Friday, January 30, 2009

The Desires of Her Heart-Lyn Cote

The Desires of Her Heart
Lyn Cote
Avon, Feb 10 2009, $12.99
ISBN: 9780061373411

In 1821 twenty-five years old spinster Dorritt Mott fears her stepfather Mr. Kilbride is up to his usual no good, but this time her clenched gut expects the worst. She proves right when she learns he gambled away her family’s Belle Vista Plantation that he has lived off of while she ran it. Knowing he must flee from New Orleans, he informs his extended family they will leave for the Texas Territory where they can claim land and start over. Dorritt would like to go her own way, but knows her pampered mom and her spoiled sister Jewell whose fiancé dumped her need her.

Dorritt knows Mr. Kilbride is an amoral moron who will vanish at the first inkling of trouble; from what she knows of the trek from Louisiana to Texas it is very dangerous. She prefers to depend on wagon train half-breed scout Quinn and God than Kilbride. However, as her attraction for the half Cherokee grows, she learns once again a man cannot be trusted as he has business yes with Kilbride.

The opening Texas Star of Destiny tale is an interesting "Era of Good Feelings” Americana romance. Although Mr. Kilbride, his wife and Jewell are too stereotyped, Dorritt and Quinn are fully developed intriguing lead characters. Fans will relish this fine tale of a feisty female defying the expected role of a Louisiana aristocrat in life and in love.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Triplets’ Rodeo Man-Tina Leonard

The Triplets’ Rodeo Man
Tina Leonard
Harlequin American, Mar 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 0373752547

With his father is in the Union Junction Hospital in need of a kidney transplant, rodeo star Jack Morgan returns home to the family ranch after being away for a decade due to an estrangement between them. The bronco riding champion and his dad have argued over his working the ranch vs. bronco busting.

Jack and Cricket Jasper, a deacon, meet for the first time in several years at the hospital. They are attracted to one another and enjoy an incredible night together. However, when she becomes pregnant carrying triplets, he offers to marry her. Shockingly Cricket refuses. She has loved Jack ever since she was a little girl, but assumes he wants to wed her now for the sake of their children; and besides she wants him to end his rodeo career before he gets hurt. Meanwhile Jack’s dad offers him a million dollars if he remains on the ranch for one year. Jack has some decisions to make starting with convincing doubting Cricket he loves her.

This is an intriguing contemporary romance starring a lead protagonist who is at a point in his life when he must choose. The plot is thin as it does not explore deep enough inside his head how pulled Jack is. Still fans will enjoy his efforts to reconcile with his dad, his brother, and the woman he loves carrying his offspring.

Harriet Klausner

The Sheriff of Horseshoe, Texas-Linda Warren

The Sheriff of Horseshoe, Texas
Linda Warren
Harlequin American, Mar 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 0373752539

Wealthy socialite Peyton Ross drives through Horseshoe, Texas like a bat out of hell; going at least twice the speed limit. The sheriff gives chase, but the spoiled brat accelerates as if the sirens were not blaring behind her. She is finally forced to pull over and is arrested for reckless driving as well as speeding.

The Judge is disgusted with Peyton’s nonchalant attitude. Frustrated and irate with her, she is fined and sentenced to two weeks of community service. The widowed Sheriff Wyatt Carson reluctantly gives his spare room to the recalcitrant woman to sleep as the town has no rooms to rent. Both detest the attraction between them especially the lawman as he feels guilty about betraying his high school sweetheart late wife Lori, who died six years ago. However, his eight year old daughter Jodi and her grandma think otherwise.

This is an enjoyable Texas two step romance as the attitudes of the three prime players change due to the influx of the new relationships between them. The character driven tale stars a strong support cast, but is owned by the lead couple and his daughter. Contemporary fans will enjoy this fine tale from the moment the sheriff arrests the party girl not realizing at that moment when she frustrates him with her cavalier attitude she captured his heart.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Divine Fantasy- Melanie Jackson

Divine Fantasy
Melanie Jackson
Love Spell, Feb 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 0505528037

As a child her parents exiled her because of a heart defect that made her imperfect in their minds; Audrey Atheneum, which is not her “joyous” birth name, but instead her adult pen name as a biographer of the almost famous quirky people, was shipped off to boarding schools as out of sight out of mind was the mantra of her family. The worst time was holidays, which the other kids looked forward to while Audrey knew she would remain alone.

She met Max Ober and fell in love, but after a miscarriage they broke up partly because he turned to the big breasted Bavarian floozy efficient Gretchen. Needing time to heal and with no one to turn to as her parents are dead besides they were never there for her when she was alive, Audrey leaves Bavaria for Fiji where on Dolphin Island she meets author Ambrose Bierce, who allegedly died after vanishing in 1914. However, her fun in the sun turns even stranger when she and Ambrose battle zombies and ghouls while he uses his magic to keep her heart from failing.

This is a fascinating twist on the DIVINE FANTASY universe of Melanie Jackson as much of the story line is dialogue between the heroine and the author of The Devil’s Dictionary starting with their first Dr. Livingstone, I presume” encounter. There is plenty of action even with the discussions and musings of the A level lead characters and a great final spin. Fans seeking something different will appreciate this clever fantasy because in between the musings is war with zombies and ghouls.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Club-Sharon Page

The Club
Sharon Page
Dell, Feb 24 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780440244905

In 1818 Widow Lady Jane St. Giles enters the notorious gentlemen’s Club that welcomes couples. Run by Mrs. Brougham, Jane is a rarity as an unescorted lady of quality, but though she is prim and proper, she risks the scandal in hopes of finding her best friend Lady Delphina Treyworth who has gone missing. Del’s spouse insists his wife ran away with another man for France. Jane believes Treyworth is a liar and abuser. She blames Del’s brother Christian Sutcliffe, Lord Wickham, for fleeing overseas while his sister was forced into an odious marriage. Inside she is shocked by the depravity she witnesses until Christian becomes her escort; she was unaware that “Lord Wicked” is back in London.

As they work together to find Del, Christian feels guilty that he was not there for his beloved sister when she was forced to marry by their detestable father and Jane fall in love. Each fears for Del’s life as increasingly the evidence they find inside the Club points to foul play since other women have been murdered. As they continue their desperate search, they learn of four special club members whose abuse goes beyond the depravity of the normal couples who belong.

THE CLUB is an engaging erotic Regency romantic suspense starring two individuals who were in love as battling teens and remain in love as adults, but though they share the common goal of rescuing Del, they also remain combatants. The story line is at its best when a shocked Jane sees the goings on inside the Club. The investigation into the disappearance seems too easily resolved, but sub-genre readers will relish this page turner with a terrific final twist that is in the audience’s face, but most if not all will not see it coming.

Harriet Klausner

Tempted by His Kiss- Tracey Anne Warren

Tempted by His Kiss
Tracey Anne Warren
Avon, Mar 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061673405

In 1809, Lord Cade Byron hides from his family and society due to a leg injury suffered when the French tortured him on the Peninsular. He wants no company even driving away his older brother Edward. His only solace is alcohol although at times the pain is so severe he uses laudanum.

Meg Amberley accompanied by her servant arrives at Cade’s isolated home during a blizzard. She asks for shelter for her and her “cousin”. Cade tells her to get lost, but she insists the roads are impassable. He acquiesces allowing her to stay one night. Cade feels guilty because he desires the visitor while it is only one year since his beloved fiancée and her family were tortured and killed by the French in an effort to make him tell them military secrets. With her parents dead, she is on her way to stay with an aunt whom she never met.

Several days later she is still at his home though he hides from her until she invites him to dinner; he agrees. Afterward she challenges him to a game of chess. If she wins he must socialize with her; if he wins she will no longer nag him. Meg checkmates him. Cade mentions his leg was hurt when he was caught spying in Portugal; Meg mentions her late parents. The next few days they play cards and chess. They walk outside together; when Cade kisses Meg, he feels guilty and flees. As they fall in love, his guilt mounts.

The relationship between the lead couple is terrific as he rejects his attraction for her having watched one beloved raped and tortured while she slowly brings him out of his despondency and self recrimination. Cade’s family is a strong support cast who want to do the best for him, but are frustrated and clueless as to how to help him; while the villain is diabolically clever. Though the final confrontation seems weak Regency romantic suspense fans will relish this character driven tale.

Harriet Klausner

Never Resist Temptation-Miranda Neville

Never Resist Temptation
Miranda Neville
Avon, Mar 2009, $6.99
ISBN 9780061715914

In 1816 London, Anthony the Earl of Storrington wants to court Lord Candover’s niece, Jacobin de Chastelux, over the objection of his dying father who loathes her uncle. However, Jacobin is not interested in his suit in spite of his being the catch of the season. Instead she runs from her home masquerading as Jacob Leon.

When hooligans assault Jacob, Anthony rescues him. Though he is a bit perturbed that he finds the lad attractive, he hires Jacob to serve on his staff as a pastry chef. When someone tries to kill Candover using poison in his food the evidence points towards Jacobin as the culprit. She, as a male, begins to investigate in an amateurish attempt to expose the culprit, but soon finds Anthony helping him, make that her.

This is a fun Regency romantic suspense starring a likable delightful duo. The debates between Anthony and Jacobin-Jacob are fun to follow as he begins to see the similarity in his-her pattern. Although happenchance allowed Anthony to be in the right place at the right time to rescue Jacob, fans will not care as they began to fall in love when she was his male chef.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Let Me In-Donna Kauffman

Let Me In
Donna Kauffman
Kensington/Brava, Mar 2009, $14.00
ISBN 9780758231291

Former covert operative Tate Winslow is placed in the witness protection program where her new identity is novelist Tara Wingate residing in Hebron Valley, Virginia. She wants nothing to do with her past having witnessed her partner CJ shot dead. However, her former boss at the agency Derek Cole arrives insisting CJ is alive and needs their help.

She has problems with Derek’s claim as she saw CJ killed, which is why she left the guns behind her three years ago. Derek explains the agency refuses to rescue an agent in trouble so he has gone rogue in order to save CJ. Each tries to ignore the attraction between them. However, both Tara and Derek question whether saving CJ is wise as each wonders if he could be a traitor betraying his country as a double agent.

This is an exciting romantic suspense thriller from the moment Derek comes back into Tara’s life. The story line is fast-paced, but the action is overwhelmed by the second chance romance between the former agent and the rogue operative. Fans will wonder whether CJ is alive and if yes is he a traitor?

Harriet Klausner

Evie Ever After-Beth Ciotta

Evie Ever After
Beth Ciotta
Harlequin HQN, Mar 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780373773602

Although the agents of Chameleon did not want the assignment, they did the job of winning back the money that the wife of Senator Clark lost gambling with Mad Dog Turner, who she said cheated her. The only actual government official on the team former Bunko Squad police officer Milo “Jazzman” Beckett sends the squad home with the mission accomplished of stopping a con artist while he finishes the close-out. Team member forty-one year old stage performer Evie Parrish is worried about him, but her younger lover, former con artist Arch “Ace: Duvall tells her Jazz is a big boy.

Jazzman is met at the airport by two fellow agents of the Artful Intelligence Agency that Chameleon is part of. They escort him to the AIA chief who informs him that he should not have killed Mad Dog. Jazzman insists he did not, but hard evidence proves otherwise, but AIA cleansed the crime scene. As his team work on a scam perpetuated by Madame Helene on Evie’s friend Jayne, they also decide to learn who inside of AIA set up their leader. At the same Evie wonders why Ace will not tell her who the mysterious Kate and his kid are; while Jazzman wonders why he likes Evie’s friend Nic Sparks who figuratively rips his skin off him when they meet.

The climax to the Evie trilogy (see ALL ABOUT EVIE and EVERYBODY LOVES EVIE) is lighthearted romantic suspense. The support cast is solid while readers will know from the onset whom the heroine is attracted to between the two hunks. Although the plot is a bit thin, fans will enjoy the antics of Evie and her Chameleon cohorts as they try to out con cons and want another tale starring Nic in time.

Harriet Klausner

Fire at Midnight-Lisa Marie Wilkinson

Fire at Midnight
Lisa Marie Wilkinson
Medallion, Mar 2009, $7.95
ISBN: 9781933836546

In 1703, her odious Uncle Victor Brightmore with the help of Dr. Elliot Macgulay places his eighteen year old niece Rachael Penrose in Bedlam Insane Asylum to keep her out of the way of his stealing her younger brother’s inheritance. To insure his plan goes without a hitch Victor has abducted his nephew James and has spread rumors that Rachel told the authorities about smugglers like Frenchman Sebastien Falconer. Victor leads a more vicious smuggling crew than that of Sebastian.

Whereas Sebastien searches for Rachel, John Wyatt, a pal of her friend Tarry Morgan, breaks her out of asylum. However nine days and drugs have taken their toll so when he realizes they are followed, he places her in another carriage so that he can divert Victor’s
thugs from her. Sebastien takes the woman to his isolated home only to learn his ailing guest is Rachel. She escapes to London where Tarry sent James after rescuing him. There she meets Sebastien’s English customs officer estranged twin Jacques while Victor has John killed and the house belonging to Tarry’s father burned to the ground. Soon all will converge in danger and love.

FIRE AT MIDNIGHT is an exciting Georgian romantic suspense starring a strong lead couple and a solid support cast. Though he has no redeeming quality in some ways the ultra villain Victor steals the show as his plots and actions are diabolical and deadly even when he is off the page. The rest of the secondary characters are also developed enough to either enhance the story line or the understanding of the two stars; especially Tarry who wants to be a hero to his beloved friend and to his larger than life father, but though he tries he lacks the skills. Fans will enjoy this fine early eighteenth century historical thanks to deep characterizations that hopefully include sequels.
Harriet Klausner

Dark Victory-Brenda Joyce

Dark Victory
Brenda Joyce
Harlequin HQN, Mar 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373773466

Tabitha Rose is a witch though her day job is a NYC schoolteacher; her sister Sam is a warrior Slayer HCU agent. She and Sam go to an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art but she senses evil and an injured man in pain. Though frightened of his looks at her she sees in her vision, Tabby tries to heal him. She casts a spell to bring him to her.

Brooding and bloody the Black Macleod arrives in 2008 Manhattan from 1550 Scotland filled with anger. He is attracted to the healer and knows he will bed her, but has vengeance to take care of also. Macleod blames himself for the deaths of his family as he has failed to use the superpowers the Gods bestowed on him to help the innocent. Macleod soon must choose between the cold of revenge and his beloved Tabby as evil stalks her thanks to his vendetta.

The second Rose romantic urban fantasy (see DARK EMBRACE) is a terrific Masters of Time superb thriller (see for non Rose tales, DARK SEDUCTION and DARK RIVAL) is starring a wonderful wounded displaced warrior and a courageous modern day woman with a psychic gift. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Tabby in MOMA summons the dark brooding Scottish champion to her time and place to heal him; she just did not know the real healing comes from her heart. Fans will relish Brenda Joyce’s strong dark thriller while waiting for kick butt Sam to complete this saga.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, January 19, 2009

Cry for Passion-Robin Schone

Cry for Passion
Robin Schone
Berkley, Mar 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425225936

At the Old Bailey courthouse, James Whitcox wins acquittal and freedom for his client, widow Frances Hart from her son’s complaint. James and Frances are lovers who both belong to the Men and Women’s Club. Jack Lodun loses the case. Afterward thirty three year old married Rose Clarring asks Jack to obtain her a divorce from her husband Jonathan of twelve years. He says that is impossible to obtain and besides she being a member of the club he raked her in court in the Hart case as a loose woman; everyone even her family believes she is a slut. She explains her spouse like her wanted kids, but he caught the mumps soon after they married and became sterile.

Rose leaves Jonathon a note that she is leaving him although she knows her husband can have her committed. A drunken Jack asks her to prove passion exists. She says no because she will humiliate her husband. She explains the last time she had sex was in 1875, eleven years ago. He asks why now and she says the look of love between Whitcox and Hart. Jack says he wants to have sex with her, but she says no and asks him how he felt when his lover, James’ wife Cynthia died in an accident. Jack says he loved her but could not attend the funeral. As their attraction grows, neither knows what the future holds except in the long run not together as a married woman only has the rights her spouse grants her.

The nonexistent legal rights of women in Victorian England even with a queen ruling the country already for five decades are fascinating. The relationship between the lead couple is interesting as both know it can go nowhere while the erotic scenes are graphically described so sub-genre fans will enjoy them. However, a late abduction adds suspense to an already deep historical that did not need it. Still fans will enjoy the latest Men and Women’s Club Victorian saga (see SCANDALOUS LOVERS).

Harriet Klausner

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Girl Most Likely To-Susan Donovan

The Girl Most Likely To
Susan Donovan
St. Martin’s, Dec 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312939519

In Persuasion, West Virginia, high school sweethearts Kat Cavanaugh and Riley Bohland are in love. However, he abruptly ends their relationship without explanation. Being pregnant and feeling alone at sixteen while living with an abusive father and a pathetic mother, Kat leaves town. She is fortunate as trucker Cliff Turner kindly gives her a ride leaving her with his sister Phyllis, who took her in and raised the sixteen year old and her soon to be born child Aiden with love as if they were her daughter and grandson.

When Phyllis died, she left Kat with three million dollars. Though grieving her loss, she decides to go home to confront those who deserted her when she most needed them. However, her expectations of triumph is short lived when she meets Riley a doctor, who angrily rips into her for running away with his son; he tells her she will hear from his lawyer. Aden is also upset with Kat for keeping him away from his dad. Worse she still loves Riley.

This is an interesting extended family drama that focuses on the premise that you can’t go home even with money to flaunt. The story line is at its best when it concentrates on the obvious relationships between Kat and her parents, her son, and Riley; it feels overwhelmed when the concentration turns to other angst-laden issues like abuse and stalking etc. Still Susan Donovan provides an entertaining contemporary as Kat and Riley need to overcome distrust if they are to enjoy a second chance at love.

Harriet Klausner

Hex Appeal-Linda Wisdom

Hex Appeal
Linda Wisdom
Sourcebooks, Sep 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9781402214004

The nightmares have kept witch Jazz Tremaine from her proper sleep, but she assumes the two causes are the accusations by the Witches Council that Fluff and Puff her bunny slippers committed the homicide of eating Will the were-weasel, and her latest separation from Nikolai Gregorivich AKA in modern day California as Nick Gregory, vampire cop. She believes Nick bit her so she dumped him for violating their weird relationship though she ponders why her witch blood failed to poison his vampire body; she already is on a century probation from the Witches Council for a prior transgression so fears the penalty if her slippers are found guilty.

He is used to her dumping him after three centuries of Jazz ending their relationship numerous times. That does not disturb him too much as the getting back together is how a vampire attains heaven. However, this time he finds he suffers from nightmares and struggles to eat. When the two of them finally compare notes, they conclude someone hexed each of them manifesting especially while sleeping. This is ironic as she earns some money removing hexes.

This whimsical amusing urban romantic fantasy is an entertaining lighthearted romp starring a likable couple who should be like oil and water and are at times; but in between they are a loving pair. The story line is fast-paced driven by the on and off and on relationship between Jazz and Nick who finally team up so they can each gain a decent night of sleep by ending the hex though a new “old” problem will prevent their getting sleep as always occurs when they are together. Fans will enjoy this appealing fun frolic in which Linda Wisdom hexes her new audience including this entranced reviewer to read the first tale (see 50 WAYS TO HEX YOUR LOVER).

Harriet Klausner

50 Ways to Hex Your Lover-Linda Wisdom

50 Ways to Hex Your Lover
Linda Wisdom
Sourcebooks, Mar 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9781402210853

Based in Pasadena, witch Jasmine Tremaine a a chauffeur for All Creatures Limo Service and as hex remover. She is currently having a few problems. First her abusive bunny slippers Fluff and Puff seem to have anger management issues that could lead to trouble with the Witches Council. Next Irma the ghost chain smokes in Jasmine’s vintage Thunderbird in spite of the Surgeon General’s warning on second hand smoke and the odor that permeates the upholstery for eternity is stronger than any hex spell. Finally, Jazz is not sure if the on and off love of her life Nikolai “Nick Gregory” Gregorivich the vampire cop is on or off.

Nick is working a serial killer case in which a predator is murdering vampires. He enlists Jazz’s help to bring the culprit with seemingly incredible supernatural powers to paranormal justice while wondering about how their attraction after three hundred years together appears stronger. Jazz has her own issues with her ghoulish limo boss Dweezil, the violence on ankles by Fluff and Puff, and Nick’s sex appeal.

This first Jazz urban romantic fantasy is a fun frolic that hexes the audience to read in one delightful setting. The fast-paced storyline is a lighthearted spoofing of the sub-genre; you sort of expect Thursday Next and Good Magician Humfrey to drive by in an open convertible. Cast-driven, 50 WAYS TO HEX YOUR LOVER is a humorous appealing Southern California paranormal.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Escape to Ecstasy-Jodi Lynn Copeland

Escape to Ecstasy
Jodi Lynn Copeland
Kensington Aphrodisia, Feb 2009, $12.95
ISBN: 0758227124

"Killing Me Softly”. After a nasty incident, Claire Vaughn became a hermit. Attending her mom’s fiftieth birthday feels like going to hell. Her sister Erin worries about her so arranges for her to go to Ecstasy Island where she hopes healer Chris Cavanaugh can bring her satisfaction and a passionate reason for living.

"Living in Technicolor”. Dana Lancer arranges for her twin sister Deanna to vacation on Ecstasy Island. The voice on the other end of the line when she made the reservations reminds her of whom she gave up eight years. Resort owner Treah Baldwin has never forgotten his former wife. So to his elation, Dana not Deanna ends up in his bed

These well written torrid visits to Ecstasy Island are enjoyable erotic romances once the heroine arrives at the resort. However, the rendition method of getting them there is inappropriate even though it is done out of love by caring sisters. Fans will ponder whether the end (heated loving island ecstasy romances) justifies the means.

Harriet Klausner

No Place for a Lady-Maggie Brendan

No Place for a Lady
Maggie Brendan
Revell, Jan 2009, $13.99
ISBN: 9780800733353

In 1892 Crystal Clark buries her father. With her mom dead years earlier from cholera she leaves her Georgia home that she sold to pay bills and Andrew “Drew” Franklin who wants to marry her to stay with her Aunt Kate on her cattle ranch Aspengold in Colorado. The southern belle initially feels lonely as a fish out of water, but soon finds she enjoys the rugged Yampa Valley although the local women shun her due to her manner and the men want her for the same reason. She ignores both genders though she knows her aunt’s foreman Luke Webber is impossible to disregard even as he scorns the exquisite Southern Belle.

She is taken aback when Aunt Kate dies, a distraught Crystal vows to remain strong as expected of a steel magnolia. Luke wants the Georgia peach to go home even as admires her grit and her friendliness to the ranch help treating everyone like family while also hiding the truth about the ranch.

The first Heart of the West inspirational historical romance is a wonderful tale starring an intriguing heroine who in spite of her losses and her inability to understand God’s plan for her still strongly believes the Lord is with her. Crystal makes the tale with her friendliness like playing the autoharp for ranch hand Curley. Luke is an honorable person who wants the best for the woman he loves; which to him means Georgia and Drew. As he finds his way to God, he owes his beloved the entire truth, but fears telling her. Maggie Brendan provides a fabulous late nineteenth century Americana.

Harriet Klausner

Edge of Light-Ann Shorey

Edge of Light
Ann Shorey
Revell, Jan 2009, $13.99
ISBN: 9780800733308

In 1838 in St. Lawrenceville, Missouri, Samuel McGarvie dies from cholera. He leaves behind a loving pregnant wife Molly and three children. With the help of Betsy the slave, Molly hides her grief as she knows she must be strong for her shaken children (Franklin, James, and Luellen).

Samuel’s brother Matthew arrives intending to bring back to his home to Illinois his sister-in-law and his two nephews and niece. However the stubborn widow makes it very clear she will not remarry although several men seem interested in her. When Franklin goes missing on the journey east, Molly turns to God to help find him while one persistent suitor Karl falls in love with the feisty skin ripping widow but focuses on helping the kids as he assumes he has no chance with her.

The first At Home in Beldon Grove is an engaging inspirational historical romance with the emphasis on the era through the cast. Without preaching Ann Shorey makes the case through her deep characters like Betsy and her enslaved almost husband Ruben that God has room for everyone. Fans will enjoy EDGE OF LIGHT, a wonderfully inspiring early nineteenth century Americana.

Harriet Klausner

Wanted in Alaska-Kate Bridges

Wanted in Alaska
Kate Bridges
Harlequin Historical, Feb 2009, $5.99
ISBN: 0373295316

In 1899 Skagway in the District of Alaska, Quinn Rowlan needs a doctor for his injured brother Harrison who will die if not treated for a fever. Although it is difficult for an outlaw to come to town, Quinn does only to learn the two doctors were gone. However he learns of a nurse Victoria Windhaven and decides to take her as his only option. He with the help of his cronies abducts the woman.

However, Quinn kidnapped the wrong woman. Instead of Victoria he grabbed singer businesswoman Autumn MacNeil who at a masquerade party wore a nurse’s uniform. She knows nothing about treating illnesses or knife wounds and besides she seems sick too. He finally believes her, but reluctantly escorts her back by canoe to Skagway. Making matters worse he is falling in love with his feisty prisoner and she is chagrined that she wants this wanted man.

This is a superb Alaskan historical romance with masquerades being the overarching theme. The story line is fast-paced whether readers kayak on a river, trek in woods, or walk the planks of Skagway. The lead couple is terrific pairing of love intruding at the wrong time with the wrong person. Once again this fabulous author provides fans with a vivid bridge into the past.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Montana Creeds: Dylan-Linda Lael Miller

Montana Creeds: Dylan
Linda Lael Miller
Harlequin HQN, Mar 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373773589

In Las Vegas, rodeo performer Dylan Creed is considering where to travel next when he runs into a shocker. His two year-old daughter Bonnie has been abandoned by her worthless mother Sharlene. Dylan is struggling with what to do with his precocious offspring as he is not single dad material.

As Dylan debates with himself as to what he should do, his former girlfriend Kristy Madison has become the Stillwater Springs, Montana librarian. When she sees Dylan she realizes she still loves the rolling stone, she hides her heart from him as she distrusts him staying around for her or even his daughter. However, Dylan envies his brother Logan finding love with Briana (see Montana Creeds: Logan). He soon worries about the safety of his beloved after a murder occurs and a sniper takes shots at people while someone breaks into Kristy's home; motives and links unknown.

The second Montana Creed tale is a wonderful romantic suspense that in spite of the same place, background and almost time, is a refreshing unique story different from Logan’s return to grace. The suspense serves as a matchmaker of sorts as Dylan cannot help but be the hero. Fans will enjoy the romance between Rodeo’s “bad guy” and the librarian as Linda Lael Miller’s middle son finds love.

Harriet Klausner

First Comes Marriage-Mary Balogh

First Comes Marriage
Mary Balogh
Dell, Feb 24 2009, $6.99
ISBN 9780440244226

In Throckbridge, Viscount Elliot Wallace learns he is guardian of Stephen Huxtable, the new Earl of Merton. Stephen complains to Elliot that his three sisters are driving him insane with their demands. Elliot decides to take the oldest off his hands by proposing marriage to Meg.

However, Elliot finds he is attracted to middle sister Vanessa, a widow, who shocks him when she proposes to him. Elliot accepts her surprising off as he feels strongly they will be a perfect match. However, they find happily ever after not quite what each expected after they exchanged I do except for the heating up the sheets. Both begin to understand the need for compromise if their marriage is to work, but will either make the first step towards give and take cooperation outside the boudoir.

Once the lead players meet, this SIMPLY PERFECT regency romance turns into a terrific tale of post marriages woes. The cast is fully developed especiacally the lead couple and her siblings However, the first Huxtable story line is owned by Elliot and Vanessa as each came into their marirage sharing a deep hot attraction, but radiclaly differing expectations. Fans will take immense dleight in this deep historical.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Cousin's Promise-Wanda E. Brunstetter

A Cousin's Promise
Wanda E. Brunstetter
Barbour, Mar 2009, $10.97
ISBN 9781602600607

In Indiana, a car accident leaves Wayne Lambright wheelchair bound. Though he suffers some self-pity and bouts of feeling sorry for his plight, his biggest concern is he deems he is no longer worthy of the love of his fiancee Loraine Miller. Instead he wants her to live a happy life and not have to waste her youth caring for a cripple. Loraine wants to help her fiance, but cannot grasp the deep emotional issues confronting her disabled beau especially since he must adapt from being a healthy do it yourself person to a person dependent on others.

Loraine's former boyfriend Jake Beechy has come home to the Amish after tasting the English lifestyle. His only regret for leaving is leaving behind Loraine. He wants a second chance with her. Loraine has a difficult decision to make as she cares for both men, but each in their way at some time deserted her.

This is the start of a new Amish saga taking place in the Hoosier State. The strong support cast brings out the strong sense of community, a trademark of a Wanda E. Brunstetter Amish romance; they also set the tone for future stories as Loraine’s cousins have personal issues that need resolution. The lead triangle is fully developed with each caring about others but carrying flaws. Although at times their discussions seem a bit forced especially with Wayne, fans will appreciate Ms. Brunstetter’s opening Indiana Amish contemporary romance.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, January 12, 2009

Darkness Revealed-

Darkness Revealed
Alexandra Ivy
Zebra, Mar 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420102963

In 1814 Anna Randal as the poor relation watches her cousin Morganna to keep her out of trouble. When her cousin vanishes, she follows only to be yanked into a room by the handsome Conde Cezar.

Attorney Anna Randal leaves Los Angeles for Chicago to attend a charity event where she plans to confront Conde Cezar. Over the almost two centuries since they met and he vanished without a trace, she waited for him to surface.

Conde knows Anna is in town as he can sense it and it feels good. His vampire pack leader Styx wants to know why the Oracle Commission is interested in Conde. He explains he is a guard to Anna, who is a potential commission member though there have been fewer than 12 in 10 millennia. When they meet Conde tells Anna he misses her blood. They both think back to 195 years ago when he grabbed her, they made love, and he bit her only to vanish. He hides from her that the Commission angrily grabbed him and only recently has he resurfaced. Anna tells him soon after he left, her aunt’s house burned down killing her aunt and cousin. She also says she is an immortal but not a vampire demon like he is. She wants to know what she is. He says he does not know as he did not change her. However, a powerful magical practitioner wants her dead; Conde vows to keep his beloved safe while Anna falls in love with him but distrusts him.

The lead couple is a strong pairing as they have a one night history almost two centuries old and he knows information about her that he cannot reveal to her. The return of characters from previous Guardians of Eternity romantic fantasies (see WHEN DARKNESS COMES and EMBRACE THE DARKNESS) adds depth. However, it is the clever tie to King Arthur and Camelot that makes the tale although the final confrontation contains too much chatter especially from the villainess.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Captive-Leda Swann

Leda Swann
Avon, Feb 2009, $13.99
ISBN: 9780061672392

In 1876 Naples, twenty-two year old Louisa Clemens knows her time as the nursery maid to six years old twins Prudence and Hester is coming to an end as they need a governess. She loves her wards, but knows her lack of education prohibits her from becoming the governess to the Winterbottom family shehas been with for six years.

Merchant Mr. Winterbottom hosts a dinner for Moroccan carpet vendor Khair Bey in which Khair and Louisa meet. Later he sneaks into her room for a tryst, but leaves after he learns she is a virgin. The next day following a spirited game of cheating croquet with the girls, Khair and Louisa make love. He asks her to marry him, but she refuses. Instead she quits her post and heads home to England. Pirates stop her ship and the merchants hand her over as a sex slave so they can safely leave with their merchandise. She is put on a slave block for sale in which only Khair bids and takes her to his home. As they fall in love, he wants her as his only wife, but knows he must tell his beautiful English rose the truth about her captivity.

This character driven late nineteenth century erotic romance is kept fresh by Khair, a unique protagonist. His concept of children compared with Mrs. Winterbottom makes one wonder who is “civilized” as he insists parents need to raise their children not servants; in fact he initially assumed Louisa was a relative. His attitude towards Louisa is she is unprotected so he can go for her. Although his methods are high handed as he forces honest Mr. Winterbottom to cede his protection of her and of course his captive ploy, fans will relish this fine heated historical as the English rose proves to be the equal of the Moroccan aristocrat.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, January 9, 2009

A Cowboy's Redemption-Jeannie Watt

A Cowboy's Redemption
Jeannie Watt
Harlequin SuperRomance, Feb 2009, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373715435

If her family knew what she was doing, they would have heart attacks after they abducted her. However, Kira Jennings is in Otto, Nevada hoping to persuade Jason Ross to allow her family access across his ranch to land they want to develop. She knows Jason hates her family but she cannot understand why he fails to take responsibility for the crime he committed that landed him in jail.

Jason believes God is testing him like a modern day Job as he is attracted to the enemy, a Jennings. He knows better than to have anything to do with Kira or her kin as her half-brother is the reason he ended up doing time for a crime he did not commit. As they fall in love, she wonders if his attraction to her will prove stronger than his loathing of her sibling.

This is an interesting contemporary romance due to her family as a detractor to the relationship between the lead couple. Kira and Jason are enemy combatants as neither wants to fall in love with the other because the complications seem to astronomically insurmountable. Fans will appreciate this fine Nevada tale as Kira needs to know the truth whether her brother or her beloved committed the crime.

Harriet Klausner

The Story Between Them-Molly O'Keefe

The Story Between Them
Molly O'Keefe
Harlequin SuperRomance, Feb 2009, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373715428

Former reporter Jennifer Stern was doing her friends Sam and JD a favor while they went on vacation. She is the wrists while Deb Barber the brains as they run the Serenity House women's center after the latter broke her two wrists. However, she did not expect to deal with a flood caused by a broken faucet turning the kitchen into a geyser or a killer snake in the kitchen that her eleven years old son Spencer picks up saying it is a harmless garter.

Other catastrophes occur too. However, the widow is stunned to learn the secret benefactor of Serenity House is jet setter Ian Greer, the son of a former president. She and much of the world know Ian as a philanderer. As they become acquainted, Jennifer realizes Ian is nothing like his hedonistic image; instead he cares about everyone at Serenity House, especially her.

Even with an offspring of a former PROTUS as a co-star, THE STORY BETWEEN THEM is a well written contemporary romance in which the audience will accept the relationship between him and Jennifer as plausible. The story line provides readers with insight into how the media shapes and maintains an image but does so inside the romance between Jennifer and Ian. Fans will enjoy this fine tale as Molly O'Keefe provides an engaging contemporary.

Harriet Klausner

What Family Means-Geri Krotow

What Family Means
Geri Krotow
Harlequin SuperRomance, Feb 2009, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373715473

In Buffalo, New York, Will and Debra Bradley have been married for thirty-five years. However, their interracial marriage has had some conflict lately over their role in the lives of their adult children. Will believes Debra is too involved while she feels he is too removed as their offspring need them because it is not easy being mixed race.

Debra looks back to when they first started to fall in love and what they went through even in Upstate New York. She also helps her daughter Angie cope with an unexpected pregnancy at a time when her child is separated from her spouse and takes care of Will's elderly mother without complaint. Will her husband finally understand his wife does what she does because she loves her extended family and is not motivated by guilt.

This timely family drama is at its best when it focuses on the problems of interracial couples and their children; when the tale flashes back to the early days of the relationship between Will and Debra it loses some of the momentum though it does provide insight into race in America in the 1970s. The characters and their problems seem real as Geri Krotow provides a timely thoughtful contemporary as the offspring of a mixed couple enterers the White House.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Night of the Hawk-Vonna Harper

Night of the Hawk
Vonna Harper
Kensington Aphrodisia, Feb 2009, $12.95
ISBN: 9780758229458

Her investigation into the serial killings leads reporter Smokey Rivers to Storm Bay, Oregon investigating a string of murders. In an art gallery Smokey is fascinated by a photo of a beautiful hawk in flight. Thus she enthusiastically meets the photographer Mato Hawk.

Mato is attractive to the tough skinned journalist who he thinks hides a passionate soft inside. He begins to dominate her turning her increasingly into his submissive. She enjoys each spin he takes them as he controls more and submits more. However, Mato hides his real agenda by his BDSM seduction as he wants to keep her from her inquiry, but finds himself trapped by his desire for her.

NIGHT OF THE HAWK is an interesting erotic romance in which Mato kidnaps an initially unwelcoming Smokey and seduces her through dominating her until she turns submissive (Stockholm syndrome perhaps). At times their sexual relationship goes beyond BDSM romance into forced sexual captivity, but that adds realism to the mix. Although deeper psychological insight into the courageous investigative reporter seeking a killer but though frightened tacitly submissively accepting her kidnapper’s dominance would have enhanced the plot, this is an intriguing erotica, just not for everyone.

Harriet Klausner

Night of the Hawk-Vonna Harper

Night of the Hawk
Vonna Harper
Kensington Aphrodisia, Feb 2009, $12.95
ISBN: 9780758229458

Her investigation into the serial killings leads reporter Smokey Rivers to Storm Bay, Oregon investigating a string of murders. In an art gallery Smokey is fascinated by a photo of a beautiful hawk in flight. Thus she enthusiastically meets the photographer Mato Hawk.

Mato is attractive to the tough skinned journalist who he thinks hides a passionate soft inside. He begins to dominate her turning her increasingly into his submissive. She enjoys each spin he takes them as he controls more and submits more. However, Mato hides his real agenda by his BDSM seduction as he wants to keep her from her inquiry, but finds himself trapped by his desire for her.

NIGHT OF THE HAWK is an interesting erotic romance in which Mato kidnaps an initially unwelcoming Smokey and seduces her through dominating her until she turns submissive (Stockholm syndrome perhaps). At times their sexual relationship goes beyond BDSM romance into forced sexual captivity, but that adds realism to the mix. Although deeper psychological insight into the courageous investigative reporter seeking a killer but though frightened tacitly submissively accepting her kidnapper’s dominance would have enhanced the plot, this is an intriguing erotica, just not for everyone.

Harriet Klausner

Night of the Hawk-Vonna Harper

Night of the Hawk
Vonna Harper
Kensington Aphrodisia, Feb 2009, $12.95
ISBN: 9780758229458

Her investigation into the serial killings leads reporter Smokey Rivers to Storm Bay, Oregon investigating a string of murders. In an art gallery Smokey is fascinated by a photo of a beautiful hawk in flight. Thus she enthusiastically meets the photographer Mato Hawk.

Mato is attractive to the tough skinned journalist who he thinks hides a passionate soft inside. He begins to dominate her turning her increasingly into his submissive. She enjoys each spin he takes them as he controls more and submits more. However, Mato hides his real agenda by his BDSM seduction as he wants to keep her from her inquiry, but finds himself trapped by his desire for her.

NIGHT OF THE HAWK is an interesting erotic romance in which Mato kidnaps an initially unwelcoming Smokey and seduces her through dominating her until she turns submissive (Stockholm syndrome perhaps). At times their sexual relationship goes beyond BDSM romance into forced sexual captivity, but that adds realism to the mix. Although deeper psychological insight into the courageous investigative reporter seeking a killer but though frightened tacitly submissively accepting her kidnapper’s dominance would have enhanced the plot, this is an intriguing erotica, just not for everyone.

Harriet Klausner

Fallen-Cindy Holby

Cindy Holby
Leisure, Feb 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 0843960264

In 1773 British Captain John Murray and Scottish lass Isobel Ferguson fall in love. However, both understand love is not enough as their backgrounds prevent anything but an unattainable dream. Her family rejects the Sassenach believing strongly he is part of an occupying force.

However, all hell breaks loose when Isobel’s siblings attempt to free their father from jail. Needing a scapegoat, the English leadership feel they have the perfect fall guy. John because of his caring for Isobel is held culpable, demoted and exiled to the colonies. At the same the Ferguson family is sold into indentured servitude in the Virginia colony. They do not meet again until another war, like the one back home, heats up the American colonies.

Putting aside the entertaining “wind” historical romances, Cindy Holby provides a fun late eighteenth century romance that takes place on both sides of the Atlantic. John and Isobel are star-crossed lovers with no hope for a future together until they meet up for a second chance at love in America where freedom encourages them to pursue their relationship. Fans will enjoy the aptly titled FALLEN as the lead couple fall into love but also fall into enforced exile.

Harriet Klausner

Wicked Beast-Tawny Taylor

Wicked Beast
Tawny Taylor
Kensington Aphrodisia, Feb 2009, $12.95
ISBN: 9780758226785

Cailey Holom is not just a non cat person; she has a deep rooted feline phobia as she fears these beasts. To help her overcome her inane irrational dread even of tiny house cats, she writes an erotic romance starring the were-lion King Lander Cornelius as his race’s champion. To her shock she drools and not from the mouth over her fictional hunk.

Cailey is further taken aback when Lander actually arrives in her home. A witch has dispatched him to abduct her, which he does taking her back to his land where he is the king of the Were-kin. Freed from the limitations of a novel, Lander plans to teach his prisoner ecstasy as only a WICKED BEAST can provide.

This is a fun romantic fantasy starring a stunned heroine and the lion king who rules her dreams and soon afterward her reality. The story line contains Cailey’s segments from were-lion book used sort of as flashbacks within the overall novel; however that device slows down the overall engaging plot of a woman who learned from her lion to stop worrying and strangely love the cat.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Magic Knot- Helen Scott Taylor

The Magic Knot
Helen Scott Taylor
Love Spell, Feb 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 0505527960

Accountant Rosenwyn Tremain was warned by her mom to never go to Cornwall where her paternal relatives live. She heeded that advice until her mom passed away. Now Rose has a need to meet the other side of her heritage.

In Cornwall, Rose meets motorcyclist Niall O’Connor. She is attracted to the roguish Irishman, but will not back away from her quest. As she begins to find clues about her father, Rose also learns why her mother warned her to never come to Cornwall and to especially never seek out her dad as he is evil, something she finds out first hand. Only Niall whose tarot card reading includes betrayal can keep her safe if she trusts him while the fairies she encounters have waited for years for her to liberate them.

This is a superb entertaining romantic urban fantasy starring a likable heroine, a mysterious champion or perhaps not, and a horde of villains starting with her father. Intrepid Rose holds the tale together with her determination even after she finally understands why her late beloved mom said to avoid Cornwall and her paternal roots. Fans will enjoy Rose as she meets the other side of the family.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Under the Influence-Nancy Warren

Under the Influence
Nancy Warren
Harlequin Blaze, Feb 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373794560

On Valentine's Day, management consultant Natalie Fanshaw is working temporarily at a resort hotel on the beach in Orca Bay, California. She stops at the Driftwood Bar and Grill where she meets bartender Johnny “Hot Johnny” Santini; known for his orgasm inducing cocktails. Lonely, she decides to taste Hot Johnny that night.

As they spend the evening together, the bartender and the consultant heat up the sheets. However, comes morning she will return to prim and proper Natalie and he will return to Hot Jonny. Compromise between them to begin forging a relationship beyond a one night stand seems impossible though both desperately crave a second and third and fourth, etc. round.

UNDER THE INFLUENCE is a fabulous torrid contemporary romance starring two opposites in every way except for their attraction. He is “blue crush” known for his “screaming orgasms”, “one sex on the beach” and a roll between the sheets; she is a consultant who knows about Hot Johnny and cold Natalie. Although a late spin re his background takes away some of the edge of opposites attract, fans will enjoy Nancy Warrens cocktail of love.
Harriet Klausner

Blazing Bedtime Stories-Kimberly Raye, Leslie Kelly and Rhonda Nelson

Blazing Bedtime Stories
Kimberly Raye, Leslie Kelly and Rhonda Nelson
Harlequin Blaze, Feb 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373794515

Once Upon a Bite by Kimberly Raye. In Skull Creek, Texas vampiric lycan Matt Keller meets beauty consultant Shay Briggs, who wants to take more than a bite out of the hunk.

My, What a Big…You Have! by Leslie Kelly. In the Bayou children’s writer Scarlett Templeton heads to grandma’s house only to get lost in what looks like a fantasy location until hunter Thibodaux rescues her.

Sexily Ever After by Rhonda Nelson. Artist Juliet Swan always believed she is the ugly duckling until she meets landscaper Gareth Harper who makes it clear she is his femme fatale.

The instigator (matchmaker) of these aptly titled BLAZING BEDTIME STORIES is Burt the sex statistician who out counts Masters and Johnson informs LB (Loverboy) Patterson known more as Cupid that he needs to work the sex numbers. LB’s assignment is three women, whose mantra is "love stinks" as stated on

With a touch of whimsical fantasy, the heat is on for Valentine’s Day as this is a super contemporary anthology written by top to quote Ms. Raye “blaze babes”.

Harriet Klausner

Once Upon a Valentine's-Holly Jacobs

Once Upon a Valentine's
Holly Jacobs
Harlequin American, Feb 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373752515

Police Lieutenant Chuck Jefferson arrests Carly Lewis for burning her couch after her spouse the lawyer cheated on it with his secretary as well as the neighbor’s shed. The ADA and her lawyer agree on a plea bargain, but the judge rejects a year of probation as he feels arson is too serious to ignore even if it was a one time aberration; but jail time seems inappropriate too. Instead he assigns the single mom to assist Officer Chuck who gives talks at schools warning of the danger of reckless handling of fire.

As Carly and Chuck work together, they begin to fall in love. However, she has doubts having been burned by cheating Dean and besides she is busy with raising her children, attending nursing school, and as part of her PTA duties sponsoring the Erie Elementary Valentine's dance; that is besides the fire lecture circuit. Chuck refuses to accept her choices of keeping things casual or not all bcauses he knows he is in love.

The key to this enjoyable holiday celebration of the PTA of Erie, Pennsylvania (see ONCE UPON A THANKSGIVING and ONCE UPON A CHRISTMAS) is like the predecessors the strong cast. The lead pair is a delightful pairing of workaholics; the children shockingly behave like children; and the return of the stars of the previous contemporaries make for a terrific romance. Holly Jacobs writes another entertaining Erie PTA romance.

Harriet Klausner

Once a Lawman-Lisa Childs

Once a Lawman
Lisa Childs
Harlequin American, Feb 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373752492

In Lakewood, Michigan police Lieutenant Chad Michalski gave a traffic ticket to Tessa Howard for speeding. At traffic court she denies she drove over the limit though Judge Howard recognizes her from previous speeding appearances. Tessa applies a nana-ism taught to her by her grandma as she tries to lie her way out of the ticket, but to her surprise Chad is there to testify otherwise. If found guilty she will lose her license, subsequently her job and her ability to assist her five siblings especially picking up her high school age brother before he vanishes into trouble for the night; the latter being her reason for speeding. Chad suggests to the judge that Tessa enroll in the Lakewood Police Department's Citizens' Police Academy instead of losing her driving privileges.

Chad and Tessa are attracted to one another, but he is a by the book officer while she is a stretch the law rule breaker. Still at the academy they begin to fall in love, but both have doubts that their relationship can survive their differences. Her family thinks otherwise, believing the pair is good for one another as he brings order and she brings chaos to their mix.

Although the sibling relationships seem over the top of Mt. Huron, ONCE A LAWMAN is terrific contemporary romance filled with humor and a vibrancy reminiscent of the Murray (John that is)-Tilley movie Moving Violations; I expected Joan Pudillo to show up for a grease job. The story line is fast-paced from the opening court appearance and never slows down as Tessa and Chad speed to love in Lisa Childs’ fun tale.

Harriet Klausner

Bare Nerve-Katherine Garbera

Bare Nerve
Katherine Garbera
Kensington Brava, Feb 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758232083

Three British females (Charity Keon, Anna Sterling and Justine O'Neill) form a powerful team at Liberty Investigations. Unlike her two partners who have found loving men in their lives (see BARE FACTS and BARE WITNESS, Anna does not trust males. For that matter she prefers destroying the enemy with keystrokes on her computer than meeting any people.

Her hacking skills uncover a major gun running operation. The Liberty threesome is paired with mercenaries headed by uncouth Jack Savage to end the deadly black market dealings; they begin the mission in Algiers. A daughter of an aristocrat and an ambassador Anna is shocked by her attraction to crude Savage, whose behavior lives up to his surname. Even more stunning Jack reciprocates even if he detests these marshmallow feelings.

As with the previous tales, the final Liberty Investigations romantic thriller comes right out with its homage to Charlie’s Angels. The story line is filled with suspense and action as the extended team battles terrorists as Carl Douglas sings “Everyone was kung fu fighting” while also taking time for boudoir interludes between the lady and the beast to the delight of romantic suspense fans.

Harriet Klausner

Hold Back the Dark-Eileen Carr

Hold Back the Dark
Eileen Carr
Pocket, Mar 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 1416587942

Clinical psychologist Aimee Gannon is awakened at two in the morning by Sacramento Police Detective Josh Wolf. He informs her he has one of her patients in custody at a hospital’s emergency room; the woman is uncommunicative. He asks her to meet him there to see if she can seventeen year old Taylor Dawkin out of her catatonic state. He fails to tell Aimee that Taylor was found covered in blood sitting between her dead parents in a scene so gruesome that hardened cops wanted to puke.

Tests later prove that Taylor, a cutter, slashed open her hands and used her blood to draw unexplainable patterns at the murder scene that Aimee believes have critical meaning to the horror that happened to the Dawkin family. Aimee realizes immediately that the totally mentally withdrawn Taylor needs institutionalization. Meanwhile Aimee’s former patient Kyle, who insists he loves her, was convicted of attempted rape, but is on parole and back to stalking her. As Taylor continues to draw geometric shapes, Aimee wonders if the drawings relate to abuse during a childhood period that the teen had no memories of when they talked before the murders. As the psychologist puts together the puzzle pieces, she risks her life to insure an innocent child is not the next victim.

HOLD BACK THE DAWN is a memorable romantic suspense tale that will keep readers interested in the story line from start to finish as there are four primes suspects which include Taylor that keeps the audience wondering who the killer is. The attempted rape has turned the heroine into damaged goods, which is an overdone angst requirement of the sub-genre. Still the violence she suffered forced Aimee to keep her personal life on hold until she meets Josh who cherishes her from the first time they meet and makes her want an intimate relationship with him. Fans will immensely relish this tense investigative tale as the shrink and the cop search for clues while falling in love.

Harriet Klausner

Trouble in Mudbug-Jana DeLeon

Trouble in Mudbug
Jana DeLeon
Love Spell, Feb 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780505527844

In Mudbug, Louisiana, Maryse Robicheaux is not grieving the loss of her odious mother-in-law, Helena. The woman was nasty and haughty using her wealth as a weapon against the other townsfolk. Now if she can cut the last tie to that family by obtaining a divorce from r Helena’s son. However, just like Helena was in life, she can’t help being a manipulative nag in death. Her ghost demands her daughter-in-law finish some business for her so she can move on.

Maryse has enough on her plate without dealing with a cantankerous spirit who was a cantankerous person. She is about to make a medical breakthrough at work, but is slightly deterred by having a new office partner. Half Creole zoologist Luc LeJuene is quite a hunk, but his arrival has brought a stalker who wants Maryse dead.

The first Ghost-in-Law amateur sleuth romance is a jocular fun read sort of the Bayou version of Woody Allen’s Oedipus Wrecks from New York Stories as even death cannot assist the heroine from ridding herself of her mother-in-law. The TROUBLE IN MUDBUG is a lighthearted romp that is somewhat thin, but loaded with humor, intrigue and romance in which the audience and Maryse will believe in nagging disparaging ghosts.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, January 5, 2009

Fragile-Shiloh Walker

Shiloh Walker
Berkley, Feb 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425225790

Six years ago, Dr. Luke Rafferty left military combat medicine to become a civilian “combat” doctor working the emergency room working especially with abused children. His vocation introduces him to children’s social worker Devon Manning. The pair are attracted to one another and begin a heated affair.

As they fall in love, someone stalks Devon; an individual who seems to know not so public facts about each of them. Whereas Luke believes he finally found what he was looking for when he left the military, his beloved social worker is reminded why she prefers working with troubled childhoods; her belief is that she only relates well with kids due to her awareness that relationships end in a relatively short time. She plans to end hers with Luke who she believes deserves better, but he insists he loves her. As he struggles to break down her reinforced barriers, they uncover the identity of her stalker, which only fortifies Devon’s belief she can never have anyone permanently in her life.

This is an exciting character driven romantic suspense thriller as Luke battles on two fronts. He must convince Devon they belong together and uncover who the stalker is and why. The support cast is solid especially Luke’s reclusive twin and the other grunts from their military unit. Devon is also a strong character as knows love is fleeting as people leave. Shiloh Walker provides a tense thriller starring a hero finding what he has been seeking seemingly forever and his FRAGILE beloved who is ready to flee.

Harriet Klausner

A View to A Kiss-Carline Linden

A View to A Kiss
Carline Linden
Avon, Feb 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061706356

Harry Sinclair is considered by the government as their top field operative. His current assignment is to uncover who is behind a dangerous seditious plot to destroy England and what they intend to do so they can be stopped

He attends a gala undercover at Doncaster House, but his head is spinning as if intoxicated upon meeting the host’s daughter Lady Mariah. He agrees with the assessment of the Ton that she is the catch of the season, but his reasoning differs; the shallow Ton knows she is pretty but more important the daughter of an Earl; Harry believes she is the loveliest woman he has ever seen. Unable to resist in spite of the risk of exposure, he sneaks into her bedroom where he verbally seduces her from the shadows as she scandalously reacts to his sexy verbiage and his feathery caresses sends her into ecstasy. While he continues his inquiry, she conducts an investigation into who is her mystery lover.

This is an exciting Regency romantic suspense starring two delightful lead protagonists as Harry understands the mission comes first, second, and last, but cannot stop himself from climbing into Mariah’s bedroom through her window. Mariah knows she should scream, but instead relishes the visits and bravely tries to uncover the identity of her nocturnal lover. Carline Linden provides an engaging Regency romance as the professional and the amateur fall in love while dangerously sleuthing.

Harriet Klausner

Submission-Cherie Feather

Cherie Feather
Berkley, Feb 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425223680

Affluent artist Ethan Tierney is known in the art world for his outrageously wicked paintings that some have called pornographic. He seduces submissive art historian Kiki Dion with plans to enjoy her for no more than a couple of weeks in his stately house before he finds his next conquest.

However, Ethan is unaware that his home contains two residents who lived there almost a hundred years ago. Javier and Nicole are ghosts who enjoyed the same BDSM relationship that Ethan and Kiki relish when they lived in this home before dying there. Kiki wants to reunite the two star-crossed specters and persuades Ethan to help her by solving a mystery that will enable Javier and Nicole to obtain peace. However, Kiki is stunned when the ghosts not only possesses their respective bodies in sexual encounters but try to help her with Ethan whom she has fallen in love with though she expects he will end their tryst very shortly as no one remains with him beyond two weeks.

SUBMISSION is an interesting unique erotic romance with a fascinating supernatural spin. The two couples are fully developed so that the audience feels they know the desires of the humans and the ghosts. The well written BDSM scenes are heated and contain a nice touch of respect. Although the climax feels like premature ejaculation Cherie Feather provides a fresh look at BDSM; made better by the trust that comes with love.

Harriet Klausner

A Highlander of Her Own-Melissa Mayhue

A Highlander of Her Own
Melissa Mayhue
Pocket, Jan 27 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9781416572596

In 2008 in Prairieland, Texas, Ellie Denton finds her life reeling when Ray Stanton, the ex husband of her late mother, claims her family ranch as his; she is thankful he was not her dad. However, that proves a minor nuisance when compared with the mysterious mark on her chest; she is relieved to learn whatever it is it is non-cancerous. Meanwhile she feels like Eddie Murphy as animals speak to her. However, the strangest phenomenon occurs when Ellie wishes she had a man who loved her that she loved back. That odd mark quivers when she says her heart’s desire and before she knows what next she knows she is no longer in modern day Texas; in fact she is in 1304 Scotland.

Caden Macalister has vowed to never marry after his betrothal fell apart almost a decade ago. When he meets the strange Ellie, he assumes destiny has brought her for one of his siblings as he is not fated to be a spouse. His mother strongly disagrees as she insists fairy magic has transported Ellie to be with her beloved Caden. As the stock begins to suffer from a disease, her skill to talk to the animals comes in handy, but Caden remains obstinate that she is not his destiny although Ellie begs to differ.

This is an entertaining lighthearted time traveling frolic. The story line is brisk as Ellie feels she got her wish in a weird way; Caden’s mother agrees believing the Fae answered her wish; but stubborn Caden makes the tale with the refusal to believe his heart or the women in his life. Fans will enjoy the latest Daughters of the Glen time travel medieval romance (see THIRTY NIGHTS WITH A HIGHLAND HUSBAND) as Melissa Mayhue provides a winner with justice for all in two distinct centuries.

Harriet Klausner

Darkness Unknown-Alexis Morgan

Darkness Unknown
Alexis Morgan
Pocket, Feb 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9781416563433

In the woods next to her farm, Gwen Mosely saves Jarvis Donahue’s life when she pulls his unconscious body from a stream, which keeps him from drowning. To her surprise, his wounds heal immediately although she has seen her teenage half-brother Chase pulls off the same effect. She hopes the stranger will be able to answer questions the siblings have about Chase’s previously thought of unique skills.

Jarvis is shocked when he awakens to find his nurse easily accept his recovery ability. However, what truly stuns him is when he sees Chase; he could be the identical twin of a dead Palladin. As Jarvis and Gwen fall in love, he knows the teen also will soon become a Palladin, which means he must mentor the lad to fight against the Others for the rest of his life.

After starting another “dark” saga (see DARK WARRIOR UNLEASHED) Alexis Morgan returns to the Paladins of Darkness universe (see REDEEMED IN DARKNESS, DARK PROTECTOR, DARK DEFENDER and IN DARKNESS REBORN) with a strong entry. The romantic fantasy contains two intriguing lead characters and in many ways an even more fascinating support player whose healing skill comes between them. The story line includes the dark battles between the Palladins and Others, but it is the triangle relationship that makes this a superb thriller.
Harriet Klausner

Coyote's Mate-Lora Leigh

Coyote's Mate
Lora Leigh
Berkley, Feb 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425226339

She has waited patiently for years for the right moment to rescue her Coyote Breed incarcerated in her father’s Russian lab. Now after six anxious years fearing she will be caught for her seditious activity, Del-Rey “the Coyote Ghost” Delgado informs Anya Koran the time to set their final rescue plan in motion has arrived. She asks him one favor; not to kill her dad when they liberate the female specimens; he agrees.

During the raid, Del-Rey shoots and kills Anaya’s father; he escorts her and the other Coyote Breed to the Sanctuary compound. While Anya remains irate with him for killing her father, mating heat assaults both of them. However, as his soulmate rejects him though her body betrays her by craving his touch; a traitor within the compound places everyone especially the newcomers in danger.

The latest Lora Leigh's homage to the X-Men (see DAWN’S AWAKENING, MEGAN'S MARK and HARMONY'S WAY, etc.) stars a great lead pairing who appear destined to remain apart in spite of mating heat uniting them. Anya cannot forgive Del-Rey for killing her father though she knows his other choice was a failed mission with many of the rescued dead and the rest imprisoned. Once again the bioengineered breeds seem genuine and the romance between the Alpha and his Coya enjoyable to follow. Although the betrayal seems somewhat similar in tone to MERCURY'S WAR, fans of the saga will enjoy the latest science fiction romantic suspense as the hatred and prejudice the Breed encounter would make Magneto believe humans love him and his mutants.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Red Hot Valentine’s Day-Lacey Danes, Megan Hart, Jackie Kessler and Jess Michaels

A Red Hot Valentine’s Day
Lacey Danes, Megan Hart, Jackie Kessler and Jess Michaels
Avon, Feb 2009, $13.99
ISBN: 9780061689390

"Torn Desires" by Lacey Danes. Widow Sophia enjoys having two hunks in her life while wondering if choosing one over the other will be enough to satiate her appetite.

“Get There” by Megan Hart. Edie and Ty are lovers though their relationship is long distance; each dreams of their next in person reunion on Valentine’s Day as they ponder how they will arrive at the tryst site and what they plan to do with their beloved.

"Hell Is Where the Heart Is" by Jackie Kessler. The two demons need time away from their jobs of enticing mortals so they take deserved vacation nights to enjoy sex the way it is meant to be, demon heated.

"By Valentine's Day" by Jess Michaels. The rake has until Valentine’s Day to persuade Charlotte that he loves her, but she is marrying someone else in one week; his plan to win her heart is to love her with a passion from the core of his soul.

These are four well written erotic romantic novellas that range from historical to fantasy to contemporary, but share the title of A RED HOT VALENTINE’S DAY collection. Fan who relish their sweets served differently will want to read this heated holiday anthology.

Harriet Klausner

Highland Warrior-Monica McCarty

Highland Warrior
Monica McCarty
Ballantine, Jan 27 2009, $ 7.99
ISBN: 9780345503381

In 1608 on the Isle of Bute, off Scotland, Lord Lamont hosts a Highland gathering at his Ascog Castle in hopes of finding an acceptable husband for his not always biddable daughter Caitrina. He hates using his offspring as pawn, but feels for the sake of the clan’s safety he must arrange a marriage that brings a strong alliance with it. She understands the need and accepts her role, but prays that her fiancé is not a Campbell; a clan the Lamont tribe has feuded with for years.

Due to the pleading of her younger brother Brian to rescue a kitten from a tree, Caitrina climbs up, but her sibling leaves once she gives him the feline before helping her down. The Privy Council’s enforcer Jamie Campbell arrives in time to help the damsel in distress out on a limb; that is after taking his time as he admired the view. In spite of the clans’ disputes and Caitrina’s trepidations, Jamie marries her. However, whereas he sees the world as black and white, she sees a rainbow. They fall in love, but their marriage remains fragile as he remains inflexible unable to understand that chastisement is not always the best response to right a wrong. When his beloved almost dies, Jamie begins to comprehend how fortunate he is to have Caitrina as his wife and to have her love as he begins to understand justice without passion leads to injustice.

The opening of Monica McCarty’s latest Highland saga, The Campbells, is a terrific character driven historical romance that showcases a great author cleverly using a seventeen century setting to make a point about modern day justice. Love is not enough as Jamie as the enforcer never cares about circumstances when he doles out punishment in the name of justice. Caitrina is his opposite as she feels strongly all the pertinent information needs to be considered before determining the best fairest course of action. Fans will relish their dispute over what justice truly is.

Harriet Klausner

Paper Roses-Amanda Cabot

Paper Roses
Amanda Cabot
Revell, Jan 2009, $13.99
ISBN: 9780800733247

In 1856, Sarah Dobbs becomes a mail order bride for two reasons. First she needs to move on with her much younger sister Thea after the tragic deaths due to influenza of her parents back in Philadelphia and second she cherished the paper roses and loving letters her fiancé Austin Canfield sent her. However, in San Antonio instead of Austin arriving, his brother Clay informs her that her groom was murdered by an unknown assailant. Clay offers to pay the return fare for the two siblings, but Sarah refuses his kind offer preferring to find work in nearby Ladreville than face ridicule and bad memories back home.

Clay, a widower, almost goes berserk when Thea affectionately calls him papa as he wanted to hear that word from his baby, but both the infant and his beloved Patience died. On the family ranch that he takes the two siblings to, he admires Sarah for her spunk in spite of her recent tragedies and her leg that leaves her limping and actually likes the little one though feels guilty for doing so. Soon Sarah and Clay fall in love, but both hide their feelings out of guilt and fear of rejection; rationalizing that solving the murder mystery must come first

The first Texas Dreams tale is an excellent western romance with an amateur sleuth whodunit investigation serving as a minor but powerful support. The two likable lead characters are tied together initially by grief, but soon that becomes love and a precocious (perhaps too much so) young girl enhance their relationship. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Sarah waits for her fiancé to arrive while Clay dreads the mission of telling her he won’t and never slows down even with the inspirational message of keeping the faith interwoven from start to finish. Fans will enjoy this fine pre-Civil War Hills Country historical.

Harriet Klausner

Better on Top-Delilah Dawson

Better on Top
Delilah Dawson
St. Martin's, Jan 20 2009, $13.95
ISBN: 9780312369378

Single mom Toni Lyons struggles with raising her five years old autistic daughter Twyla. As a “solid” favor for her friend Eileen as well was making money, the auto mechanic reluctantly agrees to anonymously “test” her new matchmaking web site, Orchid Soul.

Her landlord in the converted duplex, Nick Benson has returned from a harrowing experience in the military. Prior to leaving home on the deployment, he was known as the Reverend for being the top player; now he has no interest in playing since a personal death in the war zone has left him grieving. He spends much of his time renovating his house. He is attracted to his renter and very patient with her offspring. Eileen convinces him as a solid to her to test her new erotic matchmaking site.

Due to his manipulations, Orchid Soul matches up the two neighbors as their sexual fantasies go together. However, she is hesitant as she was scorched once before when she trusted a man with her heart while he takes it slow knowing she and Twyla belong with him, but fearing she will discover his hacking chicanery and have one more reason to distrust men.

The second Orchid Soul romance (see UP ALL NIGHT; not read by me) is an engaging contemporary as the sexual fantasy program fails (with some human assistance) yet achieves the strategic goal of the website. The lead couple is a terrific pairing, but it is the relationship between Twyla and Nick that makes the story line fulfilling. Fans will enjoy Delilah Dawson’s delightful duet as testers falling in love.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A Perfect Darkness-Jaime Rush

A Perfect Darkness
Jaime Rush
Avon, Feb 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061690358

In Annapolis, computer data rescuer Amy Shane can see auras, but her life is boring except when she sleeps and vividly dreams of a lover, whom she has never met. However, ennui will look nirvana like after Lucas Vanderwyck bursts into her apartment to inform her that her father was part of an experiment that probably led to his being murdered; not a suicide as officially declared almost two decades ago near Fort Meade. He also says she is an “Offspring” of the experiment and under surveillance. What leaves Amy almost speechless is nothing he says or his breaking into her abode; Lucas is her dream lover and they are not strangers.

Three armed FBI agents arrive and shoot Lucas with a tranquilizer; they inform her he is a serial killer and they take him away. After meeting other Offspring and now fearing even her Uncle Cyrus, Amy makes telepathic contact with Luke while sleeping and vows to rescue him from his incarceration. Luke fears for her life and begs her not to attempt a rescue.

This fast-paced romantic suspense paranormal thriller will hook the audience from the beginning and never slow down until the final confrontation. The story line is filled with plenty of action while starring two delightful Offspring who rush OUT OF THE DARKNESS into trouble not of their making. Fans will relish this exhilarating conspiracy thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Kiss of Fate-Deborah Cooke

Kiss of Fate
Deborah Cooke
Signet, Feb 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 045122616X

The war between the dragons, Pyr vs. Slayers remains heated as they disagree over the fate of humanity. The Pyr protects the humans while the Slayers want them dead. In that environs, Pyr leader Erik Sorensson prepares for battle. However, he learns of a relic owned by mythological expert Eileen Grosvenor that he believes his side must possess if it is to succeed.

When he meets Eileen he is stunned as he realizes she is the reincarnation of his wife, who committed suicide when their offspring Sigmund became a Slayer. Erik wants a second chance at the firestorm mating, but fears the outcome at a time he must focus on preventing the Slayers’ latest deadly ploy. At the same time Eileen has dreamed of a were-dragon lover and now he stands in front of her.

The third Dragonfire paranormal romantic suspense (see KISS OF FURY and KISS OF FIRE) is a terrific thriller that enables the audience to believe in the urban fantasy world of Deborah Cooke. The story line is fast-paced and filled with plenty of action yet fans will believe in the firestorm destined soulmates romantic subplot especially critical to this entry. KISS OF FATE is a superb second chance at love romantic fantasy filled with delightful twists while starring two wonderful lead protagonists and a horde of nasty Slayers assigned to kill both of them.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, January 2, 2009

Tempting Fate-Alissa Johnson

Tempting Fate
Alissa Johnson
Leisure, Feb 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 0843961562

When Whittaker Cole and Mirabelle Browning were children their constant bickering looked cute to the adults amused by them. Each understood even as youngsters, their arguments were not endearing; instead they hated one another. Neighbors once again, their preadolescent antagonism has not abated one iota as they still detest one another.

Mirabelle insists she would never be attracted to the handsome Earl who is considered prime meat (and real estate) on the Marriage Mart. Whit insists he would never be attracted to the hellion next door who broke his nose. Their families believe they make a perfect couple and when they kiss neither can pull back; leaving both to wonder how could a lifetime of fighting lead to love.

The amusing sequel to the charming espionage Regency romance AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT is somewhat different in tone as there is no spying yet shares in common as an enjoyable lighthearted historical due to the antics of the cast. The lead couple is either kissing or arguing while the support cast plays matchmakers. Fans will relish this fabulous romp as the laughs keep on coming as does the romance.

Harriet Klausner

Addicted-Charlotte Featherstone

Charlotte Featherstone
Harlequin Spice, Feb 2009, $13.95
ISBN: 9780373605286

In 1850 in Worcestshire, England, childhood friends Lord Lindsay Markham and Lady Anais Darnby are attracted to one another though so far they have hid their deep regard. However, Lindsay plans to propose to Anais and has already bought a ring.

His opportunity is thwarted by Anais’ friend Rebecca Thomas who drugs him with opium and seduces him. When Anais sees her friend and her beloved together, her heart breaks. She rejects his plea and his excuses before vanishing.

Almost a year later, Lindsay is ADDICTED to opium, but still hopes to find and marry his beloved. When he finally meets up with Anais, he declares his love. However, having still not forgiven him for his transgression with Rebecca and nauseated by his drug dependency, she rejects him again although she knows she still loves him. He knows what he must do if he wants the woman he is addicted to as his wife; he must give up the opium, but that owns his soul as much as Anais does.

Lindsay with his opium addiction makes for a unique energizing Victorian romance. Anais is a terrific lead female, but in some ways is more a major secondary character as she competes with opium for Lindsay’s soul. His mistreatment of his loyal friend Brougham is partly caused by his need for the drug even as he knows that he can never fully kick the habit as there will be times he will want to indulge. Fans who relish something well written but different will want to read Charlotte Featherstone’s insightful historical as the hero is not just flawed he is overwhelmed by his cravings.

Harriet Klausner