as he needs to climb back on the bull who nearly killed him and she needs him to avoid that bull and his peers. Elaine Grant provides the audience a terrific contemporary romance.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Colonel Brandon’s Diary-Amanda Grange

Colonel Brandon’s Diary
Amanda Grange
Berkley, Jul 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425227794

In 1778 eighteen year old James Brandon loves his father’s ward Eliza and he hopes to marry her one day soon; she reciprocates his feelings and his dream. When his parents arrange a match between his Eliza and his brother womanizing drunk Harry, his heart is broken as his father has the final word. Eliza marries while heartbroken James joins the military.

After being stationed in India for years and going up in the ranks, James comes home having inherited Delaford though he hopes maturity hides his love for his sister-in-law. He is stunned to find a dying Eliza in debtor's prison. James frees her from her incarceration, but can only watch her die from the consumption that has wracked her lungs. Heartbroken, he raises Eliza’s illegitimate daughter, but at fifteen years old she runs away. Fearing for his ward, James begins to fall in love with Marianne Dashwood, but she is in love with Willoughby.

COLONEL BRANDON’S DAIRY occurs before and during the events of Sense and Sensibility as Amanda Grange provides the back story as well as filling in the gaps from a key male’s perspective in the Jane Austen classic. The cast stays true to the original but is enhanced by Amanda Grange especially the seemingly fickle Marianne, but once again this is a male’s diary so we see everything through his filter. Fans of the great Ms. Austen will appreciate the homage to Sense and Sensibility as Ms. Grange has done with Persuasion (see CAPTAIN WENTWORTH’S DIARY), Pride & Prejudice (see MR. DARCY’S DIARY), Mansfield Park (see EDMUND BERTRAM’S DAIRY) and Emma (see MR. KNIGHTLY’S DIARY).

Harriet Klausner

Wed Him Before You Bed Him-Sabrina Jeffries

Wed Him Before You Bed Him
Sabrina Jeffries
Pocket, Jul 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9781416560821

When Charlotte Harris was eighteen and Charlotte Page she made a horrific mistake when she sent a letter rejecting a suitor that became published in a tabloid scandal rag. The scandal ruined David’s reputation unfairly and she made hers worse when she eloped with Captain Harris.

Years later in 1824, she still regrets what she caused, not for herself as she likes being the Headmistress of the Mrs. Harris School for Heiresses, but to the gentleman she hurt. However, her school is in financial difficulty and “Cousin Michael” whom she has corresponded with and helped her through the worst of times is not writing; she is worried about him as that is out of character. Her only hope is the man she inadvertently destroyed. However she also is ignorant as to what he has done to avenge what she did to him years ago; he just never expected to remain in love with her.

The final School for Heiresses Regency romance is the one fans of this strong late regency saga have waited for and will agree that Sabrina Jeffries surpasses our expectations; the pressure on the gifted author for Charlotte’s tale must have been immense. The story line is fast-paced and filled with strong support characters while the lead “triangle” is top rate as Cousin Michael’s ’s web of deceit is entangling Charlotte and himself in what looks will be another enormous scandal. Great fun for sub-genre readers as Ms. Jeffries closes out her series with a winner.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hidden Currents-Christine Feehan

Hidden Currents
Christine Feehan
Jove, Jun 30 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780515146479

Psychic though many will say psycho businessman Stavros Gratsos kidnaps Elle Drake who had just returned to her family home Sea Haven. Although Elle and her six older sisters are also psychics, Stavros has somehow been able to electronically disable their telepathic abilities. Her siblings are distraught, but plan to do whatever it takes to rescue the youngest of this generation Drake brood.

Sea Haven Deputy Sheriff Jackson Deveau has loved Elle from afar forever and vows to save his beloved. Elle has reciprocated his feelings so that a telepathic link built on love connects them in spite of Stavros’ gizmo. He along with the Drake clan extract Elle from the psychopath, but not before Stavros tortured and raped her. Jackson is there for his emotionally shattered beloved and she begins to mentally heal due to his nurturing. However, Stavros wants her back and threatens all her loved ones leading to the extended Drake family (stars of the previous six entries) taking on a maniac and his horde of mercenaries.

The seventh and final Drake sister romantic fantasy is a strong finish to a powerful series. The lead couple is a likable pairing as both have issues; especially timely and poignant is the consequences on an individual who was tortures. The villain is a clever and brilliant but insane psychic whose demented vile mind enhances the plot as he forces the return of all the Drake sisters and their mates to unite to counter fight this lunatic.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, June 22, 2009

Knight of Desire-Margaret Mallory

Knight of Desire
Margaret Mallory
Forever, Jul 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780446553391

Given no choice in the matter, Lady Catherine was forced to marry an abusive spouse. Outraged by what has become of her, she vows to find a way to insure her son Jamie is never in her situation especially keeping him safe from his mean-spirited father. Catherine finds a means by giving information to her friend Prince Henry on Welsh rebel activity led by her husband. Her efforts lead to the death of her brute of a husband.

In 1405 King Henry IV proclaims her guilty of sedition and declares her lands forfeit and gives them to his loyal soldier William FitzAlan. The ruler also informs Catherine she has a choice of marrying William or dying in the Tower. William distrusts his new wife, but cherishes her beautiful body. As they become acquainted they fall in love, but trust is a more difficult bond to build; without it an unknown adversary may leave both dead.

The key to this terrific medieval romance is in the background as Margaret Mallory provides the audience with various viewpoints on the Welsh rebellion without hindering the changing relationship between the widow and the king’s selected second husband for her. Thus the reader obtains a the perspective of real persona to include the Prince of Wales Hal, his mentor Hotspur and rebel leaders like Owain as well as fictional characters like the heroine, her late spouse (in retrospect) and William. The romance is strong but typical of the sub-genre. Fans will desire more deep historical romances from Ms. Mallory.

Harriet Klausner

Skin Deep-Anna J. Evans

Skin Deep
Anna J. Evans
Kensington Aphrodisia, Jul 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780451226976

In Pasadena, Nicky serves drinks at the Hard Way who was also a model for the Good and Trashy Lingerie Website. Tattoo artist Jack has not seen Nicky in person, though he frequents the net for her pictures, since they were foster teens in a house of horror. He has sent her letters from Vegas, but she never replies. Eight years and he still wants her and this time he plans to do something about his desire for her. He goes to the bar and abducts her; taking her into the San “Bernfuckadino” Mountains.

Jack demands she summits to his dominance. Although she wants to as she always desired her Jack, she is divorcing a brutal abusive dominator so fears another such relationship. If she fails to acquiesce, Jack plans to remove the fallen angel tattoo they share. She wants to say yes, but is scared. As he keeps the seductive pressure up, she succumbs and comes around to thinking spankings and babies are an okay mix if you trust and love your dominant to listen when you say enough and to be kind like Jack is.

This is a super BDSM romance with a whimsical angelic inky connection that enhances the story line. That tattoo ties Jack with Nicky, but he fears not Nicky with Jack. Fans will appreciate his efforts to show the woman he cherishes that a submissive can appreciate spankings from a dominant who loves her and knows how to care for her; while she learns there is those who psychotically abuse and those who lovingly spank. Anna J. Evans’ lead characters make this a deep drama.

Harriet Klausner

Make Me Yours- Betina Krahn

Make Me Yours
Betina Krahn
Harlequin Blaze, Jul 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373794836

In 1887 English widow Mariah Eller owns and runs the Eller-Stapleton Inn. When nobles to include Bertie the Prince of Wales get drunk at her inn and start causing problems, Mariah calmly outsmarts them.

Bertie is hooked by the brave intelligent tavern owner and orders her to be his royal mistress. The only way for her to avoid Bertie is with a husband. She once gain outwits the male aristocracy when she decides to go after Bertie’s loyal friend Jack St. Lawrence. He wants her, but fears the reprcussions of stealing the Prince’s propsed next mistress and worse worries how his family will react to her occupation. He underestimated the force of his Mariah.

MAKE ME YOURS will be on the best of the year list of historical romances as this is a great jocular late Victorian with a great fresh concept. Mariah is fantastic as all she wants is preventing the drunks from wrecking her tavern, but consequently must deal with the unwanted adulation of the royal; as one thing leads to another and another, etc. Jack is caught between a hard place and an even harder place as he is in love with the tavern owner who is supposed to be the prince’s woman not his; and of course he expects the scorn of his aristocratic family if he chooses Mariah. However soon the prince, Jack who knows nothing, and even a pauper will learn not to mess with the wind they call Mariah.

Harriet Klausner

Endless Summer-Julie Kenner, Karen Anders and Jill Monroe

Endless Summer
Julie Kenner, Karen Anders and Jill Monroe
Harlequin Blaze, Jul 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373794812

"Making Waves” by Julie Kenner. Laci Montgomery plans to be pro surfing’s superstar without her ex-boyfriend, Taylor the “betrayer” Dutton; he has other plans about riding the waves.

"Surf's Up by Karen Anders". JC Wilcox and Zack Fanning meet in the surf at a time she may have to leave due to no sponsorship. However, the surfing legend who cannot participate due to an injury wants to live his dream of winning through JC so wants to sponsor her with all his heart.

"Wet and Wild by Jill Monroe". Rookie of the year Andrea “Drea” Powell needs a sponsor, but has no takers due to her reckless abandon on the waves. Kirk Murray seeks a new surfer to support; preferably a wild and wet winner. When they meet, the waves reach epic levels.

These three interrelated Hawaii surfing romances are lighthearted beach fun starring likable protagonists and an apt title paying homage to Bruce Brown’s documentary.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I Shot You Babe-Leslie Langtry

I Shot You Babe
Leslie Langtry
Making It (Dorchester), Jul 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780843962918

He is considered the family odd duck as Coney "Cy" Bombay has a PhD in philosophy and enjoys working on the carney circuit as a mechanic as he has for the last dozen years while his traveling companion is Sartre, a guinea pig. Post-grad student Veronica Gale interviews Cy in Wisconsin, but she walks away angrily when he glibly makes commentary on their similar background as he like her was a two decade plus student, but he moved on with dreams of Henry Kissinger impersonations. Perhaps his proclamation that his ambitious cousin’s goal is driving an ice cream truck drove her off.

His family assigns Cy an assassination in Mongolia. While waiting there for the right moment, Cy enjoys the Mongolian Naadam Festival when he is stunned with the arrival of Veronica. As he wrestles with Ronnie, he wonders how to combine a murder with romance as his desire for her is killing him especially when she asks him to help her find out who the Anderson killer is.

The final Bombay assassination romantic suspense thriller is a fabulous finish due to irreverent Cy, his “son” Sartre, the locale, and the rest of the family. Veronica (don’t call her Ronnie) seems more of a straight woman to the comedic lead male as he is Grouch Marx to her Bud Abbott (forgive the mixing of comedians). Fans will enjoy the capers of cousin Cy as the curtain comes down on the wonderful Bombay brood, who prove the Republicans are right as a family that kills together stays together.

Harriet Klausner

Chosen Woman-Shirl Henke

Chosen Woman
Shirl Henke
Leisure, Jul 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780843962482

In 1873 inside a mansion in St. Louis, law enforcement official Jack Dillon meets the woman he has been hired to protect when Fawn Stanhope calls him a runt as she is as tall as him. Being almost six feet, he thinks to himself she is an amazon, but though he wants to flee before she challenges him to a wrestling match, a paying job keeps him there even when she proclaims he is no bodyguard. Her nine year old sister Delilah explains to Jack that Fawn has always had visions that frustrate and scare her as she struggles with their interpretation.

Fawn hides from Jack that she recognizes the cocky Irish-American as the charismatic Red Wolf in her dreams. Jack has been hired to escort Fawn to the Cheyenne where she will become their medicine dream guide though she never lived with that side of her heritage. He knows from their first meeting she will not be an easy client. Her supportive parents also want Jack to prevent the stealing of the land from their extended family and the sending of the Cheyenne children to orphanages. As they fall in love in between her bashing him, she risks her life to prevent the plotters gaining deeds from the elderly who mysteriously die soon afterward and he does likewise to keep his CHOSEN WOMAN safe.

This is an exhilarating Reconstruction Era romance with a powerful touch of Native American beliefs that places a spotlight on a period of American shame with the mistreatment including murder, abuse, and abduction of Indians. The story line is fast-paced from the opening meeting between the lead couple as the amazon looks down on her troll and never slows down as readers wonder what the Grand Design will be for this fine pairing.

Harriet Klausner

Runaway-Bobbi Smith

Bobbi Smith
Leisure, Jul 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780843962819

In the 1870s Texas, Ranger Lane Madison goes undercover masquerading as “rancher” outlaw leader Dan Cooper in order to bring to justice his gang of train robbers. However, the law enforcement official is unprepared for the arrival of his mail-order bride, Destiny Starling.

She conceals from her kindhearted new spouse the fact that she is a RUNAWAY heiress running scared from a vile stepfather she left behind in St. Louis. They fall in love even with each pretending to be someone else. However, the outlaw gang wants Lane dead and collateral damage is quite acceptable; in fact encouraged. Those villains masquerading as upper class citizens have come to take home Destiny and collateral damage is part of their plot as she must have the proper husband.

Once the Cecil B. Demille crowd makes their appearances, this Reconstruction Era romance takes off at the speed of a RUNAWAY train. Lane and Destiny are a fascinating pair as they fall love with the other’s persona; leaving the audience and them to wonder if they overcome the fabrications; as the algebra of multiplication of negatives means love will blossom although so many want Lane dead.

Harriet Klausner

A Stroke of Magic-Tracy Madison

A Stroke of Magic
Tracy Madison
Love Spell, Jul 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780505528117

In Chicago, Enchanted Expressions graphic designer Alice Raymond has a slight problem. It is not being single and pregnant as she kicked her cheating ex to the curb. It is not the fact that her hormones are geometrically out of control due partly to the fetus inside her and to a degree due to her crush on her boss, Ethan Gallagher. Finally it is not the fact that she can see her late great-grandmother and have her wishes come true. Her dilemma is the Gypsy's curse that proclaims for her now unborn daughter to live a happy life; Alice must find her soul mate before the infant is born.

Her libido insists it is Gallagher, but Alice no longer trusts that part of her body. Ethan was engaged to his forever significant other who ended their relationship after a fortuneteller told her he was not her numero uno. He vowed never again will he allow a “paranormal” con artist to intrude in his life. However, now he believes he has found his significant other in Alice, but she rants like she visited “Wonderland” about dead relatives and gypsy curses. Though he fears she is a certifiable fruitcake, he loves Alice, but even he is unsure whether he can stand by her when she keeps sprouting about her unborn being cursed.

Fans will enjoy this delightful paranormal romance filled with two wonderful lead characters and a strong support cast. Alice is a believer but Ethan is a doubter, which makes for a fun relationship for readers but not for them. Anyone who enjoys A TASTE OF MAGIC will appreciate this lighthearted frolic as once again, Tracy Madison provides a charming whimsical urban fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

Breath of Fire-Tammy Kane

Breath of Fire
Tammy Kane
Love Spell, Jul 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780505528162

As a Mattaen Initiate, Karl is trained to be a great warrior. When he reached the village filled with superstitious peasants, he scorns the irrational villagers proclaiming they are murderers; while their leaders defend their actions by claiming a dragon demanded and expected a virginal sacrifices or else. He was not volunteering when they tied him to the rock as their virginal sacrifice. Unchained he could not defeat a dragon if they existed, but chained, he fears if true he is dead.

Elera Daughter of Shane kills the dragon and charges as her price, the virgin sacrifice for a night to do what she wants with him. Her virgin prize Karl wants to say no, but she entices him to crave her. When she steals a kiss, he can no longer adhere to his vow of chastity as the Mattaen Initiate Brotherhood requires. She takes him and he wants her to take him again as he desires more, but by doing so he feels guilt for betraying his Brothers who raised him.

The key to this romantic fantasy is the world of Kane seems real especially the paranormal. The story line is fast-paced form the onset when a mocking Karl becomes the sacrifice and never slows until the final spin though in between there are world building, romance and plenty of action. Tammy Kane breathes new fire into the dragon mythos with a strong opening act.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bride of Pendorric-Victoria Holt

Bride of Pendorric
Victoria Holt
St. Martin’s, Jun 2009, $13.95
ISBN: 9780312384166

On Capri, Favel Farrington lives with her widower father in his art studio. When Englishman Roc Pendorric visits her island, they meet and fall in love; they marry, but as they leave for his estate in Rockwell her father dies.

In Cornwall, his family especially his sister greets her with love dubbing her the “Bride of Pendorric”. However, Favel soon learns of the legend of the brides who are usually wealthy and always die young like Roc’s mom, whose portrait haunts the newcomer. When accidents begin piling up, Favel wonders if her spouse really fell in love at first sight or has he brought to her home for a sinister purpose. One thing is for sure she believes someone wants her dead, but could it be her beloved, his sister, her daughters or something from beyond.

This is a reprint of a fun 1960s gothic romantic suspense. The story line is typical of the late great Victoria Holt of a new bride in peril as she adapts to her new home. There are several suspects including the alleged ghosts, but all the possible culprits live and dead are family members by law. Although the plot feels at times too simplistic with a naïve heroine, sub-genre fans will enjoy this fine thriller filled with a sense of foreboding (a trademark of a Ms. Holt novel).

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Goodbye Cousins-Maggie Leffler

The Goodbye Cousins
Maggie Leffler
Bantam, Jun 30 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780385340472

When Diotima “Di” Linzer’s was eleven years old, her mom kidnapped her and took her to England making it almost impossible for her father to find her. Now a single mom with a two-year-old child, Di returns to the United States hoping to obtain some normality; something she feels she never had in England. In Pittsburgh, her engaged cousin Alecia and her fiancé Ben take in Di and her son into their apartment.

Di obtains a position as a nanny to Gusty, a diabetic troubled teen whose wealthy father Augustus Catalano is divorcing his mother Mazie. On the estate, she meets the gardener, Dave after driving on his manicured lawn. To her fickle chagrin, she is attracted to her employer and her fellow employee; at the same time Alecia's relationship seems on the verge of collapse.

The sequel to THE DIAGNOSIS OF LOVE (Ben’s sister Holly’s tale) is a terrific straightforward relationship drama. The two cousins have problems with commitments as each struggle in their own way with the men in their lives. With a nod to Neil Simon (and Herbert Ross), fans will enjoy the aptly titled THE GOODBYE COUSINS.

Harriet Klausner

Wolf Tales VIII- Kate Douglas

Wolf Tales VIII
Kate Douglas
Kensington Aphrodisia, Jul 2009, $12.95
ISBN: 9780758226945

The Chanku packs have grown by six newcomers who need mentoring. Three are sent to learn at Anton's Montana estate; the others journey to the Colorado wolf sanctuary owned by Ulrich and Millie.

All six have come from the mean streets and thus they are tough and ready to kick butt; that is when they are not licking butt. The old-timers at both sites look forward to some sex, respite and sex after surviving some nasty assaults (see WOLF TALES VII), but also understand the importance of mentoring the arrogant rookies using bravado to hide their fears. However, a mysterious newcomer arrives in Colorado shaking the balance and forcing Millie to finally look back at her past.

Following the climatic action of book VII, Kate Douglas proves she is a wizard as she provides a fresh spellbound thriller by bringing in the next generation. The story line is fast-paced and filled with sexual encounters of a werewolf kind. Fans of the saga will appreciate Ms. Douglas’ new spin as somehow she makes each of her seemingly ever expanding cast seem different yet as a paranormal species appear real.

Harriet Klausner

The Games Girls Play-Deanna Lee

The Games Girls Play
Deanna Lee
Kensington Aphrodisia, Jul 2009, $13.95
ISBN: 9780758234995

“Dangerous Play”. The three best friends, Tara Marcus, Kristen Travis and Sonya Carson run a public relations firm with their clients being professional athletes. Their job is to prevent the prima donnas from destroying their images, but at times must do spins to rectify nightmares. Tara’s current task is to soften the image of Atlanta soccer star Joshua Keller having been photographed leaving a notorious BDSM club.

“Man in Motion”. Sonya is about to punt her lover pro football player Caleb Howard to the sidelines. He would rather play games rather than deal with life’s complications.

“Double Team”. Kristen is ready to slam dunk with two basketball stars, Adam McGregor and Neal Davidson in a tryst in which no blood no foul. She hopes these hoop hunks can take her mind off of their enemy mean Jean Turst.

Deanna Lee’s anthology contains three fun interrelated contemporary heated sports relationship tales. The tales are fun to follow as the women cross the line with their clients. Although the Turst scenario is not adequately closed, fans will enjoy soccer, football, and basketball not for the games the guys play but for the GAMES GIRLS PLAY with these hunks.
Harriet Klausner

What She Wants-Lucinda Betts

What She Wants
Lucinda Betts
Kensington Aphrodisia, Jul 2009, $13.95
ISBN: 9780758234599

In San Diego Dr. Ann Fallon prays she secures a biologist professor position at Harvard University vowing to be the best if Dr. Stoller hires her. She also wants to be the best wife possible to her boyfriend. However, while the former remains up in the air, the latter proves false as he has a girlfriend. Upset, she runs into the arms of Detective Kai.

Kai is pleased to find Ann because he fears she is the target of some nasty paranormals just like his beloved was until they killed her. A shapeshifting centaur Chiron as he is known by his people vows to keep her safe while she vows to hide her secret in his secure arms.

This is a terrific urban romantic fantasy starring two likable fully developed lead characters, who make the mythological seem at home in Southern California and some nasties chasing them feel real. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the lead couple meets in San Diego and never slows down. However, fans will be better off first reading the novella "Centaur Heat" (see EROS ISLAND) to obtain a better understanding of Lucinda Betts’ mythos.

Harriet Klausner

Tempted by a Cowboy-Vonna Harper, Melissa MacNeal, Delilah Devlin

Tempted by a Cowboy
Vonna Harper, Melissa MacNeal, Delilah Devlin
Kensington Aphrodisia, Jul 2009, $13.95
ISBN: 9780758234513

“Mustang Man” by Vonna Harper. Highly regarded wild mustang trainer Miguel Perez and Bureau of Land Management Agent Dawn Glass meet and are attracted to one another; each eagerly dives into the hay together.

“Long Hard Ride” by Melissa MacNeal. During a nasty storm in Wolf Point, Montana, ranch owner Diana Grant stops to give rodeo performer Michael White Horse a lift. Recently widowed and knowing her Seven Creeks Ranch is about to be owned by the bank, Diana and the younger Michael are shocked by the heat they emit.

“Hot Blooded by Delilah Devlin. In the Texas Panhandle, rancher Adam Youngblood rescues Cass McIntyre, but his payment for saving her life is tough love. He owns her.

These are three interesting erotic outdoors romances in which the settings plays important roles. In Mustang Man, the horses steal the show; while in Long Hard Ride the older woman and younger man is a nice pairing; and Hot Blooded takes an adjustment to the couple’s S&M “nasty” relationship. These are three different cowboys who more than just tempt their women in this fine collection.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Father For Jesse-Ann Roth

A Father For Jesse
Ann Roth
Harlequin American Romance, Jul 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373752706

Emmy Logan arrives at Halo Island in the Pacific Northwest seeking a fresh start for her and her troubled eleven year old son Jesse. She knows Jesse needs a strong male role model especially after the teen street gangs of Oakland tried recruiting him, but also does not want a man in her life.

After raising his twin brothers starting when he was eighteen and they were ten following the deaths of their parents, Mac Struthers is looking forward to no responsibilities for others. Thus he thinks the new neighbor is cute, but she has an angry son that he can do without. Although both detest the attraction between them, neither can ignore it though they try. As they fall in love, each knows a disturbed tweener takes precedent over their feelings.

The key to this fine contemporary island romance is Jesse as his mom wants what is bet for him and though he wants to remains aloof and different, so does Mac who cannot help but care. The lead couple is attracted to one another, but understanding that the troubled tweener comes before their desire. Fans will relish this delightful tale as the well written romance is enhanced by a troubled tweener.

Harriet Klausner

Bachelor CEO-Michele Dunaway

Bachelor CEO
Michele Dunaway
Harlequin American Romance, Jul 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373752690

In Chenille, Iowa, Chase McDaniel is the only one of his siblings who loves working at the family firm, McDaniel Manufacturing. He knows his grandfather will retire soon and expects to be named the next CEO; as he has earned it. Instead his grandfather orders him to take a year long leave of absence to determine whether this is what he wants.

While on his enforced vacation that is more of a prison sentence Miranda Craig of Chicago replaces Chase at the company. He is attracted to her from the moment he saw her bent over with a flat tire, but is also angry with her for taking his indispensable place. When his grandfather becomes ill, Chase returns home to take charge of the company, but Miranda battles with him every step of the way including falling in love.

BACHELOR CEO is an amusing family drama starring a matchmaking grandfather who worries that his “heir” to the business has no life so he decides to make his grandson find one. The romance between the two wannabe CEOs is jocular as they follow the classic path of meet, fight, detest and love. Although neither Chase nor Miranda is very deep beyond the job competition, fans will enjoy their gender war wondering who will be on top in the boardroom and the bedroom.

Harriet Klausner

Atlantis Unmasked-Alyssa Day

Atlantis Unmasked
Alyssa Day
Berkley, Jul 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425223222

In St. Louis at the rebel regional headquarters, a vampire attacks Michelle, the best friend of Diana the Huntress descendent Grace Haviland. Atlantis priest Alaric saves her life, while Grace and Atlantis Seven warrior Alexios rush her to the hospital. Alexios is worried about Grace as vampires killed her brother ten years ago. They kiss, but Alexios flees as he remembers the hellfire that scarred his face and soul.

Some time later rebel squadron leader Grace is swimming off St. Augustine when the Seelie High Court Prince Rhys arrives to ask her to arrange a meeting between him and Atlantis for next week. At the same time in Yellowstone Alexios and his friend Lucas are attacked by shapeshifters and enthralled by vampires. With the help of two other Atlantans, they dispatch the pack. Alexios and his Atlantis mates return home for the birth of the royal heir as human Queen Riley gives birth to Prince Aidan.

Grace learns that Vonos the Primator vampire leader in DC possesses the Vampire’s Bane in his place in Florida. The Atlantans want the gem as part of Poseidon’s Trident so they can raise their island to the surface. Alexios arrives at Grace’s post to train the rookies but is miserable with desire. He tells her how Anubis burned his face when she captured and tortured him for two years and his vow of celibacy to Poseidon. As they fall in love, each knows retrieving the gem and training their soldiers come before their needs.

The latest romance between an Atlantan and a human is enhanced by his vow of celibacy while the over-aching theme of the urban fantasy war remains exciting and the support cast is solid especially with the birth of the heir to the Atlantis throne. Although the climax seems too simple for such a complex tale and series, fans will relish the newest cross breed thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, June 15, 2009

Double Play-Jill Shalvis

Double Play
Jill Shalvis
Berkley, Jul 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425228685

An All Star pitcher for most of his major league career, Pace Martin knows he is nearing the end of playing baseball; his playing through injuries speeds up his retirement. Currently, he has a bad shoulder that requires either extended rest or surgery before it becomes permanently damaged. Still, Pace knows his team Santa Barbara Pacific Heat needs him as their ace while they make a playoff run.

Although she prefers otherwise, reporter Holly Hutchins is assigned to interview Pace and expose team secrets. He has no patience for a journalist while she has no time for an adult playing a kid’s game. However, both are attracted to one another from the first at bat. When the secrets make it into print, his teammates blames Holly, but Pace knows his beloved is highly ethical. The reporter and pitcher plan to expose the leak who obviously is someone inside the clubhouse.

This lighthearted baseball romance is a fun frolic filled with thrilling play that also showcases the extreme pressure on athletes and those who cover the players to perform now; Pace especially understands what was done before quickly becomes yesterday’s news. Fast-paced throughout, fans of sports romance will enjoy going to the ballgame as this tale is a nine inning romp.

Harriet Klausner

Wicked Little Game-Christine Wells

Wicked Little Game
Christine Wells
Berkley, Jul 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780425228487

In 1816 the Marquis of Vane has wanted to make love with the married Lady Sarah for what in his mind has been eternity. However, he conceals his feelings as best he can as honor would not allow anything otherwise.

Sarah’s spouse Brimsley Cole offers Vane a deal he cannot refuse when he pimps his wife; one night with Sarah in exchange for 10,000 pounds. Although he knows he will regret it, Vane says no. However, her husband pulls a stunt that has a frightened Sarah run off to her “champion” for protection. She and Vane enjoy a night of passion. When Sarah's husband is found murdered and Sarah is the only suspect, Vane vows to keep his beloved safe by uncovering who made her a widow.

This is an exciting Regency romantic suspense thriller that takes off from the beginning when Cole pimps his barren wife, takes a wonderful twist (unless you are Cole), but never slows down until the final confrontation. Fast-paced throughout fans will enjoy the ride as Vane and Sarah fall in love while seeking to identify the killer and protecting her ten years old stepson whose late father ignored him leaving the lad unprotected in the slums.

Harriet Klausner

Sapphire Dream-Pamela Montgomerie

Sapphire Dream
Pamela Montgomerie
Berkley, Jul 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425229064

Brenna Cameron is in Castle Stour in Scotland seeking information about her mysterious past. She puts on a sapphire pendant and somehow she ends up on board a pirate ship the Lady Marie off of Scotland in the late seventeenth century. She also finds out she is wanted for piracy when Brenna thinks how as she just arrived in 1687.

Pirate Captain Rourke Douglas wants nothing to do with the strange newcomer though he assumes she is tied to his family prophecy. However, due to her he also loses all he earned at sea. Needing time to regroup, Rourke goes to his family home as Viscount Kinross, but provides protection to Brenna to both their amazement. As they fall in love, Brenna wants to return to her time, but soon finds herself in a Gordian knot of saving her beloved or herself.

This is a fabulous time travel paranormal romance starring an intriguing lead couple. The story line is fast-paced from the onset and never decelerates even with several terrific plausible twists and spins. Readers will enjoy SAPPHIRE DREAM, but set aside time because putting it down before completion is not an option.

Harriet Klausner

Round The Clock-Dara Girard

Round The Clock
Dara Girard
Harlequin Kimani, Jul 2009, $5.99
ISBN: 9780373861224

Anna Marie Williams works as an Information Specialist at the Virginia Department of Health and Human Services. She has two wishes in life: to tell her drama queen martinet boss the “Cobra” to shut up and to spend a night with Desmond Rockwell, her unrequited high school love. Neither will happen though her boss’ tirades impact her minimally as she grew up abused by her parents and most of her foster parents. At night Anna Marie is Malika the exotic dancer at Sin Palace.

During her last performance in Sin Palace, Desmond shows up and is excited about Malika; he wants to meet her outside of the club, but she is wary of the big hurt once he meets shy Anna Marie. The next day lawyer Glenn Thornberg of Thornberg and West calls to inform her of a surprised inheritance. Anna Marie tells her boyfriend Bruno and her boss she is leaving him and her job. Next she is invited to join the Black Stockings Society and her life continues to improve as Desmond makes it clear he wants her.

The fourth Black Stocking Society (see POWER PLAY) contemporary romance is a super tale due Anna Marie, one of the best lead characters of the year. The story line is driven by the heroine who trusts no one including her younger sister Tracie and her inability to tell the truth re Malika for instance may cost her the love of a lifetime. Fans will enjoy this terrific entry as Anna Marie freshens up the latest visit to the Black Stocking Society.

Harriet Klausner

Deeper-Megan Hart

Megan Hart
Harlequin Spice, Jul 2009, $13.95
ISBN: 9780373605323

Bess McNamara Walsh is separated from her husband Andy after almost twenty years of marriage and two sons. She is sad, but goes to the beach house where she spent wonderful summers while attending college.

Bess thinks back to waitressing and her friends back then. Mostly she fantasizes about Nick Hamilton, whom she wanted, but left to marry Andy. She never forgot him and wonders what became of him especially when she walks on the sand; a place where they had the sex of her life. When she meets Nick again, they go back to love making as if they never missed a moment let alone two decades. However, though it is as great as her memories, something is not quite right about Nick. Bess concludes she either must move on from a past love that in the present is only a whisper of what it once was and her present life; the ghostly loving memory of Nick, the alive Andy, or perhaps someone else.

This is an exhilarating whimsical paranormal erotic romance starring a mother of two finding a second chance at love with the one who failed her two decades ago. Although she learns why he failed to come for her as he promised, she goes to him. Fans will appreciate this strong contemporary as Bess must choose between life and death.

Harriet Klausner


Touchstone, Jul 7 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 1416589864

In Philadelphia, Leah Baker lives with hood Kenny Courtland, who runs the local drug trade and various other schemes. She loves Kenny, but does not like the way he is always looking for a scheme to make money. His latest scam involves a car accident to con an insurance company. He arranges to fake a crash with Leah pretending she was the driver while he and another couple are passengers. The cops come and arrest the four because they happened to be staking out the location that Kenny picked and witnessed the event.

The police free Kenny and the other couple after they blame Leah. She realizes her boyfriend left her to take the fall. Detective Daily offers her a deal in which her record will remain clean if she betrays Kenny like he did her. She calls Kenny from jail and tells him the cops want her to be a snitch on Alliance Collision owner Vic. Kenny detests Vic who fired him when he worked for the man, but arranges through the man’s son his homie Nasir who owes a major debt to him to get Leah a job at his dad’s garage. Soon after she is employed, Leah and Nasir begin to fall in love, but an affair could prove as dangerous as being a snitch trying to hang Kenny.

CHASER is a fast-paced street romantic suspense starring a young woman who learns the hard way what matters in life. The cast drives the story line especially the lead triangle though the support players are fully developed too. Fans who relish a different kind of contemporary romance will want to read Leah’s tale of struggling to survive the mean streets of Philadelphia.

Harriet Klausner

Mating Game-Janice Maynard

Mating Game
Janice Maynard
Signet, Jul 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780451227140

Chicago photographer Nola Grainger cannot believe the stipulation in her late grandma’s will; to inherit the Resnick, Georgia estate she must be married in one month and live there six months. Nola has no plans to pull a stunt of saying vows and then divorcing or annulling the nuptials as she believes saying I do should last a lifetime.

Back in her hometown where her grandma raised her after her parents died when she was ten, Nola finds three spousal contenders. Billy was her high school boyfriend who broke her heart. Businessman Marc is her current lover; at least he was until she left Illinois for the deep South. Finally handyman Tanner seems quite a catch. All three are desirable and likable, but only one can go down the aisle with her. However, there is also someone in the shadows who plans to insure Nola remains a spinster for the next four weeks even if it means dangerous accidents must occur.

This is an engaging heated romance whose characters somewhat overcome an overly used plot device. The story line is fast-paced from the opening scene in which the lawyer (out of Mayberry) of Nola’s late grandma explains the stipulations and never slows down as the lead female is coldly and boldly in a three set tennis match. Fans will enjoy Nola’s stable wondering which stud will exchange vows with her.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Love Is A Four-Legged Word-Kandy Shepherd

Love Is A Four-Legged Word
Kandy Shepherd
Berkley, Jul 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425227848

When octogenarian multimillionaire Walter Stoddard died, he left his estate to his beloved soul mate, his dog Brutus. Walter’s lawyer Tom O'Brien is now Brutus’ attorney. Tom is concerned about Brutus’ designated guardian Madeleine Cartwright as he assumes the woman must be a gold-digger who in her twenties took advantage of an old man.

He first meets her with an oven mitt cooking brownies. She becomes suspicious of him when he refuses to sample one. She is either a great actress or clueless that the old guy living above her in Pacific Heights was wealthy; in fact she thought of him as an impoverished grandfather. He further explains the twenty-one day rule. Cynical at first, he begins to believe she is innocent and naïve even as he falls in love with her. She reciprocates, but nether expected a distant relative to arrive claiming the estate starting with Brutus.

This amusing contemporary romance affirms WC Field’s point to never co0sart with animals as in many ways the ugly Brutus steals the show though he needs neutering as she seems to begat a pup a page. The story line is lighthearted fun with first impressions nuked over the three weeks of new rules that Bill Maher would salute and fans will enjoy.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Fade to Black-Leslie Parrish

Fade to Black
Leslie Parrish
Signet, Jul 7 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451227485

FBI Special Agent Dean Taggert leaves the Violent Crimes Unit to join the newly created Cyber Action Team; the mission is to investigate Internet-related murders.

Dean has seen a lot of ugliness when he worked VCU, but nothing in his experience has him prepared for the current web case. The Reaper, a psychopath, hosts Satan's Playground, where this maniac murders victims for his members to see live on the Internet. Shockingly Satan's Playground’s groupies bid on the method of death that the Reaper employs. Clues send Dean to Hope Valley where he hopes to prevent another on line killing with the help of local Sheriff Stacey Rhodes.

The first Black Cats romantic suspense thriller is a terific tale that uses the two lead characters even their attraction to one another to emphasize the gritty cyberspace serial killer theme; mindful of the movie Untraceable. The story line is fast-paced with Dean as the Black Cat agent working the case; he and Stacey are a formidable pair but their opponent is one hell of a villain and his groupies will remind the audience of the Manson family. Leslie Parrish opens her new saga with a great police procedural.

Harriet Klausner

Mystic Warrior-Patricia Rice

Mystic Warrior
Patricia Rice
Signet, Jul 7 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451227478

Four years ago warrior Murdoch Le Droit was banished from her home, the Mystic Isle of Aelynn. Now with the death of the island's leader, the gods announce that Murdoch is their chosen oracle. However, no one knows where Murdoch is.

The spirit guide to healer Lissandra Olympus persuades her to find Murdoch and bring him home and to seek the mysterious missing Chalice of Plenty; both are needed to save the Island. Lissandra locates Murdoch, but is shocked when he rejects her plea to come home as he is needed as the new oracle; which he also scoffs at because the Gods would never select an exiled warrior who has no control over his paranormal skills. He also knows he still desires Lissandra as he did before he was kicked off Aelynn. She also realizes why her spirit guide told her to venture forth as she must heal his spirit in order for him to accept what has been predestined by the gods. Her skills may not be as powerful as her love.

As the “Mystic” saga goes full circle (see MYSTIC GUARDIAN and MYSTIC RIDER), Patricia Rice does so with a great entry. While the mortals are overwhelmed by the French Revolution, the Isle of Aelynn is in deep trouble with the savior being the person exiled several years ago who wants nothing to do with his homeland. Fans will relish this super romantic fantasy as Lissandra learns how to heal Murdoch comes from her heart not her skill.

Harriet Klausner

Best Wishes Always-Lucy Flynn

Best Wishes Always
Lucy Flynn
Signet, Jul 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451227492

The death of her fiancé Ryan left Sparrow's Nest Antiques dealer Larrisa Smith unable to cope with her grief; she even wears two watches with one being his. It takes her quite a while to truly return to society as she has been only going through the motions. A palmist reads her palm and informs Larrie she has an incredibly long life line, but must continue to avoid antiques.

A woman demands Larrie buy her late brother's estate. Larrie is unable to refuse though she prefers not to do so. Among the items is an ancient brass lamp that leaves her dreaming of a genie John Trelawny who grants her three wishes. She wishes to go back in time, which he grants her. Larrie realizes she is not dreaming and feels that John the genie is maneuvering her, but is not sure to what purpose though she hopes her last wish is one he can grant her.

This is a whimsical romantic fantasy starring a woman grieving her loss and a genie grieving his status. The story line is owned by this pair as she quickly realizes she is falling in love with a Machiavellian genie while he finds her love might be the thing to end his “curse”. Time travel, genies, and bereaving heroines make for warm wonderful whimsy.

Harriet Klausner

Breakpoint-JoAnn Ross

JoAnn Ross
Signet, Jul 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451227768

They were adversaries in a military courtroom years ago. However, now former JAG officer Julianne Decatur and ex-Air Force combat controller Dallas O'Halloran work for the government's top secret THOR group. Although on the same side, there remains a bit of antagonism due to her efforts to court-martial some of his brothers in arms. Yet they are also attracted to one another.

They have been assigned to investigate the apparent suicide of a Navy pilot. The pair quickly finds contrary proof affirmed by two other suspicious deaths. Julianne and Dallas begin to wonder if a serial killer or a conspiracy to conceal something is leading to military murders. At the same time each understands the irony of them falling in love with one another as not so long ago they were natural enemies.

The newest High Risk romantic suspense (see SHATTERED and FREE FALL) is an action-packed thriller that never decelerates until the finish. The lead couple makes the tale work. Their changing relationship from antagonists (in a military courtroom) to teammates to lovers provides a deep character driven entry to one of the better high octane sagas on the market today.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Surrender becomes Her-Shirlee Busbee

Surrender becomes Her
Shirlee Busbee
Zebra, Jul 1 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9781420105391

In 1795, Lord Marcus Sherbrook felt he was too young to be guardian of seventeen year old Isabel Dunham. In fact he cannot understand why his father or some other more responsible person was not chosen instead of him. He struggles to make wild Isabel behave, but fails when she elopes with a military officer heading to India for a tour of duty.

A decade later, now a widow with a son, Isabel returns to England. Marcus wants nothing to do with the mature Isabel, but is attracted to her. When he learns someone is trying to blackmail her, Marcus proclaims they are betrothed. He gut reacted, which leaves a stunned Isabel a choice between marriage and scandal. As they fall in love, he suddenly finds himself in an untenable situation between his beloved and his country.

This is a fabulous Regency romance starring a headstrong female and an equally as obstinate male. The suspense is woven into the plot to enhance the relationship war between the lead couple, which leads to more problems and a great late twist leaving Mr. Perfectly Behaved unable to control his impulses when it comes to her, but fins himself needing to face a hellish choice. Their gender battles in 1795 and in 1805 make for a super fun time for sub-genre fans.

Harriet Klausner

Menu for Romance- Kaye Dacus

Menu for Romance
Kaye Dacus
Barbour, Jul 1 2009, $10.97
ISBN: 9781602604551

At the Vul de Ciel in Bonneterre, Louisiana, Meredith Guidry sadly muses that her thirty-fourth New Year’s has arrived and she still has never been kissed. Instead she has been in love with her co-worker Major O’Hara since they met eight years ago, but he shows no signs of reciprocating. Instead her unrequited love has left her with nary a kiss or for that matter a date. This year she vows it will be different as she resolves on New Year’s Day to move past Major and seek male companionship.

Major has loved Meredith since he first met her eight years ago. He wants to ask her out and taste her lips, but fears she will laugh at him; besides he has a family secret that embarrasses him to his bone narrow. Instead he expects to die a lonely old chef. However, when he sees Meredith on her first date, he's jealous and vows to take a chance by telling his beloved how he feels as ridicule would be easier than staying idly on the side.

The latest Brides of Bonneterre (see STAND-IN GROOM) is a fun tale of two shy individuals in love with one another, but neither can take that first courageous step. The story line is much more than described above as each has family issues also to cope with. Kaye Dacus provides her fans with a wonderful culinary romance starring a super strong extended cast but especially two people who once believed love was only a fairy tale.

Harriet Klausner

Meggie’s Remains-Joanne Sundell

Meggie’s Remains
Joanne Sundell
Five Star, Jul 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594147883

In 1874 twenty-five years old Meggie McMurphy flees Boston without a penny to her name, which by the way she tells everyone she is is Rose Rochester. She manages to get to Denver where businessman Ethan Rourke sees her dancing in a nightgown in the snow at night. He thinks she is a nut so he calls her “Nutmeg”.

Meggie obtains work as a teacher at a nearby mountain town Hot Sulphur Springs. She keeps running into Ethan and realizes she loves him, but is unable to have a normal relationship with him due to her life in Boston. To his shock, Ethan falls in love with his Nutmeg, but thinks she loves someone named Edward. However, although he makes little progress breaking through her barriers though he sees the physical signs of abuse on her, Boston arrives in Colorado to finish what was started several years ago.

With the abuse and the Jane Eyre spin, Joann Sundell provides a fresh Reconstruction Era romance starring a woman who prays for a normal life but believes she is so damaged that is impossible. The story line is character driven by Meggie, but enhanced by a strong secondary cast especially Ethan. Although the villain coming from Boston to Colorado to finish what he started seems initially unnecessary as he holds the cards and makes the rules, but Ms. Sundell also insures he comes across as a miscreant with an obsessive compulsive disorder. Fans will root for Nutmeg to emulate her heroine.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, June 8, 2009

In the Garden of Sin-Louisa Burton

In the Garden of Sin
Louisa Burton
Bantam, Jul 14 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780553385311

“The English Courtesan”. 1626 was the year that changed Englishwoman Hannah Leeds. She heard courtesans sponsored by Domenico Vittori lived pampered lives in a castle and she wants that. She meets with him and he introduces her to Mademoiselle Elle. They like what they see in the wannabe mistress especially her beauty, her charm and her intelligence. If Hannah can move past her virginal innocence to sensual seducer, her next stop is the Castle of the Hidden Grotto in France. There she will become courtesan to legends and myths in a place where all sexual fantasy occurs including converting an English virgin into a legendary courtesan for the ages.

“Hunger”. In modern day Greenwich Village, Anton Turek watches from the shadow as Galiana Solsa picks up Oxy at the bar. In the alley he orders her to get on her knees, but the mortal does not understand who he is messing with as she easily brings him to his knees and takes what she wants from him. Anton wants Galiana, but the vampire knows to get his Goddess he must somehow prove her equal. He feeds his hunger for her in the Castle of the Hidden Grotto where seduction often means death for one or both parties; in this case he feels his undead death will be worth the price of having her.

Fans of Louisa Burton’s erotic fantasy saga through the ages will relish the return to the mysterious Castle of the Hidden Grotto (see HOUSE OF DARK DELIGHT and WHISPERS OF THE FLESH) with two delightfully decadent novellas. The two erotic entries share much in common in spite of the several centuries gap between when they occur. Each tale is well written as fans will believe in the sexual escapades of the immortals with mortals. Although newcomers might have some early adaptation issues due to no initial background (a consistent problem), the audience will enjoy another heated spin IN THE GARDEN OF SIN.

Harriet Klausner

Secret Ties-Opal Carew

Secret Ties
Opal Carew
St. Martin's, Jun 23 2009, $13.95
ISBN: 9780312384807

When Max Delaney and Summer Anderson meet they are instantly attracted to one another. He mentors her in his world of BDSM as he is a master dominant and believes she is a dormant submissive. Max proves correct as Summer craves his dominating her.

Until now she hid this side of her nature from the other two males in her life, Shane and Kyle. Summer decides she has graduated and plans to teach the two hunks what Max taught her so that she has three men at one time. However, she also hesitates out of fear that Max will not appreciate sharing her with others and she wants all three outside the bedroom dungeon too.

Not for everyone with BDSM and multiple partnering, SECRET TIES is a well written heated erotic romance starring two protagonists who seem real supported by a strong cast especially in the vast sexual encounters. scenes. Fans will enjoy Summer’s dilemma as Max has given her every fantasy she craves except one. She fears pushing the envelope of three hunks taking her at the same time may drive away any of the trio she loves but especially her teacher.

Harriet Klausner

Real Men Last All Night-Lori Foster, Lora Leigh, Cheyenne McCray and Heidi Betts

Real Men Last All Night
Lori Foster, Lora Leigh, Cheyenne McCray and Heidi Betts
St. Martin's, Jun 23 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312387792

"Luring Lucy” by Lori Foster. Four years ago her husband died. Now Lucy decides to have a brief fling, but was unprepared for her late spouse’s best friend Bram to make a move on the widow he loves.

“Cooper’s Fall” by Lora Leigh. Bar owner Ethan stares out his window unable to move though he calls himself a pervert for looking and lusting at his naked neighbor prim Sarah; he plans to be the perfect neighbor.

“The Edge of Sin” by Cheyenne McCray. Government agent Zane never allows anyone close to him because he knows how dangerous his job is. That is no one until he meets Willow in the park.

“Wanted: A Real Man’ by Heidi Betts. A decade ago Claire left her hometown and her high school boyfriend Linc behind. With her daughter Sara abducted by Claire’s soon to be ex husband Jonathan, she turns to Linc, a US Marshal, who has learned he has a stake in rescuing the child he never knew he sired.

These four exciting contemporaries not only prove REAL MEN LAST ALL NIGHT every night, they affirm real women do too.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sage Cane's House of Grace & Favor-Christy Hubbard

Sage Cane's House of Grace & Favor
Christy Hubbard
Five Star, Jul 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594147739

In 1859, her father’s death left Sage Cane broke, but soon afterward her fiancé Rodney Witherspoon jilts her. With no reason to stay in Missouri, she heads to Fairplay Creek, Colorado where she inherited a B&B from her Aunty Hannah Wild. When she reaches the gold mountainous town, Sage learns that her inheritance is actually Wild Mountain Honey bordello and her Aunt Hannah make that Honey was a madam. Sage plans to shut the place down, but single dad widower Sheriff Bridger Norwood explains that the bordello keeps the miners off the street.

However, though she agrees to keep it open for now, Sag begins setting in motion her plans to make sure the cook, the bookkeeper, the six ladies and her are economically independent and never rely on a man. She also begins to change the town’s attitude with her new charm school to teach wives and female minors how to keep their men home. As the sheriff and the shrewd businesswoman fall in love, more changes caused by Sage are coming to Fairplay Creek.

Although everything works too perfectly with one noted exception, the killing of one of the ladies, fans will enjoy this fine western romance. The story line is fast-paced as capable Cane sets in motion her multitude of schemes to better herself, her employees, and the town. Even though the divided country on the verge of hostilities is not referenced, SAGE CANE’S HOUSE OF GRACE & FAVOR is an inspiring well written historical novel as the audience will admire the strong independent heroine.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, June 5, 2009

Sand, Sun ... Seduction!-Stephanie Bond, Leslie Kelly and Lori Wilde

Sand, Sun ... Seduction!
Stephanie Bond, Leslie Kelly and Lori Wilde
Harlequin, Jul 2009, $5.99
ISBN: 9780373837342

"Enticed" by Stephanie Bond. Atlanta attorneys Kimber Karlton and Gil Trapp are leaving for a vacation together in the Maldives, but nothing goes right except for her meeting pilot Finn Meyers.

"Propositioned" by Leslie Kelly. In St. Lucia, Trinity’s Surfside bartender Liz Talbot is unhappy to see her former husband’s boss Jack Beaumont in town. She has always wanted him, but never acted on her feelings. He admits he feels the same way. , However, though she wants a tryst she distrusts him associating him with her sleaze of an ex.

"Fevered" by Lori Wilde. Fleeing his latest scandal, engineer Armando Cutler runs off to Costa Rica to escape from the media especially the tabloids. Reporter Macy Gatwick follows him in search of a story. Neither the journalist nor the engineer expected an attraction that leaves both shook to the core.

With three great exotic locations, these enjoyable contemporary romances are fun in the sand and sun while filled with warm seduction.

Harriet Klausner

My Wicked Marquess-Gaelen Foley

My Wicked Marquess
Gaelen Foley
Avon, Jun 30 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061733956

In 1815, following his Grand Tour, Lord Max St. Albans needs to pick a wife. His solicitor gives him a list of five eligible ladies with four meeting his stipulation of no scandal as he tries to improve the family name. The fifth Daphne Starling excites him because she jilted his childhood enemy Albert Carew, who has spread scandalous gossip about her. Max follows Daphne into the dangerous Rookery where she visits an orphanage. When some locals accost her, Max coming out of a hooker’s joint acts like a drunk to divert them. She reluctantly leaves but stops to inform the constable. Max beats up the thugs.

Max knows Daphne will not do as his wife; as his image as a member of the decadent Inferno Club makes him need a respectable miss. However, he liked her grit and her caring about others. He needs to patch things up with her because she believes he was whoring when he was just observing her activity. At the ball, Daphne stops dancing with her friend Jono White when she notices Max staring at her. He knows she is the one for him when Albert and his odious brothers assault her. Max intercedes and warns Albert to stop the gossip.

Max’s mentor Virgil informs him two of his Inferno Club Order comrades made it back after defeating their enemies the Prometheus Club, who backed Napoleon; but millions were lost at the stock markets and one team led by Drake was killed in Bavaria. He tells his friends he will marry Daphne, but has his work cut out to balance his undercover role with his pursuit of her.

The romance between the lead couple is exciting as the readers ironically know his secret while his wife does not. Although no overarching prime subplot is resolved, Regency fans will enjoy the current battle between the Inferno Club vs. the Prometheans in a centuries-old war; which also establishes future novels.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Instant Gratification-Jill Shalvis

Instant Gratification
Jill Shalvis
Kensington Brava, Jul 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758231253

Following the heart attack of her dad, Dr. Emma Sinclair leaves her work at a New York City hospital emergency room to run her dad’s clinic in her hometown of Wishful, California while he recovers. However, she misses her work so though she provides expert care even to felines, she keeps herself somewhat aloof from the patients.

Due to his work at Wilder Adventures and as a rescue worker, Stone Wilder has suffered plenty of injuries over the years. He is regular of the clinic and likes Doc Stone’s bed manners, but appreciates the workaholic daughter wanting her in bed with him. She seems interested too yet keeps them apart with a cold scorning demeanor. Still neither can resist the attraction that leads to INSTANT GRATIFICATION. However, he wants several more decades while she is ready to flee back to her exciting medical yet also sterile personal life in New York.

The second Wilder Adventures contemporary romance (see INSTANT ATTRACTION) is an amusing gender war as he is West Coast and she is East Coast. Emma is a terrific protagonist who wants to return to the Big Apple but though she detests the inane Stone, she also wants a tryst on the surgical table with him. Stone enjoys teasing the prim doctor and wants on her table too, but figured he will take her into the great outdoors first. Fans will enjoy the fun lighthearted frolic between opposites attracted and detracted.
Harriet Klausner

The Redemption of Micah-Beth Williamson

The Redemption of Micah
Beth Williamson
Kensington Brava, Jul 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758234711

In Plum Creek, Colorado Micah Spaulding has cared for his comatose wife Eppie since her injury three years ago; praying she will return to him. However he is unprepared for her reaction when she finally awakens. She does not recognize their home, obviously their child Miracle who was born after she went into a coma or even Micah although her body seems somehow to know who he is.

Eppie tries her best to be a mom to Miracle, but the child knows instinctively all is not right. When someone kidnaps Miracle, Eppie vows to rescue her daughter. She also pledges to herself to be the best wife and mother ever even if she is starting over with her beloved family.

The return to Reconstruction Era Plum Creek (see THE EDUCATION OF MADELINE) is an exciting historical romance starring two strong but flawed lead characters and a strong support cast. Beth Williamson refreshes the overused amnesia spin by having Eppie pregnant when she was comatose so that she sees her infant for the first time when aptly named Miracle was three. Fans will enjoy this entertaining profound historical tale in which a Miracle is the only hope for this family to come together.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, June 1, 2009

Loving a Lost Lord-Mary Jo Putney

Loving a Lost Lord
Mary Jo Putney
Zebra, Jul 2009, $6.99
ISBN 9781420103281

In 1812 in Cumberland in Northwest England, Mariah Clarke inherits Hartley Manor from her late father. The previous owner, before her father that is, George Burke is outraged over the loss of his home as he believes Mariah's father won his estate by cheating at cards. He wants it back and decides to bully Mariah into marriage. She tells him she is married and husband will join her soon.

She finds a God-send when she rescues a stranger from the sea. He has no idea who he is as he suffers from amnesia. She convinces him that he is her spouse Adam. However, as he struggles with his memory, Adam and Mariah fall in love. When she learns he is the Duke of Ashton she knows she must give her beloved the facts as he must choose; however she fears he will select anything but the duplicitous woman who deceived him.

The opening act of the Lost Lords is a terrific Regency romance that showcases how talented Mary Jo Putney is when she turns the overused amnesia ploy into a super historical due to a great cast starring in a strong story line. The tale is fast-paced from the moment Mariah tours her new manor and never slows down as two men enter her life with one threatening to harm her body and the other her heart and soul.

Harriet Klausner

The Moon Looked Down-Dorothy Garlock

The Moon Looked Down
Dorothy Garlock
Grand Central, Jul 2009, $19.99
ISBN 9780446577946

The Heller family fled Germany for America. They settled in Victory, Illinois where they were welcomed by their new American neighbors.

A decade later, the neighbors some of whom befriended the family a decade ago when they moved here and remained friends throughout suddenly think they are German sympathizers. Angry over the growing threat to her family, twenty years old Sophie Heller wants it to end, but cannot figure out how to do so as vigilantes harass her and her loved ones because of their German heritage. A train wreck occurs nearby leading to many neighbors suspecting the Heller brood as Nazi saboteurs. When Sophie meets schoolteacher Cole Ambrose they are attracted to one another. He understands hatred as he has received his share for not serving though his leg kept him out of the military. Now the locals have a new cause, keeping the couple apart.

This is a warm WWII on the home-front romance starring two likable lead characters. The support cast especially the anti-German antagonists are super with what today would be hate crimes; they make the tale fun to read. Although the psychological impact on the Heller family and the mob mentality of much of the townsfolk towards German immigrants they have known for years is shallowly explored leaving THE MOON LOOKED DOWN as a gripping historical worth reading that could have been a classic.

Harriet Klausner

Montana Rose-Mary Connealy

Montana Rose
Mary Connealy
Barbour, Jul 2009, $10.97
ISBN 9781602601420

In 1875 in the Montana Territory, Cassie Griffin's abusive husband dies. She has no time to rejoice or grieve her loss as the same day she has her odious spouse interred, she must pick his replacement as that is the law with a shortage of marriageable females. Cassie selects Red Dawson, who, as a Good Samaritan, offers to marry her to keep her safe from a stalker. Neither wants to wed, but do.

They exchange their vows and immediately go to his ranch to live. Cassie quickly realizes how unsophisticated she is when it comes to relationships with people, especially men and even with God. Red quickly understands that his frightened little mouse of a wife is an abuse victim. As they fall in love, he wonders if she will ever trust him.

The first Montana Marriages Americana romance is a strong tale that focuses on the impact of spousal abuse even after the abuser is dead. Cassie is a super soul struggling between her growing attraction and love to her second husband and her fear of being touched. Red is a kindhearted person who marries Cassie to keep her safe not expecting to fall in love with “the mouse that roared”. Although perhaps a bit simplistic, Mary Connealy provides a wonderful Reconstruction Era inspirational as love heals all wounds.

Harriet Klausner