Monday, November 30, 2009

Sexy as Hell-Susan Johnson

Sexy as Hell
Susan Johnson
Berkley, Jan 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425230206

In 1892, after winning at cards, Baron “Oz” Lennox rushes out to the Blackwood Hotel to meet Nell in a tryst before her spouse returns from Paris. He enters the agreed upon room, but instead of a red-head he is greeted by a blonde who ignores him and turns to her barrister Mr. Malmsey to insure he will serve as a witness.

Thus Oz’s luck with the ladies has changed as he asks Isolde Perceval what she wants from him. She calmly explains she wants her reputation ruined so she is not forced into an unwanted marriage. Oz offers a different plan as he too would like to continue his wastrel ways without threats from the marriageable biddies. They agree to marry with plans to divorce soon. However, they prove quite compatible in and out of the boudoir. When Isolde becomes pregnant, Oz leaves for London, but the rake finds no enjoyment without Isolde, who misses him too. She follows him, but his many enemies see her as the heel’s Achilles’ heal.

Filled with action especially of the erotic kind, Sexy as Hell is an intriguing Victorian romance. The lead couple indulging selfish behavior makes them refreshing as they are atypical of the usual honorable noble. Fans of Susan Johnson will enjoy their hedonistic escapades although the story line is emaciated outside the boudoir.

Harriet Klausner

Proof by Seduction-Courtney Milan

Proof by Seduction
Courtney Milan
Harlequin HQN, Jan 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373774395

In 1836 fortuneteller Madame Esmeralda is comfortable in her vocation as she feels she provides a service by informing her customers with information they need to know. Twelve years as Madame Esmeralda has made humble impoverished Jenny Keeble all but disappear.

Her favorite client Ned arrives with his cousin, Blakeley, Gareth Carhart, the Marquess of Blakely. Ned explains that Gareth is a skeptic that Madame can predict the future. A scientist just back from an expedition in Brazil, Gareth plans to prove Esmeralda is a fake. However is scheme to expose the charlatan has a major roadblock; his attraction to her, which makes him wonder if she is an enchantress, but will he accept proof of the heart?

This is a terrific early Victorian romance starring a wonderful somewhat inflexible lead male and a totally unique female who challenges his decisions when everyone else fears to contradict his dictatorial rulings. The story line is fast-paced but driven by the relationship between the scientist and the fortuneteller. With a strong secondary cast starting with Ned, this reviewer can predict that sub-genre fans will relish Courtney Milan’s delightful historical.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Courteous Cad-Catherine Palmer

The Courteous Cad
Catherine Palmer
Tyndale, Jan 1 210, $12.99
ISBN: 9780842375559

In 1817 in Yorkshire, Prudence Watson tells her sister Mary that she will never marry but follow in the footsteps of her crusader friend Betsy. Mary points out that Elizabeth “Betsy” Fry is married with children. Pru insists she may never wed or have offspring, although she acknowledges Betsy does work hard to improve the plight of the poor women whose options are limited.

Prudence aims at reforming mills with a desire to rescue children who work exorbitant hours in unsafe and unhealthy conditions. Her first target is the mill in Otley, owned by Royal Naval officer William Sherbourne, just home from a deployment at sea. As the reformer and the cad mee, argue and fall in love, each has secrets that society tattler Miss Pickworth seems to know.

The latest Miss Pickworth Regency romance is an enjoyable tale due to the solid lead couple as the resolute reformer refuses to answer to anyone except God while the Courteous Cad answers to the crusader and both respond to that telltale tattler. Although several subplots never ties back to the gender war, fans will enjoy the latest Miss Pickworth alliteration as these affectionate adversaries fall in love.

Harriet Klausner

Lead Me On-Victoria Dahl

Lead Me On
Victoria Dahl
Harlequin HQN, Jan 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373774340

Although her taste in men was a chip off the old maternal block as her mom craved convicts and Jane Morgan relished the bad boys, she reinvented herself into Miss prim and proper. However, the Aspen office manager finds her perfect boyfriend Greg boring in spite of his being nice and considerate in and out of the bedroom. She dumps an outraged Greg.

Thus when tattooed William Chase of Extreme Excavations enters the office where she works, Jane rationalizes he is a one night stand that will relieve the ennui and get her refocused on snooty decorum. She failed to account for how explosive that one night proves to be as he is sympathetic to her needs as long as Jane accepts she will not be able to kick him to the curb.

This is an engaging contemporary romance starring a likable lead couple who make the bad image look good as the fun story line is driven by Jane and William. Although Aspen and the support cast never come into focus, fans will enjoy confused Jane as William proves bad girls need bad boys; which neither truly is.

Harriet Klausner

The Lightkeeper’s Daughter-Colleen Coble

The Lightkeeper’s Daughter
Colleen Coble
Thomas Nelson, Jan 12 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9781595542670

Addie Sullivan grew up in isolation at Battery Point Lighthouse near Crescent City, California with only her parents and her dog Gideon as companions. In 1907 she and her mom rescue a man who recognizes a locket that Addie says belonged to her grandma; he calls her Laura. He says he is Walter Driscoll from Mercy Falls and he is in Crescent City looking for her as her mother is not her mother and seems indifferent with her leaving.

Addie accepts a governess position that Walter offers her and goes to Mercy Falls where she hopes to learn just who she is and praying she finds her real mother. Instead she meets hostility and anger starting when she rescues abused children from employment. Eaton Hall proves unwelcoming while her charge Edward suffers from fits. However, the worst reception comes from Edward’s father Naval Lieutenant John North, who ignores her as if she is unworthy while she is falling in love with him. As she searches for her mom, someone wants her dead.

This is a terrific Americana early twentieth century inspirational thriller in which Addie learns that God is there even when the Lord seems to ignore those suffering. Well written with a gothic feel to the fun plot; Addie makes the tale work as a strong central focus who affirms that having God in her life enables her to overcome the worst that man, woman or child can do to her. Colleen Coble provides an engaging inspirational historical.

Harriet Klausner

Heart of Darkness-Gena Showalter, Maggie Shayne and Susan Krinard

Heart of Darkness
Gena Showalter, Maggie Shayne and Susan Krinard
Harlequin HQN, Jan 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373774319

“The Darkest Angel” by Gena Showalter. Lysander is well known for being unemotional and perhaps the best demon slaying angel. He is one of the Elite Seven warriors of the One True Deity. His current target for death is Bianka Skyhawk, a daughter of a Harpy and a phoenix shapeshifter, but mostly a killer who is of Lucifer’s bloodline, but he must remain patient until she breaks heavenly law. Instead his desire for her is killing him as he has never wanted anyone for the many millennia he has lived; yet she is inside his soul.

“Love Me to Death” by Maggie Shayne. Twenty-two years ago in Port Lucinda, Maine, the teens (David, Brad, Kevin, Randy and Mark) were drinking cheap booze near the abandoned old Muller Place and commiserating about being dumped or their girls being away when they set it on fire. They did not know that Sierra Terrence took shelter there and died in the inferno. Now over two decades later someone who seems to be Sierra from the grave haunts the five men who killed her and their loved ones.

“Lady of the Nile” by Susan Krinard. In 1890 London, the memories of ancient times have led Lady Tameri to believe she is the reincarnation of an Egyptian princess. Leo Erskine knows she is wrong and plans to prove to her she is just a lovely Victorian lady. However, neither the believer nor the skeptic is prepared for the prophecy that ties them in love forever.

This trilogy of urban romantic fantasies with differing spins will elate fans especially with the bonuses of a Lords of the Underworld tale and a sequel to Ms. Krinard’s Lord of Sin.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, November 27, 2009

Baby It’s Cold Outside-Jennifer Greene, Merline Lovelace and Cindi Myers

Baby It’s Cold Outside
Jennifer Greene, Merline Lovelace and Cindi Myers
Harlequin, Jan 12 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373837397

“Blame It on the Blizzard” by Jennifer Greene. After her patient dies, Dr. Emilie Sutherland needs time away by herself so heads to her family’s hunting lodge in Alaska. However, engineer Rick Hunter arrives at her lodge seeking shelter from a blizzard.

“Deep freeze” by Merline Lovelace. After becoming number 112 of a vile Don Juan, Mia Harrelson allows her sister Emily to persuade her to head to the Southern Hemisphere for a cruise as it is summer down there. Bikinis prove a bit underdressed for Antarctica especially when the crew and passengers are in trouble until the Air Force arrives. Mia is soon in deeper trouble when she meets Palmer Station manager Brent Walker.

“Melting Point” by Cindi Myers. In Reykjavik, Eagle Mountain Sportswear marketing director Stacy Bristol hires Iceland’s first Olympic Gold Medal winner skier Kristjan Gunnarson as a model for Troll’s treasure sweaters. However he proves a gold medal winner of love when he also melts the ice from the heart of the consummate professional.

The three terrific contemporary romances live up to the classic song that is its title as love between strangers will warm the hearts of readers.

Harriet Klausner

The Earl and the Governess-Sarah Elliot

The Earl and the Governess
Sarah Elliot
Harlequin Historical, Jan 1 2010, $5.99
ISBN: 9780373295777

In 1822, William Stanton, Earl of Lennox, became the ward of goddaughter Mary Weston-Burke, an apparent hellion based on what the headmistress at her school told him. When he sees a woman being robbed by a boy, he gallantly rescues her. Isabelle Thomas is the daughter of a late antique dealer who was exposed as a fraud. Penniless with no home besides the street, she has no place to go; William, on the spur of the moment, offers her a position as governess to Mary, which a grateful Isabelle accepts.

Isabelle feels somewhat safe in William’s home and wins over a frightened Mary. However, when her employer kisses her, she has a new fear; her deep attraction to the Earl who is of a different social class than her. Isabelle knows she must leave, but does not want to hurt Mary who needs and trusts her and besides someone wants to harm her to conceal his partnership with her late father.

Chaos theory abounds in this delightful regency romance as love blossoms all because of a newt in a teacup. Fans will root for the courageous heroine and appreciate romantic William who goes after what he wants: the love of his life regardless of her father’s scandal and her social class and status. Mary enhances the tale of love between two people whose stations are as far apart as the top from the bottom of Big Ben.

Harriet Klausner

Reese’s Bride-Kat Martin

Reese’s Bride
Kat Martin
Mira, Dec 29 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778327448

In 1855, Reese Dewar still uses a cane to help him get around his estate Briarwood after suffering wounds in battle in the Crimea. However, the biggest wound he took was to his heart when his beloved Elizabeth Clemens married the Earl of Aldridge eight years ago. Still in a rage over her betrayal, he vowed to never trust a woman again, especially this one who shared a bed with the late Edmund Holloway, her spouse.

In the middle of the night widow Elizabeth accompanied by her son Hared seeks sanctuary at Reese’s home. She insists Edmund’s brother and his wife is drugging her to control Jared’s fortune that he inherited form his late father. She fears they will arrange the deaths of her and her child if need be. Reluctantly, Reese lets them into his home, but knows the only way to protect them is to give them his name. However, though Elizabeth knows he is right before agreeing to his offer, she also owes him the truth why she betrayed him and concealed a secret that will send him into a deeper rage.

The second Victorian Dewar sibling’s Bride romance (see Royal’s Bride) is a terrific tense thriller starring two terific lead characters, a perhaps too precocious son, and two vile villains. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Elizabeth arrives at Briarwood and never slows down until the final confrontation between Dewar and Holloway. Fans will appreciate this superb second chance at love historical tale.

Harriet Klausner

Shattered-Joan Johnston

Joan Johnston
Mira, Dec 29 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778328292

In Austin, almost a decade has passed since Kate Grayhawk Pendleton caught her husband J.D. cheating; stunned she left and met Wyatt Shaw in a hotel bar. They made love and she left only to give birth to twins Lucky and Chance who are Wyatt’s offspring. Now the mother of the late J.D. Ann Wade is running for president and needs to know what skeletons could derail her chances of winning the Republican nomination as the kids are not her biological grandchildren.

Son of a mobster, Wyatt has learned the kids are his. He wants them and Kate in his life. At the same time Texas Ranger Jack McKinley, who broke Kate’s heart in high school, wants Kate back in his life while also trying to destroy Wyatt Shaw' who he assumes will take over his dad’s D'Amato crime syndicate. Jack’s wife Holly will do almost anything to keep her spouse whom she loves, but her son’s needs come before her heart.

This is an exciting Bitter Creek romantic suspense that fans of the saga will enjoy as the entangled relationships between the lead foursome is fascinating and made more complicated by children and parents. The story line is filled with action although too many subplots make it difficult to follow especially for a newbie. Still romantic suspense readers will enjoy the tale with an engaging mystery and plenty of suspense while wondering who will end up with whom.

Harriet Klausner

Forbidden Falls-Robyn Carr

Forbidden Falls
Robyn Carr
Mira, Dec 29 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778327493

Hope McCrea put the abandoned church building for sale on E-Bay. Widower reverend Noah Kincaid buys the edifice after talking with Hope as he has decided to relocate to Virgin River in Northern California to bring faith to the flock.

Noah arrives and immediately advertises for a Pastor’s Assistant although he expects no applicants, but several do; none qualify. He hires former exotic dancer with no church experience Ellie Baldwin because he feels she has earned a second chance to prove herself as “respectable” so she can regain custody of her children. Starting with admiring her spirit and her somewhat wicked sense of humor, Noah falls in love as does Ellie. However, both understand the children and the flock come before their desires.

This is an interesting addition to the Virgin River saga as two characters from different walks of life fall in love; an emotion neither wants, desires because neither has a good track record. Ellie is not afraid to open her mouth as she is brassy and amusing while the Reverend is wallowing in self pity so much so the empathetic audience as well as many locals wants to help him. Fans will appreciate the latest return to Virgin River as Robyn Carr provides a wonderful contemporary second chance at life and love.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Christmas Present-Tracy Wolff

The Christmas Present
Tracy Wolff
Harlequin SuperRomance, Dec 2009, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373716074

In San Francisco, Diego Sanchez who spends time at Rafael Cardoza’s Helping Hands community center is accused of murdering his pregnant teenage girlfriend. Rafael believes Diego who swears he is innocent, not because the lad says so but because he knows how much Diego loved Esme. He needs to find a good criminal layer but that costs money.

Rafael rescues divorce attorney Vivian Wentworth from a gang of teens. A mutual friend Richard sent her to defend Diego pro bono though criminal law is far from her specialty. Rafael thinks he should kick her back to uptown designer clothing where she belongs, but she refuses to quit. Instead she works extremely hard to prove Diego is innocent while also persuading Rafael to escort her as they work the mean streets seeking expert witness.

This is an engaging legal thriller romance with a delightful lead couple from opposites sides of Geary Blvd falling in love while trying to defend a Hispanic teen from a murder rap. In many ways Diego owns the story line as he has no time to grieve his loss as the system is ready to lock away a poor Hispanic not caring whether he did the brutal deed. The Christmas Present is a strong tale with a deep social commentary bringing profoundness to the holiday season.

Harriet Klausner

Baby Under The Mistletoe-Jamie Sobrato

Baby Under The Mistletoe
Jamie Sobrato
Harlequin SuperRomance, Dec 2009, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373716043

Soleil Freeman and West Morgan are the last couple one would expect to see paired up. He is career military; she is biracial teaching inner city children how to grow things on her farm. Before his latest deployment, they heated up the sheets.

However, now she is carrying his offspring, but though a bit frightened of being a single mother, her biggest concern is what to do about the father. Her hesitation to inform him abruptly ends when he comes home on leave and looks her up as he still wants her. When he learns she is pregnant, he knows he wants both of them as he loves her and his unborn.

This is a timely contemporary romance as the fully developed lead couple tests whether love can overcome racial and social differences. Fans will root for this couple to make it together as Soleil and West are attractive amiable lead protagonists. Jamie Sobrato provides a wonderful tale that insists love can break down artificial barriers.

Harriet Klausner

A Mother’s Secret-Janice Kay Johnson

A Mother’s Secret
Janice Kay Johnson
Harlequin SuperRomance, Dec 2009, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373716029

Near San Francisco, Kane Construction company owner Daniel Kane is stunned to learn he has a four year old son. He is outraged that his former girlfriend Rebecca Ballard never informed him about Malcolm; just like his mother concealed who his father is from him.

He vows at a minimum he will be a father to Malcolm, but also knows he wants Rebecca in his life although he is angry with her. On the other hand, Rebecca never stopped loving Daniel, but fears his childhood hurts still haunts him and will never allow him to be a good father to Malcolm or a caring husband to her.

The solid cast especially the lead male makes for a deep contemporary romance as the child is the man. Daniel wants Rebecca and Malcolm in his life, but also fears having hem in his life. Rebecca knows here beloved carries baggage that prevents him from loving others. Fans will relish this poignant second chance as Daniel needs to embrace not run from love.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, November 23, 2009

Prodigal Father-Kara Lynn Russell

Prodigal Father
Kara Lynn Russell
Five Star, Dec 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594148231

In Green Bay, three and a half years ago Scott Lind left his wife Beth who had miscarried shortly before he vanished. He never emailed or called her or his parents. Now he is back in town praying Beth will give him a second chance. He starts his search for her at his father’s car dealership where he hopes his dad will help him. Instead, he is shocked to find shy Beth selling cars as he assumed she went back to her estranged parents and school.

After his angry cousin punches him, he persuades his wife to have coffee with him to talk. His father arrives and yells at him about being irresponsible deserting his pregnant spouse. Scott is stunned as he did not know his spouse was pregnant again and gave birth to a little girl Risa who has Down’s syndrome. He explains to her he inherited a resort in Spruce Point from a late friend a few hours to the north and wants his family to join him there. Beth wants to say no as he left once before and fears he will harm Risa, but she sees how good he is with her daughter. Although her father in-law wants her to kick his son to the curb, she decides to take a chance on love.

Although his inheritance simplifies Scott’s self esteem issue by giving him what he perceived he needed before he left, this is a terrific second chance at love family drama. His wife expects Scott to leave again when the going gets tough. He knows he must overcome his wife’s doubts though he proves good with Risa. Fans will enjoy this fine tale as the Prodigal Father returns home to win back his wife only to learn he has a daughter to win over too.

Harriet Klausner

The Mating Game-Barbara Raffin

The Mating Game
Barbara Raffin
Five Star, Dec 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594148248

Ten years ago they met in high school. He was a hunk and she was the too tall, too skinny and too shy. Clay Davidson made a bet that he could score with Kelby Richards, but when he had the chance in his mother’s Winnebago, he fled. She later learned of the wager that just added to her broken heart as she knew he could not even make love to her.

His action towards “Stretch” upset Clay who ran away because he became frightened of his feelings towards Kelby. He changed how he treated people because of her. At a dog show in Wisconsin, they meet and he begs her for a second chance, but she refuses. He still sees the hurt in her eyes. His mom kidnaps his dog Pirate to persuade Kelby to breed with her canine Chancey. They sign a contract, but Stretch makes it clear one heat season only and she is not part of the deal. However, she fails to see the fine print he put on the contract.

This is an entertaining second chance at love romance as Kelby sees a second chance not to atone for what he did as a teen to Stretch, but to prove his love for her that he failed to understand back when they were in high school. The support cast enhances the tale whether they are four legged or two legged as each in their own way causes havoc. Fans will enjoy Clay’s efforts to persuade Kelby that men like him stay (unlike him in high school or her father) though his lone regret at his desperate second chance is using his pet Pirate as a matchmaking stud.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Only You-Deborah Grace Staley

Only You
Deborah Grace Staley
Bell Bridges, May 2009, $14.95
ISBN: 9780982175637

Angel Ridge, Tennessee with fewer than five hundred residents is a town in which everyone knows one another especially their place in a two class society as the rich founding families dominate the supporting masses. Not part of the elite, Josie Allen left Angel Ridge for seven years obtaining various degrees in Library Science, but has come home to be Director of the town’s library. The society ladies expect Josie to remain within her upper class origins and getting the program she created for the library working so that the Internet interface with the library collection is bug free.

Nobody including Josie expected her to become involved with handyman Cole Craig, son of one of the founding family. He was her childhood protector and had a crush on her before she left town. He fixes a busted pipe at her home that flooded her kitchen. Despite the townsfolk disapproval of the professional librarian and the handyman dating with the help of matchmaking Dixie Ferguson, owner of Ferguson's Diner and the opposition of high society who threatens Josie’s employment if she fails to break up with Cole, Josie does what she thinks is right for her.

Anyone seeking a sweet old fashioned contemporary regional romance will enjoy Only You. There are two stars who find something special in their relationship while the townsfolk mostly stand in their way. Cole is an interesting silent hero (think of a modern day Gary Cooper) who takes the handyman jobs he does because he likes fixing things and that trait proves handy in winning Josie. This is a sweet tale of love could not care less what color collar you wear.

Harriet Klausner

Hunting Julian-Jacquelyn Frank

Hunting Julian
Jacquelyn Frank
Zebra, Jan 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420104257

In Fort Lauderdale, bounty hunter Asia Callahan observes Julian Sawyer who has sex with a different girl every night. However, she watches him because thirteen females vanished across the country including her sister Kenya after meeting him. She knows his pattern and vows to learn what happened to her sibling and prevent number fourteen. Asia enters the Pussy Willow nightclub where Julian moves in on her. At his apartment, he grabs her throat and says she emits no sexual odor. Asia tries a jujitsu attack that draws pink blood. Julian picked her like her sister as a Chosen, but instead needs her as his zini. He mentally rapes Asia, but stops short of the physical. Instead they enter a portal to his world.

Julian explains to the Ampliphi leaders that his days as a gatherer are over as the human is his kindra. His companion Ariel is elated to see Julian until he introduces her to Asia as his kindra. He tells Ariel he will retire soon and informs Asia she is in the “Beneath” plane below that of the earth where his people are starving. As she struggles to adjust, some leaders want her dead while Julian needs her to come to him as he wants her, but his people need them to feed off their sexual energy.

Readers will be hooked from the moment Julian takes Asia to his dimension as the other realms premise comes across quite powerfully real even the need for sexual energy fueling this odd world with edifices hanging on nets. The lead couple is an interesting pairing as he needs her while she rejects him for taking her against her will leading to his major frustrations. Although the Ampliphi should have stopped the villainess long ago as she was hurting those dependent on her, fans will relish this terrific science fiction romance.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, November 20, 2009

Her Christmas Wish-Cindi Myers

Her Christmas Wish
Cindi Myers
Harlequin American, Dec 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373752911

At the Vinotok fall festival in Crested Butte, paramedic Eric Sepulveda and Gunnison Valley Hospital respiratory therapist Alina Aliinova meet. However, she is stunned as seeing him initially made her think of psychic Baka Fania’s prediction that she will soon meet the love of her life, but he looks nothing like the image her beloved grandma described to her.

As Eric and Alina begin to fall in love, his family prefers her best friend Marissa Alverez. They think he would be better off with someone who is not going back to her home in Croatia in a few months as that can only lead to heartbreak. However, love does not ask anyone for an opinion.

This is an interesting contemporary romance starring two solid lead characters and a caring secondary cast who are too involved but not fleshed out enough to understand their motives. Eric is an interesting individual who is decisive on the job and cowardly when it comes to relationship. Alina brings a welcome Croatian background to the mix. Although the cast is not as developed as they need to be, fan swill enjoy this fun tale.

Harriet Klausner

A Mommy for Christmas-Cathy Gillen Thacker

A Mommy for Christmas
Cathy Gillen Thacker
Harlequin American, Dec 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373752904

In Fort Worth, Texas, neighbors Travis Carson and Holly Butler are there for each other when it comes to raising their respective children. Both are single parents whose kids are used to being supervised by either parent. They even share the same nanny.

Widower Travis’ daughters four year old Sophie and three year old Mia send a letter to Santa asking him to bring them a mommy for Christmas that shakes their daddy to the core. Holly’s three years old twin boys Tucker and Tristan ask Santa for something more practical, a spaceship big enough to fly them away. Meanwhile Holly’s former husband Clifford Baxter who rejected all rights to the kids suddenly wants to spend quality time with his twin offspring whom he ignored. These are the impetus for Travis and Holly to explore how they really feel beyond friendship.

This is a terrific holiday second chance at love family drama filled with a strong cast. The story line is character driven by the good, the precious and the shallow as events caused by the ex and the kids lead to love. Readers will enjoy this entertaining Christmas tale.

Harriet Klausner

The Sheriff's Surrender-Susan Page Davis

The Sheriff's Surrender
Susan Page Davis
Barbour, Dec 2009, $10.97
ISBN 9781602605626

In 1885 in Fergus, Idaho, single Gert Dooley has taken care of her brother the widower Hiram for years. However, she gets back in return the use of guns as he is the town’s gunsmith. In fact she can outshoot any man in town, which alienates many of the males and is secretly applauded by the females.

When a killer arrives in Fergus, Gert thinks it is time for women to learn to protect themselves rather than depend on men who may not be at their side when they need help. She forms the Ladies’ Shooting Club, who has women signing up while men complain that it is unnatural for females to shoot guns as they might hurt themselves. As she continues her mentoring, Gert and the new sheriff Ethan Chapman are attracted to each other. He likes her grit and is unashamed about her shooting skills being superior to his while she is stunned as love is something she has never felt before.

The Sheriff’s Surrender is an enjoyable historical romance starring a wonderful heroine and the law enforcement official who loves her. The story line is a bit thin as the killer takes a back seat to Gert’s activities while readers will think of wider possibilities. However, Susan Page Davis’ version of Annie Get Your Gun is fun to read as the men in late nineteenth century Idaho are irate and ashamed that a girl can outshoot them and to their chagrin teaching their women to do so too.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Getting Lucky-Elaine Barbieri

Getting Lucky
Elaine Barbieri
Leisure, Dec 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780843963205

In 1849 a “Walker” on the trek west after losing her wagon and animals, Tessa White buried her parents on the way to making a fortune; she lost everything she owned. She manages to make it to San Francisco Plaza near Lucky Monroe's gambling tent. Although he prefers to ignore her as Lucky knows she is bad for business if she remains where she is; he helps the waif anyway.

Tessa swears she will pay him back, but Lucky prefers she leave and forget the debt. He offers her passage anywhere, but she rejects his offer. Instead Tessa says her home cooked meals will sell and increase his business. To his shock, it does. Still he wants her so he wants her to leave as someone as virgin pure cannot live in purgatory. However, trouble comes not from the obvious sources, but a jealous brothel owner Delilah and Lucky's refusal to accept what his heart tells him.

This is an entertaining straightforward western romance in which the auricle knows what to expect as the characters are out of sub-genre casting 101, yet relishes every moment. The story line is fast-paced from the first confrontation between the gambler and the walker over breakfast and never slows as an inferno threatens lives. Fans will enjoy this fine historical made fresh with tidbits on walkers and the city during the Gold Rush.

Harriet Klausner

Bandit Queen-Jane Candia Coleman

Bandit Queen
Jane Candia Coleman
Leisure, Dec 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780843963458

In 1886 she left Toledo Ohio to marry Frank Hart, but sixteen year old Pearl quickly learns her spouse is an abusive gambler. He wasted the money she earned singing at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and Exposition; demanding she earn more. Unable to accept more from her nasty husband after he broke her ribs, Pearl runs away heading to Phoenix.

Frank follows her trail and continues his ugly treatment of his wife who loses hope. However, she feels relief she will have a breather when Frank enlists to fight in the Spanish-American War. With no income and her other choice being a whore Pearl robs a stagecoach. She becomes renowned as the Bandit Queen who is finally caught, escapes, but is captured again. In 1899 she is convicted of robbery after using a Women’s Rights defense based on the options society allowed her of marriage or prostitution and becomes the first female incarcerated at Yuma Penitentiary.

This is an enjoyable biographical fiction tale of a complex individual who rejects marital abuse and prostitution so she makes her own path in a society that allowed no other options for model class females. Fans will enjoy Jane Candia Coleman’s fine tale based on a true person that reminds the audience how far women have come from critical restrictions based on de facto racism and sexism..

Harriet Klausner

Chill-Stephanie Rowe

Stephanie Rowe
Love Spell, Dec 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780505527769

Luke Webber ran away from his affluent slick past to change his lifestyle as he hated what he was doing. He is happy being a bush pilot in Alaska. No one asks about his past and people seem to genuinely care for one another; they have your back.

Luke is upset when slick dressing Isabella Kopas in her four digit priced gown arrives as a reminder of his past and Marcus Fie; especially the bullet in her shoulder. He recognizes the hoodlums chasing her as he used to be one of them. However, Luke fears for his new friends especially his crazy partner as he knows firsthand that acceptable collateral damage from his old crowd is the norm.

Although over the top of Mount McKinley, no one will care as Chill grips the audience from the moment Luke flies into trouble and never lands until the final confrontation with his former peers from his past. The story line is action-packed even before Isabella flees for her life and as Luke struggles to keep Isabella and his Alaskan cronies safe from his former associates. Think of Grosse Point Blank without the satirical spin in Alaska.

Harriet Klausner

Heart Of The Witch-Alicia Dean

Heart Of The Witch
Alicia Dean
Love Spell, Dec 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780505528261

In Okalahoma City, the Tin Man serial killer abducts witch Rayvn Skyler planning to rape her before he kills her. Irate, she breaks the prime rule of her coven by setting his crotch ablaze before escaping. He survives her counter assault, but is outraged that his chosen prey harmed him and escaped before he could inscribe on her corpse in blood his moniker The Tin Man, irate he vows vengeance.

Meanwhile mortal former homicide detective Nick Lassiter knows he finally has the bait to run down the Tin Man whom he obsesses over ending the psychopath’s terror. He plans to use Rayvn who wonders about this Nick who seems to be nearby every time she blinks. At the same time her former lover Kayne has become apparently insane as his soul is filled with ambitious evil plans for world domination. Between Kayne and the Tin Man ruining her life and anyone close to her like her sister and mom, Rayvn fears most for not so mundane Nick.

This is a fast-paced fun to read serial killer romantic urban fantasy, but has too many major subplots that lead to abrupt transitions. The readers and Rayvn know the bad guys from almost the beginning, but that enhances those two thriller threads as the audience anticipates confrontations. With a deep look inside the politics of a coven on top of the non-stop action, sub-genre readers will agree with Nick that the Heart of the Witch is captivating and bewitching.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Believe-Victoria Alexander

Victoria Alexander
Avon, Nov 24 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061728839

English professor Tessa St. James is sick of Camelot and the so-called myths that she assumes is hooey bunk. When some claiming that he is Merlin Wizard Extraordinaire and Counselor to Kings meets her, she scorns him as another fake, Taken aback by the professor’s disdain and not one to accept disrespect from royals, Merlin decides to teach the show me skeptic a lesson in respect and humility.

He takes Tessa back to the English Dark Ages of Camelot. She is stunned, but though she begins to believe what she sees, Tessa has doubts. He orders Sir Galahad to take her along on his quest to bring back the Holy Grail. However, "Sir Hunk” respectfully says no as a woman does not belong on such a dangerous mission. However King Arthur and Merlin tell him Tessa will accompany him. As they follow a poorly designed map and struggle to interpret a riddle, she proves his equal in battle with dragons, witches and other foes, oh! My!

This is an amusing refreshing romantic twist to the legend of Sir Hunk and the Holy Grail that Monty Python would enjoy. The storyline is filled with humor especially tongue in cheek from Merlin and the differences in how a chivalrous knight treats a lady who acts anything like any female he ever met; sex and dragons go together. Fans of Camelot will appreciate this spin as Galahad learns new uses for round tables and the truth about the Holy Grail in this superb romantic fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

Fallen Rogue-Amy Rench

Fallen Rogue
Amy Rench
Leisure, Dec 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780505528124

In Hood River, Oregon remote field botanist Bobby Kane tells his visiting sister Harper, an Olympics caliber swimmer, to run with a box he had hidden. Those chasing after him soon shoot him. Inside the box she retrieved are a computer flash drive and a syringe filled with a liquid. The killers who murdered her sibling come after Harper as they want the box. As she flees the scene, she accidentally injects herself with whatever was in the needle. Instantly she changes as a blinding light kills those trying to murder her.

Government agent Rome Lucian is sent to retrieve Harper. He succeeds, but becomes upset when she becomes a guinea pig experiment. He abets her escape, but criminals and feds chase after them; with each team interchangeable as his death is acceptable and her capture essential in the name of research. All she wants is to avenge her sibling’s murder except for her attraction to Rome

Fallen Rogue starts off faster than the speed of light and accelerates from there as the story line never slows down until the final confrontation. Harper is conflicted between a need to murder those who killed her brother and chase after her, and knowing the cost will be her soul and the corollary belief that she will never see her beloved Rome again. Adding to her dilemma is she knows she will die as those who used the serum have before her have done. She makes the tale with her personal choices that will have readers wondering to kill or not to kill that is the question.

Harriet Klausner

Seducing the Heiress-Olivia Drake

Seducing the Heiress
Olivia Drake
St. Martin’s, Dec 1 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312943455

Viscount Colin Byrd needs to marry a wealthy heiress rather quickly to pay off his debts. He targets Miss Portia Crompton who grew up in India and only recently returned home with her family. Colin knows it will not be easy as he is blackballed for killing his father, leaving his mother rusticate, and has exorbitant gambling debts. He sneaks into a ball hosted by his family’s enemy the Duke of Albright and meets Portia by throwing strawberries at insulting Mrs. Bardsley. However, Albright kicks him out before he can make much progress. His plan remains the same to get Portia to love him so she will marry him, but has had problems seeing her as her parents banned him.

Portia is unhappy as she has not received a letter from her beloved Maharajah Arun in a year. They fell in love, but his dad rejected her and her parents rushed her back to London. Portia is home alone with her sisters and the servants when she finds Colin in her room. Unafraid Portia asks about his dad and if he would pursue her if she was broke. He says his father died in a tragic accident, and her money made him aware of her, but since he met her he would pursue her. Meanwhile Albright does what he can to paint Colin as a killing wastrel, bur Portia is attracted to him anyway while the truth remains to be seen through a hazy web of lies.
The changing relationship between the lead couple is superbly developed so that the audience can see and understand the metamorphosis of both of them. Her family is terrific as fully developed characters while his mother is so shallow she seems real. Although the villain’s motive does not ring true especially since he conceals his deep anger so effortlessly, fans will enjoy this entertaining historical romance as nothing is quite like it seems.

Harriet Klausner

Sex Drive-Susan Lyons

Sex Drive
Susan Lyons
Kensington Aphrodisia, Dec 2009, $12.95
ISBN: 9780758238252

On a flight from Australia to Canada, University of Sydney professor Dr. Theresa Fallon and author Damien Black share a row in the business class section. They are instantly attracted to one another although neither knows why. They still want one another even after introductions as she ripped his last novel.

Damien asks Theresa to join him on a getaway. She shocks both of them when she accepts his sexy invitation though she convinces herself this is research. They share the erotic and the intellectual with great pleasure and delight in both until her family intrudes with rage and the media feeding frenzy threatens both their careers.

The conflict in this fun entertaining mile high contemporary romance is how she sees his books as shallow crap, which when he recognizes who she is, a literary academic snob, is intrigued by her. Although the plot is as thin as the air the plane crosses through on the way to Vancouver, fans will enjoy this fun tale of the literary snob and the novelist falling in love over the Pacific.

Harriet Klausner

Soul Of The Wildcat-Devyn Quinn

Soul Of The Wildcat
Devyn Quinn
Kensington Aphrodisia, Dec 2009, $12.95
ISBN: 9780758231215

In the South Mountains State Park of North Carolina, Native American Jesse Clawfoot is a Tlvdatsi tribesman. His clan consists of shapeshifters who can become cougars. Although powerful magic protects the Tlvdatsi, poachers still intrude and they face extinction as the cougar has just returned to the park.

When Jesse is taken captive park ranger Dakoda Jenkins rescues him and assists him in returning to his clan. However, he conceals from his rescuer that he has been tracking her as he knows who she is, what she means to him and his tribe and who she comes from; roots she knows nothing about and an attraction she does not understand.

Soul of the Wildcat is an exciting paranormal romantic suspense starring two likable lead protagonists in love yet conflicted over what to with dangerous poachers. Jesse is a terrific shapeshifter who believes his soulmate will save his tribe from extinction. Dakoda makes the tale as a strong woman confused by her feelings for Jesse and bewildered by what she observes. Readers will relish climbing the trails of the South Mountains as Devyn Quinn provides a thrilling shapeshifting tale of the power of love.

Harriet Klausner

Scarlet Nights-Lucinda Betts

Scarlet Nights
Lucinda Betts
Kensington Aphrodisia, Dec 2009, $12.00
ISBN: 9780758234605

Fearing for the safety of her people especially her Supplicant Queen, the temple virgin Solstice breaks the law of her kingdom. Her illegal sexual action with an unlawful person also places her beloved childhood sweetheart Axel de la Couere in peril.

Axel uncovers a secret tunnel that leads inside the royal palace. However, he is caught inside the forbidden zone. Axel and Solstice are forced on a trek as their punishment. They remain attracted to one another, but she uses sexual enjoyment to pay homage to the Goddess while he rejects the notion.

This is an exhilarating erotic romantic fantasy with an intriguing world in which sexual activity is tied to religious beliefs. The story line is fast-paced from the opening gamut when Alex tries to bring to justice slavers and never slows down until the final confrontation with the Goddess. Although none of the cast is that deep as the action (erotic and other adventures) supersedes character depth, fans will enjoy a visit to the sexy realm of Lucinda Betts.

Harriet Klausner

Breathless-Bonnie Edwards

Bonnie Edwards
Kensington Aphrodisia, Dec 2009, $12.95
ISBN: 9780758238283

"Breathless”. At the TimeShop Blue McCann is confused by her desire to put on a silk corset, but cannot stop herself from doing so. She is transported back to 1913 into the body of midwife Stella McCann, but when she meets Dr. Stephens she knows where she belongs.

"To Die For”. In Seattle Tawny James is afraid of the stalker who apparently is so perverted he went through her laundry. She reluctantly asks her former employer private investigator Stack Hamilton, for help with a stalker, but she unknowingly holds a deadly secret involving a four plus decade old theft.

"Body by Gibson". In Seattle, three years ago, an odious gallery owner Withers destroyed Mariel Gibson‘s dreams of becoming an artist as he called her mediocre except for her breasts, but carpenter Danny Glenn hopes to become her muse.

These three fun erotic novellas are tied together by undergarments and plenty of sex although the story lines are thin (except for the lead males’ lower heads.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, November 16, 2009

Spy Games-Gina Robinson

Spy Games
Gina Robinson
Zebra, Dec 2009, $5.99
ISBN: 9781420104738

Though frightened of her former boyfriend Ket, thirty-two years old Reilly Peterson refuses to allow him to dictate how she lives. Being a former athlete and model, she is in good shape so she decides she needs to learn how to defend her self rather quickly. In Seattle she attends the Urban Ops Division’s three-day training at Fantasy Spy Camp.

At camp Reilly meets math Professor Van Keller; he acts anything but like her image of an academic. When a corpse is found, Reilly fears Ket is nearby. Meanwhile as she learns hand to hand combat and weapons usage, Van vows to keep her safe although she wonders how a Pythagoras Equation expert will protect her from killer Ket.

Like its predecessor Spy Candy, the fun Spy Games is an enjoyable lighthearted romantic suspense starring a brave lead female, a math teacher who proves the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and a villain over the top of the Space Needle. Readers will enjoy going to Fantasy Spy Camp rooting for Reilly to kick Kt’s butt.

Harriet Klausner

Marrying The Marquis-Patricia Grasso

Marrying The Marquis
Patricia Grasso
Zebra, Dec 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780821780749

One of the Duke of Inverary's seven illegitimate daughters, Blaze Flambeau talks to animals. Her stepmom the Duchess has no problems with the eccentricity of talking with animals, but Roxie Campbell is upset that her stepdaughter has no plans to marry. Roxie wants everyone happy like she is so keeps sending her eligible young men.

In spite of her indifference towards men, three males want Blaze. Her father offers her a deal she cannot refuse re the trio of suitors. However, only Scottish Marquis Ross MacArthur understands the way to Blaze’s heart is through her animals; specifically her beloved Pegasus. He offers to train her horse to run in a race, which she accepts. When her jockey is killed, Blaze wears men’s clothing to ride Pegasus; not understanding a killer plans to murder other jockeys. As Ross wins her heart, he must keep his beloved safe.

The latest Flamboyant Flambeau Regency romance (see Tempting the Prince, Seducing the Prince and Enticing the Prince) is once again an engaging historical starring a unique heroine, an awesome male champion, and a courageous horse. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Ross concludes how to win the heart of Blaze is through Peg. Fans will enjoy the latest entry in the delightful Flambeau sisters’ saga as Ross pushes all of Blaze’s hot buttons including scandalous, as he rationalizes to himself that the end of making her his justifies the means.

Harriet Klausner

For Your Arms Only-Caroline Linden

For Your Arms Only
Caroline Linden
Avon, Dec 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061706479

Honorable Alexander Hayes is reported killed in battle. The rumor of his death proves false, but he is stunned to learn he has been accused of seditious acts that will be difficult to prove otherwise. He accepts a position as a British spy while hoping he can prove his innocence of the treason charge.

In 1820 he knows it is time to go home after five years of being dead. His last mission is personal seeking out a former soldier Turner who can prove his innocence. When he meets the missing Turner’s daughter Cressida he is attracted to her; she reciprocates once she realizes he is not the cowardly soldier who committed treason. However she is torn between her love for him and her father who she realizes may have been the cowardly soldier who committed treason.

The key to this super late Regency romance is Cressida as she is torn between her love for her dad and Hayes as she brings passion to the exciting story line. Hayes is a super lead character although too honorable towards those who destroyed his life. Readers will enjoy this refreshing historical as a traitor comes from the grave to reclaim his life.

Harriet Klausner

Sold To A Laird-Karen Ranney

Sold To A Laird
Karen Ranney
Avon, Dec 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061771750

In 1860 London, Lady Sarah busts into a meeting her father the Duke of Herridge has with a stranger. She begs him not to send her ailing mother back to Scotland. Her dad ignores her and turns to Douglas Eston seeking financial backing for his invention and offers his daughter in marriage. Sarah is stunned when Douglas accepts the deal. After he leaves, her father says to her marry Douglas or her mother will be moved from Chavensworth.

Sarah informs Douglas no sex; he agrees saying they need to get acquainted. They marry and head to Chavensworth where her mother is dying. After their arrival, Sarah finds Douglas talking to her comatose mom about their marriage. He reflects back to when he was eight and orphaned and fourteen when Acano took him out of the alleys. When Sarah’s mom dies, Douglas takes charge while she falls into a deep grieving sleep while her dad fails to come to the funeral. Later, Sarah informs Douglas she must go to her grandfather’s home to inform him his estranged daughter died. He is shocked to learn her maternal side is the Laird of Kilmarin, the laird of the largest clan in the Perth area where he is from. As she learns the truth about her heritage, Sarah and Douglas fall in love, but neither makes the first critical move.

This is an entertaining Victorian romance in which the relationship between the lead couple is excellent as it slowly evolves from distrust into one of love while the support cast enhances understanding the motives of the lead couple. Although the hero is too perfect while her dad is too odious; their polar opposite extremes compound how readers see each of them. Sold to a Laird is an enjoyable historical.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ain't Too Proud To Beg-Susan Donovan

Ain't Too Proud To Beg
Susan Donovan
St. Martin’s, Nov 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312366049

San Francisco Herald obit writer Josephine Sheehan would like a two legged hunk in her life; her only male being Genghis the Labradoodle. However, her work is not exactly the best place to meet a man. Although she promises her friends to give up men for dogs, she draws up a list of the attributes of her ideal man.

Soon afterward, she meets Celestial Pet Superstore owner Rick Rousseau who was working as a groomer at one of his fourteen shops. She asks him out for coffee, but he agrees though he has sworn to have a life of celibacy as his comatose girlfriend Margot Cumming never recovered from their motorcycle accident that left him severely injured. When the CEO and the reporter first meet, each hopes this is their eternal mate. However, when Josephine writes the obit for his girlfriend who just died after seven years in a coma in Rhode island, she has doubts that she can deal with it or him anymore even as Margot’s raging father Bennett vowed vengeance once again.

This is a lighthearted contemporary wacky romance that feels like a throwback to the 1930s madcap comedies. The lead couple is an entertaining pair struggling with issues especially him while the support cast is solid except for Teeny’s knees. Fans will enjoy this fun dog-walking tale while wondering if Katherine Hepburn will play Josie (should have been a cat-walker) and Cary Grant as Rick.

Harriet Klausner

Hidden Fire-Jo Davis

Hidden Fire
Jo Davis
Signet, Dec 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451228659

Station Five firefighter Julian Salvatore knows he is in love with beautiful attorney Grace McKenna, but she ignores his efforts to start dating even as he knows he is being a pest. He just refuses to accept negatives from her.

However, Julian becomes concerned for Grace’s safety when he learns she represents the person who molested him as a child. He voices his fears to her but she blows away his trepidations. However, she reconsiders his warning when he is injured in a hit and run that seemed deliberate at a time someone is abducting and killing people. As he heals, they team up to investigate who the culprit is as they each believe the driver is the deadly kidnapper.

The latest Firefighters of Station Five (see Under Fire) is a fast-paced romantic suspense thriller starring a hero with issues forged by his childhood molestation that comes back to haunt him as the client of his beloved and the lawyer he loves who has her own issues with doubt re commitment. Julian’s issues with his cronies especially his Captain make him seem genuine as does Grace’s indecisiveness even as she overdoes the changing of her mind to the point of irritatingly sending the reader yelling at her to stay the course. Although the villain is a caricature over the top of the station house, fans will enjoy the latest escapades of the Station Five firefighters.

Harriet Klausner

Betrayal of the Blood Lily-Lauren Willig

Betrayal of the Blood Lily
Lauren Willig
Dutton, Jan 12 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9780525951506

In London, Penelope Deveraux avoids a ruinous scandal with a hasty marriage to Lord Frederick Staines as they were caught canoodling. Also abetting their ability to elude social humiliation is his assignment as special envoy to the court of Nizam of Hyderabad in India.

Penelope struggles somewhat to adjust even as she bravely participates in court activities, but soon uncovers a plot to throw out the imperialists who are turning India into a crown of the British Empire although the French have forces and agents there to counter that. In fact the Nizam uses both sides against one another to keep control. She finds a brave companion in Captain Alex Reid who teams up with her to expose the traitors behind the plot. As they fall in love while competing with one another in sporting contests that she continually wins, the elusive Marigold continues seditious activities to remove the British from India.

Moving the Pink Carnation series to India adds freshness even as the basic theme remains the same of a modern day researcher uncovering information of a nineteenth century Englishwoman going undercover to try to thwart a Napoleonic plot. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Penelope muses over being married to Freddie especially after meeting Alex. Fans of the saga will enjoy her adventures as an amateur female agent causing mayhem that shakes up the dysfunctional triangle of power sharing by the English, the French and the native Nizam..

Harriet Klausner

Hard To Hold-Stephanie Tyler

Hard To Hold
Stephanie Tyler
Dell, Nov 24 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780440244349

In the Congo, Navy SEAL Lieutenant Jake Hansen arrives to rescue Doctors Without Borders plastic surgeon Dr. Isabelle Markham from a ruthless mercenary Rage who kidnapped and raped her and left her for dead. Jake finds her barely alive without a stitch of clothing. He gets her out of Africa but a connection from the moment they met is evident.

When Rafe escapes captivity, Admiral Callahan assigns Jake to keep Izzy safe. He has mixed feelings about the assignment because he told her some things about himself he told no one. However, he would die to keep her safe, but feels bad that he has been ordered to conceal the truth about Rafe who is believed to be stalking Isabelle. When she learns the truth she leaves, but Rafe has been patient.

This is an exhilarating romantic military suspense thriller with the emphasis on the love story line over the dark SEAL operations. The lead couple makes the tale fun as each fall in love with the other but share in common relationship issues to overcome. The support cast that includes his SEAL mates (stars of future tales) and the man who took two of Naval officers into his home when they were teens (; the third is his son) add depth to the suspense and even more so the romance. Fans of SEAL romances in which the thrills of the coupling supersede that of the enemy actions will want to read this enjoyable tale.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

One Night With You-Francis Ray

One Night With You
Francis Ray
St. Martin’s, Nov 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780312365066

Thanks to a mutual friend Ruth Grayson, Raven LaBlanc arrives at Duncan McBride’s Montana ranch with an opportunity to look at the Native American cave drawings found on his spread. Obsessive with achieving her goal of tenure in Santa Fe, Raven makes it clear she is in Big Sky Country to research the cave dwellings and no more.

However Duncan makes it even more clear that he will allow her to conduct her research, but needs the details like the location kept secret because he does not want a flood of academia and tourists; she is here as a favor to Ruth. Raven and Duncan are stunned by their immediate attraction; neither welcomes it. However, a developer with an attorney at the front has ideas for the land that ignore Duncan’s desire to keep his ranch as a ranch.

Although obviously intended for the Grayson extended family fans, readers will enjoy Ruth the matchmaker’s latest connection as she selects a bride for the oldest McBride brother just like she did his siblings (see One Night With You and Dreaming of You). The story line is old fashioned contemporary fun as the archeologist and the rancher fall in love, but the cave paintings stand in their way. Readers will enjoy the Grayson’s Friends tale as Ruth (and Francis Ray) scores a hat trick with the McBride siblings.

Harriet Klausner

Our Little Secret-Starr Ambrose

Our Little Secret
Starr Ambrose
Pocket, Nov 24 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439102237

Twins Lauren and Meg Sutherland are total opposites as the former is reliable and the latter is impulsive. However, even Lauren, used to her sibling’s reckless behavior, is stunned when her sister marries US Senator Creighton, a man twice her age.

Lauren plans to persuade her sibling and the politician to annul their marriage. However, she becomes concerned when the newlyweds vanish without a trace. The senator’s son Drew joins Lauren in a search for their missing relatives after mistakenly accusing her of being a gold-digger. To her shock, Lauren is attracted to Drew, which is out of character for her as she is engaged to an ultra conservative who is compatible to her. At the same time an unknown adversary stalks them and the newlyweds are planning to prevent by any means possible the bungling amateurs from unraveling a Washington run by blackmail of illicit trysts.

Our Little Secret is an enjoyable amateur sleuth romantic suspense in which the lead couple in their search for their relatives find themselves in a murkier deadly situation as a predator watches their every move. The story line is a fast-paced frenzied frolic with the emphasis on the romance although Starr Ambrose takes a jab at a DC fueled by money interests. Fans will appreciate this entertaining gambit as Drew and Lauren wonder how love can prove so dangerous.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, November 9, 2009

Flame Seeker-Kay Danella

Flame Seeker
Kay Danella
Heat, Dec 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425230824

As the eldest daughter of her clan, Alithia is responsible for obtaining an ancient relic. With the artifact her people will prosper in peace; without it they will falter. On her trek to another reaml, she must have two husbands escort her. All the men will compete in a contest chosen by Alithia.

The males are excited and expect to duel for the honor. Instead of battling blades, Alithia chooses a different type of sword. She selects her champions by who gives her the most pleasure. Phelan and Taith are her mates for the journey with each wanting to be the only one standing by her side. However, the perilous journey forges bonds that none of the three anticipated when they start on the quest.

This is an interesting erotic romantic fantasy starring a duty bound heroine who chooses the contest and its rules. The two survivors continue the friendly rivalry for the hand (and other bodily parts) of Alithia. Although the story line is thin as opposed to the hunks’ middle legs, fans of erotic romances with a touch of fantasy and lot more touches of the bodies of the lead triangle will want to read this heated tale.

Harriet Klausner

Garden Of The Moon-Elizabeth Sinclair

Garden Of The Moon
Elizabeth Sinclair
Medallion, Dec 1 2009, $7.95
ISBN: 9781933836980

Her mother believes her paranormal skill is an embarrassing curse; her father does not understand her skill, but cares what happens to his daughter. Sara Wade sees ghosts.

Although their motives differ, her parents concur with Sara moving onto Harrogate, an estate she recently inherited from her late grandmother. She wants to renovate the old house that she realizes she shares with two ghosts. Jonathan Bradford claims she is his beloved Maddie Grayson who is in an old diary Sara found. She believes Jonathan, who sends her back to his era to the year he died 1805. The other spirit in her present wants Jonathan dead while Sara prays she can save the life of her beloved.

Garden of the Moon is an engaging reincarnation romance starring an intrepid heroine willing to risk her soul to go back to save that of her beloved, Jonathan who has waited two centuries for her return while sharing hell on earth with his enemy. Although the moving back and forth between the present and the early nineteenth century feels jarring, fans will enjoy this fine paranormal romantic suspense due to the brave Maddie.

Harriet Klausner

Wild Instinct-Sarah McCarty

Wild Instinct
Sarah McCarty
Heat, Dec 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425227619

"Garrett". The werewolf clan rejects Garrett due to his human blood. However, they turn to him to rescue Sarah Anne, whose son is missing and daughter may prove to be the child prophesized as the bringer of doom. Still he knows his mate when he meets her and will risk his life to keep her safe.

"Daire". The werewolf Daire saves Teri, but cannot save her unborn. He knows his mate, but she believes his bond is not one of love but of protectiveness. Daire has to persuade her it is both.

"Curran". He seeks Rachel, who has Sarah Anne's son with her. When Curran finds the pair he knows she is his mate, but she rejects his assertion and distrusts him to bring the duo to safety.

These three exciting interrelated werewolf romances contain fully developed characters who make for a strong thriller as the sex is hot but not over-gorging the action-packed story lines especially the relationship issues as the men know but the women doubt. Sarah McCarty provides her audience with a superb collection.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mrs. Miracle-Debbie Macomber

Mrs. Miracle
Debbie Macomber
Avon, Dec 2005, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061083464

Widower Seth Webster struggles to raise his rambunctious six year old twin sons Judd and Jason who drive off housekeepers at an alarming rate even when they make an effort to behave. He has never had time to grieve the loss of his beloved spouse as his personal life is in chaotic free-fall. Just before Christmas, the latest housekeeper leaves.

A depressed Seth is at the end of his wits especially since there is no one else for the agency to send when Mrs. Emily Merkle miraculously arrives asking for the position of nanny. She brings a patient serene elan that encourages yet controls the two boys. At the same time she also quietly coaxes her employer to move on and courageously ask travel agent Reba Maxwell to go out with him. Reba has been destroyed by love, but a miracle occurs when she takes a chance on Seth. Still they will need the power of an angel to overcome their issues.

This is a reprint of a terrific holiday romantic fantasy starring an angelic Mary Poppins character trying to bring a Christmas miracle to the extended Webster family (including his in-laws) and Reba. Ironically whereas the support cast like the twins and the in-laws are spirited protagonists with issues while the lead couple is each in a self made defense mechanism rut that requires several miraculous nudges to get them motivated in the game of life beyond caring for others. Fans will enjoy this lighthearted wonderful life tale, which is being made into a movie, while humming the tune All I Need Is A Miracle Mike and the Mechanics).

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Red Hot Holidays-Shelby Reed, Shiloh Walker and Lacey Alexander

Red Hot Holidays
Shelby Reed, Shiloh Walker and Lacey Alexander
Ellora's Cave (Pocket), Dec 1 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9781439148709

Holiday Inn by Shelby Reed. Jesse and Sheila grieve the death of their six years old son due to a drunken hit and run driver, and the end of their decade old marriage. Anna is heading home to spend Christmas with her family. On Christmas Eve, the freak snowstorm strands these two strangers on I-95 with suddenly no one else around except Santa.

His Christmas Cara by Shiloh Walker. Everyone who meets Eben Marley knows he has no conscience. However, he has a regret; what he did to Cara Winston following the greatest time of his life three years ago. Now the holiday spirits give him a chance to make amends and regain his heart to hand to the woman he loves.

Unwrapped by Lacey Alexander. Simon and Emily love one another, but he finds their sexual encounters a bit too lame as she reacts like a deer in the headlights as if they are doing something bad when they do anything but the vanilla missionary position. Emily fears she is losing the love of her life so talks with her former U of Cincinnati dorm buddy Dawn who is a sex therapist. Dawn teaches her first hand how to pleasure herself and her man. Em plans to be more than just a sugarplum when she takes her man.

Although the matchmakers differ, fans will enjoy this erotic romantic collection. The lead couples are developed sufficiently so that the audience knows their prime motivations and sexual desires with enough of a back story to turn each novella into a terrific red hot holiday treat.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, November 6, 2009

Double The Heat-Lori Foster, Deirdre Martin, Elizabeth Bevarly and Christie Ridgway

Double The Heat
Lori Foster, Deirdre Martin, Elizabeth Bevarly and Christie Ridgway
Berkley, Dec 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425230114

"Hart and Soul” by Lori Foster. After switching places with his twin (see “Deuces Wild” in Double the Pleasure), Hart Winston avoids Lisa Vogle until he realizes how much he misses her; however, he is in for a surprise when he finally contacts her.

"Breaking the Ice" by Deirdre Martin. In New York Lennie Buckley has no interest in men until she meets in a comedy of errors NHL player Sebastian Ivanov.

"Double Booked" by Elizabeth Bevarly. Her friends allow Amanda Bingham to use their condo while she is on vacation; they also allow Max Callahan, whom she loathes, to use it too.

"Original Zin" by Christie Ridgway. John Henry Hudson and Zin Friday meet when she is his chauffeur. He wants her but she fears he will reject her if he gets to know her.

These are four entertaining contemporary romantic novellas starring fully developed characters. Fans will especially enjoy the return of the other Winston twin and another Deirdre martin hockey tale.

Harriet Klausner

If He's Sinful-Hannah Howell

If He's Sinful
Hannah Howell
Zebra, Dec 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420104615

In 1788 an unknown adversary abducts Lady Penelope Wherlocke and sells her to a brothel. Meanwhile friends of Lord Ashton Radmoore arrange a final tryst at a brothel before he marries. He is stunned to find a drugged Penelope, who allegedly can see ghosts, waiting in the room for him. She recognizes him as stepsister's boyfriend.

However before he can act, a horde invades the room as the Wherlocke friends and family rush to rescue Penelope. Unable to move on and forget the woman, Ashton investigates the kidnapping and sex sale pondering who could harm a caring innocent woman nurturing ten boys As he falls in love, he wonders how to end his engagement and persuade Penelope she is his beloved when he mocks her paranormal gift as a sham.

The second Wherelockes Georgian paranormal romance (see If he’s Wicked) is an enjoyable fairy tale with several major subplots and a horde of strong support characters, but anchored by the Cinderella lead female. The story line is fast-paced from the opening kidnapping and never slows down as readers wonder whether Ashton will prove to be Prince Charming or If He’s Wild using the beleaguer heroine for a last fling.

Harriet Klausner

Divorced, Desperate And Deceived-Christie Craig

Divorced, Desperate And Deceived
Christie Craig
Love Spell, Nov 24 2009, $6.00
ISBN: 9780505527981

Divorcee Kathy Callahan has interest in one man though her friends are unaware whom she desperately wants to make it with. Plumber Stan Bradley seems interested in her, but abruptly stopped showing his attraction as if she was a fungus. With her son spending a month with his dad, Kathy decides to go for her hunk.

Stan has not lost interest, but instead fears he will hurt Kathy. He believes a lasting relationship cannot occur for someone the FBI placed in witness protection program changing his name from Luke Hunter. However, as Kathy starts her seduction, those wanting Luke dead have tracked him down. Instead of being on the lam alone, he is on the run with the woman he loves even if this is his worst nightmare.

The third Divorced, Desperate and D tale (see … and Dating; and … and Delicious) is an amusing contemporary romance starring a strong cast; especially deep besides the DDD heroine are the guys and Goodwill (just keep your toes safe). Fans will enjoy this fine amusing frolic as the determined delightful divorcee decides on the plumber with secrets.

Harriet Klausner

The Sweethearts' Knitting Club-Lori Wilde

The Sweethearts' Knitting Club
Lori Wilde
Avon, Nov 242009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061808890

The members of the Sweethearts’ Knitting Club reside in Twilight, Texas. All of the knitters married their high school sweetheart except for Flynn MacGregor who has been engaged to the town sheriff Beau Trainer but is not ready to marry him. Her high school sweetheart Jesse Calloway spent a decade behind bars so she has no interest in following the knitting club crowd although she still loves him.

Just released from prison Jesse has come home to Twilight. He wants his beloved Flynn at his side, but besides seeing the sheriff and the encouragement of everyone to stay with Beau, she is too busy taking care of everyone else. She is more a prisoner than he was, but can he liberate his Flynn to marry him.

This is a sweet hearted contemporary romance that fans will enjoy as Flynn must decide between the bad boy who heats her blood and the prime sheriff who leaves her temperature at 98.6. The story line is character driven with strong leads and super support. Fans will enjoy a stop in Twilight, Texas home of second chance in love for former high school sweethearts.

Harriet Klausner

With Extreme Pleasure-Alison Kent

With Extreme Pleasure
Alison Kent
Kensington Brava, Dec 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758217585

Makeup artist Cady Kowalski has been on the run for years ever since her brother was murdered, but her past has caught up with her. Battered and bruised she climbs into the hummer of former model and ex convict Kingdom Trahan, who looks forward to leaving the Big Apple for his home in Vermilion Parish, Louisiana. King reluctantly agrees to take Cady out of New York.

They stop at her apartment so she can take some stuff with her, but her roommate tries to kill her. With King’s help and that of a Fed she eludes those trying to kill her. However, it is a long drive as King slowly learns the truth re Cady and what happened eight years ago when her brother died.

Cousin to Simon Baptiste of SG-5 (see No Limit), King is a terrific hero who cannot help but aid Cady though he keeps thinking of the unwanted paparazzi that constantly stalk his newly married cuz due to the man's famous bride. The story line is a fast-paced and exciting, but over the top of the Bayou and lacking in the hero’s criminal back story. Still fans will be hooked the moment Cady climbs into King’s hummer as this action packed thriller lives up to its title.

Harriet Klausner

Dating Outside Your DNA-Karen Kelley

Dating Outside Your DNA
Karen Kelley
Kensington Brava, Dec 2009, $14.00
ISBN 9780758225764

While recuperating from an on the job leg injury that keeps him from galactic field work, special agent Roan Hendrix trains tyro operatives. He detests having to work with Nerakians, but the stipulation for his return to space is mentoring half-Nerakian Lyraka. Deciding field work is more important than his detesting the aliens, he agrees.

Lyraka hates humans so prefers not to be trained by one of them. However, if she wants field work she will accept Roan as her instructor which she does as becoming an operative means more to her than her destesting his species.

Both are stunned when their animosity turns to attraction. However Lyraka fears her Nerakian sex drive will injure the soft himan she wants so decides to keep her libido in check, which drives Roan crazy with desire. Sadist Prince Banyon of Rovertia sees Lyraka as an opportunity to avenge the scar on his face that her mom etched on him when she said no. He abducts Lyraka leading to Roan and his unit giving chase to rescue her.

This is a faster than the speed of light scicne fiction roamnce starring two beloved enemies and a nasty villain. The story line is straightforward with a projectory that is obvious, but no one will care as Roan returns to active duty to rescue the half human he loves. With a gender sexual twist as the female heroine fears her Nerakian sex drive will physiclaly overpower her loved one, fans will enjoy being lost in space in the Kelley uivorse (see CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF A SEXY KIND and The Bad Boys Guide To The Galaxy).

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Temptation-Leda Swann

Leda Swann
Avon, Nov 10 2009, $13.99
ISBN: 9780061672408

From the Boer War front, Beatrice Clemens receives a letter from her brother Teddy telling her how lonely the soldiers are. She and her friends like roommate Lenora decide to write letters to some of Teddy’s comrades in arms. A nurse, Beatrice sends notes to Captain Percival Carterton, which over time grow ardent and heated.

When Percival arrives in London he looks up his pen pal angel and informs her he fell in love with her from her letters. Beatrice is stunned by his confession as she has a beau that she soon will be engaged to and does not reciprocate the officer’s regard. Instead of retreating, Percival mounts a campaign of seduction to win the heart of the woman he loves.

The latest Clemens clan saga is a delightful late Victorian erotic romance starring two likable protagonists. Part of the fun in this fine tale is comparing communication back during the Boer War with today’s instant social networks that soldiers deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq can join. Filled with heated sex, fans of the saga will be held Captive by Leda Swann’s enjoyable historical.

Harriet Klausner

The Lost-J.D. Robb, Patricia Gaffney, Mary Blayney and Ruth Ryan Langan

The Lost
J.D. Robb, Patricia Gaffney, Mary Blayney and Ruth Ryan Langan
Jove, Nov 24 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780515147186

"Missing in Death" by J.D. Robb”. A tourist disappears from a ferry in which she did not leap from but is no longer on board; neither are a dead person and a killer. NYPD Lieutenant Eve Dallas leads the investigation.

"The Dog Days of Laurie Summer” by Patricia Gaffney. The accident left the mom in a coma, but now the workaholic awakens; but her world is similar yet not quite what her memory recalls as she sees things from the view of a dog.

"Lost in Paradise” by Mary Blayney. The nurse arrives at an island fortress giving hope to the man locked inside by an ancient curse that she is the key to his freedom.

"Legacy” by Ruth Ryan Langan. The grieving woman travels to the castle in Ireland where she uncovers a family secret buried on the estate.

Though four radically different scenarios, readers will not feel lost with this fantasy-science fiction quartet as each author hits a home run.

Harriet Klausner

A Storm Of Passion-Terri Brisbin

A Storm Of Passion
Terri Brisbin
Kensington Brava, Nov 24 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758235169

The seer sent killers to murder her and her family. The only survivor of the massacre, Moira swore vengeance and six years later her quest takes her to the camp of the Lord of the Isles Diarmid. His Counselor guiding the lord, Connor has visions that disturb him as he sees himself jailed in a luxurious prison yet also spending nights with an unknown beautiful female.

Moira plans to sleep with the seer before killing him. However, the night proves incredible and she fumbles her attempt to kill the seer. Instead only wounded Connor enslaves Moira. Over time she learns the secret price her captor pays for visions and begins to feel for Connor, but is it enough to overcome her loathing in order to forgive him and help him.

This is a super paranormal romance that grips the audience the moment Connor sees the beautiful Moira for the first time and makes a bad assumption that his liege sent her. The story line is fast-paced as she uses him but fails to kill him so she becomes his prisoner instead. As their relationship changes the key remains constant throughout the exhilarating story line: readers and the hero wonder whether Moira can leave her hatred behind for her love of him.

Harriet Klausner

Scorched-Sharon Ashwood

Sharon Ashwood
Signet, Dec 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451228642

Former detective Connall “Mac” Macmillan honestly can say he was on the date from hell; in fact it went so bad he was turned into a demon. He prays all the time to regain his humanity and being able to destroy Geneva the demon was a large step at regaining what he lost.

However Alessandro Caravelli the vampire distrusts the demi-demon so incarcerates him in the Castle, a prison with magical bars. For centuries Constance the vampire has resided at the Castle where she served Atreus the sorcerer who recently has gone insane. When the guards kidnap her adopted son, she pleads with Mac to find and rescue him. Unable to resist her, Mac investigates inside the prison he reluctantly with no choice calls home, but he begins to find clues that something is not right at the Castle and unless rectified many will die.

The second Dark Forgotten urban fantasy is a terrific thriller as Mac goes from the bad that happened to him in Ravenous to the ugly of being Scorched in a magical prison. The key to this super tale is his investigation inside the realm of magic as fans will want to join his escapades. Sharon Ashwood provides a super saga leaving the audience what next will befall Mac.

Harriet Klausner

Hunter's Need-Shiloh Walker

Hunter's Need
Shiloh Walker
Berkley, Dec 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425231500

Psychic Analise Morell and shapeshifter Duke Lawson attend Excelsior exclusive private school for Hunters. They hate each other ever since she left him with a nasty vampire four years ago. His friends helped him escape hell, but neither of them could help him escape his bittersweet memory of kisses and betrayal. They also conceal how attracted they are to each other inside of their loathing for one another. Simply they keep their distance.

However Ana needs his help as she has no one else she feels she can turn to yet ironically she distrusts him. He would prefer to tell her to go get bit by a feral vampire in hell, but fears she will go after a killer by herself if he says no. Reluctantly though he distrusts her he agrees to be her co-Hunter going after a deadly predator whose victims haunt Ana to liberate their souls.

This is a terrific Hunters romantic fantasy starring two intriguing protagonists who have an interesting history that interferes with their present. The story line is fast-paced from the onset as Duke begins to understand his beloved enemy to his chagrin. Fans will relish this fine entry and seek previous Hunter thrilling tales (see Hunting the Hunter).

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Cold River-Carla Neggers

Cold River
Carla Neggers
Mira, Nov 24 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778326557

Eight months ago, Drew Cameron was murdered on Cameron Mountain in Vermont. Those who killed him also died; that is everyone except the person who hired the professional hit men. Drew’s sons Sean and his brothers (see Cold Purist for Elijah’s tale) believe Hannah Shay, owner of Her Three Sisters Café in nearby Black Falls, Vermont, is the key to their finding out who the culprit really was.

However, Sean approaches Hannah asking for her assistance, but she refuses as she is afraid her friend Bowie O'Rourke is in the middle of the blood flowing down Cameron Mountain. However, someone with less ethics when it comes to homicide awaits the right moment to learn what Hannah knows before killing her. Sean vows to keep the obstinate Hannah safe as he believes she is in the crosshairs and besides he has loved her since high school.

The latest Black Falls “Cold” thriller is a strong romantic suspense that turns pristine Green Mountain state into a dark grim landscape. Drew and Hannah are a delightful pairing as he knows somehow she is the center of danger, but she rejects his offers of protection out of loyalty. Fans will relish Carla Neggers’ tense action-packed thriller that never slows down throughout the exhilarating story line.

Harriet Klausner

Knight Of Pleasure-Margaret Mallory

Knight Of Pleasure
Margaret Mallory
Forever, Dec 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780446553384

In 1417 Lady Isobel Hume does not grieve the death of her spouse as she did not want to marry him when she was just thirteen and dreamed of the Knights of the Round Table; after they exchanged vows her older spouse did nothing to rectify her opinion over the next eight years until he died. However, instead of liberating her, his death leaves her at the mercy of men as the deed to his estate goes to a man she despises. She turns to King Henry who arranges a marriage to a French aristocrat.

Undercover operative Sir Stephen Carleton works in France allegedly to neutralize arguments before they turn ugly. He has been named Isobel's guardian until she marries. To both their chagrin, Isobel and Stephen are attracted to one another. However, both remain loyal to their monarch and ignore their feelings until they rescue two children, and she learns her fiancé Lord Roche is a traitor.

This is a terrific fifteenth century romance filled with intrigue and two strong lead characters. Isobel and Stephen know the price is their respective heads if they betray their monarch, but love is a difficult emotion to ignore. Although “eliminating” the fiancé with sedition eases their perilous plight, fans will enjoy Margaret Mallory’s marvelous medieval romance.

Harriet Klausner

Desiring The Highlander-Michele Sinclair

Desiring The Highlander
Michele Sinclair
Zebra, Dec 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 978-1420108545

As a child in Scotland Cole McTiernay watched the English kill his best friend Rob and almost him too. He grows up into a strong man, but loathes everything English. In the northern Highlands, the ravaged nomadic people ask him to become their laird. However, he has doubts he can bring the passion and serenity a leader must provide to inspire people.

In 1311 his brother Conor believes Cole would do a great job as he has shown he can lead his men into battle, but his sibling also realizes his younger brother needs to let go of his hate. Thus he sends him to Durchent Hall in England to retrieve a package from Baron Ainsley Cordell. He is outraged to learn the parcel is Ellenor Howell, whose brother-in- law plans to marry her off to the highest bidder. Still Cole escorts Ellenor back to the Highlands; on their trek north, she melts his frozen heart as they fall in love.

Filled with rage, anger, and a need to conceal any warm emotions, Cole makes the tale as he slowly transforms from hulking to warm and caring due to Ellenor. The story line is fast-paced from the first insult tossed by Cole at Ainsley and then the “parcel”; however, the “parcel” bites back. Fans will enjoy the third of seven brothers keeling in matrimony finding seven brides (see To Wed a Highlander and The Highlander’s Bride) as Michelle Sinclair provides an intelligent medieval Scottish romance.

Harriet Klausner

Mistress By Mistake-Susan Gee Heino

Mistress By Mistake
Susan Gee Heino
Berkley, Dec 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425231517

In 1816 heiress Evaline Pinchley looks forward to her birthday coming soon when she reaches the age where she will control her money; she has no plans to marry some wastrel after her wealth. Lord Dashford is tired of matchmakinging moms trying to get their daughters married to him because of his money; he decides to let everyone believe he is broke.

Evaline’s Aunt Bella drags her to a party at the Dashford estate. She gets drunk in his garden to celebrate her liberation birthday. He sneaks out to his garden for a respite from the horde of marriage mommas. The pair accidentally meets in the garden. The next morning she awakens in his bed. However, when his former fiancé arrives proclaiming he is hers; Evaline acquiesces but decides to taste another night in his bed.

This is an amusing Regency romance starring two individuals who deny love and marriage but cannot resist the sexual lure of the other. The story line is fast-paced as the lead couple with a strong support cast (her family and his two best friends) make for an amusing tale of I’m Not in Love only in lust. Susan Gee Heino provides sub-genre fans with a wonderful historical.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Legacy-Diane Amos.

The Legacy
Diane Amos.
Five Star, Nov 2009, $25.95
ISBN 9781594148156

In 1887, Bostonian businessman Jeremiah T. Dalton leaves the east coast for Lowdown, Texas to say his good bye to his dying father Noah. Father and son were estranged for years. Jeremiah’s ranch foreman, Abigail “Abby” Wilcox loathes the easterner for not having time for his kind father until he is on his deathbed.

The will is a bit of a surprise to both Jeremiah and Abby though reflecting on his father, the Bostonian knows it figures. Jeremiah must reside on Dalton Ranch for six months and learn ranching from Abby if he is to inherit. If he fails the test, his dad’s estate will be divided between Abby, Pedro the cook, Uncle Mort, and Whip the ranch hand. Jeremiah considers returning home to his fiancée Evelyn DuBlois and forfeiting the estate, but his attraction to the foreman and her precocious daughter Calreissa has him considering a try at ranching. He is stunned when Brahmin Evelyn arrives in Texas.

This is an entertaining late nineteenth century Americana romantic suspense as someone wants Jeremiah dead. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the city slicker arrives in aptly named Lowdown and never slows down as he confronts the ghosts of his past. Although the support cast is stereotyped from Hollywood westerns, fans will enjoy the romance between the slick easterner and his foreman.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, November 2, 2009

Power Play-Nancy Warren

Power Play
Nancy Warren
Harlequin Blaze, Nov 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373795062

Regretting saying yes to being a bridesmaid at Cousin Leanne’s wedding, massage therapist Emily Saunders returns home to Elk Crossing, Idaho. She is staying at the Elk Crossing Lodge along with the ugliest dress in creation, pumpkin colored and shaped like it was grown in the field. Bed bugs attack her.

Cop Jonah Betts is in Elk Crossing for the over thirties Old Timers Hockey League tournament. He and his horde of players have left no rooms available for Emily and others forced out of theirs. Due to further incompetence, Emily and Jonah share a room. They are attracted to one another, but he promised her he would not make the first pass while they share a room; however if she makes that first pass, he will shoot for the hat trick with her. Instead she places him in the penalty box. Neither expected a Power Play by an unknown killer.

This is a super contemporary romance with hockey and homicide to round out the amusing comedy of errors. The story line is a fast-paced lighthearted frolic that readers will enjoy unless they recently purchased a bridesmaid dress. Readers will enjoy this fine Idaho caper especially the final resolution of what to do with Big Orange (except for fans in Syracuse or Denver) in a state rooting for blue as in the Boise State field.

Harriet Klausner

Untamed-Crystal Jordan

Crystal Jordan
Kensington Aphrodisia, Nov 2009, $13.95
ISBN: 9780758238290

“Stolen Temptation”. The Great Third World War was fought with biological weapons that devastated much of the planet. To survive, humanity adjusted on a cellular level. In New Chicago, hybrid human-lynx, Delilah Chase is a jewel thief. However, her current robbery of a valuable ruby goes wrong when half-human-half-hawk Hunter Avery catches her. He offers her a Faustian deal of going to jail or spending a week in his bed.

“Deadly Temptation”. In New Chicago, Delilah’s human-mink shifter sister Lorelei Chase owns The Tail techno brothel that handles any fantasy a client might request. She refuses to sample what her employees offer or her customers want but her worker jaguar-shifter Nolan Angelo and Fed wolf-shifter Pierce Vaughn have her ready to break her golden rule.

These two interrelated erotic urban romantic fantasies are fun to read as the cast heats up the Windy City from the moment the Avery flies to his penthouse and never slow down until Lorelei brings out the shivers in her two mates. The novella format limits the background even with two entries; this especially makes it difficult for fans to understand the true differences between the diverse hybrids (to include the villain Tarak the viper who gets the short straw) besides the obvious physical beastly attributes. Still fans will relish Crystal Jordon’s erotic take on half breed shapeshifters.

Harriet Klausner

Sexual Secrets-Melissa MacNeal

Sexual Secrets
Melissa MacNeal
Kensington Aphrodisia, Nov 2009, $13.95
ISBN: 9780758234490

In 1898 wealthy Englishman Rutledge Bentley finds the identical twin beauties Colette and Camille on the streets of Paris. He brings them home with him to London where he marries Camille and his son Heath weds Colette.

Colette finds Heath quite the lover yet leaves her unfulfilled while Camille is left wanting by her much older spouse. As they did on the streets of Paris, Camille persuades her twin to switch places so each can taste some alternate lovemaking accompanied by the adrenalin rush of the swap. Now Camille and Colette know how to make and keep father and son coming. However, the siblings are caught with their respective garments down by a stranger who seems to intimately know both of them as he can tell them apart with one look or kiss.

Sexual Secrets is an intriguing late Victorian erotic romance that has double the fun, but also is a double edged blade as the family swapping is fascinating but never quite gels into a cohesive plot beyond the sexcapades. Older fans will keep thinking of the 1973 Yankees with the wife swapping of pitchers Mike Kekich and Fritz Peterson. Still this is an interesting premise that will have the audience wondering whom will end up in whose bed.

Harriet Klausner

Seduction Island-Lorie O'Clare

Seduction Island
Lorie O'Clare
Kensington Aphrodisia, Nov 2009, $13.95
ISBN: 9780758234483

His grandfather wants his heir Jordan Anton to embrace his affluence, but the youngster wants nothing to do with the idle wealthy as he loves managing his Aunt Penelope’s Big Sky ranch. To tempt him, his grandfather sends him to Seduction Island accompanied by Sicilian Princess Tory Alixandre so that he can taste what he is ignoring.

However, he feels like he has been sentenced to hard time in spite of the pristine sea and coral reef until Jordon meets and is attracted to event planner Amber Stone. She reciprocates but conceals two damning secrets from him. First her true social status and second her lack of experience. As she falls in love she owes him the truth, but fears he will end their relationship; beside which he has the lovely Tory to occupy him on the island paradise that to Jordan is an island prison.

This is an interesting romantic triangle although none of the participants garner empathy from the reader. Still fans will enjoy Jordan’s issues as he is expected to marry Tory who loathes being forced into a marriage, but he loves Amber who is on the island seeking a wealthy husband to bail out her bankrupt family. Fans will enjoy untangling the convoluted webs of marital deception.

Harriet Klausner

Men on Fire-Susan Lyons, Rachelle Chase, Jodi Lynn Copeland

Men on Fire
Susan Lyons, Rachelle Chase, Jodi Lynn Copeland
Kensington Aphrodisia, Nov 2009, $12.95
ISBN: 9780758238016

“Too Hot to Handle” by Susan Lyons. Jade Rousseau needs a fiancé to escort her to her company’s social events. She may have found her man when she outbids her friends for firefighter Quinn O’Malley at a benefit event.

“The Firefighter Wears Prada” by Rachelle Chase. Fashion designer Delta Ballantyne asks firefighter Evan Marshall to model her line of men’s underwear although she would not mind personally modeling him.

“Playing With Fire” by Jodi Lynn Copeland. Firefighter Lincoln Gabriel has helped Erica Donelson ever since her husband, his best friend, dumped her, but now wants more than friendship from her.

Though resolutions are too quick, these are three enjoyable erotic romances starring women who know how to bring the heat from the firefighters in their professional and personal lives.

Harriet Klausner