Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Devil Is a Lie-ReShonda Tate Billingsley

The Devil Is a Lie
ReShonda Tate Billingsley
Pocket, Jul 7 2009, $14.00
ISBN 9781416578048

In Houston, Nina Lawson is euphoric when she learns that her six selected numbers were called in the lottery, which means she has won the eight million dollars prize. Her elation quickly turns to rancor and outrage when everyone including strangers and family members she has not heard from in seemingly centuries demand a piece of the action. However, the worst betrayal is her fiancé Rick Henderson, who is spending the money even before she has officially received the check.

Soon afterward, she learns that she is still married to Todd; his girlfriend Pam spent the divorce filing fee on a Fendi bag. Pam feels it is destiny and insists Todd demand his share of the loot; he agrees, but hides his reason from his shallow lover; he needs money to pay for a heart transplant for his Grams.

This is a lighthearted amusing contemporary romance starring a wonderful caring protagonist who finds winning the lottery is not as life simplifying as she expected with people coming out of the woodwork like roaches demanding their share. Rick and Pam are stereotypes of avaricious users while Nina and Todd are compassionate souls. Fans will enjoy Nina’s plight as winning seems more like losing but with love and God she can overcome the devils blighting her life with their greedy burden.

Harriet Klausner

Bound by Your Touch-Meredith Duran

Bound by Your Touch
Meredith Duran
Pocket, Jul 2009, $6.99
ISBN 9781416592631

Lydia Boyce is a chip off the old block as a scholar; her dad is noted Egyptologist Henry Boyce. However, some of the artifacts her dad sends from Egypt are fakes. She investigates expecting her father to be exonerated and to affirm her theory that rakish Lord James Durham is the villain.

On first contact, each loathes the other as she assumes he is a shallow womanizer and he believes she is a phony intellectual snob. Still they realize they need each other to uncover the real con artist. As Lydia and James team up in a distrusting alliance, they search for the legendary Tears of Idihet and the forger.

This is an entertaining nineteenth century romantic romp starring two likable seemingly opposites. The story line is fast-paced as the intelligent obstinate Lydia sets out to prove her father’s innocence when she confronts Durham. He initially comes across as a typical rake, but also typical of the sib-genre demonstrates to her he is much more than just a drunken womanizer. Fans will enjoy their escapades though there is too much descripton of the era that at times detracts from an otherwise fun historical Romancing the Stone like adventure.
Harriet Klausner

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Mist-Carla Neggers

The Mist
Carla Neggers
Mira, Jul 2009, $24.95
ISBN 9780778326243

Billionaire Norman Estabrook is charged with money laundering and abetting drug traffickers but his wealth allows him house arrest on his Montana ranch. Used to doing whatever he wants, Estabrook targets a killing list of those who interfered with his lifestyle. At the top are FBI director John March and Agent Simon Cahill; he also wants to murder the not so anonymous snitch, hotel owner Lizzie Rush and Cahill’s lover Kiera Sullivan as well as other loved ones.

Rush believes Estabrook is a deadly predator who will hunt down his adversaries in a thrill seeker equivalent of the Deadliest Game. She goes to Ireland to warn Sullivan and meets SIS Agent Lord Will Davenport. In Boston, March's daughter Abigail Browning vanishes following a bombing of the house she lives in with her fiancé. The Feds know Estabrook arranged the hit, but are unaware that the wealthy psychopath has begun his contest using mercenaries.

The latest Carla Neggers FBI romantic suspense thriller (see THE WIDOW, ABANDON and especially THE ANGEL) is an enjoyable tale filled with a gloomy atmosphere as the audience and the heroes expect the worse. The story line is fast-paced but does not spin far away from Richard Connell’s The Most Dangerous Game but fans of Ms. Neggers will enjoy the hunt.

Harriet Klausner

Outcast-Joan Johnston

Joan Johnston
Mira, Jul 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778325741

Ben Benedict works for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) branch of Homeland Security after a stint as an army sniper. He currently works with the Washington DC Police Department’s gang unit while seeking an al Qaeda operative allegedly planning a biochemical attack. Still suffering from nightmares from his overseas duty, Ben is mortified when he must shoot a teen.

Ben is assigned to receive counseling from therapist, Dr. Anna Schuster, but remains on the job seeking the terrorist. He wants nothing to do with the shrink and refuses to cooperate insisting he is not crazy. She refuses to quit though she is concerned about breeching doctor-patient ethics when she finds she is attracted to him. As they fall in love and make love, they team up to prevent a killer from harming potentially millions.

Ben makes this exciting homeland security romantic suspense seem relevant as he personal struggles with demons he brought back from the war compounded by his shooting the teen is real as the army and marines besieged by suicides to the military’s credit are trying to help the soldiers. Thus his at his first encounter with Anna he is nasty as he rejects the concept of needing outside help. The hunt for the terrorist is entertaining though the use of key flukes of luck detracts from a deep character driven thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Forbidden Fantasies-Lynn LaFleur

Forbidden Fantasies
Lynn LaFleur
Avon, Jun 2009, $13.99
ISBN: 9780061632723

"Celina" and two of her three BFFs get together in Fort Lauderdale on the S.S. Fantasy for a weekend to pay homage to their other close friend Carol who celebrated life with élan but recently died. Celina relishes the pirate-captain fantasy that feels so real that she is ready to repeat it with rhe ship’s captain.

"Elayne" plans on a weekend tryst with the first officer and no more; though the spaceship was out of this world and makes her want to reconsider a third long term relationships after two failed marriages.

"Jasmine" hopes her friends get their fantasies fulfilled, while she plans to do what she always does pay for a weekend until the stranger has her wanting more especially since he seems uninterested in her money.

These three heated erotic romances are lighthearted fun to read as the trio pay their respect to a fallen comrade by doing what she would have done, a weekend of playing out their deepest sexual fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, May 29, 2009

Start Me Up-Victoria Dahl

Start Me Up
Victoria Dahl
Harlequin HQN, Jul 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373773909

Lori Love had dreamed forever to travel the world. Instead she remains in Tumble Creek, Colorado running her late dad’s garage. Her best friend Molly Jennings suggests to Lori she needs a wild vacation with the proper hunk. Madcap Molly suggests her brother, Quinn, whom she knows Lori had the hots for when they were teens.

Lori is a bit frightened by the insane idea but also likes having a taste of her two dreams: travel and Quinn. On the hand the architect has no time for courting so is quite amiable to have Lori jump into bed with him. However, as he proves more prolific than the hunks in her romance novels, they fall in love, but both agreed no strings so who will say first tether please.

The return to Tumble Creed (see TALK ME DOWN) is an entertaining contemporary romance starring a woman who believes life and love has passed her by; mindful of Sandra Bullock in While You Were Sleeping. Quinn is delighted with his second chance as he wants to make the dreams of his beloved come true. Although the plot is rather straightforward, the lead pair seems so incredibly real they make START ME UP into a fine character driven tale.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Love Finds You In Liberty, Indiana-Melanie Dobson

Love Finds You In Liberty, Indiana
Melanie Dobson
Summerside, Jun 30 2009, $12.99
ISBN: 9781934770740

In 1850 Liberty, Indiana Anna Brent and her father are conductors on the Underground Railroad helping runaway slaves escape to freedom. She and her dad know they are breaking the law, but their Quaker beliefs insist on assisting those suppressed.

Newspaper editor Daniel Stanton opposes slavery and says so all the time in his paper with strong opinions. At the same he overtly and she covertly work to end slavery, someone apparently has uncovered Anna’s secret work. Her only hope to stay out of jail or perhaps even something much worse rests with Daniel whom she trusts with her heart and soul with her secret and her life.

The setting of escaped slaves and Indiana Quakers as Conductors on the Underground Railroad make for a fantastic historical thriller with the romance well written but intended to support the heroic efforts of those risking their lives especially the lead couple. Anna and Daniel are a wonderful pairing as each faces danger with courage. Fans who relish a profound vivid look back at a period of brave people willing to die for basic human rights will enjoy LOVE FINDS YOU IN LIBERTY, INDIANA.

Harriet Klausner

The Scandals of an Innocent-Nicola Cornick

The Scandals of an Innocent
Nicola Cornick
Harlequin HQN, Jul 1 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373773893

When her employee died, he left his housemaid Alice Lister with his fortune. One year ago, Miles Vickery courted Alice, but dumped her for a more affluent heiress; he left her heart broken and distrustful. However, his latest moneyed aristocrat leaves Miles for someone else.

Miles has become the Marquess of Drum, inheriting a mountain of debt that he cannot pay off. He is back in Fortunes Folly for the Crown, but he wonders if Alice will give a second chance as he remains attracted to her and her money. However, he is taken aback when he learns the stipulation of her inheritance. For three months her betrothed must never lie, which she assumes is impossible as a rogue lives on not telling the truth. As he struggles with honesty and desire, she sees what he could be if he only let himself move past what haunts him.

This second chance at love historical romance hooks the audience from the moment brazen Miles decides to go after Alice a second time and never looks back as the rakish gold-digger finds his charm does not immunize him from love. The story line is driven by the relationship between the rogue and the former housekeeper as she still loves her scoundrel and he falls in love with his innocent. Fans will enjoy the return to Fortune’s Folly with the latest Brides of Fortune tale (see CONFESSIONS OF A DUCHESS).

Harriet Klausner

Bending the Rules-Susan Andersen

Bending the Rules
Susan Andersen
Harlequin HQN, Jul 2009, $7.99
ISBN 9780373773930

In Seattle, three teenage graffiti artists are caught by the cops vandalizing storefronts. Artist Poppy Calloway suggests that besides cleaning up the spray paint mess they made, they receive community service to paint a neighborhood mural. Police detective Jason de Sanges is outraged with her soft response to the crime; he wants them punished as a deterrent from them committing future acts of vandalism.

Jase is further upset when his superiors think Poppy’s idea is terrific. Making matters even more poisonous to the cop is he is named to supervise the teen artists. Finally the topper to his anger is his attraction to Poppy upsets him further. That is until a series of accidents that he believes were intentional makes him feel the need to keep his pain in the butt woman safe even if she is a flying liberal.

The incredibly deep cast including tertiary characters makes for a strong upbeat good contemporary romantic suspense. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the lead pair butt heads and never slows down as free spirit Polly teaches by the book Jason CUTTING LOOSE (Poppy’s friend Jane’s story) is okay in moderation unlike the men in his family who spent time in jail while he grew up in foster care. Though similar in tone to CUTTING LOOSE even with the suspense subplot, fans will enjoy the education of Jason.

Harriet Klausner

Straight From the Hip-Susan Mallory

Straight From the Hip
Susan Mallory
Harlequin HQN, Jul 1 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373773831

The oil platform explosion left Izzy Titan with only 30% sight and mentally shattered; she had been the daredevil of the three Titan sisters and now she lives in shadowy fear. Making her even more frightened is the fact that she believes her half-brother Garth deliberately caused the incident and he will return to finish the job. Still she has to decide on a risky surgery that could restore her sight or leave her permanently blind.

Izzy's concerned sisters Skye and Lexi hire survivor training specialist Nick Hollister to abduct their sibling; he takes her to his ranch. Irate by his cavalier attitude, Izzy lets Nick know what she thinks of him although she quietly tells herself she is attracted to the hunk. Nick feels the same way about Izzy especially as he watches her working with his horses; however regretfully he has ties to Garth.

The third Titan romantic suspense thriller (see Skye in LIP SERVICE and Lexi in UNDER HER SKIN) stars the traumatized Izzy and a man who admires her courage. Their relationship is heat and biting as they are attracted to one another, but she amusingly rips his skin for being part of her sisters’ plot. When he insists he loves her; she calmly claims he is a victim of Stockholm Syndrome. With Garth still causing trouble, fans will relish this fine entry as Nick must explain himself to the siblings and the woman he loves; none will listen to him.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How to Seduce a Texan-Karen Kelley

How to Seduce a Texan
Karen Kelley
Kensington Brava, Jun 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758225740

Following his latest breakup that the media and not just the sports segment devoured, football star Cal Braxton needs a breather from the feeding frenzy of the intrusive press. He hides out at his brother’s dude ranch in Texas.

Her editor assigns reporter Nikki "The Barracuda" Scott to go undercover to uncover Cal’s secrets. To do this Nikki becomes a guest at the ranch. Although she assumes he played football without a helmet and thus has a Grand Canyon where his brain should be, he knows he has a journalist snooping in his affairs. Instead of his sibling’s ranch, he takes her to the family’s rundown homestead with a cabin that looks like OSHA and EPA would condemn even before the Housing crowd got involved. He figures with no electricity, no Internet, no water and an outhouse, the city flicker will flee for the nearest urban hill. Instead she handles every dirty farm trick and cow chip he throws at her and tosses them back while a ghost tries to regain solo occupation of the abode. As his game plan fails to execute properly, Cal feels sacked as he goes from anger to admiration to attraction to love seemingly before the first fifteen plays occurred.

HOW TO SEDUCE A TEXAN is an amusing contemporary gender war romance. The lead couple is a fabulous pairing between an obstinate reporter known as the Barracuda for a reason and a football star known for his womanizing ways who matches her stubbornness all the way. Readers will relish Karen Kelley’s fun tale while wondering by the two minute warning whether love will prove enough with this pig-headed pair.

Harriet Klausner

Most Wanted-Sasha White

Most Wanted
Sasha White
Kensington Aphrodisia, Jun 2009, $13.95
ISBN: 9780758228628

Hidden Cravings”. One year has passed since Devon Kaye has visited Lexy Signorino, but now he asks the private investigator to find his missing cousin; she looks forward to collecting her special fee.

"Unrestricted Access”. Jill Furst and Jack Barrows live up the hill from one another and enjoy exchanging teasing barbs until she pushes the envelop with a sensuous letter as she wants much more from him.

"No Angel". Anna Blair has the power of a demon literally who wants her, but she wants Gabe as her loving Mann.

Sasha White shows her skills to cross sub-genres with these three enjoyable erotic romances.

Harriet Klausner

Pleasure Island-Lorie O'Clare

Pleasure Island
Lorie O'Clare
Kensington Aphrodisia, Jun 2009, $13.95
ISBN: 9780758234476

Attorney Natalie Green arrives at the island resort expecting an erotic vacation. She meets two hunks Nicolas and Tomas who seem too devoted to her in such a short time. Their constant attentiveness frightens her because they pleasure her taking Natalie to orgasms like never before.

Soon afterward she meets hermit Malachai in a taboo zone while she explored the island. They are attracted to one another from the first look and soon make love. Malachai wonders if his beloved is the impetus for him to return to the world while her two other lovers keep intruding.

This is a fascinating erotic romance starring four solid (no pun intended re the men) protagonists. The sex is exotic and erotic leaving readers wondering throughout whom, if any, ends up with Natalie. Although too many subplots are crammed into the tale, fans will enjoy the interlude on PLEASURE ISLAND.

Harriet Klausner

Behind the Red Door-Jackie Barbosa

Behind the Red Door
Jackie Barbosa
Kensington Aphrodisia, Jun 2009, $13.95
ISBN: 9780758234582

"Wickedly Ever After”. Lord Grenville maintains his image as a wastrel while hiding his fondness for translating Roman poetry from the Ton; that is until he meets and kisses Eleanor Palmer BEHIND THE RED DOOR as she loves poetry and the Marquess.

"Sinfully Ever After”. Captain Jack Prescott has been haunted by horrific memories until he meets courtesan Calliope whose erotic treatment BEHIND THE RED DOOR gives him new memories and hopes for future memories.

"Scandalously Ever After”. Lady Jane St. Clair accepts the proposal from the rake Lord Chester, Gerard Nash, as she has loved him forever, but decides to go BEHIND THE RED DOOR to fulfill their fantasies before and after the wedding.

These are three exciting erotic Regency romances starring fully developed lead protagonists who take readers to the chambers BEHIND THE RED DOOR.
Harriet Klausner

Blood Deep-Sharon Page

Blood Deep
Sharon Page
Kensington Aphrodisia, Jun 2009, $13.95
ISBN: 9780758228796

In 1807 Miranda Bond possesses a unique paranormal skill that few if anyone else can perform. She can return souls to dead people.

However, the Royal Society for the Investigation of Mysterious Phenomena looks at her gift with one member in particular believing she is evil and what she does is an abomination. Without receiving official permission this betrayer of the society’s code of ethics wants to kill her and sets out to do so. Acting like highwaymen members Zayan and Lukos kidnap the betrothed Miranda in an effort to keep her safe from a renegade associate. However, each is attracted to her and wants her as his; they vie with one another trying to win Miranda’s heart and soul; not an easy task when allegedly vampires do not have a soul and hide their heart.

The latest “Blood erotic Regency romantic fantasy is a terrific page turner that will hook the audience from the onset and never releases the reader from literary bondage until the final climax. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action in and out of the boudoir. Although numerous returns to previous heroes from BLOOD RED and BLOOD ROSE will confuse newcomers, Sharon page provides another winner with this deep suspense.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

From Friend To Father-Tracy Wolff

From Friend To Father
Tracy Wolff
Harlequin SuperRomance, Jun 2009, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373783137

Vanessa and Reece Sandler ask her best friend Sarah Martin to be a surrogate mother, which she agrees to do. Pregnant, Sarah is shocked when Vanessa dies in a car crash. Reece grieves his loss and cannot find the courage to see his daughter Rose after Sarah gives birth; this is her third child as she is the single mother of five years old twins, Johnny and Justin.

Several months later, Reece finally forces himself to meet his infant daughter. He feels remorse as he knows he has been neglecting his responsibility and allowed unfairly for Sarah to shoulder the load of raising Rose. When Rose becomes ill, he panics. Reece moves in to help Sarah raise the three kids. However, an attraction explodes in which love and guilt war for supremacy.

This is an interesting family drama starring a very responsible single mom and a grieving widower unable to move on past the death of his beloved spouse to raise his daughter. The twins add humor with stunts like providing a funeral at sea for their toy Pirate Jack by flushing him down the toilet leading to stuffing the commode. However, it is Reece who makes the angst filled story line work as he knows he needs to move passed his grief to take care of his baby, but feels incompetent and does not want to harm Rose. Fans will root for this quintet to turn into a family of five, but doubt love can overcome grief.

Harriet Klausner

Best For The Baby-Ann Evans

Best For The Baby
Ann Evans
Harlequin SuperRomance, Jun 2009, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373783144

Pregnant Alaina Tillman needs a place to stay temporarily having been abandoned by her boyfriend. She heads to Lake Harmony and breaks into Heron Cove, the vacation home of her former lover Zach Davidson. Even this temporary shelter fails to go right as the local cops arrest her for B&E and trespassing.

The police call Zach, who is excited to see Alaina after two years apart. She fell in love with him when they met as nine years old and him with her as teens. Now they each have a last chance to make it, but both fears rejection.

BEST FOR THE BABY is an engaging second chance at love contemporary romance that has the audience mindful that what is best for the baby who both matchmakes and interferes with the relationship between the lead couple. The key to the sequel to THE MISSING MOM (Alaina’s sister as a troubled Tillman) is the realistic trepidations Alaina and Zach have towards starting over. He still hurts from the last break-up and is running scared she will choose her runaway boyfriend if he comes calling; she carries someone else’s child and figures men refuse to raise someone else’s leftover. Ann Evans provides an enjoyable tale due to the doubting Thomas and Thomasina.

Harriet Klausner

All That Love Is-Ginger Chambers

All That Love Is
Ginger Chambers
Harlequin SuperRomance, Jun 2009, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373783168

The weekend was an extended family gathering to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of cherished family members Aunt Maureen and Uncle Ian in San Francisco. However, lonely Jillian Davis has decided instead it is an ending and beginning as she plans on the way home to Lake Tahoe to inform her spouse Brad she is divorcing him.

As they drive in the SUV, she considers what she will say as she does not want to hurt him, but cannot tolerate anymore rejection or worse disregard. However, as they near Lake Tahoe, the snow gets worse and soon an avalanche pushes their vehicle off the road. To survive, they need to depend and trust one another like they did years ago. Each knows the love remains everlasting strong, but the faith in the other has long vanished.

This is a terrific second chance at love romance starring two likable individuals who have drifted apart though they love one another. The story line is driven by the lead couple who no longer believes in the other at a time they need to rely on one another to survive the ordeal. Readers will relish this one sitting tale as Ginger chambers keeps her audience in suspense not so much from the avalanche but with will they reconcile.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, May 21, 2009

If He's Wicked-Hannah Howell

If He's Wicked
Hannah Howell
Zebra, Jun 2009, $6.99
ISBN 9781420104608

Like generations of her ancestors Chloe Wherlocke has special skills; in her case she has visions. In 1785 she sees her sister dying while giving birth to a stillborn followed by men bringing a living newborn to exchange for the dead baby. In hiding Chloe sees what she envisioned occur. Chloe and her cousin Leo Wherlocke raise baby Anthony.

Three years later they rescue a drunken Julian Kenwood from an assassin. Julian informs the Wherlocke cousins that his man-eating adulteress wife Lady Beatrice and his Uncle Arthur want him dead. He also mentions his wife gave birth a few years ago to a stillborn. He is shocked when he meets his son Anthony and how duplicitous his spouse is having exchanged their live child for a dead infant. Leo offers to protect father and son starting with spreading a rumor that the Earl died and sometime afterward taking the fight to the evil duet. Meanwhile as the two Kenwood males become acquainted, the older falls in love with Chloe, who reciprocates.

This Georgian romantic urban fantasy is an exciting suspenseful tale of love, murder and adultery. The lead pairing of Chloe and Julian is handled smartly to overcome the obvious anticipation that they will fall in love. In spite of the villains being so outrageously vile they are over the top of Big Ben, fans will appreciate Hannah Howell's enjoyable historical as the beleaguered in love heroes try to keep Anthony safe while struggling with staying alive against incredible odds and insane evil.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sweet Persuasion-Maya Banks

Sweet Persuasion
Maya Banks
Berkley, Jun 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425227701

For five years, Serena James has filled other people’s cravings while ignoring her dreams. Running Fantasy Incorporated has been a full time job so she placed her desires on hold and fulfilled her clients’ fantasies.

Now she feels it is her turn to get her itch whipped. She knows whom she wants to dominate her, Damon Roche owner of an exclusive BDSM. Damon is euphoric with a chance to dominate Serena. However he also knows his lovely submissive is thinking short term; he plans on long term domination and tender caring of the woman he loves.

The latest “Sweet” BDSM romance (see SWEET SURRENDER) is a superb contemporary starring two fully developed lead characters whose ardent DS relationship ignites the pages. Serena is the more fascinating of the pair; as she has kept her submissive libido in check while running a fantasy business. Damon is typical of the erotic sub-genre as a strong dominant who controls his partner but makes sure she feels secure under his watch. Is it just me but do these dominants behave like some of the modern alpha werewolves who find their lifemates? Readers will relish Maya Banks’ exciting erotic romance.

Harriet Klausner

Hot In Here-Sophie Renwick

Hot In Here
Sophie Renwick
NAL, Jun 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780451226914

Celebrity chef Bryce Ryder has known Jenna McCabe forever. The womanizer has never had sexual thoughts about his reticent neighbor, but lately cannot stop from thinking of Jenna. He considers making a move on her, but fears he would not be able to deal with it and does not wish to risk their friendship.

However he reconsiders his belief she is a major introvert when he receives bad publicity and she charges into the fray like a lioness protecting her cub. He likes this side of Jenna and soon begins teaching her tricks in the kitchen and just about every other room as a reluctant Jenna no longer conceals her cravings for him though she fears he will turn her heart into burnt toast.

The kitchen is heated, but not as hot as the lead couple, whose partnering makes for a terrific contemporary romance. Each of the protagonists comes into their changing relationship with doubts because both fervently want the passion and much more but fear the risk of ending their friendship; thus Jenna and Bryce weigh the opportunity cost of following up on falling in love. Sophie Renwick’s tale is very entertaining and fans will rejoice that more Ryder siblings will follow.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

My Forbidden Desire-Carolyn Jewel

My Forbidden Desire
Carolyn Jewel
Forever, Jun 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780446178242

Witch Alexandrine Marit has lived her life knowing her magical skills were limited. Thus, she will try anything to enhance her abilities including a cracking amulet that allegedly can heighten a mage’s power. When her brother Harsh the doctor appears talking on an I-phone, she reacts with anger and joy as she thought he died ten years ago. He explains he came to keep her safe and demands she acquiesce to accepting the protection from mageheld demon Xia.

Alexandrine is confused by what is going on in her life since she donned the amulet. She knows her bodyguard loathes all witches as that breed enslaves his species. In fact that is how Harsh “persuaded” Xia to guard his sister from her biological father, who wants the amulet. His predicament makes him even more furious because he is falling in love with his natural enemy.

MY FORBIDDEN DESIRE has a jewel of a premise that the author backs up with an exhilarating romantic urban fantasy story line starring two natural enemies. Readers will appreciate that the respective species imprints demand a witch and a demon are antagonistic enemies after generations of hostilities. Fans will wonder whether love can conquer hate as Carolyn Jewel provides a wonderful return to her paranormal world (see MY WICKED ENEMY).

Harriet Klausner

Friday, May 15, 2009

Not Quite A Husband-Sherry Thomas

Not Quite A Husband
Sherry Thomas
Bantam, May 19 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780553592436

In 1893 although Bryony Asquith married Leo Marsden because she loved him (she even proposed), she expects him to leave as he is a society darling and she is a pariah for becoming a doctor. Her prophecy proves right when a misunderstanding based on what she assumes is his betrayal has her demanding an annulment.

Heartbroken and unable to cope with a scandal, Bryony leaves England to practice medicine while Leo stays in England conducting advanced mathematics lectures. However, he still loves Bryony and so in 1897 with her father dying, he vows to bring her home to say goodbye to him. He goes to India as malaria and rebellion threaten everyone, but he remains steadfast about escorting her home; preferably as his wife as he still loves her and never cheated on her nor would he as his mistress is mathematics.

NOT QUITE A HUSBAND is a terrific late Victorian romance starring two stubborn lead protagonists who both understand the shortest distance between two points is not a straight line but instead a curve if those points are people and the line is love. Loaded with interesting interwoven subplots that bring to life India in 1897, fans will enjoy the antics of the latest Marsden (see DELICIOUS) and his beloved female doctor as love defies the plane rules of Euclidian geometry.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

How to Score-Robin Wells

How to Score
Robin Wells
Forever, Jun 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780446618427

For the safety of the Tulsa male population, museum curator Sammi Matthews knows she must stop dating; any man who goes out with her somehow gets injured due to her clumsiness. That is what has happened to her three victims. A desperate Sammi decides her lack of self-esteem when it comes to relationships has made her Ms Murphy’s law. She seeks help so she hires life coach Luke Jones as an over the phone cheerleader building up her confidence.

However, the FBI has the life coach in the witness protection program as he will soon testify against the mob. His brother Chase, an FBI agent, has filled in with Luke’s clients, who are driving him crazy with their loser’s attitude and self pity; he reaches the point of scorn that he fears for the future of the human race. That is until he meets Sammi. As Luke he coaches her; as Chase he dates her. He knows he owes her the truth, but fears her reaction as he pities himself ever since his L word mantra switched from logical to lovable.

HOW TO SCORE is an amusing over the top of Black Mesa madcap romance filled with zany incidents and an eccentric cast including a former by the book FBI agent who finds love with Ms Klutz; if he can survive dating her. The story line is played totally for laughs so that secondary players have specific pigeon holed roles to enhance the comedy. Although readers should leave plausibly at the beginning, fans will relish this laugh out loud throwback to the 1930s screwball romantic comedies updated to twenty-first century Oklahoma.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tails of Love-Lori Foster (editor)

Tails of Love
Lori Foster (editor)
Berkley, Jun 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 0425227685

These ten tails showcase the love of significant others whose stories make for fun engaging tales. None of the contributions are clinkers as most avoid the simplicity of cuteness only like when whether a male human competes with Houdini the goat for the affection of his woman in “Norah’s Arc by Kate Angell or Dickens and Madeline debating eating flies and how to train their new pet person Rose in Stella Cameron’s “A Knotty Tail”. Lori Foster’s "Man's Best Friend" proves a puppy is also a woman’s best friend. Readers will appreciate these four legged romances as the stars demonstrate why they are the significant others of their respective pet persons; affirmed by the monkey “Atticus saves Lisa” by Ann Christopher.

Harriet Klausner

Tempting Taylor-Joan Elizabeth Lloyd

Tempting Taylor
Joan Elizabeth Lloyd
Kensington Aphrodisia, Jun 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 0758223730

An excited Melissa Bonner tells her friend Taylor Barwick that Dave finally agreed to take her along on a photo shoot for six months. The euphoric Lissa asks Taylor to house sit her Maple Court mansion in Westchester County. Taylor agrees as her life as an art professor has recently lacked color.

Tay meets Pam the widow neighbor who explains that Maple Court caters to all sorts of sexual activity that just thinking about her fantasies heats the newcomer’s blood. She soon meets and falls in mutual lust with photographer Justin Karallis; they become lovers. However it is the Club Fantasy that has Tay excited as she joins as one of Pam’s high class dream makers that in nearby Manhattan would be called high price prostitutes.

Ironically considering that Tay becomes a hooker, there is much less erotica in this story line than the usual Aphrodisia contains. The plot is not very deep as several fetishes amidst the wealthy in the burbs are never fully explored and for that matter neither are the limited heterosexual encounters. Still fans will like Tay as she goes from total ennui to a woman of pleasure.

Harriet Klausner

Colorado Secrets-Jacquie Greenfield

Colorado Secrets
Jacquie Greenfield
Five Star, Jun 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 1594147922

In Colorado Springs, thirty-nine years old divorcee Brad Dalton misses his two teen daughters who live in Denver with their mom. When they were younger, he was too busy earning money as an architect trying to overcome the incident that shaped his life. As a child he intervened in the assault on younger Kara Smith, but afterward was accused as the attacker. His abusive stepfather cut a deal with Kara’s dad that sent Brad to work as a slave on his uncle’s remote ranch. He was not allowed to come home for four years.

At the Lucky Horseshoes and Riding Academy, in which he is redesigning the place, he meets widow and mother of four Kara. He recognizes her from the assault and from the Middleton HS tennis teams they both were on as he had a crush on her but she was seeing David Garrison; she fails to recognize him. He later learns she and Dave married and had four kids before he died. She needs a job so he hires her temporarily while his office assistant is away. After she completes her week at his firm, they begin to date and fall in love as he is there four her troubled kids and she hopes to do likewise with his older brother. However, the assault when she was twelve remains between them for it much more personal than just his intervention.

COLORADO SECRETS is an enjoyable contemporary romance starring two amiable lead characters with a shared past that threatens a second chance at love for them. The story line is character driven though there is too much resolved angst as the several complicated situations nicely set up are too smoothly determined. Still with a strong secondary cast and a wonderful prime couple, fans will enjoy this Colorado romance.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Talent for Sin-Lavinia Kent

A Talent for Sin
Lavinia Kent
Avon, Jun 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061734083

In 1818 the widow Lady Violet Carrington loves her life with no husband. She is a liberated woman due to her status and her wealth. Although she receives proposals, she rejects all of them because she logically thinks why she would never willingly become a second class citizen again. Besides which she has a younger hunk as her willing lover and she assumes he would never want to wed a woman seven years his senior.

Her male is rich Lord Peter St. John who believes in marriage to one’s beloved; in his case Violet, who he knows is recalcitrant about remarrying. Still she owns his heart and he prays he has hers too. Though he knows the risk he proposes; she refuses insisting he needs a virgin sometime in his future. Peter challenges his beloved to be his equal partner placing Violet in emotional peril as she begins to see how much he wants her and how far he is willing to go. Will she take a chance on a second marriage with love as the equalizer or will she choose her current single freedom?

This is a superb Regency romance starring two likeable lead protagonists who both think they know what they want. Violet is especially wonderful as she takes advantage of society’ unwritten rules for widows while her lover Peter demands more of her and their relationship. Ironically his being younger than her make a marital match unacceptable by the Ton, but being lovers is fine by the aristocracy. Fans will enjoy this strong poignant historical as Violet must choose between to be or not to be married for that is the question.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Child of the South-Joanna Catherine Scott

Child of the South
Joanna Catherine Scott
Berkley, May 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425226025

With the Civil War over, half-breed Eugenia May Spotswood returns home searching for family especially the one her mother to belong to, but mostly finding hate between her two worlds of black and white. One noted exception is a black North Carolina senator who befriends Eugenia May giving her powerful backing.

A former slave Tom served as a spy for the Union while Clyde Bricket fought for the Confederacy. They come home to North Carolina where they meet in poverty as neither has much of anything except Tom is free and Clyde is crippled. If they can get past their prejudice and forge a team, they can rebuild their homes; separately neither can stand up to those who want the new South to remain devastated.

The sequel to THE ROAD FROM CHAPEL HILL (not read by me) is a profound look at the South struggling to recover from the ravages of the Civil War, mostly fought below the Mason-Dixon Line. The characters are fully developed so that the good, the bad, and the ugly compete for how the New South will be shaped. With more subplots than above that merge into a deep look at the aftermath of the Civil War, Joanna Catherine Scott provides a powerful historical.

Harriet Klausner

Dirty Sexy Knitting-Christie Ridgeway

Dirty Sexy Knitting
Christie Ridgeway
Berkley, Jun 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425228296

The media frenzy at times felt like a tsunami, but Cassandra Riley, owner of Malibu & Ewe knitting shop, survives the sperm donor ado as does her sisters heiress Honor Witherspoon (see UNRAVEL ME) and chef Nikki Carmichael (see HOW TO KNIT A WILD BIKINI). However, what she struggles with is seeing her neighbor Gabe drunk every day as he uses alcohol to bury the pain of grief, having interred his family.

However, Cassandra feels lonely with her siblings having significant others. Turning thirty just adds to her depression. When people she has seen in forever show up and accidents begin occurring, Cassandra is confused. However, not as bewildered as she feels when she wakes up with Gabe sharing her bed.

The final complex Malibu and Ewe contemporary romance is a fun finish that like its predecessors emphasizes how convoluted modern day families have become. The lead couple is a charming match up as Cassandra feels like singing Alone Again, Naturally (Gilbert O’Sullivan) while Gabe has turned to alcohol to numb the pain of his losses. Although it helps to have read the first two novels to better understand Cassandra’s self pity, fans will enjoy the final knitting of relationships.

Harriet Klausner

The Scot and I-Elizabeth Thornton

The Scot and I
Elizabeth Thornton
Berkley, Jun 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425228326

In 1885 Her Majesty's Secret Service psychic agent Alex Hepburn is part of a unit that successfully prevents an assassination of Queen Victoria. However, though he and his team achieved its goal, group messenger Mahri Scot vanishes. Alex uses his extrasensory skills to follow her, but each time he believes he has caught up to her, he finds she remains missing while he keeps running into a lad.

Knowing he is missing something obvious, he finally realizes the boy is Mahri in disguise. As they fall in love, the military and the assassins chase after them with only his extrasensory abilities keeping them alive. Both know they must learn the identity of the leader of the anti Victorian terrorists before they become victims.

THE SCOT AND I is an excellent late Victorian romantic suspense thriller with a small dose of fantasy elements enhancing the fun tale. The story line is action-paced from the onset and accelerates as Alex starts his search for Mahri. With strong lead characters and solid support players who anchor time and place, sub-genre fans will enjoy their escapades as they fall in love ever since she was a young male.

Harriet Klausner

Atlantis Unleashed-Alyssa Day

Atlantis Unleashed
Alyssa Day
Berkley, Jun 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425220412

To save the life of his brother, Lord Justice volunteered to become the prisoner of evil vampire goddess Anubisa. She was elated to take the hybrid Atlantan and Nereid as her special guest. His sacrifice has begun to take its toll on his sanity as he has no outlet for his dueling natures.

Archaeologist Dr. Keely McDermott uses her extrasensory skill psychometry to learn what occurred to inanimate objects. She excavates a carving that when she touches it she finds herself linked to its creator; to her shock, that individual is alive though the carving is old and in torment. Their tie enables Justice to escape his bondage. With Anubisa giving chase, they team up seeking the Star of Artemis jewel of Atlantis, needed with the rest of the jewels to destroy Anubisa.

This is super Warriors of Poseidon urban fantasy entry starring perhaps the most tormented of the warriors and a courageous human who risk their lives to defy Anubisa. The story line is filled with Alyssa Day’s trademark action in several locals. However, it is the lead couple who make this a terrific romantic fantasy thriller as the scientist and the seemingly insane paranormal half-breed team up in love.
Harriet Klausner

Kissing Midnight-Emma Holly

Kissing Midnight
Emma Holly
Berkley, Jun 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425223390

In 1933 Edmund Fitz Clare conceals the fact that he is a shapeshifting upyr vampire from everyone. He hides his secret from the orphans he has adopted, from his best friend, and mostly concealing it from his buddy’s daughter Estelle Berenger who he is attracted to. His goal is redemption to make up for nefarious deeds he once committed. He remains ignorant that Estelle hides her new odd abilities she gained ever since lightning hit her.

In London, hostilities are growing amongst vampires. War seems imminent. To survive along with his wards, Edmund and Estelle will need to depend on one another. Togetherness in Bedford Square allows their attraction to become love.

The latest “Midnight” historical urban romantic fantasy is a terrific tale that plays on several fronts including M15 Graham Fitz Clare’s activities as well as the above. The story line is fast-paced, but even with paranormal species and elements, Emma Holly provides her audience with a strong sense of time and place. Edmund and Estelle are fabulous lead characters whose love seems impossible to turn into a relationship as time means something different for the pair. Ms. Holly writes another winner in her strong saga (see COURTING MIDNIGHT)
Harriet Klausner

Demon Mistress-Yasmine Galenorn

Demon Mistress
Yasmine Galenorn
Berkley, Jun 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425228647s

In Seattle, Menolly D’Atigo still adjusts to being a vampire while working with her sisters Camille the witch (see DRAGON WYTCH) and Delilah the shapeshifting Death Maiden (see NIGHT HUNTER) for the Otherworld Intelligence Agency. However, while cleaning the bar where she works, she finds fascinating items left behind by the elf bartender who returned to Otherworld. A diary the elf kept insists he felt he was stalked and implies he may have been killed instead of going home.

However, while Menolly considers what to do, a new radically different demonic assault begins to absorb the life force out of the fae. There appears no counterattack to prevent this threat from succeeding and evidence mounts that a quisling human group is abetting the demon Lord Shadow Wing.

The latest Otherworld urban romantic fantasy is a super entry as Menolly leads the charge this time. Once again there is a ton of support players allies and villains that make the well written numerous subplots even more complex. Fans will enjoy the latest D'Atigo sister's take on their adventures as this time the trio tries solve the mystery of the bartending elf while also attempting to keep two worlds safe from the demon horde.
Harriet Klausner

Kiss & Hell-Dakota Cassidy

Kiss & Hell
Dakota Cassidy
Berkley, Jun 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425227855

Fifteen years ago Delaney Markham met the devil and sort of survived with her soul intact. Since that hellish encounter, Delaney has been able to communicate with spirits at the cost of friendships and boyfriends as everyone who meets her assumes she is playing electronic hearts with herself. Her only pal is Marcella the kindhearted demon.

Of course there is Clyde Atwell, a rookie demon, who the devil has sent to harass Delaney. Though she feels sorry for the tyro, she wishes he would return to whence he came. However, he refuses and not because his superior vows to burn him for eternity if he fails at his mission; ironically he has fallen in love. For that matter Delaney is beginning to realize there is more to Clyde than meets the devil’s eye and decides his contention that he does not belong in hell or a hand-basket might actually be true; so how the hell did he end up there.

Delaney with her amusing sarcastic asides makes for an entertaining romantic fantasy with a wonderful mystery subplot. The story line is breezy from the opening chime and never slows down as Markham knows the world is in a hand basket traveling to hell. She never slows down even when she is passionately kissing her significant other, which has quite a meaning in this fun tale. Readers will relish this lighthearted jocular frolic while humming "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" by the Charlie Daniels Band even though the heroine’s herb store is in Manhattan’s East Village.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Texas Twins-Tina Leonard

The Texas Twins
Tina Leonard
Harlequin American Romance, Jun 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 0373752679

"The Billionaire". In No Chance, Texas John Caruth wants to save the rodeo though the townsfolk oppose him. Frustrated, he falls in love with barrel racer attorney Chloe Winters and meets his previously unknown to either of them twin, bull rider Jake Fitzgerald.

"The Bull Rider”. Jake accepts work at another rodeo in another town. Erin O'Donovan wants Jake to come home, but he refuses because of her. He can no longer cope with his unrequited love for Erin. He remains ignorant that she reciprocates his feelings for her until danger strikes.

These two interrelated rodeo romances are fun tales with strong lead characters and a solid support cast, mostly the townsfolk of Ni Chance and the traveling rodeo participants. Although too many subplots overwhelm the novellas, fans of contemporary tales will enjoy THE TEXAS TWINS and wish Tina Leonard had written two novels starring twins rather novellas.

Harriet Klausner

The Chief Ranger-Rebecca Winters

The Chief Ranger
Rebecca Winters
Harlequin American Romance, Jun 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 0373752652

Yosemite Park Ranger Vance Rossiter has lived with doubts and guilt for months ever since the failed mission. He was in charge in the attempt to save the Darrow couple trapped on the top of the mountain, but they died; turning their five years old child Nicky into an orphan.

Rachel Darrow's brother and sister-in-law lost their lives on the top of a Yosemite Park mountain a few months ago. Although she would prefer to never go to the scene of the tragedy, her six year old nephew’s therapist Dr. Karsh suggests this might be the catharsis that will help bring closure to the traumatized little boy Nicky who never saw his parents’ bodies; and even somewhat help her overcome her deep anger, resentment, and fear. Vance and Rachel want to avoid each other, as seeing one another makes the memory worse. However, both go out of their way to help Nicky. Soon love enters the equation, but is that enough to heal three broken souls.

This is a terrific contemporary family drama starring three individuals still disturbed by the same tragedy that changed each of their lives. The trio are fully developed with each haunted by what happened on that fatal day. Dr. Karsh’s catharsis for his young patient proves that and much more for all three as Rebecca Winters provides a great tale of grief and love.
Harriet Klausner

Fair Game-Jasmine Haynes

Fair Game
Jasmine Haynes
Berkley, Jun 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425227596

In San Francisco, Castle Heavy Mining program manager Josie Tybook works hard to prove she deserves her position and that her family connections with her dad on the board have had nothing to do with her getting and keeping her job. She also uses men for one night stands when she wants no strings sex; relationships are something she does not desire. The prime rule for Josie is work and sex do not mix.

In a crowded elevator in the SMG Industries high-rise, Josie cops a feel of stranger Kyle Perry; both enjoy the naughty foreplay better than caffeine and each wants to play more erotica games, but business comes first. However, Josie almost immediately learns Kyle has a work connection to her, the Coyote project. She wants to end their sexual activities before they begin, but knows that will prove hard (pun intended) as he wants to play sexual games that she also wants to keep playing with him

FAIR GAME is a fun heated contemporary romance starring two interesting lead protagonists and the return of characters from some of Jasmine Haynes’ previous tales. Although each turns introspective too often especially following a sexual exploit, the antics of Josie and Kyle as gamesters and pranksters are amusing. Yet despite their teenage like immaturity, fans will enjoy their inane sexcapades as few can ride an elevator like this couple although many whish they could.

Harriet Klausner

Beneath Bone Lake-Colleen Thompson

Beneath Bone Lake
Colleen Thompson
Love Spell, Jun 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780843962437

After a year in Iraq as a contract bus driver, single mom Ruby Monroe looks forward to coming home to her beloved four year old daughter Zoe and her sister “Aunty” Misty who has been watching her niece. However, instead of the loving kisses and hugs at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, she finds both have vanished and her home was converted into a meth lab; she fears her past has caught up to her family.

Desperate especially since the tattoo assassin tries to kill her; she turns to her neighbor Sam McCoy, who allegedly has a criminal past, to help her find her family. He wants nothing to do with her because she denotes the law and his history with enforcement types is not quiet friendly. Still her vulnerability touches him and he knows she is in over her head drowning with nasty enemies on all sides especially when a corpse is found BENEATH BONE LAKE.

This is an exhilarating romantic suspense that focuses on the thriller elements with the romance segues deftly handled as hugs to help the heroine keep hope alive. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Ruby comes home to a horror rather than a hug. As Sam conceals what he knows, he falls in love with the feisty heartbroken Ruby while she reciprocates, but her child and then her sister come before her happiness. Colleen Thompson provides a strong chilling thriller that is well crafted and enjoyable.

Harriet Klausner

Desire Untamed-Pamela Palmer

Desire Untamed
Pamela Palmer
Avon, Jun 30 2009, $6.99
ISBN 9780061667510

Preschool teacher Kara MacAllister lives a sedate life until Lyon, leader of the shapeshifting Therian Feral Warriors, tries to abduct her He and his band of eight guardian warriors need Kara, who as the Radiant has the power to channel energy to them so that these feral Warriors can find, fight, and kill the dreaded draden energy suckers.

Kara is attracted to her kidnapper, but still wants to go home and forget about Feral Warriors even after he tells her she is almost immortal like all Therians and is the chosen one who can save the world from the energy eaters. He further insists she must perform the ritual of mate choosing to accomplish her save the world mission; she wants to say no, but realizes she has no choice.

DESIRES UNTAMED is a fast-paced, graphically violent action-packed urban romantic fantasy. In some ways the exciting thriller feels like a mystery as the Feral Warriors, their Radiant and readers struggle to uncover the identity of their clever enemy. Ironically, the “Untamed” Palmer world is developed as is the passionate relationship between Kara and Lyon; yet none of the key characters including the lead couple, come across as more than two dimensional. Still sub-genre fans who relish a hot romance inside a vivid escapade filled thriller will enjoy reading the opening of Pamela Palmer’s “Untamed” world.

Harriet Klausner

Rapture-Jacquelyn Frank

Jacquelyn Frank
Zebra, Jul 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420104233

The Shadowdwellers live underground in a complex metropolis of caves and tunnels underneath the mountains of Alaska. They are the Nightwalkers who avoid the rays of the sun which destroys them with the slightest contact; they thrive in the moonlight. The war is over and the monarchy is restored. There is new hope that the race will become more honorable, tolerant and technologically advanced like the other nightwalker races.

Daenaira has been treated as a slave by her uncle and aunt for eight years, forced to wear a shock collar to enforce her obedience. The day comes when she is sold and before she leaves her aunt’s home is shocked into unconsciousness. When she awakens she is in Sanctuary, the church of the Shadowdwellers led by High Priest Magnus who enforces the law and the morals of his people. He informs Dae that the goddess Drenna gave him visions that she was to become his handmaiden. Dae takes awhile but soon trusts Magnus and finds some serenity in Sanctuary even though treachery by unknown people wanting more power has her watching her back. He has enemies who want him dead, but they had not counted on the ferocity of the innocent in love protecting like a lioness her beloved; nor the priest also in love willing to die to keep the former slave safe.

The second Shadowdweller book (see ECSTASY) is more complex and delves deeper into the culture of the Shadowdwelllers that is much different than our own. Magnus and Daenaira are a fascinating coupling as he has justifiable doubts about having a hand maiden who has the duties of a wife since the last handmaiden tried to poison him while she fears people after the torture her aunt put her through. .Unlike his former handmaiden who he had for decades and was celibate with, he can’t control his desire for the woman the goddess chose for him. Jacquelyn Frank is one of the best paranormal romantic fantasy authors writing today and is a favorite of this reviewer.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Don't Bargain With The Devil-Sabrina Jeffries

Don't Bargain With The Devil
Sabrina Jeffries
Pocket, Jun 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9781416560814

In 1824 famous illusionist Diego Montalvo plans to convert some property, if he can purchase it, into a pleasure garden. He is unconcerned that next door is The School for Heiresses as he figures the students, faculty and owner Charlotte Harris would learn something useful by being peeping Thomasina.

Teacher Lucinda Seton plans to prevent him from putting a scandalous edifice next to the school though she is not sure how to stop him. Actually, he has no interest in the estate or in building a house of pleasure. Instead he has used that as a ploy to get close to Lucinda to determine if she is the granddaughter of a Spanish nobleman; in return for bringing home the heiress, he will regain his family’s lost property. To prove she is who he thinks he is Diego must seduce Lucinda in order see if she has a special birthmark on her body. As he plays master magician she proves to be his enchantress when they fall in love. However, he knows when she learns the truth about his mission she will flee back to England while he demands she remain in Spain.

The latest School for Heiresses late Regency romance (see LET SLEEPING DOS LIE, BEWARE A SCOT’S REVENGE and NEVER SEDUCE A SCOUNDREL) contains a terrific early premise with the rogue proclaiming his plan. His scheme places the school in jeopardy as zoning codes probably do not exist or if some do they are very ineffective. The story line takes a twist into more traditional historical themes of falling in love with the lost heiress the hero finds but is kept refreshed by his original ploy. Sabrina Jeffries provides quite an education for her fans with this charmer.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Master of Craving-Karin Tabke

Master of Craving
Karin Tabke
Pocket, May 26 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9781439102572

In 1067 fighting for King William at the Battle of Hereford in England, Stefan de Valrey leads his band of warriors in combat only to see his side lose. He escapes, but several of his soldiers are captured and held hostage. Stefan owes it to his loyal men to do what it takes to liberate them.

He has his chance when he rescues Saxon Princess Arian from a rapist. He plans to trade the naked woman riding with him in exchange for his men. Arian demands Stefan vow that he will protect her virginity. Stefan agrees though not touching his guest may be the most difficult battle of his life as he rides with more blood in his lower head than his upper head. Still in spite of his desire, his men come first.

The latest Blood Sword Legacy (see MASTER OF TORMENT and MASTER OF SURRENDER) is an enjoyable Conqueror romance starring two obvious enemies falling in love. Although the theme is similar to the previous novels with a Norman knight and a Saxon aristocrat battling one another and their attraction for each other, fans will relish this fine entry as Karin Tabke once again makes it fresh this time focusing on rescuing the captured Norman warriors.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Finishing Touches-Hester Browne

The Finishing Touches
Hester Browne
Pocket, Jun 9 2009, $24.00
ISBN: 9781416540076

Almost three decades ago in London, a mom left her baby in front of the exclusive finishing school, the Phillimore Academy. An expensive golden brooch contained a pleading note to care for her baby. The owners Lord and Lady Phillimore and the staff raised Betsy Cooper Phillimore. Over time Betsy wanted only to become an Academy girl. However, her mentors told her to study math as her skills are super. Heartbroken, she left her “family” behind.

When Lady Franny passes away, Betsy returns to the school that was her home for her “mom’s” memorable service; having not been back since she left. Betsy is stunned as the once elegant facility is in state of shabby condition, its reputation gone and the enrollment not just down but no longer attracting the elite. Lord P is despondent over what has happened to what he and his late spouse cherished even as he grieves; he turns to Betsy who has a degree in math to save the school as he believes she is a business consultant instead of running a shoe store in Edinburgh which she actually is. Betsy agrees, but also looks forward to seeing the man she likes while a shy employee likes her.

This is an entertaining chick lit tale starring a strong female who sees saving the academy as a way of thanking the Phillimore’s and as a chance to perhaps learn who her biological mother is. Betsy is terrific as she holds the story line together while proving London swings like a pendulum as her emotions do likewise. Fans will enjoy reading about her efforts to save the school while actually finding herself.

Harriet Klausner

Holding Out for a Hero-Ana Leigh

Holding Out for a Hero
Ana Leigh
Pocket, May 26 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9781416551386

In 1874 Arizona Rico Fraser is leaving his civilian work for the army to go home to California to visit family though he remains obsessed over one thing; killing cold-blooded gunslinger Ben Slatter. The psychopath, along with his outlaw gang assaulted his mother. Rico has no time for the needs of some obstinate female he meets; instead, he remains fixated on his mission except for a small break to go home.

When Slatter kidnaps that stubborn female Jennifer Burke and her Aunt Andrea; Rico sets out to rescue her before the gang rapes, tortures and kills them. His plan is to save the women and kill the psychopath and as much of the odious gangbangers as he can. However, when he rescues then without completing his quest, he must dump her fast though he also wants her. Jennifer is attracted to him when he acts kind and not when he is a bully. However both reject desire as he remains married to killing his mother’s murderer and she does not want an obstinate gunslinger even if justice is on his side.

The latest Fraser brother western romance (see HIS BOOTS UNDER HER BED, THE LAWMAN SAID I DO and THE FRASERS: CLAY) is an entertaining Americana tale that is filled with non-stop action especially in the first half and throughout a gender war. Although the plot somewhat decelerates after the incredible opening pace, the lead couple’s bickering which started from their first meeting keeps the story line fun to read. Fans will enjoy this Fraser family reunion as Rico assumes that Jennifer is a pampered American princess and Jennifer assumes Rico is a gun-slinging bounty hunter.

Harriet Klausner

Critical Care-Candace Calvert

Critical Care
Candace Calvert
Tyndale, Jun 2009, $12.99
ISBN: 9781414325439

Trauma nurse Claire Avery can no longer work in an emergency room following the death of her brother Kevin in ER. She especially cannot enter that room though she worked there for years. Instead she obtains a position as a nurse educator.

At Sierra Mercy Hospital emergency room, Dr. Logan Caldwell believes a nurse educator is a hooey waste of time as he expects his team to be as tough and cold as he is. Following a horrific explosion at the Little Nugget Day Care, Claire offer counseling to the shocked medical staff as kids die and many are severely burned; Logan demands instead Claire drop the good feelings brouhaha and do real work in ER to save lives of those hurt in the disaster. Still though they differ on medical care, Logan proves he has a heart as he falls in love with Claire who feels the same way about her grouch.

CRITICAL CARE is an enjoyable medical romance starring wounded professionals approaching care giving radically different as each has found a way to cope with trauma and death. Ironically, the exciting story line shows the frantic chaos of a hospital ER/trauma center but so much is going on, it becomes difficult to follow at times. Still with a strong cast who provide insight on how to deal with stress especially when kids are involved and one of your peers is hurt, fans will appreciate Candace Calvert’s profound salute to ER community.

Harriet Klausner

One Reckless Summer-Toni Blake

One Reckless Summer
Toni Blake
Avon, Jun 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 0061429899

Jenny Tolliver left her hometown Destiny, Ohio thirteen years ago, but has just returned home after divorcing her cheating spouse. Back then everyone who knew her classified her as a good person who would never cause her parents any aggravation; little miss perfect. Even the town’s bad boy and chief hell-raiser back in high school, Mick Brody thought that and still does in spite of a bump and run tryst they share in the woods as a homecoming special.

She relished the sex with Mick that made Ohio’s summer heat seem cool in comparison and decides this will be her ONE RECKLESS SUMMER. As Jenny and Mick become a couple, her father the chief of police objects; ironically so does Mick who cannot resist tasting her though he knows he needs to stop imbibing. However, Jenny also knows Mick’s hesitation is not just reputations; she assumes he is concealing something from her and is determined to learn what it is.

This is an entertaining contemporary romance starring a good girl deciding the time for a sexual summer is now and a so called bad boy who is her willing heat raiser. They make a fun couple as no one would believe the pairing and her parents raise hell objecting. Well written filled with and a strong small-town Buckeye cast struggling with issues, the tale is summed up poignantly by Miss Ellie who succinctly states: “He’s hot”.

Harriet Klausner

Kiss of the Phantom-Julie Leto

Kiss of the Phantom
Julie Leto
Signet, Jun 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451227362

In Germany, Australian treasure hunter Mariah Hunter gets to the artifact before her top rival, her former lover Ben Rousseau. He warns her that the hidden stone she has found is cursed, but she assumes he is pulling a ruse to steal the find from her.

When she touches the stone, she is shocked. Her caress releases Rafe Forsyth from his rock imprisonment; he and his brothers were incarcerated inside of stone by dark mage Rogan. Needing to provide priceless coins to a dangerous collector she foolishly agreed to work for, Mariah makes a deal with Rafe. She will help him get fully freed from his imprisonment and not just his current nocturnal liberty if in return he helps her find valuable loot to pay her debt. Besides her treacherous client, neither is aware of an enemy of Rafe coming to kill both of them.

The third Phantom urban romantic fantasy (see PHANTOM’S TOUCH and PHANTOM PLEASURES) is an engaging tale due to the lead female, a gender bending rogue who at a minimum stretches the boundaries of the law and ethics. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Mariah touches the prison stone and never slows as she and Rafe take the audience on a series of misadventures as love may not be enough to set him free.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, May 4, 2009

Twin Temptation-Cara Summers

Twin Temptation
Cara Summers
Harlequin Blaze, Jun 2009, $4.00
ISBN: 9780373794782

At the reading of her late mom’s will Maddie Farrell and Jordan Ware are stunned to learn they are twins. Both will gain half of their deceased mom’s large estate. However, attorney Fitzwalter explains to his client their mother placed a stipulation on their inheriting the estate; they must switch places for three weeks. The pair talks and learns their parents separated them at birth, but neither knows why.

Recently, a robbery occurred at their mother’s esteemed jewelry designer company, Eva Ware. To keep them safe, Jordan's friend personal security expert Jase Campbell takes charge of the protection of the twins. He and Maddie are attracted to one another and team up looking into the death of her mom and who wants her dead starting with Uncle Carleton who inherits if either sister fails at the switch.

Separated at birth twins are not a new concept (see THE DROWNING RIVER by Kim Byrne or either version of The Parent Trap), yet Cara Summers makes her entry a refreshing tale due mostly to the lead couple as Maddie is used to taking care of herself while Jase is used to taking care of people. Fans will enjoy this fun contemporary while looking forward to double the trouble with Jordan and Maddie’s friend.

Harriet Klausner

Branded-Tori Carrington

Tori Carrington
Harlequin Blaze, Jun 2009, $4.00
ISBN: 9780373794751

Brothers Trace and Eric Armstrong own the twenty thousand acres Wildwood Ranch near San Antonio. While Eric has been a marine, Trace has managed the spread by himself for the past six years. However, change is coming as Eric is leaving the service.

Former marine Jo Atchison works as the best wrangler on the ranch. She performs her tasks diligently and superbly demanding respect from her peers and her employer. Jo and another veteran Carter have had an on and off affair, but recently she wants it ended permanently. Instead, she, as does Trace, want one another and share a tryst, which goes against both their credos of work and play not mixing. As they fall in love, Carter insists it is not over.

BRANDED is an intriguing Texas ranch romance starring two captivating bothers and a wonderful female vet who lacks patience yet knows who got her six (butt) protected. Trace is a fascinating character as he drools over his wrangler and though he is elated his brother is coming home from the sandbox safe, he dreads the changes. Jo is his equal and more as she proves a better wrangler than any of his men including himself. Although the climax to the Carter subplot adds unnecessary tension and angst, fans will appreciate this character driven contemporary.
Harriet Klausner

Letters From Home-Rhonda Nelson

Letters From Home
Rhonda Nelson
Harlequin Blaze, Jun 2009, $4.00
ISBN: 9780373794799

In Iraq soldier Levi McPherson has been receiving letters from someone who signs them as Ms. X. He looks forward to them while assuming she must be from his Bethel Bay, South Carolina hometown for more than just the post mark. Her descriptions are of home, but it is her confessed attraction for him that has Levi more than anything looking forward to going back to solve the mystery of the unknown woman who wants him.

Natalie Rowland has been in love with Levi since they attended high school. She knows sending him letters filled with desire signed by a pseudonym was childish and impetuous yet whimsical. However, he is coming home and her latest batch of letters to him was franked by her assistant with her return address. She expects humiliating rejection.

This is a fun contemporary romance as the soldier looks forward to meeting his mysterious Ms. X while his pen pal expects abject humiliation when he comes home. She is unaware that she has been the star of his wet dreams for years. Fans will enjoy this entertaining tale while looking forward to his brother’s story with a woman who is good for his sorry ass.

Harriet Klausner

Watch Over Me-Lucy Monroe

Watch Over Me
Lucy Monroe
Kensington Brava, Jun 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758229175

In Southern California, Environmental Technology Research and Design (ETRD) research scientist Lana Ericson has a worthy goal to end world hunger. However, a drug kingpin believes she and her work are worth a fortune so he plans to kidnap her. Thus ultra top secret Goddard Project Agency Director Whitmore wants her protected.

ETRD security consultant Elle Grant and head scientist Frank Ingram also are worried for Lana’s safety taking the threats seriously. Though he fired Elle from field work, Whit hires her big brother Mykola “Myk” Chernichenko to protect the firm’s key scientist. Myk agrees to end his vacation from INS and undercovercover DEA work to watch over the lab-coated nerd because he fears for his sister’s life if unscrupulous thugs make an attempted snatch. As Lana and Myk fall in love, they must outmaneuver a persistent villain who has no qualms about killing innocents.

The latest Chernichenko espionage romance (see THE SPY WHO WANTS ME) is a fun tale as the reflective scientist and the hit first ask questions operative fall in love. The villain is over the top of Space Mountain, but no one will care as the nerd and the bad boy fall in love.

Harriet Klausner

In Bed With A Stranger-Mary Wine

In Bed With A Stranger
Mary Wine
Kensington Brava, Jun 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758234636

In 1602, twenty-four years old Anne Cooper is the daughter of the Earl of Warwickshire, but born on the wrong side of the sheets. She lives with the family, but is treated no better than a servant by his wife Philipa and daughter Mary at Warwick Castle.

In Scotland, Brodick McJames worries about his clan collapsing so to prevent that he needs a special wife, a daughter of a powerful England lord. He chooses Mary sight unseen as the offspring of an Earl, but the spoiled woman rejects being married to a barbarian. Instead she orders her half sister Anne to pretend to be Mary and marry the brute. Anne arrives at Broderick’s home Alcaon and quickly becomes a favorite of his clan with her kind ways. She and the laird are attracted to one another from the onset; and she proves a worthy partner. When the Warwickshire females realize Anne’s switch they vow to kill Brodrick’s wife and replace her with Mary.

With homage to Cinderella, Mary Wine provides a wonderful early seventeenth century romance starring two likable caring lead protagonists and two avarice merciless villainesses. Fans will root for Anne while hissing at the legitimate Warwick females whose odious antics make for a strong tale.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Wild Highland Magic-Kendra Leigh Castle

Wild Highland Magic
Kendra Leigh Castle
Sourcebook Casablanca, May 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9781402218569

The Athins were once a powerful clan ruling the Northern Plains. They fell into ruin when Cadmus ruler of the Daemons of the Blighted kingdom visited their High Mage to unite their tribes. To anchor an agreement, Cadmus demanded the High Mage give him his sister, but the Athins’ leader refused. Cadmus placed a curse on the Ice Mage males. They are a dying group down to their last male wizard Bastian an Morgaine, who hides away amongst the MacInees shapeshifting pack in Scotland.

Twenty-five years ago a dispute between brothers led to one taking his family across the ocean. Now he wants to reconcile so his daughter Catrionna MacInnes can learn to be a werewolf amidst family. When Cat and Bastion see one another for the first time they are attracted to each other. She recognizes hs as her lifemate; he fears his feelings for her as he believes Cadmus’ curse will activate as it did leading to his dad’s lament of regretting love and eventually his death.

This is a fast-paced romantic fantasy that sub-genre fans will appreciate. Although a cast of zillions with several major subplots like the feuding brothers add complexity to the tale, the story line belongs to the Cat and Bastian who will have readers humming the Flack version of The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. WILD HIGHLAND MAGIC is a tremendous romantic fantasy that will send new fans seeking Kendra Leigh Castle’s previous Highland stories (see CALL OF THE HIGHLAND MOON and DARK HIGHLAND FIRE; neither read by me).

Harriet Klausner

Friday, May 1, 2009

A Hint of Wicked-Jennifer Haymore

A Hint of Wicked
Jennifer Haymore
Forever, Jun 2009, $6.99
ISBN 9780446540292

Seven years ago her husband went off to war, but never came back. The Duchess of Carlton Sophie assumed he died as did everyone else, but she remained patient. Finally after all that time, the court declares Lord Carlton dead.

In 1823 Sophie marries her late spouse’s cousin and best friend Tristan who inherited the ducal title. However, soon afterward her first husband Garrett comes home; he suffered from amnesia after the Battle of Waterloo. Garrett feels betrayed by Tristan as he claims his title and his wife. The squabble between the two men is over Sophie who cares for both of them; she must choose one, but fears the impact on her children and for the one she rejects as fate has created for her an untenable triangle.

Though a spouse declared legally dead coming home to find his or her mate married to someone else has been done many times (for instance the movies Move Over Darling and My Favorite Wife), HINT OF WICKED is an exhilarating regency romance refreshed by the era and the strong triangular cast. The trio are real kindhearted people struggling with reality of loving and caring for one and concern over the kids. Jennifer Haymore provides a thrilling historical that will have sub-genre fans wondering who is Sophie’s choice.

Harriet Klausner

From This Day Forward- Candace Camp, Gina Wilkins and Allison Leigh

From This Day Forward
Candace Camp, Gina Wilkins and Allison Leigh
Harlequin, Jun 2009, $5.99
ISBN: 9780373837328

"No Regrets" by Candace Camp. Claire and Jackson Murphy will celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary with their grandchildren by telling them about their wild WWII courtship.

"Always the Groomsman" by Gina Wilkins. Wedding planner Rebecca Murphy is working with Bridezilla as she arranges her second cousin Melanie's wedding. However that proves easier than dealing with her attraction to groomsman Ryan Fuller, her ex.

"The Daddy Track" by Allison Leigh. Aldrich-Chelsey Financial Corp businessman Nate Aldrich grieves the loss of his business partner and best friend Luke; his depression is compounded by guilt as he was the reason Luke and Jess Chelsey were on the highway. When Luke's sister, restaurant owner Jordan asks him to stay in Amarillo for now to help her with some problems that just surfaced; neither was prepared for what else surfaced.

FROM THIS DAY FORWARD contains three fun romances starring strong lead couples. Each of the novellas provide differing story lines especially Candace Camp’s “historical”, but the trio are super as duets tango and tangle in love.

Harriet Klausner