Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wanted!-Vicki Lewis Thompson

Vicki Lewis Thompson
Harlequin Blaze, Jun 2010, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373795482

After two years keeping control of her impulses by being Herman’s girlfriend, photographer Dominique Jeffries decides enough. She dumps Herman and leaves for Wyoming to find the old Dominique.

Veterinarian Nick Chance is fuming at his brother for ordering him to dig postholes in a rocky area. Shirtless, he meets Dominique who has a ribald self deprecating sense of humor. They each like what they see and agree to a short term tryst. As they fall in love, Nick struggles to conceal his desire for her to be with him forever while she struggles between wanting to be with him forever and her need to find the independent feisty Dominique who went into hiding the last couple of years.

This is an entertaining ranch romance starring two likable individuals and a solid support cast. The story line focuses on both internally insisting to themselves “I’m not in love” while wanting the affair to go on indefinitely. Although the “I’m in love” revelation is so abrupt, it catches the lead pair off guard and the audience will initially discredit it; still fans will enjoy a trip to the Grand Tetons in Wyoming where the Last Chance Ranch welcomes readers.

Harriet Klausner

The Sexy Devil-Kate Hoffmann

The Sexy Devil
Kate Hoffmann
Harlequin Blaze, Jun 2010, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373795505

In high school Angela Weatherby fell in love with star athlete Max Morgan, who was a player. Now she is authoring a book on “Smooth Operators: A Woman’s Guide to Avoiding Dating Disasters”. However, she has hit a snag when two womanizing hunks reform and marry her friends although she insists they are inside the margin of error.

Based on posts to her website, Max, now a professional baseball player, deserves his own chapter as the epitome of The Sexy Devil. Angela decides to look him up assuming that as an adult she will be immune to his curveball. Instead she learns the error of her ways as she still wants him. He is in love too, but what will happen when he learns she classified him as another unfeeling male creep.

This is a fun lighthearted contemporary frolic as the baseball player and the writer steal each other’s heart but struggle to complete the game of love. Although the story line is a bit thin, fans will enjoy the fun tale as Angela begins to wonder how many devilish hunks belong outside the breaking a woman’s heart “norm”.

Harriet Klausner

A Most Sinful Proposal-Sara Bennett

A Most Sinful Proposal
Sara Bennett
Avon, Apr 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061339172

In 1837 at Miss Debenhan’s Finishing School, Marissa Rotherhild, daughter of two avid botanists, tells her Husband Hunters Club friends that she has chosen her husband, the Honorable George Kent of Surrey. Known as a rake, she believes she can change the womanizer.

Marissa goes to meet George at the family country estate, but instead encounters his reclusive older sibling, Lord Valentine Kent, who she finds attractive and his obsession with roses makes her feels close to home. However, his quest for the most likely extinct Crusader's Rose excites her almost as much as does Valentine.

The latest Husband Hunters Club early Victorian romance (see Led Astray by a Rake) is an enjoyable tale starring two fascinating lead characters linked by desire for one another and knowledge of botany that Sara Bennett deftly interweaves into the plot. The story line starts a bit slower than usual, but once Valentine and Marissa begin the search with a rival of his stalking them to steal the find if they make it, the plot moves rather quickly and entertainingly. Sub-genre fans will join the trek for the rare rose as A Most Sinful Proposal is worth reading.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Simply Insatiable-Kate Pierce

Simply Insatiable
Kate Pierce
Kensington Aphrodisia, May 2010, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758241382

Married couple, Lady Jane and Lord Blaize Minshom, has lived separate lives for seven years. She stayed at one of their country estates rusticating; he remained in London womanizing at Madame Helene's Pleasure House.

However, Lady Jane decides the time has come to regain her marriage as she misses the sexual intimacy they once shared. On the other hand, Lord Minshom wants her to leave the city so he can continue with his depraved lifestyle that includes male sexual encounters as well as other women at the House of Pleasure. When he fails to drive her away, he sends her away. However, his bed feels tundra cold without Lady Jane in it and he rages when he watches her flirt and who knows what else with men at the House of Pleasure until she decides he is pathetic and leaves. Now he follows her to the countryside to win back his wife.

This is an engaging Regency erotic romance that runs much of the gamut’s several pleasures as Kate Pierce reruns her fans to Madame Helene's Pleasure House (see Simply Wicked). Jane is terrific as a brave brazen woman who wants her spouse back although the seven year itch seems questionable. Minshom has issues that drive him to destroy loving relationships. His dark side makes the tale fresh as he seems neurotic with a relationship phobia; of which two key ones are resolved too nicely with the depth of psychological traumas. Putting that aside; readers will relish Simply Instable as the author pierces the Regency subgenre veneer with a refreshing second chance tale.

Harriet Klausner

Dark Harvest-Anitra Lynn McLeod

Dark Harvest
Anitra Lynn McLeod
Kensington Aphrodisia, May 2010, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758235343

In the Onic Empire, Sterlave the Harvester has been prepared for one year for virginal initiation until the time comes to select his bondmate; now he chooses Princess Kasmiri as his bondmate. Haughty, Kasmiri rejects Sterlave as being beneath her class. However, he ignores her denial of their attraction and soon has the virgin wanting his touch as she enjoys their sexual activity.

When her mother the Onic empress dies suddenly, Kasmiri replaces her. However, her hold on the throne is shaky as evil from without and rebellious betrayal from within threaten the new empress. Her only hope to survive resides with Sterlave, whom she kicked aside when she replaced her mother.

The second Onic Empire romantic fantasy (see Wicked Harvest to better understand the sexual hierarchy) is an interesting tale as sexual depravity is the norm with rape and torture a way of life regardless of the victim’s sex. Anitra Lynn McLeod cleverly keeps much of the violent assaults off-page using the aftermath emotions to tell the molestation. Ironically Kasmiri is a bi*ch, but her haughty nastiness seems right for her lofty position in this empire although more insight into the caste system (especially the sexual) would be appreciated.

Harriet Klausner

Taste of Temptation-Cheryl Holt

Taste of Temptation
Cheryl Holt
Berkley, Jun 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425235140

In 1814 Philippe Dubois sells desperate Helen Hamilton the Spinster’s Cure that he insists will have her wed in four weeks. Since she has no money he accepts her payment after she is married.

Thirty years old Tristan Odell warns his eighteen year old half brother the Earl Michael Seymour not to mess with the servants. Illegitimate Odell struggles with what is best for Michael and his twelve year old half sister Rose as he wonders why his father whom he never recognized him named him their guardian. He seeks a governess though Michael’s cousin Maud Seymour insists they do not need one. She plans for Michael to wed her daughter.

Helen applies for the job, but Odell rejects her because she is beautiful. She begs him for the sake of her sisters eighteen year old Jane and twelve year old Amelia as they were kicked off their estate. When Michael grabs her, Odell accuses her of being a hooker. Thirsty she drinks the elixir and tells him she cursed him with the Spinster’s Cure

Helen visits Madam Lauretta to arrange a mistress position for her. Odell escorts Michael there hoping to reduce the earl’s sexual prowling of the staff. He is stunned when Lauretta introduces Odell to Helen. He hires her as Rose’s governess and welcomes her two sisters into the mansion. Odell begs her to lift the curse. Michael and Jane are attracted to each other while Maud is outraged by the hussies honing in on her and her daughter’s turf.

The Regency Cinderella plot lines are fun with their adult spins while the cast is extremely strong yet diverse in personality though three extended families make up the storyline. Although the story line is too similar in many key ways to the first tale though refreshed somewhat by a second romance, sub-genre readers will look forward to more Promise of Pleasure tales starring the Spinster’s Cure.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Get What You Give-Stephanie Perry Moore

Get What You Give
Stephanie Perry Moore
Kensington Dafina, May 1 2010, $9.95
ISBN: 9780758234469

Like her older sister Hayden, Hailey Grant matriculates at Western Smith College. However, unlike big sister, Hailey has doubts about pledging with Beta Gamma Pi as the sorority rejects her best friend Teddi Spencer.

When Teddi runs for Student Government Association President against Covin Randall, Hailey has a problem as she is attracted to the hunk, but feels a loyalty to her BFF. Enflaming the strained friendship is Hailey’s belief that Covin is better suited for the council leadership position than her roommate is although she is Teddi’s campaign manager. When a fire breaks out in their dorm, Hailey risks her life to save orphaned Teddi's family memorabilia. Her courage impresses Covin who starts to date the sophomore.

Get What You Give is a fine Beta Gamma Pi entry as the heroine learns the meaning of relationship and friendship, leading and independence vs. sheepishly going along, and faith that God is there when you need him. Targeting young teens, Stephanie Perry Moore provides a strong entry as Hailey learns to adhere to her values not drift from them.

Harriet Klausner

Do You Take This Cop?-Beth Andrews:

Do You Take This Cop?
Beth Andrews:
Harlequin SuperRomance, May 2010, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373716340

In South Carolina when she realizes that her spouse is a pedophile, a stunned despondent Lynne Addison flees along with her nine years old son to keep her offspring safe from his predatory father. She changes her name to Faith Lewis and that of her son to Austin; knowing her spouse has the law on his side.

Faith stops in Kingsville, Maine. There she meets police officer Nick Coletti, who she likes. However, she hesitates telling Nick that she is on the run because he is law enforcement and the cops are looking for her. Still she hopes he is on her side if Armageddon comes to Kingsville as she will not give up Austin to his dad. However, Faith falls in love with Nick, which is not in her cards. Finally, her spouse’s private investigator arrives in town asking questions about the single mom and her son.

This is an interesting romantic suspense that loses an opportunity by failing to dig deeply into the consequences of what Lynne illegally did. Instead the story line chooses a simpler path by focusing on a second chance at love rather than Lynne’s flight with her tweener son. Still fans will enjoy Beth Andrews’ well written contemporary due to Lynne now Faith coming across as real with her fearing shadows everywhere starting with making her child come to work with her rather than being left home alone.

Harriet Klausner

An Honorable Man-Darlene Gardner

An Honorable Man
Darlene Gardner
Harlequin SuperRomance, May 2010, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373716364

Almost two decades ago, Alison Blaine fell to her death while in Indigo Springs in the Pocono Mountains. Everyone assumed her death was a tragic accident, which is what her then twelve year old son Ben Nash was told and accepted.

Now a Pittsburgh Gazette investigative reporter Ben Nash has no reason to think otherwise about his late mom’s tragic death nineteen years ago until an e-mail arrives strongly implying that Dr. Ryan Whitmore should have been investigated but was not; the tone implies a homicide occurred and not an accident as he believes. Ben has no reason why anyone would kill his mom or why someone would send an email with Blaine in the address at this time or as a sick joke. Unable to ignore the implications, Ben goes to Indigo Springs to learn the truth. When he meets the late doctor’s daughter Dr. Sierra Whitmore, his attraction to her makes him reconsider whether he needs the truth at the cost of their growing relationship. She feels the same way as he does, but also wants to also protect her deceased dad’s reputation.

The key to this complicated investigative romance is the lead couple’s needs involving their respective parents. Ben obsesses with knowing what happened to his mom while Sierra fixates on protecting her father’s reputation. Each comes across as real with genuine desires, which makes for a fabulous contemporary drama as both characters and readers become consumed with knowing what happened nineteen years ago.

Harriet Klausner

Until He Met Rachel-Debra Salonen

Until He Met Rachel
Debra Salonen
Harlequin SuperRomance, May 2010, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373716333

When her marriage ended, accountant Rachel Grey took only the Porsche and left Trevor in Denver while relocating to Sentinel Pass in the Black Hills. There she plans to run a web-design business.

When Rachel meets local artist Rufus Miller, she hopes to persuade him to let her design a website for him. Rufus refuses at first, but she remains persistent until he reluctantly agrees because he is attracted to her and her energy. As she works with him on his website, Rachel realizes Rufus’ hesitancy is caused by his past that he prefers to conceal; as he is the famous underwear model R.J. Milne. He wants his work taken seriously and not because he posed.

This is an enjoyable contemporary romance starring two likable lead protagonists who seem so contrary fans will assume they have no chance as an entry. He is a hermit with good reasons for withdrawing form society while she is an extrovert with good reasons for bringing him back into society. Readers will enjoy the Spotlight on Sentinel Pass as Debra Salonen writes delightful tale of opposites-attract.

Harriet Klausner

Still The One-Robin Wells

Still The One
Robin Wells
Forever, May 1 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9780446555982

In Chartreuse, Louisiana Kate Charmaine and Zack Ferguson spent the greatest and worst summer of their lives together. They were in love, but he was unable to commit to her. She became pregnant and depressingly gave up her child for adoption.

Seventeen years later, Zack returns to town accompanied by pregnant teenager Gracie, who is the daughter Kate gave up for adoption. Her adoptive parents are dead and her guardian demands she remain with Zack with the stipulation he shares custody with Kate. Stunned by the turn of events, Kate, a widow since her spouse died in Iraq two years ago, is euphoric to meet her biological daughter, looks forward to being a relatively young grandma, but has doubts about Zack who hurt her the first time around.

The return to Chartreuse (see Between the Sheets) is worth the time as Robin Wells provides a poignant often amusing family drama. The lead triangle is solid as each is fully developed with flaws and problems. Readers will enjoy the second chance contemporary while rooting for a finish from the Bard: “All’s well that ends well”.

Harriet Klausner

The Maverick-Jan Hudson

The Maverick
Jan Hudson
Harlequin American, May 2010, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373753116

In Austin, Texas Cassidy Outlaw enjoys jogging especially when hunk Griffin “Tight Buns” Mitchell is right in front of her wearing hip hugging shorts. In her mind he has the perfect butt and other well carved body parts that she can see while her imagination fills in the rest. The view gets too close when he abruptly stops and she crashes into him skinning her knee.

However, when she learns he is a lawyer, she immediately decides she wants nothing to do with him. Having been nuked by an attorney she planned to marry, Cass has outlawed the legal profession when it comes to personal relationships. Yet she cannot stop admiring and thinking of him. They begin dating, but he conceals his reason for going out with her is to buy property from her, but now that he is falling in love he questions his method.

The seventh Texas Outlaws contemporary romance is a fun tale starring a twin (Cass’ sister Sunny’s tale was the previous entry The Twin) and Tight Buns. The family members, who have led previous dramas, rally around kicking Griff to the Oklahoma border except for her daddy the senator. Griff knows he behaved unscrupulously so has quite a trek to regain the trust of the woman he betrayed. Although the resolution seems too easy, fans of the Texas Outlaws will enjoy the romance of the second twin.

Harriet Klausner

Dream Daddy-Daly Thompson

Dream Daddy
Daly Thompson
Harlequin American, May 2010, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373753123

In Serenity Valley, Ian Foster and the human race are barely on talking terms. In fact his preference is not to speak with anyone except the sheep on the ranch and to a lesser degree his brother Daniel. However, he has no choice but to discuss with an accountant his business books as he has an IRS audit scheduled.

He hires Tansy Appletree to clean up, organize and prepare his records. She is attracted to the misanthrope because she believes his gruff exterior hides a vulnerable heart. He grumpily considers her Miss Sunshine though he conceals he likes her energy and enthusiasm. When she asks him to participate in a winter carnival she is helping organize, he wants to say yes but tells her no; an answer she refuses to accept as she sees how nurturing he is with Daniel’s foster child.

The immovable object meets the irresistible force as the accountant and the rancher collide head on in a terrific contemporary romance with the IRS serving as matchmaker. The battle lines are drawn with Ian’s heart being the front as readers will enjoy this fun gender war.

Harriet Klausner

Stealing Kathryn-Jacquelyn Frank

Stealing Kathryn
Jacquelyn Frank
Zebra, May 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9781420109849

Adrian serves as a middle man who steals dark energy from the nightmares people suffer and delivers if to his masters. However he has paid a high price for his servitude as the once handsome hunk has been converted into a beast due to the dark forces he absorbs.

Known through history as Sandman, Morpheus and other aliases, Adrian visits Kathryn intent on doing his job, but finds he needs much more from her. Obsessed with owning her, he abducts her to add to his bounty inside his castle. Shocking him, Kathryn is repulsed by the creature that kidnapped her. Shocking her, she is actually attracted to the fiend although she abhors being his prisoner. Still with his sister explaining who he is, she begins to see the diminishing flicker of light that still glimmers inside his heart and plans to make it shine with love.

Stealing Kathryn is a terrific dark romantic fantasy starring a fascinating villain and the female who redeems his soul. Although Adrian is an intriguing energy collector, Kathryn’s seeming flightiness makes the tale as she falls in love, but her doubts about her beloved’ redemption lead her bouncing back and forth between flight (from him) and fight (for him). Jacquelyn Frank’s second Gatherers’ novel (see Hunting Julian) is a wonderful character driven tale.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Spontaneous-Brenda Jackson

Brenda Jackson
Harlequin Blaze, Jun 2010, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373795420

Former cop now a private investigator for the past three months Duan Jeffries rushes from a case in Atlanta to attend his brother, the once “Holy Terror” Terrance, wed Sherri Griffin (see Temperature Rising). He muses about the family’s rash of marriages as his sister Olivia recently wed Senator Reggie Westmoreland (see Tall, Dark and Westmoreland) and his father to his devoted assistant. He is happy for all of them as he feels they deserve the best and they got the best.

During Terrence’s reception, Duan and Sherri's friend ER nurse Kimani Cannon sneak away to make love. As they get to know one another, he is appalled when she mentions to him who her four failed marriages mom is now engaged to. When he was a cop, he thought strongly that Edward Villeros killed his two wives, but could not find proof. He vows to save her mom from a fatal mistake while Duan and Kim fall in love; however with her mom’s track record Kim rejects happily ever after leaving Duan to wonder if the last Jeffries standing will remain a bachelor.

This is a superb hot romantic suspense thriller that grips the audience from the moment Kim mentions the name of her future step father and never takes a breather afterward. The mystery of Edward is well designed so readers are unsure whether he is a black widower or a bad luck husband. However, the tale belongs to the lead couple as Kim has relationship issues that make Duan wary to confess she makes him whole.

Harriet Klausner

Blazing Bedtime Stories Volume V-Leslie Kelly and Jennifer LaBrecque

Blazing Bedtime Stories Volume V
Leslie Kelly and Jennifer LaBrecque
Harlequin Blaze, Jun 2010, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373795413

"A Prince of a Guy” by Leslie Kelly. In the Kingdom of Grand Falls on another planet, vain widow Queen Verona sends the Captain of the Amazonian Royal Guard warrior Olivia Vanderbrook to Earth to bring home the heir to the throne Prince Ruprecht. She has few clues beyond fast food warnings and San Francisco. Her inquiry leads her to carpenter and rock musician Rafe Cabot, who could be the royal’s twin although Olivia believes he is the real deal in more ways than one.

"Goldie and the Three Brothers" by Jennifer LaBrecque. Ardmore Winery is run by three brothers while marketing is done by Goldie Dawkins. In the Georgia mountains she is to meet one of the trio Chad “workaholic” Malone at the remote cabin. The hike is strenuous and the storm make sit worse, but she arrives at the remote cabin only to find Jake Malone there to greet her. Attracted but keeping their distance, the pair cannot avoid one another as lust and perhaps love wins over caution.

Though different subgenres, these are two amusing well written but heated (they are Blazes at bedtime) romances.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Men Of Danger-Lora Leigh, Red Garnier, Alexis Grant and Lorie O'Clare

Men Of Danger
Lora Leigh, Red Garnier, Alexis Grant and Lorie O'Clare
St. Martin’s, May 2010, $$7.99
ISBN: 9780312576363s

"Hannah's Luck" by Lora Leigh. Due to his late wife’s infidelity, Sheriff Rick Grayson ignores his attraction to Hannah Brookes until a break-in at her home occurs.

"Reckless" by Red Garnier. Seven years ago her father was murdered and Paige Avery was injured. Still suffering from amnesia, she returns to the site of her nightmare to confront Detective Zach Rivers with a plea for the whole truth; not recalling his sweet kisses.

"Tempt Me" by Alexis Grant. Popular rapper Anita Brown is tired of her family leeches who live off of her hard earned money so she turns to her equally hard working security chief Zachary Mitchell for solace, not expecting his soul.

"Love Me 'til Death" by Lorie O'Clare. Detective Ashley Jones makes it clear she is dissatisfied with FBI Agent Chase Reed intruding on her homicide investigation; she also makes it clear that she would be very satisfied if he would intrude in her personal life.

These are four entertaining romantic suspense tales that showcase how wide the range the sub-genre contains with the best being Red Garnier’s strong whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Haunting Warrior-Erin Quinn

Haunting Warrior
Erin Quinn
Berkley, May 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425234143

Rory MacGrath works at night at the Low Down bar, a dive in which only cockroaches frequent as the place is near the Pacific yet far enough that one cannot smell the ocean. He is haunted at night with recurring dreams that happen even when he dozes while watching ESPN. A woman whose attire looks like it comes from an Irish museum keeps shadowing him and his late grandmother pleads with him to go home.

Finally unable to cope with ghosts and never the same since his dad vanished into the ancient tome The Book of Fennore, he heeds his grandma’s plea and travels to Ireland to the very place where his father disappeared. However, instead of modern Ireland’s castle ruins, he goes back in time to medieval Eire where he meets the woman of his dreams, Saraid. As they fall in love, both fear their destiny is death, not being together.

This is an interesting Irish time travel romance with a strong support cast in both eras and in the mortal and supernatural realms. The overall enjoyable story line feels unnecessarily stretched in the middle, but fans will still enjoy Rory’s adventures; as he meet the Haunting Beauty of his dreams only not in his body but that of her fiancé while evil prowls waiting to destroy both of them and their respective families.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Knight’s Persuasion-Catherine Kean

A Knight’s Persuasion
Catherine Kean
Medallion, May 1 2010, $7.95
ISBN: 9781605420967

In 1213 his father, the legendary Moydenshire's Lord Geoffrey de Lanceau, sends Edouard on a mission, but the lad stops when he sees a badly wounded woman whom he recognizes lying in a river. Edouard fell in love with Lady Juliana de Greyne and wanted to marry her, but made a foolish wager involving a kiss that ended their relationship when he mistook her sly sister for her. He pulls the woman he still loves to safety and takes her with him so he can drop her off in a safe place.

When they reach his destination, his father’s enemies wait for him and quickly incarcerate the two travelers in the castle tower. Juliana suffers partial amnesia unable to recall recent events while Edouard plots for them to escape so he can complete his sire’s quest and insure his beloved is safe while also uncovering who wants her dead and why.

The exciting latest Knight’s medieval romance (see A Knight’s Temptation and A Knight’s Reward) is another great “Kean” historical tale. The story line hooks the audience with the opening wager that costs the hero more than just a bet and continues to grip readers as Edouard champions his beloved keeping her safe from an insidious killer while also doing his father’s mission and hoping to persuade her they belong together. Although amnesia has been used a lot in romance, this early thirteenth century tale is filled with action and a strong cast (trademarks of Catherine Kean); as such fans will feel transported to the early thirteenth century accompanying the lead couple on their dangerous trek.

Harriet Klausner

It Had To Be You-Francis Ray

It Had To Be You
Francis Ray
St. Martin’s, Apr 27 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312365073

Music’s number one producer is R.D. (Rolling Deep), who can make anyone with a modicum of alent into a superstar. He believes classical violin virtuoso Laurel Raineau can achieve mega status with her next album if she will heed his advice.

Although her recordings do not sell as well as she would prefer, Laurel rejects Zach’s offers, a first for the egotistical producer as everyone wants R.D. She even refuses to meet with him as she detests his public relations media approach, which means commercialization superseding the music. Deciding to use his real name of Zachary Alright Wilder, he tries a duplicitous ruse to just meet the talent who has rejected him. He arranges to see her under his real name at a resort she is visiting. When they fall in love, Zach knows he owes her the truth, but fears losing Laurel as he will have lost her trust. Still he informs her of his deception and she ends their relationship. Desperate he turns to an orchestra of friends and family to get him an encore performance with Laurel before the curtain comes down on their relationship.

The latest Grayson Friends (see One Night with You and Nobody but You) contemporary romance is an entertaining tale of two people from different musical philosophies making them almost seem like star-crossed lovers. Although the key plot device of concealing who you are has been used before, Francis Ray keeps it fresh by showing how wide and diverse the music world is. The ensemble as always in a Ms. Ray tale is on top of the charts, but the lead duet own the story line as each understands the Lovin’ Spoonful’s mantra “the magic is in the music and the music is in me”, make that us.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sinful-Charlotte Featherstone

Charlotte Featherstone
Harlequin Spice, May 2010, $13.95
ISBN: 9780373605439

The Earl of Wallingford has no respect for women, but is far from a misanthrope when it comes to the opposite gender. In fact Matthew thinks females are good for one thing: sex. Thus he is a rake. Matthew is also an artist with no interest in inheriting his title. He goes so far as to finance a gallery by selling erotic painting at an auction.

Street pads assault and rob Matthew who is severely injured. Taken to a hospital his eyes are bandaged. As he heals, he finds himself looking forward to seeing his nursing angel, Jane Rankin. He is attracted to the sound of her voice, knows her smell intimately and relishes her touch when she helps him. Jane falls in love with him, but once the bandages are removed he fails to recognize her. At a wedding, they meet again and Matthew realizes she is his angel. They begin a tryst, but she is ready for a happily ever after, but childhood abuse leaves him unable to commit himself to her.

This is an entertaining heated Victorian romance starring a tortured soul who detests the hypocrisy of the aristocracy and a lowly nurse who simply loves him. The story line is driven by their sparing, but it is Wallingford who brings a vulnerability to the plot that makes this a strong historical. Sinful is a terrific tale with an upcoming online coda.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

In Shelter Cove-Barbara Freethy

In Shelter Cove
Barbara Freethy
Pocket, May 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439173251

Five years ago, Brianna arrived at Angel's Bay, California to marry Derek Kane. However, not long after they exchanged I do, he was arrested for stealing three paintings from the local museum. He was convicted and sent to prison. Just a few weeks before his release, Derek is dead.

A single mom, Brianna believes she is the only person besides her mother-in-law and the real thief who believes her spouse was innocent. Upon his death, she vowed to uncover the identity of the felon so accompanied by their child Lucas returns to Angel’s Bay and not just for her husband’s funeral. She blames Lucas’ best friend police officer Jason Marlowe for Derek’s conviction as his testimony hung her spouse. Thus when she learns he is her neighbor, she is outraged especially when Lucas seems to worship the cop. Worse she is also attracted to him and stunned by clues that make her believe either Derek did the nefarious deed or Jason set him up to take the fall.

The latest Angel's Bay tale (see Suddenly One Summer) is an exciting romantic suspense with angelic support enhancing the plot. The story line is a classic romantic mystery that has readers and the heroine wondering whether Derek or Jason is the culprit. Although the key characters’ cause seems forced to fit the effect rather than driving the flow, fans will enjoy accompanying the widow as she seeks the truth In Shelter Cove.

Harriet Klausner

Vampire Vendetta-Alexis Morgan

Vampire Vendetta
Alexis Morgan
Silhouette Nocturne, May 2010, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373618354

While grieving for the death of his half-sister as well as the rest of his clan, vampire medic Seamus Fitzhugh vows vengeance on those who he holds culpable. Obsessed with killing her predator, he treks to the estate of his enemy vampire clan chieftain Rafferty O'Day.

However, upon arrival Seamus comes across a dying woman. Putting aside his deadly fixation, he applies his medical technician education to rescue hybrid Megan Perez from poisoning. Megan is the cousin of Rafferty’s wife, Joss. As such, Rafferty hires Seamus to serve as a medic. Seamus keeps the half-breed Megan safe from her child’s father who plots to kill her and snatch their offspring. Becoming the Vampire’s Desire as he falls in love while investigating his adversary, Seamus learns an inconvenient truth.

The Morgan mythos that is the prime backbone to the great Vampire Vendetta is the food chain in which purebred vampires reside on the top rung followed by enforcer hybrids and under them humans. That paranormal world is cleverly and plausibly constructed within the entertaining urban fantasy story line. The cast is solid either enhancing the understanding of what motivates the lead couple or the wonderful world of Alexis Morgan.

Harriet Klausner

The Adversary-Lindsay McKenna

The Adversary
Lindsay McKenna
Silhouette Nocturne, May 2010, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373618347

Medicine man Colt Black and Shelly Godwin share a common goal. They have a deep need to travel to the Canadian Rockies together to retrieve and possess an emerald sphere before the malevolent Tupay sorcerer Victor Guerra obtains and uses it. However, neither of the two gung ho warriors knows why they feel an urgent desire to risk their lives on this mission.

Colt and Shelly are surrogate fighters of the Taqe, who are battling evil. Their quest is dangerous, but both continue encouraging one another though she is wary of males and he still suffers a childhood trauma caused by a Skin Walker while their mutual adversary Guerra challenges them every step of the way.

The key to this entertaining romantic fantasy is ironically the evil side of the Tupay-Taqe war as few bad guys are developed as well as Guerra and somewhat less Yellow Teeth the Skin Walker. Colt and Shelly are an intriguing coupling as she informs him in his dreams that she is waiting for him to come for her (no double entendre intended). Fans of good vs. evil showdowns with a romance in the background will want to read The Adversary.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Dragon's Secret-Donna MacQuigg

The Dragon's Secret
Donna MacQuigg
Five Star, May 19 2010, $25.95
ISBN 9781594148682

In 975 Wales, Sayrid the sorceress saw a vision of Viking warrior Kyran and his warriors defeat King Aswyn of Dragon's Head and his army not far from her cottage in the Mystical Forest. Soon after his actual triumph, he leaves the battlefield to seek a small brook he remembers from his childhood before Aswyn betrayed Kyran’s father. He is attacked and injured before someone in the woods shoots his adversary with an arrow.

Sayrid killed his attacker and heals his wounds while insisting he is just a noble barbarian. After Kyran takes over Dragon's Head, the witch Brynn joins neighboring King Oddrun, who had been Aswyn’s partner, in a scheme to overthrow the new overlord. Sayrid believes Kyran is another despot so she is cautious with him though he shares in common the same amulet with her. As the hedge witch and the conqueror fight their feelings, their love is the first step of an ancient prophecy.

This is an exciting Dark Ages romantic fantasy that is fun to read but never quite anchors the era or the romance. Kyran is the Ancient Ones’ destined champion though he prefers to just win back what was taken from his father by treachery and punishing those who committed the seditious acts. Sayrid is an even more suspicious individual as she distrusts everyone especially the latest conqueror who reads her thoughts and enters her dreams. Sub-genre fans will enjoy their escapes as the fated duo learning The Dragon’s Secret.

Harriet Klausner

Tall, Dark, and Wolfish-Lydia Dare

Tall, Dark, and Wolfish
Lydia Dare
Sourcebooks, May 4 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9781402236952

In 1816 Edinburgh, Caitrin the seer warns her coven friend Elspeth Campbell that the man with beast is coming for her. While her three other coven sisters worry about her, Elspeth says the man is probably her father whom she never met.

In London Lord Benjamin Westfield is concerned that for the first time since puberty he failed to change during the full moon. Not wanting to deal with his two older brothers, he turns to Major Forester who suggests he see a healer. Reluctantly and concealing what he does from his sibling by pretending to visit friend Alec MacQuade, Benjamin heads to Edinburgh to ask an old hag Elspeth Campbell to help him.

At the Ferguson gala, Alec escorts Caitrin while he arranges for Benjamin to take Elspeth. Caitrin recognizes Benjamin as the beast from her vision. When Elspeth’s beloved grandfather dies, he is there for her. He learns the woman he seeks is her late mother. As they fall in love, each knows they must reveal their innermost secret; he as the wolf and she as the witch.

The second Westfield Regency fantasy romance (see Ben’s brother Simon in Certain Wolfish Charm) is an engaging tale that sub-genre readers will enjoy. The support is a powerful group with fans hoping for more stories especially that of Alec and Caitrin as well as the third Westfield sibling. The lead couple is a terrific pairing of star-crossed lovers summed up nicely by Ben’s other brother Will when he muses her friends might burn his coach in a pique; as the question remains can a wolf and a witch dare to find happiness together?

Harriet Klausner

The Spoils of Eden-Linda Lee Chaikin

The Spoils of Eden
Linda Lee Chaikin
Moody, May 1 2010, $13.99
ISBN 9780802437495

In 1891, the Hawaiian Board of Health at Kalihi Leper Hospital sends nurse Eden Derrington to the coffee plantation owned by her fiancé Rafe Easton. This is not a social call, as someone informed the Hawaiian Board of Heath that the baby Kip was a resident of the Kalawo leper colony before Rafe found him. Eden is to pick up and bring Kip back to the colony where he will be quarantined as the law forbids the adoption of leper offspring.

Still Rafe wants to adopt Kip and he and his fiancée argue heatedly over the infant and her work involving lepers. They end their engagement and she goes to assists her research scientist father Jerome who at Kalawo runs a clinic while seeking a medical cure for the disease.

Showing moxie by writing about Hawaii after James Michener‘s epic, Linda Lee Chaikin’s first Dawn of Hawaii saga provides readers with a deep look at the archipelago less than a decade before the kingdom joins the United States. The story line is driven by the lead couple whose disagreement over her work with lepers threatens their relationship. Although the key support cast is never developed beyond thin role representation in conjunction with either of the two prime players, readers will relish this fine inspirational historical.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Certain Wolfish Charm-Lydia Dare

A Certain Wolfish Charm
Lydia Dare
Sourcebooks, Apr 6 2010, $6.99
ISBN 9781402236945

In 1816 Lily Rutledge worries about the radical change in behavior of her twelve year old ward Lord Oliver Westfield. She has sent letters to the lad’s guardian Duke Simon Westfield demanding he get involved in his nephew’s life, but she doubts the wastrel reads her missives as he only sends her money and besides he is too busy chasing skirts.

Lily decides the time for confrontation with the womanizing duke has passed. She goes to his home Blackmoor, but is stunned when Simon, realizing what is happening to his nephew, orders her to leave while he takes Oliver into his home. Simon plans to mentor Oliver on what it means to be a Westfield as puberty is bringing out the werewolf gene. Lily refuses to leave because she loves Oliver who calls Her "Aunt Lily" while she thinks of him as her son; nor will she abandon Oliver to a beast who failed to recognize him as blood. However, as Simon and Lily fight their attraction to one another, they fall in love, but he conceals his wolfish tendencies while she becomes more concerned over the physical and emotional changes to Oliver.

This is an entertaining werewolf Regency romantic cozy starring two seemingly cross-starred lead characters who share in common the belief that Oliver comes before their needs. The story line is emotional intense at times but only when Oliver struggles to cope with his hormonal changes especially the monthly need that seems like a werewolf’s PMS. Fans will enjoy this fine historical romance as the author daringly combines the paranormal within an amiable story line.

Harriet Klausner

Shades of Morning-Marlo Schalesky

Shades of Morning
Marlo Schalesky
Multnomah, Jun 16 2010, $13.99
ISBN: 9781601420251

Marnie Wittier owns Books and Brew bookstore-coffee shop in Pacific Grove, California. Sixteen years ago she lived across the country in Clam Unction, Maine where she fell in love with visiting New York lawyer Taylor Cole, but that failed to work out. She left New England to escape her drama family including her estranged sister Rose to live a genteel serene life.

One phone call unanswered means her past has finally caught up with her. Taylor informs Marnie that her sister died, but named her as guardian to her fifteen year old son Emmit. When Emmit, accompanied by Taylor, arrives in California, already filled with regret Marnie is shocked to find her nephew has Downs Syndrome. As she and Taylor fall in love, Marnie struggles to be a mom to Emmit; who she loves very much while the townsfolk especially her customers welcome him as a God sent.

This is an excellent inspirational tale that focuses on God giving people second chances whether they deserve them or not. The support cast is superb while the lead triangle and Max the iguana are great fragile characters. With a fascinating shocking final twist, readers will have no regrets with Marlo Schalesky’s strong novel.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, April 16, 2010

Kentucky Bride-Hannah Howell

Kentucky Bride
Hannah Howell
Zebra, May 4 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420104653

In 1794 Langleyville, Pennsylvania the death of her father hurts but society girl Clover Sherwood is stunned to learn he left her mom Agnes, her two younger twin brothers and her with nothing except poverty and scandal. Her fiancé Thomas Dillingsworth politely dumps her by a letter and the Sherwood family high class friends do likewise as if they are lepers.

Rugged Scotsman Ballard MacGregor arrives in town seeking a wife. He is taken aback when obviously upper class Clover proposes to him. He thinks she is pretty and sweet, but will never survive life on the Kentucky frontier. Still he marries her and his trepidation proves ominous as she struggles to adapt to settlement life. Clover is ready to leave defeated while Ballard still hopes to win her love; not realizing it is her love for him that has ready to leave.

Proving she once had a life outside the Highlands, this is a reprint of a Hannah Howell 1994 early American historical romance starring two likeable lead protagonists. The story line is owned by courageous Clover as she struggles to make a new life on the frontier. Although a misconception plays a pivotal role that feels unnecessary as the lead couple has plenty on their plate with her adjustment from upper class Pennsylvanian to working Kentucky woman in a an overall wonderful Americana.

Harriet Klausner

Undone-Susan Johnson, Terri Brisbin and Mary Wine

Susan Johnson, Terri Brisbin and Mary Wine
Kensington Brava, May 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780758209436

"As You Wish" by Susan Johnson. On 1785 London, the bet between two friends leads to Felicity Belvoir meeting the Earl; he wants to be her first and she wants him to be her last.

“A Storm of Love" by Terri Brisbin. In 1083 Scotland, Agnes of Mull is thrown out of her home into the dangerous wild, but Breac takes her in so she does not die.

"Stealing the Bride" by Mary Wine. In 1554 Scotland Laird Hayden Monroe needs a wife so he decides to kidnap his first and last choice Elspeth Leask as they share a deep passion that he hopes will turn into an even deeper love.

These are three well written heated historicals starring strong males and even stronger females.

Harriet Klausner

Ravished by a Highlander-Paula Quinn

Ravished by a Highlander
Paula Quinn
Forever, May 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9780446552387

In 1685, following the death of King Charles and a betrayal, the British soldiers massacre the inhabitants of Saint Christopher’s Abbey including fellow soldiers assigned there to protect one special resident. First born son of a Laird, Robert MacGregor and his men arrive at the slaughter. Stunned they attack what remains of the invading troops who suffered heavy losses during the carnage. Afterward his men and he search the eerie corpse laden abbey to learn if anyone miraculously still lived. They find one person Davina Montgomery.

He is stunned to learn who the survivor is. Having spent her life hidden away in an abbey by the Royals, Davina is shocked how attracted she is towards her rescuer as she has never felt this way towards a man before. Robbie quickly falls in love with her. They soon flee for their lives as British turncoats pursue with one intention; kill Davina while his father and his clan fear she will bring a massacre to them.

This is an exhilarating late seventeenth century Highlands romance that sub-genre fans will appreciate due to the seemingly star-crossed lovers who make falling in love at first kiss feel genuine. Fast-paced with seemingly most of England and Scotland after them, fans will enjoy learning who Davina is and why she is the target of so many while her new champion willing to die for his beloved.

Harriet Klausner

Sex and the Single Earl-Vanessa Kelly

Sex and the Single Earl
Vanessa Kelly
Zebra, May 4 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420106558

In 1815 the Earl, Simon St. James knows he must marry; the only woman who interests him is intelligent Sophie Stanton. It does not hurt that the obstinate strong willed female, who opposes child labor, owns land with an abundance of coal; something Simon needs for his project.

Sophie loves Simon and hopes to get him one day to reciprocate. However, her activism against the use of child labor places her at odds with the man she loves. As they argue, fuss and fight, they agree to a marriage of convenience as they debate principles. Each knows the intelligence and passion of their disagreement heats up the bedroom as much as the den.

The key to this delightfully fresh Regency romance is the background of the industrial revolution as the lead couple inconveniently is on opposite sides of the debate. The main couple is a wonderful pairing as each has strong arguments supporting their hypothesis. Vanessa Kelly captures the essence of the era below the typical elegant hedonism of the Ton as her lad duet (and others) takes sides on complex societal issues like child labor.

Harriet Klausner

Sex and the Single Earl-Vanessa Kelly

Sex and the Single Earl
Vanessa Kelly
Zebra, May 4 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420106558

In 1815 the Earl, Simon St. James knows he must marry; the only woman who interests him is intelligent Sophie Stanton. It does not hurt that the obstinate strong willed female, who opposes child labor, owns land with an abundance of coal; something Simon needs for his project.

Sophie loves Simon and hopes to get him one day to reciprocate. However, her activism against the use of child labor places her at odds with the man she loves. As they argue, fuss and fight, they agree to a marriage of convenience as they debate principles. Each knows the intelligence and passion of their disagreement heats up the bedroom as much as the den.

The key to this delightfully fresh Regency romance is the background of the industrial revolution as the lead couple inconveniently is on opposite sides of the debate. The main couple is a wonderful pairing as each has strong arguments supporting their hypothesis. Vanessa Kelly captures the essence of the era below the typical elegant hedonism of the Ton as her lad duet (and others) takes sides on complex societal issues like child labor.

Harriet Klausner

Something Like Fate-Susan Colasanti

Something Like Fate
Susan Colasanti
Viking, May 4 2010, $17.99
ISBN: 9780670011469

Although Lani and Erin are as opposite as two high school girls can be, they are BFFs. Lani the introvert is reflective and somewhat reticent while Erin the extrovert is bodacious and bold. Lani prefers to be alone rather than just go with the flow while Erin wants to lead the flow.

Erin and Jason start dating. Lani, who has not shown an iota of interest in boys, is stunned by her attraction to her BFF's boyfriend though she hides it. She struggles not to betray Erin, but increasingly believes Jason should be her boyfriend as the horoscope reader believes they are destined to be together. Still she refuses to step out on her BF, but her avoidance efforts become impossible to sustain as fate intervenes when Erin leaves for the summer and Jason hangs with Lani.

This is an entertaining teen relationship triangle starring two BFFs and the boy between them. The lead trio is terrific as each feels genuine and the use of social networks is a cautionary reminder of to keep your personal relationships’ dirty laundry off line. Teenage readers will enjoy Something Like Fate wondering who if either will end up with Jason and what will happen to the friendship as the lead trio provides a deep angst-laden tale.

Harriet Klausner

Something Like Fate-Susan Colasanti

Something Like Fate
Susan Colasanti
Viking, May 4 2010, $17.99
ISBN: 9780670011469

Although Lani and Erin are as opposite as two high school girls can be, they are BFFs. Lani the introvert is reflective and somewhat reticent while Erin the extrovert is bodacious and bold. Lani prefers to be alone rather than just go with the flow while Erin wants to lead the flow.

Erin and Jason start dating. Lani, who has not shown an iota of interest in boys, is stunned by her attraction to her BFF's boyfriend though she hides it. She struggles not to betray Erin, but increasingly believes Jason should be her boyfriend as the horoscope reader believes they are destined to be together. Still she refuses to step out on her BF, but her avoidance efforts become impossible to sustain as fate intervenes when Erin leaves for the summer and Jason hangs with Lani.

This is an entertaining teen relationship triangle starring two BFFs and the boy between them. The lead trio is terrific as each feels genuine and the use of social networks is a cautionary reminder of to keep your personal relationships’ dirty laundry off line. Teenage readers will enjoy Something Like Fate wondering who if either will end up with Jason and what will happen to the friendship as the lead trio provides a deep angst-laden tale.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Montana Destiny-R.C. Ryan

Montana Destiny
R.C. Ryan
Forever, May 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9780446548632

In Gold Fever, Montana Marilee Trainor loves being the ranching town's emergency medic. She hopes to plant permanent roots here.

After his parents died, Wyatt McCord traveled the world before recently coming home to his family ranch following the death of his grandfather. He renews his childhood ties to his cousins Zane and Jesse. However the trio is stunned that their grandfather was murdered and each believes what they used to think was grandfather's lunacy might be real: hidden gold somewhere on the ranch.

Marilee treats Wyatt when he is injured while bull riding. They are attracted to one another, but each shares an obstinate independence streak and a hot temper. Some nearly fatal "accidents" that seems more like homicide attempts has the wannabe lovers united against an unknown enemy.

The middle Lost Nugget ranch romance (see Jesse’s tale - Montana Legacy) is an entertaining Big Sky romance starring two fascinating characters who may be in love, but appear to have stronger separatist needs; Maslow would love to study this pair. The story line is well written, but never moves forward in regards to the overarching theme re the gold. Still fans will enjoy this fine McCord contemporary as the doc and the patient find love is not enough even if they feel destiny is driving them together.

Harriet Klausner

A Lady Never Tells-Candace Camp

A Lady Never Tells
Candace Camp
Pocket, May 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439117972

In 1824, after burying their mother, the four Bascombe sisters (eldest sister Mary, Rose, Camellia, and Lily) leave America seeking their grandfather, the Earl of Stewkesbury, whom they never met because he has cut off their mom for marrying their dad. They have no idea how cold the reception will be, but hey have little choice.

In London, a thief grabs the satchel of papers Mary held. Sir Royce Winslow stops the footpad and returns the bag to Mary. When they explain they are the grandchildren of Stewkesbury, he is stunned as the elderly curmudgeon just died and his stepbrother Oliver is the new earl responsible for the four females. Royce and fiery Mary are attracted to each other though he is a bit concerned over her skills with knives and guns. As they fall in love, they and her sisters prevent a kidnapping.

The first Willowmere late Regency romance is an entertaining historical romp starring four wild female “colonists” taking the Ton by storm with their brazen antics; ironically none of the knife carrying siblings want to join high society though they do. Readers will relish misinterpretation, misfortune, and missteps as the four sisters invade England affirming that the barbarians crossed the Atlantic.

Harriet Klausner

Too Hot For A Rake-Pearl Wolf

Too Hot For A Rake
Pearl Wolf
Zebra, Apr 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420104813

In 1818 engaged Lady Helena Fairchild feels like a fool after she makes a scandalous error when she inadvertently ended up in the bed of the king of rakes Desmond Bannington. Her engagement ends immediately and to abate the scandal the Marquis escorts the banished woman to rusticate at a friend's estate.

Desmond is known for his French brothel residence, but upon inheriting the title believes he needs to amend his immoral behavior and to act with the decorum of a Marquis. However, he is attracted to Helena, who besides being beautiful is bodacious. Unable to resist her lure, he starts a seduction; unaware that someone willing to kill lurks in the background waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting duet.

The second Fairchild Regency romance (see Too Hot for a Spy) is an engaging historical mostly due to the antics of the lead couple. Desmond, banned by his father a dozen years ago, now inherits the title with plans to behave accordingly, but that brazened beauty keeps him thinking with his lower head. Their inane activity makes for a fun tale although the suspense subplot feels forced into the story line.

Harriet Klausner

Lord Of The Isles-Debbie Mazzuca

Lord Of The Isles
Debbie Mazzuca
Zebra, Apr 2010, $4.99
ISBN: 9781420110050

The long held belief re the MacLeod mythos is that one of them was once married to a fairy princess. Thus whenever a miracle is needed they just need to wave the fairy flag they possess.

Laird Rory MacLeod is dying from battle wounds received protecting his clan. His brother believes the time for a MacLeod Miracle is now so he waves the legendary flag. Almost instantly, after leaving a taxi, a bewildered Dr. Ali Graham finds herself in Rory's death bed. She has no idea how she got to late sixteenth century Scotland when she was just in the twenty-first century Scotland. One thing is for sure her arrival and her medical skills prove to be miracles as Rory recovers. However his clan and others believe his guardian angel is a witch; not just because of her saving his life, but because she has bewitched the widower laird into falling in love with her. He decides to use the last of the Fairy skill to send his beloved to safety back to the future.

This whimsical time travel romance is a fun read as the hero and his healer fall in love while the clan and others allow superstition to rule their minds as most assume she is a witch due to her saving Rory’s life and devilishly charming him with a love spell. Readers will appreciate the escapades of a modern day physician in 1570 Highlander Scotland where her knowledge and skills could lead to her burning at the stake.

Harriet Klausner

Something Scandalous-Christie Kelley

Something Scandalous
Christie Kelley
Zebra, Apr 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420108767

In 1817 London, on his deathbed, Lord Kendal confesses to his beloved daughter Elizabeth that he is not her biological father. Thus the heir to his fortune resides across the ocean in America though odious Londoner relatives Richard and Caroline want the ducal and only need to remove the Canadian usurper Edward and his son. The distant relative’s oldest son and a family retinue arrive to take ownership of the estate while a stunned Elizabeth grieves her loss but also searches for her mother's diary to learn the identity of the man who sired her.

Virginian William Altherton and his sibling horde invade the mansion he inherited when his dad Edward died nine months ago. He plans to sell off his inheritance so that he can go home to get married. He is unhappy to learn he will not be leaving for America for several months. Elizabeth escorts the Atherton bunch around London and assists them in proper behavior amidst the Ton. As rumors fly that she is related to Americans, William and Elizabeth are attracted to one another. He helps her on her paternity suit quest until his fiancée Abigail Mason arrives in town to reclaim what is hers, but he now has doubts.

This is an action packed Regency romantic suspense that will have the audience clamoring for more Atherton adventures. The lead couple is an intriguing pairing of two outsiders, but it is the strong secondary cast that brings them and the era to life while also brining tension to the superb story line. The sub-genre audience will enjoy Christie Kelley’s entertaining historical tale.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Two Brides Too Many-Mona Hodgson

Two Brides Too Many
Mona Hodgson
WaterBrook, May 4 2010, $13.99
ISBN: 9780307458902

In 1895 Portland, Maine, widower Wyatt Sinclair informs his four daughters, his position as a locomotive has been abolished, but he has a job in Paris with a single room apartment that he must take. He has his two oldest daughters Kat and Nell advertise in the Cripple Creek Prospector for husbands while his younger children Ida and Vivian will stay with their Aunt Alma until they can join their older siblings in Colorado.

Nell and Kat take the train to Cripple Creek to meet their fiancés Judson Archer and Patrick Maloney respectively. Neither meets their respective mail order bride at the station. Kat finds her future spouse is a womanizing drunk and dumps him while Judson fails to show up. A fire has both sisters helping out with Kat rescuing a now orphaned little girl Rosita whose mother died in the inferno; and Nell reads to the frightened kids. Kat has an incident with new Bostonian Dr. Morgan Cutshaw who reads her the riot act as he mistakenly believes she is an incompetent midwife while Judson learns his fiancée is in town.

Two Brides To Many is a fun western romance starring likable sisters who though are fish out of water quickly adapt to their situation although not too easily. The strong support cast brings to life Cripple Creek at the end of the previous century just after a deadly blaze cripples the town; thus in some ways the locale steals the show. However, the entertaining story line is carried by the siblings whose men have a Rocky Mountain worth of self-caused issues to climb to win their hearts.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

In Pursuit of a Scandalous Lady-Gayle Callen

In Pursuit of a Scandalous Lady
Gayle Callen
Avon, May 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061783418

In 1846 London, everyone wonders who posed nude for artist Roger Eastland when he painted the Scandalous Lady portrait hanging in a gentleman’s club. Julian Delane has a personal interest in locating the model as she stole a gem from his family ten years ago leading to his father’s disgrace and death.

The Leland sisters, Rebecca and Susanna, and their cousin Elizabeth Cabot hope to keep their family from another disgraceful scandal that even having a duke to help would not stop the disaster. When Julian and his two friends Leo Wade and Peter Derby meet the three females, each claims to be the model. The three men bet they can prove who the real Scandalous Lady is. Julian believes Rebecca is the one and pursues her as brazenly wears his family’s gem in public.

The first tale of a Victorian romantic trilogy is a wonderful story starring two strong protagonists and a solid support cast. Fast-paced throughout, sub-genre fans will relish the battling to love antics of Rebecca and Julian; and look forward to how well Leo and Peter do when they go up against the formidable Susana and equally kick butt Elizabeth.

Harriet Klausner

Vampire Mistress-Joey Hill

Vampire Mistress
Joey Hill
Berkley, May 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425234181

Gideon killed the vampire who had just killed a human. However, he has no joy in the hunt or the slaying ever since his brother Jacob became a third mark servant giving up his soul to vampire Lady Elyssa. Filled with rage he goes to Club Atlantis a hangout for the BDSM crowd. He rejects a mocking, physical and psychological mistresses; each time destroying the room. Finally club manager Anwyn Naime decides to tame the beast personally.

Anwyn tells him to surrender to her as Daegan the vampire arrives to watch. She says to the hunter three women will strip and restrain him with straps. Gideon explodes and breaks furniture, but makes sure his mistress is safe. Anwyn orders him to keep her women safe while they strap him up. He obeys as they chain him and will play with him until he comes. When he says no more, she frees him. He knows she is the one, but goes berserk when he sees the vampire mark on her. She tells him to leave and hopes he gets what he wants, death. As he leaves, three visitors led by Barnabas demand to see Daegan informing Anwyn they have a message for the vampire. Gideon realizes what Barnabas meant. He finds Anwyn in the alley raped and bitten by Barnabas; she will need her sire’s blood or go insane. Daegan takes her inside and gives orders but allows Gideon to come because Anwyn asked for him.

This is a heated paranormal romance with a strong lead triangle deftly handled as a key plot element. The threat of the heroine to suicide is fascinating yet repetitive as she struggles with the unwanted change. Readers will enjoy Joey Hill’s entertaining urban fantasy erotica with pleasing BDSM scenes starring three lead characters refreshingly different especially having a dominatrix becoming a vampiress.

Harriet Klausner

Impulsive-Cathryn Fox

Cathryn Fox
Heat, May 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780451229960

Sunray accompanied by other shapeshifters wanting to be free wolves moves from her Alpha and the pack in Serene, New Hampshire to Chicago. They settle near where she was viciously assaulted and changed while her lover Ray was murdered one hundred years ago.

Ray has returned having been reincarnated as Kane. When they meet, Sunray knows he is her soulmate. However she also realizes they cannot be united as fate proves cruel since he is a lycan hunter who thrives on killing her kind. Still they team up to end the deadly spree of a rogue shifter, but though he wants her, he cannot get pass the concept that she a member of a species his Instinctive impulsiveness loathes.

The latest Eternal Pleasure shapeshifter romance is a terrific reincarnation second chance at love erotic thriller. The lead couple is a creative pairing as they have a tragic history and apparently an even more tragic future once the case is over. Filled with suspense, readers will appreciate the dangerous Chicago joy ride between Sunray and Kane as love seems not enough to prevent the hunter stalking the she-Lycan.

Harriet Klausner

Hers For The Evening-Jasmine Haynes

Hers For The Evening
Jasmine Haynes
Heat, May 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425234174

"Three's a Crowd." Her best friend Devon hires Robyn the courtesan in order to bring life back into the marriage of Courtney and Seth.

"The Stand-In." Meanwhile Devon has dreamed of sex with her co-worker Hunter for years, but until now had no idea there ain't nothing like the real thing.

"Surrender to Me." Simon wants Haley so he sends her an e-mail telling her that she belongs to him so she needs to surrender her heart and body.

The three tales, somewhat linked through Courtesans, are fun erotic novellas although the plots are somewhat thin. Still entertaining and heated, fans will enjoy the sexual escapades between the clients and the Courtesans (see Yours for the Night).

Harriet Klausner

Risk No Secrets-Cindy Gerard

Risk No Secrets
Cindy Gerard
Pocket, May 18 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439153611

As the Baylor Middle School in El Salvador shuts down for vacation time; American expatriate school administrator Sophie Weber notices a mysterious van near her adopted daughter Hope and her tweener’s best friend Lola. The men snatch Lola. Upset, Sophie cannot reach her former husband Hugh who is out of the country working a kidnap retrieval case. Desperate she calls Hugh’s best friend Wyatt Savage of Black Ops, Inc. She explains what happened and he drops everything to help the woman he loves ever since meeting her twelve years ago when he and Hugh attended a language class she gave; she married Hugh instead of him.

Following a deadly incident at the airport in El Salvador, Sophie explains she has been divorced for two years as Hugh has become only interested in money. Wyatt meets Hope and reads the ransom note sent to Sophie demanding $500,000 for the safe return of Hope. He tells Sophie to let the media know Lola is like a daughter to her to keep her safe once the kidnappers learn the wrong girl was taken. Wyatt arranges for his teammates to come to El Salvatore to help him retrieve Lola and to take Hope safely to Argentina. The battle lines are drawn as everyone involved on three sides will Feel The Heat of a Show No Mercy and Take No Prisoners operation.

The fifth Black Ops romantic suspense is an exhilarating thriller starring a lead couple with a strong second chance subplot and a solid support cast to include previous stars and a secondary romance that is not explored deeply but will please readers. The story line is fast-paced with a super twist although the kidnappers are caught unaware that the hero would bring back-up to a key meeting. Fans of the series will appreciate the El Salvatore retrieval.

Harriet Klausner

Hunted by the Others-Jess Haines

Hunted by the Others
Jess Haines
Zebra, May 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420111873

Following 9/11 the Others came out of hiding to help the city. Several years since the werewolves, vampires, and magi surface, Shiarra Waynest and Sara Halloway run a private investigative firm that avoids the Others as clients; preferring cases with purebred humans.

However, they have a financial crisis as business has been poor so the two female sleuths accept Veronica and her coven as a client. The mage wants them to obtain an artifact that allegedly can control the Others; it is in the possession of vampiric club owner Alec Royce. One of his agents reports Shiarra's plan to Royce; he in turn places her in a precarious situation with her agreeing to a lethal contract.

This is an entertaining urban fantasy starring a strong support cast and a feisty female who needs to find another vocation as her sleuthing skills seem lacking. The Others seem genuine especially in how they relate (or not) with the two private detectives as Shiarra’s friend Arnold the Mage, her former boyfriend, Chaz the werewolf and Alec the vampire make for an exciting tale.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, April 9, 2010

Chasing Perfect-Susan Mallery

Chasing Perfect
Susan Mallery
Harlequin HQN, Apr 27 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373774524

As a child, urban planner Charity Jones had no place she could call home. Thus her fondest desire is to finally settle down somewhere. When Fool's Gold, California hires her to help the hamlet attract new business and men, she thinks this is her permanent place to call home

Men for some reason don't stay in Fool's Gold normally. One exception is former Tour de France winner Josh Golden who left biking after a teammate died in an accident. He has been in hiding in the California foothills. All the women in town want Josh except Charity; all he wants is Charity and not the other women.

The fun behind this entertaining contemporary romance is the aptly titled town that seems to struggle with a scarcity of men; thus leading to poignant jocular situations. The support cast is strong and eccentric while the lead couple is a wonderful pairing as she just wants a home without a man but is hired by a town of women to entice men to come and stay. Fans will enjoy the first visit to Fool’s Gold as Susan Mallery deftly merges humor with pathos.

Harriet Klausner

A Lady's Guide To Improper Behavior-Suzanne Enoch

A Lady's Guide To Improper Behavior
Suzanne Enoch
Avon, Apr 27 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061662218

Adventurers' Club member Colonel Bartholomew James suffers from survivor guilt as he will never forget the massacre of his unit. In fact the often rude Colonel has a need to understand who set up the ambush and why as well as avenging his fallen comrades.

Lady Theresa Weller finds James' rough boorish exterior despicable for someone in polite society. However, she also recognizes he suffers from incredible anguish and she wants to sooth his tormented psyche, which is unlike someone who adheres to proper decorum at all times. Unable to resist her lure after witnessing her temper explode Bartholomew kisses Tess who is shocked to her soul as she wants more yet wants him to stop misbehaving. Determined to help him, Tess hopes to bring him solace with her caring that is turning into love; even risking her life to find out who betrayed his unit.

A Lady's Guide To Improper Behavior deftly brings together a soldier suffering from PTSD and a prim and proper Lady. He brings out her inner passionate misbehavior while she brings out his protective propriety. Together they make for a delightful historical romance as they fall in love investigating who set his unit up.

Harriet Klausner

Into the Dark-Gena Showalter

Into the Dark
Gena Showalter
Harlequin HQN, Apr 27 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373774517

"The Darkest Fire." Geryon the slave to the prince of darkness loves Kadance the goddess who guards the underworld with her essence, but knows what the walls crumbling down mean to her life.

"The Amazon's Curse." Nola the Amazon has been cursed to remain invisible and unheard by others yet is determined to rescue Zane the vampire.

"The Darkest Prison". Atlas the Titan god of strength has imprisoned Nike the Greek goddess of strength and victory who one held him captive.

With two Lords of the Underworld entries and a Tale of Atlantis (“The Amazon’s Curse"), fans of the author will enjoy these three romantic fantasy short novellas although newcomers might find it difficult to dive into the Showalter paranormal realm. To somewhat alleviate that there is an additional 160 or so page Underworld Bonus Guide. A must for series fans, Into the Dark is a fabulous anthology.

Harriet Klausner

Touch of Surrender-Rhyannon Byrd

Touch of Surrender
Rhyannon Byrd
Harlequin HQN, Apr 27 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373774647

Morgan Cantrell wants to become a super Watchman. In that regard, she has worked diligently to achieve her objective overcoming hurdles until now. In Prague, she must work with Kierland Scott the lycan who broke her heart; he loathes her, but she vows even he can be leaped over with her motive saving his brother.

Kierland loathes Morgan because she has the power to control him. He uses every weapon in his arsenal including kisses to keep them apart while blaming her for his need. Now he must work with the female he loathes, fears, and wants to save his brother. Using anger to conceal his feelings, he is shocked into reality when she faces a life threatening situation; he fears he may be too late to make amends and tell her he loves her.

The fifth Primal Instinct urban fantasy is a great entry as two “enemies” team up on a rescue mission in which their respective hearts are at risk from one another as much as their lives are from the death Walkers. Readers will relish the trek from Prague across Europe as Kierland’s world implodes when Morgan is in danger.

Harriet Klausner

Crown of Destiny-Bertrice Small

Crown of Destiny
Bertrice Small
Harlequin HQN, May 2010, $13.95
ISBN: 9780373774494

In Terah, Hetar, the Shadow Prince's realm, and the City; Lara the fairie has loved mortal and immortal men for decades. She has watched with pride her children become rulers. However, recently some have forgotten her pivotal role in the years of peace and prosperity.

Her son the Twilight Lord Kolgrim plans to sire an offspring with the ability to destroy the lands. Lara's great-grandson Dominus Cadarn fears his kingdom is in trouble due to her magic. While her daughter Marzina has the fairie power to save the lands, but shows a rebellious inclination to take over her mother's role. Lara finds solace only with her beloved Shadow Prince Kaliq who vows to help her maintain peace in spite of her descendents.

The sixth and final World of Hetar fantasy is a wonderful climax to the strong saga as Bertrice Small ties up the major threads with a fine family reckoning that feels like a Shakespearean play as the cast allows hate, jealousy and fear to rule their logic. Readers will appreciate the goings-n of a dysfunctional extended family in which the matriarch rules the roost while her descendents want dramatic change; not all motivated to make things better.

Harriet Klausner

Stormwalker-Allyson James

Allyson James
Berkley, May 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425234693

Stormwalker Janet Begay just wants a normal life, but knows that is impossible. She leaves behind her wild man of magical fire Mick who is able to release her dangerous excess energy levels and travels to Magellan, Arizona where magical vortexes converge. There she hopes to learn what happened to the police chief’s daughter Amy McGuire, who mysteriously vanished.

However, Janet may wish for a normal life, but besides being a Stormwalker, her mother is a nasty goddess from hell. Meanwhile her Mick follows her, but he still conceals his past from her especially why he is one of a few essences who can deal with Janet's Stormwalker magic. Janet has other issues to contend with as she believes her dearest mom is behind the vanishing and much more. It is as if she decided the time to confront her daughter is now.

This is a super sublime urban fantasy starring a wonderful heroine who with a mom like she has finds trust uneasy to give especially when she feels the person she wants to give her heart to hides something about his nature from her. The story line is action-packed with a magical mirror providing jocularity; but this tale belongs to the title character who is the daughter of the mother form hell.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bound By Darkness-Annette McCleave

Bound By Darkness
Annette McCleave
Signet, May 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451229762

Soul gatherer Brian Webster is not part of heaven or hell. Filled with remorse for failing his teen sister, instead he reaps souls from the dead praying that one day he will obtain redemption and move past his purgatorial existence.

Brian is attracted to a soul gathering peer Lena Sharpe. However, he is concerned with who she seems to hang out with as her recent sponsors are demons. Still he believes her heart is good. His heart insists Lena is pure, but her actions speaks otherwise as she gives Judas coins to those who join Satan; breaking Brian's heart. As he loses faith, she needs his belief to save their souls.

This Soul Gatherer fantasy (see Drawn Into Darkness) is a superb exhilarating thriller starring two intriguing individuals who are Bound by Darkness but love begins to shine a light in their respective hearts. Fast-paced yet character driven, readers will root for this couple to make it, but don’t bet the mortgage on it as she is trapped in a Faustian Deal and he must choose between saving the one he loves or many strangers; either selecting wrong condemns them for eternity.

Harriet Klausner

The Demon In Me-Michelle Rowen

The Demon In Me
Michelle Rowen
Berkley, May 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425234686

Nervous Eden Riley starts her new consulting work for the Toronto police department. The psychic has vibes that lead her and skeptical police detective Ben Hansen to a serial killer with a knife who is shot to death near her. Out of the dead person's mouth oozes a dark smoke that hammers into Eden.

Stunned Eden is farther shocked when she hears a voice speaking to her from inside her brain. Darrak the demon has moved into her body with plans to fully possess it. Desperate to remove the demon, Eden tries an exorcism, but that fails. Instead she cuts a deal with Darrak. She will work on removing a three century old curse that haunts him if he assists her with her love life making it with Ben.

The Living in Eden first tale is an amusing psychic police procedural. Although the plot is thin, Eden more than makes up for it with her possession and vibes as she works her day job as a private sleuth seeking lost items and dogs, and her consulting with the police. Ironically her psychic skills humanize the demon so that Eden is also attracted to him. Readers who enjoy a fun frolic will want to read this entertaining Canadian paranormal mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Shadow Marked-Anna J. Evans

Shadow Marked
Anna J. Evans
Signet, May 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780451229816

When Samantha Quinn was six years old her parents offered her and her two siblings to demons in a satanic ritual. Sam barely survived the ordeal of being offered as a sacrifice, but went blind and obviously suffered emotional damage

Years later, Sam begins having visions of an odious demon killing people. Seeing the look of horror on the victim's faces, she tries to find a way to save their lives. At the same time, Sam falls in love with her brother Stephen’s childhood friend, Jace. However, as Jace denies his feelings for Sam, she also realizes Stephen is concealing something from her that she fears may be evil and now her newest premonition depicts her beloved as the deceased.

Readers will believe there are plenty of nasty essences between heaven and earth with several planet-side in this haunting urban fantasy. Sam is terrific as she still has mental scars from the ordeal of two decades ago, but refuses to allow her neurosis from crippling her as she tries to protect Jace from a horde of demons who relish devouring humans. Her relationship with Jace makes the tale fresh with their role reversal. The sub-genre audience will feel “Demon Bound” to Anna J. Evans’ strong thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Never Less a Lady-Mary Jo Putney

Never Less a Lady
Mary Jo Putney
Zebra, Mar 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420103298

In 1812 Spain Lord Alexander Randall leads his unit in battle when he receives the cold note from his Uncle Lord Daventry to come home immediately as his cousin died making him the heir. Randall hates Daventry, but is sick of war so he decides to return to England. He also chooses to take his time before seeing his odious uncle who raised him when his parents died, but Daventry allowed his son Branford to bully the younger lad.

Randall stops at his friend Ashton’s home to thank him and his wife Mariah (see Loving a Lost Lord) for saving his life last year when he came to London wounded. Mariah suggests Randall visit her sister, but he might only to see Mrs. Julia Bancroft who he is attracted to though he hid his feelings from everyone.

Three men kidnap Julia. Randall learns of the abduction and gives chase. When the thugs stop, Randall grabs Julia from them when she goes to pee. They find shelter and she explains she was forced into marriage at sixteen to Daventry’s son Branford. He abused her and when she was pregnant started to kill her. She pushed him and he died when he cracked his head. His father blames her, but is unaware that Branford’s assault killed their unborn. He realizes she is no commoner midwife, but instead is his aristocratic cousin-in-law, a duke’s daughter. To keep her safe, Randall offers to marry Julia with an escape clause for her sake while also knowing the additional enemies he will make.

This is an exciting character driven Regency romance starring a wonderful lead couple who marry to keep her safe, but fall in love. The support characters are strong especially the outspoken women. Although her stepson adapts to his new world with hardly a blink, which simplifies everything for the lead couple, fans will enjoy this rousing sequel.

Harriet Klausner

Never Less a Lady-Mary Jo Putney

Never Less a Lady
Mary Jo Putney
Zebra, Mar 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420103298

In 1812 Spain Lord Alexander Randall leads his unit in battle when he receives the cold note from his Uncle Lord Daventry to come home immediately as his cousin died making him the heir. Randall hates Daventry, but is sick of war so he decides to return to England. He also chooses to take his time before seeing his odious uncle who raised him when his parents died, but Daventry allowed his son Branford to bully the younger lad.

Randall stops at his friend Ashton’s home to thank him and his wife Mariah (see Loving a Lost Lord) for saving his life last year when he came to London wounded. Mariah suggests Randall visit her sister, but he might only to see Mrs. Julia Bancroft who he is attracted to though he hid his feelings from everyone.

Three men kidnap Julia. Randall learns of the abduction and gives chase. When the thugs stop, Randall grabs Julia from them when she goes to pee. They find shelter and she explains she was forced into marriage at sixteen to Daventry’s son Branford. He abused her and when she was pregnant started to kill her. She pushed him and he died when he cracked his head. His father blames her, but is unaware that Branford’s assault killed their unborn. He realizes she is no commoner midwife, but instead is his aristocratic cousin-in-law, a duke’s daughter. To keep her safe, Randall offers to marry Julia with an escape clause for her sake while also knowing the additional enemies he will make.

This is an exciting character driven Regency romance starring a wonderful lead couple who marry to keep her safe, but fall in love. The support characters are strong especially the outspoken women. Although her stepson adapts to his new world with hardly a blink, which simplifies everything for the lead couple, fans will enjoy this rousing sequel.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, April 5, 2010

Sweetest Little Sin-Christine Wells

Sweetest Little Sin
Christine Wells
Berkley, May 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425234808

To the Ton a female almost thirty years old is a spinster on the shelf with no hope of marriage. Louisa Brooke may be a spinster, but she knows the only man she wants is Jardine although he shows no interest in her.

Jardine is the Crown’s top spymaster who needs help to root out a most likely traitor. He asks Louisa to assist him. He wants her to flirt with the prime suspect, which she readily agrees to do mostly to make her unrequited beloved jealous although she doubts she will succeed. When her activity places her in danger, Jardine wants her to gracefully back out; as he fears for Louisa's life and knows an error caused by his unprofessional desire for her could result in her death and mission failure

This is an exhilarating espionage historical romantic suspense starring a wonderful courageous heroine and a professional spymaster who regrets placing the woman he once ruined but still cherishes from afar in peril. Fast-paced and filled with twists, fans will fully appreciate Christine Wells' Sweetest Little Sin as the spy wants to come in form the cold for the heat emitted by his beloved, but must keep her safe after endangering her while also completing the mission.

Harriet Klausner

A Secret Affair-

A Secret Affair
Mary Balogh
Delacorte, May 25 2010, $24.00
ISBN: 9780385343305

The Ton has a low opinion of Duchess Hannah Reid. The widow married a man much older than her when she was a teen so everyone assumed she wed him for his money. Surprisingly during their decade together she adored her septuagenarian spouse, but no one would believe that. In fact the other assumption made about the duchess is that all her escorts are her paramours. She has no friends except Miss Barbara "Babs" Leavensworth as everyone else gives her the cold shoulder ever since her spouse died. One year has passed since the Duke's death and Hannah went into mourning. Now she will heed the advice of her mentor, her late husband, to do what she wants as an affluent widow she can do anything she desires.

Hannah decides to have a lover; contrary to belief her first. She selects Mister Constantine "Con" Huxtable, who every season picks a new mistress. He would never have considered Hannah, but she gives him no choice. As they become lovers, they also become friends and perhaps much more.

The last Huxtable family Regency romance (see At Last Comes Love and Then Comes Seduction) is an intriguing affair due to the initially unlikable lead female protagonist who comes across as a frozen tundra until her anointed lover melts the ice surrounding her heart. The story line uses flashes into Hannah’s past that reveal how she became the icy duchess. Readers will empathize with her, but wonder what happened to Con who never really comes alive as the lead. Still fans will enjoy the final Huxtable historical with the rest of the extended family making appearances.

Harriet Klausner

When Love Comes-Leigh Greenwood

When Love Comes
Leigh Greenwood
Leisure, Apr 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780843961362

Broc Kincaid's face was scarred during the Civil War. By 1869 he remains extremely sensitive about his visage so when moronic Felix Yant tauntingly comments, an irate Broc batters the man. The Texas judge warns him about losing his temper, but commends him for paying the doctor bills so that Yant’s wife and two kids did not have to suffer; still he sentences him to collect a debt. That will wipe clean the record or spend time in jail

Broc agrees to go to Cactus bend to collect what rancher Aaron Liscomb owes. He arrives at the Lazy T ranch to find the man dead. His wife Amanda runs the spread with the help of her three young children Eddie, Gary and Amanda. None of the four family members know anything about a debt. Broc assumes they lie, but decides to learn the truth. He obtains work on the ranch, but as he falls in love with the widow and her three kids, he also realizes they are honest; which means the judge or someone else is using him to pull a scam.

This is a super extremely complicated western romance that feels in some ways like an amateur sleuth as the hero struggles to learn the truth starting with going undercover. The romantic subplot takes a somewhat back seat to Broc’s investigation, but fits perfectly as he begins to wonder if love taints his perspective. Leigh Greenwood affirms why he is one of the sub-genre’s top guns with his latest historical.

Harriet Klausner

Beyond the Shadows-Jess Granger

Beyond the Shadows
Jess Granger
Berkley, May 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425234150

Commander Yara heads to home be queen of Azra. She does not want the Azralen throne, but is taking it in hopes of preventing a civil war from breaking out.

Used to manipulating women like he had with his sister Azralen Captain Cyani (see Beyond the Rain) until she found love with a Byralen sex slave, rebel Cyn hates the ruling family. To keep the future monarch from preventing the war, he kidnaps the soon to be queen, taking her on to his ship. To his chagrin he is attracted to her although he cannot fathom why as she is obstinate and demanding. She is attracted to the rebel, but has not lost sight of the fact he has betrayed her and interfered with her peace mission.

The second “Beyond” thriller is loaded with action, action and more action; that in many ways is too much as it somewhat detracts from the romantic subplot especially missing Cyn’s sacrificial Tales of two Cities values. Still filled with excitement and adventure, readers who relish a high octane science fiction romance will want to ride with Yara and Cyn as she wants to prevent a war and he wants to ignite a war.

Harriet Klausner

Amethyst Destiny-Pamela Montgomerie

Amethyst Destiny
Pamela Montgomerie
Berkley, May 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425234709

Following her cousin’s wedding the bride gives to Julia Brodie the amethyst necklace that she believes brought her love to her. Julia puts on the necklace and instantly leaves her world.

Fifteen years ago Talon McClure received a magical ring. Using the ring, he began a career finding lost objects. He is so good at it; his customers call him the "Wizard". His current assignment is to find a golden lamp and chalice. However, for the first time since he put on the ring, he fails. Desperate, he makes a wish for help and immediately Julia appears. Attracted from the first, the couple succeeds in obtaining the objects, but flees as the lamp owner gives chase. As they begin to share their respective pasts, the lamp directs them to a castle occupied by misfits like themselves while evil pursues them.

The newest Jewels of Time fantasy romance (see Sapphire Dreams) is a wonderful entry in a fun series. The lead couple is a fascinating pairing as she has the necklace and he the ring, but it is their hearts that make the magic. The audience will relish Pamela Montgomerie’s entertaining tale.

Harriet Klausner

Tsunami Blue-Gayle Anne Williams

Tsunami Blue
Gayle Anne Williams
Love Spell, Apr 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9780505528216

By 2003 undersea nuclear testing has caused a series of tsunamis that has devastated coast lines and islands. Only one person seems to uncannily predict when a horrific wave is coming and where including the one that killed her parents and twin brother in Thailand over fifteen years ago. Tsunami Blue lives on a remote rock in the San Juan Islands of Washington State with her dog Mad Max and a shortwave radio. From her outpost, she sends out warnings.

An unconscious Gabriel Black washes up on her beach. Though he is the most beautiful man she has ever seen, she fears he is one of her enemy; the runner pirates who want her dead as she interferes with their looting; he has their membership 666 tattoo on him. He awakens to her mixed feelings; as Tsunami is appalled by her attraction to the newcomer, but refuses to trust Gabriel. He hides who he is from her as he has loved her for years and has worked undercover keeping the pirates away from her. However, he knows the runners are coming for her and would die to keep her safe.

This is a great post apocalyptic high seas adventure romance that grips the audience from the moment Tsunami meets Gabriel on her beach. Fast-paced, the story line is refreshed by the unique heroine and the man who has loved her from afar, but forced to break cover to insure no harm comes to the woman he cherishes and admires. Gayle Anne Williams provides a terrific unique romantic suspense thriller.

Harriet Klausner

The Wish List-Gabi Stevens

The Wish List
Gabi Stevens
Tor, May 2010, $6.99
ISBN 9780765365033

Her three aunts announce to their CPA niece Kristin Montgomery that they are retiring. A bit taken aback since they do not hold jobs, Kristin is further stunned when the trio calmly informs her she is one of their replacements as a fairy godmother.

Kristin soon learns that granting wishes to kids is only part of the duties. As she learns her tasks, Arcani wizard historian Tennyson Ritter tests her skills while she decides to test her seduction prowess. As they fall in love while she enjoys wish granting, an unknown adversary has plans to take over Arcani staring with eliminating the newest fairy godmother rookie. Tennyson is at her side to prevent the evil from succeeding.

More of a coming of age fantasy with a romantic subplot, The Wish List is a charming lighthearted frolic starring a CPA turned rookie fairy godmother being audited by a wizard. The fun story line is breezily magical except for the villain who apparently is obvious to readers but not the lead couple in spite their prowess. Sub-genre fans will enjoy Kristin’s adventures in the wonderful realm of Gabi Stevens.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Love in the Time of Dragons-Kate MacAlister

Love in the Time of Dragons
Kate MacAlister
Signet, May 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451229717

Tully Sullivan had her annual fugue too early this year. She is fortunate that kind Londoners looked after her while she slept away a month. Still somewhat rattled, she misses her beloved son Brom, but not her husband Gareth.

Tully understands magic exists as she is an apprentice mage. However, even she is taken aback when she awakens from a fugue state surrounded by angry dragons; as everyone knows these beasts are mythical. However, her denial ends quickly when she learns they believe she is Ysolde de Boucher, the mate of the deadly black dragon Baltic. As his dragon spouse, she will be executed for his crimes against dragonkind and mankind. Tully has no time for execution as her son awaits her back in her realm. She figures step one is escape; step two is to beat the fiery snot out of her dragon mate wyvern the terrible Baltic; and the final step return to Brom. Instead she finds herself investigating crimes and Love in the Time of the Dragons.

This first Light Dragons fantasy is an amusing lighthearted frolic held together by a female who has no memory of ever being a dragon in her past lives. Tully the terrific makes the tale fresh and exciting, as she follows her steps only to run into one fiasco after another especially once she meets Baltic the bad. Fans of Kate MacAlister’s Silver Dragons will not see chocolate in the same way while appreciating the escapades of heroic Tully as she wanders the Dragon landscape she believes she has only seen in her dreams.

Harriet Klausner

Star Raiders-Elysa Hendricks

Star Raiders
Elysa Hendricks
Love Spell, Apr 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9780505528186

For five years the Earth League Forces Anti-Smuggling/Piracy (ASP) Bureau Greyson Dane worked the field undercover. He seduced smuggler Stewart Kedar’s innocent daughter Shyanne to get at her father. Greyson succeeded, but lost his heart to Shyanne while her dad is incarcerated. Knowing he betrayed the only woman he will ever love, Greyson left law enforcement field work taking a desk jockey promotion for his duplicity.

However, Greyson is sent back into the field after a decade in the office. He offers a deal to Shyanne and her crew in which ASP and the Consortium of Intelligent Life (COIL) will pardon them of all their crimes including some recent ones they did not commit if they help them capture Stewart’s former right hand man Simon Dempster, who has attacked vessels and murdered the innocent. Shyanne always loathed Dempster who continues to be a thorn in her small operation and apparently has set her and her crew up to take the falls for his murderous raids. Still she conceals from the other man she detests, her only lover, his son Rian. He hides the full truth that he once again will sacrifice his beloved, but this time his cause is saving mankind from the angry retaliation of COIL.

Star raiders is a great romantic outer space thriller starring two former lovers still in love, but his treachery keeps them apart as she refuses to trust him with her heart or freedom. He regrets that he will use her again, but believes strongly his mission is critical because if he fails mankind could become extinct. Sub-genre readers will enjoy the Hendricks galaxy as two people still in love conceal secrets from one another.

Harriet Klausner

Running Scared-Shannon K. Butcher

Running Scared
Shannon K. Butcher
Onyx, May 4 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451412904

Human Lexi Johns believes that her human friend Helen Day was brainwashed by Drake the Theronai warrior (see Burning Alive) as she knows his species is her worst nightmare. As a child Helen had it drilled into her constantly how deadly dangerous the evil Theronai are; her fears mount as she thinks Zach the Theronai warrior stalks her.

She is right about Zach although wrong about his motive. Zach knows she is his bond mate and he wants to persuade her they belong together but hesitates as he knows she loathes his kind. As he considers acceptance of his disastrous fate if he fails to make it with Lexi, they finally meet. However, he is unaware that she has joined his race’s enemy the Defenders of Humanity in order to use him to destroy the Theronai encampment. Meanwhile Lexi has second thoughts about the evilness of the Theronai as Zach is kind and caring, but it may be too late to change sides after years of being brainwashed that his kind are the wicked.

The latest Sentinel War romantic urban fantasy is a superb fresh entry due to the heroine whose extremism is similar to Helen but deeper into her soul so that unlike Helen, Lexi cannot be labeled a star-crossed lover; while Zach is similar to Drake. Still the key to the saga is that the two other species (besides the humans) seem genuine and their hostilities are exciting. Yet in spite of the cross species war, the fast-paced story line belongs to the human female who puts Pink Floyd meaning to brainwashing once she meets Zach in person. Shannon K. Butcher provides a terrific suspense filled thriller.

Harriet Klausner

The Overnight Socialite-Bridie Clark

The Overnight Socialite
Bridie Clark
Weinstein Books, Dec 2009, $23.95
ISBN: 9781602860827

Thirtyish billionaire Manhattanite Wyatt Hayes IV has everything going for him, but is bored with those he considers his social, economic and educational equals. He breaks off with his latest girlfriend Cornelia Rockman and wonders what next.

Leaving Dayville, Minnesota Lucy Jo Ellis hopes to take Manhattan by storm with her designs. She attends a gala in which she thought she was a guest, but ends up serving food. Later that night, a soaked to the bones Lucy heads home disappointed. Wyatt and his posse see her and he bets them he can turn her into the in person as he believes he can change chicken sh*t into a gourmet meal. He explains to Lucy the wager and she reluctantly agrees to his make over of her. As she proves she can, outraged Cornelia blames her replacement and undertakes a vendetta while Wyatt becomes jealous of those male socialites sniffing at his creation.

This is an interesting retelling of Pygmalion with a hyperbolized cast stereotyping various roles especially of the ultra rich and the deer in the headlight innocent coming to take the city by storm. The story is fun to follows as Lucy Jo of Middle American becomes cosmopolitan Lucy of Manhattan. Although the ending can be seen on a clear day all the way to Newark, readers will enjoy the modernization of My Fair Lady into The Overnight Socialite.

Harriet Klausner