Friday, October 23, 2009

The Wicked Duke Takes A Wife-Jillian Hunter

The Wicked Duke Takes A Wife
Jillian Hunter
Ballantine, Oct 27 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780345503954

In 1818 the Boscastles found Harriet Gardner on the mean streets of the London. They cleaned her up and arranged for her to teach at the Scarfield Academy for Young Ladies.

After the death of his brother fourteen months ago, Griffin Boscastle became the duke, a position he detests though he does ducal quite arrogantly well. He escorts his niece Edlyn and his pest of an aunt to the school where he unceremoniously dumps her on Harriet. The rake stays longer than he has to because Harriet’s ripping off his skin intrigues him. However, when his thoughts begin veering towards long term, he considers flight rather than fight.

Instead he decides to use Harriet to find him a suitable wife while also asking her to keep his niece safe from an unknown adversary trying to harm her. However, he never expected Harriet to risk her life to keep Edlyn safe. Already beyond lust, Griffin falls into love, but Harriet keeps kicking the rogue to the curb hiding how she really feels.

With a nod to Frankenstein, the latest Boscastle “Wicked” Regency romance (see A Wicked Lord at the Wedding) is a wonderful tale with a strong suspense subplot enhancing the prime story line. Sub-genre readers and the students at the academy will appreciate the pompous conceited duke and the street smart teacher who tears his skin with sarcastic witty retorts while falling in love.

Harriet Klausner

To Serve and Protect-Arianna Hart, Kit Tunstall, Trista A Michaels, and Delilah Devlin

To Serve and Protect
Arianna Hart, Kit Tunstall, Trista A Michaels, and Delilah Devlin
Ellora’s Cave (Pocket), Nov 10 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9781439131541

“Convince Me” by Arianna Hart. The man charged through the door to the fundraiser cursing socialite Sareena and threatening to kill her for giving his battered spouse protection at a Brooklyn shelter. The attacker comes after her with a knife, but as police officer Brogan watches in horror, she disappears and a jaguar chases the sociopath into Central Park. Unable to resist her lure, Brogan escorts Sareena back to her apartment.

“Ablaze” by Kit Tunstall. Firefighters Nick and Paula enter the blaze at the Westbridge Academy and rescue Miri. After Miri is released form the hospital, Nick suggests a heated tryst, which out of character Miri agrees to.

“Fantasy Bar” by Trista Ann Michaels. Having fled from Meenus Prime to Klindor, Kira hides from the law. At the fantasy bar, she meets Jerrod, an undercover private investigator searching for her as she killed his best friend. Instead of bringing her back to justice, he indulges in their fantasies.

“Ride a Cowboy“ by Delilah Devlin. Katelyn had enough of men after her nasty marriage until the Texan arrives to help renovate her new home. He offers to also renovate her body and heart too.

There four heated erotic romances run the gamut of urban fantasy, science fiction, suspense, and second chance but all contain strong females and men who understand their role is TO SERVE AND PROTECT the women they love and cherish.

Harriet Klausner

The Fireman's Christmas-Meg Lacey

The Fireman's Christmas
Meg Lacey
Harlequin American, Nov 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373752850

In Warenton, Widower Danny Santori raises four out of control youngsters while fighting fires; he believes his kids who run off nannies before he can hire them are more difficult to deal with than an inferno.

Landscape artist Tessa Doherty recently divorced her husband Colin and moved from Chicago to raise her two children in fresh air but has no one to watch over them when she works. Rhonda, friend to both, arranges for Tessa and Danny to meet. They agree to help one another with the kids’ issues. However, neither single parent expected an attraction between them especially in the midst of out of control children chaos.

This is a warm second chance at love romance filled with lighthearted jocularity as the children cause chaos inadvertently nuking at times the relationship between their adult single parents. The story line is character driven but also reminiscent of 1960s-1970s treasures like With Six You Get Egg Roll; Yours, Mine and Ours; and The Brady Bunch.

Harriet Klausner

Colorado Christmas-C.C. Coburn

Colorado Christmas
C.C. Coburn
Harlequin American, Nov 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373752874

In Spruce Lake, Colorado former stunt skier Will O'Malley refuses to allow his town’s historical district with its classic Victorian style architect be destroyed by the Mountains Resorts Development Company modernization. However, he goes too far at least in the mind of his brother the deputy sheriff when he vandalizes the firm’s vehicles.

He comes before Judge Becky McBride, who is new to town with plans of remaining no more than six months before returning with her nine years old son Nick to Denver. Will is attracted to Her Honor, but she rejects his request for a date. However, he refuses to accept no at the same time he does community service for his acts of vandalism.

Passionate Will makes for a fun contemporary romance as he tries to persuade the urban judge that he is not a character out of the TV show Green Acres, but in spite of his intelligence, charm and looks, he competes with Louella the pig. Fans will enjoy this amusing courtship observed by the 2,596 other eccentric residents with smiles and smirks yet the tale subtly contains a plea to not arbitrarily devastate our heritage but instead incorporate our past in modernization plans though that probably will add cost.

Harriet Klausner

Soul Magic-Jennifer Lyon

Soul Magic
Jennifer Lyon
Ballantine, Oct 27 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780345506351

Wing Slayer Sutton West has vowed to follow his father’s lead if the moment he can no longer control his blood lust begins. When the curse began to overwhelm his sire chose suicide rather than harm an innocent witch.

Rogue witch slayers killed Keri Fisk. Two years have passed and her twin sister psychiatrist Dr. Carla Fisk still mourns her loss. Sutton finds he is attracted to Carla, who runs a clinic, but he fears that desire might be the first step in the curse. However, he saves her life when rogues attack, but both realize a shocker; the rogue Styx and the demon Asmodeus have teamed up and trapped Keri’s soul in a knife used by the witch slayer to provide his partner with the souls of witches she kills. As they try to save Keri’s soul, Sutton and Carla wonder which twin is his soul mate.

The second Magic romantic fantasy (see Blood Magic) is a super saga as readers learn more about the plight of Keri and the soul mirrors through the lead couple. The fun in the tale is observing Sutton and Carla forging a loving relationship in spite of the curse placing them in opposite hostile camps in which their attraction means death. Filled with danger Soul Magic is a terrific tale that stands alone, but reading the previous entry enhances the knowledge of the Lyon world of Magic.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Wild Heart-Lori Brighton

Wild Heart
Lori Brighton
Zebra, Nov 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 9781420108651

In 1855 Lord Roberts worries about his adult grandson Leo, who will inherit the title and estate. When Leo was seven while living in India, he witnessed the murders of his parents and has not really recovered from the trauma. He lived alone until he was found and brought home to England to live with his grandfather. However, Leo taunts Polite Society’s rules, which relegates him to being an outsider.

His grandfather hires Ella Finch to serve as a sort of governess teaching Leo how to behave amidst the Ton. Ella soon realizes Leo has been pulling a bit of a ruse as he is a lot more sophisticated than the feral beast he portrays. The teacher and the student are attracted to one another, but he remains obsessed with one goal: finding the individual who killed his parents.

With several interesting paranormal twists, this is an engaging Victorian romance starring a woman who can sort of talk to the animals and a man on a mission who has the “means” to block emotions. Their relationship evolves as she concludes her pupil is a sham when it comes to manners and he fears his attraction to her will deter his quest. Fans will brighten up with this charming whimsical mid nineteenth century tale of love.

Harriet Klausner

Taming The Beast-Heather Grothaus

Taming The Beast
Heather Grothaus
Zebra, Nov 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420102437

In 1101 Roderick Cherbon ran way from his abusive father enlisting with the Crusades. However, he is severely hurt in battle and only saved by his friend Hugh Gilbert at the hospital in Constantinople where he lost part of a leg due to infection. While there he learns he needs to return to England as his nasty sire is dead and he must marry before his thirtieth birthday coming soon or his handsome cousin Lord Alan Tornfield will inherit the estate.

Scarred and with no prospects, Roderick assumes he even lost to his father from the grave. Alan humiliates Lady Michaela Fortune by marrying someone else. Instead she proposes a marriage of convenience with Roderick, who reluctantly accepts. She vows to herself to earn his trust and win his love, but Alan is outraged by what she has done to him with her marital betrayal so he pursues her because he insists he misses her or as she surmises wants to break up the couple for avarice nefarious reasons.

Taming the Beast is an enjoyable medieval romantic suspense with an eerie paranormal subplot providing additional tension. The story line is character driven as Beauty and the Beast fall in love, but his villainous seemingly insane cousin has two strong reasons to destroy their relationship. Fans will appreciate this early twelfth century tale as Roderick seeks lone and justice, but expects neither though Michaela gives him hope.

Harriet Klausner

All He Desires-Anthea Lawson

All He Desires
Anthea Lawson
Zebra, Nov 2009, $5.99
ISBN: 9781420104578

In 1848 Miss Caroline Huntington is riding while on a Crete holiday when she tumbles. Reclusive Dr. Alex Trentham is called to provide medical assistance to Caroline although he has not practiced in years.

They are attracted to one another, but she goes home to London to continue her work with the poor while he continues to hide in Greece. The Earl of Twickenham decides he wants to adopt his niece Caroline. Her cousin Reginald rages in anger blaming his father for betraying him with this outrageous gesture that will reduce his inheritance. Others want to harm her too just as Alex arrives to plea with the woman he loves to give him a second chance.

This entertaining Victorian romance stars an intriguing lead male and an intrepid heroine. The fun is observing Alex out not just protecting his beloved but more so in his efforts to persuade her in all sincerity that he is PASSIONATE about his love for her. Although the villains seem a bit weak especially cousin Reginald, fans will enjoy Anthea Lawson’s exciting mid nineteenth century tale as Caroline and Alex make for a wonderful historical.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Destiny's Captive-

Destiny's Captive
Kate Lyon
Leisure, Nov 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780843962833

The raid at Baldwin Fort, Texas left almost everyone dead in the bloody massacre. The few young survivors were sold to the Comancheros. He adapted to the Indian way of life given the name Chikoba. He married, but soldiers murdered his pregnant wife. Insane with the senseless massacre of his loved ones, Chikoba attacks soldiers whenever he can although he has never assaulted a civilian.

In 1875 the Great Spirit sends Chikoba a vision insisting he goes back to where his journey began. He starts using his birth name of Jeremiah Baldwin for the first time in years and returns as a white man to Baldwin Fort. Wealthy rancher Senor Don Miguel Sanchez owns the land, but no one knows how he bought it or from whom. Someone attacks Jeremiah leaving him dead.

Another survivor of the Baldwin Fort massacre Angelina was raised by Sanchez as his daughter. She suffers from partial amnesia having blocked out the horror of that brutal day. She loves her father, but she hides an injured Jeremiah from his henchmen though she is not sure why. While she help nurses Jeremiah back to health, Angel begins to recall the massacre while her dad’s man Juan Delgado who sold Jeremiah to the Comanchero displays openly he wants her.

This is an exhilarating western Reconstruction Era romance starring two delightful lead protagonists carrying tons of baggage from the same massacre and odious villains. Filled with plenty of action, readers anticipate the showdown between Delgado and Baldwin with a confused Angelina pulled in several directions by the men in her life. Kate Lyon writes an enjoyable Texas historical romance starring a strong cast as the good, the bad, and the ugly converge on a sweet young woman.

Harriet Klausner

Counterfeit Lady-Dawn MacTavish

Counterfeit Lady
Dawn MacTavish
Leisure, Nov 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780843963212

In 1815 Lady Clara orders her reluctant paid companion Alice to pretend to be her at a masquerade ball. Clara wants confirmation that the man she is to meet Nigel Farnham is as ugly as rumors state; but cannot ignore the toady since her aunt Lady Pembroke insists she must pay attention to him.

Nigel dances with the lady he assumes is Clara and finds himself spellbound. However, before everyone unmasks, his dance partner flees. When Clara vanishes, Alice is forced to keep up her masquerade to avoid a scandal. Nigel pursues Alice as Clara while another aristocrat also goes after her. However when Clara returns as if nothing has happened she decides she wants Nigel and if destroying Alice's reputation will achieve her objective so be it as a companion is expendable.

Counterfeit Lady is a delightful Regency romantic romp starring a wonderful lead couple and several purposely stereotypical self centered support characters like Clara and Alice’s cold Minister dad. The story line is fast-paced from the opening dialogue with a coaxing Clara unaware of her companion’s inner debate in which Alice the imp argues with Alice the minister’s daughter whether she should or she should not masquerade. Dawn MacTavish provides an amusing historical as readers will relish the imp winning the argument.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What The Duke Desires-Jenna Petersen

What The Duke Desires
Jenna Petersen
Avon, Nov 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061470820

When her disturbed mother committed suicide, Miss Lillian Mayhew held the Duke of Billingham responsible. She would have liked to destroy the late Duke, but by 1816 she settles for shredding his reputation as a paragon of society.

As the new duke, Simon Crathorne needs to find someone to marry who would be appropriate as his duchess and who does not drive him insane with pap. He has several acceptable candidates, but he is attracted to the inappropriate Miss Lillian. She encourages him and soon has him assisting her on finding proof that his father was a cad. When she achieves her goal, she runs into a minor obstacle; she is in love with the son of the person whose reputation she has lived to destroy.

Filled with ardent twists, WHAT THE DUKE DESIRES is a strong character driven Regency romance starring two wonderful lead protagonists. Lillian learns sometimes you get what you wish for while Simon wishes for Lillian although he forgives too easily. With one final spin that will stun the audience as much as it does Lillian and Simon, Jenna Peterson provides her fans with a super historical as the late paragon left behind several transgressions.

Harriet Klausner

Captive Of Sin-Anna Campbell

Captive Of Sin
Anna Campbell
Avon, Nov 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061684289

In 1821 in Winchester Sir Gideon Trevithick enters his stable only to find a frightened battered woman hiding inside. The abuse she obviously received makes him realize she is afraid of him too and knows her tale is a poorly constructed fabrication starting with the name Miss Watson. He offers her a safe shelter, which she desperately accepts.

Heiress Lady Charis Weston finally explains to her kind protector that her stepbrothers want control of her wealth that they will lose in three weeks when she turns twenty-one and is no longer their ward. She fled their latest brutality to force her to give up her money to them. Gideon has his own demons, but proposes a marriage of convenience to protect Charis. However, she wants more from her protector than just safety and is willing to seduce him to prove they belong together.

This engaging Regency romantic suspense hooks the audience the moment Sir Gideon finds Lady Charis in peril from her odious avaricious stepbrothers who have no redeeming qualities whatsoever; as each believes it is their right to abuse their sister and waste her inheritance on their frivolity. The story line is fast-paced never slowing down even with sensual desires between the lead couple. As the hero confronts his demons and she hers, they fall in love to the delight of historical romance readers, but both of them and the enchanted audience know her siblings will never stop conniving for what they believe is theirs.

Harriet Klausner

The Care And Taming Of A Rogue-Suzanne Enoch

The Care And Taming Of A Rogue
Suzanne Enoch
Avon, Nov 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061456763

Explorer Sir Bennett Wolfe returns home to find out a horrific truth awaiting him. Five months ago his friend on the expedition Captain David Langley had stabbed him with a spear in his gut; after assuming Bennett was dead, the scoundrel stole his journals. He has since become wealthy with the money he made on his publication.

Lady Phillipa "Flip" Eddison is a fan of the Langley books and their expeditions and would relish going on a trek with him. However, when she meets Bennett, she finds she believes his assertion that he wrote the journals. She offers to help him prove his case even as they fall in love. When her beloved is threatened, Flip does whatever it takes including risking her life and reputation to keep him safe.

Although Sir Bennett is not quite the scoundrel or rogue of the Notorious Gentlemen in Suzanne Enoch’s recent super Regencies, Sir Bennett is a terrific lead character with a thirst for vengeance while the heroine flips his life upside down. She proves more than his equal as Flip demonstrates a propensity in The Care And Taming Of A Rogue. With a villain willing to kill to remain rich, famous and popular fans will enjoy Sir Bennett’s attempts to prove he is the hero and author of the journals and deserving of Flip’s adulation, esteem and love just like she has earned his.

Harriet Klausner

To Love A Wicked Lord-Edith Layton

To Love A Wicked Lord
Edith Layton
Avon, Nov 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061757709

In 1803 seven months ago, Phillipa “Pippa” Carstairs' betrothed Noel vanished immediately after their engagement party. Pippa's grandfather hires Lord Maxwell Sutton to find the missing fiancé as his grandchild is caught in a no lady’s land by the Ton since Noel is not reported dead and they had not married as widowhood or desertion is acceptable while nothing else is.

When Pippa first meets Maxwell, she believes he is a dandy whose cravat will be in the way of a meaningful investigation. However, Pippa quickly revises her opinion of a shallow bored aristocrat as she finds him to be intelligent and witty. As she falls in love with Maxwell, she hopes he never finds her intended though she believes he will. As for Maxwell, he has also fallen in love, but to have any future with his Pippa, he believes he must find her fiancé.

This is a great Regency romantic mystery starring two likable strong protagonists who come together over the search for her lost fiancé. Few sub-genre writers have been as consistently strong as Edith Layton who passed away in May. TO LOVE A WICKED LORD pays homage to this terrific author who in spite of her fight with cancer for several years kept her readers enthralled with super historicals like this one.

Harriet Klausner

Midnight Pleasures With A Scoundrel-Lorraine Heath

Midnight Pleasures With A Scoundrel
Lorraine Heath
Avon, Nov 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061734007

In 1852 Inspector James Swindler is happy that his friends from Fagin's gang of youths have moved on with their lives. He still struggles to do likewise. His current assignment is to trail Eleanor Watkins who has come to London to most likely commit murder.

Still grieving the death of her sister Elisabeth who came to London for the season last year with the naive joy of the innocent until Lord Rockberry destroyed her; Eleanor has plans to kill the culprit. James rescues her from three aristocrats in the pleasure gardens of Cremorne with hopes to persuade her not to travel the path she has chosen for herself. As they fall in love, neither expected the mounting danger from a diabolical schemer.

The latest Scoundrels of St. James series (see IN BED WITH THE DEVIL, BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND DESIRE and SURRENDER TO THE DEVIL), continues the great saga of what happened as adults to Fagan’s gang of youngsters from Oliver Twist. The story line is fast-paced from the moment that James intercedes at Cremorne and never slows down although she hides something critical from him and he struggles to overcome the public hanging of his father when he was a child. With a nasty villain and an enjoyable mystery, fans will relish Lorraine Heath’s strong Victorian romantic suspense with a clever twist.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wrapped In Seduction-Lisa Renee Jones, Cathryn Fox and Jodi Lynn Copeland

Wrapped In Seduction
Lisa Renee Jones, Cathryn Fox and Jodi Lynn Copeland
Heat, Nov 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780451228154

The three Reddy sisters come home to Haven, New Hampshire and each makes a wish on their late grandmother's ruby for their holiday desires to happen.

“Unwrapping Holly” by Lisa Renee Jones. A t a local inn, Holly and a stranger Cole meet and enjoy each other’s company.

"Hot for Santa” by Cathryn Fox. When St. Nick Grant arrives at the family home, Rachel wants him, but assumes he is there for her brother Mason.

"Mistletoe Bliss” by Jodi Lynn Copeland. With her engagement ended, Tori and her first lover Travis decide on a tryst.

These are three interrelated lighthearted holiday romances with some light spanking as each of the Reddy sisters are ready for sex to melt the frozen New England roads and perhaps love. Fans will enjoy the whimsical tale with strong hints that Mason’s to come.

Harriet Klausner

Yours For The Night-Jasmine Haynes

Yours For The Night
Jasmine Haynes
Heat, Nov 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425229996

"The Girlfriend Experience”. Thirty-five years old courtesan Marianna Whitney knows she must satisfy the customer, but client Chase wants her for more than just a night or two.

"Payback”. After her spouse dumped her for a younger woman, forty-five tears old Dominique Lowe obtains a position with Courtesans, but is stunned when Gabriel wants her to fulfill all his fantasies.

"Triple Play". Courtesan twice divorced Noelle St. James loves short term relationships but bores of them rather quickly while Dax loves her but is turned on as a voyeur watching make men come.

Over the top of Telegraph Hill, make that Coit Tower as being more symbolic, these heated novellas star experienced women who make the penises of men salivate. OURS FOR THE NIGHT contains three equatorial hot erotic tales that can be summed up by Noelle’s friend Isabel who suggests she try bukkake with five to six men jacking off on her naked body instead of vanilla ice cream. Fans of erotica that run the gamut will enjoy spending the night with these courtesans.

Harriet Klausner

What She Needs-Lacey Alexander

What She Needs
Lacey Alexander
Heat, Nov 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780451228017

Hotel Erotique is off the Florida coast and its’ mission is to teach guests how to enjoy sex more. Jenna Banks wins a free two-week trip to the notorious Hotel Erotique. She believes her sex life is fine, but figures fun and sun with someone is worth the vacation.

Her personal sex guru Brent Powers plans to open his student’s eyes to the panorama of diverse sexual encounters. The sex shrink believes Jenna could prove what he thinks she is a sex goddess if she lets herself truly go. As she shares all sorts of sexcapades from BDSM to FF, Brent and Jenna begin to fall in love.

Although the plausibility is over the top of the hunk’s constant gigantic boner that will have readers wondering if steroids work there; this is an ultra heated erotic romance as the heroine tastes a variety of sexual encounters guided by her guru. Brent coaxes Jenna as she leaps from one encounter after another. The romance takes a back seat (bed might be more appropriate) to filling WHAT SHE NEEDS as the Heat is on at the Hotel Erotique.

Harriet Klausner

Lord Of The Highlands-Veronica Wolff

Lord Of The Highlands
Veronica Wolff
Berkley, Nov 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425231135

In present day San Francisco, Felicity under the name “Mellow Yellow” is taken aback when she seeks her perfect match with an on-line dating service; only the response is she has no matches. Still stunned with being declared “unmatchable”, Felicity plays with a tarot deck.

The next thing she knows is she is in 1658 where she meets Highlander William Rollo; as he rescues someone form the Tower. Having met time travelers before, William is not shocked with the displaced woman; however he is stunned with his attraction as he wants her and by her seductive behavior he knows she wants him. However, this is not a safe era for an out of time soul mate to be in Scotland as witch hunters roam the Highlanders seeking to burn travelers from the future; while his efforts to return the legitimate monarch to the throne adds to the danger. Still both want her to stay with him for eternity.

The latest twenty-first century female battling a seventeenth century Highlander is an engaging gender war as each wants one another, but neither believes they have all the time in the world to pursue that attraction. William has met futuristic females before (see Warrior of the Highlands) so is not quite bewildered by Felicity’s equality attitude. On the other hand she adapts rather easily considering the culture shock. With real people and events to anchor down time and place, Veronica Wolff provides a wonderful time travel romance.

Harriet Klausner

Waking The Dead-Kylie Brant

Waking The Dead
Kylie Brant
Berkley, Nov 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425231142

In Oregon’s Willamette Forest, nature guide Zach Sharper finds seven garbage bags in a remote part of the wilderness in a cave on Castle Rock where you would not expect any trash. He takes a peek and finds each contains bones that he knows from his Ranger days are human remains although none contain a skull. He calls the authorities.

Sheriff Marin Andrews asks Raiker Forensics for help in identifying the bodies. They send former model turned forensic anthropologist Caitlin Fleming to investigate. Sheriff Andrews hires Zach to guide and protect Caitlin into the wilderness. He reluctantly escorts Caitlin deep into what seems to her the primeval forest to the cave on Castle Rock. Every step they take the pair argues safety vs. catching one killer plus an apparent partner or accessory; either way a diabolically brilliant predator.

The latest Mindhunters romantic suspense thriller (see WAKING NIGHTMARE and WAKING EVIL) is a terrific entry as the investigation supersedes the romance; both want one another but know survival comes before seeing where their relationship goes. Zach is a super guide who takes the heroine and readers to a remote part of Oregon while Cait is a fabulous forensic anthropologist due to a fascinating former career as a model. Fans will enjoy climbing Willamette Forest with this couple.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Lord of the Far Island-Victoria Holt

Lord of the Far Island
Victoria Holt
St. Martin’s Griffin, Nov 24 2009, $13.99
ISBN: 9780312384173

When she was five years old her mother died so Ellen Kellaway moved in with her wealthy adult third cousins William and Agatha Loring and their daughter Esmeralda. Cousin Agatha never conceals for one moment she resents the poor relative living with her and cannot wait to toss Ellen out of the house. That moment occurs when Ellen turns eighteen as Agatha informs her charity ends now. She is directed to accept a position as governess to Cousin Agatha's friend, the Honorable Mrs. Oman Lemming, which is as unappealing as remaining in the current household where she is unwanted. Her handsome childhood friend Phillip Carrington proposes and Ellen accept. A tragedy prevents their nuptials as apparently he commits suicide though Ellen cannot believe he was so filled with despair as to shoot himself.

Adapting once gain to her dismal fate, Ellen receives a letter from Jago Kellaway, who claims to be her guardian and the Lord of The Far Island, inviting her to meet her family at their ancestral home. Without a look back, Ellen travels to Kellaways Island, off Cornwall. Jago and Ellen are attracted to one another, but she believes he is concealing something sinister. She begins to fall in love with him as she begins to uncover his dark secrets that he hides from her.

This reprint of a 1975 gothic romance remains an exciting tale with a final spin that will stun the audience although a coda denouement helps explain what happened. The story line is in two parts: London and the Far Island with the first hundred pages setting up the remaining two hundred plus pages. The action is a bit slow until Ellen goes to Far Island when the story line switches gears. Fans will enjoy Victoria Holt’s fine tale that holds up nicely three and a half decades after it was first released.

Harriet Klausner

Hex in High Heels-Linda Wisdom

Hex in High Heels
Linda Wisdom
Sourcebook, Oct 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9781402218194

Blair Fitzpatrick is young, independent and pretty who is a boda fide powerful witch, whose specialty is creating hexes. Carpenter Jake Harrison appeals to Blair on many levels, but the loner took a long time before telling her he was a Were. He never mentions his former pack and always keeps his distance from people. Bair knows he is interested in her as she is with him.

Jake’s former pack comes to town looking to buy land from Blair; this would let them be in his backyard with his brother Roan as the alpha. She refuses to sell even as she sees Jake’s mom Vera and Roan despise him. They are irate that he changes into a mere canine while everyone else becomes a wolf. Vera wants her son dead, but Jake has allies including Blair who have his back from the alpha female leader of the pack.

The latest hexing romantic urban fantasy (see 50 WAYS TO HEX YOUR LOVER and HEX APPEAL) is a fabulous entry with a wonderfully ironic twist as Vera seeks to purchase a reverse spell from Blair to use against her son. There is plenty of action as mother and son confront one another, but HEX IN HIGH HEELS is character driven as the audience sees deep inside the pack and their thoughts and musing, know how Jake feels with his brood in town, and of course there is the bewitching heroine who will put a hex on those who fail to read her escapades.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Highlander Christmas-Dawn Halliday, Cindy Miles and Sophie Renwick

Highlander Christmas
Dawn Halliday, Cindy Miles and Sophie Renwick
NAL, Nov 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780451228727

"Winter Heat" by Dawn Halliday. During a blizzard, Logan Douglas rescues Maggie McDonald finding them shelter where she locates her missing clan pin.

"Yuletide Enchantment" by Cindy Miles. Isobel McDonald searches for her missing clan pin, but finds mysterious immortal Price in an enchanted forest.

"A Christmas Spirit” by Sophie Renwick. Visiting museum curator Paige McDonald takes shelter from a freak storm in a castle where she meets Gabriel Munro, a frustrated spirit during the day and a man falling in love at night.

These are three entertaining holiday romantic fantasies interconnected by the pin that gets around and the McDonald clan (past and present).

Harriet Klausner

Take Me For A Ride-Karen Kendall

Take Me For A Ride
Karen Kendall
Signet, Nov 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451228468

In Manhattan ARTemis art recovery agent Eric McDougal is tracking down the stolen St. George necklace that allegedly was worn by Catherine the Great. Eric knows art restorer Natalie Rosen is the thief. Natalie borrowed the necklace worth $2 million no questions asked from her firm Luc Ricard Conservation and Restoration so her legally blind grandma Nonnie in Connecticut can validate what she believes, and if true once again touch and somewhat see the family heirloom stolen by Nazis decades ago.

Thus when Nonnie and her friend suddenly run away with the necklace for Russia, Natalie is stunned as she is left holding the legal bag. Eric believes Natalieand they team up in pursuit of two senior citizens leading them on a tango to Moscow

From Russia With Love is the theme of the latest “Take Me” ARTemis romantic suspense thriller (see TAKE ME IF YOU CAN and TAKE MET TWO TIMES). This fun tale takes readers on another rollicking ride this time chasing after the thieving grandma and her cohort. The story line is fast-paced from the opening theft and never slows down as the recover and the restorer fall in love during the merry chase.

Harriet Klausner

The Bargain Bride-Barbara Metzger

The Bargain Bride
Barbara Metzger
Signet, Nov 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451228451

Their fathers arranged their marriage when she was thirteen and he was about to go fight against Napoleon. However, Persephone Goldthwaite has spent half her life waiting to tie the knot with Viscount Kendall Westmoreland. Both want to end their betrothal so he goes see her serendipitously to gain her concurrence.

However, West changes his mind upon meeting the beautiful effervescent Penny. Her father suggests Penny marry her stepbrother Nigel, son of his second wife. Instead West invokes the agreement, but his former lover and her odious step-sibling have other abduction plans for the pair that ignores West and Penny falling in love.

THE BARGAIN BRIDE is a humorous Regency romance filled with an eccentric cast that seems to have escaped from bedlam as their chaotic antics are fun to follow; but centered and owned by the lead couple. Fans will relish this fine historical as the battle for who marries Penny shapes into a zany free for all in which Penny must determine whom she can trust with her life. Topped by citations from the chronicles of “By Arrangement” heading each chapter, this is an amusing entertaining tale with a suspense subplot enhancing the jocularity; as Barbara Metzger is at the top of her game.

Harriet Klausner

The Best Gift-Wendy Markham

The Best Gift
Wendy Markham
Signet, Nov 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451228444

On Christmas morning 2009 in the San Francisco Bay area, Clara thinks her life is finally perfect after her disastrous time in 1941 when she learned she has breast cancer and fell in love knowing her GI Jed Landy was going to die at Normandy; he pledged to always find her no matter what (see If Only in My Dreams). Now in 2009 she loves her husband Drew and is seven weeks pregnant.

An earthquake hammers the Bay area. Clara keeps moving back and forth between 2009 and 2012. However what she observes in 2012 frightens her as she pregnant and alone except for boxes; Drew is nowhere and neither is the baby she was carrying in 2009. She begins flickering back and forth to Christmas 2012. She can't figure out what's going on with her future self. She's alone, hugely pregnant and the house is full of boxes. However, she keeps thinking back to 1941 and her eternal soul mate’s pledge.

This is a terrific thought provoking tale that deftly combines time travel and reincarnation with the underlying theme that true love is forever. The beleaguered Clara is confused as she struggles between 2012 and 2009 but finds solace with her thoughts of 1941. Complicated and nonlinear, Wendy Markham continues her strong saga of love for all time.

Harriet Klausner

Captive Desires-Diane Whiteside

Captive Desires
Diane Whiteside
Berkley, Nov 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425229989

Danae Livingston writes fictional accounts of her warrior hero Alekhsiy in a fantasy realm filled with her desires. However, although she has wet dreams about her hunk, she knows he does not exist except in her libido.

She soon revises her opinion of what reality is when Alekhsiy arrives on Earth needing her help to save his world from evil. He is taken aback to see the woman who haunts his nocturnal desires in the flesh as is she. However, at a fandom fantasy festival, a fanatic demands she writes of the destruction of Alekhsiy’s realm or else face his wrath.

This is a very exciting romantic suspense fantasy with the premise of a writer seemingly having the power of God; although the premise has been used before and Alekhsiy’s realm never comes to life. Still, the story line is fun to follow as a fanatic demands death to Alekhsiy’s world or death to the “creator”, which leads to all types of metaphysical questions. Well written and enlightening, Captive Desires is an engaging heated thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Heart Change-Robin D. Owens

Heart Change
Robin D. Owens
Berkley, Nov 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425229972

In Celta, GrandLady Signet D'Marigold is lonely as the last surviving member of her proud family. However, to make matters worse, her talent remains undefined. That is unheard of until thirteen year old prophet GreatLord Vinni proclaims her to a major catalyst for change.

Vinni needs Signet's help with his seven years old heartmate Avellana Hazel; the child’s brain has been damaged and chances of surviving her first passage are nonexistent unless Signet takes the risk of assisting her. GreatLord T'Hawthorn’s security chief Cratag Maytree is chosen to protect the two females during the flair. None of the participants were expecting an attraction between Signet and Cratag, but as that ignites someone wants to destroy all of those involved.

Readers will relish the latest Heart realm romantic fantasy as the lead couple falls in love while trying to save a child’s life. The story line is character driven as Robin D. Owens goes deep inside family relationships on Celta with a poignant passionate tale that resonates with its health issue timeliness. Robin D. Owens’ latest as is the case with the magnificent seven predecessors is filled with Heart as the concern is the child’s welfare first.

Harriet Klausner

Thief Of Light-Denise Rossetti

Thief Of Light
Denise Rossetti
Berkley, Nov 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425231302

In Caracole Erik Thorensen is known as the Godlen due his sensual Voice that seduces innocent women. However, he went too far with his seductive Voice and stole the soul of an innocent.

Erik is attracted to the Garden of Nocturnal Delights business manager Pruella Takimori McGuire. She is a bottom line type of woman and not fantasy Magick lover. His efforts to win her love is frustrated by her ignoring the Voice as it has no effect though she conceals her attraction to Erik the person and not his Golden persona. However, Erik is soon in deep trouble when the Necromancer has evil plans to use the Golden Voice to devour the souls of the innocent.

This is an enjoyable romantic fantasy starring two likable lead characters and a sinister villain. The Golden one finds his charming seductive voice fails him with the woman he wants and who might be the one to bring him redemption. Besides his failure with Prue, he now has a kick butt evil necromancer determined to use his seductive skill to steal souls. Fans will take pleasure in Denise Rossetti’s return to the realm of the Four-Sided Pentacle (see The Flame and the Shadow).

Harriet Klausner

Shifting Plains-Jean Johnson

Shifting Plains
Jean Johnson
Berkley, Nov 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425230862

Tava Ell Var has known violence all her life as the offspring of a human female raped by seventeen were-tigers. Her adoptive father, a gentle scribe, showed her kindness while raising her, but marauding bandits murdered him; leaving her alone especially in light of people she has known for years rejecting her. Tava vows vengeance for the only person whoever cared about her.

However, before she can stalk her adversaries, a Shifterai warband led by Kodan Sin Siin kill the outlaws and offer Tava sanctuary with Clan Cat as she is a shapeshifter too. She hesitates well aware of the raping of her mom. She is given no choice as she can be a slave or a free member.

The prequel to the Sons of Destiny saga is an enjoyable romantic fantasy as fans of the series will enjoy the tale of love between shapeshifters. Although not as dramatic as the Sons of Destiny with sudden leaps in the story line, Jean Johnson provides an enjoyable tale in which the romance supersedes the fantasy elements even with a potential she-Tiger who may prove genuine or die as the first female royal shifter in ages.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Untamed Bride-Stephanie Laurens

The Untamed Bride
Stephanie Laurens
Avon, Oct 27 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061795145

In 1822 in India, Colonel Derek “Del” Delborrough and four of his junior officers try to end the terror of the Black Cobra cult. They believe the leader of the Black Cobra Cult is Lord Roderick Ferrar, but lack substantial proof needed to bring down the heir to the powerfully connected Earl of Shrewsbury. .

The Governor’s niece Emily Ensworth arrives with a package that she says that Captain James MacFarlane gave to her to give to Del. James died saving Emily from the Black Cobra. Inside the package is a letter in which Ferrar used his personal unique seal to close it. The four men agree to separately go to England with three carrying a bogus copy and one the original. One month later, the four soldiers resigned their commission and vanish; Ferrar learns his letter is missing. He knows he must pursue them to England.

Del reaches Southampton where he is met by Deliah Duncannon who informs him his aunts arranged for his escorting her. As they talk Deliah notices a flare and yanks Del to the ground saving his life. She saw the culprit who probably saw her too; her description is that of Larkins, Ferrar’s right hand man. He agrees to take her with him to keep her safe. Their destination is Somersham Place, home of Devil Cynster. As they travel with the Black Cobra in pursuit, they fall in love, but the mission must come first.

The relationship between the lead couple is excellent as is the major support from the Cynster-Bastian heroes. However that said, all the couples from the extended saga (including this pair) are interchangeable; ironically (and cleverly) the women even discuss the common major traits that each of the women, their men, and their relationships contain. . The story line is fast-paced and the climax strong while also setting up the next tale to the delight of Stephanie Laurens’ fans.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Unexpected Gifts-Holly Jacobs

Unexpected Gifts
Holly Jacobs
Harlequin SuperRomance, Nov 10 2009, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373716012

For fifteen years in George County, Pennsylvania family and consumer science (formerly home economics) teacher Elinore “Eli” Cartwright sponsored the teen parenting program; however, ironically at forty-four she finds herself frightened, pregnant and single. Her boyfriend Arthur makes it very clear, he enjoys their DINK status especially no kids.

Thus Eli has decisions to make, which she finds rather easy as she wants a child and this may be her last chance considering her age and male prospects. Store owner Zac Keller has been in love with Eli for seemingly forever, but hid his feelings from her as she had that college professor boyfriend. He makes his feelings obvious to her that he wants her and her unborn child.

This is a super relationship drama that makes a strong case that DNA does not make a family, nurturing and loving one another in spite of blood makes a family. Eli and Zac are strong lead characters while the support especially his adopted parents and sister and Arthur enhance the underlying premise as life happens in mysterious ways. Readers will enjoy Holly Jacobs’ wonderful Pennsylvania contemporary romance.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Once Upon A Knight-Jackie Ivie

Once Upon A Knight
Jackie Ivie
Zebra, Oct 2009, $5.99
ISBN: 9781420101669

In 1457 in the Highlands Sybil Eschoncan runs the castle for her stepmother ever since her father died. Thus when her odious stepmother informs her she will marry Sir Ian, the healing herbalist is taken aback as she believes her intended is an evil shrimp only after her alleged treasure and cannot be the man her sister Kendran wished upon her.

His cousin arranges for Vincent Danzel to escape from prison with the stipulation he ruin Sybil; not physically as the odious relative plans to do this. Instead without laying one finger on Sybil, he plans to makes her fall in love with him and leave. Vincent assumes this should prove easy especially after he meets the mouse, but she stuns him with ordering him to take a bath. Soon the cocky confident charmer finds he is losing every encounter to Sybil who has Vincent convinced she has drugged his food or drink as he is falling in love. She persuades him to make love with her so she does not have to wed Ian. However, he wants more and struggles to convince his Sybil to marry him although she seems to be the one in control of their relationship.

This is an interesting mid fifteenth century gender war in which neither Sybil or Vincent understand the rules of the seduction game because the third party rule-maker has his own agenda. Although overly complicated with too many side subplots that in fairness bring out time and place, fans will enjoy the Highlander romance between the herbalist protected by Waif the wolf and the escaped convict, an expendable discard sent to seduce Sybil by her cousin.

Harriet Klausner

One Snowy Knight-Deborah MacGillivray

One Snowy Knight
Deborah MacGillivray
Zebra, Oct 2009, $5.99
ISBN: 9781420104509

In 1296 most of the Craigendan men of fighting age fell in battle at Dunbar to the English Dragons of Challon to include the keep’s laird. His widow Lady Skena MacIain takes charge of protecting their tiny surviving clan, which is too tiny for any outsider to come in the frozen winter. Still she knows her keep is strategically a prize for King Edward even though he will ignore it until the spring thaw. She needs a new biddable spouse who will not harm her children or her people before the monarch sends one of his bloody dragons to wed her.

Once a squire to the king, Noel de Servian fails to heed his royale advice to wait until spring to come to the keep he now owns. As a blizzard leaves him near death he regrets his foolishness until he is rescued by an angel. Skena saves the idiot from himself and the weather. As they fall in love, she hides her feelings that her husband is either still alive or a ghost haunting the castle while also hoping the newcomer brings joy and safety to her keep; he conceals his affinity to the king as one of his dreaded Dragons.

The latest Dragons of Challons medieval romance (see RESTLESS KNIGHT) is a wonderful enjoyable tale due to the lead couple as each hides something critical from the other. With the mystery of whether the Laird lives as a mortal in hiding or a spirit, fans will enjoy this fine late thirteenth century Scottish romance as the resolute duet prefer making love not war.

Harriet Klausner

Possess Me At Midnight-Shayla Black

Possess Me At Midnight
Shayla Black
Pocket, Oct 27 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9781416578468

In England, evil mage Mathias apparently eliminated his only adversary who could have prevented him from taking control of all magic practitioners. The Doomsday Brethren Wizard Bram Rion lies in a comatose state following a black smoke assault by Mathias who plans to take over his unconscious rival’s seat on the Wizard Council as the second step of his plan. Once he does that and finds the Doomsday Diary of Morganna le Fey, he will succeed.

However, he makes one tiny miscalculation. Mathias fails to factor in Bram’s sister Sabelle. When Mathias begins his final assault, lowlife warrior Isdernus “Ice” Rykard escorts Sabelle, as a female she can carry the reverent tome, and the comatose Bram to safety. Ice wants her as his mate, but Sabelle cannot say the Binding Words as her brother must bless their union; both know Bram would never accept a lowlife like Ice. However, when Ice is hurt, Sabelle heals him as their bodies and souls unite. The next day he leaves her to draw Mathias away from the siblings.

The newest Doomsday Brethren urban fantasy (see Tempt Me with Darkness and Seduce Me In Shadow) is a superb entry as Bram’s sister and Ice star in what appears top be a bittersweet love story. Both pray Bram lives, but ironically if he does the couple can never be together. Sabelle is brave but Ice heats up the plot with his love for her ultimately affirmed with his version of Dickens final line in A Tale of two Cities: “It is a far, far, better thing than ever I have done” sacrifice to keep his beloved and his chieftain alive. Fans of Shayla Black will relish this enthralling and exciting novel as ice will melt the hearts of all readers.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Vow Of Seduction-Angela Johnson

Vow Of Seduction
Angela Johnson
Zebra, Oct 2009, $4.99
ISBN 9781420108576

Katherine of Montclair and Alex de Beaumont marry, but almost immediately after exchanging their vows, he insists he must leave. Alex is sworn to support King Edward I, who is leading a Crusade to take back the Holy Land from the Infidels so on his wedding night he joins his monarch.

Almost a decade has passed since Alex left and never came home. Kat and others assume he died. Instead he lingered in a Saracen prison where he had plenty of time to think about his beloved Kit-Kat, whom he hurt with his departure and his inability to tell her he loved her. Alex vows if he ever returns he will earn her love by showering her with his.

In 1276 Alex comes home to find his Kat about to marry Sir Luc de Joinveille. She rejects Alex’s plea saying she despises him and he is not welcome. Alex swears he changed and will prove to her that he has. However, someone wants them kept apart trying to kill either or both of them while Alex also seeks the traitor who left him dead back in the Holy Land.

This is a fabulous medieval romance starring two likable lead characters with well drawn flaws as each fear love for different reasons. He fled from love as he never felt like that before and she believes those she loves leave like him and her late parents. Although the plotters seem like half of England and this over the top of Big Ben (at least the original clock tower of the thirteenth century that is), fans will enjoy the gender war between the kick butt heroine and her born again wannabe champion.

Harriet Klausner

Santa In A Stetson-Janet Dailey

Santa In A Stetson
Janet Dailey
Zebra, Oct 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420106640

On a Texas ranch, model Diana Mills and cowboy Elijah “Lije” Masters meet during a shoot there. They are attracted to one another, but seem worlds apart. Yet they fall in love and marry.

The newlyweds go to live on his New Mexico ranch. However, Diana is stunned by the isolation after several years working runways in big city shows. There is no one for miles except Lije and his friend Jim Two Pony who seems to censure the new wife as not belonging here. Although not enchanted by the land, she decides to give her marriage until Christmas to work or else she leaves for the lights. Lije is over the top with rage when he spots Diana with another man; Jim Two Pony intercedes with wisdom.

This throwback to a gentler writing style is fun to follow although the path to happiness is straight and narrow. Fans of the author and anyone who relishes a sweet sensuous story starring two likable protagonists and a stereotype Native American sage will want to read Janet Dailey’s latest Christmas offering even though there is not a Calder for miles.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Stealing Midnight-Tracy MacNish

Stealing Midnight
Tracy MacNish
Zebra, Oct 2009, $5.99
ISBN: 9781420101706

In 1806 in Pemarlag, England Rhys Gawain uses grave robbers to supply him the corpses he studies at night on his crumbling estate. The “medical researcher” who drove his wife away a decade ago leaves the details of paying the venders to his daughter Olwyn while he dissects the bodies in his lab. Olwyn also draws pictures of body parts.

The latest delivery from the Chester grave robbers proves a bit of a problem when Olwyn finds Lord Aidan Mullin breathing. He is totally confused with what happened and how he ended up with his angel. Olwyn absconds with the living corpse before her dad can practice on a live subject as she vows to escort him home. On their trek they fall in love, but he conceals a secret from her and her obsessed father follows them; she is unsure whether it is to bring his daughter home or his latest subject.

Although the lead couple is a terrific pairing especially with how capable the heroine is as a chip off her maternal block, her father brings a sinister sense of doom as he instills chills and thrills to the story line. Regency romantic suspense fans will want to travel with Rhys and Olwyn as she takes him home while her dad is in deadly pursuit.

Harriet Klausner

Seduce Me By Christmas-Deborah Raleigh

Seduce Me By Christmas
Deborah Raleigh
Zebra, Oct 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780821780466

His father the Earl embarrassed by his mistake sent his transgression his illegitimate offspring Raoul Charlebois to Dunnington; there the lad made friends with Fredrick (see Bedding the Baron) and Ian (see Seducing the Viscount). As a young adult, Raul has been a rake, but with his two best friends happily married, he now feels the time is right to investigate his unknown past starting with why his father paid 20,000 pounds to conceal him.

The December weather is typically cold and icy as he rides a horse to Cheshire for the first time in a dozen years. However, his steed Hercules becomes unnerved by a sudden darting little boy who apparently is knocked senseless. Raoul takes Jimmy and Master Willie to their guardian Miss Sarah Jefferson who resides in the gamekeeper’s cottage on his father’s estate. Raoul and Sarah are attracted to one another, but as they fall in love and he uncovers information about his heritage, he cannot move past the hurts of his childhood; Sarah prays for a Christmas miracle.

The third Dunnington historical romance stars two memorable lead characters and a strong support cast including the heroes of the previous novels (not read by me) who make for a fabulous Christmas tale. The mystery of the past enhances the present as Sarah loves Raoul, but knows he cannot fully return her regard until he lets go of his demons that co-share his heart with her. Deborah Raleigh provides a winning finish to her saga with this super stand alone that also wraps up the mystery of the late Mr. Dunnington’s legacy.

Harriet Klausner

A Cowboy Christmas-Janette Kenny

A Cowboy Christmas
Janette Kenny
Zebra, Oct 2009, $5.99
ISBN: 9781420106589

In 1894 in Maverick, Wyoming, Ellie Jo Cade arrives from Denver as the new cook at the Crown Seven Ranch. Her employer Reid Barclay thinks she is beautiful, but has doubts she belongs on an isolated ranch where he raises thoroughbreds.

His initial impression of her not belonging on a ranch proves correct when she burns everything she bakes. Ellie Jo wants to make the holiday season like those she remembered enjoying at one time in her life, but cannot adapt to the wood burning, make that food burning stove. As her employer tries to catch a horse thief, her uplifting spirit proves contagious as he and the cowhands appreciate her efforts although not her food. As Ellie and Reid fall in love; he must make it right with his foster brothers Trey and Dave as they agreed as youths to take care of each other at the Guardian Angel’s Orphan Asylum and she must reveal her secret and pray for a Yuletide miracle.

This is a terific Americana tale that will have readers believing they are on a Wyoming ranch in the late nineteenth century as one can smell and visualize Ellie Jo’s cooking fiascos. The story line is warm and uplifting but fast-paced with a strong lead couple and support cast. With a fine overarching mystery tied to upcoming other “Foster Brothers” cowboy romances, fans will enjoy spending some time celebrating A COWBOY CHRISTMAS.

Harriet Klausner

Christmas Spirit-Amy Garvey

Christmas Spirit
Amy Garvey
Zebra, Oct 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420108194

Scoop Magazine reporter Sam Landry does not want to travel to Martha’s Vineyard to interview former teacher novelist Charlotte “Charlie” Prescott about the ghost she mentioned to her next door neighbor Lillian. Charlie recently inherited her late aunt’s house to include the ghost. However her biggest problem is her attraction to Sam as she keeps thinking he must be a good kisser in the romantic comedic manner of a 1940s ghost story.

Sam scorns the existence of ghosts until he sees nothing drinking eggnog. He is also confused as to how mistletoe seems to be everywhere he and Charlie go in the house; mind you not that he is complaining as he enjoys the ritual with Charlie. Accompanied by Lillian, they try to learn the identity of the ghost and why the free wheeling spirit seems to want to matchmake Sam and Charlie; not that either is complaining.

This is a fast-paced somewhat lighthearted paranormal romance that readers will enjoy although the ending feels too hasty and sudden. Sam and Charlie make a nice couple while the research into the ghost brings out information on the controlling side of the spirit. Amy Garvey provides a fun thriller in spite of the curt climax.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, October 9, 2009

Snow Angels-Fern Michaels, Marie Bostwick, Jana McMahan and Rosalind Noonan

Snow Angels
Fern Michaels, Marie Bostwick, Jana McMahan and Rosalind Noonan
Zebra, Nov 1 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9781420103649

"Snow Angels," by Fern Michaels. Following the death of his wife, Olympic skier Max Jorgensen became a recluse; that is until three angels, Grace Landry and her two little girls, seek shelter from a storm.

"The Presents of Angels" by Marie Bostwick. Former Rockettes dancer Kendra Loomis is happy to be pregnant and loves her husband, the town pastor Andy, and her teenage stepdaughter Thea, but she has doubts about Christmas in Maple Grove Vermont rather than Rockefeller Center.

"Decorations” by Jana McMahan. After her husband Randy dumps her, Michelle Duncan starts over caring for her mother in Asheville and working at a Christmas store with no thought of men until she meets her sculptor neighbor Baxter Brow.

"Miracle on Main Street" by Rosalind Noonan. On Christmas Eve NYPD cop Joe Cody works a drug overdose case that depresses him even more than the fact he and his wife Shelia cannot afford much for their kids for the holidays; he wishes for a miracle and gets one as he learns what a true gift is.

These are four entertaining warm holiday contemporary dramas in which each offer nothing new but are fun to read story lines starring charming casts who find the Yuletide spirit.

Harriet Klausner

To Desire A Devil-Elizabeth Hoyt

To Desire A Devil
Elizabeth Hoyt
Forever, Oct 27 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780446406949

A prisoner of war for seven years following the French and Indian War, Reynaud St. Aubyn finally escapes and returns home to London in 1765. He makes it home only to collapse crashing Beatrice Corning’s boring in her mind political tea party until the arrival of the uninvited Reynaud, previously declared dead and her uncle named the earl.

Beatrice has loved Reynaud since she moved in to live with her aunt and uncle and saw his portrait hanging on the wall. She helps him heal physically from a fever and mentally from his incarceration. As she begins to fall in love with the real person beyond just the image, he rhinks of her as his muse, but he needs to know who betrayed their unit at Spinner’s Fall and she needs to help him.

This is a super ending to the exciting late eighteenth century Legend of the Four Soldiers saga (see To Taste Temptation, and To Beguile a Beast). The story line is fast-paced as the disheveled ailing hero returns from the “dead” to fall in love but to also identify the traitor who cost them so much. Although the overarching theme is resolved in an intelligent way that remains consistent to the series, TO DESIRE A DEVIL primarily focuses on the relationship between Reynaud and Beatrice

Harriet Klausner

A Great Kisser-Donna Kauffman

A Great Kisser
Donna Kauffman
Kensington Brava, Nov 1 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758231314

Six months ago her mother married Mayor Arlen Thompson of Cedar Springs, a Colorado resort town. Now Lauren Matthews leaves her job at Capitol Hill to meet her mom’s spouse, her stepfather.

The mayor’s personal assistant Ruby Jean demands (by crying) her brother Jake McKenna escort her boss’ stepdaughter around town. Jake reluctantly agrees although he prefers fixing planes. However as they soar in love, someone is doing things to drive her out of town. Already disconcerted by her mother’s sudden marriage, Lauren wonders who and why.

Mindful of Matthew Broderick’s Out on a Limb, A GREAT KISSER is an enjoyable romantic suspense with the accent on the love subplot as the mystery never quite gels because the villain never quite seems felonious. Jake is fun as the reluctant hero while Lauren is the outsider causing trouble for townsfolk with her need to know why the mayor married her mom because she doubts his sincerity as a spouse or a politician. Fans preferring contemporary romances with a touch of suspense will enjoy Donna Kauffman’s Rocky Mountain tale.

Harriet Klausner

Luke-Cheyenne McCray

Cheyenne McCray
St. Martin’s Griffin, Oct 27 2009, $14.99
ISBN: 9780312386696

Trinity MacKenna spent the last four years in London where she has a thriving career and a boyfriend. However, she has finally returned home to spend the holidays with her family on their Flying M ranch in Arizona.

At a welcome home party, Trinity meets the ranch’s foreman Luke Denver. Each are attracted to one another as he wants her and her him though she insists she is going to marry some English bloke. However, Luke is actually an undercover DEA agent working the illegal drug trafficking accentuated by a turf war and the bust by County Sheriff Wayland of three Cochise College students for possession. He fears for Trinity and her sister Skylar as someone wants to use the ranch as a depot for shipping drugs.

The second Armed and Dangerous undercover police procedural romance (see Zack) is a fast-paced, heated thriller as readers will want their own hot tubs. The key to this terrific entry is the case and the safety of civilians come before the sexual need although Luke and Trinity insures the audience has plenty of encounters of the first kind (and third kind for readers and voyeurs). As expected Cheyenne McCray deftly merges the heat of suspense with that of sex and love in this super thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Hot And Irresistible-Dianne Castell

Hot And Irresistible
Dianne Castell
Kensington Brava, Nov 1 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758223616

Savannah police detective Bebe Fitzpatrick is a good cop mostly because of her street smarts she learned in her rough childhood. However, Bebe is unhappy when her boss teams her up with Boston cop Donovan McCabe in town investigating a local hero, Ray Cleveland who owns a restaurant on Thunderbolt Island where she likes to eat. Bebe and Donovan are attracted to each other inside the bedroom but detractors on the case as they disagree about Mr. Cleveland running things besides food.

Bebe also gets involved with a three decade old cold case murder and issues about who her parents are. However, the worst problem facing Bebe is that damn Yankee invader she baby-sits for as she wants him to do more than just diaper him at a time when their inquiry leads to more murders and attempts on their lives.

More a romance between a couple fighting the War of Northern Aggression in her mind while in his is babysitting is great. There is an excellent supporting police procedural subplot. The story line is fun as the banter between the “sitter and the baby” is humorous as she is aggressive and angry and he is amused. However, readers who prefer taut suspense throughout their tales should pass as HOT AND BOTHERED is predominantly a romance between two cops whose investigation serves as a matchmaker of sorts.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Beauty's Curse-Traci E. Hall

Beauty's Curse
Traci E. Hall
Medallion, Nov 2009, $7.95
ISBN: 9781933836560s

In 1193 her family demands Galiana Montehue marry soon or else they will arrange a marriage for her. So far she has found no one appealing as her incredible beauty has become a curse that has hardened her to all these shallow charmers. Galiana takes a walk with her twelve year old twin brothers when they engage in a snowball fight in the near forest.

Abruptly a man with a sword threatens her siblings. Galiana throws a rock at him, hitting his head and knocking him out. The knight’s men grab her to take care of their injured leader. When he awakens from his comatose state he is blind. As she nurses him back to health including his sight, they fall in love, but the royal spy Wallis O'Rourke must find the Breath of Merlin artifact to save the land from an evil ancient magic and marry the woman he loves before her father cuts off his head and other body parts.

With hints of Camelot, this is a terrific medieval romance as King William’s espionage agent falls in love with his beautiful nurse while he is unable to see her “curse”. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Galiana cast the first stone and never slows down until the final confrontation with her raging dad wanting his blood for her abduction. The twins put in-law relationships in perspective when they call him “her rapist”. Traci E. Hall provides an exhilarating late twelfth century tale as the Montehue brood wants vengeance against the man who loves their daughter.

Harriet Klausner

A Courtesan's Scandal-Julia London

A Courtesan's Scandal
Julia London
Pocket, Oct 20 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9781416547129

In London of 1806, Kate Bergeron has come a long way from her impoverished childhood as she has become mistress to a cloth merchant. However, she climbs higher up the social ladder when the Prince of Wales wants her. Prinny is in the midst of a public divorce so must conceal his planned trysts with his latest mistress.

He asks in a way the duke cannot refuse him, that Grayson Christopher pretend to be Kate's newest lover; he does not even bother to ask Kate as he expects her to comply. Kate and Grayson assume their masquerading as a couple will be a front for the Prince to hide his assignation, but no more. Neither expected to be attracted to one another although each understands the danger if they begin to make love let alone fall in love.

A COURTESAN’S SCANDAL in an intriguing refreshing Regency romance as inadvertently the Prince plays matchmaker and relationship breaker. The cast is strong including the Prince who sets up quite a dilemma for the lead couple. Fans will appreciate Julia London’s charmer as love proves dangerous to a duke and his not so pretend mistress as neither known how the capricious Prinny will react if he learns the truth.

Harriet Klausner

Leah's Choice-Marta Perry

Leah's Choice
Marta Perry
Berkley, Nov 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425230503

Widower Daniel Glick moves with his three young children to Pleasant Valley in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The Amish townsfolk welcome the single dad and his brood especially since everyone believes he is perfect for their schoolteacher of then Leah Beiler; and she would be the perfect wife to him and an ideal mom to his three young kids (Matthew, Elizabeth and Jonah).

Daniel is attracted to Leah, but he has doubts after his unhappy first marriage. Adding to his growing hesitation is the return of Leah's ex-fiancé, Johnny Kile who wants a second chance with her. Will Leah choose a ready family, the man who broke her heart or neither?

This is an entertaining but somewhat by the book Amish romance that although for the most part provides nothing new fans will still enjoy it. The conflict is the relationship choices that Leah must make and for that matter Daniel too. Whereas she must choose between her first love who dumped her for the outside world and a steady man who has proven to be a good mother and father to his kids. He knows he must put those kids ahead of his desires. With a nod to Roy Orbison’s Running Scared, readers will appreciate Marta Perry’s fine passionate contemporary mindful of the works of Wanda E. Brunstetter.

Harriet Klausner

A Highlander Christmas-Janet Chapman

A Highlander Christmas
Janet Chapman
Pocket, Oct 27 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9781416595458

French rocket scientist Luke Pascal Renoir and NASA physicist Dr. Camry MacKeage have been exchanging emails. However, she quits NASA as magic and science seems a poor mix. Camry flees to Maine where she becomes a dog sitter whose BFFs are Tigger and Max.

Jack Stone and Camry’s parents rescue Luke from certain death due to a blizzard on their frozen mountain top. The outsider mentions his corresponded with Camry shocking her family with her former and present occupation as they thought she was working in Florida. He further explains she said no to his request to collaborate on an ion propulsion model and abruptly stopped responding when he said he would like to meet her in the States. Luke went to NASA but she had quit. Her mom demands Luke amend his transgression by persuading Camry to come home to celebrate the solace with her family. He will learn a little bit of magic and a lot of love makes the heart pump faster.

The latest MacKeage whimsical romance stars the first daughter Camry who struggles with magic vs. science especially her heritage and Renoir. From the opening scene when the matriarch Dr. Grace welcomes a frozen Luke into the family while the patriarch Grey wants to leave him exposed to the blizzard, the cast makes for an engaging holiday time. Although long time fans will notice some similarity to Secrets of the Highlander, Janet Chapman cleverly spins the tale differently so that readers will enjoy celebrating A HIGHLANDER CHRISTMAS in Maine.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Very NASCAR Holiday-Nancy Warren, Debra Webb and Gina Wilkins

A Very NASCAR Holiday
Nancy Warren, Debra Webb and Gina Wilkins
Harlequin HQN, Nov 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373774111

"All I Want for Christmas” by Nancy Warren. In Minnesota her ten year old son Darren’s essay leads Emily Littlejohn and NASCAR driver Jason Bane to reunite in Florida for the first since each hid their attraction to the other in high school.

"Christmas Past" by Debra Webb. NASCAR driver Jason Fewell suffers panic attacks since his girlfriend's death; so his boss hires the Chicago based Colby Agency who sends Molly Clark to Aspen, to secretly keep him safe.

"Secret Santa” by Gina Wilkins. Following in the Christmas tradition of his dad, NASCAR driver Rob Sanger secretly plays Santa at various charitable events; when he meets Leanne Baker portraying Mrs. Claus, he finds he wants her and her daughter to be with him year round.

These are three fun holiday romances with just the right amount of character anxieties with much of the action off track.

Harriet Klausner

A Creed Country Christmas-Linda Lael Miller

A Creed Country Christmas
Linda Lael Miller
Harlequin HQN, Oct 27 2009, $16.95
ISBN: 9780373774050

In December 1910 her Denver based family disowned Juliana Mitchell for refusing to marry because they demanded she do so. Instead she obtains work as a teacher at an Indian school in Stillwater Springs, Montana. She takes it personally when the school is shut. She worries about the welfare of her four students, but has no funds and her pompous brother refuses to send what is legally hers.

Widowed cowboy Lincoln Creed has failed to find a governess or for that matter anyone to care for his seven year old daughter Gracie. He knows of Juliana’s plight so offers her a deal that he assumes she cannot refuse. Juliana accepts his offer to stay at the Stillwater Springs Ranch with her students and his daughter for Christmas. As the two adults are caught in a compromising situation that forces them to marry, each wonders whether it will prove a Yuletide gift wrapped in love or otherwise.

The latest tale in the Creed saga is a terrific entry starring the legendary Lincoln and the Indian School teacher who proves to him the lightning of love can strike twice. The lead couple makes the story line starting in the general store in which Lincoln reprimands the owner for his nasty treatment of the children and his buying the tin. Although the kids especially Gracie are a bit too precocious, the audience will appreciate this strong character driven Big Sky early twentieth holiday romance.

Harriet Klausner

Hot On Her Heels-Susan Mallery

Hot On Her Heels
Susan Mallery
Harlequin HQN, Nov 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373773848

The Titan sisters (Lexie, Skye and Izzy) struggle with trying to prevent a family disaster as their half-brother Garth Duncan seeks revenge against their father Jed Titan. Though the three women know their dad deserves the worst, they wish it was over. Their best friend Dallas Police Department Deputy Dana Birch seeks evidence to lock away Garth especially for hurting the trio. However, he has been diabolically careful in not leaving anything around that could condemn him.

Dana is stunned with the news Jed ordered the bomb that nearly killed Izzy; as she thought Garth had done it. In fact she is further stunned that Jed was willing to kill his daughter in order to frame his son. Izzy wants to save Garth from his own destructive behavior so similar to that of their father. Dana joins her BFFs while she and Garth are beginning to fall in love. However, Jed is willing to shed the blood of his family to remain the top dog.

Although Jed remains over the top of Reunion Tower as the king of betrayal and treachery, the final Titan sister romantic suspense thriller is a superb angst filled thriller as Garth learns how complex life and relationships are. The final coda is heart-wrenching that sums up the saga with the tune You Can’t Always Get What You Want, but with love you can come close.

Harriet Klausner

Home In Time For Christmas-Heather Graham

Home In Time For Christmas
Heather Graham
Mira, Oct 27 2009, $16.95
ISBN: 9780778326878

Shortly before Christmas, Melody Tarleton drives carefully on icy roads to spend part of the holidays with her parents. However, in spite of her caution, she almost runs over a man who appears out nowhere on the slick road. She helps confused Jake Mallory into her vehicle. He is wearing eighteenth century garb while insisting he never seen anything like the vehicle she is driving them in.

Although she believes he is either severely injured to the head or a con artist, Melody takes Jake to her family home. He eventually persuades his hosts that he really is a Revolutionary War patriot fighting for the colonies who was about to be hung in New York City in 1776. As they fall in love, she tries to help him return to his present back in the late 1770s though he prefers to stay with her.

The fun in this entertaining often amusing time travel romance is the bewildered Jake who is confused about everything starting with the blood-red caress, but remains calm except for his feelings for the doubting Thomasina and his concerns re his “sister”. Fans will enjoy this charmer as a Revolutionary War hero goes from red petals and the noose to red petals and love in time for Christmas.

Harriet Klausner

Draycott Everlasting-Christina Skye

Draycott Everlasting
Christina Skye
Harlequin HQN, Nov 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373774159

“Christmas Knight”. Although she has not seen Glenbrae, Hope O'Hara purchases the Highlands Manor with plans to convert the house into a bed and breakfast. The Wishwell sisters think Hope is perfect for Ronan McLeod, the thirteen century first owner of Glenbrae. Although they live seven centuries apart, the siblings use magic to bring Hope and Ronan together; believing love will do the rest.

"Moonrise". Former Crusader Knight, Navarre the Wolf plans to kill his former friend Adrian the ghost guardian of Draycott Abbey for betraying him. Collateral damage is acceptable to Adrian who casts a spell that will kill everyone inside by moonrise. The lone human resident is FBI agent Sara Nightingale seeking clues to a missing treasure, but instead meets Navarre and Adrian.

These are two entertaining Draycott romantic fantasies with Christmas Knight being a 1998 reprint and Moonrise a novella. Fast-paced and filled with strong characters especially lead protagonists in conflict and love Christina Skye casts a spell on her audience with the coupling of the new and the old.

Harriet Klausner

Child Of Darkness-Jennifer Armintrout

Child Of Darkness
Jennifer Armintrout
Mira, Nov 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778326700

Human-Faery Queene Ayla has ruled for two decades in the Lightworld; having come a long way from once being an assassin (see QUEENE OF LIGHT). However, she has some recent concerns when an Upworld Fae warns her to beware of the elves and their allies the Waterhorses. Concerned over the safety of her daughter Cerridwen, Ayla proclaims her offspring will marry her advisor Cedric, who she believes will keep her daughter safe.

Cerridwen is outraged by her mother’s declaration without consulting her. In fact she believes she loves Fenrick the elf. She runs away to be with her beloved, but to her consternation, Fenrick betrays her to the elves. Cerridwen becomes a prisoner of the increasingly feral elves-waterhorse allied horde. A despondent Ayla sends her mortal consort former Death Angel Malachi to rescue his offspring Cerridwen whom everyone assumes is the daughter of the late traitor Prince Garret and heir to the throne. War seems imminent.

This Lightworld/Darkworld fantasy thriller is an exhilarating tale that has become even more personal for Ayla when seemingly everyone on several planes wanted her dead. She may have come a long way from assassin to queene, but to Ayla the one constant is assorted species wanting her dead and now her daughter is in deadly danger. Cerridwen is a chip off the old danger block(s) and Malachi remains as kick butt as ever even if his soul mate has brought some mortal light to his former dark world. This is a terrific action-packed yet character driven tale.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Madison's Children- Linda Warren

Madison's Children
Linda Warren
Harlequin SuperRomance Oct 2009, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373715923

In High Cotton, Texas Philadelphian Madison Belle finds two kids hiding in the barn on her family’s High Five ranch. She learns from the cowhands that teenage Ginny, tweener Georgie and infant Haley are the children of local constable Walker. Although the kids want to run way to their mom Trisha in Lubbock, Madison calls Walker to retrieve his children.

Already attracted to Walker, Maddie decides to assist the beleaguered single dad with his brood. The older two children have had issues since their mom ran off with Tony. As Walker falls in love with Maddie and she with him and his three offspring; their mom comes home claiming she is carrying his child.

The Belles of Texas (see Caitlyn’s Prize) is an enjoyable romance starring two individuals with issues to overcome. Madison is healing physically and unsure she can deal with three children in need of nurturing and mothering. Walker distrusts women since his wife deserted him and the kids. Both know the children’s needs come before their desire. Although Trisha is unbelievably over the edge with the kids, fans will relish this tale as she has rights that love might not be able to overcome.

Harriet Klausner

His Secret Agenda-Beth Andrews

His Secret Agenda
Beth Andrews
Harlequin SuperRomance Oct 2009, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373715916

His client hires private investigator Dean Garret to track down a missing daughter and grandson. He travels to Serenity Springs, New York where he meets bar owner Allison Martin. Dean believes the former lawyer turned barkeeper knows what he seeks so he obtains work at her place.

Allison is attracted to her new employee, but her gut tells her he is concealing something critical from her. Dean also finds himself falling in love with his new boss, but strongly believes she knows where the runaway mom and son are hiding. Both fears their relationship will end before it begins if the hidden truth each possesses comes out; however, without honesty a relationship will die.

This is an enjoyable romantic suspense due to the lead couple who fall in love but he is caught between his desire and his undercover job. The story line is tense mostly because of Dean who is unsure what to do about HIS SECRET AGENDA; unaware that she also has a secret agenda. Beth Andrews provides a super taut thriller as the conflicted couple Dean and Allison believe doing the right thing will leave them alone, but doing wrong will leave them alone anyway.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, October 5, 2009

Next Comes Love-Helen Brenna

Next Comes Love
Helen Brenna
Harlequin SuperRomance Oct 2009, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373715947

After her half-sister vanished without a trace, Erica Corelli gets her six year old nephew Jason. Fearing Jason’s dad, Billy, a violent Chicago cop, she flees with the child. Not knowing exactly where to hide, she returns to her personal Eden, Mirabelle Island, Wisconsin where she spent the best few days of her life when she was a ten years old child and has gotten work at Duffy’s Pub as Erica Jackson.

Erica and island police chief Garrett Tyler, a former Chicago cop, meet and are enemies at first bite, but soon also are attracted to one another; a no-no in both their minds as each expects the other is Trouble. Following a news broadcast that paints Erica as an abductor, Garret knows who she and Jason are. He reports nothing as he sees Jason feels safe with his aunt and wants to insure both meet no harm though Billy is coming.

NEXT COMES LOVE is a super romantic suspense as the audience knows why Erica ran off with Jason while fearing her sibling is dead. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Erica tells Garrett to mind his business and never takes a breather as love competes with the anticipated tension of expectations that he is coming. Helen Brenna returns her fans to “An island worth remembering” (see FIRST COME TWINS) with a terrific character driven taut thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Seduction By The Book- Stephanie Bond

Seduction By The Book
Stephanie Bond
Harlequin Blaze Oct 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373795048

Fortyish Gabrielle Pope created the Red Tote Book Club so that members can enjoy quality passionate novels. She dares the others to re-read their favorite book and use it as a guide to seduce the star of their hottest fantasies. Although each is timid, they all agree to try except Carol Snow.

Architect Cassie Goodwin picks Lady Chatterley's Lover to go after her ex. Reticent administrative assistant Page Sharpe selects Venus in Furs to win the affection and adulation of her boss. Party planner Wendy Trainer chooses as her woman of pleasure Fanny Hill to persuade her best friend she is serious in her desire for him. Auditor Jacqueline Mays cherishes being the submissive slave to her client.

With an erotic nod to Karen Joy Fowler’s Jane Austen Book Club, SEDUCTION BY THE BOOK is an engaging thematic anthology as each of the women star in her personalized tale of passion. Although none of the women except Gabrielle are fully developed, fans will enjoy each member’s effort to apply the lessons of their book choice to their chosen seduced one.

Harriet Klausner

Cody-Kimberly Raye

Kimberly Raye
Harlequin Blaze Oct 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373795000

Bull rider Cody Braddock became a vampire just after the Civil War when he and his brothers returned from the hostilities to their Texas home to find their family dead. Cody notices to his shock in the paper the picture of the face that has haunted him for over a century. The man who murdered his family apparently is alive and well running Skull Creek Choppers. Cody plans to kill him.

Miranda Rivers is looking for one last orgasmic with a capital O fling before marrying. She meets vengeful vampire Cody, who grows stronger with the sexual satiation of the women he has sex with. He has never felt that same satisfaction until now.

The second Skull Creek, Texas vampire romance (see “Once Upon a Bite” in Blazing Bedtime Stories anthology) is a super tale due to fully developed lead characters and the solid support cast. The story line is fast-paced but totally driven by the relationship between the cowboy vampire and the mortal who owns his soul and heart (and another body part). Fans will root for this pair to make it, but can Cody move past vengeance to love after surviving for well over a century on the former.

Harriet Klausner

A Baby For Mommy-Cathy Gillen Thacker

A Baby For Mommy
Cathy Gillen Thacker
Harlequin American Romance, Oct 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373752829

In Fort Worth, single dad Dan Kingsland struggles with raising three children with the help of his ex wife’s uncle. He hopes some good cooking will bring some peace to the chaotic household so he hires Chef Emily Stayton to at least cook them a good tasting meal. He fails to notice that she is pregnant; if he did he probably would not have hired her.

Emily plans to leave Fort Worth after the holidays to go home to her family’s peach orchards, but accepts the job temporarily with the Kingsland brood so she can earn some needed money. However, Emily is unable to leave as planned due to the machinations of some sly youngsters; Dan is exhilarated as he and the others in the household have fallen in love with the chef.

This is an amusing charmer that looks at what truly makes a family as DNA is not enough, but caring and loving are. Dan is terrific in a sort of naive way that endears him to the readers as he will remind fans in some way of Steve Carell in Dan in Real Life though he is not a widower. The kids bring humor as Chef Emily regrets falling in love with them, their father and their great uncle because she must leave unless the brood can convince her “home is where the heart is.”

Harriet Klausner

The Littlest Matchmaker-Dorien Kelly

The Littlest Matchmaker
Dorien Kelly
Harlequin American Romance, Oct 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373752843

In Davenport, Iowa widowed single mom Lisa Kincaid owns and runs the Shortbread Cottage café. She has no plans of ever marrying again as her first time was not very good. Her focus is raising her son Jamie and making a living for them. Kevin who is a steady customer and good with kids seems like the real deal and nothing similar to her late husband.

Kevin Decker blames himself for the death of Lisa’s spouse three years ago. He also has been in love with Lisa for years although he hid his feelings as she was married and then widowed. He has been there for mother and child whenever they need help but still masks how much he loves both of them. As Lisa conceals how she feels about Kevin, her four year old has plans for a new father, his pal Kevin.

The lead couple and the title character seem genuine making for a warm contemporary romance as the young child pushes the two adults in his life together although Kevin feels guilt and Lisa has doubts. Although Jamie seems too precocious, fans will enjoy this delightful contemporary second chance at love.

Harriet Klausner

Throw Your Heart Over-Linda Ingmanson

Throw Your Heart Over
Linda Ingmanson
Five Star, Oct 16 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594148170

Serena Trent and her ten years old daughter Lacey move from California to Connecticut following a nasty divorce. Serena moves in with her older spinster sister Sarah. Although financially strapped, Serena keeps up Lacey’s riding lessons at the farm owned by divorcee Logan Murphy. His ex wife died in a car crash that left his twelve year old daughter Paige angry and trapped in a wheelchair though her doctor says she can walk.

Paige’s rage has frightened off several nannies and has rejected the father she occasionally saw before the accident. Desperate, he offers Serena a job as the nanny, which she accepts over the objection of her sister. As the adults fall in love and with the help of the two female Trents, he begins to make inroads with his daughter. However, Logan conceals one key fact from the three women he loves; a truth that could end his relationships with each of them if revealed.

The key that freshens up this second chance at love romance is each adult is a single parent with issues. Serena feels terrible that she has little to offer Lacey while Logan is clueless re Paige who he rarely saw. With a secondary romance adding depth, fans will relish this fine contemporary while wondering whether Logan will reveal the secret that disturbs him or continue to conceal it and pray none of the three women he loves will ever learn the truth.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Taming The Cougar-Vonna Harper

Taming The Cougar
Vonna Harper
Kensington Aphrodisia, Oct 2009, $12.95
ISBN: 9780758229465

Animal psychic Kai Tallon is part of an anthropological exploration on Navajo land in the canyons of Northern Arizona. She knows this area is reputed to be home to a pride of shapeshifting half human and half cougar species. Though she has doubts the legend of the Tocho is true especially the sexual proclivity of the males, she hopes to affirm the myth as real with an encounter of the first kind.

Kai meets Hok'ee on spiritual and physical levels. He takes her to his abode claiming her as his lifemate. She shocks him when she figures out what changed him from a purebred human to the hybrid. Her challenge in a tug of war for her beloved’s soul is the skinwalker who wants Hok’ee to be more cougar than man. Her colleagues are so excited about their find that they plan to report to civilization once they return from the canyons.

This is a thrilling erotic rural romantic fantasy that uses Navaho mythos as a basis of a heated tale. The story uses the duality of rotating first person perspectives between Kai and Hok’ee that enable the audience to understand the motives of each, but though fascinating especially his schizoid needs fighting each other for supremacy, this also slows down the pace. Once the lead couple meets, the engaging story line is faster than a fleeing roadrunner even with the BDSM encounters of a first kind. Erotica fans who relish refreshing sexual twists will enjoy this superb thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Under The Covers-P.J. Mellor, Crystal Jordan and Lorie O'Clare

Under The Covers
P.J. Mellor, Crystal Jordan and Lorie O'Clare
Kensington Aphrodisia, Oct 2009, $13.95
ISBN: 9780758238078

"Naughty or Nice?" by Crystal Jordan. Dayna brings her sexually unsatisfying but nice fiancé Nathan home to meet the family. Her brother’s best friend naughty Jake has other holiday plans for Dayna.

"Nativity Island" by Lorie O'Clare. Marine biologist Mercedes and author Jeremy meet on an island when the ship carrying her and her teammates has engine problems. Each is attracted to the other but she wants the real man not the novelist and he wants to believe she desires him not the famous bestselling author.

"Escaping Christmas" by P.J. Mellor. Her boyfriend dumps her taking her dog Rhetta with him. Banker Samantha follows him to Christmas, Texas to retrieve the canine, but soon finds herself handcuffed to sheriff Bret.

These are three heated Christmas romances that prove the holidays can turn excitingly erotic with the right coupling.

Harriet Klausner

Simply Wicked-Kate Pearce

Simply Wicked
Kate Pearce
Kensington Aphrodisia, Oct 2009, $13.95
ISBN: 9780758232212

In 1819 London anything sexual is Anthony Sokorvsky’s reputation; which he affirms overnight at Madam Helene Delornay’s pleasure house making him late for his meeting with his brother Val (see SIMPLY SEXUAL) at Sokorvsky and Howard shipping. He vows to his sibling to change his ways as he loathes that Lord Minshom owns his body and soul as his personal sex slave.

The Delornay twins ask Anthony to do them a favor; escort their widowed older sister Marguerite Lockwood around town. He agrees as he sees her as a first step back into society after his recent homosexual relationship; she also accepts his invitation as she must overcome the scandal caused by her late husband’s death in a duel; her in-laws blame her. As their attraction turns physical, Anthony’s former partner has plans for his former submissive and the submissive woman he has ties to.

The key to this Simply Wicked Regency erotic romance is Anthony as he does not suddenly find the holy grail of heterosexual activity with Marguerite, but instead learns he is a bisexual submissive. Marguerite is also a submissive so with no dominant can they find happiness just like they have found love. Fans of the House of Pleasure will enjoy the latest heated historical as this is simply one of the bets sub-genre series leaving fans SIMPLY INSATIABLE for more.

Harriet Klausner

Sinjin-Julia Templeton

Julia Templeton
Kensington Aphrodisia, Oct 2009, $13.95
ISBN: 9780758238153

The Raybourne brothers (Sinjin, Victor, and Rory) are known throughout London as the “Rakehells of Rochester; they live for sexual pleasure. However, even these hedonists know when it is time to retreat as their Mother has arrived at Madame Darion’s Pleasure Palace in Covent Gardens looking for them. Mother Betsy demands they give up their wanton ways and marry.

As the oldest Sinjin agrees to go first as the "sacrifice" to the altar of their Mother, but she informs her three offspring that each will be married by summer’s end or else. However when he and Katelyn Davenport meet, Sinjin finds marriage may not be bad as he is attracted to her. There is only one problem; she is engaged to the much older Lord Balliford as a means to pay back her late father’s debts. As he teaches her the pleasure of sex between those in love, Balliford arrives to “re-imprison” his betrothed.

From the moment Mother assaults her wastrel sons until the final confrontation SINJIN is an enjoyable heated erotic historical romance. The lead couple is a solid (and not just his constant boner) pairing while the support cast of both their families add some depth. Though Balliford is a vile villain with no redeeming quality and the story line thin, sub-genre readers will enjoy this torrid tale and crave Victor’s encounter.

Harriet Klausner

Unleashed-Jami Alden

Jami Alden
Kensington Brava, Oct 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758225481

Perhaps it is because he is the oldest of the Taggart siblings that makes Danny kick butt and ask questions afterward. His “Gemini” twin younger brothers seem gentle in comparison (see Kept and Caught for their respective tales). Only one person outside of family ever got passed his rock hard heart, but Caroline Medford dumped him ten years ago; coagulating his heart into glacial ice.

Sometimes you get what you wish for and Danny gets his. A desperate Caroline begs him to help her as she is the prime suspect in the murder of her husband James. To entice him to take her on as a client, she shows him evidence she found linking James to his missing mom Ann. Danny takes on the case, planning to take her and dump her. As they fall in love for the second time, their break-up leaves both raw and suspicious of the other’s motives.

The third Gemini Men romantic suspense thriller is an action packed second chance at love tale that completes the overarching theme while also providing an intriguing finish. The villains are incredible as they make the story line work with their avarice human trafficking while the lead couple is a strong duet whose history may overwhelm their future. Fans will enjoy this fine last Taggart standing novel while newcomers will seek the tales of the twins Ethan and Derek, who with their father Joe and their women make key minor appearances in the exhilarating UNLEASHED.

Harriet Klausner

Holding Out For A Hero-HelenKay Dimon

Holding Out For A Hero
HelenKay Dimon
Kensington Brava, Oct 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758229052

In Hawaii affluent Deana Armstrong rejects the police conclusion that her sixteen year old nephew Ryan used a baseball bat to bludgeon his parents to death and he was convicted of that crime. She believes he is innocent and her only hope to prove this rests with former DEA agent Josh Windsor who left the department before they fired him over a meth case that turned ugly. Deanna confronts him and offers him money, but he simply says no; her family money tipped him in a previous drug related court case re her nephew. Josh further explains he is out of the hero business and wants nothing to do with this woman who belongs in a Nebraska convent.

Eventually her harassment pushes Josh to agree to investigate if for no other reason but to get Deana from stalking him. Every clue he finds affirms the conviction, which makes falling in love a bit more difficult than even their totally opposite childhoods.

This is an entertaining investigative romance in which the love subplot supersedes the murder mystery. Josh and Deanne have issues; his with his heritage in which his mom turned tricks to feed him and her with scars on her chest from her most frightful moment; thus with their different opinion re Ryan leads to a fascinating pairing. Although the detecting subplot seems only to serve as a matchmaker, fans will enjoy the repartee between two people who represent opposite sides of Hawaii’s social spectrum.

Harriet Klausner