Monday, August 31, 2009

The Baby Album-Roz Denny Fox

The Baby Album
Roz Denny Fox
Harlequin SuperRomance, Sep 2009, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373715862

In Round Rock, Texas her husband Dane abandons pregnant photographer Casey Sinclair. She needs work so she applies at Wyatt Keene's photography studio in Austin, but conceals her delicate condition as she assumes no one wants to hire someone who will go on maternity leave in a few months. He tests her at a school and she does a great job so he hires her.

She soon learns that Wyatt's wife died a year earlier due to an ectopic pregnancy. Finding this out makes Casey feels guilty as she will soon reveal the truth and probably be sacked for concealing it. As they fall in love, Casey notices how Wyatt is hesitant even before he finds out she is carrying.

This is a super second chance at love starring two individuals with differing personal issues from their previous relationships. Casey still reels from abandonment while Wyatt grieves his loss. Each is tentative about their attraction for good reason as she fears her heart would break if she takes a chance and he leaves while he unsure he can ever deal with a pregnancy. Roz Denny Fox provides readers a wonderful contemporary romance.

Harriet Klausner

Here To Stay-Margot Early

Here To Stay
Margot Early
Harlequin SuperRomance, Sep 2009, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373715893

Dog trainer Sissy Workman loves her husband Elijah but hid one truth from him for years out of fear he will leave. Their first born is not his. Sissy jilted someone else before marrying Elijah, but learned she was pregnant after they wed.

Now he knows he did not sire their oldest when the child needed a transfusion and his blood type is unacceptable. He is outraged for several reasons including the omission she kept from him and he wonders what else she concealed. As their anniversary comes up, Sissy fears her failure will end their happy family as Elijah increasingly acts distant.

Using reverse engineering, Margot Early tells the back story of the relationship between Sissy and Elijah and to a lesser degree their children. Thus the story line is character driven as Elijah struggles with what he believes is a betrayal of their trust while he and his spouse look back over their time together. Although the technique adds freshness, the use slows down the present day plot of vying for the Westminster Dog Show or fleeing to lick his wounds.

Harriet Klausner

Finding Their Son-Debra Salonen

Finding Their Son
Debra Salonen
Harlequin SuperRomance, Sep 2009, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373715886

His Lakota uncle sent Eli Robideaux to go out and find himself by completing Hanblecheyapi. Instead he arrives at Char Jones' Native American shop without a penny to his name. Desperate, he tries to rob her so he can go home, but fails at the attempt when she recognizes him as her high school boyfriend.

When Eli learns he left Char pregnant, he feels chagrin and remorse. He wants to find the child she gave up for adoption and persuades Char to accompany him on the search for their son. On the trek to California, they fall in love, but she fears he will desert her again.

This fine second chance contemporary romance stars a suspicious Entrepreneur and a young man struggling with his identity. Eli and Char are a terrific pairing whose quest is FINDING THEIR SON. Although the ending is too perfect even for the sub-genre, fans will enjoy the trek with this likable duo as guides.

Harriet Klausner

Cowboy Christmas-Mary Connealy

Cowboy Christmas
Mary Connealy
Barbour, Sep 2009, $10.97
ISBN: 9781602601451

In 1879 in a mining camp in Missouri, Claude Leveque orders hymn singer Annette Talbot to perform in a revealing dress or watch her elderly friend Elva die. Fearing the brute will beat Elva, Annie is shocked when her pianist gives her money for a one way ticket out of town saying she is dying from a bad heart. Vowing to never forget her beloved friend, Annie heads to her widower father’s home in Ranger Bluff, Wyoming Territory; six years since she left him a bitter hardened man.

Elijah Walker still reels from the death of his Pa and the betrayal of his beloved Priscilla that destroyed the family ranch. He vows to never trust a woman ever again.

Annie and Elijah meet on the stagecoach and each remembers knowing each other as children. Although attracted to one another, he assumes a young woman traveling alone must be another Priscilla. She thinks he is an obstinate yahoo. As they fuss and fight they fall in love, but he seems incapable of getting past the haunting hardening of his heart.

COWBOY CHRISTMAS is a terrific western romance that grips the audience from the moment the vile Claude grips Annie’s blouse and unlike him never let’s go of the reader. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing, but it is the strong cast even those who have short appearances make this tale work by bringing a sense of time and place to the plot. Sub-genre fans will relish Mary Connealy’s super late nineteenth century romance (see MONTANA ROSE).

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Her Inheritance Forever-Lynn Cote

Her Inheritance Forever
Lynn Cote
Avon, Aug 2009, $12.99
ISBN: 9780061373435

In 1836 someone hired a rogue Comanche to abduct Alandra Sandoval. Her guardian Quinn and a ranch hand Scully Falconer rescue her. Quinn, his wife Dorritt and Alandra believes whoever was behind the kidnapping covets her ranch that she will soon run.

However, upon returning to her spread, she also finds her paternal family who were not there for her when her brother died wants the rancho. As rebellion is in the air leaving it undecided whether Mexican or Tejano law will rule in Texas, Alandra and Scully agree to a marriage of convenience to protect her interests in whatever court has jurisprudence. Scully is half way in love with Alandra, but she is a Creole lady and he is nothing with a nightmare that haunts him. However, as he accompanies Quinn to learn what happened at the Alamo, she is snatched again. This time Scully plans to rescue his beloved wife and persuade her he loves her and wants her forever.

The latest Texas Stars of Destiny historical romance leaves the Era of Good Feelings (see DESIRES OF THE HEART for the story of Quinn and Dorritt) for the uncertain Texas War of Independence period. Fans will feel the anxiety and uncertainty as communication is relatively poor; for instance no one knows what happened at the Alamo. Alandra and Scully are full developed characters who fans will root for while her guardians are going into middle age gracefully and still in love. However, her Mexican family is stereotyped one dimensional avarice thugs. Still fans will enjoy the inspirational adventures of Scully and Alandra as they fall in love while setting some sort of record for kidnappings and rescues.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Love Finds You in Poetry, Texas-Janice Hanna

Love Finds You in Poetry, Texas
Janice Hanna
Summerside, Aug 2009, $12.99
ISBN: 9781935416166

In 1904 Poetry, Texas has several German immigrant bachelors who are of marrying age. Seeing an opportunity, Belinda Bauer becomes a marriage broker. She works the personal ads across the country seeking perfect matches for all the eligible men in town.

Belinda proves quite good at matching up men with their ideal women and visa versa. However, she soon realizes she made one mistake when she found the perfect match several times for her best friend barber Georg Kaufman. Belinda wants to be his perfect match as she now realizes she loves her best friend forever.

The romance between Georg and Belinda is deftly handled so that it seems as if the matchmaker is unaware that her BFF is doing his own subtle matching without hurting the pretenders. The story is a lighthearted historical frolic that brings vividly to life the German immigrant wave of the beginning of the previous century in which advertising for wives was done in newspaper personal ads. With a nod to Hello Dolly except in Texas, fans will enjoy a trek back to the early twentieth century in aptly named Poetry, Texas as Belinda writes poems to find a match.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Lucky One-Nicholas Sparks

The Lucky One
Nicholas Sparks
Grand Central, Aug 2009, $13.99
ISBN: 9780446698344

While deployed to Iraq U.S. Marine Logan Thibault finds the picture of a woman with a dog half buried in dirt. Although he is unsure why he feels she is his lucky charm he keeps the picture, carrying it wherever he goes as he survives his third tour of combat. He believes she saved his life. He vows to find “E” once he returns to Colorado.

Back in America, Logan begins his hunt to find his lucky charm in person. In North Carolina, he has a nasty encounter with Sheriff Keith Clayton; but the former marine steals the law enforcement official’s camera loaded with shots of underage girls. Soon afterward he succeeds in his quest when he meets “E”, divorced mom Elizabeth Greene, whom he believes is the reason he is alive. Logan learns she is Clayton’s ex so he hides from her the picture and his assertion of destiny as his brother in arms Victor insisted and encouraged his hunt. Instead he obtains work at the dog training facility of her ailing grandmother and begins to date Elizabeth. Already in love with his image of her, he also falls in love with the real person; she reciprocates. However, he begins to believe he owes her the truth of how she saved his life in Iraq.

THE LUCKY ONE is an engaging contemporary romance starring a nice single mom, her mean spirited former spouse and the vet who feels she is the destiny that kept him alive. The story line is character driven from the moment Logan finds the discarded photo that he believes is his lucky charm. Although the plot is thin especially after a strong first half and the climax too convenient fans of Nicholas Sparks will enjoy his latest love story.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Can’t Stand the Heat-Louisa Edwards

Can’t Stand the Heat
Louisa Edwards
St. Martin’s Sep 1 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780312356491

In New York City, rejected wannabe author and food critic Miranda Wake attends the pre opening gala hosted by Adam “Chef” Temple to announce his new restaurant the Market. Too many aperitifs cocktails later, Miranda makes a public challenge that Adam reluctantly has to accept or his restaurant dies before it opens. She gets to write about what happens behind the scenes at a trendy new restaurant by being there for one month. Adam who distrusts women after Eleanor Bonning dumped him, but still treats Miranda like a shorter smaller imitation of Julia Child.

Meanwhile Miranda's brother Jess leaves Brandewyne College in Ohio to accept a job at Market in spite of the disappointment of his sister who was proud of his full scholarship. Although she wants to know why he quit, she finds herself distracted by her attraction to the Chef; he likewise begins making recipes in which his muse is the unpublished author. However, someone leaks insider information to the media with Miranda the mole the most likely suspect.

This is a lighthearted culinary romance as the Chef and the author blend love and recipes into a fun romp. The support cast is solid as her brother, the staff and other partners either enhance the lead couple relationship or bring out the goings-on at the restaurant. Although CAN'T STAND THE HEAT follows the sub-genre recipe, fans will enjoy the pizzazz flavors that Louisa Edwards brings to her warm tale.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sliding Home-Kate Angell

Sliding Home
Kate Angell
Love Spell, Sep 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780505528087

Richmond Rogues starting left fielder Kason Rhodes arrives home following spring training. However, he is in for a rude awakening upon opening the door to his mobile home. Dayne Sheridan lives there claiming squatter’s rights as he obviously abandoned his abode.

He wants her out as the only companion he needs is Cimarron his dog. Dayne, who had sworn off men after a recent betrayal, keeps bribing him with food. However, she feels he is an unemployed squatter like her instead of the owner and a baseball star. As they fall in love, he fears he will strike out when she learns the truth as to who he is. He believess his Dayne will intentionally walk out on him.

The latest Rogues baseball romance continues the saga of a team apparently filled with bachelors enjoying the single life in Richmond finding true love (see STRIKE ZONE, CURVEBALL and SQUEEZE PLAY). The story line is faster than Ichiro Suzuki can run to first base or Ricky Henderson stealing a base; yet the characters including hot dog Cimarron are fully developed. Although similar in tone as a one pitch tale, SLIDING HOME is an engaging fast splitter sports romance as another Rogue falls in love.

Harriet Klausner

To Tempt A Knight-

To Tempt A Knight
Gerri Russell
Leisure, Sep 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780843962598

In 1331 Templar Sir William Keith escaped the Papal-French monarch betrayal that killed most of his compatriots. He manages to return to Scotland seeking the home of Sir John Fraser; in spite of the danger he vows loyalty to no one except the Lord.

William plans to find a treasured holy artifact the Spear of Destiny to keep safe. Instead of reaching fellow templar Sir John, who was guarding the relic, he finds the man’s concerned daughter Lady Siobhan with the Spear missing and her dad abducted. William widens his pledge to keep Siobhan safe as even family members of a Templar are fair game by La Roche and his murderous band. Together, Siobhan and William also search for the holy Spear and her father while falling in love. However, his oath to God includes a celibacy promise as for instance her father understands having pledged Templar celibacy just before learning he sired an offspring.

This is a profound historical romance that looks deeply at the templar lifestyle just after the betrayal wiped out much of the order. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the lead couple hooks up and never slows as William feels like he has three (his natural hardened sword) and often four (his metallic sword) legs throughout much of the plot. Fans of Templar survival romantic suspense will enjoy TO TEMPT A KNIGHT as the hero’s biggest problem is his attraction for the woman he has vowed to keep safe.

Harriet Klausner

Savage Dawn-Cassie Edwards

Savage Dawn
Cassie Edwards
Leisure, Sep 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780843958805

In 1850 for the safety of his Owl Clan tribe Chief Eagle Wolf leaves to die alone as he believes he suffers from the highly contagious white man’s revenge smallpox. At the same time he leaves his people, Nicole Tyler travels from St. Louis to Tyler City, Utah where her parents live in hopes of using her recently earned teaching certificate.

Instead of being greeted in euphoric welcome home by her parents, Nicole arrives to a gruesome site; every one of the townsfolk has been murdered and the psychopath Sam Partain stalks her as he holds a grudge against her for rejecting his advances; besides he logically knows no witness can be left alive to blame a white man as the rumors throughout Utah are an Indian massacre occurred. Nicole escapes racing alone up the nearby mountains with a killer in pursuit. She runs into a feverish Indian whom she nurses back to health from measles. Eagle Wolf and Nicole fall in love as they flee an obstinate predator.

This is an exciting well written, but typical Savage historical romance starring two likable but totally diverse lifestyle lead players. The key stars are out of Cassie Edwards casting 101 with a noble male Indian, a tolerant white woman, and a crazed white male. Although the story line has been used a seemingly quadrillion times by Ms. Edwards, her fans will relish Nicole’s efforts to adapt to an increasingly outraged tribe trying to survive the white tsunami.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Spirited Brides-Amanda McCabe

Spirited Brides
Amanda McCabe
Signet, Sep 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 978-0451227836

“One Touch of Magic”. Former British military officer Miles Rutledge plans to help veterans by using his uncle’s vast estate that he will inherit. Last year, Sarah Iverson and her late archeologist spouse were working a dig of an eight century old Viking village on Miles' land that she wants to complete to honor her deceased husband. She is attracted to Miles and visa versa from first sight, but he has a different vision for his property than she has.

“A Loving Spirit”. With the deaths of her parents, Cassandra "Cassie" Richards accompanied by her friend Antoinette Duvall comes home. The BFFs and Cassie's "Aunt Chat" head to Royce Castle to stay with the Dowager Melinda Leighton and her son Phillip, an earl. Cassie and Antoinette relish that the five-century old Cornwall castle has ghosts. Cassie and logical Phillip are attracted to one another though they cannot find any common ground beyond their desire.

These are two delightful reprints from 2003 of fun Regency paranormal romances starring a likable cast of characters including the ghosts that haunt each novel. Perhaps the only major negative is whether secondary characters especially sisters and best friends had their tales told in other historicals.

Harriet Klausner

To Wed A Wicked Earl-Olivia Parker

To Wed A Wicked Earl
Olivia Parker
Avon, Sep 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061712784

In 1813 Adam Faraday has been a rake forever. Now he needs a bride or he must face the wrath of his dowager grandmother, who will cut off his funds and part of his anatomy. Surprisingly to everyone who assumes him to be a womanizer, he wants one woman, shy Lady Charlotte Greene. He has loved for years though he has hidden his feelings from everyone especially her because she would never settle for a rogue like him.

Charlotte decides she wants Lord Tristan as her husband, but “men never make passes at girls who wear glasses” (Dorothy Parker – the perfect surname). Instead, the wallflower climbs into Adam’s bedroom to enlist her best friend’s help in her husband campaign though he is the one she truly desires. He agrees to pretend to desire her to make Tristan jealous. Adam asks her to help him survive his grandma by pretending to be his intended wife though he intends to make it happen for real; she also wants him to make it happen for real.

The latest AT THE BRIDE HUNT BALL Regency romance is a fun tale as Charlotte comes out of her web seeking a husband in a comedy of errors as she and Adam hide their feelings behind a not so subtle pretence. The story line is fast-paced from the onset as the lead couple sham a relationship that everyone buys into as they have the look of love is in their eyes. Fans will enjoy returning to the Bride Hunt Ball for the entertaining second card.

Harriet Klausner

Seduced By His Touch-Tracy Anne Warren

Seduced By His Touch
Tracy Anne Warren
Avon, Sep 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061673412

In 1809 London, Black Jack Byron is in shell shock when he lost a bet with a turn of a card. To pay off his debt he must marry the daughter of a merchant Grace Danvers. He feels sick but knows he either courts and wins the spinster or go to debtor's prison.

Grace Danvers enjoys her solitude as she no longer believes in love. Her only enjoyment comes from painting. That changes when she meets charming dynamo Jack who must convince her that he loves her. Adding to his stress is a rival, but Jack wins the day. However, soon after they marry, Grace realizes Jack does not love her as his courtship was a sham to pay off his debt to her father. However, Jack has fallen in love with Grace, but must convince her by regaining the trust he cavalierly tossed away.

The latest Byron Regency romance (see TEMPTED BY HIS KISS) is an engaging marriage of convenience tale that reminds this reviewer of the movie 10 Things I Hate About You though a different time and setting. The readers will enjoy the gender war as Jack learns seducing a woman into your bed is easy, keeping her in your life takes work; and he has no guitar to bribe her with.

Harriet Klausner

How To Dazzle A Duke-Claudia Dain

How To Dazzle A Duke
Claudia Dain
Berkley, Sep 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 978-0425229682

In 1802 London, logical Lady Penelope Prestwick has decided nothing less than a duke will do for her. She has even selected her future husband though Lord Edenham is ignorant of that fact. However, the perceptive Penelope needs a super mentor if she is to succeed on her quest; she asks the incredible matchmaker and former courtesan Sophia Dalby to assist her.

Penelope’s plan, based on Sophia’s insider tips to the workings of the minds of men whose quality is below the waist, is to persuade Lord Iveston to fake a courtship in order to make her duke jealous. Her scheme works perfectly except for one minor problem; Iveston has his own scheme and his kisses seem to be making his execution supersede hers.

This is an intriguing Regency romance starring an interesting heroine whose plot works faultlessly except for one small problem; she falls in love with a Marquess. The story line is slowed down a bit by a seemingly cast out of a Cecil B. DeMille epic. However fans of the courtesan saga (see THE COURTESAN’S SECRET, THE COURTESAN’S WAGER and THE COURTESAN’S DAUGHTER) will relish the amusing antics of many of the returnees in support roles as brainy Penelope learns the perils of the heart.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Fascinated-Bertrice Small, Susan Johnson, Thea Devine, Robin Schone

Bertrice Small, Susan Johnson, Thea Devine, Robin Schone
Kensington Brava, Sep 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758246288

“Mastering Lady Lucinda” by Bertrice Small. In 1750 Widow Lucinda rejects her sibling the Bishop’s order to remarry. He arranges for her to be taught discipline by a master of the Devil's Disciples, but Lucinda cuts a deal to insure her brother meets his master while she seduces the club members into wanting more of her lusciousness.

“Risking It All” by Susan Johnson. In 1896 in Monte Carlo, a desperate Felicia risks all at the tables with the aid of Lord Grafton who offers her a few more nights with him.

“The Pleasure Game” by Thea Devine. In 1812 Regina decides to learn how to attract and keep a man; her friend Jeremy plans to be her permanent mentor.

“A Man And A Woman” by Robin Schone. Widow Megan wants intimacy in her relationships. Muhamed learned to make love in a harem, but not the pleasure of making love.
Neither expected much more than a tryst, but passion ignites between them.

These are four terrific erotic romances starring strong lead characters, especially the women in fascinating situations (not just sexual ones).

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Sweet Spot-Kimberly Kaye Terry

The Sweet Spot
Kimberly Kaye Terry
Kensington Aphrodisia, Sep 2009, $12.95
ISBN: 9780758228765

In Texas, Gabrielle Marlowe loves being a pharmacist, especially working at the community clinic. However, her personal life is ugly when she caught her drug dealing boyfriend Adam with Marissa. She leaves in anger and in pursuit of the best sex ever.

Gaby meets Sweet, owner of The Sweet Spot nightclub. She ends up in his loft unaware that he is an undercover FBI agent investigating Gaby and Adam. The trysts are the best either ever has ever had. Sweet also knows beyond a shadow of a doubt she is innocent except for her choices in men including a lying skunk like he believes he is because he does not accept his rationalization that it is his job. Instead Sweet concludes he owes his sweetheart nothing but the truth, but fears she will kick him to the curb even though they are living in his place.

THE SWEET SPOT is an exciting erotic FBI investigative thriller starring a confident hero who reminds the doubting lead female of a marine as he seems always ready for sex and felons. The under the covers (and elsewhere) romance supersedes the suspense, but sub-genre fans will not care as everyone will root for Gaby seeking the best sex ever turns tricks on THE SWEET (and salty) SPOT.

Harriet Klausner

Romancing The Pirate-Michelle Beattie

Romancing The Pirate
Michelle Beattie
Berkley, Sep 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425230855

In 1657 when her father died in Port Royal, Alicia Davidson learns the truth about who she really is; at least her roots. Apparently a victim of amnesia, she is not the biological daughter of the blacksmith who raised her. She also learns the scar on her face came when she was a little girl who survived a pirate attack at sea. Finally Alicia finds out she has a sister living in the Caribbean.

Although she remembers none of this, Alicia has a deep need to meet her sibling Samantha (see WHAT A PIRATE DESIRES). She begs Captain Blake Merritt to take her on his ship heading to the Caribbean, but he refuses. He loathes any Davidson having left that household in disdain years ago vowing never to return. To his chagrin, what he thought was the end of the story is only the beginning as Alicia sneaks onto his ship. When he discovers the stowaway, Blake realizes he must get her on dry land soonest as he is attracted to the adopted daughter of a man he loathes. Still crossing the Atlantic proves his undoing as he falls in love with his unwanted guest and to her shock she reciprocates. However, his loathing of her family and a betrayal leave the captain and the stowaway with seemingly no future together on land or at sea.

The story line is a fast-paced historical romance that brings to life the seventeenth century Caribbean Islands like Jamaica and St. Kitts. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing of two obstinate opposites who find love at sea. Fans will enjoy cruising the Caribbean with Michelle Beattie as the guide. ROMANCING THE PIRATE is an enjoyable and exciting tale.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pieces of Happily Ever After-Irene Zutell

Pieces of Happily Ever After
Irene Zutell
St, Martin’s Griffin, Sep 1 2009, $13.99
ISBN: 9780312540098

Entertainment lawyer Alex Hirsh accompanied by his wife Alice and their daughter five year old Gabby, relocate from New York to the San Fernando Valley. Alex lands a high maintenance client box-office queen Rose Maris. However, he also begins to change going to a gym to work out helped by a trainer and turning to Armani.

Soon he begins to work late hours becomes a tabloid favorite for his late nights with Rose Maris. Being a native New Yorker, Alice, once her tear ducts go desert dry, is not one to back down from a confrontation even in wonderland. However, she starts wondering if she wants Alex, who now goes by the name Xander back, as two eccentric female neighbors encourage her to after two hunks she finds interesting.

PIECES OF HAPPILY EVER AFTER is a well written drama that is saved from the stereotype cabinet by Alice who’s refreshing with her New York shtick of disparaging (must have been a Brooklyn Dodger fan in a past life) of everything SO CAL. She and her new BFFs (the profanity queen and the retired porn star) bring humorous withering condemnations of Southern California especially men who think with their lower head like Xander. Yet surprisingly the strength of the novel rests with the mother and daughter relationship as Irene Zutell provides a strong family tale.

Harriet Klausner

Pleasure and Purpose-Megan Hart

Pleasure and Purpose
Megan Hart
Berkley, Sep 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425229699

“Stillness". The Handmaidens of the Order of Solace send Stillness to provide comfort to Edward who is overcome by guilt and remorse for what he did to friends and family. She realizes what a handmaiden provides normally will not be enough to fulfill his need; to do that she must show him that even he can receive love, but for her to offer her love means leaving the Order and its five guiding principles.

"Honesty". The handmaiden knows it is time to move on from the Order she has served in for years. She agrees to take on one last needy client. Spoiled Prince Cillian expects everyone to obey his commands though he insists he wants what Edward has, but Honesty plans to show him that love is greater than obedience.

“Determinata". Alaric has become an uncaring person even failing to care for himself as he turns to drugs and sex to hide his pain. His friends Edward and Cillian are worried about him. Dominant Handmaiden Determinata is sent to mend his broken heart and end his depression by dominating this submissive

These three enjoyable erotic romances are entertaining Order of Solace tales, but as one expects from Megan Hart also contain strong characters and intriguing somewhat interrelated plots DEEPER than what one would expect of sub-genre novellas.

Harriet Klausner

Pleasure and Purpose-Megan Hart

Pleasure and Purpose
Megan Hart
Berkley, Sep 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425229699

“Stillness". The Handmaidens of the Order of Solace send Stillness to provide comfort to Edward who is overcome by guilt and remorse for what he did to friends and family. She realizes what a handmaiden provides normally will not be enough to fulfill his need; to do that she must show him that even he can receive love, but for her to offer her love means leaving the Order and its five guiding principles.

"Honesty". The handmaiden knows it is time to move on from the Order she has served in for years. She agrees to take on one last needy client. Spoiled Prince Cillian expects everyone to obey his commands though he insists he wants what Edward has, but Honesty plans to show him that love is greater than obedience.

“Determinata". Alaric has become an uncaring person even failing to care for himself as he turns to drugs and sex to hide his pain. His friends Edward and Cillian are worried about him. Dominant Handmaiden Determinata is sent to mend his broken heart and end his depression by dominating this submissive

These three enjoyable erotic romances are entertaining Order of Solace tales, but as one expects from Megan Hart also contain strong characters and intriguing somewhat interrelated plots DEEPER than what one would expect of sub-genre novellas.

Harriet Klausner

Waking Nightmare-Kyle Brant

Waking Nightmare
Kyle Brant
Berkley, Sep 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425230237

Savannah, Georgia is shook by a brutal serial rapist. Police detective Ryne Robel leads the investigation, but needs manpower to capture the violent culprit. The tough cop is extremely unhappy when the best the brass can give him is waif like forensic profiler Abbie Phillips of Mindhunters, a private firm.

However, Abbie quickly proves her worth as a criminologist when she figures out the motive of the sociopath. They also learn the predator uses a designer drug that induces extra fear from the victims because the rapist customizes the cocktail to the person. As they begin to work on how a person is chosen, the pair is also attracted to one another. However, taking down this vicious monster supersedes personal desires.

The first Mindhunters romantic suspense emphasizes from the onset the suspense leaving the romance somewhat in the background. This is critical to the thrilling story line as the scenes with the killer in them are nightmarishly gruesome so that kisses would seem inappropriate (except perhaps for Rocky Horror fans). The story line is somewhat standard serial killer police procedural. However, the changing relationship between the lead partners from disdain to respect plus the deep look at modern day criminology make for a great opening act for whodunit fans.

Harriet Klausner

To Catch a Bride-Anne Gracie

To Catch a Bride
Anne Gracie
Berkley, Sep 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425230220

In 1817 England Rafe Ramsey decides to delay a marriage of convince by seeking missing heiress Alicia Cleeves, who vanished in Egypt six years ago. The son of an earl, Rafe sees his African adventure as a last fling before he says I do.

In Egypt, Rafe meets Ayisha, who had lived on the streets of Cairo as a boy until a family took her in. He is attracted to Ayisha, but cannot persuade her to come to England as Alicia to meet her family. She prefers to stay in her home country though he brings unwanted yearnings for him. As they fall in love, he persuades her to go with him to England, but once there he finds his role changed; someone wants the exotic heiress dead.

The latest Devil Riders (see THE STOLEN PRINCESS and HIS CAPTIVE LADY) Regency romantic thriller is fast-paced in Cairo and London with the key to the brisk plot being the unique mysterious Ayisha-Alice. Fans will enjoy learning her secret that makes her fear going to England where her grandmother would welcome her with love and wonders whether Rafe can win her heart while ignoring the wrath of his family. TO CATCH A BRIDE is a fabulous historical.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Surrender Of A Siren-Tessa Dare

Surrender Of A Siren
Tessa Dare
Ballantine, Sep 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780345506870

In 1817 London, heiress Sophia Hathaway decides she cannot go through with a marriage in which love is not in the equation. Instead, she flees from the society wedding of the year posing as a governess. She takes with her only her paints and sketchbook as she boards the Aphrodite owned by Mr. Benedict Grayson as Miss Turner.

Gray hopes his new position as a respectable owner will help him bury at sea his rascally rakish reputation. However, he finds himself in a new situation he has never confronted before in his life; his gut insists he protect prim and proper Sophia even as he also wants to seduce her. As they fall in love while braving the High seas, she must tell him the truth as to who she is and he must grab at a chance for true redemption.

This is an entertaining Regency romance starring a rake seeking proof he is reformed and a daring heiress seeking a life outside the gilded cage. Their adventures on the High Seas make for a terrific historical that will have sub-genre fans seeking Tessa Dare’s previous novel (see GODDESS OF THE HUNT).

Harriet Klausner

Stranger's Kiss-Mary Blayney

Stranger's Kiss
Mary Blayney
Bantam, Sep 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780440244288

In 1818 after a year of grieving compounded by remorse and regret for never showing his late wife he cared, Duke Lynford Pennistan is back in London as a guest at the Harbison Ball; an event he did not want to attend. He has plans for vengeance against the Duke of Bendas. However, tonight he stops in a library expecting to be alone to get his equilibrium.

Also in the library needing to temporarily escape from the crowd is famous singer Elena Verano. She left Italy to get away from memories of her beloved late spouse whom she still grieves for.

In that library, they meet, offer consolation and soon are kissing. Not long afterward, Lyn and Elena formally meet. They help each other with their respective grief and soon fall in love; but his thirst for vengeance conflicts with his need for Elena.

The third Kiss Pennistan historical thriller (see TRAITOR'S KISS and LOVER'S KISS) is a terrific entry in a great regency saga. The story line starts off with an exciting duel that enables the audience to see into the hearts of Lyn and Bendas and never takes a breather even when the lead couple meets and kiss or the deep look into the life of a duke. STRANGER’S KISS is another winner from marvelous Mary Blayney.

Harriet Klausner

Set The Dark On Fire-Jill Sorenson

Set The Dark On Fire
Jill Sorenson
Bantam, Sep 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780553592023

In rural Southern California, the mountain lion killed the woman. Thus interim Sheriff Luke Meza of the Tenaja Falls Police Department, accompanied by wildlife expert Shay Phillips, stalks the beast; they kill it before it hurts anyone else.

However, Shay and Luke are stunned to learn the victim was dead before the mountain lion approached her. A human predator murdered her and others as more corpses surface. As Shay and Luke team up to find the two legged predator, their attraction ignites, but misunderstandings place both in jeopardy from a clever serial killer who is watching them with the fierceness of a wounded stalked mountain lion.

This is an exciting romantic suspense starring two likable protagonists working together to initially hunt a mountain lion, but quickly realize the predator is two legged. The back stories of the lead pair adds to the understanding of the flaws and desires of each of them; for instance Shay raises her teenage brother whose entire brain contains one icon: females. Fans will enjoy the hunts to include that of the hearts as Luke and Shay SET THE DARK ON FIRE.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Wedding For Baby-Laura Marie Altom

A Wedding For Baby
Laura Marie Altom
Harlequin American, Sep 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373752805

Six months pregnant Gabby Craig is shocked when Ben Bocelli, the father of her unborn, decamps. Ironically his family remains warm and loving towards her as if she were their offspring instead of the deserting wastrel.

Gabby is having health issues with her pregnancy and heart issues with falling in love with Ben’s brother Judge Dane Bocelli. He is attracted to her, but avoids her until her health issues surface. He is there for her in her hour of need, but Ben is back begging for a second chance arguing he is a changed responsible adult.

This is a terific romantic triangle starring two brothers and the woman they love. Ironically, Dane is there for Gabby but without candy and flowers while Ben is not but with candy and flowers; Ben is confident his impish smile will win the competition while Dane is “Running Scared” (nod to Roy Orbison) he cannot compete especially since he is only the child’s uncle. Although the ending is too easy, fans will enjoy attending A WEDDING FOR BABY as the audience don’t know Jack as to whom Gabby will select.

Harriet Klausner

Doctor Daddy-Jacqueline Diamond

Doctor Daddy
Jacqueline Diamond
Harlequin American, Sep 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373752775

Luke Van Dam and Jane McKay attended medical school together as OB students, but though they knew each other, they only had one night. Following ecstasy, he dumped her. Years late, both are doctors who have not stayed in touch.

However, in Brea, California when Luke’s cousin Sean asks him to cover for him at the medical practice as he has inherited money and plans to practice in impoverish areas. Luke takes an extended leave from his research and is taken aback that thirty something Jane is the partner of his cousin who he knows he did her wrong. Jane knows she is still attracted to the rat. He is in the middle of a custody war when he suddenly finds himself with a daughter and an infant; Jane, who wants a child, helps him adjust to the nuking of his lifestyle by the kids and his heart is now sure he wants the three females permanently in his life.

This is a terrific Harmony Circle (see THE FAMILY NEXT DOOR, BABY IN WAITING and MILLION-DOLLAR NANNY) medical romance. The lead couple is a solid paring; while the support cast is strong as they turn the second chance at love into a special family drama. DOCTOR DADDY is an engaging contemporary as the lead male and the two kids wants doctor mommy too.

Harriet Klausner

Never Marry a Stranger-Gayle Callen

Never Marry a Stranger
Gayle Callen
Avon, Sep 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061235078

In 1845 Captain Matthew Leland returns home to England to inform his family he did not die in India as reported. When he left for overseas duty, his parents were estranged, but they seem reconciled as they enthusiastically greet him. He is stunned when they introduce him to his wife Emily as he knows his spouse died in India. He pretends he has amnesia and does not recognize her as he wants to avoid scandal and learn what her scam is. Matthew admires her reactions to his probing as she brazenly responds without tipping her hand.

Arthur Stanwood knows he is in trouble with his debtors. He seeks Emily who escaped from his control. The next day Matthew’s two sisters are excited to see him. Matthew also notices how his family and the servants love Emily and she seems to cherish each one of them. They take a walk and she promises to help him remember. Having learned of the miraculous return in the paper, Stanwood sends a note to Emily informing her he knows the truth. She fears him knowing he murdered the Vicar Tillman for helping her. Matthew sees her toss the letter in the fire and removes it. He has proof of her duplicity, but not why. As they fall in love, each knows the other lies to protect his family, but neither knows why while Stanwood demands payment or else.

The spinning relationship between the lead couple is excellent starting with his coming home from the “dead” to a “wife”. His family is fully developed and Emily has changed them from estranged to loving; however she is too perfect as everyone loves her. Still fans will appreciate this fine Victorian romance as those who dare to trust in love triumph every time.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Baby by Surprise-Karen Rose Smith

Baby by Surprise
Karen Rose Smith
Silhouette Special Edition, Sep 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373654796

Six months pregnant neonatologist Dr. Francesca Talbot drives from Sagebrush to the hospital in Lubbock because she did not feel well. On the drive she becomes dizzy, has an accident, and breaks her arm. At the hospital she learns she is having a son and needs to watch her diet as she suffers from gestational diabetes so she especially has to avoid the take-out that she lives on. Francesca also knows she owes her child’s father a call.

Thus she phones Sagebrush Saddles, whose owner Grady picks up the phone. He already told her he wants in on his child’s life, but is worried about her and their unborn. He persuades Francesca to move in with him at least until the birth so he can help her. She agrees. As they fall in love, her work and his being burned by his ex fiancĂ© keeps both reluctantly from pursuing the next step in their relationship.

The latest Baby Experts contemporary romance is a terrific tale starring two strong lead characters whose doubts about marriage even with a baby coming make for an engaging story line. Francesca and Grady are fully developed players so that their strengths, desires, and flaws seem real as they make a for a fabulous Special Edition.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Getting Physical-Jade Lee

Getting Physical
Jade Lee
Harlequin Blaze, Sep 2099, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373794935

Stephen Chu travels from Hong Kong to Illinois toe meet his sexual Tao partner Tantric Sex Goddess Miss Tracy Williams. However, at the O’Hare customs line he learns the shocking news that his Tracy is engaged to Nathan Gao (see TAO OF SEX). He is stunned as Tracey as his Tantric partner would have taken both to incredible heights while Nathan is not a dragon master like him. Adding to his confusion that he insists to himself is caused by jet lag is his desire for the woman who has met him at the Chicago airport, Zoe Lewis even as she keeps saying Tracey and Nathan are in love and engaged.

Both are attracted to each other, but Zoe who had some training under another master must return to China to save her family’s troubled business and besides had one bad marriage with a former spouse still a louse causing her problems. Still Stephen begins teaching her sex while Zoe teaches him sensitivity that spans two continents. Although their sexual sensuality leads to love; he is a master so she can only be his mistress unless he opens his mind and heart to how high they can soar.

This is an entreating Tantric sex romance starring two likable lead characters and a ton of positions that should excite the audience; just remember Stephen is a master, which means practice makes perfect. The relationship between Zoe and Stephen feels right when it is somewhat distant though heated by the three steps; when love enters the equation GETTING PHYSICAL loses some of its edge as that feels abrupt especially on Stephen’s part. Still this is a hot contemporary romance.

Harriet Klausner

One Good Man-Alison Kent

One Good Man
Alison Kent
Harlequin Blaze, Sep 2099, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373794980

Ten years ago, Jamie Danby worked in a diner under a different name when a robbery included a killing spree; she was the lone survivor besides the killer, but has no memory of that horrific night. Her mom feared for her safety from a cold blooded murderer who would not blink to eliminate the only witness so they moved her across Texas to Weldon.

Her mom Dr. Kate opened up Danby Veterinary Clinic six years ago with Jamie as the office manager. However, the nightmare resurfaces when another of the bodies from that horror is found; the media including the blogs goes crazy. Texas Ranger Kell Harding believes Jamie will remember what happened and who the killer is under hypnosis; her mom opposes this because the nightmares her daughter suffered was debilitating.

This is an interesting romantic suspense that contains three strong characters (her mom being the third) and a solid support cast to include the townsfolk, the killer, family members of the victims and the media. The story line is intense and fast-paced when the focus is on to hypnotize or to not hypnotize for that is the only question; when the center is the romance, ONE GOOD MAN loses steam though gains heat as the L word feels intrusive. Still this is a solid contemporary as the killer remains vigilant waiting for the last victim to surface.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Summer of Two Wishes-Julia London

Summer of Two Wishes
Julia London.
Pocket, Sep 2009, $7.99
ISBN 9781416547082

Deep in love with one another, Macy and Finn Lockhart believe their life together is perfect as they work their horse ranch in Cedar Springs, Texas. When 9/11 occurs Finn enlists as he believes that is the patriotic right thing to do. However, a roadside bomb in Afghanistan kills him. In many ways back in Texas a devastated Macy feels dead inside.

Three years later, Macy finally is moving on. She is selling the ranch and marries Wyatt Clark who helped pull her out of the crippling fog of grief. However, soon after they exchange their marital vows, word arrives that Finn is alive and coming home expecting a joyful reunion with his wife.

This is an intriguing tale of choices to be made as Macy loves Finn but deeply admires Wyatt. Although the premise has been done mostly in comedic terms (see Move Over darling and My Favorite Wife), Julia London freshens it up by using a serious undertone. Ironically, that somber approach also leaves no Cary Grant or Doris Day like warmth to any of the triangle lead characters, even the returning from the grave hero. Still SUMMER OF TWO WISHES is an entertaining contemporary as the woman with two husbands must decide on one or none; as she cares about both of them.

Harriet Klausner