Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Rainwater-Sandra Brown

Sandra Brown
Simon & Schuster, Nov 3 2009, $23.99
ISBN: 9781439172773

In 1934 in Gilead, Texas, after her husband deserted Ella Barron and their son Solly, she supports them by running a boardinghouse. Her ten year old child has issues that make him different and requires much attention from Ella. Although she is tired from all she must do to keep the place running and her son safe Ella believes it is worth it for her Solly.

Ella agrees to take in a new boarder David Rainwater based on a recommendation from a friend she trusts. The quiet newcomer surprises her as he is more than just kind to Solly; he spends quality time with her son. Ella reluctantly becomes attracted to him and he is falling in love with his landlady and her child. However, when racial hatred led by affluent Conrad Ellis leads to violence aimed at Ella and Solly, David risks his life to protect those facing brutality.

This is a deep Great Depression Era Texas thriller as poverty ignores race, ethnic background and gender, but people don’t. Racism turns brutally ugly as Ellis and his followers are the law. Ella is a courageous individual while Solly steals hearts as the townsfolk see him as either pitiful or demonized, making him a perfect helpless target of Ellis. David will surprise readers as Solly gives him the inspiration to risk his life. Sandra Brown is at her best with this heart-wrenching one sitting Americana.

Harriet Klausner

A Measure of Mercy-Lauraine Snelling

A Measure of Mercy
Lauraine Snelling
Bethany House, Oct 2009, $13.99
ISBN: 9780764206092

In 1903 eighteen year old Astrid Bjordlund wants to be a doctor studying medicine in either Chicago or Grand Forks. However, her dream suffers a setback when her family loses much of their money. Astrid refuses a chance to go to Chicago deciding to remain home in Blessing, North Dakota studying under her sister-in-law, Dr. Elizabeth.

Joshua Landsverk left Blessing two-years ago, but has come home to stay. He was attracted to Astrid before he left and still is. She reciprocates and he courts her. However a second chance in Chicago arises, which forces Astrid to choose between her love for Joshua and her dream of big city medicine.

The first Home to Blessing historical romance is an entertaining tale due to the intriguing lead female protagonist who along with Dr. Elizabeth show women is starting to make it in previously male jobs, but have a long way to go at the start of the twentieth century. The story line is well written and entreating for fans of the Blessing saga. Newcomers will find it a bit difficult to dive in head first even though this is the beginning of a new saga. Still with a strong sense of time and place and a solid cast, fans will enjoy this fine Americana tale.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Paradise Rules-Beth Kery

Paradise Rules
Beth Kery
Heat, Oct 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425230121

Blues singer Ailana “Lana” Rodriguez hides her Hawaiian background because she knows first-hand from her childhood that paradise is a sham. She vowed to leave the islands the first chance she got and did. Although she prefers to never return to her home state, Lana reluctantly agrees to accompany her best friend to Waikiki on vacation after a marriage to a sleaze went sour.

Lana and local surf school instructor and celebrity Jason Koa meet with each feeling the attraction between them although she transmits icy tundra at him. However, Lana wants nothing to do with the chick magnet while he makes it clear he desires her. They soon share a vacation getaway filled with passion until pictures of the pair surface that could only mean family betrayal. She wants to flee back to the mainland, but he and his kin shower her with love.

This is a terrific look at the islands paradise from a different perspective; a native who escaped and loathes Hawaii. The relationship between Lana and Jason starts off colder than the polar region as she is Ms. Bitchy and he reacts accordingly. When it thaws, the heat melts the polar cap. However, a serpent in Eden may break up the couple as they fall in love because trusting men ended with the tune “Over the Rainbow” due to her late abusive father.

Harriet Klausner

Sweet Seduction-Maya Banks

Sweet Seduction
Maya Banks
Heat, Oct 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425230695

From the first time salon owner and masseuse Julie Stanford gave him a massage to the last one with a crowning finish she has wanted Nathan Tucker. However, he either is blind or gay as he ignores her seductive endeavors even when she makes him come in her mouth. Deciding she has had enough with frustration, Julie visits the House so her sexual fantasy of doing two men can be at least satiated.

Nathan and his friend Micah make love to the blindfolded Julie. When he reveals what he did, she decides to give him a taste of female strength using handcuffs to dominate him. Gentle under her control, afterward he admits to Julie he loves her, but she flees having been hurt by love before. He will have to persuade her that they belong together one dominating but gentle stroke at a time.

This heated erotic romance is fast-paced from the opening blow job to the final BDSM seduction. Julie is a wonderful protagonist who knows what she wants though a submissive and goes out to get it; Nathan is the one who vows to never to be tamed but though a dominant Julie has him figuratively tied in knots. Although the couple’s relationship never fully gels outside the boudoirs, fans will knows it’s safe to bet the House (see SWEET PERSUASION) on Maya Banks providing an enjoyable hot read.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Seaside Letters-Denise Hunter

Seaside Letters
Denise Hunter
Thomas Nelson, Oct 2009, $14.99
ISBN: 9781595542601

On Nantucket, Sabrina Kincaid works at the Cobblestone Café where everyday she serves Tucker McCabe his coffee. Although attracted to him to distraction that she spills coffee, the only relationship she accepts is one in cyberspace as she was hurt badly once before when she lived in Macon, Georgia by her fiancé and her cousin.

Tucker has fallen in love with his email pen pal Sweetpea, but though he believes she is attracted to him and even sent him a photo of her; she refuses to meet him in person. He has heard that Sabrina is good at puzzles so he wants to hire her to find his Sweetpea. Sabrina knows that would be extremely easy to achieve. The hard part would be to tell her beloved email buddy that he just hired Sweetpea to find his Sweetpea as the picture he has of her is actually that of her seditious cousin; so expecting rejection if she tells the truth she schemes to conceal her identity. She is unaware that Tucker is hiding information from her.

Sabrina is a fascinating character as she feels her transgressions compound her feelings of plainness so that Tucker and God will reject her. The more lies she weaves and he by omission, the more complicated unraveling the truth becomes though her friend Renny the wannabe writer insists honesty is the only policy. Fans of inspirational romances will enjoy the second Nantucket romance (see SURRENDER BAY; not read by me) even if the island community never comes into focus. Two people in love find redemption by taking a chance on honesty with themselves, each other and God.

Harriet Klausner

The Sound Of Sleigh Bells-Cindy Woodsmall

The Sound Of Sleigh Bells
Cindy Woodsmall
WaterBrook, Oct 6 2009, $14.99
ISBN: 9780307446534

Since eighth grade Beth Hertzler worked for and with her spinster Aunt Lizzy in the family owned Hertzlers’ Dry Goods store. Beth like Lizzy ignored men while her younger sisters married and have had children; until she met Henry. They became engaged, but he died last year and yet she still wears the mourner’s black as she has not moved on. Lizzy worries about her favorite niece ending up lonely like she is.

Although she insists she is fine, her family and friends in the Amish community worry about Beth. However, to prove she is fine, Beth is going on a business trip accompanied by worker Gloria for the next three weeks to the store’s suppliers. When they miss a turn on their way to All That’s Amish, they stop at the next town where Beth sees an incredible wood carving of Amish children playing. She buys the piece and wants to help the Amish artist “sell” his work to the right families. When Beth returns home, Lizzy notices her niece seems to have come back to life and believes it is the woodcarving. She searches for the artist Jonah Kinsinger as she begins to think God is moving a mountain to bring two Pennsylvania and Ohio young people with emotional scars together to heal one another with love.

This is an engaging Amish romance starring a likable lead couple and two budding in out of love and concern families. Readers will enjoy the SOUND OF SLEIGH BELLS as their respective caring communities nudge (perhaps shove might be more accurate) towards each other in a wonderful Amish Yuletide tale.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Highlander's Temptation-Sue-Ellen Welfonder

A Highlander's Temptation
Sue-Ellen Welfonder
Forever, Oct 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780446195300

In 1350 Lady Arabella Mackenzie argues with her father the Black Stag of Kintail (see DEVIL IN A KILT – where it all began) that she must go to her new property the Seal Isles that he bestowed on her as part of her bride price. He calls it rubbish, but she is determined to have an adventure and find her true love like her younger sisters have; her plans is to visit the legendary Giving Stone.

Vikings attack her ship during a storm, but Arabella survives due to singing seals and Darroc MacConacher who takes her to his Castle Bane. Everyone at the castle hates her father especially Darroc whose clan has had deadly incidents with the Black Stag. However, sweet caring Arabella befriends all. As she and Darroc falls in love, he struggles to balance his need for the daughter with his desire to destroy her father.

This is an enjoyable medieval romance starring a wonderful heroine and a conflicted confused lead male. The story line takes off with the opening clash between father and daughter as the Black Stag shouts, busters, and silences his way to what he wants, but loses anyway as he would do anything for his oldest daughter except perhaps make peace with the MacConacher clan. The story line is owned by Darroc who feels schizoid between his love for Arabella and his hate for her daddy. Sue-Ellen Welfonder has written a wonderful historical romance that will make readers feel as if they have gone back to the past as the scenes are so vividly colorful and realistic.

Harriet Klausner

Chosen by Desire-Kate Perry

Chosen by Desire
Kate Perry
Forever, Oct 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780446541015

Carrie Wood went from San Francisco to China in order to finish her thesis that claims the Scrolls of Destiny exist. Her goal to teach at Berkley foster her ambitions so she sneaks inside a monastery to take pictures serendipitously but quickly realizes the gig is up. Instead of fleeing gently into the night, she rationalizes that she borrows with plans to return what she takes; she steals the Book of Water.

Carrie misunderstands what she purloined as the scrolls make her a target for those greedy with the need for power even as she gains some from the Book she possesses. Meanwhile Metal Guardian Max Prescott is sent to retrieves the stolen artifacts. He hires the thief to translate selections of Chinese text from his personal collection. However, he is angry at himself and her because he has no time for his deep attraction to a burglar.

The Guardians of Destiny urban romantic fantasy (see MARKED BY PASSION) is a fast-paced action thriller from the moment that Carrie questions why she is stealing the scrolls and never slows down as a mutual enemy craves what she took. Max is a fun to watch his agony of falling in love with a person he considers a lowlife academic crook. The return of the stars from the previous entry enhances an entertaining often amusing taut thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Long, Lean and Lethal-Lorie O’Clare

Long, Lean and Lethal
Lorie O’Clare
St. Martin’s, Sep 29 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312943431

The fourth dead spouse leads the Lincoln, Nebraska police department to conclude a serial killer is one the loose although they have not ruled out a paid killer. Still either way they feel out of their league so the brass asks the FBI to help. The Feds send Agent Noah Kayne to assist in apprehending the psychopath. The plan is to use Lincoln PD homicide detective Rain Huxtable as Kayne’s swinging spouse to draw out the predator.

Rain loathes the role she is expected to play as she prefers being alone. However, once in the part, she does not have to act as Noah’s kisses heats her loins ands he feels the same way. Still the pair understands the mission is to infiltrate the swingers club in which four members are dead.

This Great Plains police procedural romance is an engaging tale as the lead cops fall in love while masquerading as a loving couple. The sequel to TALL, DARK, AND DEADLY (starring South Dakota) is a fun tale as the pair put on a show; however, the personal relationship never fully gels outside the mission. Still fans will enjoy the escapades of two enchanting law enforcement officials finding love while on a deadly case together.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Enslave-Cathy Yardley

Cathy Yardley
Avon, Oct 2009, $13.99
ISBN: 9780061376092

The Bessonova family patriarch is a career criminal whose prime employment is stealing cars though selling his daughters either as mail order brides as he did Irina when she was eighteen or even whoring them out is not beneath him. His three daughters Nadia, Jelena and Irina love and hate their father though they appreciate living in Vegas and not Kiev.

However, Papa Bessonova purloins the wrong vehicle as the owner is dangerous Dominic Luder, who wants an arm and a leg literally from the thief as he did papa’s partner Roddy. Even with Papa’s wife carrying Dominic does not give a pregnant pause for what he will do to the thief who should have researched who owned the car. Her father may be afraid of the beast, who seeks to teach him a lesson, but courageous yet fearful Nadia offers her body willingly to the beast in remittance; he accepts her offer as he plans to tame the beauty.

This is an intriguing erotic take on "Beauty and the Beast" that begins gloomy as readers meet an unlikable family especially father and a seemingly despicable beast. When Nadia leaves with Dominic, the story line takes off as they battle for supremacy until love levels the paying field. The other sisters also come a long way baby as married Jelena finds her craving and Irina moves on after being dumped for the replacement teen. Although dad is a worthless dreck from start to finish, fans will enjoy the taming of the beast.

Harriet Klausner

Taken By The Laird-Margo Maguire

Taken By The Laird
Margo Maguire
Avon, Sep 29 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061667886

In December 1829 her guardian Viscount Stamford, knowing she will no longer be under his control in just two months and disgusted with his disobedient ward, arranges for Brianna Munro to marry the son of a duke the contemptible Marquess of Roddington. As Stamford waits for her by the altar to give Brianna away, she avoids the nuptials much by dressing up as a boy and fleeing. Her hopes lie with reaching her beloved Aunt Clare in Scotland where she will hide until she becomes legally an adult.

However, she makes the trek to her aunt only to find Clare dying. She says her goodbyes and though grieving her loss as she loves her aunt, she continues to run away from her evil appalling fiancé and her even worse guardian. After a day of traveling in a downpour, Brianna takes shelter in a dank, dilapidated castle owned by Laird Glenloch; Hugh Christie who assumes she is a thief though she insists she a maid on the lam from a lecherous aristocrat. He invites her to spend the night in his abode, but one night becomes two nights and three nights and much more as the guest and her host fall in love in his haunted run down ruins of a castle.

Readers will feel the icy cold of December in Scotland in which even shelter feels cuttingly freezing. That backdrop sets the tone of a wonderful historical romance starring two delightful lead characters, a ghost seemingly seeking salvation and some nasty villains. Although the changes in viewpoint seem abrupt especially when the nasties or the ghost take the stage, fans will enjoy Margo Maguire’s vivid nineteenth century tale just wears gloves, scarf and a sweater while keeping the hot chocolate nearby.

Harriet Klausner

When Seducing A Duke-Kathryn Smith

When Seducing A Duke
Kathryn Smith
Avon, Sep 29 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061340291

In 1877 Greydon Kane knows contrary to popular belief a duke cannot always get what he wants for he cannot have the woman he loves. Thus he goes to Saint's Row seeking pleasure with someone who resembles his beloved but untouchable (for him that is) Rose, whom he is charged to protect not seduce.

Rose Danvers wants one person, Grey. She goes to Saint’s Row knowing he will be there hoping to steal a kiss at the masquerade ball. When she succeeds, she hopes for step two of bed and wed with her beloved admitting he loves her like she does him. However, once he discovers her identity, Grey believes a romance between them is taboo so he will find her a suitable husband.

The cast makes this an entertaining well written Victorian romance. Out of honor, duty and the Martingale mother-daughter and outraged patriarch scandal that he caused, Grey denies who he wants most in the world because his innocent ward deserves someone better than him. Rose refuses to accept his honorable relationship and goes after who she wants. Fans will relish this engaging gender war as Rose tries to seduce her duke.

Harriet Klausner

Captured-Beverly Jenkins

Beverly Jenkins
Avon, Sep 29 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061547799

Dominic LeVeq has two missions that tie nicely together in terms of his heritage. As the son of a Frenchman, he enjoys being a privateer terrorizing the British shipping industry; he especially cherished sailing the sea with his father for two decades until the old man recently died in 1774. As the offspring of a black mistress he makes his life passion freeing slaves from those same vessels. He is even more enflamed by what his half-brother Eduard did to the three hundred workers on their late father’s estate in Martinique.

In 1778 he and his crew capture a British frigate. On board are a Savannah belle and her slave Clare Sullivan. He takes Clare with him to his island haven and offers her a Faustian deal; one night for a lifetime of freedom. She counters insisting one night and a return to Savannah where her children live. He considers upping the ante with a dangerous proposition.

The leading author of historical romances starring Black heroes, Beverly Jenkins proves why she is a highly regarded bestselling author with her latest tale. Captured by the lead couple readers will relish this strong late eighteenth century tale on the high seas and in Revolutionary War Savannah. Dominic is wonderful swashbuckler but has met his match in the feisty slave he wants to liberate. Ms. Jenkins provides her fans with another captivating tale (see INDIGO and TOPAZ) that captures the essence of being African and half-African in 1778 in the Caribbean and Georgia.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dance In Shadows- Karen Wiesner

Dance In Shadows
Karen Wiesner
Whiskey Creek, Oct 2009, $14.95
ISBN: 9781603135672

Years ago, Angelo Pluzetti's life changed when his beloved family was murdered. He joined the Network, whose mission is to obliterate criminals. He became Head of Network Operations as his passion and willingness to die yet protect his “family” of operatives have become so renowned; his enemies from powerful Revolutionary Echelon Defenders (R.E.D). need him eliminated.

He has one Achilles’ heel, twenty-nine years old Dr. Celine Savage. She has loved him for what seems to her an eternity, but he conceals his deep regard for her from everyone especially Celine and his adversaries. However someone must somehow know because Celine is a target so he needs to keep her safe; not realizing when they are both captured by R.E.D. her inner strength gives him the extra courage he needs for both of them and their unborn to survive.

The ninth Incognito romantic suspense thriller is a great entry in a super saga. Angelo and Celine are a fabulous pairing as each is attracted to one another, but hide it for differing reasons (besides what is described above). Besides the enemy neither wants to face the wrath of their boss Shannon. Filled with action and sexual tension, fans will enjoy the lead couple as they DANCE IN THE SHADOWS rather than with the stars.

Harriet Klausner

Love Finds You in Revenge, Ohio-Lisa Harris

Love Finds You in Revenge, Ohio
Lisa Harris
Summerside, Aug 2009, $12.99
ISBN: 9781934770818

Having been jilted twice after her father Isaiah abandoned her mom, her three younger sisters depend on twenty-seven year old Catherine Morgan who vows no more men in her life. Instead she pledges to run the family general store in Revenge, Ohio as a spinster on the shelf and contradictory find decent husbands for her siblings; that if there is such a thing as a decent male.

In 1884 Sheriff Corbin Hunter arrives in town seeking a bank robbing gang; he is one of the men who dumped Catherine, breaking her heart seven years ago. His evidence points to her sister Audrey’s fiancé as the brains behind the criminal gang who killed his father. Although she wants nothing to do with the one that broke her heart the most, Catherine decides to help him with his inquiry praying her sibling does not end up heartbroken like her. Corbin accepts her help though he vows to not allow the woman who broke his heart seven years ago do so again.

LOVE FINDS YOU IN REVENGE OHIO is a wonderful warm historical Americana romance starring two strong lead characters and a solid support cast. The story line is action-packed and contains several neat twists with each spin hooking readers further. Fans will root for sacrificing Catherine, whose anger with her father and to a degree her mother makes her selfishly responsible for her sisters whether they want her to do so or not; this also leads her to assume her beloved Corbin should not be saddled with her charges. Corbin is a terrific counterpoint as his love for the woman who hurt him remains strong but is it as powerful as his need to find his father's killer. This is a great inspirational late nineteenth century romantic suspense.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Santa, Honey-Kate Angell, Sandra Hill and Joy Nash

Santa, Honey
Kate Angell, Sandra Hill and Joy Nash
Love Spell, Oct 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780505527530

"Ho, Humbug, Ho," by Kate Angell. In Holiday, Florida, Judge Hathaway sentenced Richmond Rogues baseball player Alex Boxer for speeding to perform forty hours community service as Santa at Wilmington Mall; the previous user of the costume recently died. Instead of celebrating the World Series win with his teammates in Miami he is stuck with kids drooling and wishing. Of course he wants to hit a walk off homer with local torturer Holly.

"Naughty or Nice" by Sandra Hill. Jessica Jones is so desperate she enters the Piggly Jiggly Supermarket wearing a Santa suit and carrying a gun as she plans a “stick-out”. The Christmas Curse continues when her scheme fails and she takes the Brad Pitt in a Santa suit look alike Luke Carter as her hostage. He knows he could escape with ease, but tags along only to fall in love with the fruitcake that he ends up protecting.

"Christmas Unplugged" by Joy Nash. In New York, wannabe actress Emma catches her boyfriend tonguing another woman. To escape the city and her hurt, she persuades her sister, the “Minesweeper” expert to leave town on the vacation with her that she was supposed to take with cheating Todd. The siblings go to the Dutch Lodge in the Adirondacks. The sisters meet the owner’s nephews with Emma and Jake, and Casey and Matt attracted respectively to one another

These are three warm Christmas romances starring wonderful protagonists; although the Sandra Hill tale is a reprint from the 1996 anthology The Night Before Christmas.

Harriet Klausner

Holiday Brides-Jewel Amethyst, Farrah Rochon and Stefanie Worth

Holiday Brides
Jewel Amethyst, Farrah Rochon and Stefanie Worth
Leisure, Oct 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780843963199

"From SKB with Love" by Jewel Amethyst'. Widow Venetta planned to stay home for Christmas and grieve her beloved MJ’s death as she always does during Christmas; but her friend Kerina won the lotto and insistd they, along with two other BFFs, go to St. Kitts to escape the Baltimore cold. There she meets Sean, but as she falls in love Venetta fears losing the memory of her first love.

"No Ordinary Gift" by Farrah Rochon. Kemah worked hard to come a long way from her impoverished childhood while her first love Tyson grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth. She tries to give something back to the community working at the Darolyn Crawford Community Center. He is the director who cares about the children putting his money up. However, Tyson has another goal besides making the center a success; he wants Kemah before the Kwanzaa celebration ends.

"" by Stefanie Worth. Brenna and Evan have met all types of losers on line and off. Both seek a perfect everlasting relationship, but with each respective failed encounter they are ready to call it quits on dating. That is until matchmaking guardian angels pair them up for New Year’s Eve.

These three African-American holiday romances are fun reading, as each contains a different holiday to celebrate. Although the women are fully developed, the men are not quite so, but fans will enjoy these hunks going after the women who make them want to celebrate the season and much more.

Harriet Klausner

Christmas Ball-Emily Bryan, Jennifer Ashley and Alissa Johnson

Christmas Ball
Emily Bryan, Jennifer Ashley and Alissa Johnson
Leisure, Oct 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780843962505

"The Longest Night" by Jennifer Ashley. Nvengarian shapeshift Baron Valentin arrives at the ball to continue his pursuit of his beloved Mary Cameron, who has run away from love.

"My Lady Below Stairs" by Emily Bryan. Being a bastard means to Jane collecting the eggs from the henhouse when it is cold or impersonating your legitimate half-sister Sybil when she apparently elopes with a painter.

"Traditions" by Alissa Johnson. Prim and proper Casslebury plans to court Miss Caroline Meldrin, but to his chagrin is attracted to her wild friend Miss Patience Byerly.

Readers will enjoy attending the Hartwell holiday ball as sponsored by these three fine Regency romance authors.

Harriet Klausner

Black Horse-Veronica Blake

Black Horse
Veronica Blake
Leisure, Oct 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780843961676

The Ogala tribe adopted blonde haired white girl Meadow and raised her as one of them although she looked nothing like them. However, as she grows up into a beautiful squaw Meadow knows she is different and appreciates even more the tribe that took her in as a tiny child.

War Chief Black Horse visits the tribe and is immediately attracted to Meadow; she reciprocates. He obtains permission from the elders to spend time with her and to marry her. However The Canadian Mounted Police find the white woman living among the Indians and take her back with them; ignoring her wishes as they believe she is better off with her people. Meadow knows one life and one love so she flees her captivity only to be caught by the Blackfoot.

This is an entertaining Indian romance that fans of Cassie Edwards would appreciate. Meadow and Black Horse are fully developed likable characters as she displays courage throughout risking her life twice to save the man she loves. She and the Canada locations make for a fine nineteenth century historical as fans will root for this couple to make it.

Harriet Klausner

Mischief In Mudbug-Jana DeLeon

Mischief In Mudbug
Jana DeLeon
Love Spell, Oct 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780505527851

After Helena the ghost makes a disturbing appearance during a client’s visit, Mudbug psychic Sabine LeVeche learns from Dr. Breaux that her biopsy test affirms she suffers from acute myeloid leukemia; a type that with treatment most people go into remission especially if the person receives a bone marrow transplant from a close relative.

However, Sabine has a minor problem with the bone marrow therapy; she needs a relative, but knows of none in spite of her efforts to find kin. Private investigator Beau Villeneuve, her BFF Maryse and Helena help the stunned twenty-eight years old woman. However, their efforts are sidetracked by someone trying to kill Sabine and her attraction to Beau who feels the same way about her.

This is an engaging sequel, but the TROUBLE IN MUDBUG is that several key support characters (especially Helena) cannot stand alone without having read the previous book. Still Sabine’s search for blood relatives takes a serious health turn that makes for a serious story line while her mutually shared feelings with Beau adds a naked romantic element to the recipe. The suspense subplot adds tension, but also takes a back seat to the health crisis and the attraction as Jana DeLeon cooks an interesting spin in Mudbug.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, September 21, 2009

Kissing Santa Claus-Donna Kauffman, Jill Shalvis and HelenKay Dimon

Kissing Santa Claus
Donna Kauffman, Jill Shalvis and HelenKay Dimon
Kensington, Oct 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758238849

"Lock, Stock and Jingle Bells" by Donna Kauffman. Although her parents gave her their Christmas store, Holly Berry loathes the holiday season and having to return from London to Willow Creek, Virginia to run her place. However, this year looks promising as she will work alongside of her high school fantasy Sean Gallagher.

"Bah Handsome!" by Jill Shalvis. Hope O'Brien has no hope except for her first name as her B&B is failing and the debts make the federal government seem fiscally balanced. Her miserly stepbrother sends his accountant Danny Shaw to collect what his sibling owes him; not realizing that Danny and Hope find a gift with their attraction for one another.

“It's Hotter at Christmas" by HelenKay Dimon. Marissa Brandt came to Hawaii from Philadelphia for a holiday vacation, but never expected a hotel arrest by a hunk of a cop Ted Greene who wants to keep her safe from a thief who seems to have targeted her and hopes to persuade her to stay on Kauai with him for decades of holiday joy together.

These are three lighthearted holiday frolics that fans will agree bring joy to the reader.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Border Lord And The Lady-Bertrice Small

The Border Lord And The Lady
Bertrice Small
NAL, Oct 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780451227928

The Earl of Leighton worries his brilliant teenage second wife Luciana Maria Pietro, whom he married for her money and for giving him sons, will harm his beloved young daughter, Lady Cicely Bowen. To keep her safe he sends her away from her stepmother. Cicely and Lady Joan Beaufort become friends.

When Joan and King James I of Scotland marry, Cicely is selected as a lady-in- waiting to the new queen. At the Scottish court, two lairds with opposite demeanors pursue Cicely. Andrew Gordon is a suave aristocrat while Ian Douglas is a border lord. Although she plans to marry Andrew, Ian abducts her. She finds border life complex and harsh while her other suitor declares clan war and the queen demands the return of her lady in waiting.

This is an entertaining fifteenth century romance starring strong lead characters and real historical figures especially Joan who was married to James I. The story line provides a deep look at the era when intrigue and clan disputes and hostilities were the norm. Vivid with the real persona enhancing the triangular relationship, Bertrice Small provides a wonderful romance with Stockholm syndrome implications.

Harriet Klausner

According to Jane-Marilyn Brant

According to Jane
Marilyn Brant
Kensington, Oct 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758234612

In the mid 1980s in suburban Chicago, fifteen years old sophomore Ellie Barnett takes Mrs. Leverson’s English Lit class where they are reading Pride and Prejudice. When Sam Blaine makes a move on Ellie, she hears a warning voice in her head. Jane Austen cautions her that Sam is her Wickham.

The voice remains with Ellie over the years as boyfriends come and go; but Jane remains advising her on relationships especially how to elude those sexy bad boys. The worst of the lot in Jane’s mind is Sam who intermittently seems to always be there sniffing at Ellie. She, in turn, knows she is attracted to him and always has since high school lit. However, Ellie begins to think of Sam as her Darcy and decides perhaps even the great Jane Austen needs mentoring on love.

Just when you think Jane Austen could not appear in anything new, a refreshing reincarnation occurs as Marilyn Brant provides an engaging modern day take on the writer. Ellie is a terrific lead character as she adapts to the voice in her head while Sam is her nemesis. Although the abrupt scene shifts can be somewhat jarring, readers will thoroughly enjoy this fun contemporary romance that also provides insight into Jane Austen and her characters.

Harriet Klausner

He's No Prince Charming-LuAnn McLane

He's No Prince Charming
LuAnn McLane
Signet, Oct 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451228291

At sixteen, Dakota Dunn was America’s singing teen sweetheart. Almost a decade later, Dakota is a highlight of where are they now? In fact the answer to that question re Dakota is she is at her marina at Pine Hollow Lake living in a fishing cabin while trying to turn her singing career from teen to adult, but currently battling a killer spider who scares her into screaming.

Former champion bull rider Trace Coleman manages Willow Creek Marina. He is outraged that the owner Dakota Dunn has arrived at the property she owns. He wants her to leave because he is tired of rescuing her from tiny spiders and other dangers; as HE’S NO PRINCE CHARMING. However, mostly he hates how he feels about Dakota Dunn.

This is a fun lighthearted frolic with a secondary romance enhancing the prime relationship of a “chivalrous” hermit constantly rescuing his lady in distress. This is an amusing tale, starting with the killer spider crawling down Dakota’s back. Fans will enjoy the romantic antics between America’s former teen pop star royalty and her Prince Charming in denial whose song list is I’m Not In Love and Hit the Road, Jill.

Harriet Klausner

The Year Of Living Shamelessly-Susanna Carr

The Year Of Living Shamelessly

Signet, Oct 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780451225160

Katie Kramer has loved Ryder Scott since they attended high school together. However, she knows her feelings are unrequited as he thinks of her as his best friend Jake's kid sister. Every year since high school she makes the same New Year's resolution to seduce him, but each year the sweet but naive Katie fails to even try as she cannot compete with the kinky competition that he seems to always have at his beck and call.

However, this year, the dynamics are changing. Ryder announces he is leaving town. This is probably her last chance. Katie must shed the good girl image and prove she can out kink the king of kink; unaware of why he is leaving town.

This is an engaging contemporary erotic romance starring two likable lead characters. Kissable Katie is terrific as the good girl who plans each year to tie up Ryder, but only gets rope burns; this is her last chance and she goes for it. Fans will root for the courageous heroine as she takes her last stand hopefully in her mind and libido lying down tied to Riley’s bed posts.

Harriet Klausner

Up Close And Personal-Carla Cassidy

Up Close And Personal
Carla Cassidy
Signet, Oct 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451228277

Kansas City homicide detective Jordan Sampson is a single mom struggling with a rebellious twelve year old daughter Mandy, who does not want to live with her even for weekends; preferring to stay with her dad Dane who has custody.

The former head cheerleader accompanies her “blackmailing” best friend Della Broadbent to their fifteenth anniversary Oak Ridge High School reunion. The highlight of the gala that she did not want to attend is seeing her former boyfriend, divorced coach Clint Cooper. However, the worst that happens is someone begins killing her classmates. Jordan investigates wondering if one of her schoolmates has turned into a serial killer.

This is an exciting romantic suspense thriller that feels in some ways like a teen slasher movie. The ending is abrupt and the motive for the killings over the top of the Liberty Memorial. Still fans will appreciate the lead cop as she struggles with her relationship with her tweener daughter, a case that should have been a sure shot conviction that went sour, a renewed relationship with Clint, and a serial killer. This is all in a day (or three) work for a homicide cop.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Wicked Lord at the Wedding-Jillian Hunter

A Wicked Lord at the Wedding
Jillian Hunter
Ballantine, Sep 22 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780345503947

In the first three years of their marriage Sebastian Boscastle was more away from home than with his wife Eleanor. Three years ago he vanished while on an espionage mission. Eleanor missed her spouse but moved on.

Now in 1816 Sebastian has come home; having recovered from injuries to reclaim his spouse. He has heard rumors about her so he serendipitously watches her sneak out at night in male garb. She masquerades as the Mayfair Marauder trying to steal letters from traitors planning on harming Wellington. Sebastian decides to join his wife on her mission so that he can seduce this “gentleman” to join him in his bed.

The latest Boscastle Regency romance is a fabulous historical filled with pathos and wit as the lead protagonist must court the legendary Mayfair Marauder in order to re-earn the trust of his wife; he knows he has one advantage, which is love. Fans will appreciate this engaging tale as the intrepid Eleanor may still love her husband, but believes he will leave again so kicks him to the proverbial Mayfair curb. The fun in this enchanting Boscastle gender war is observing the wicked lord refusing to quit on love.

Harriet Klausner

A Lady Of Persuasion-Tessa Dare

A Lady Of Persuasion
Tessa Dare
Ballantine, Sep 29 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780345506887

Wealthy Isabel Grayson arrives in London from the West Indies. She has her choice of almost male member of the Ton, but is attracted to the rake Sir Tobias Aldridge.

Toby pretends he reciprocates, but instead is using Isabel as a pawn. He seeks vengeance on her brother Benedict for stealing his fiancée Sophia Hathaway (see SURRENDER OF A SIREN). His plan is to seduce and dump the sister of the man he loathes. She rejects his efforts as she will only marry someone who argues against injustice in House of Lords. As he falls in love Toby the rake vows to change in order to win Isabel.

This direct sequel to the wonderful SURRENDER OF A SIREN is a terrific regency romance that can stand alone as Tessa dare uses Toby’s ire cleverly to tell the back story (see also GODDESS OF THE HUNT). Isabel is a super lead protagonist while Toby who was a key secondary player in the first two novels easily takes a lead role. Sub-genre fans will appreciate this strong trilogy as frivolous Toby finally gets what he deserves, A LADY OF PERSUASION.

Harriet Klausner

Wicked All Day-Liz Carlyle

Wicked All Day
Liz Carlyle
Pocket, Sep 22 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9781416594925

Although affluent Zoe Armstrong knows objectively she will have to settle in marriage amidst the Ton probably for a rakish amoral fortune hunter, she detests the idea. She understands why being the illegitimate offspring of an aristocrat and his mistress even if her father raised her, but she does not have to like it. Worse she knows only the most desperate fortune hunter will pursue her.

At a gala, Zoe breaks into tears as she realizes first hand what a pariah she is to most of the Ton. Her friend rakish Robert “Robin” Rowland tries to soothe her disappointment, but his caring is misconstrued by all in attendance. To save what was already a poor reputation due to her blood requires the pair marry although neither loves one another. Robert’s prim and proper older brother the Marquess of Mercer takes both of them to his estate to buy time for gossip to vanish as a new scandal will arise. As Mercer struggles to hide his attraction to Zoe, she knows she loves the older brother who will never offer for her as she is tainted.

This is a wonderful historical romance starring spirited Zoe who drives both brothers batty. Robin is unhappy with his choices while Zoe feels stunned ever since “the drastic and shocking events commenced” that dramatically changed their lives and that of a shocked Mercer. Fans will enjoy Liz Carlyle’s amusing yet pathos laden tale “in which all is revealed”.

Harriet Klausner

Seduce Me In Shadow-Shayla Black

Seduce Me In Shadow
Shayla Black
Pocket, Sep 29 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9781416578444

Caden MacTavish fled his English home and his magic heritage to live in Texas. However, the only reason he would return home is for his brother Lucan, who is in deep trouble. Apparently his sibling mourns the loss of his beloved Anka taken by the Brethen’s enemy Mathias the wizard.

Wizard chief Bram Rion directs Caden to learn anyway he can what nosy tabloid reporter Sydney Blair of Out of This World knows about the magical species. He assumes very little, but Caden is stunned when he observes Sydney receive as a “gift” the stolen Doomsday Diary that used by the wrong people like Mathias will destroy the Brethren. Caden knows he must retrieve the diary, but also believes the current owner is his probable soul mate.

The latest Doomsday Brethren romantic urban fantasy (see TEMPT ME WITH DARKNESS) is a great entry due to Caden’s predicament; handled deftly by Shayla Black. He understands the mission, but also wonders what will happen to any potential relationship with his mate when he steals the tome because he will do his job as the alternative is worse. Either way he feels personally doomed. With a strong female lead, a despondent brother, a bossy head wizard and a diabolical villain to round out Caden’s feeling of hopelessness, fans will relish this strong thriller as the prodigal wizard returns home to face danger from without, from within and mostly from his soulmate.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, September 11, 2009

Indiscreet-Carolyn Jewel

Carolyn Jewel
Berkley, Oct 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425230992

In 1811 Miss Sabine Godard accompanies her elderly uncle as he journeys to the Far East to research information on a book he is writing. At a gala, Sabine meets the Marquis of Foye; whose friend ruined her reputation; which led to her vow to never marry. On the other hand he must marry now that his brother died without an heir. They both feel a major surge of desire, but neither wants to pursue their feelings out of fear where it will lead.

Still Sabine and Foye become friends as their attraction intensifies. He becomes frightened for her when a pasha invites the uncle and his niece to the palace; Foye fears the pasha’s agenda is to temporarily add her to his harem before selling her.

The fun in this entertaining historical is the British expatriates with a recent history meeting and falling in love in the early nineteenth century Ottoman Empire. Thus, the Regency romance is transported to Turkey. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the scandalized spinster Sabine and foolishly Foye meet as he knows what happened to her back home. INDISCREET is a jewel of a historical as the background enhances the shaky but loving relationship between the lead couple.

Harriet Klausner

No Greater Pleasure-Megan Hart

No Greater Pleasure
Megan Hart
Berkley, Oct 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425229811

In a response from Lord Gabriel Delessan, the Order of Solace sends Tranquilla Caden to serve as his handmaiden, proving him whatever comfort he needs. The difficult part of her assignment is to figure out what she can do to help him as he conceals his emotions and his wife objects to her presence.

Quilla makes friends with Gabriel’s two sons Dane and Jericho and quickly becomes a favorite of the staff. However, as she slowly learns what makes Gabriel tick, his crazy but diabolically clever spouse wants her gone and is pulling out every conceivable dirty trick to insure this happens ASAP.

The Order of Solace book (see the PLEASURE AND PURPOSE with its three tales) is a terrific story of a handmaiden who does her job yet keeps her ethics while under pressure to go astray. The story line is fast-paced from the onset and character driven between Gabriel, his handmaiden and his wife, who make an entertaining triangle. However the heart of NO GREATER PLEASURE is the world that Megan hart has created as The Handmaidens of the Order of Solace seems too fascinatingly (and erotically real).

Harriet Klausner

The Earl Claims His Wife-Cathy Maxwell

The Earl Claims His Wife
Cathy Maxwell
Avon, Oct 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061350993

In 1806, Brian Ranson married Gillian, but before going off to war in the Peninsular, the Earl spent his last hours in England with his mistress instead of his young shy wife. When he fought against Napoleon in Portugal, she thrived taking over the running of his property profitably.

In 1810 Brian comes home to a strong sassy spouse who blithely informs him she plans to have a lover Andres Ramigio and divorce her husband. He is taken aback and attracted to his wife he scandalized four years ago in front of the Ton and recently having been back home for six months before coming to claim her. Brian and Andres are prepared to duel over Gillian so she agrees give him thirty days to make amends and win her over.

This second chance at love regency romance is a delightful tale as the Earl learns claiming and keeping is not quite the same thing. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Brian comes for Gillian only to have her reject him. Sub-genre fans will enjoy this fine tale of a politician who learns what love is but the lesson may prove too late as his rival has been much kinder and nicer to his wife than he has been.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Shadow Baby-Alison McGhee

Shadow Baby
Alison McGhee
Three Rivers (Crown), Sep 22 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780307462282

During a blizzard in Upstate New York, Tamar Winter’s father rushes his pregnant daughter to the hospital. However, he makes a wrong turn in the extremely poor driving conditions and ends up in a ditch. Tamar gives birth to twins by herself, but one dies.

Twelve plus years later the surviving twin Clara winter, with a small w surname because she loathes the season of her birth, wonders whether her dead sister could have lived if they made it to the hospital and who her father and grandfather are; her mom refuses to talk about that incident or anything related to the past. Feeling isolated and perhaps a bit guilty for surviving, Clara makes up stories about people she knows. When she meets lonely elderly immigrant metalworker Georg Kominsky as he hangs up his hand-crafted lanterns in the woods, she feels they are soulmates. He too knows the power of winter when the lantern he gave his younger brother failed during a snowstorm leading to his death. Georg mentors Clara on turning throwaways into beautiful objects and to welcome her grandfather into her life; in turn the tweener hopes to reconcile her mother and her grandfather.

This is a terrific tale of lost souls finding one another with tragedies leaving survivors mentally fractured. Character driven with a strong lead youngster and solid support from her mom, her new BFF and her grandfather make for a fully developed well written story line as the key players bring angst, sadness and a need to help one another move on especially past the blame, regret and remorse.

Harriet Klausner

The Lone Texan-Jodi Thomas

The Lone Texan
Jodi Thomas
Berkley, Oct 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425230626

In 1859 near Galveston, Texas, Drummond Roak misses Sage McMurray who left Whispering Mountain Ranch three years ago to attend medical school in Boston. Sage is a widow who plans to open a medical practice in Texas. In Galveston, Sage saves a dog only to have Drum save her and the dog from a wagon. He yells at her and realizes with her look she still sees him as the worthless son of an outlaw and his hooker. Though she is three years older, he reminds himself of his vow that she will be his woman.

Sage mourns the loss of her spouse Baret who was a mentor not a husband to her. He told her as he was dying he married her because he admired her courage and feared dying alone. They never slept together. Baret’s slimy brother Shelley pays his respects to the widow, who is uncomfortable with the wastrel.

Drum travels with the Texas Rangers; his assignment to kill the leaders of a raider group attacking an English family. He completes his mission and takes the dying mother and her two young children to town for Sage to provide medical help; their father is dead. The woman says they were not raiders, but a killer who wants the family dead; her sons are not safe. Sage vows to keep the children safe while Drum vows to keep her safe.

The super relationship between the lead couple is refreshing and unique while a secondary romance is also terrific. Although Sage’s denial of her feelings towards Drummond turns repetitive, fans will enjoy the fourth Whispering Mountain (see TALL DARK AND TEXAN , TEXAS PRINCESS and TEXAS RAIN).

Harriet Klausner

Lucky in Love-Carolyn Brown

Lucky in Love
Carolyn Brown
Sourcebooks Casablanca, Sep 2009, $6.99
ISBN 9781402224355

Single mom Milli Torres and her infant daughter move onto her grandfather’s Texas ranch. However, Millie is a bit taken aback to find out who owns a nearby ranch. Two years ago she had a one night stand with Beau “Lucky” Luckadeau; he is the father of her child and her neighbor.

They are attracted to one another, but he is engaged to someone else; besides which for reasons he cannot fathom she keeps her distance from him. Needing to know why, Beau learns the greatest night of his life, which he thought was a drunken illusion, was with Milli and he is the father of her child. As they fall in love, he has to deal with his fiancée and she has to deal with what is best for her offspring.

This is an entertaining ranch romance starring two likable lead characters who have a second chance if they can overcome human obstacles. Although his fiancée reflects no redeeming value as she is an avaricious 24 karat gold-digger who compared to Milli is an easy to disregard person, fans will enjoy the country western romance as the hero feels his LUCKY IN LOVE charms are at the ranch next door.

Harriet Klausner

Fools Rush In-Janice Thompson

Fools Rush In
Janice Thompson
Revell, Sep 2009, $13.99
ISBN: 9780800733421

Bella Rossi hopes to successfully run her family wedding planning business Club Wed with the retirement of her parents. However, her first client wants a Boot-Scootin’ country-and-western theme. Bella knows she is out of her league as she only knows of the Italian heartthrobs like Frank and Dino, but no one sings heartbreak with a Texas twang though her Uncle Lazarro relocated the family from Atlantic City to Galveston Island years ago.

Bella needs a C&W DJ to take charge so she hires D.J. Neeley. However, while he assumes she employed him as a construction contractor she believes DJ means deejay. Soon Italy and Texas meet as D.J. and Bella are attracted to one another though his twang leaves a lot to be desired.

The first Weddings by Bella is a fun chick lit romance as Little Italy meets Little Texas. Bella is terrific with her commentary that turns the life of D.J. upside down as he learns to construct with heart and soul while she learns the Texas two-step. Fans will enjoy this lighthearted amusing frolic with an inspirational messages nicely interweaved into the story line.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Heart of Christmas-Mary Balogh, Nicola Cornick and Courtney Milan

The Heart of Christmas
Mary Balogh, Nicola Cornick and Courtney Milan
Harlequin HQN, Oct 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373774272

“A Handful of Gold” by Mary Balogh. The handsome and wealthy heir to an earldom, Lord Julian Dare, seems to have everything so what do you get the man you love for Christmas who seems to need nothing Verity Ewing asks herself. You give your heart to him though the risk is that he will return it broken.

“The Season for Suitors” by Nicola Cornick. Because she is a pretty heiress, rakes and wastrels try to compromise Clara Davenport into marriage. She has been fortunate so far, but knows her luck will not hold out so she decides she needs a teacher to train her, an innocent, on how to fend off rakes. She turns to the poster boy of rakes Sebastian Fleet for mentoring and advice. However, the lessons between the teacher and the student turn into one of love.

“This Wicked Gift” by Courtney Milan. In 1822 Lavinia Spencer has saved money in order for her family to celebrate the holidays with a Christmas dinner. Four days before the gala, her brother James loses everything, leaving them in a debt greater than they can pay back. William Q. White, who she has adored from a distance, offers to make the payment in exchange for her innocence.

These three Regency romantic novellas are fun tales due to the assertive females who know what they want and take charge of achieving their respective heart’s desires. Although the Balogh and Cornick entries are reprints from the anthology Christmas Keepsakes, this anthology is worth reading because of the strong women.

Harriet Klausner

How to Tame a Lady-Kasey Michaels

How to Tame a Lady
Kasey Michaels
Harlequin HQN, Oct 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373773763

In 1816 eighteen-year-old twin sisters Nicole and Lydia Daughtry have come to cold dark London for their first season in the “the year without a summer”. Nicole’s spunk and beauty catches the eye of many suitors. However, it is a collision with Marquess Lucas Paine that makes her reconsider her position on love as she is very attracted to him.

For his part, he reciprocates, but knows the timing is bad. He has a need for vengeance against the rogue who destroyed his family and so has no room for a perky duke’s sister. However, in spite of his efforts to stay away he cannot, which places the woman he is falling in love with in danger from his archenemy and his mission in jeopardy of failure.

The second Daughtry family Regency romance (see HOW TO TEMPT A DUKE) is an engaging tale due to the relationship between the feisty female and the suddenly distracted avenging Marquess. The support cast is solid especially her family and his sorrowful mother. Although the plot device has been used frequently in historicals, Kasey Michaels provides her audience with an engaging tale.

Harriet Klausner

Lucky Break-Carly Phillips

Lucky Break
Carly Phillips
Harlequin HQN, Oct 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373774012

In Stewart, Massachusetts with the deaths of the evil Perkins family and the incarceration of the few survivors, the witch powers they claimed proved false. However, although they apparently won the feud, the Corwin family, especially the older generation, believes anyone with a touch of Perkins blood is cursed with evil in their DNA.

Lauren Perkins comes home to prepare the family mansion for sale. Although she had nothing to do with the malevolence of her kin, everyone especially the Corwin brood assumes she is tainted. Only, Jason Corwin who never forgot the greatest summer of his life thinks otherwise. He wants to court Lauren, but his family is divided based on age between for and against. However, when the repairs to her house fall apart, Jason and Lauren revert back to what their families always have done: feuding.

The third Corwin Curse tale (see LUCKY CHARM and LUCK STREAK) is a fascinating finish to a fine trilogy as Lauren only wants to sell her family house and get out of Stewart while Jason only wants Lauren. Although the premise is a bit thin, Lauren is the jewel who can run away from love or embrace it and break the Corwin Curse.

Harriet Klausner

All That You Are

All That You Are
Stef Ann Holm
Harlequin HQN, Oct 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373774036

In Ketchikan, Alaska single mom Danalee Jackson runs her late father’s jazz club, the Blue Note. She is lonely and struggling to balance managing the bar and raising her son, but loves living in this gateway city to the final American frontier.

With the death of his father, Mark Moretti finished their last job alone in honor of his dad. However after completing the downtown Boise project, he never had time to grieve his loss. Feeling a desperate need to get away, Mark goes off on a summer long fishing trip with no end in mind. In Ketchikan, Mark meets Danalee and her young son, who take away the blue feelings even as he goes back to work renovating her bar to meet the code.

The location and the eccentric Blue Note patrons add depth to an enjoyable relatively simplistic contemporary romance of two lonely people falling in love. The lead couple and her son are fully developed protagonists and the audience will want the best for each of them, but the city and its surrounding area steals the show as Stef Ann Holm vividly paints the landscape. Mark now knows the answer to the Beatles’ tune “Where do all the lonely People go?” is Ketchikan.

Harriet Klausner

Winning It All-Liz Allison and Wendy Etherington

Winning It All
Liz Allison and Wendy Etherington
Harlequin HQN, Oct 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373774029

Former NASCAR champion driver Bryan “Steel” Garrison still recovers from the car accident injuries that ended his racing career. Emotionally that accident was strike two as his wife left him several years ago, which was strike one. Now the president of Garrison Racing, he reluctantly acquiesces to his family pressure and hires a physical therapist.

Widow Darcy Butler accepts the position. Upon their first meeting, he cannot see how the tiny blonde is going to be physically and mentally strong enough to bully him. He soon realizes she matches him in obstinacy and has a steel fortitude. As he begins to regain the condition he had when he drove the oval, Bryan finds he has finally moved beyond his emotional traumas as he wants his therapist, but she has issues too although she reciprocates his desire.

The third Garrison Racing romance (see NO HOLDING BACK and RISKING HER HEART) is a fun spin around the track as both of the lead protagonists carry plenty of personal issues that leave each distrustful of relationships. Character driven, he has learned how brittle steel can be while she has learned how brittle life can be. The return of the stars of the previous books mostly to yell at Bryan adds that sense of family to an entertaining straightforward (even around the oval) NASCAR romance.

Harriet Klausner

Unhallowed Ground-

Unhallowed Ground
Heather Graham
Mira, Oct 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778326762

In St. Augustine, Florida, Sarah McKinley is excited when she purchases the dilapidated historic mansion that has a history of residents disappearing due to the black magic witch. She plans to renovate and convert the abode into a B and B.

Construction begins, but the work crew finds the old bones of perhaps a dozen victims some apparently from the War of Northern Aggression concealed inside the walls. At the same time, private investigator Caleb Anderson is working a missing-persons case, Winona Hart who vanished from a party filled with stoned underage youths. He finds some fascinating clues and begins to consider if Sarah's house is tied to his search and begins to look into the history of the house. Caleb’s efforts lead him to Sarah, who is in the crosshairs of a killer.

UNHALLOWED GROUND is an enjoyable paranormal romance starring a courageous lead couple and a killer who may or may not be a ghost. The story line is anchored by the historical references that are interwoven into the search for the missing people; as Caleb feels others besides Winona are somehow tied to the house. Although a key coincidence occurs late, fans will enjoy the romantic and investigative teaming of Sarah with Caleb as they try to learn the secrets of haunted Heritage House.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

That Holiday Feeling-Debbie Macomber, Sherryl Woods and Robyn Carr

That Holiday Feeling
Debbie Macomber, Sherryl Woods and Robyn Carr
Mira, Oct 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778328377

“Silver Bells” by Debbie Macomber. Philip raised his teenage daughter, but never expected her to find him a wife when he never wanted to remarry. However the chosen one Carrie makes him reconsider his stance on marriage.

“The Perfect Holiday” by Sherryl Woods. Aunt Mae decides Trace is the perfect holiday present for her single niece Savannah. She expects them to be engaged by Christmas.

"Under the Christmas” Tree by Robyn Carr. Hairstylist Annie stops to admire a Virgin River Christmas tree only to find eight newborn puppies underneath it. Obviously abandoned, Annie finds the town ‘s vet Nathaniel to help with the dogs.

These are three warm holiday romances starring wonderful lead protagonists.

Harriet Klausner

Lakeshore Christmas-Susan Wiggs

Lakeshore Christmas
Susan Wiggs
Mira, Sep 29 2009, $21.95
ISBN: 9780778326892

Prim and proper Willow Lake, New York librarian Maureen “Mo” Davenport relishes that she will lead the annual Avalon holiday pageant for the first time in her life; having been in a support role. She wants this year’s gala to be one everyone will remember for years to come.

Her co-director is former child star Eddie Haven, who loathes Christmas. He had no choice but to agree to be a host because of a judge’s order. Eddie and Mo battle over the celebration. Shockingly they begin to work together even as they fall in love. However, both fear taking a chance on a commitment having been burned before. It will take a Christmas miracle just like his claim to fame movie he starred in as a child.

The latest Lakeshore Chronicles (see SUMMER AT WILLOW LAKE, DOCKSIDE and FIRESIDE) is a sweet holiday romance kept from being to angelically sugary by the skeptic who scorned Christmas, Eddie. He brings a special flavor with his “shut up and sing the blues” attitude although he has met his match in Mo. Fans of the series will enjoy the spending the Yuletide season with the Willow Lake crowd complemented by cynical disbeliever Eddie and a kind but strange individual Jabaz.

Harriet Klausner

The Perfect Christmas-Debbie Macomber

The Perfect Christmas
Debbie Macomber
Mira, Sep 29 2009, $16.95
ISBN: 9780778326823

The personalized Christmas card from her friend shakes thirty-three years old Cassie Beaumont to her bone marrow fearing she will die alone. Seeing the photo of her buddy with a husband and child inspires Cassie to stop waiting for a miracle and make one by searching for her perfect mate.

She tries to hire matchmaking Dr. Simon Dodson but he has three stipulations she must accomplish before he agrees to assist her. She must collect money for charity, work as an elf at the mall and cook a holiday feast for her neighbors. She reluctantly agrees to his terms. As she meets his challenges, she finds her perfect match in the arrogant psychiatrist ready to introduce her to her perfect match.

Simon is the grump who brought Christmas cheer to readers as a refreshing lead male who is arrogant, difficult, complex, and inside his crusty Oscar of Sesame Street fame exterior beats a caring person. Cassie is shallow in comparison to Simon. Humorous with a touch of the Gift of the Magi whimsy, fans will enjoy Debbie Macomber’s lighthearted frolic as all she wants for Christmas is the Grump.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Bride Backfire-Kelly Eileen Hake

The Bride Backfire
Kelly Eileen Hake
Barbour, Oct 01 2009, $10.97
ISBN: 9781602601765

In the Nebraska Territory, the family feud between the Speck and Grogan kin has been going on for several generations although there has been a fragile coexistence of late. However, in 1857 the peace ends when the Specks catch Adam Grogan on their land.

To save Adam from a lynching, Opal Speck claims he is the father of her unborn child. Adam and Opal share a shotgun wedding. Now Opal must tell her new spouse the truth although she fears his reaction re her lies starting with the minor fact that if she was pregnant it would be the Immaculate Conception. He distrusts her at a time she needs his trust as his family treats their new in-law with overt loathing and scorn while someone uses the obvious estrange relationship to heat the feud.

The second Prairie Promise historical romance (see THE BRIDE BARGAIN) is an engaging pre Civil War tale that occurs at a time of Bleeding Kansas brings fear to the Nebraska Territory. The long running family feud serves as a matchmaker for the lead couple but also cause them marital problems as she is treated like a serpent in his Eden. The support cast is solid especially the Grogan brood as Kelly Eileen Hake brings a wonderful rendition of Romeo and Juliet in the mid-nineteenth century Great Plains.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, September 4, 2009

Under This Unbroken Sky-Shandi Mitchell

Under This Unbroken Sky
Shandi Mitchell
Harper, Sep 82009, $25.99
ISBN: 9780061774027

In 1936 on the Canadian Prairie, Ukrainian immigrant Theo Mykolayenko is thrown in jail for two years for stealing. Worried about his family, Theo had purloined his own grain that was legally taken from him when he defaulted on a homesteading contract as he did not have the money to pay his eleven dollar debt three weeks before the harvest was due that would have enabled him pay his debt and more. He lost his home, barn, and farming tools.

Theo is most worried about his family as he remains behind bars for twenty months. His oldest son young teen Myron plows his paternal Aunt Anna’s fields to feed both families while his martinet Uncle Stefan is off with the military. As Theo comes home to his beloved wife Maria and their five children, abusive Stefan also comes home to a pregnant wife who wants nothing to do with her violent spouse. However Stefan has a scheme and soon two families are at risk.

This is a well written but bleak Canadian historical thriller with lucid lessons that apply to the immigration issue today. The story line is grim as survival is a 24/7 job on the harsh plains during the Depression and the law does not make life any easier. Althouhg not an easy read as Shandi Mitchell never gives readers a respite from the severity of surviving, UNDER THE UNBROKEN SKY is a deep dour drama.

Harriet Klausner

Love Is a Battlefield-Annalisa Daughety

Love Is a Battlefield
Annalisa Daughety
Barbour, Oct 2009, $10.97
ISBN 9781602604773

After being jilted at the altar, park ranger Kristy O'Neal has mixed feelings about returning to her job at Shiloh National Military Park. She knows her work will able her to move on from the disappointment, but also knows her peers will look at her with pity. The great outdoors wins out over hiding so Kristy returns to work not expecting another ranger in her position.

Ace Kennedy has arrived at Shiloh to work and research his ancestry. He is immediately attracted to Kristy, but tries to somewhat conceal his desire as he knows of her recent history. She feels the same about him, but one rejection is all she can handle at the moment. As they work together trying to uncover who is vandalizing the park, their peers try to match them up. Soon the fall in love, but her recent past and his qualms leave something permanent doubtful.

Although Ace and Kristy are caring but fearful soulmates, Shiloh steals the show as Annalisa Daughety catches the essence of the Civil War battlefield. The romance is entertaining though the path quite predicable even when the lead duo escort the audience around the National Military Park. Still “heartache to heartache we stand no promises, no demands LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD” (Benatar) is an enjoyable contemporary.

Harriet Klausner

On These Silken Sheets-Sabrina Darby

On These Silken Sheets
Sabrina Darby
Avon, Sep 8 2009, $13.99
ISBN: 9780061780288

"Against the Wall.” Carolina vowed she would never marry Viscount Stanton although she loves him and his touch; she believes she would be better of wed to Lord Oakley or Sir Robert George.

"The Education of Lord Oakley." Lord Oakley may be heartbroken but recovers rather quickly when he meets a woman who has his heart thumping at Harridan House private club.

"Roses Are Rouge”. The mysterious owner of the Harridan House Lady Diana Blount only shows up at her house of depravity as the masked Rouge. She plans to never fall in love, but her heart fails to heed her head.

"A Maid for the Taking.” At Harridan House, Sir Robert decides have fun with the owner’s assistant Lucy, but never expected to fall in love

These four interrelated erotic Regency romances are hot fun for sub-genre fans.

Harriet Klausner

Bed of Roses-Nora Roberts

Bed of Roses
Nora Roberts
Berkley, Oct 27 2009, $16.00
ISBN: 9780425230077

In Greenwich, Connecticut the four best friends (Mac, Emma,Laurel, and Parker) used to play as children together pretending to be a bride. Now they run Vows, a wedding planning business together. Mac has met her forever English teacher, Carter Maguire (see VISION IN WHITE) to the elation of her BFFs as the couple is now engaged.

Florist Emma wonders if her long time buddy architect Jack Cooke is her forever man
as she thinks a lot about him. Deciding not to wait, Emma kisses Jack to his astonishment. Even more shocking, he wants more kisses from her as does the florist. As they fall in love, each has doubts as they fear the end of a wonderful friendship, but those kisses heat up New England.

The second Bride Quartet tale is a warm straightforward contemporary romance with no surprising twists or spins for readers. The story line is well written and entertaining as the lead couple from (BED OF ROSES and VSION IN WHITE) as well as the two remaining buddies from Vows seem real and make for a fun simplistic romance. Nora Roberts has handed out
to her readers two exquisite bouquets with two to go.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Hermitage-Sharon Sobel

The Hermitage
Sharon Sobel
Forever Regency (ImaJinn), Aug 15 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9781933417530

In London of 1818, Miss Laurel Gardiner is attending her season but none of the men she meets are ones she wants to marry despite the fact she is being chased by titled males. She becomes friends with Penelope Croyden who was jilted by Robin Waltham, the Earl of Westbridge; they were neighbors and childhood friends whose families expected them to wed. However, Robby vanished without a word and Polite Society pitied pathetic Lady Penelope.

When Laurel returns home, she remains disturbed by Penelope’s heartbreak and decides to fix her friend up with the family hermit residing on their estate, Hermitage. Although he objects she tries to turn Robbie Darkwood into a gentleman in order for him to properly court Penelope, Laurel begins to realize she has feelings for the recluse. After consummating their love, Robbie informs Laurel he needs to leave to straighten out the mess he fostered when he ran away before He plans to return to commit to her when he returns if Laurel can handle his secret.

This is an elegant entertaining Regency romance starring am independent blue stocking heroine and a lost soul in a gender bending Pygmalion. Robin has secrets, but as he has previous done prefers to run away than to discuss what haunts his soul. Ironically he is an honorable person who feels scandalized by circumstances beyond his control while feeling remorse for what he did to Penelope but hope that he will be able to claim Laurel as his fair lady. Readers will enjoy Sharon Sobel’s provocative role reversal version of My Fair Lady.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Viking Heat-Sandra Hill

Viking Heat
Sandra Hill
Berkley, Sep 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425230671

PH.D candidate, psychologist Joy Nelson knows it is the fault of her three older brothers as the tall female has been competing with them since she was twelve years old. She blames the “Three Muska-dopes” (Matt, Jerry and Tom) for her being in mud up to her eyeballs which is not easy to occur with her being just under six feet. Instead of going to Yale she is doing training in order to join the Navy SEALS as Matt was killed by Al-Qaeda while flying for the Air Force and the athletic amazon feels compelled to act.

She though her siblings were the king of testosterone, but she will soon learn they are not even royalty when it comes to male hormonal rages. Instead of SEALS training, somehow Joy finds herself back in 955 on the Norselands at a slave auction in which she is the product for sale. The Igorsson siblings Erland and Arniss buy her as a birthday present for their brother Brandr. Not used to a woman who can almost look him in the eyes, Brandr feels like a berserker when it comes to his new thrall who for Thor’s sake is driving him crazy with her insane notions of finding his Valkyrie side; for Odin’s sake he is a Viking warrior. However, as she brings a new “Hoo-yah” tradition to the Viking lore, they fall in love though she claims a woman belongs on top.

This is an entertaining entry in the Viking-SEAL time travel romance as the heroine brings joy to the world of Brandr the berserker in heat. The story line is lighthearted fun as Joy brings back modern day psychology theory to the tenth century Vikings. Although the plot is somewhat repetitious of previous entries, Penn State masters graduate Joy refreshes the tale with her beside manners as Sandra Hill provides an amusing entry to her delightful series.

Harriet Klausner

Choices- Pamela Nowak

Pamela Nowak
Five Star, Sep 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594148101

In 1876 Miriam Longstreet was attending boarding school back east when her parents notified her to come to their current home at Fort Randall in the Dakota Territory. She is stunned with what she finds with her family. Her martinet mom is addicted to laudanum and her father is totally occupied with his duty. Neither takes care of their six year old other daughter Franny

Miriam’s mom demands she marry Lieutenant Robert Wood while she just wants some time to adjust and to care for her neglected sibling. Private Jake Deakins assumes Miriam is the commanding officer’s new governess and treats her as an equal rather than the daughter of the C.O. They become friends and soon fall in love, but Wood abetted by Miriam’s mom intrudes starting with sending Jake on a suicide mission.

Courageous Miriam has CHOICES, but chooses to insure her sister is safe and her heart too although CHANCES are her mom and her mother’s ally will prevail. The gripping character driven plot hooks the audience from the moment Miriam gives up Denver for Fort Randall and never loosens that hold as misunderstandings and distrust are tools fostered by Wood and Harriet. Fans will appreciate Pamela Nowak’s engaging look at Reconstruction Era in the Dakotas.

Harriet Klausner