Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Seduction of a Duke-Donna MacMeans

The Seduction of a Duke
Donna MacMeans
Berkley, Apr 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425228067

In 1880 her mother ignores Newport heiress Francesca Winthrop desire to marry someone she loves as inane because social status is everything. Instead mom arranges a marriage for her daughter with an impoverished English duke.

William Chambers prefers to marry for love or not at all, but has no choice except to accept the Winthrop’s social climber’s offer for her wealthy daughter. Bitterly he accepts his title for her money.

William and Fran meet at a masquerade ball and each is attracted to the other. He gores so far as thinking marriage to an American if it is her will be okay; she thinks similar thoughts. However, both are anxious leading to a great misunderstanding they misconstrue what is happening until Fran reads a courtesan's diary; given to her a few months ago when the American was in Paris by her former tutor. She applies the tips and soon has William out of control with desire. However, her past surfaces and threatens the marriage between the heiress and the duke.

The sequel to THE EDUCATION OF MRS. BRIMLEY, THE SEDUCTION OF A DUKE is a wonderful Victorian romance starring two likable protagonists who fall in love while she applies the courtesan’s diary to their relationship. The story line contains droll double entendres, a staple of Donna MacMeans. With a strong support cast and plenty of wit, sub-genre readers will enjoy this intelligent amusing historical.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 27, 2009

Madame Bliss-Charlotte Lovejoy

Madame Bliss
Charlotte Lovejoy
Signet, Mar 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780451225979

In the eighteenth century waif Marianna Wren is taken into an aristocratic home where she became a servant. However, as she blossomed into a beautiful woman, she is accused of unbecoming behavior when her owner took her virginity and consequently fired her. Marianna tries to hitch a ride and is picked up by Calliope. They hit it off and the more experienced woman tutors her new friend in the vast delights of a wide variety of sex with male and female partners

Marianna loves her new freedom and changes her name to Madame Bliss. She enjoys seduction and being seduced, but deep down in her heart, Bliss knows Marianna is still that stray trying to belong to someone; she wants to love and be loved by her own personal Eros.

As Signet states, MADAME BLISS will remind readers of Fanny Hill and Tom Jones. This is the amorous adventures of a woman of pleasure in a delightfully lewd coming of age historical. Marianna is like a wren until her mentor teaches her the love and joy of blissful bisexual bawdy encounters of all kind. Fans will enjoy Madame Bliss’ erotic escapades.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Gorgeous As Sin-

Gorgeous As Sin
Susan Johnson
Berkley, Mar 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425226810

In 1891, his Grace the Duke of Groveland George Montagu Fitz-Robbins Monckton, left the countryside and his latest married paramour at the urgent request of his barrister Prosper Hutchinson. Prosper explains that if a Mrs. St. Vincent refuses to sell her bookstore on Monckton Row, his project would fail and His Grace will be out at least 90,000 pounds. The lady is obstinate.

To save his project, Fitz visits the lady in question who refuses money. He likes her courage and stubbornness so different than all the women he knows who do whatever he asks of them. He changes plan from cash to seduction as no female can resist his lure. Rosalind knows her adversary is GORGEOUS AS SIN and desires him, but she knows he will break her heart so rejects her need of him and his enticement leading to an immovable force colliding with an irresistible object.

This engaging late Victorian heated romance stars two enemy combatants insisting it is only passing lust that will go away like gas does. The gender war makes for a fine historical as Fitz and Rosalind feel they have good cause to motivate them to fight and win the battle while ignoring their respective seditious hearts and other body parts. Although the plot is a bit thin, Susan Johnson provides an enjoyable late nineteenth century romance because of heated hostility between the lead couple.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Highland Scandal-Julia London

Highland Scandal
Julia London
Pocket, Apr 21 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 141654710X

In 1807 the Prince of Wales demands the Lords Commissioners complete their Delicate Investigation into the behavior of his wife. Being the royal heir, George expects one outcome. However, the Lords Commissioners are finding little to uphold the accusations George is making against his spouse Princess Caroline of her sleeping around.

The latest lord the Prince accuses of adultery with the Princess of Wales is Scottish Earl Jankin "Jack" Haines. Jack assumes George will quickly drop the nonsensical charge so he goes home to wait. Instead the Prince, claiming Jack fled to Scotland to avoid conviction of the seditious act of sleeping with the Princess, hires bounty hunters to find the earl. They capture Jack and take him to their clan laird, Carson Beal who forces his prisoner to handfast with his troublemaking niece, Elizabeth "Lizzie" Drummond Beal in order to avoid her possible marriage with Gavin Gordon. Although Carson denies duplicity, Jack thinks his “host” has a nefarious reason to keep his niece from marrying Gordon and he plans to learn what that is even as he begins to fall in love with the shrew taming him.

Based on a real investigation, the second scandal Regency romance (see BOOK OF SCANDAL) is a delightful historical Scottish romance. Jack expects the accusations will soon pass but underestimates the Prince’s determination. However, he adapts nicely as he goes from the fire to the frying pan and back into the fire. Lizzie acts inane at first blaming Jack for her situation and behaving dangerously foolish to avoid marrying her uncle’s prisoner. She quickly comes around (thank goodness) as she falls in love. HIGHLAND SCANDAL is a wonderful tale as a real event leads to love between two Highlanders.

Harriet Klausner

The Secret Wedding-Jo Beverley

The Secret Wedding
Jo Beverley
Signet, Apr. 2009, $7.99
ISBN 9780451226518

Heiress Caro Hill believes she is a widow, but has no definitive proof her spouse died. Since the wealthy Caro is considering remarrying, she needs to learn whether Jack Hill died as she assumes he did.

Army officer Christian Hill, Viscount Grandiston, is concerned as he hears rumors about someone asking questions re Jack Hill. He can answer the probe personally since a decade ago back in 1754 in Yorkshire he as Jack Hill married Dorcas Froggatt after killing her fiancé Moore; he admits to himself he never gave his bride a second thought until now as he believed he was a widower. Now he wonders whether Dorcas is alive. In London going by the name Mr. Grandiston he investigates the investigator looking for Jack Hill while Caro masquerades as several people to thwart any threat to her owning a cutlery business.

The second not so “Secret” Georgian romance (see A LADY’S SECRET) is a fabulous intelligent tale starring two lead characters masquerading as others in order to conceal their true identity while falling in love with their spouse. A comedy of manners, misconceptions and mistakes, Jo Beverly provides an amusing historical with a touch of suspense and a hint of scandal as you like it.

Harriet Klausner

A Twenty-first Century Courtesan-Eden Bradley

A Twenty-first Century Courtesan
Eden Bradley
Delta (Dell), Mar 24 2009, $13.00
ISBN: 9780553385571

Valentine Day is a high class hooker whose clientele is wealthy and caring. One of her favorite customers is Hollywood producer Enzo Alighieri who has a wife and a mistress, but loves to pamper Valentine; whom he set up at the elite of the profession. Another client Bennett is taking her to a production of La Travolta at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, but due to work is unable to make it. He insists she attend as he knows she loves the opera.

Sitting next to her at the show is Joshua Spencer who also attends alone as his guest, his mom, could not make it. They talk and realize they share in common a love of art. He gives his card to her and asks her to call. Valentine wants to ignore Joshua because he stirs feelings she has never had, but she cannot stop herself from calling. In fact she masturbates dreaming of him and has an orgasm for the first time in her life without someone paying her to do so. As they fall in love, she knows her profession disqualifies her for any normal relationship.

This Pretty Woman spin is an enjoyable contemporary romance starring an engaging half Jewish former Valley girl and the men in her life especially the first non-paying male who makes her come. Val’s clients are too nice as any woman would relish the pampering that Bennett and Enzo provides Val while the danger of her profession is ignored except for an aside or two involving some other woman. Still A TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY COURTESAN is an engaging character study as Val knows she is not good enough for the man she loves just by the simple fact she hides her profession from her Joshua.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, February 23, 2009

Chasing Charity-Marcia Gruver

Chasing Charity
Marcia Gruver
Barbour, Apr 28 2009, $10.97
ISBN: 9781602602069

In 1905 Humble, Texas, Daniel Clark could not go through with the vows. Instead he left his fiancee Charity Bloom at the altar of the Free Grace Church and walked out. Almost immediately Charity's best friend Emmy Dane chased after him. All the townsfolk offer sympathy to the jilted woman, but she holds her head high and insists she is fine though she feels a bit humbled by their betrayal; her only pain however is the hours her widow mama put in to make a dress for her as the impoverish Blooms could not afford to buy one.

When Buddy Pierce finds oil on the Bloom property, Charity and mama are excited. He is attracted to Charity, but is reluctant to act on it as he assumes she loves another man and he rejects the notion of a rebound romance. Meanwhile Daniel has come home filled with remorse and regret having blundered by choosing high maintenance Emmy over caring Charity; he wants a second chance. However, her mama rejects him as a fool preferring Buddy for her daughter and Emmy stalks him, but the worst interference in his effort to redeem himself is the stranger who seems to be CHASING CHARITY too.

This is an enjoyable early twentieth century Texas romance starring a wonderful lead character who readers will admire for her attitude. Charity lives up to her name as she is forgiving, loyal and loving. Fans will enjoy this fine Texas oil historical romance as the heroine is pursued by the man who jilted her and by a stranger who avoids her as much as he chases after her.

Harriet Klausner

The Reluctant Cowgirl-Christine Lynxwiler

The Reluctant Cowgirl
Christine Lynxwiler
Barbour , Apr 2009, $10.97
ISBN 9781602601505

Heeding Sinatra’s advice, Crystal McCord left Arkansas to make it as an actress in New York City. In spite of good reviews for her acting, the play she is in making a Splash folds as the critics kill it. When she returns to her rent controlled apartment, Crystal finds her boyfriend Brad who missed her performance sleeping with her roommate Sasha. Since her family called for a meeting anyway, the Arkansas traveler decides to go home to her parents’ ranch to heal from the play’s closing and the betrayals.

When neighboring rancher Jeremy Buchanan and Crystal meet, sparks fly. She metaphorically considers him to be her potential leading man in this regional theater, but he has a history with her type. As they fall in love, both have decisions to make and stereotypes to overcome.

How you’re going to keep her down on the ranch after she’s seen New York is the underlying theme in this entertaining contemporary romance in which author Christine Lynxwiler avoids dissing either the location as tastes and desires matter. THE RELUCTANT COWGIRL is a fun tale due to the misconceptions of the lead couple re the other. With a strong supporting cast, readers will enjoy this light inspirational as the wannabe in the clouds actress and the grounded rancher fall in love. See ALONG CAME A COWBOY for an even deeper Arkansas character study.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 20, 2009

Spring Breakup-Stephanie Hale

Spring Breakup
Stephanie Hale
Berkley, Mar 2009, $9.99
ISBN: 9780425225929

During spring break at Comfort Community College Aspen Brooks, her boyfriend Rand Bachrach to go to Vegas; her BFF Angel and Angel’s boyfriend Lucas join them. At the hotel the quartet is staying at is also hosting the Miss Teen Queen Pageant.

When Miss Illinois vanishes without a trace, Aspen puts away the suntan lotion though she wonders with the heavy lights if she might need the strongest dose with some asbestos to reinforce it to represent her home state at the pageant though she lacks the necessary surgical corrections. Her plan is to go undercover to learn what is going on while she worries about her BFF who apparently broke up with Lucas. Rand is a bit peeved as she has no time for him while working the Strip.

The third Aspen Brooks teen character study (see REVENGE of the HOMECOMING QUEEN and TWISTED SISTERS) is an intriguing mix of Miss Congeniality meets Sydney White as the heroine has become a couple thimbles deeper than in her past shallower tales.. The lighthearted frolic is fun especially when Aspen goes undercover as an amateur sleuth. The BFF-BFF's BF battle is a silly distraction of a couple who fail to make the weight. Fans of Our Miss Brooks (sorry Eve Arden – couldn’t resist) will appreciate her latest escapades on spring break.

Harriet Klausner

Spring Breakup-Stephanie Hale

Spring Breakup
Stephanie Hale
Berkley, Mar 2009, $9.99
ISBN: 9780425225929

During spring break at Comfort Community College Aspen Brooks, her boyfriend Rand Bachrach to go to Vegas; her BFF Angel and Angel’s boyfriend Lucas join them. At the hotel the quartet is staying at is also hosting the Miss Teen Queen Pageant.

When Miss Illinois vanishes without a trace, Aspen puts away the suntan lotion though she wonders with the heavy lights if she might need the strongest dose with some asbestos to reinforce it to represent her home state at the pageant though she lacks the necessary surgical corrections. Her plan is to go undercover to learn what is going on while she worries about her BFF who apparently broke up with Lucas. Rand is a bit peeved as she has no time for him while working the Strip.

The third Aspen Brooks teen character study (see REVENGE of the HOMECOMING QUEEN and TWISTED SISTERS) is an intriguing mix of Miss Congeniality meets Sydney White as the heroine has become a couple thimbles deeper than in her past shallower tales.. The lighthearted frolic is fun especially when Aspen goes undercover as an amateur sleuth. The BFF-BFF's BF battle is a silly distraction of a couple who fail to make the weight. Fans of Our Miss Brooks (sorry Eve Arden – couldn’t resist) will appreciate her latest escapades on spring break.

Harriet Klausner

Then Comes Seduction-Mary Balogh

Then Comes Seduction
Mary Balogh
Dell, Mar 24 2009, $6.99
ISBN 9780440244233

The drunken rake Jasper Finley bet he could have sex with innocent Lady Katherine Huxtable within a fortnight. However, when he sobers up the Baron knows he stepped over the line even for a rogue like himself so he claims he failed to win the wager.

Three years later Jasper and Katherine run into each other at a gala. Though still an innocent she makes it clear she is attracted to the rake. He wants her so he offers her a wager seduce him into falling in love with her. Knowing failure would mean probable scandal and a definite broken heart, Katherine stuns Jasper and agrees to his bet as his wife; now she must get her husband to fall in love with her like she is with him.

The second Huxtable sister Regency romance (see FIRST COMES MARRIAGE) is a charming tale starring two delightful lead characters who gamble on love. Jasper and Katherine are a perfect pairing as each raises the stake in what turns into a scandalous love affair enhanced by overarching family issues. Mary Balogh is two for two with one sister left to come seduce the author fans and perhaps a younger brother who deserves that magical Balogh historical touch.

Harriet Klausner

Hittin' It-Amie Stuart

Hittin' It
Amie Stuart
Kensington Aphrodisia, Mar 2009, $12.95
ISBN: 9780758228567

"Screwed: Will and Sabrina”. In Texas professional hit man Will breaks the most important rule of his profession by agreeing to help Sabrina. However, he soon finds himself hiding from a hit taken out on him. When he retires, he and Sabrina hook up at his party.

"Hooked: John and Tish”. Professional hit man John breaks the most important rule of his vocation by making a hit personal. However, his thirst for revenge is put on hold by Tish, who demands he escort her to a wedding. There her mob chief father persuades John that love not war is the way to live a long prosperous life.

The latest Collier brothers’ tales are fun satirical contemporary romances starring two tough hombres NAILED like their sibling Wynn was. Both stories are well written with plenty of wry irony as the professional hit men take hits in their respective hearts, but in spite of being an Aphrodisia, the sheets are less explicitly soiled than usual for this imprint.

Harriet Klausner

Texas Men-Delilah Devlin

Texas Men
Delilah Devlin
Kensington Aphrodisia, Mar 2009, $12.95
ISBN: 9780758228734

“Bound and Determined”. When her friend Cody is up for bid at a charity auction, bar owner Tara buys him for the night. She ties him to her bed with plans to ride him all weekend.

"Breezy Ridin'". The judge’s daughter Sarah is on her motorcycle well over the speed limit without a stitch of clothing on. The deputy sheriffs Logan and Joe pull her over, but she offers them a ménage a trios. Although Logan is a master at domination and tutors the other two, it is Joe who attracts the running wild woman.

"Night Watch“. Schoolteacher Amy accidentally sees deputy sheriff Logan through his open bedroom window and likes what she sees. Logan plans to convert the accidental voyeur into a willing sex partner using his masterly style.

These three BDSM tales are well written and contain full blooded lead characters who run the range of tyro to master and several bondage levels in between. Although Sarah’s early behavior requires a muzzle and velvet rope, fans will enjoy these erotic tales of TEXAS MEN and women starring in domination-submissive stories.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Baby In Her Arms-Stella MacLean

Baby In Her Arms
Stella MacLean
Harlequin SuperRomance, Mar 2009, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373715534

Over one year ago, the love of her life Andrew died, Emily Martin still grieves her loss. Still with her adult children in need starting with her daughter Zara giving birth to her grandchild, the widow is kept occupied though feeling scatterbrained at times.

She finds solace in the letters Andrew wrote her before he died. She also finds their good neighbor Sam Bannister comforting too. Soon after she becomes a grandmother, Emily and Sam fall in love, as she realizes her children are doing okay and do not need her to live their lives.

This engaging romance is a warm entertaining contemporary with a strong cast. Emily and Sam are likable protagonists who fall in love at a time neither feels right due to the ghost that ties them together. Although dead for over a year, Andrew is a complete character as readers get to know him indirectly through his letters to his beloved wife and through the memories of her and Sam, and somewhat her children. Although her adult children ignore their mom’s needs, Stella MacLean provides an interesting character driven second chance at love.

Harriet Klausner

A Natural Father-Sarah Mayberry

A Natural Father
Sarah Mayberry
Harlequin SuperRomance, Mar 2009, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373715510

In Melbourne, in spite of protective sex, Lucy Basso informs her mom and sis she is pregnant; mom does not miss a beat when she says Marcus will need to step up and be responsible. Instead Marcus has dumped her as he is not ready for fatherhood.

Dominic Bianco has always wanted Lucy, but never had an opportunity to pursue his desire until now. He makes it clear he is attracted her, but she refuses to believe he could care for another man’s child though he is so tender, passionate and protective of her. Dominic must convince his Lucy he loves her and loves her unborn because that child is half hers.

Ignoring the biological dad as being a selfish dolt unable to accept responsibly or accountability, fans will enjoy this fine contemporary romance between a woman carrying someone else’s child and a man who is A NATURAL FATHER and husband at least with her. The story line is driven by Dominic’s tenderness and Lucy’s doubts. Sarah Mayberry provides a fine relationship drama in which her audience will root for Dominic and somewhat lecture Lucy to move past her doubts and heed her heart and bulging stomach as even the fetus recognizes A NATURAL FATHER.

Harriet Klausner

Mother To Be-Tanya Michaels

Mother To Be
Tanya Michaels
Harlequin SuperRomance, Mar 2009, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373782932

In Richmond, Virginia forty-three years old realtor Delia Carlisle believes she owns the world with her success in business and with her thirty-seven year old boyfriend, Alexander “Ringo” DiRossi. However, she panics when she learns she is pregnant and not because of her age; she is not ready to marry.

Alex wants to marry his beloved Delia and raise a family with her. He proposes, but she hesitates. Besides her doubts about marriage, she does not want him trapped into a marrying her because she is carrying. Alex knows he must convince her he wants her as his wife even if they had no kids.

The fully developed lead couple engages the audience with their older woman younger man relationship. Whereas Alex has wanted to amrry Delia forever, he delayed asking for fear she will say no and end their relationship. Now he dreads that she will use her pregnancy as the excuse to not marry him. Delia is a fascinating confused individual whose bewilderment has geometrically grown in direct correlation with her pregnancy. Fans of character driven contemporary romances will appreciate the father’s efforts to make the MOTHER TO BE his wife; as he already has her heart.

Harriet Klausner

Trouble in High Heels-Leanne Banks

Trouble in High Heels
Leanne Banks
Warner Forever, Mar 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780446611749

Since the death of her affluent martinet father, heiress Lori Granger has given away a fortune to anyone who asks. Her father’s CPA firm is at a loss as to how to prevent Lori from going broke even with her late dad not trusting her with money so he added to his will that she must marry by thirty or live on his budget.

Desperate the partners assign their newest accountant Jackson James to work with the out of control Lori. He behaves different than the wimps she previously was assigned. He says no and means it. However, tired of all their meddling especially her father from the grave, Lori orders Jackson to find her a husband. He struggles with saying no as he is falling in love with his client and worse she wants him to find her a husband.

The growth in the lead characters from Oscar the Grouch and Miss Piggy to caring in love protagonists make for an amusing fun read even if this version of It Happened One Night has been told often. The accountant stoically understands the bottom line is occupied by the expendable newbies who breathe in the sh*t rolling downhill without a snorkel while Lori’s monthly pittance would make Republicans in Congress ashamed of her capitalist rant. Fans will enjoy this lighthearted contemporary romance as the lead couple goes through the phases of fictional relationship from war to fragile peace to friendship to love with a few humorous setbacks at each stage.

Harriet Klausner

Seducing a Scottish Bride-Sue-Ellen Welfonder

Seducing a Scottish Bride
Sue-Ellen Welfonder
Warner Forever, Mar 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 0446195294

Following the death of his second wife Ronan “The Raven” MacRuari vows no more marriages. He fears for the life of any future bride at his home Castle Dare as he believes he is either paranormally cursed or haunted by an unknown mortal adversary with access to his home; though he leans towards the supernatural because the natural explanation means a friend or family member has been killing his wives.

However, the twice widower is placed in a quandary when he must marry a MacKenzie to pay off a family debt to the clan. Laird MacKenzie sends a euphoric Lady Gelis to be The Raven’s third bride. She has the gift of sight and has seen her intended in a vision. She prepares to bring sunshine into his heart while confronting the dark forces of evil who need her dead in order to possess the Raven Stone that MacRuari owns.

SEDUCING A SCOTTISH BRIDE is a great paranormal historical romance starring two caring individuals whose love puts them at odds with each other. He would rather be celibate than place his Lady Gelis in harm; she would rather battle the entire forces of hell than give up her love. Fans will read this in one delightful sitting so set aside the time.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, February 16, 2009

Naughty Bits-Assorted authors

Naughty Bits
Assorted authors
Spice, Mar 2009, $13.95
ISBN: 9780373605385

This first spicy Naughty Bits anthology is a hot (make that equatorial heat) erotic romance anthology. The short format is perfect for this sub-genre as the sexual action occurs between the protagonists. None of the erotic entries are depressors as each of the fifteen arousers is well written even in the limited format. Obviously plotting is somewhat diminished especially with the shorter tales (arbitrarily under fifty pages - some go into the sixties, but none attain 69), but no one will care as the fifteen provocateurs provide hot stimulating erotic tales that spread the gamut (as well as body parts) of the genre. These torrid Spice Briefs are fun to read; as they will leave your significant other in ecstasy especially spreading the encounters over several weeks.

Harriet Klausner

Immortals: The Reckoning-Jennifer Ashley, Joy Nash and Robin T. Popp

Immortals: The Reckoning
Jennifer Ashley, Joy Nash and Robin T. Popp
Love Spell, Mar 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 0505527685

"Wolf Hunt" by Jennifer Ashley. Six months ago LAPD cop Logan the werewolf saved the life of Nadia the demon Nadia. Now he receives an urgent call from her from the woody California-Oregon border that they are coming for her. He drops everything to keep her safe, but now faces a dilemma from his past as pack leader Matt and her preadolescent son Joel are involved as much as his heart is.

"Blood Debt" by Joy Nash. One hundred years ago, Leanna the Sidhe killed Jackson in Paris. He survived the encounter but was turned and became a slave to master vampire Armand Legrand. Now he is returning to Paris to kill his former overlord and perhaps Leanna too especially if she tries to prevent his achieving his life’s ambition.

"Beyond the Mist" by Robin T. Popp. Poseidon has come to claim what was willingly pledged to him by Sekhmet though the ocean God admits he no longer desires her one year old grandson’s soul, but even he cannot break the magical contract. He needs a soul for a soul so Sekhmet thinking the witch Jenna killed her parents offers her up. Spirit-walker Dave and Jenna are on a cruise ship run by Poseidon who comes to collect his debt. If she can free her powers repressed by her mental reaction to family homicides and with Dave’s help, she might survive with her soul intact, but can she fight back once she knows the alternate price.

These are three terific Immortals' tales containing strong lead characters, super key support players, and the return of former stars inside deep paranormal thrillers. This is a winning anthology for fans and newcomers by the saga’s authors who have writeen at least two novels each.

Harriet Klausner

Desire Unchained-Larissa Ione

Desire Unchained
Larissa Ione
Forever, Mar 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780446400985

Almost a year has past since the human Runa Wagner caught her boyfriend Shade with two vamps. She fled from him, which, though he misses her, was for the best as a demon breed Seminus has no future with a mortal; worse if he should ever find his bond mate, the curse will torment him for eternity.

Runa’s ire over what she saw has grown into outrage with a thirst for vengeance for Shade destroying her innocence. However, her plan falls apart when Shade’s breed brother Roag, who loathes him more than she does, captures him and Runa. They awaken chained together in Roag’s dungeon. Shade’s insane sibling’s scheme is diabolically brilliant as he believes she is his brother’s love bond and plans to expedite his "loving" concept.

The latest Demonica erotic romantic urban fantasy (see PLEASURE UNBOUND), DESIRE UNCHAINED, is a fabulous tale of love hurts. The story line is fast-paced from the opening sequence of three years ago when a despondent Shade thinks his brother died and never slows down as Roag spellbinds them as lifemates to destroy his sibling. Sub-genre fans will relish a visit to the Ione realm through the Harrowgate to and from New York and Sheoul demon world.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Taste of Magic-Tracy Madison

A Taste of Magic
Tracy Madison
Love Spell, Mar 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 050552810X

One year ago on her thirty-third birthday, her spouse left Elizabeth Stevens. Now on her thirty-fourth birthday, Marc, the lemon she is divorced from, has ordered a wedding cake for his second marriage from Elizabeth’s co-owned (with Jon Winterson) bakery, A TASTE OF MAGIC.

Her wacko but beloved Grandma Verda provides her beloved granddaughter with the perfect ever happy fairy tale wish. Having gypsy magic flow through her veins, Verda grants Elizabeth with whatever she wishes for by adding it to a cake she bakes for a special customer; what Grandma wants in return is for Elizabeth to once again “believe in the magic of a young girl’s heart” (thanks to Lovin’ Spoonful). Although she has doubts even with seeing Verda in action, Elizabeth finds several choices from revenge of the ex to attraction to Nate the cop, whom she met while climbing through a window at night; who will taste her wish?

This whimsical urban fantasy is a fun tale as the lead character will learn the effect of unintended consequences when she bakes her wish into a cake. Although Elizabeth is too extreme in her inconsistency that she almost seems bipolar, fans will enjoy the tale of the Gypsy girl getting exactly what she wishes for when she adds A TASTE OF MAGIC to her baked good.

Harriet Klausner

Between a Rock and a Heart Place-Natalie Stenzel

Between a Rock and a Heart Place
Natalie Stenzel
Love Spell, Mar 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 0505527839

As a CPA, Daphne Forbes understands the bottom line better than her accounting peers as the daughter of a druid. However she soon learns the basic paranormal law of unintended consequences when she trips over a magical cornerstone that leaves her with puca and druid magic; of which she understands how to use neither.

For two millennia, Tremayne the spirit essence has been stuck controlling puca powers. He sees his freedom finally by assisting Daphne in using her powers; though he also accepts unintended consequences may occur as long as they happen to her. As Tremayne pretending to be Daphne’s guardian tutor trains her to use her power, he finds his long forgotten heart beating with love. He needs to keep his beloved safe even if he must return to the pathetic tormented world she has enabled him to partially escape. When Daphne learns the truth about her soulmate, she vows to risk her life to save him especially from his novel self.

BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HEART PLACE is an enjoyable amusing romantic urban fantasy starring a brave heroine struggling with her sudden surge in magical power and in her heart’s desire; both new lifting and dangerous experiences. Though the plot is a bit thin, the story line is fast-paced from the onset as the CPA and the spirit fall in love with each of the loving pair thinking he or she will have to sacrifice their life for the other. Fans will enjoy Natalie Stenzel's fun tale and seek her previous paranormal romances (see PANDORA'S BOX and THE DRUID MADE ME DO IT).

Harriet Klausner

Bound and Determined-Shayla Black

Bound and Determined
Shayla Black
Berkley Heat, Mar 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425226902

Kerry Sullivan needs a computer security expert to prove her ailing brother Mark did not embezzle three million dollars from his employer the Tampa Standard National Bank. The FBI believes they have a perfect case as the web forensic evidence points in every way towards Mark. A desperate Kerry tries to plead her case with techno-guru Rafael Dawson, but he hangs up on her.

When Rafael arrives at the Tampa Airport, Kerry and her sibling’s best friend Jason trick him into thinking she is his hostess and he his chauffeur. Kerry takes the drugged Rafael to the love shack of Justin’s womanizing uncle. Tied up and naked Rafael looks perfect to Kerry, but first she wants her sibling’s freedom. Rafael frees himself and ties up his hostess. However, he soon finds he needs to help her; willingly he does an illegal transaction in order to prove to the Feds that they have the wrong man locked up. However, commitment to Kerry is asking too much of a person who does not believe in relationships after observing his acrimonious father destroy his mother.

This is a reprint of a 2006 book written under the name of Shelley Bradley. Though the lead couple breaks the law, fans of romantic suspense will appreciate this fine thriller starring likable protagonists, whose motivations in their lifestyles are further described by a strong support cast. A final confrontation seems over the top for the clever culprit even though the audience like the hero will consider the individual one of the prime suspects. Still this is a fine contemporary that besides trying to nail the felon will leave the audience wondering can Rafael overcome his deep rooted belief no one can love him to make it with the woman who does.

Harriet Klausner

A Vampire’s Claim-Joey W. Hill

A Vampire’s Claim
Joey W. Hill
Berkley Heat, Mar 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425226087

In 1953 Lady Daniela, the rare offspring of two vampires, travel to Western Australia to claim her maternal inheritance since her mom chose sun suicide. On the trek through the Outback to Thieves’ Station, Daniela meets visiting English human Devlin at a dive. They hit it off making love that night to her shock as she has met many males over her two millennium existence that rarely tickle her let alone ignite her desire.

Dev accompanies Daniela to her station and learns what she is. He assists her in her goal to rid the world of an evil vampiric despot. She wants his soul voluntarily. However, when she violates her beloved by claiming him as her servant without his permission, Daniela fears she went too far and will lose the independent Dev since he does not understand the repercussions to her by her naming him.

Besides a great vampire romance by an author marking the sub-genre fans as loyal followers, (see THE VAMPIRE QUEEN'S SERVANT and THE MARK OF THE VAMPIRE QUEEN) Joey W. Hill provides a strong sense of time and place. The story line insures readers will be in the remote Outback as Ike and Elizabeth rise to power. Filled with action and two strong lead protagonists, readers will appreciate this enticing invigorating thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Rose and the Shield-Elaine Barbieri

The Rose and the Shield
Elaine Barbieri
Leisure, Mar 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 0843960140

In 1066 as William and his Normans defeated the Saxons, one of the Conquerors loyal nobles Baron Guilbert de Silva and his troops slaughtered the defenders of Hendsmille. Nine years later, the bloody Baron orders his master mason to build a cathedral that will enable him to obtain God’s forgiveness for killing so many. However, unlike when he built the Baron’s castle, age has taken its toll on the master Mason. His daughter Rosamund, who hates the Normans, knows her father ails and cannot lead the effort. She dresses as a male to help her dad build the odious baron’s edifice.

Ross rescues robbery victim Sir Dagan. As he recuperates from his fatal wounds, Dagan realizes why he cannot ignore his young savior’s delicate face; he realizes beneath that youthful male garb is a beautiful woman he desires. However, he hides his attraction because his vow is to keep his Rose safe from the abusive deadly baron. Rosamund is in love with her knight, but also loathes him for being Norman.

Fans will relish this Conqueror romance as the feisty heroine learns the hard way how destructive stereotyping can be to the soul of the person filled with hatred and bias as the kind but brave Dagan teaches her that not every Norman is a butcher like the Baron is. Although women dressing as men have been used frequently by writers like Shakespeare and in movies like Shakespeare in Love, Elaine Barbieri keeps her historical brisk with two strong lead characters and a villain everyone will despise.

Harriet Klausner

Someone Like You-Leigh Greenwood

Someone Like You
Leigh Greenwood
Leisure, Mar 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 084396135X

Nine years ago in Rancho Los Almitos, California, nineteen year old Rafe Jerry loved aristocratic beauty Dolores de la Guerra. However, he was stunned to find his Dolores in bed with his widower father Warren. The two men fight and the older Jerry banishes his son forever. Warren and Dolores married while Rafe joined the Army.

Now his dad is dead and Rafe inherits the spread. His stepmother is as selfish as ever as she considers her wardrobe more important than food on the table. He comes home to settle matters and to find a military traitor Laveau di Viere. Adding insult, Dolores has a new lover his enemy; and a son, his preadolescent half-brother Luis. Worse are his traitorous feelings for Dolores’ sister Maria

No one writes western romance better than Leigh Greenwood consistently does. His latest Night Rider thriller is an exciting action-packed entry that lives up the quality of the three previous tales (see TEXAS HOMECOMING, TEXAS BRIDE and BORN TO LOVE). The cast is strong from the bitter Rafe to the innocent Luis to the shallow Dolores and to the loving Maria; while the secondary players like Bronc and Miguel enhance the deep look at the key characters even Laveau. Fans will enjoy this story of avarice and duplicity in Post Civil War California.
Harriet Klausner

Revealed-Kate Noble

Kate Noble
Berkley, Mar 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425221747

Only twenty-one year old wealthy widow Lady Phillippa Benning benignly rules the Ton. However, she hides from Polite Society her ennui with all the inanity that accompanies galas. Her only rival is the harlot Lady Jane Cummings; her adversary since they were students at Mrs. Humphrey’s School for Elegant Ladies. Both are interested in the Marquis of Broughton.

However Phillippa’ dropped glove ploy leads to Mr. Marcus Worth instead of the lord. Soon she realizes what Marcus’ truth worth is when she concludes he is the notorious Blue Raven spy and fantasy of every female’s dreams. Phillippa blackmails him into making her his partner in his effort to capture his adversary the French agent Laurant, who has escaped his efforts for ten years. He rejects her extortionist proposal, but changes his mind when he realizes there is substance beyond Almack inside this courageous young woman. However, the Frenchman has not been so elusively successful by not observing his enemies.

This is a terrific tale of “love and war” that contrasts the overabundance of Regency High Society with the dangerous world of espionage. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Phillippa knows who the Blue Raven is and never slows down as the pair team up to catch the wily Frenchman. During their adventures, the lead couple learn the true manning of a “bargain is a bargain is a bargain”.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Total Surrender-C. McCray

Total Surrender
C. McCray
St. Martin's, Mar 3 2009, $13.95
ISBN: 9780312537548

“Sweet Surrender”. Her former boss Adamo kept as far away from his administrative assistant Sheila as possible when they worked together though he fantasized about making love to her numerous times; she shared his sexual dreams. Neither acted on their libido as both ethically adhered to the firm’s rules. However now that he sold the company, he can act on his desire. She will learn quickly he no longer plans to keep his distance.

“Wicked Surrender”. On the surface Andi is a strong woman who hides her desire to be a submissive in the boudoir. She goes bondaging where she meets Derrick who wants to be her dominator in the bedroom.

“Forbidden Surrender”. Lonely lawyer Teri dreams of lust as a submissive. On a business trip, Josh plans to make her surrender to him forever.

These three erotic “Surrender” BDSM tales star dominant males and submissive females coming together in heated tales. Sub-genre fans will enjoy the anthology as C. McCray provides a world of trusting surrender to a loving dominator although the author also states the novellas were previously published as similar versions in “Erotic Interludes” on line.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bride of a Wicked Scotsman-Samantha James

Bride of a Wicked Scotsman
Samantha James
Avon, Mar 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780060899400

In Ireland Clan McDonough possessed the legendary Celtic relic Circle of Light seemingly forever. Over time with so much fortune bestowed on the clan, a belief grew that the Circle of Light was a special gift that even St. Patrick came to see. The clan felt they were the guardians, but to lose the Circle of Light meant to lose prosperity. When the Black Scotsman McBride stole the Circle of Light, Clan McDonough fell into poverty and a sense of disgrace for failing their mission.

On his deathbed, Clan McDonough leader Lord O’Donnell forces his daughter Maura to vow to take back what is theirs and save the clan. Duke Alec McBride, a descendent of the thief, arrives in town. When Maura meets him to beg he give her the Circle of Light, they are compromised. Outraged and holding her culpable they marry; something she did not plan when she went to beg. Neither is aware of the enchantment of love between them as each tries to top the other in a game of seduction.

BRIDE OF A WICKED SCOTSMAN is a fabulous historical romance with a touch of whimsical fantasy based on a Celtic legend. Misleading title aside; Alec and Maura are fully developed rivals competing for the upper hand in their relationship with the stakes being the Circle of Light artifact. Fans will enjoy the battle between the Scotsman and the Irish lady as love proves the most powerful magic of all.

Harriet Klausner

Seduced by Your Spell-Lois Greiman

Seduced by Your Spell
Lois Greiman
Avon, Mar 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 0061192015

Widow Madeline Fallon has an image of a proper lady that she maintains amongst Polite Society as a cover. Beneath the masquerade of a prim aristocrat she is talented member of the Lavender House coven. When young women begin to disappear, Madeline investigates.

Jasper Reeves has loved Maddie from the moment he first met when he saved her life. He hides his deep regard for the widow, but joins her on her dangerous inquiry in order to keep his beloved safe. However, Jasper also has recently suffered from sexual visions of him with Maddie that he believes is an attempt to cast a spell on him by an unknown adversary for an equally unknown motive; he needs no spell to envision him making love with Maddie. When Maddie returns his desire, neither is sure if it is love or a dark deadly enchantment.

Readers will appreciate Lois Greiman's superb Lavender House investigative historical romantic fantasy (see UNDER YOUR SPELL) due to a strong atmosphere of enchantment that feels real. Accompanying the lead couple on their inquiry, the audience will feel the desire, the suspense and the spells that keep Jasper and Madeline together and hopping. Filled with twists readers will be seduced by Ms. Greiman’s spell.

Harriet Klausner

Love with the Perfect Scoundrel-Sophia Nash

Love with the Perfect Scoundrel
Sophia Nash
Avon, Mar 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 0061493287

She has been jilted and widowed so Grace Sheffey, the Countess of Sheffield, knows first and second hand love hurts. She refuses to ever fall in love again. Sick of pretending to be happy amidst her inane friends, Grace leaves Cornwall heading to the Isle of Mann only to be stranded by a blizzard.

Michael Ranier finds the marooned Grace and takes her to the safety of his remote home Brynlow. Grace accepts his hospitality while thinking society would condemn her for being in his home without a chaperone. In fact her Polite Society friends would insist frozen death is better than the scandal. However, as the commoner and the lady fall in love, he liberates the passion she has buried and her contentment enables her to also get the best sleep in her life, but his secrets threaten to reinforce her belief that love hurts.

This is a terific Regency romance starring two wonderful protagonists who find passion and love in a remote wintry setting, but each has reasons to believe love hurts so they fear their relationship as much as they want it. Fans will relish Grace’s musings re the Ton that death is preferable over scandal. Although the ending is a bit too soft as chokes are made easier, LOVE WITH THE PROPER SCOUNDREL is a wonderful historical romance due to the fiery nature of the heroine.
Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Nobody but You-Francis Ray

Nobody but You
Francis Ray
St. Martin’s, Mar 3 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 0312946856

Caitlin Lawrence and Cameron McBride fell in love. They became engaged, but Caitlin failed to show up at the altar. The jilting destroyed Cameron’s soul. He even found his vocation as a NASCAR racer no longer satisfying and vows “no” to love.

Five years later, though not passionate about car racing like he was before the jilt, Cameron is back as one of NASCAR’s best drivers. He has adhered to his personal pledge of no relationships as nothing will ever take him off his game again. That is until he is hurt racing and is at Mercy Hospital for treatment when he meets Caitlin; who is there because her four and a half years old son Joshua injured his shoulder. The child Cameron never knew he sired until now. The precocious boy has his stamp on his visage.

Although the device of hiding a baby from the father has been overdone, fans of the Grayson Friends saga will relish Francis Ray’s NASCAR second chance at love romance. The story line is as fast as Cameron drives on the track while focusing on the lead couple reconciling (abetted by Joshua) rather than accusing. Readers will enjoy the second lap.

Harriet Klausner

Rescue Me-Farrah Rochon

Rescue Me
Farrah Rochon
Leisure, Feb 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 0843962240

Widower Alexander Holmes buried his wife six years ago, but the New Orleans-based owner of Holmes Construction has never mourned his loss. Instead, he has given up on women; preferring celibacy since he learned his spouse frequently cheated on him; a fact he has hidden from his family especially his daughter Jasmine.

Renee Moore has come to the city to help her aunt repair her home from the damage Katrina caused to it. She meets Alex at his daughter’s school where she has been hired as special projects coordinator and he is has agreed to be a volunteer because he hopes his being there will straighten out of his child’s recent misbehavior. They are attracted to one another, but each has doubts though both decide to take a chance.

The third Holmes brother post Katrina New Orleans romance (see DELIVER ME and RELEASE ME) is a superb tale starring two caring wonderful people trying to help others make it in a city still recovering. In fact the contrast between New Orleans and the tiny Caribbean island of St. Martin (the family travels there for a wedding) is stunning. Once again as with the previous "Me" tales, the lead characters make for a delightful entry as these two caregivers find love places each in a strange situation of receiving.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, February 9, 2009

Tempted All Night-Liz Carlyle

Tempted All Night
Liz Carlyle
Pocket, Mar 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9781416593133

In 1830 London Lady Phaedra Northampton's quest to locate a missing woman Millie abruptly halts when Gorsky the Russian she sought to obtain information from is dead with a knife in his back. Rake Viscount Tristan Talbot also searched for the same dead Russian as a death bed wish he gave to his estranged father who begged him to complete his last Foreign Intelligent Office mission.

When Phaedra and Tristan meet, the attraction has both shocked though she denies the feelings having given up on attraction following a scandal. Tristan fears his reaction because he is the son of a failed marriage between his dying dad and a mom his father refuses to speak about. They have a common goal to solve the murder of the Russian, but differing hidden agendas; hers is to find the missing female from her village and his to please his father. Love is a hindrance to each.

This exhilarating early nineteenth century amateur sleuth romantic suspense thriller grips the audience due to the baggage both lead characters carry as they investigate their connected cases and fall in love. Phaedra has a past that makes it difficult for her to trust while Tristan wants to reconcile with his dad. Fans will enjoy their antics as both are used to hanging out with their servants rather than the Ton. Love is a pain in the butt for this pair, but the desire is overwhelming.

Harriet Klausner

Tempted All Night-Liz Carlyle

Tempted All Night
Liz Carlyle
Pocket, Mar 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9781416593133

In 1830 London Lady Phaedra Northampton's quest to locate a missing woman Millie abruptly halts when Gorsky the Russian she sought to obtain information from is dead with a knife in his back. Rake Viscount Tristan Talbot also searched for the same dead Russian as a death bed wish he gave to his estranged father who begged him to complete his last Foreign Intelligent Office mission.

When Phaedra and Tristan meet, the attraction has both shocked though she denies the feelings having given up on attraction following a scandal. Tristan fears his reaction because he is the son of a failed marriage between his dying dad and a mom his father refuses to speak about. They have a common goal to solve the murder of the Russian, but differing hidden agendas; hers is to find the missing female from her village and his to please his father. Love is a hindrance to each.

This exhilarating early nineteenth century amateur sleuth romantic suspense thriller grips the audience due to the baggage both lead characters carry as they investigate their connected cases and fall in love. Phaedra has a past that makes it difficult for her to trust while Tristan wants to reconcile with his dad. Fans will enjoy their antics as both are used to hanging out with their servants rather than the Ton. Love is a pain in the butt for this pair, but the desire is overwhelming.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, February 8, 2009

To Romance A Charming Rogue-Nicole Jordan

To Romance A Charming Rogue
Nicole Jordan
Ballantine, Mar 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780345510105

In 1815 Lady Eleanor Pierce met Damon Stafford and fell in love. The Viscount shared her regard and soon they were engaged. She knew he was her life mate, but she ended their engagement when Damon flaunted his mistress in front of the ton. Heartbroken, she assumed she will end up on the shelf, but vowed to hold her head up high in polite society.

Two years later at a gala at Carleton House, Eleanor and Damon see each other for the first time since she ended their betrothal. Both feel the sparks of attraction. However, though he planned to ignore her and his heart, he is concerned over her safety as Italian nobleman Antonio Lazzara, who is courting Eleanor in hopes she will marry him, has been the victim of several dangerous accidents. Someone wants him dead and collateral damage means nothing to this adversary. Vowing to keep her safe, both try to hide their hearts, but love makes that increasingly difficult to maintain.

Though the romantic tango between the lead characters seems at times caught in a cul de sac, Regency romance fans will enjoy the “Courtship Wars” between a brave heroine and a remorseful champion as neither dare expose their feelings for fear of rejection. Eleanor’s courage makes the tale as she knows she never stopped loving Damon and to be with him is wonderful yet frustrating. His guilt feeling for what he did to her makes the Viscount a refreshing Regency rake. Sub-genre readers will enjoy their two step back and forth romance.

Harriet Klausner

Highland Outlaw-Monica McCarty

Highland Outlaw
Monica McCarty
Ballantine, Mar 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780345503398

In 1606 Patrick MacGregor and his cousins are on their way to Inveraray Castle, home of their enemies the Campbells, who under the King’s decree have outlawed their clan; Alasdair wants to win the archery contest. They stop at a tavern where they hear John Montgomery, brother to an earl, talk derogatorily about his plan to wed the Campbell mouse Stammering Elizabeth Montach to forge an alliance; besides he says she is wealthy and owns land. To John’s chagrin, as he and his pals discuss his pathetic fiancée, Elizabeth enters the tavern hearing the derogatory comments. She slips as she walks out so Patrick although he knows to do nothing helps her up; he exposes himself to her dangerous brother the bloody Henchman before they escape with a diversion they created.

Two years later, Lizzie is on her way by coach to Castle Campbell where her family wants her to marry; the only man who ever showed her kindness was a MacGregor, but he is an outlaw. The MacGregor outlaws attack her coach, but Patrick realizes Elizabeth is inside and keeps her safe. He risks his life to insure she arrives at her uncle’s castle safely. She assumes he is not a MacGregor, but her brave champion. As they fall in love, she learns who he really is, but vows to marry him anyway. He loves her but his clan must come first.

This is a terrific Scottish Highlands historical romance due to the deep support cast who insure the feuds remain ignited, which in turn leaves the lead couple as star-crossed lovers in which each side’s kin wants the blood of the other. Fans will enjoy this fine tale as Patrick wants to kiss his Lizzie, but must dodge her brother who wants him dead because he is a MacGregor.

Harriet Klausner

Magical Kisses: A Jewels of the Quill St. Valentine’s Day Anthology

Magical Kisses: A Jewels of the Quill St. Valentine’s Day Anthology
Carrie S. Masek, Dee Lloyd, Nancy Pirri, Jane Toombs, Karen Woods and Karen Wiesner
Whiskey Creek, Feb 2009, $14.95
ISBN: 9781603135207

"Magic Kisses" by Carrie S. Masek. In his dumpy apartment, Brett’s neighbor Eliza sets him on blind dates while she also wonders if she will be the one to share his magical kisses on Valentine’s Day. A charmer.

"Telephone Tag Winner" by Dee Lloyd. Humiliated into accepting a blind date on Valentine’s Day, Ryan ends up in the hospital after a car accident instead of with her date. She leaves a message on his cell phone; only it is the wrong number that turns out to be right person when Ryan who received the message visits her. Amusing

"Winning Sylvia's Heart," by Nancy Pirri. When Sylvia’s fiancé Tom fails her again, she ends their engagement. Her friend Jack believes Tom is an idiot because if Sylvia was his girl ….A special story.

"The Third Kiss" by Jane Toombs. As a child her grandma told her the third kiss is magical. When Gail was twelve Augie on a dare kissed her; after graduation, Augie gave her a goodbye peck. Now thirty-five, she has no hope for love, but Augie plans to claim the third kiss. Poignant

"Atop a Wedding Cake by Karen Woods. When her spouse died sixteen years ago, single mom Cathy raised six children; five have left the nest. Now the baker’s youngest child is getting married, but instead of the groom’s face on the cake, she Freudian slips the father Trey "Atop a Wedding Cake". Very funny

"In Cahoots With Cupid" by Karen Wiesner. Kaleidoscope Office Services owner Angela always has cared about others, but rejected the one man who brought her to a fever pitch because he was five years younger. Attending a wedding as the Maid of Honor in which Kiowa is the best man, he plans to finally win her heart. Very moving

These are six entertaining often amusing contemporary romances starring charming lead characters as each author exceeds the high expectations of the Jewels of the Quill (see CHRISTMAS WISHES) and Valentine's Day.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Lullaby for Two-Karen Rose Smith

Lullaby for Two
Karen Rose Smith
Silhouette Special Edition, Mar 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373654437

Two and a half months ago Albuquerque homicide cop Vince Rossi became the legal guardian of now seven month old Sean Davidson. He moved back with his baby to his hometown of Sagebrush, Texas where he thought the child would receive the medical attention he needed from the Family Tree Health Center for his injured shoulder. Vince is the town’s temporary Chief of Police having replaced Clinton Farmer who is recovering from a heart attack

The only problem with the facility is one of the three practicing pediatricians is his ex wife Tricia McGuire. Two decades ago the teenagers fell in love, she got pregnant and her widower dad disowned her. Vince and Tracia married, but she went into labor at twenty-six weeks; the baby died and her uterus was destroyed too. Their marriage ended with the death of their premature child. Now he is back with an infant and she remains attracted to him. Vince never forgot the teen he loved then and the thirty-eight years old woman he wants now. However, both in spite of their love for one another fear their time has passed.

Nobody does child “matchmaking” romances (see Dads in Progress trilogy) better than Karen Rose Smith consistently and refreshingly does. Using an infant in need as the impetus, Ms. Smith provides a strong second chance at love tale. The key to this and all her delightful dramas is the children do not always behave precociously – when a baby needs changing or is hungry they howl ignoring the source of contentment is sleeping. Fans of engaging family drama will appreciate the first Baby Expert story as Vince and Tracia want to share a Lullaby for three, but neither braves that first critical reaching out step; besides which it is hard to romance when your dodging urine, spit, and baby food goo.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 6, 2009

Fury Calls-Caridad Pineiro

Fury Calls
Caridad Pineiro
Silhouette Nocturne, Mar 2009, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373618071

The Manhattan vampire community is stunned when a couple in bloodlust apparently killed each other in Otro Mundo restaurant in Soho. Blake Reynolds investigates their deaths with the reluctant help of vampiric chef Meghan Thomas who works there. She hates Blake for converting her three years, elven months and ten days ago; but who is counting? Blake and Meghan are.

A loner for a century and a half, Blake loves Meghan but knows he can survive without her for another 150 years. Still he hopes to earn her respect and regard as he has vowed to be more considerate towards lesser species ever since he over indulged with her. His goal is to win her love. However, though attracted to him, she doubts her sire is a one blood woman man even as a serial vampire killer stalks the underground undead of New York.

This excellent vampire romantic suspense stars two vamps in love, but from the first their relationship seems stuck in negativity in spite of the BLOOD CALLS to them. Blake and Meghan are fabulous protagonists who must learn trust if their love is to have meaning and if they are to survive the serial slayer stalker. As always with the “Calling” saga, Caridad Pineiro provides a strong erotic romance filled with plenty of action on the streets of Manhattan and deep characters.
Harriet Klausner

Immortal Bride-Lisa Childs

Immortal Bride
Lisa Childs
Silhouette Nocturne, Mar 2009, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373618064

During their honeymoon, Olivia Kingston-Gray vanished without a trace. Her husband Damien is stunned and grieves his loss; compounded by her body not being found as her corpse lies on the bottom of the Lake of Tears. Damien comes home to Grayson in the Upper Michigan Peninsular only to be greeted by his angry dead wife, a ghost.

Olivia believes Damien killed her though she cannot understand why especially since they just married. She seeks vengeance, but soon watching her spouse’s sadness and grief concludes he never killed her. She also realizes he is danger from the evil of past blood spilled as Damien’s cousin Nathan, a Native American shaman, plans to remind his relative of his heritage. Willing to lose her eternal soul to keep her beloved Damien safe, but not sure from who or what, Olivia soon realizes she possesses the impossible; the only thing she will never sacrifice even for her beloved spouse.

This is a superb paranormal romantic suspense starring a grieving lead male and an irate deceased female wanting to send him to hell; not realizing at first he is already figuratively there. The support cast is strong as it enhances the relationship between the Grays while providing the impetus of some fabulous twists. Lisa Childs writes a powerful paranormal thriller that groups the audience from the moment we meet Olivia at the bottom of the lake.

Harriet Klausner

The Accidental Human-Dakota Cassidy

The Accidental Human
Dakota Cassidy
Berkley, Mar 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425225950

Wanda Schwartz is still in disbelief from her best friends' conversion into the paranormal; Marty Andrews has become THE ACCIDENTAL WEREWOLF and Nina Blackman is now a vampire having become ACCIDENTALLY DEAD. Wanda just wants to remain boringly human.

However, Wanda is stunned when she learns she is terminally ill. She vows to live a normal human life to the fullest and hide her condition from her two best friends as long as possible. She meets Heath Jefferson, who wants to sell Bobbie-Sue Cosmetics. He is strange in a nice way but his manservant Archibald seems even odder; also in a nice way. Wanda thinks he is perfect for her final fling before she dies; Heath may be in full blooded lust, but has a different opinion.

The final “accidental” paranormal romance (see ACCIDENTALLY DEAD and THE ACCIDENTAL WEREWOLF) is a delightful, at times droll, contemporary tale starring a decidedly human heroine and Heath (read the book to learn who he is). Fans will laugh at her “F**k List” that needs some revision once Heath proves he knows his cosmic cosmetic colors. Dakota Cassidy provides a fitting twisted ending to this amusingly warm urban romantic fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Up Close And Dangerously Sexy-Karen Anders

Up Close And Dangerously Sexy
Karen Anders
Harlequin Blaze, Mar 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373794584

Interior designer Allie Carpenter decides to surprise her twin sister Callie with a gift by decorating her apartment. With her reluctant assistant Jason Kyoto at her side insisting orange is not his color, they break in into the apartment. Instead, Drew Miller thinking she is Callie detains Allie. He wants information about where she has been and the status of her contact with a notorious arms dealer.

Allie is stunned as she learns her sibling works undercover for the CIA. Once Drew realizes he has the wrong Carpenter, he wants to release the civilian whom he is attracted to. However, his superior drafts her to replace her missing sister. Allie agrees in hopes of finding Callie. Drew vows to keep the sister he is falling in love with safe.

This is more of a suspense thriller with plenty of villains (perhaps too many as they crowd the pages) and exciting subplots to keep the lead couple hopping. The romance between the lead couple takes a back seat except for a few interludes that feels intrusive as they are on a mission with a clock ticking. Still fans will enjoy the agent and the amateur spy fall in love while trying to rescue her twin and prevent an illegal arms deal.

Harriet Klausner

A Long, Hard Ride-Alison Kent

A Long, Hard Ride
Alison Kent
Harlequin Blaze, Mar 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373794577

Racing car pit crew chief Trey Davis takes a leave of absence to deal with his late father’s affairs. He plans to sell his dad’s Tennessee home amongst other assets, but has one overarching goal: to learn why his father attacked a highly regarded person.

The man attacked is the patriarch of the Worth racing family. He refuses to discuss the fight he had with the late Davis; not to his family or Davis’ son. His granddaughter Cardin sees the incident dividing her beloved family especially her parents. She fakes an engagement to Trey knowing her parents will unite in opposition to her marrying a racing car employer. She did not expect to want her sham engagement to turn real after meeting Trey for the first time in years as she still is attracted to him.

This is car racing’s modern day equivalent of the family feud as the Davis and Worth broods are more than rivals; they detest each other. In that environs, Trey and Cardin fall in love, but will their relationship survive their families or go the way of the Montagues and Capulets? Fans will enjoy tuning up their engines; as racing cars Romeo and Juliet deal with love and feuding families.

Harriet Klausner

Pleasures of the Forbidden Valley- Diana Mercury

Pleasures of the Forbidden Valley
Diana Mercury
Avon, Mar 2009, $13.99
ISBN: 9780061450952

Completing her postgraduate work in cultural anthropology, Diandra takes a breather to wander the Himalayas seeking her “Shangri-la”, the legendary Lost Valley. From remote village to even more isolated villages she asks the locals, but no one offers her the slightest clue. About to give up on her obsession for now, Diandra is euphoric when she meets Hama, who claims he comes from the fabled forbidden Lost Valley. He is heading home and has agreed to guide her there.

However, he had a stipulation that she readily accepted. He will take her there only as his wife. Coveting the valley, she acquiesces to his terms. However, Diandra did not fully understand what she agreed to when she married Hama; she learns she is also the wife of his three brothers. She falls in love with one of the siblings Yeshi as she wonders how the PLEASURES OF THE LOST VALLEY could prove so ironically cruel.

This is an intriguing contemporary romance with a bit of whimsy. The key is the Lost Valley, which Diana Mercury vividly portrays through the eyes of the brothers whose differing personalities add depth to the view and the fresh naive perspective of the outsider. Although Diandra goes from intrepid explorer to suddenly frightened maiden (except in heat) disrupting the story line, readers will enjoy Ms. Mercury’s spin on Shangri-la.

Harriet Klausner

Pleasures of the Forbidden Valley- Diana Mercury

Pleasures of the Forbidden Valley
Diana Mercury
Avon, Mar 2009, $13.99
ISBN: 9780061450952

Completing her postgraduate work in cultural anthropology, Diandra takes a breather to wander the Himalayas seeking her “Shangri-la”, the legendary Lost Valley. From remote village to even more isolated villages she asks the locals, but no one offers her the slightest clue. About to give up on her obsession for now, Diandra is euphoric when she meets Hama, who claims he comes from the fabled forbidden Lost Valley. He is heading home and has agreed to guide her there.

However, he had a stipulation that she readily accepted. He will take her there only as his wife. Coveting the valley, she acquiesces to his terms. However, Diandra did not fully understand what she agreed to when she married Hama; she learns she is also the wife of his three brothers. She falls in love with one of the siblings Yeshi as she wonders how the PLEASURES OF THE LOST VALLEY could prove so ironically cruel.

This is an intriguing contemporary romance with a bit of whimsy. The key is the Lost Valley, which Diana Mercury vividly portrays through the eyes of the brothers whose differing personalities add depth to the view and the fresh naive perspective of the outsider. Although Diandra goes from intrepid explorer to suddenly frightened maiden (except in heat) disrupting the story line, readers will enjoy Ms. Mercury’s spin on Shangri-la.

Harriet Klausner

Destiny of the Wolf-Terry Spear

Destiny of the Wolf
Terry Spear
Sourcebooks Casablanca, Mar 1 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9781402216688

With the homicides of her parents and her sister Larissa allegedly committing suicide, Lelandi Wildwood no longer feels safe amongst the red werewolf pack in spite of her brother being a member. He in fact wants nothing to do with her though she is not sure why. She wants to learn why Larissa who loved life would kill herself, but hesitates until she learns the abusive alpha pack leader plans to wed her to his brother. Lelandi leaves the pack in search of understanding why her sibling took her life. She travels to Silver Town, run by the gray werewolves who detest the red.

The greywolf leader widow Darien Silver is trying to understand why his wife committed suicide. He also needs to catch the thief stealing from the economic soul of his pack’s existence the silver mine. He enters the Silver Town’s Tavern only to be shocked out of his fur when he sees his wife sitting inside. Lelandi and Darien have in common learning why their beloved Larissa killed herself.

DESTINY OF THE WOLF is an enjoyable satirical werewolf romantic suspense that takes a delightful bite at the mythology of moon howling shapeshifters while also ridicules racism. The support cast serves mostly to enhance understanding of the lifestyle of the packs especially that of the grey or the lead couple who risk their lives with a need to know why. Fans will relish this wonderful lampooning of the lycan legend inside an exhilarating thriller that enables the audience to get beyond the myths into the HEART OF THE WOLF.

Harriet Klausner

Wicked by Any Other Name-Linda Wisdom

Wicked by Any Other Name
Linda Wisdom
Sourcebooks Casablanca, Mar 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 1402217730

Seven centuries ago student witch Stasi Romanov and twelve classmates were kicked out of the Witches Academy for unruly behavior. Over the years Stasi matured somewhat; some insist experience taught her to hide her impish side though she uses a bit of magic to insure success at her lingerie shop and to sell love charms in Moorstone Lake.

However, her luck runs out when one of her luck charms fails to bring satisfaction to the client. The customer Carrie the human abomination hires wizard attorney Trevor Barnes to sue Stasi. She is outraged when she receives the summons to appear in Wizard’s Court. Meanwhile Cupid decides to have impish fun when he sees the attraction between Stasi and Trevor while an unknown evil adversary is playing games with the townsfolk and an eclipse is leading to a witch hunt. As Stasi and Trevor fall in love, a taboo as everyone knows witches and wizards are oil and water, the old gang of thirteen come together to try to save the day.

This is an entertaining lighthearted romantic frolic starring two likable opposites (a given when a wizard meets a witch) and a charming support cast; except Cassie who contains no charm in her make-up as even her bone marrow can wither a love charm with her caustic personality. The story line is brisk, breezy and irreverent yet droll and amusing as Linda Wisdom cats a spell on her fans (see 50 WAYS TO HEX YOUR LOVER and HEX APPEAL).
Harriet Klausner

Casual Hex-Vicky Lewis Thompson

Casual Hex
Vicky Lewis Thompson
Onyx, Mar 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451412683

Matchmaking witches Dorcas and Ambrose know that Gwen Dubois and Marc Chevalier are soulmates. They plan to hook up the Indiana resident with the French botanist. All they have to do is get Marc to leave sunny France for wintry Big Knob, Indiana.

The way to his heart lies with tropical plants so the two witches cast a spell to have special equatorial flora in the icy cold Hoosier State. Marc crosses the pond to investigate, but is distracted when he meets Gwen. However, their perfect plan runs into a snag when Prince Leo of the Atwood fairy kingdom chooses Gwen to be his bride.

The latest trip to the eerie hex capital of the world, Big Knob, Indiana (see OVER-HEXED and WILD & HEXY) is an enjoyable lighthearted story as Dorcas and Ambrose work loving magic with the usual amusing side consequences; this time a royal hex of a mess. The lead human couple is a likable pairing. They get along from the onset with the strife coming from the pushy prince. Fans will enjoy this jocular jaunt as Dorcas provides the perspective to this romantic fantasy and the hexy saga with wisdom that Paris and Atwood are no Big Knob.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Satisfy Me Tonight-Fiona Zedde, Sydney Molare and Kimberly Kaye Terry

Satisfy Me Tonight
Fiona Zedde, Sydney Molare and Kimberly Kaye Terry
Kensington Aphrodisia, Mar 2009, $13.95
ISBN: 9780758229045

"Sexual Attraction" by Fiona Zedde. On vacation in Belgium, Kenna meets DJ Denis at a club where he is performing for the last time before crossing to America. They are attracted and want more than just a one night gig.

"Driving My Man Wild," by Sydney Molare. Berze and Jare shared a passionate relationship until their child was born and nuked their passion. She wants them to start the second act filled with lovemaking and gets some titillating ideas from nineteenth century love letters and from a ghost who thinks only of sex.

"Captive” by Kimberly Kaye Terry. Attorney Tessa is handling a law suit against a chemical company when someone tries to kill her. Her affluent father asks her former lover Gideon to protect Tessa.

These are three well written torrid contemporary romances starring likable lead characters who all have differing personalities.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Education of Madeline-Beth Williamson

The Education of Madeline
Beth Williamson
Kensington Brava, Mar 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758234698

In 1872 in Plum City, Colorado, at thirty-two years of age, Madeline Brewster feels her chance for happiness has passed her by. She has never found love and besides the locals place her as out of reach due to her family owning much of the town. Making her loneliness feel worse, the spinster cannot even bury her isolation by managing her family fortune; her stepfather controls her family’s wealth since her mom died.

Irishman Teague O'Neal arrives in town only to be accused of being a horse thief. The mob starts to lynch him, but Madeline intercedes. She offers the handsome rogue a deal: his life for teaching her the pleasure of being a woman. Feeling roped in, he agrees. As they fall in love, someone wants Madeline dead while Teague is willing to die to keep his beloved safe.

The lead couple is an interesting duo as none of the townsfolk would expect the spinster to fall in love especially with an Irish rogue. Although her stepfather is never fully developed beyond villainous status, Western romance readers will feel transported to Reconstruction Era Colorado to bear witness to the love between the on the self feisty female and the rakish handsome horse thief.

Harriet Klausner

Practice Makes Perfect-Julia James

Practice Makes Perfect
Julia James
Berkley, Mar 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425226742

Legal associates Payton Kendall and J.D. Jameson do not like one another as their respective behavior is polar opposites. Thus when they are assigned to work on a case together for the first time, neither is pleased. Both want to beg off, but learn that one of them will become a partner while the other will be unemployed.

Payton inadvertently embarrasses J.D. He assumes she did it on purpose so ups the ante by striking back. She in turn feels he went too far so tries to gain the edge. As they take turns evening the score, J.D. and Payton look forward to the next hit. Soon they fall into love, but that emotion cannot survive partnership.

Although battling lawyers falling in love has been used a lot (Redford-Wingar Legal Eagles), the lead couple’s fighting love makes for a brisk contemporary romance. Payton and J.D. are an engaging pairing of seemingly total opposites in hate that actually disguises their caring for the other. Fans will enjoy enemy combatants trying to checkmate their adversary only to be trumped by falling in love while wondering how their relationship will survive the naming.

Harriet Klausner

Highland Rebel-Tess Mallory

Highland Rebel
Tess Mallory
Berkley, Mar 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780425226353

The Highland Rebel Ian MacGregor is the hottest rock star with his songs dominating the charts and air waves. He finds his fame and fortune amusingly ironic since he is an original Highland Rebel having traveled through time from the eighteenth century. Although he plays the groupies as the “Celtic Casanova”, he is attracted to band manager Ellie Graham.

Ellie loves Ian, but since her parents died she fears strong emotions so she hides her feelings from the singer and to a degree herself. When Ellie accidentally travels back three centuries, Ian follows to save his beloved. Only fate picked a time and place that leaves them between a rock of Highland rebels and the roll of the armies of the English king.

The Queen of Highlander time travel romance (see HIGHLAND MAGIC, HIGHLAND DREAM, HIGHLAND FLING and HIGHLAND ROGUE), Tess Mallory writes another whimsical tale as the roguish hero follows his love back to the era he left behind. Part of the pleasure in this delightful entry is the reaction of Ian’s brother Angus to his siblings’ return after his being away over two decades from home as he sets the tone and invigorates the saga.

Harriet Klausner

The Wicked Ways of a True Hero-Barbara Metzger

The Wicked Ways of a True Hero
Barbara Metzger
Signet, Mar 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451226341

Three years ago, believing he was doing the right thing, Daniel Stamfield interceded on behalf of her father to stop Corisande Abbott's elopement. She begged him not to return her to her nasty father, but he believed her dad that his daughter was just an inane disobedient daughter. He brought her home to her family.

Chaperoned by her mother and accompanied by her sister, Corisande is in London for the season. Daniel is attracted to her, but still believes her father’s assessment of his daughter. However, as he gets to know her, Daniel concludes Corisande was and is telling the truth. They begin sleuthing together seeking to learn who is counterfeiting money. As they fall in love, Daniel no longer regrets what he did three plus years ago as he wants Corisande as his wife while love has enabled her to forgive him. However, as they investigate together neither is confident with taking that critical first step of informing the other of how they feel.

Returning to the Regency world of THE SCANDALOUS LIFE OF A TRUE LADY, Barbara Metzger provides her readers with a wonderful romance starring two delightful intelligent protagonists. The story line is fast-paced from the intervention to the courting as Daniel, an asset to his country for his uncanny ability to know when someone is lying, finds his greatest skill failed him three years ago and apparently fails him now; as it don’t work as well as kisses to reveal the truth. Regency romance readers will appreciate Ms. Metzger amusing historical due to the unique courtship of the lead couple.

Harriet Klausner

Redneck Cinderella-LuAnn McLane

Redneck Cinderella
LuAnn McLane
Signet, Mar 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451226334

By selling their suddenly choice property to developer Cody Dean, Jolie Russell and her widow dad have become millionaires. With Cody’s help they buy a new home in affluent Cooper Creek Estates. However, their country club neighbors scorn the nouveau riche father and daughter as something less than pond scum.

Jolie sets a goal for herself to attend the Cottonwood Ball without embarrassing herself. Cody’s younger brother Brett offers to help prepare her; he also suggests she obtain speech lessons and etiquette training. As the redneck tries to become sophisticated she realizes she has fallen in love with debonair Cody. However, she also assumes he can have any woman he wants so would never settle for one with dirt between her toes.

REDNECK CINDERELLA is a combination Beverly Hillbillies and Debbie Reynolds' Tammy starring a likable heroine who feels like a fish out of water as a country bumpkin amongst urban sophisticates. The lighthearted story line is amusing as Jolie tries to fit in while her dad only makes a half-hearted effort for her sake. The key to this fun frolic is no one is Cruella de Ville though their class differences make Jolie feel doltish, but as Ms. Reynolds sang in Tammy: “Whippoorwill, whippoorwill, you and I know” Jolie’s in love.

Harriet Klausner

The Perfect Poison-Amanda Quick

The Perfect Poison
Amanda Quick
Putnam, Apr 2009, $24.95
ISBN: 9780399155802

In late Victorian England, Inspector Spellar prevails upon notorious lady botanist Lucinda Bromley to find out if Lord Fairborn was murdered or died from a heart attack. The inspector has psychic powers that enable him to see the minutest clues at a crime scene; Lucinda has the ability to detect poison. She applies her skill and determines that Fairburn was poisoned with one of the ingredients being something she picked up when she went to the Amazon with her parents.

A member of the secretive Arcane Society, Lucinda calls on their detective agency, Caleb Jones. She explains what happened and they realize Dr. Basil Lindsey stole the poison and is trying to duplicate the founder’s formula to enhance psychic powers. They broke up his lab and took away his material, but he found a new employer who allows him to pursue his research. Lucinda wants to bring him to justice before she is accused of killing Fairburn as many in Polite Society are mindful of her notoriety due to the tabloids holding her culpable for her fiancé’s death. The longer Caleb and Lucinda work together, the greater their attraction grows; but he fears his psychic skills will turn him mad like his ancestor if he is not already a lunatic.

As expected from Amanda Quick, the author writes an exhilarating historical romantic suspense that is filled with a strong cast, terific twisting plots and a sense of time running out that grip the audience with a need to know the outcome in one sitting although it is a back story. Caleb is a rational person who never allows emotion to interfere with his thought process except when Lucinda is near (think of classic Spock using logic except during the Amok Time episode when emotions forced him to go home). Lucinda is a free spirit not concerned with Polite Society, which already condemned her for her vocation and her fiancé’s death. Together they make a great Victorian sleuthing duet.

Harriet Klausner

As Shadows Fade-Colleen Gleason

As Shadows Fade
Colleen Gleason
Signet, Mar 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451226327

Dowager Duchess of Rockley Victoria Gardella Grantworth de Lacy has decided she ha had enough as she is tired; not from hunting down vampires, but from playing a macabre dance of love with vampire hunter Max Pesaro. Used to taking charge, she will make a bid for his soul although she has some mixed feelings as she still cares for her former lover Sebastian.

Meanwhile the irate Vampire Queen has threatened dire consequences on those like Victoria and her potential lovers for interfering with her grandiose schemes of domination over the human cattle. Victoria and her mates know they must close the portal that enables demons to bring hell to earth. To do this they need to obtain five magical rings and an orb.

The latest Gardella Vampire Chronicles (see WHEN TWILIGHT BURNS, THE REST FALLS AWAY, THE BLEEDING DUSK and RISES THE NIGHT) is as always an excellent Regency Era urban fantasy owned by the Venator leader heroine. The story line is fresh as a much more experienced Victoria gains confidence as a chip of the late paternal block, but her self-assurance also flows into her personal life. Fans of the saga will relish Colleen Gleason’s superb entry as Victoria attends galas not for amusement as she did a few years ago, but as a hunter (of vampires, Max, and considering Sebastian too). She has come a long way baby and so has this great series that continues to amaze.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, February 2, 2009

Temptation Ridge-Temptation Ridge

Temptation Ridge
Robyn Carr
Mira, Mar 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780778326571

Shelby MacIntyre put her life on hold for five years to care for her beloved ailing mother. Now that mom has died Shelby needs to fill the emptiness of the caretaker with no one to care for. She considers her options and decides to kick the can a bit longer by moving in with her uncle in Virgin River.

Former Army Blackhawk pilot Luke Riordan makes a living renovating dilapidated houses. When they meet, Shelby knows he is a player, but though he is not right for her at this time as she knows he will break her heart, she wants him. Luke finds himself falling in love with the nice Shelby, but hides his feelings because he wants her to see the world instead of entangling herself in a relationship soon after her mom’s death.

Although in many ways Shelby is the more fascinating character, Luke steals the show with his unselfish act of pushing his soulmate to leave as the time is not right for her. However, he may be the retired military aviator, but she proves his equal matching him grit for grit as she knows he is bad for her, but is the one. The latest Virgin River contemporary romance is a charming tale of love.

Harriet Klausner

Eden-Carolyn Davidson

Carolyn Davidson
Harlequin HQN, Mar 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780373773626

In 1890 in Eden, Dakota Territory, when she entered his Dogleg Saloon, John Roper knew instantly the bruised young girl did not belong there. Instead of offering her work there as she desperately asked, feeling sorry for the waif, he hires as his housekeeper.

Katie fails to inform her kindhearted employee that she is a runaway. For a dozen years Katie has been an abused slave to her odious adopted parents Jacob and Agnes Schrader. For the time in a long time, she feels safe and somewhat contented working for John whom she has fallen in love with. However, she also feels survivor guilt for her adopted sister, Jane still enslaved by the mean-spirited Schrader’s who have found Katie.

Putting aside statehood dates (no instant messenger from DC), EDEN is an excellent western romance due to the lead couple. Roper is terrific as a reluctant hero who cannot stop himself from being a knight in shining armor. Katie is the more fascinating protagonist as she recognizes reality as a person with no rights or legal recourse a saloon is better for her than the Schrader house while also filled with guilt for Jane. Fans will appreciate this strong late nineteenth century romance as the heroine escapes from hell to find a haven filled with love in EDEN.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Temptation and Surrender-Stephanie Laurens

Temptation and Surrender
Stephanie Laurens
Morrow, Feb 24 2009, $24.95
ISBN: 9780061243400

In 1825 using the funds she finally obtained from her portion of her late father’s estate, twenty five year old spinster Emily Beauregard accompanied by her three younger sisters and brother flees her odious guardian Uncle Harold Potheridge. Emily carries an ad for the position of innkeeper-manager of the Red Bells Inn in Colyton, Devon that she hopes to obtain to feed and house her siblings while searching for her family’s lost treasure.

The owner of the Red Bells Inn, wealthy Jonas Tallent, brother-in-law of Lucifer Cynster (see ALL ABOUT LOVE), has just returned from London to get away from the lofty polluted airs and get dirty running his estates. He is shocked when an obvious lady like Emily asks for the innkeeper job. He is even more stunned by his attraction for his new employee; she reciprocates but refuses to act on desire as her family comes before her heart. However, she needs his help in applying the only clue, an enigmatic riddle, to find the treasure.

This is an interesting Cynster sidebar late Regency romance starring two likable lead characters and a strong support cast including Lucifer and his wife Phyllida. Overall the story line is fun to follow as the heroine struggles between temptation and obligation, but her obsessive motive for finding the treasure after wealthy Jonas commits to her and her orphaned siblings never comes across as valid, which also leads to an overdone push and pull by Emily with her beloved. Still fans of the saga will enjoy the romance of a Cynster by marriage.

Harriet Klausner