Sunday, October 31, 2010

When Harry Met Molly-Kieran Kramer

When Harry Met Molly
Kieran Kramer
St. Martin’s, Nov 2 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312611644

In 1808 thirteen year old Molly writes a love rectangle to her beloved Lord Roderick that in spite of changing the names accuses his fiancée her sister Penelope and his brother nineteen year old Harry of a tryst. Their families are outraged with Harry the spare exiled into the army for disloyalty to his family and Molly sent to Yorkshire to learn to behave at the Providence School for Wayward Girls.

In 1816, Harry is back enjoying high society when the Prince Regent names him and others as “Impossible Bachelors” and places a wager on who of these rakes has the most delicious mistress. On her way to Gretna Green to marry milksop Cedric Alliston, Molly meets Harry at a seedy inn with piss poor beer. Both are stunned to watch his lightskirt Aphrodite leave with her fiancé. Desperate as his sure shot win at the Most Impossible Bachelor competition left in a coach, Harry suggests to the enemy whose mouth left him in army for five years that she replace Aphrodite as his pretend mistress. She agrees reluctantly but as remittance he must find her a suitable loving husband. He agrees to her stipulation as he muses let the games begin to see who survives the single the royal contest.

This over the top of Big Ben (even with the clock not constructed for several decades to come) is a wild amusing Regency romance starring two likable protagonists who holds the other culpable for their exile. The story line is ultra fast-paced with the audience laughing at the gender war and the competition. With villains causing further humorous havoc, historical fans will relish this jocular look at who will be the last rake surviving the island.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Lords of Passion-Virginia Henley, Kate Pearce, Maggie Robinson

Lords of Passion
Virginia Henley, Kate Pearce, Maggie Robinson
Kensington Brava, Dec 1 2010, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758251077

“Beauty and the Brute” by Virginia Henley. In 1819 her father paid off his gambling debt by giving his young daughter Lady Sarah Caversham in marriage to Charles Lennox who is embarking on his Grand Tour. Three years later, they are to wed, but Charles is stunned by the confident beauty he will soon call wife as she is nothing like the shy teen he remembers. His plan has changed as he wants to win her affection and love too.

“How to Seduce a Wife” by Kate Pearce. In 1816 Louisa March wishes her prim and proper even in bed husband Nicholas was more daring like the males in the novels she reads. Nicholas is shocked to realize his new bride wants more adventure in their sex so he turns to a courtesan for mentoring.

“Not Quite a Courtesan” by Maggie Robinson. In 1818 prim and proper Prudence Thorn tries to help her distraught cousin with a marital issue. At a courtesan’s home she meets ultra charming porn importer Darius Shaw, the brother to her cousin’s husband. Between his slick tongue seduction, the graphic art and the sexual locale, Prudence sheds her inhibitions for that of a love slave.

These are three entertaining Regency romances starring wonderful protagonists learning first comes lust and than comes love.

Harriet Klausner

Brava, Valentine-Adriana Trigiani

Brava, Valentine
Adriana Trigiani
Harper, Nov 9 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9780061257070

Octogenarian Roncalli family matriarch Teodora stunned the family when she went to Italy on a business trip and became engaged (see Very Valentine); her shocked kin is coming to her Italian wedding. Teodora’s Manhattan roommate shoe designer Valentine Roncalli is happy for her Gram though has doubts about marriage in general with the matrimony state of her family; but also sad for herself as her mentor is moving to Italy. She also has trepidations about decision making since her moronic brother and critic Alfred has become the Chief Finance Officer of the family business Angelina Shoe Company.

Val flies to Argentina on shoe business where other family members reside while Alfred counts the beans. She wants to bring the firm to the modern era, but must persuade Alfred to take a chance or watch the family company wither. Shockingly Alfred has an affair with a government official while Val wants an affair with her grandma’s new stepson fiftyish Gianluca, but though he wants her in a permanent relationship she has doubts.

Although the plot is thin, fans will enjoy the rambunctious return of the Greenwich Village shoemaking family who cause havoc on three continents this time. The story line is breezy as Alfred learns a lesson on promises broke and Val on promises mot made. However, once again Teo owns the novel and the two extended families as everyone else dances to her uplifting energetic living life to the fullest.

Harriet Klausner

Thieves Like Us-Starr Ambrose

Thieves Like Us
Starr Ambrose
Pocket, Nov 30 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439181294

With her divorce from her criminal spouse Westfield final, Janet Aims looks forward to her new life as a single. Part of moving on, though somewhat symbolic, is to pawn the jewelry he gave her. However, her plan goes awry right away as she is accused of being a jewel thief since one of her items she tried to sell is a necklace belonging to the stolen Pellini Collection.

Her hope for proving her innocence resides with former jewel thief convict Rocky Hernandez who she has avoided even though she is attracted to him as she does not need another felon in her life. Rocky agrees to help her because he loves Janet, but has taken it slow waiting for her to move past her divorce. Cops and robbers are after her as her car and condo are ransacked and only Rocky stands in their way especially when he goes back to his thieving roots to find the missing loot.

The sequel to Lie to Me is a fast-paced enjoyable romantic crime caper starring a likable lead couple caught in a frantic scenario as everyone except Rocky assumes Janet has the jewels when her aim is to start over. Although the support cast at times overwhelms the plot with so much going on, readers will enjoy Thieves Like Us as Janet just wants move on while Rocky wants her to move on with him, but the world intrudes.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, October 29, 2010

Sundays at Tiffany's-James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonett

Sundays at Tiffany's
James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonett
Grand Central, Jun 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780446536318

Born to affluence and fame, Jane Margaux grew up lonely with one exception. While her famous producer mother Broadway creates musicals and her father preferred spending quality time with his second wife in Nantucket, her only friend and companion is Michael, who provided her solace even if he was only imaginary. However, when she turned eight, Michael informs her he will no longer be with her though he will always be her best friend.

Over two decades later, Jane remains lonely even with a boyfriend and neurotic because she works for her mother. No one would believe she is Vivienne’s daughter as she is treated scornfully and horrifically. As Jane produces her first play based on her childhood with Michael, he returns bringing light into Jane’s dark life. They fall in love as each find their groove with one another; but Michael fears he will not be allowed to stay with his beloved as adults are not supposed to remember imaginary friends while she has never forgotten him especially since he left her once before.

This contemporary romantic fantasy is an enchanting tale in which Jane breaks the rules of imaginary friends by somehow always remembering her Michael. The story line effortlessly switches from preadolescence in which he is a sort of guardian big brother to her to and an adult love story. Although the standard operating procedures of what an imaginary friend does and does not do and the laws of physics that govern the relationship between a child and their buddy are lacking so that the audience cannot fully appreciate the heroine’s breaking the barrier, fans will enjoy it happened to Jane.

Harriet Klausner

One Night In Scotland-Karen Hawkins

One Night In Scotland
Karen Hawkins
Pocket, Nov 23 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439175897

In 1822, an unknown kidnapper abducts renowned Egyptologist Michael Hurst. For the safe return of his “guest”, the Sulfi demands his family gives back the ancient Hurst Amulet that Michael’s friend Angus Hay currently is investigating at his castle.

Michael’s sister Mary journeys to Hay’s castle to demand the earl give her the relic so she can ransom her brother. Instead to her shock he refuses to relinquish the artifact as he does not trust his visitor. Even more stunning to her Angus will not let her leave; but instead he locks her away as his prisoner in one of the castle’s turrets. Suspicious Angus plans to seduce the truth out of Mry, but finds his motives changing after one stolen kiss.

The newest Hurst sibling Regency romance (see The Laird Who Loved Me and Sleepless in Scotland) starts a new saga, the Hurst Amulet series with a great overarching mystery. The information re the Amulet comes from Michael’s letters he supposedly has sent home. However this is the wonderful tale of thoroughly modern Mary and thoroughly adoring Angus who together provides the audience with a rousing romance as they fall love while mostly establishing the foundation of this latest miniseries.

Harriet Klausner

Highland Protector-Hannah Howell

Highland Protector
Hannah Howell
Zebra, Dec 1 2010, $6.99
ISBN 9781420104639

In 1479 in Scotland, Ilsabeth “Twa” Murray Armstrong overhears her fiancé Sir Walter Hepbourn discuss with his cousin their duplicitous plans to betray her and her family. He never had plans to marry an Armstrong. He apparently succeeds with his plan when the king's agent is murdered and the evidence points to the Armstrong clan.

Ilsabeth flees to the home of family friend Simon Innes. The king orders Simon, a highly regarded investigator, to find the missing Armstrong broods. The Murray clan visits him too asking him to investigate the homicide. Ilsabeth has demands on him also; she wants him to fall in love with her as she has with him. Of course it would also be nice if he could find the killer. Simon is a misanthrope who distrusts women; however, his avoidance attempts fail because Ilsabeth has a horde supporting her efforts to win his love.

The latest Murray fifteenth century romance (see Highland Destiny) is a terrific entry made fresh with the investigation, the brogue and the humor of the matchmaking throng. Simon is simply stupendous as every clue he finds supports the assertion that the Armstrong clan killed the agent; only his treacherous heart says no and ironically even before he met and fell in love with Ilsabeth he distrusted women. Readers will enjoy Hannah Howell’s entertaining Highland historical.

Harriet Klausner

The Pursuit of Pleasure-Elizabeth Essex

The Pursuit of Pleasure
Elizabeth Essex
Kensington Brava, Dec 1 2010, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758251541

In 1794 in Dartmouth, England Lizzie Paxton drolly chatting to another woman says being a widow would be ideal for the freedom granted to a woman however she also insists the first step to achieve this independent status will never happen to her as she will never marry. Her long time friend Captain James Marlowe overhears her feelings about marriage and astutely concludes her need for independence and his goal is to avoid a marriage entanglement fit nicely together. He offers her a marriage of convenience; she accepts.

Although he knows he should not, James seduces delectable Lizzie. Soon after that passionate tryst, he leaves. A few days later, she learns her wish is true that she has become a widow. However, the Ton assume Lizzie killed her new husband; placing her spouse in an untenable spot between his loyalty to his beloved wife and his loyalty to his beloved England.

The Pursuit of Pleasure is a wonderful late Georgian romance due to the strong likable lead characters. Lizzie is terrific as an intelligent witty individual while James is a dashing hero. Readers will enjoy this engaging historical as patriotic James is trapped in a nasty situation as duty and love war inside his soul.

Harriet Klausner

Deadly Identity-Lindsay McKenna

Deadly Identity
Lindsay McKenna
Harlequin HQN, Dec 1 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373774746

In Miami spousal abuser Dirk Payson, a Mexican cartel drug runner in the States, beat his pregnant wife Susan until she lost the baby. Five years of marital hell ends for the twenty-three years old victim when she testifies against Dirk in court before being placed in the Witness Protection Program.

Five years later, Dirk escapes prison; FBI Agent Brenda Wilkins informs his former wife called Susan Johnson she must leave New York City immediately. Her new identity is Rachael Carson and her home is Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

In her new home, Rachel helps Sheriff Cade Garner care for little Jenny by hiring on as the motherless child’s nanny. Cade senses something is not right about Rachel; little things a non law enforcement official would not notice. As he falls in love with the nanny, he prays she would tell him the truth as he swears her will keep her safe from whoever haunts her. However, he also fears confronting her as knows if he does she will bolt like the scared rabbit she is.

Mindful of the Roberts-Bergen film Sleeping With The Enemy, Deadly Identity is an engaging exciting romantic suspense even with the reader anticipating a confrontation in picaresque Jackson Hole. The story line is fast-paced with likable lead protagonists, a wonderful little girl and a vile villain. Although nothing new is added to the theme, fans will relish this exhilarating thriller even while knowing what to expect when High Noon comes to Wyoming.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Sheriff’s Christmas Surprise-Maria Ferrarella

The Sheriff’s Christmas Surprise
Maria Ferrarella
Harlequin American Romance, Nov 9 2010, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373753338

On the Friday after Thanksgiving, Forever, Texas Sheriff Enrique “Rick” Santiago walks out of his home only to see a baby boy strapped in a baby seat on his doorstep. At the same time he is stunned by the toddler, almost thirty attorney Olivia Blayne feels almost ninety as she searches for her runaway sister Tina as she wants to bring home her sibling and her three months old nephew Bobby. Rick and Olivia meet and she explains confusingly what happened; but he points out her sister is an adult who may have been brainwashed by Don Norman to come with him, but it sounded like no law was broken.

She learns Tina was critically injured from a car accident and her nephew was dumped in Forever. Olivia goes to Forever to find the sheriff is caring for her relative. As she spends time with the sheriff and Bobby, Olivia falls in love, but she is a hot shot Dallas lawyer and not a Forever type of woman. Rick plans to persuade her otherwise.

Although the giftwrapping with ribbons ending seems a stretch, readers will enjoy the warmhearted Sheriff’s Christmas Surprise due to a fully developed powerful cast as the lead couple is strong but so are the townsfolk. Readers will appreciate spending the holidays in Texas as Rick and Olivia fall in love, but he is forever while she is Dallas.

Harriet Klausner

Miracle Baby-Laura Bradford

Miracle Baby
Laura Bradford
Harlequin American Romance, Nov 9 2010, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373753369

In Michigan Maggie Monroe and Rory O’Brien have dealt with the numbing loss of a loved one. However, they have reacted differently. Whereas he has moved on through the phases of grief, she remains in the early stasis frozen with grief and unable to move on.

Working together to renovate her Uncle Doug’s century old inn, Rory the carpenter knows Maggie and his faith are his prime reasons for moving on as he loves her. He acts slowly knowing if he rushes their relationship she will flee. He hopes to receive the gift of a second chance at love relationship with Maggie for Christmas because she is a keeper and he hopes he is her keeper too.

This is an uplifting hopeful holiday romance starring two fascinating lead characters who both know how it feels when a love one dies. Maggie is a real person as she can count seemingly to the nanosecond how much time has passed since her beloved Jack and Natalie died. Rory grieves too for his loss, but has gotten on with his life though his carpentry work. Readers will fully relish this second chance at love due to the super stars.

Harriet Klausner

Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor-Lisa Kleypas

Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor
Lisa Kleypas
St. Martin’s, Oct 26 2010, $16.99
ISBN 9780312605865

On San Juan Island businessman Mark Nolan has no time to grieve the death of his sister in a car accident as he is the guardian of his niece Holly. Used to taking no prisoners at the Seattle office, Mark is scared to death with how to deal with a frightened six year old child. Although he has the support of his sibling Sam while their other brother is overwhelmed with his own issues, adding to Mark’s fear is that Holly is so traumatized she has become psychologically mute.

Mark takes Holly to the Friday Harbor Magic Mirror toy store hoping the child will find something she likes. Widow Maggie Collins uses a “magic” conch shell to talk with Holly. The child says her first words since her mother’s death through the shell. The business mogul is shocked at how a stranger and his niece connected when he has known Holly all her life but failed. He soon realizes that Maggie may be his “One” although he feels unprepared for a permanent relationship; he even has a girlfriend. Besides his doubts he knows he must go slowly until she is ready to take a second chance on love as her late spouse died only a few years ago from cancer. Meanwhile the little girl has one wish for Christmas.

This is an entertaining sweet contemporary romance that is fun to read though the audience knows from the moment the key cast is set, the story line is set. The lead adult couple’s doubts re love is not deeply explored yet Lisa Kleypas shows her writing skills as she provides an engaging tale with the child’s plight providing seriousness to what would have been a sugary Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

That Christmas Feeling-Brenda Novak, Kathleen O’Brien and Karina Bliss

That Christmas Feeling
Brenda Novak, Kathleen O’Brien and Karina Bliss
Harlequin SuperRomance, Nov 12 2010, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373716685

“A Dundee Christmas” by Brenda Novak. In Dundee, Idaho, illegal Guatemalan Cierra Santos is trapped with no prospects as Charlie who she was to marry dies. Former football player Ken Holbrook gives her shelter during a snowstorm and soon a job and his heart follow.

“We Need a Little Christmas” by Kathleen O’Brien. In Hallem Fork, Virginia, Araby Ranch owner eighty-nine year old Duke ends up in the hospital with two broken hops and double pneumonia. His staff led by Annie Browning knows how much the Joyland Christmas show means to him so they go all out to make it happen as they fear this may be Duke’s last act. Annie struggles to make the magic happen but needs a miracle. Duke’s estranged grandson Nathaniel comes to see his relative and soon he and Annie believe in miracles.

“Kiss Me, Santa” by Karina Bliss. In Suburban Auckland, New Zealand, Widower Mike Ward has never moved on since his wife died years ago. His neighbor Erica Owens and her son Will ignore his request to be left alone for the holidays and beyond as they insist he decorates his home for Christmas; not realizing they are decorating his heart with joy.

These are three wonderful holiday romances with deep leads and strong support characters. Readers will believe they caught That Christmas Feeling as Brenda Novak, Kathleen O’Brien and Karina Bliss provide three beautiful contemporaries.

Harriet Klausner

Life Rewritten-Margaret Watson

Life Rewritten
Margaret Watson
Harlequin SuperRomance, Nov 12 2010, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373716739

Following the drug death of her lover and Redhead band member Diesel, Delaney Spencer has reinvented her life. She is no longer rock star Chantal and has become a carpenter in Otter Tail, Wisconsin. Delaney has become a good member of the community and actually still performs with a local band.

Diesel’s brother Sam McCabe has located Chantal. He arrives in Wisconsin demanding she give him the recordings she and his late sibling made just before he died to secure the future for Diesel’s two children, Leo and Rennie. He is their guardian since their mom Heather is incapable of caring for them. When she hesitates, frustrated by her and his desire for her, he accuses her of killing his sibling by hooking him to the drugs; which she denies. Still Delaney must decide whether to continue to hide from celebrity status or take a chance that her alcoholism is under control.

Life Rewritten is a strong family drama starring individuals tied together by their grief for a deceased loved one. The cast is strong. The kids feel frightened and abandoned; Sam is filled with anger and survivor guilt; and Delaney is a recovering alcoholic who logically knows she did not turn Diesel into an addict as he was a user before they met, but feels illogical guilt by not intervening to stop him. This is a winner as even Fluffy the dog has real flaws (and not just the gas).

Harriet Klausner

The Best Laid Plans-Sarah Mayberry

The Best Laid Plans
Sarah Mayberry
Harlequin SuperRomance, Nov 12 2010, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373716692

Thirty-eight years old Melbourne corporate attorney Alex Knight has always separated her legal career from her personal life; some would argue she fostered her professional life at the cost of her personal life. However, lately she feels her biological clock ticking away as she wants a child to raise with or without a man.

Since she has no male prospects, Alex asks her friend Ethan Stone to donate his sperm. He agrees until he learns what the medical procedure involves; she is stunned too. Attracted to one another, they agree to try sex that becomes lovemaking to bring a child into the world. However, she has doubts about wanting a threesome and he has major commitment issues.

The Best Laid Plans is a terrific Australian contemporary romance due to the strong lead protagonists and the wonderful setting that brings out their personal needs and flaws. Readers will believe Alex’s biological clock ticking down, but it is the almost psychotic fear of commitment by Ethan that makes for a strong tale as the more he falls in love the more he psychologically denies and runs from love.

Harriet Klausner

Devoured by Darkness-Alexandra Ivy

Devoured by Darkness
Alexandra Ivy
Zebra, Dec 1 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420111354

For two days inside Missouri tunnels, half breed Jinn Laylah flees from vampire Tane the Charon executioner who knows she leads him away from the Caine estate where he first saw her. He assumes she protects a child. However as a half Jinn she must appear before the Commission as her species is outlawed. Tane lusts for the tired Laylah who stops running when vampires arrive. Tane fights the vampires as Levet the gargoyle arrives. Laylah races back to Caine’s lair to grab the baby concealed in a stasis spell she found in the mists fifty years ago. Tane and Levet follow her. The gargoyle mentions a jinn broke his wing two centuries ago in London. Laylah goes to London using her Jinn skill to vanish in the shadows, but Tane and Levet grab her and end up with her in the mist.

In London, Marika the vampire complains to her mage Sergei she hears her twin Kata whisper Laylah although Kata is in a deep magical sleep but made sure her half-breed daughter was safe from her aunt. Laylah informs Tane she is going to leave him behind in the mists unless he gives a wish debt that spell binds him to the half-Jinn. He agrees and in London she orders him to take her to a safe place. He takes her to the lair of Victor the vampire while Marika knows her quest to use her niece and the baby has finally accelerated.

The lead couple is a fascinating pairing of two seemingly opposites while the fast-paced story line makes vampires, gargoyles, jinns, and mages seem real. A nice late twist adds depth. Although the villainous is considered extremely dangerous and nasty by others, she seems somewhat feeble in person. Still this is a strong Gardens of Eternity romantic urban fantasy that cleverly sets up a future “Darkness” sequel.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Taking Care of Business-Kathy Lyons

Taking Care of Business
Kathy Lyons
Harlequin Blaze, Nov 1 2010, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373795802

In a Chicago high rise elevator, advertising executive Julie Thompson and “the sexy janitor” take one look at one another and leap into each other’s arms. Both know their behavior is inappropriate, but neither can resist the lure and even bring kinkiness to their trysts.

Her janitor is actually Sam Finn, the undercover multimillionaire who owns the skyscraper and has been fantasizing about sex with Julie after watching her on the security monitors. Although he feels like a voyeur, he cannot stop. Now he has the real thing, which is so much better. However her firm is failing so she will be gone in under a month; Sam will do whatever it takes to keep his Julie handcuffed to him though he fears her reaction to the truth about himself.

Taking Care of Business in the elevator, the board room, the office and elsewhere is a fun funky frolic. The key to what could have been over the top of the Willis Tower is that Kathy Lyons never takes her story line grave yard (or Cubs) serious as the tongue in cheek (and other places) plot is an engaging contemporary erotic romance starring two likable lead characters.

Harriet Klausner

Private Affairs-Tori Carrington

Private Affairs
Tori Carrington
Harlequin Blaze, Nov 1 2010, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373795789

In Earnest, Washington Penelope Weaver runs a successful coffee shop while kind of dating town Sheriff Barnaby Jones. Fifteen years ago, Palmer DeVoe left town and his sweetheart Penelope to become a successful contractor; until now he never came back.

Now Palmer is back in Earnest; considered by many of the townsfolk, except for the female Weaver clan, as a hero because of his business achievements. He has come home because he misses Penelope and hopes for a second chance with her. However, as their passion soars, she knows she owes him the truth about the deep secret she still hides from him.

The extended eccentric Weaver family brings humor to an engaging second chance at love tale; if she ever gets around to telling him her secret and if he wears her moccasins so that he can understand why she did what she did. Filled with business dealings that is some ways detracts from the prime plot yet also anchors the story line with realism because that is who Palmer is. Fans will guess early on Penelope’s secret, but will not care as Tori Carrington provides a fabulous Pacific Northwest contemporary romance.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Love Finds You in Deadwood, South Dakota-Tracey Cross

Love Finds You in Deadwood, South Dakota
Tracey Cross
Summerside, Sep 1 2010, $12.99
ISBN: 9781609360030

In 1879 recently widowed and pregnant single mom Jane Albright learns from her late spouse Tom’s freight delivery partner Hank of the note signed by her just buried husband to avaricious moneylender Franklin Lloyd. Hank says he and his wife are leaving for Oregon as he has given up on the business. He says he warned Tom not to sign using his homestead as collateral but he did; payment is passed due, which means she and five years old Danny could be homeless.

Desperate to save her home and the freight business, Jane travels to nearby Deadwood, South Dakota to beg for an extension. Franklin grants Jane an extension of six months to pay off her dead husband’s note or lose everything. However, as she works diligently earning the respect and admiration of Franklin, Trent Bedlow tells her he loves her. With the help of her friend Molly, Jane sees beneath Trent’s veneer of caring and Franklin’s wall of indifference to the souls of each. Realizing he is losing Jane and her property, Trent kidnaps her leaving it to Franklin to try to rescue the women he loves.

This is an intriguing Americana romance that brings to life the late nineteenth century in Deadwood, South Dakota. The lead trio forges an interesting triangle as Jane learns the hard way never to judge a book by its cover. Although the climax is abrupt and leaves too much dangling especially since history buffs and romance readers will know what is coming, fans will enjoy this entertaining historical.

Harriet Klausner

Dining with Joy-Rachel Hauck

Dining with Joy
Rachel Hauck
Thomas Nelson, Nov 16 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9781595543394

In South Carolina, Joy Ballard is the host of the local cooking show, Dining With Joy that she inherited from her late father, a great chef. She has one problem in that she cannot cook. So when a national network wants to pick up her show she panics.

Former Manhattan chef Luke Davis moved to Beaufort, South Carolina after his restaurant failed. He pays his debts as a cook at the Frogmore Café.

Allison Wild of Wild Woman Productions who bought the rights to Dining With Joy, adds Luke to the show for wider appeal especially to the women. Luke and Joy detest one another at first sight, but the sparks make the show stratospherically successful. However, being an ethical person, Joy loathes concealing her inability to cook from their audience and especially from her co-host. As they fall in love, he knows her secret, but others want her job so are willing to expose her as a sham and further destroy his reputation as guilt by association.

With a nod to Christmas in Connecticut, readers will enjoy this entertaining contemporary romance starring an ethical woman struggling with her amoral behavior and a failed chef with the irony that she has succeeded and he has not. Readers will enjoy this amusing culinary romance in which No Reservations are necessary for Dining with Joy; just avoid her offerings and Eat your Heart out on his.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Lovers-Eden Bradley

The Lovers
Eden Bradley
Spice, Nov 1 2010, $13.95
ISBN: 9780373605514

Her shrink persuades reticent moody author Bettina Boothe to attend a summer writers’ retreat with her online writers group. Bettina figured eight weeks with people like her should be easy especially at a beachfront house in Santa Barbara with great food and wine.

At the workshop Bettina meets and to her shock is attracted to her total opposite in extroverted Audrey LeClaire. Bettina is further stunned as she also wants another attendee Jack Curren. For someone who is relationship phobic, Bettina beings a tryst with Audrey and Jack that soon evolves into a ménage a trois.

The Lovers is not an easy read as each of the threesome who makes up the title characters have too many emotional issues that overwhelm the reader at times; ironically all that anxiety, the trio feels genuine as they make the story line more than just a series of ménage a trois. With hot sex scenes and deep psychotic relationship tsuris too easily overcome by love, erotic fans will enjoy this spicy heater.

Harriet Klausner

Play Dirty-Lorie O’Clare

Play Dirty
Lorie O’Clare
St. Martin’s, Sep 28 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312372156

Six years ago in Los Angeles Haley King testified against drug lord Pedro Gutierrez. Immediately following her court appearance, she vanished into the Witness Protection Program; leaving behind her husband Greg and their two teen sons Marc and Jake without a word.

The three male Kings moved on and run a bounty hunting business when Greg sees Haley. Although her “boss” John has vanished and she fears Gutierrez is somehow involved, Haley begs Greg to stay out of her trouble. He refuses and agrees to treat her as one of the guys except for kisses. As a hit man targets Haley, Greg risks his life to keep her safe.

This first Bounty Hunter romantic suspense thriller is an enthralling fast-paced second chance at love romance. The story line moves faster than a speeding motorcycle; however the rapid pace also glides over relationships too easily as Marc and Jake don’t even blink in welcoming their mom back into their lives and the lead couple seem to ignore six years have passed; for that matter one must wonder why the Gutierrez mob did not go after the King trio. Still filled with action and a tough lead couple risking their lives to protect the backs of their loved ones, fans will enjoy the ride.

Harriet Klausner

Wicked Highlander-Donna Grant

Wicked Highlander
Donna Grant
St. Martin’s, Nov 2 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312381240

The McLeod brothers (Fallon, Lucan and Quinn) were descendants from a cadre of warriors created by Druids to repel the Romans from Scotland and England. For three centuries the siblings hid from Deirdre who wants their magic. However in 1603, Lucan meets his soulmate (see Dangerous Highlander), but Quinn was captured by their enemy. Since Quinn’s imprisonment, his other sibling met his soulmate too (see Forbidden Highlander). Now free again, Quinn is the most volatile of the three brothers. He remains tormented by guilt as he has for centuries and his rage has taken its toll on his mind and his soul. Only his desire for true love keeps him from going totally over to the dark although each breath darkens his soul

Marcail has been raised by Druids. Their ancient magic flows freely through her blood. Quinn thinks she may be his soul savior as his heart belongs to her. However, Deirdre plans to use her as a lure to recapture Quinn and his McLeod growing family.

The third McLeod brother historical romantic fantasy is a fabulous finish to a strong entertaining saga. The story line is fast-paced as the villainous sets in motion her endgame in which she uses love to destroy her enemies and to re-enslave the siblings. The Scottish Highlands has rarely looked as beautiful and forbidden as they have in Donna grant’s wonderful early seventeenth century thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Scoundrel in My Dreams-Celeste Bradley

Scoundrel in My Dreams
Celeste Bradley
St. Martin’s, Sep 28 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312943103

At the Brown’s Club for Distinguished Gentlemen, Lord John Redgrave recognizes the abandoned little girl Melody as his offspring. He assumes the mother is Amaryllis Clark who he was courting before he went off to war. She came to his room, had sex, and the next day rejected his proposal.

Jack confronts Amy only to learn that wonderful night was with her then seventeen year old sister Laurel. As he went off to fight, Laurel was ruined. Now she wants Melody back but nothing to do with Jack. However, she does not know Jack as he wants his daughter and the woman he cherishes in his life permanently.

The third Runaway Brides Regency romance (see Rogue In My Arms and Devil in My Bed) is an intriguing historical because of Jack who is so atypical of the sub-genre; he brings a sort of boorish but fresh personality to the mix as he does not intend to be crude or insensitive he just is. Fans will enjoy his efforts to win Laurel’s head as he owns her heart and dreams, but she has doubts about her scoundrel being there for her and precocious (perhaps too cute) Melody.

Harriet Klausner

Never Trust a Rogue-Olivia Drake

Never Trust a Rogue
Olivia Drake
St. Martin’s, Aug 31 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312943462

Heiress Miss Lindsey Crompton is happy for her sister Portia who has married her soul mate (see Seducing the Heiress). However, this also means that she is now under the glare of the money grubbers as the next wealthy target of the impoverished male aristocrats, which interferes with her desire to be sleuthing not dancing.

During an investigation she conducts she runs into an Earl, war hero Thane Pallister who has become known recently for his womanizing. He conceals his work with the Bow Street Runners behind the façade of aristocratic arrogance as he seeks evidence against a killer who wants to marry Lindsey for her money and beauty but will have to cut out her brains.

This is an exciting investigative historical romance starring two consummate professional detectives arguing, fussing, and fighting on their way to love. The opening wry commentary by Thane sets the table: “Females were nothing but trouble.” However this particular female proves to be the epitome of trouble. Although Thane’s motives for his inquiry are vague and he comes across as a Neanderthal, the match-up between two sleuths who each scorns the aristocracy makes for a wonderful nineteenth century romantic mystery.

Harriet Klausner

The Surrender of a Lady-Tiffany Clare

The Surrender of a Lady
Tiffany Clare
St. Marin’s, Sep 28 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312372118

In 1841 in Constantinople, a shocked Lady Elena Ravenscliffe hears one word “sold” that has her mortified. Her husband Robert says he has had a bad run of luck so he put her up as ante and lost her to a sex slave trader. Although it does her little good, she feels it is fitting that her spouse soon dies.

Elena reinvents herself as Jinan the harem girl in order to protect herself and her infant child. Her master offers her sexual favors to bidders. At a sex auction, Marquess Griffin Summerfield recognizes Jinan as Elena who he wanted back in London. He makes a seemingly exorbitant bid winning her for a few weeks. However, as they spend time together enjoying each other, Griffin knows he needs a revised plan to somehow take his beloved and her son with him back to England.

The Surrender of a Lady is an entertaining early Victorian romance with a wonderful Ottoman Empire prime location that enhances the Elena dilemma. Fast-paced from the moment Robert sells his wife to a sex slave broker to pay off his debts, sub-genre readers will wonder what will happen to the commodity once the three weeks are up and the auctioneer demands her return for her next sale. Although Robert’s death is a convenient ending of a relationship problem as he owned his wife, fans will welcome Tiffany Clare into the fold as she provides a super historical.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Midnight-Beverly Jenkins

Beverly Jenkins
Avon, Oct 26 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061547805

In 1775 Boston, whether you remain a Tory or a rebel, everyone whispers revolt. Nicholas Grey comes home to find his father Primus dead; the British arrested and executed him last December after he met with the notorious “Lady Midnight.”

He seeks vengeance for his dad’s death. To achieve his objective he must start with Lady Midnight, but has no idea who she is. Nicholas believes a Tory tavern owner is behind his dad’s death. However, he is attracted to the innkeeper’s daughter Faith Kingston. She is a fierce supporter of freedom though she conceals her seditious activities that support Sons of Liberty. Faith is attracted to Nicholas, but knows to trust no one even if her heart says otherwise.

Once again, the great Beverly Jenkins provides a powerful historical romance as she brings her uncanny sense of time and place to showcase this time the role the Blacks played in the American Revolution. The lead couple is a terrific pairing of a worldly adventurer on a home mission of vengeance and a freedom lover who does more than drink tea as she risks her life as a spy. Her latest work affirms that Ms. Jenkins is one of the best historical writers today with a unique refreshing look at Americana through a perspective not seen enough in the sub-genre.

Harriet Klausner

I’ll Be Home for Christmas-Julie L. Cannon

I’ll Be Home for Christmas
Julie L. Cannon
Summerside, Sep 1 2010, $12.99
ISBN: 9781609360184

In December 1943 in Athens, Georgia Maggie Culpepper grieves the death of her beloved Mother blaming God for her loss and vowing never to trust in the Lord again as her prayers went unanswered. Thus she is caught totally off guard when her childhood sweetheart William Dove proposes though at one time she expected him to ask her to marry him.

Instead of marrying him, Maggie enlists with the U.S. Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service) and stationed at an air station in New Jersey. William, who due to polio is unfit to serve, has not given up on his Maggie as he believes his faith in God and in love will bring them together if she only moves on with her grief.

With Bing singing on the radio, fans will feel like they are whisked to 1944 on the homefront as Julie L. Cannon brings to life those wonderful women who volunteered to serve as WAVES. Maggie is terrific lead protagonists as she is somewhat confused, still grieving for her mom, and feeling lonely being away from her father, her beloved William, her hometown, and God. The audience will root for William who insists home is where the heart is and his heart is with her.

Harriet Klausner

Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio-Serena B. Miller

Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio
Serena B. Miller
Summerside, Aug 1 2010, $12.99
ISBN: 9781609360023

Sugarcreek, Ohio police officer Rachel Troyer watches over her three beloved Amish aunts (Bertha, Lydia, and Anna) who run a farmhouse inn in the olde Amish way. Though their niece wants them to use her inheritance as she worries that they work too hard as Bertha and Lydia are past retirement age and Anna suffers from a weak heart due to Downs Syndrome, the trio loves meeting tourists who come to visit the Amish town.

Joe Matthews stops in Sugarcreek when his truck breaks down. He needs shelter for himself and his young son Bobby traveling with him. The aunts welcome the two males to stay at their rustic inn. However, though attracted to the handsome stranger, Rachel’s police blood screams danger although he refuses to reveal his secret that she fears will harm her aunts especially when the incidents begin.

Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio is a super Amish romance due to the strong cast. The half English niece and her beloved olde style Amish Aunts (no electricity at the inn) bring to life an Amish town in Ohio while the two male strangers bring dangerous intrigue and romance to the mix. Readers will relish this enjoyable romantic suspense although the villain’s motivation seems a bit weak.

Harriet Klausner

Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe-Irene Brand, Anita Higman

Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe
Irene Brand, Anita Higman
Summerside, Sep 1 2010, $12.99
ISBN: 9781609360047

“An Appalachian Christmas” by Irene Brand. Julia Mayfield made a death promise to her late sister that she will take her two years old nephew Bobby to meet his paternal grandparents in Mistletoe, Kentucky. Although people are kind like the mail carrier, nothing goes right when they leave the bus upon reaching town as the only taxi is rented. However, things look up when they meet WW II veteran David Armstrong who assists Julia and Bobby.

“Once Upon a Christmas Eve” by Anita Higman. Hollie Rose Goodnight is unprepared and obviously stunned when her store is voted the best Christmas shop in the country. People like her story of her father storekeeper Albert finding her as an abandoned baby on Christmas Eve; so a writer Van Keaton has arrived to tell her tale and perhaps write the next chapters.

Although Irene Brand’s entry is Christmas Past and Anita Higman’s contribution is Christmas Present and there is no Christmas Future; together the two stories make a terrific holiday collection that warms the hearts and souls of readers on a cold wintry night.

Harriet Klausner

The Lightkeeper’s Bride-Colleen Coble

The Lightkeeper’s Bride
Colleen Coble
Thomas Nelson, Oct 19 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9781595542663

In Mercy Falls, Katie Russell enjoys her work as a telephone central switchboard operator. However, she is disturbed that her parents want her to marry wealthy Bartholomew Foster though she does not love him. The wedding will bring her family prestige which they want..

However, Katie accidentally overhears a phone conversation between Eliza Bullmer and a ship apparent lost at sea with the male voice angrily mentioning blackmail. The authorities investigate, but find nothing; not even the caller. Katie talks with the new lighthouse keeper, Will Jesperson; as a smallpox epidemic forces the pair to remain quarantined in the lighthouse. As they team up to find the vanished female caller and the seemingly phantom ship, they fall in love.

The latest Lightkeeper’s Bride (see The Lightkeeper’s Daughter) is a wonderful historical romantic suspense. Part of the exhilarating story line is the rather different views of the Victorian Era through various perspectives that showcase differing lives mean differing viewpoints in what Colleen Coble describes as diversity not monolithic. Filled with spins and waves, readers will enjoy the mystery of Eliza who disappeared Without a Trace left behind, except the tie to a male voice Katie heard in the background and the lost ship. Katie and Will fall in love while their belief in the Lord enables each to believe in each other and in their conviction that God will help them solve the mysteries safely and gain custody of beloved little Jenny; read to find out where this child fits in the strange mystery of the Lightkeeper’s Bride.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, October 18, 2010

Colorado Pride-Jacquie Greenfield

Colorado Pride
Jacquie Greenfield
Five Star, Dec 8 2010, $25.95$25.95
ISBN: 9781594149191

As a child growing up in abject poverty‚ Seth Roberts vowed he would become affluent. As an adult he becomes a successful Colorado Springs developer. Seth believes the crown in his coming a long way is his conversion of a hospital into a five star resort.

However, his climb up the ladder of success has also meant avoiding personal relationships. Thus he is unprepared when he becomes guardian of his recently orphaned grieving twelve year old niece Nicole. He enrolls her in the J Bar D Outreach Camp for Kids whose head counselor is Heather Garrison Thomas who he recently met on a plane. The divorced mother of two rejects the handsome executive though she is attracted to him. She has sworn off clones of her former spouse. However, she is stunned with how good and patient Seth is with her nine-year-old autistic son Kyle and her precious seven year old daughter Katie unlike her ex who suddenly threatens a custody suit to take away the kids he does not want.

The third Under the Colorado Skies novel (see Colorado Secrets and Colorado Pick-Up Man) is an engaging contemporary romance that works because every key player has issues that seem real. The character driven story line is fun to follow as workaholic Seth has a new goal superseding his climb to the top of the corporate ladder. He wants to blend two families into one as he wants to be a loving daddy to his niece and Heather’s two preadolescents as well as husband to his beloved. Fans will enjoy his campaign to win over the reluctant Heather who loves him but fears her taste in men as on the surface he is a replica of her ex, but deep down watching him get dirty with the three kids prove otherwise as Jacquie Greenfield provides a warm family drama.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Rules of an Engagement-Suzanne Enoch

Rules of an Engagement
Suzanne Enoch
Avon, Oct 26 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061662225

Following the elimination of pirates and the their French supporters from the Mediterranean Sea, the hero of the battles, English sea Captain Bradshaw Carroway is assigned to the East Indies to escort passengers amongst the Pacific Islands. Five months later he works his new assignment and considers turning to piracy to relieve himself of this feelings of ennui.

However, one of the passengers is botanist Sir Joseph Ponsey’s daughter Zephyr, who has served as her father’s assistant for years. Shaw likes the brilliant yet naive Zephyr. He especially enjoys teasing her as he always seems to get a rise out of her. She, in turn, is confused by his interest. As they sail the Pacific, they have friendly and hostile escapades with natives, nasty rivals, Mother Nature, and the flora fauna specimen collection. He soon realizes he loves her, but needs to convince his doubting Thomasine that they belong together.

Zephyr and the locale refresh this enjoyable historical romance as her mix of innocence and intelligence excites the captain more than sinking French vessels. The story line is fast-paced from the opening battle in the Mediterranean and never stops for a gasp even with Shaw telling his brother “Runt” that he is bored. Fans will enjoy the gender war on the high seas.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, October 15, 2010

The First Love Cookie Club-Lori Wilde

The First Love Cookie Club
Lori Wilde
Avon, Oct 26 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061988424

Sarah Collier grew up loving Christmas as she and her beloved grandmother placed kismet cookies under her pillow. Though very young she knew who she one day would marry and on Christmas Eve every year with the cookies under her head dream of her beloved Travis Walker. However when she was fifteen, her fantasy crashed when Travis married someone else. She no longer dreams of kismet.

Almost a decade has passed since her fairy tale died. Sarah has become the successful children’s book author Sadie Cool. Ailing Jasmine asks to meet her favorite author so the First Love Cookie Club tries to arrange for Sadie to come to Twilight, Texas. Although she would prefer to refuse, as this is the hometown she fled, Sarah agrees to come see Jazzy, Travis’ daughter. Like Sarah, Travis thinks fairy tales are a sham, but neither of them understands the power of the First Love Cookie Club members enhanced by a little girl’s Christmas wish.

The return to Twilight, Texas (see The Sweethearts Knitting Club and The True Love Quilting Club) for the holidays is a delightful warm contemporary romance. The cast makes the tale fun to read as the lead couple is obviously in love with each other but though it is déjà vu all over again as they plan to go on with their separate lives. However, the second time has one enormous difference: First Love Cookie Club. Although the story line is thin, fans will enjoy stopping in Twilight for cookies made with TLC.

Harriet Klausner

The Reckless Bride-Stephanie Laurens

The Reckless Bride
Stephanie Laurens
Avon, Oct 26 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061795190

In 1822 in India, Army Captain Rafe Carstairs resigns his commission and, like his three comrades, sets off for home to deliver, in his case, the original letter that will expose the Black Cobra cult leader’s identity to Lord Wolverstone. His only companion is Hassan the Pathan warrior. They travel inland to Rajputana and the Afghan Supremacy with no incidents.

At the same time in London Loretta Michelmarsh rejects her eighth suitor as she wants the man of her dreams. Her Great Aunt Esme arrives to inform the family Loretta is coming with her as her companion on a Grand Tour. Esme wants Loretta to behave wild like almost the entire rest of the family does.

Rafe and Hassan make it to Turkey and across the Black Sea with no cultists in sight. They reach Buda on the Danube when they see men accost women. They intercede; Esme directs Rafe and Hassan to escort them. Hassan says they have no choice but to accede as cultists are nearby so the two ladies and their two maids are safer with them. As they continue their journey by sea and land, they fall in love starting with a fishing contest even as cultists try to prevent their arrival.

The fourth and final Black Cobra tale (see The Brazen Bride, The Untamed Bride, and The Elusive Bride) contains two courageous fresh lead individuals and a strong support cast that includes a secondary romance. The threat to the traveling sextet comes from a great spin. However, as with the previous tales the cultists seem inept with one twisting exception and the heroes take too many unnecessary risks. Still this is a fun Regency romantic suspense that ties up the key threads.

Harriet Klausner

The Year of Living Scandalously-Julia London

The Year of Living Scandalously
Julia London
Pocket, Oct 19, 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439175453

In 1792 in Hadley Green, eight year old Lily Boudine’s testimony led to the hanging of a man for stealing the jewels of the Countess of Ashwood. To keep young Lily safe she is sent to live with family in Ireland. Over the next fifteen years, villagers debated whether the executed man was guilty of a tryst.

In 1808, Lily inherits Ashwood when her father dies. Instead of traveling to her estate, she heads to Italy while asking her cousin Keira Hannigan to visit her property. Keira readily agrees as this enables her to elude an unwanted suitor. At Ashwood, Keira poses as Lily until the Irish Earl of Donnelly arrives to see Lily. Lord Declan O’Connor knows his host is not the countess as they were in love back in Ireland. She persuades him not to expose her masquerade and help her uncover the truth about what happened over fifteen years ago. An unknown adversary wants to prevent the truth from surfacing even if that means burying the Irish interlopers.

This is a fabulous Regency investigative romance starring two Irish in England. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing as each understands fully the danger the Year of Living Scandalously will do to their respective hearts. However, it is the delightful inquiry into the mystery of what happened in 1792 that makes for a brisk entertaining historical romantic suspense.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wicked Wonderland-LuAnn McLane, Susanna Carr, Janice Maynard

Wicked Wonderland
LuAnn McLane, Susanna Carr, Janice Maynard
Signet, Nov 2 2010, $14.00
ISBN: 9780451231338

“Hot Whisper” by LuAnn McLane. At the gift shop at the Whisper, Colorado station waiting for her train to arrive, Claire becomes enchanted by beautiful hand-carved Santa figurines. She misses her train home to Atlanta, but meets the artist Jesse who gives her shelter and extra warmth for the holidays.

“Hot for the Holidays” by Susanna Carr. At the office holiday party, Rachel and Justin seemingly opposites and definitely rivals become wild lovers in her cubicle. Now she wants to flee town as she always chooses flight over fight even for the man she loves; while he wants her gift wrapped forever.

“Hot Arctic Nights” by Janice Maynard. Unemployed, Hallie agrees to run her friend’s Alaskan B&B in Fairbanks over the holidays. Daniel arrives for some R&R, but gets no rest as they heat up the Arctic with their love making.

With straightforward story lines Warm Wicked Wonderland contains three wonderful holiday romances starring nice lead couples.

Harriet Klausner

Twelve Wicked Nights-Nadia Aidan

Twelve Wicked Nights
Nadia Aidan
NAL, Nov 2 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780451231314

The death of her grandfather has attorney Isabella Andreu returning home for his funeral. There she runs into her former boyfriend Navy Seal Justin Rourke who is on leave. They remain attracted to each other though they have not seen each other in years, but neither plans to act on their feelings as he deploys in under two weeks and she needs to return to her law firm.

However, whether it is fate or something else, Mother Nature intervenes when a blizzard strands them at Justin’s house. There Isabella finds a box of BDSM toys under his bed that excites her most intimate body parts with a need to test each one. They soon decide to spend every moment over the next twelve nights playing with his collection. Neither expects to fall in love while exploring their inner most sexual needs.

Fans will enjoy the Twelve Wicked Nights of Christmas with much of the pleasure coming from what the next sexual toy the lead couple deploys. The lead couple is a strong honest pairing of two delightful people whose lives seem to have magically crossed for the second time. Fast-paced and filled with heat, Nadia Aidan provides a fabulous Yuletide contemporary.

Harriet Klausner

Pleasure’s Edge-Eve Berlin

Pleasure’s Edge
Eve Berlin
Heat, Nov 2 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425236871

Erotica author Dylan Ivory plans on a BDSM theme for her next novel. To obtain insider information, Dylan begins research on the subject. This leads to her meeting psychological thriller author Alec Walker who lives just like the daredevil stars of his novels.

They are attracted to each other, but she has always kept a tight control over her emotions and any relationships. He wants to take her mountain climbing but she is afraid her independence would die as she would need to rely on him. Alec also wants to teach her first hand the world of BDSM as the dom to her sub. She wants to accept but her fears of losing control keep her from the ecstasy he offers her; while his fear of commitment keeps him from admitting they are yin and yang in and out of bed.

Eve Berlin provides a wonderful well written BDSM romance in which the sex is hotter than the summer in the city of Miami. The superb story line is driven by the lead control freaks whose need to be in charge is radically different. Although her bone marrow screams sub Dylan feels safer in control while Alec’s DNA is imprinted with dom. Fans will enjoy this erotic contemporary as each of the leads and grateful fans are driven beyond Pleasure’s Edge.

Harriet Klausner

Inside Out-Lauren Dane

Inside Out
Lauren Dane
Heat, Nov 2 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425236888

Ella Tipton still struggles with mental healing after her last relationship with an abuser almost left her dead. Tattooed Andrew “Cope” Copeland and Ella have been friends for years, but though she has had dreams starring him he never showed any romantic interest in her. Cope offers her self-defense training so she can have a chance to defend herself if ever caught in the same ugly scenario that almost killed her. She accepts.

However, their touching as part of the lessons has both struggling with desire. Yet when Cope asks her to go out on a date, she is stunned, but accepts. While they fall in love, Ella fears her reactions are one sided as she distrusts herself to know otherwise having picked a psychopath previously. As for Cope, he struggles to cope with his feelings as he is used to playing the field.

This is a terrific contemporary romance with two strong protagonists whose relationship changes from friend to friend and lover. Ella and Cope know they must Laid Bare their hearts as well as they do their body parts, but each fears an intimate loving relationship. Lauren Dane provides her audience with a deep heartfelt relationship drama as the heroine remains somewhat traumatized and the hero is the deer in the headlights.

Harriet Klausner

Jeweled-Anya Bast

Anya Bast
Heat, Nov 2 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425236864

At the court of the Edaeii in Belai, Evangeline the Enchantress is euphoric as she is rewarded for her magical skill of emotional manipulator by being be-Jeweled with a sapphire, which makes her recognized as a master adept. However her joy shatters when revolutionaries destroy the court and kill most of the mages. Adept Anatol Nikolisan the illusionist saves her life.

Already attracted to each other even before the insurrection, the pair flees together to the only potential sanctuary, the home of Gregorio Vidhin. Ironically his oratory was the catalyst that enflamed the rebellion. As the low born hunt for the pair, Evangeline finds herself torn between two lovers.

This heated erotic romantic fantasy is fast-paved from the onset, filled with vivid love scenes that will raise body temperatures of adoring fans, and a strong sense that in the Bast universe the physics of magic feels genuine. The prime threesome comes across as real whether they flee the revolutionaries, deal with locals wanting to buy “his sister” for the night, or stop for a tryst. Although expressions like “sowing your wild oats” and even “middle class” feel out of place in this realm, fans will enjoy Evangeline’s excellent escapades with the two mages in her life.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Holiday Magic-Fern Michaels, Cathy Lamb, Mary Carter and Terri DuLong

Holiday Magic
Fern Michaels, Cathy Lamb, Mary Carter and Terri DuLong
Zebra, Nov 1 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9781420108354

"Holiday Magic" by Fern Michaels. Colorado Ski shop manager Stephanie is a single mom looking forward to a holiday bonus so she can purchase a house for her and her daughters. Her employer Eddie hopes to persuade her to take a chance on him though he knows her ex husband left Stephanie and the girls wary of males.

"A Very Merry Christmas" by Cathy Lamb. In Montana, Meredith has plenty of items on her wish list but her to-do list is much longer. At the top of both lists is her hardest entry: avoid Logan the rancher.

"A Very Maui Christmas" by Mary Carter. Chef Tara flies to Maui to avoid her family’s annual Christmas in hell celebration. However, her sister leads the charge to Hawaii. On the other hand the man she just met Darren makes the mistletoe seem right.

"A Cedar Key Christmas" by Terri DuLong. Single mom Josie is proud of her daughter Tess who has helped fisherman Mr. Al restore his home. When Mr. Al's nephew, Ben the publisher arrives, she finds he may be gruff, but she does not mind kissing the Grinch who stole her heart.

These four holiday romances are warm, somewhat throwback, straightforward tales of love at Christmas time.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Man’s Heart-Lori Copeland

A Man’s Heart
Lori Copeland
Zondervan, Oct 12 2010, $13.99
ISBN: 9780310289852

In Washington State, Julianne “Jules” Matias wanted to delay her marriage to Cruz Delgado. However, he becomes irate as this is her second time in two years just before the ceremony she cancels. He walks out on her not wanting to hear her excuses about at Washington State University or her dying dad.

Over the next four years, she went to school, tried to grow the perfect potato and be there for her Pop. She now owns the Blue Bayou ranch that she inherited after her dad died, but her sister Crystal is hurt that Pop left her nothing. Meanwhile her best friend Sophie has uterine cancer and asks Jules to be there for her kids Livvy and Ethan. When Sophie dies Jules takes the children on to her drought stricken ranch. Finally there is Cruz who loathes the woman he loves.

This is an engaging rural romance starring a strong cast but the focus is on Jules. She felt overwhelmed when she jilted Cruz and feels the same today as if God is testing her. With a strength in her beliefs and in the land, Jules faces her tsuris with strength, winning over the hearts and minds of readers and hopefully her sister, her beloved ex fiancé, and two little grieving children; she already has the Lord in her corner.

Harriet Klausner

Rose Hill Manor-Sharol Louise

Rose Hill Manor
Sharol Louise
Five Star, Nov 5 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594149160

Three months ago, her brother Lord Alec Chambreville’s scandal led to him fleeing England for the continent and his concerned sister Lady Constance rusticating away from London. Her friend Lady Larissa Wakefield is in a panic as her sibling the tyrannical earl arrived and has interrogated her about her guest. Larissa explains she told a fib to her brother Marcus by claiming Constance is Miss Violet, her companion for the summer who was recently in Italy and a strict follower of Mrs. Carver’s Hints For Young Ladies reference tome that he demands a chaperone rigidly apply. She explains she was afraid that Alec’s scandal would make Constance an unacceptable friend in the mind of her proper behaved brother.

Lord Marcus and Miss Violet meet and to their chagrin they are attracted to one another. However, he has issues with her beautiful looks and sassy deportment; she has issues with his handsome looks and his overbearing deportment. As they fall in love, he uncovers one of her deepest secrets: how she uses Mrs. Carver’s Hints For Young Ladies weighty book on proper etiquette.

This is a terrific amusing Georgian romance due to the cast as the lead couple is a fine pairing of a lady in disguise and an earl struggling with her impertinence that on the one hand he cherishes and on the other he scorns. Fast-paced, fans will enjoy rusticating at Rose Hill Manor as the minx teaches the tyrant how young ladies in love behave.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, October 8, 2010

Grace-Shelley Shepard Gray

Shelley Shepard Gray
Avon, Oct 26 2010, $12.99
ISBN: 9780061990960

In Ohio, the Brenneman brood looks forward to getting together for the holiday; especially with the shutting of the Brenneman Bed and Breakfast. However, two people arrive planning to get away from their lives for a respite. The extended family is divided as some feels it is the Christmas spirit to welcome the guests; while Katie is outraged as she prefers they go ahead with the planned gathering.

One of the two guests, angry acrimonious Levi Bender had sent a reservation that came just before he did as it got lost in the mail for a few days. He wants to be left alone wallowing in his guilt over a tragedy as he believes he will never be Forgiven. The other is nine months pregnant Melody Gingerich who feels her family has let her down when she chose to go full term in spite of being raped. While she ponders whether her child will not be Wanted by her family, she refuses to comment why she came from Kentucky. Meanwhile the visitors and their hosts wonder if God has brought this pair to the inn for a reason especially when the snowstorm hits.

The latest Sisters of the Heart inspirational Amish romance is a terrific tale of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Readers will believe that “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven” as joyful smiles (by fans and angels) light up with the love between two emotionally battered souls helping them heal while regainong their faith. One of the best sub-genre writers, Shelley Shepard Gray provides a strong entry especially her compassionate look at the victim of rape.

Harriet Klausner

Montana Glory-R.C. Ryan

Montana Glory
R.C. Ryan
Forever, Nov 1 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780446548649s
As a child, Zane McCord loved staying at his grandfather’s Lost Nugget Ranch. However, when he turned twelve years old, he was forced to leave. Now he is back along with his two cousins, Wyatt (see Montana Destiny) and Jesse (see Montana Legacy) to run the ranch and to search for an alleged missing treasure. Unlike Wyatt and Jesse who apparently have found love, Zane plans to remain single.

Accountant Riley Mason accompanied by her four years old daughter Summer arrive on the ranch to work. Riley hopes to hide Summer at Lost Nugget from some ugly thugs who were associates of her daughter’s late father. They will use Summer to obtain information they believe Riley possesses. When these predators arrive in Big Sky Country, Riley vows to keep them away from her beloved Zane and his extended family; Zane vows to keep the mother and daughter he loves safe from rattlesnakes.

The final McCord cousins’ Montana trilogy is a wonderful romantic suspense tale starring a courageous heroine who is a lioness protecting her cub and a reluctant knight in shining armor who needs to intervene to keep his two beloved females safe. Fans will enjoy the last entry that ties up the overarching plot as the trio and the other McCord couples make for a terrific taut thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Edge of Sight-Roxanne St. Claire

Edge of Sight
Roxanne St. Claire
Forever, Nov 1 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780446566582

At a restaurant she works at in the Boston area, Harvard law student Samantha Fairchild witnesses the assassination of journalist Joshua Sterling; the second time she saw a person kill another human. Her horrified face is caught on the security tape and the killer knows she saw him and is coming for her. The Boston Police Department refuse to protect Samantha because they hold her culpable for exposing a BPD scandal years ago though they hide their rejection (but not their contempt) behind bureaucratic garbage.

Desperate she turns to her friend investigative journalist Vivi Angelino whom she has avoided since an affair with her brother Zach ended with him rejecting her. Zach has recently returned from the combat zone, but bears physical and mental scars from his time over there. He is not the same person who left for the Middle East although his sister makes him open up a private investigative firm with her. Then Samantha enters the office; the woman who he will always love though he broke her heart.

The opening Guardian Angelinos romantic suspense series is a great Massachusetts’ thriller. The story line is action-packed from the opening scene at the restaurant and never slows down as Roxanne St. Claire’s fans anticipate two showdowns; one between the stalking killer and the lead couple and the other between the lead couple. As with her Bulletcatcher saga, Ms. St. Claire provides readers with a super tale.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Princess In His Bed-Lila DiPasqua

The Princess In His Bed
Lila DiPasqua
Berkley, Nov 2 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425237007

"The Marquis' New Clothes”. Widow Aimee de Miran arrives at the court of Louis IV to help her cousin Louise recover a ring from a rogue, but meets the Marquis de Nattes.

"The Lovely Duckling”. A decade ago rake Joseph d'Alumbert humiliated Emilie de Sarron, who went into hiding. When she returns to society, feeling guilty he vows to help her, but falls in love with her instead.

“The Princess and the Diamonds”. Fearing for her brother, Princess Gabrielle dresses like a male to enter the gambling den. There she meets undercover operative Marquis de Montfort, who seeks to end the killing spree associated with this gambling operation. He recognizes her as a female and offers his protection if they team up.

The latest adult Fiery Tales Collection (see Awakened by a Kiss for humorously lewd versions of Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood and Puss N Boots) contains three more exciting erotic fairy tale romantic spins.

Harriet Klausner

A Duke’s Temptation-Jillian Hunter

A Duke’s Temptation
Jillian Hunter
Signet, Nov 2 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451413000

In 1818, Lady Lily Boscastle is humiliated when her engagement ends. At the same time rakish Samuel St. Aldwyn, the Duke of Gravenhurst, is infamous for taking up the rights of the downtrodden in offbeat amoral ways.

Feeling a need to leave London with her head held high (as expected of a Boscastle), Lily decides the Gravenhurst household is perfect for her to hide for now from society’s inane pity stares. She obtains a position as a housekeeper as he hires her because he enjoyed their battle of words. As they become better acquainted through kisses and a war of wit and edit, she realizes he is the author of the gothic romance novels she loves while he realizes she is his heart’s temptation. However, each has a past to overcome first.

This is a marvelous Boscastle Regency romance (see The Seduction of an English Scoundrel) starring two fascinating protagonists as she is a Boscastle all the way to her bone marrow and he is a Bridal Pleasures rogue shamelessly seducing the woman who owns his cravings. Character driven fans will enjoy the gender war of words as she “edits” his musings of love.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Scoundrel’s Honor-Rosemary Rogers

Scoundrel’s Honor
Rosemary Rogers
Harlequin HQN, Nov 1 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373774562

In Yabinsk, Russia, distraught Emma Linley-Kirov worries about her sixteen years old sister Anya who left with two strangers. Whereas Emma wants to believe they abducted her sibling, English nanny and close friend to her late mom Diana Stanford insists Anya left with the wealthy gentlemen willingly because she would see them as the ticket to performing on the stage.

A desperate Emma, fearing her sister will be sold as a sex slave, pleads with the affluent devil Dimitri “Beggar Czar” Tipova, leader of the underground, to bring her sibling home. He agrees but hides his reason and what he plans to charge her for his service. An illegitimate, Dimitri detests his father the count and would do anything to destroy the odious man who he also knows is involved with illegal activity. As he follows the trail with his “client” at his side, cynical Dimitri falls in love with innocent Emma; risking his life to keep her safe from unknown adversaries that want one or both of them never to return to St. Petersburg.

The lead couple is a delightful pairing and the support cast enhances the sense of place in the exciting story line. The pursuit takes Emma and Dimitri to England and Egypt. On the trail, they fall in love while mounting a rescue attempt and dodging some nasty foes. However, this terrific late nineteenth century romantic suspense is owned by Russia as Rosemary Rogers serves as a super tour guide.

Harriet Klausner

Touch of Temptation-Rhyannon Byrd

Touch of Temptation
Rhyannon Byrd
Harlequin HQN, Nov 2010, $7.99
ISBN 9780373774791

Kellan Scott is the youngest member of his werewolf pack. He is an emotional wreck who conceals his heart from everyone even himself to avoid being hurt. He is very attracted to witch Chloe Harcourt, but works diligently to deny his feelings.

However, even with his efforts to deny his desire, Kellan begins to believe Chloe is his one. As he fears what that means, Chloe assumes her sexual need for Kellan is symptomatic of her Merrick sexual hunger heritage and the Mallory curse, which embellishes the emotions of people who come into contact with her. Both sing I’m not in love yet each wonders why this feels different.

The latest Primal Instinct romantic urban fantasy (see Touch of Seduction and Touch of Surrender) is a wonderful entry mostly due to Kellan’s denial as his refrain is I’m Not in Love (10 CC). The story line is at its best when it remains in the present conflict; when the tale focuses on the past, it loses some of its speed. Still readers will enjoy visiting the Byrd universe as the author’s deft touch makes the werewolf society seem genuine.

Harriet Klausner

Luck of the Wolf-Susan Krinard

Luck of the Wolf
Susan Krinard
Harlequin HQN, Nov 1 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373774692

In 1882 Cort Renier left his werewolf clan as an outcast in exile. He pursues a life of revenge. In San Francisco, Cort gets in on a high stakes poker game and wins the biggest stake.

Raised in isolation in mountainous Carantia by Franz who hid her to keep her safe, Aria di Reinardus travels to California seeking other Caranthian exiles and hopefully wehrwolfe entities like her. In San Francisco she was abducted, but Cort won her in gambling game. Cort thinks the European is perfect for his plans of revenge. With allies, he will pass Aria off as the lost Reinardus heiress and escort her to her clan in New Orleans. However, he is so consumed with vengeance, Cort fails to recognize his life mate when he met her; she knows from the start who her rescuer is. As his plans go awry due to his traitorous heart, Cort risks his life to keep his beloved safe from adversaries who fear she may be royalty and want her dead.

The latest Renier historical werewolf romance (see Bride of the Wolf) is a superb entry as the hero learns being a an avenging lone wolf is cold now that he has met his mate; although he took a long time to accept who she is. Fast-paced, sub-genre fans will enjoy this fine late nineteenth century paranormal with a touch of mystery while wondering just like Cort does whether his beloved actually is the Reinardus heiress; regardless he knows the Luck of the Wolf is winning her love.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Seven Nights to Forever-Evangeline Collins

Seven Nights to Forever
Evangeline Collins
Berkley, Nov 2 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425236833

In 1819 London, the deaths of their parents left the two Marlowe children without money. The older Rose knows of one way a woman can earn a living so that she can support her younger brother and pay back her late father’s creditors. Thus one week in every month Rose works at Rubicon, London’s most infamous brothel.

Wealthy merchant James Archer turns to Rubicon to escape his horrific marriage to a shrew Lady Amelia who has used her sponsorship amongst the Ton of his beloved sibling Rebecca as a means to keep him in line. When he and Rose meet, karma occurs as each knows they have found a soul mate as lonely as they are. He returns several times and finally asks her to spend a week with him, but not at Rubicon. Each expects the passion, but neither anticipated falling in love, a forbidden feeling.

Seven Nights to Forever is a provocative, passionate and compassionate Regency romance. The lead couple is a delightful pairing of two lonely people with no future together falling in love during a one week tryst; while the support cast is three dimensional except for his shrewish spouse. Reversing the genders of the heated Her Ladyship’s Companion, Evangeline Collins provides a wonderful historical that should include a sequel starring Rebecca and supported by the lead couple and fascinating “mentor” bisexual prostitute Timothy.

Harriet Klausner

Deadly Intent-Kylie Brant

Deadly Intent
Kylie Brant
Berkley, Nov 2 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425238530

In Colorado during a blizzard, Stephen Mulder, distrusting law enforcement, hires Raiker Forensics to help rescue his eleven year old daughter Ellie. He specifically asks for Macy Reid who rescued Ellie when Art Cooper abducted her and was going to auction her. Macy explains to her boss Kellan Burke, who is also on the case, her rescue was a fortunate by product of breaking up a children trafficking network.

Macy and Kellan shared a one night stand, but seeing him again makes Macy realize she still wants him. Kellan believes Macy has the keys to solving the kidnapping as her past as an abducted child seems tied to this kidnapping. He knows he must bully her to rescue the child, but fears if he goes to far the woman he loves will loathe him.

The latest Mindhunter romantic suspense (see Waking the Dead and Waking Evil) is a superb investigative mystery with a supporting romantic subplot that remains in a critical secondary role. The story line is fast-paced as Kylie Brant hooks the audience from the moment the Raiker's team gathers at the Manassas Regional Airport to begin the flight to Denver and never slows down keeping readers guessing who is behind the snatch and why. Deadly Intent is a strong thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Christmas in Cedar Cove-Debbie Macomber

Christmas in Cedar Cove
Debbie Macomber
Mira, Oct 26 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778328223

“5-B Poppy Lane". In Cedar Cove, Washington, anti-war protester Ruth Shelton has been exchanging letters and email with USMC Sergeant Paul Gordon. However, he is coming home from Afghanistan on leave and wants to meet her in person. She has doubts because of his occupation. Adding a new prologue and epilogue to frame 5-B Poppy Lane (originally part of the Hearts Divided anthology), this is a terrific Washington State novella starring a heroic Marine and a realistic woman with doubts about a relationship with a soldier.

“A Cedar Cove Christmas”. On Christmas Eve, pregnant Mary Jo Wyse comes to Cedar Cove, Washington seeking the father of her unborn David Rhodes. There are no commercial accommodations available in town, but Grace and Cliff Harding allow Mary Jo to sleep in the loft of their stable. When Mary Jo goes into labor, paramedic Mack McAfee attends to her. The three Wyse men, (bumbling brothers Linc, Mel and Ned) arrive to help their sister. Meanwhile Mary Jo has decided that instead of confronting David, who she has not found, she would prefer to be held by kindhearted Mack. However she doubts even this nice EMT would want to get involved with a woman who has just given birth. A Cedar Cove Christmas is an amusing and angst account of the Christmas saga with Puget Sound serving as the locale instead of Bethlehem; as a stable is a stable when it comes to hospitality for a pregnant woman. The cast is solid but it is the visitor Mary Jo who provides the anxiety, focus and equilibrium to a very Merry Christmas romp.

Harriet Klausner

Devil at Midnight-Emma Holly

Devil at Midnight
Emma Holly
Berkley, Nov 2 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425237816

In 1950, her abusive father George in a rage hammered Grace Gladwell’s head one time to many leaving her in a sort of limbo; not quite dead but obviously not alive. Michael the guide lays out her choices and Grace decides the Holy Grail is a friend not family or a lover.

In 1460, Swiss mercenary leader Christian Durand sees a specter, which makes him fear he is going insane. In spite of their obvious handicap, the pair is attracted to each other. Their love enables her to have a body at times. Her periods in corporal form keeps growing. Vampire Queen Nim Wei orders Christian to escort and protect her on her trip, but he fears with good reason the sinister manipulative Undead royal has a scheme to force his odious father and him into mortal combat while all he wants is his beloved Grace.

The latest Upyr Midnight romantic fantasy is a great entry starring a fascinating lead couple and some vile secondary characters. The story line is fast-paced once Christian sees and wants the ghost of Grace and she reciprocates his desire. Fans will relish this paranormal thriller while waiting for the rest of their story in Angel at Dawn.

Harriet Klausner

Enemy Within-Marcella Burnard

Enemy Within
Marcella Burnard
Berkley, Nov 2 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425236857

The Chekydran capture Captain Alexandria “Ari” Idylle and torture her. Amazingly they not only fail to kill her, but they release her. She returns home, but not to a hero’s welcome; as everyone she knows and some in the shadows she does not know assume the enemy tinkered with her brain. Even her loved ones believe the Chekydran played with her mind and therefore feel unsafe near her. She realizes her military career is dead as her superiors assume she has been brainwashed and thus a security risk.

She is forced to remain on her father’s science ship as a sort of escape from the distrustful looks. However pirates led by Captain Cullin Seaghdh take over the vessel. However, she suspects there is more to the pirate than simple looting especially as they flee a Chekydran assault ship. In fact, he stalks her like others including her former military superiors who implanted a bomb in her head that can be detonated from a distance. Though attracted to him, she knows not trust no one.

This is a terrific romantic science fiction thriller that brings to life hostilities between two races fighting to dominate the galaxy with each side using nefarious tricks and willing to sacrifice loyal citizens to gain a check in the Outer Space game of chess that seems about to turn uglier. Although the climax contains repugnant sexual abuse that readers will insist is worse than to chewing on a Nurellan lemon berry, sub-genre fans will enjoy this strong space saga, which reminds the audience of the dirty tricks of the Cold War.

Harriet Klausner

Spun by Sorcery-Barbara Bretton

Spun by Sorcery
Barbara Bretton
Berkley, Nov 2 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425236826

In Sugar Maple, Vermont, half human Chloe Hobbs has a busy schedule. She is the unelected mayor of her town; receiving training in sorcery; running her Sticks and Strings yarn shop, and making time for her beloved town purebred human soul mate Police Chief Luke Mackenzie. However, stunningly as the pair plans their future together, Sugar Maple disappears taking her cats including Penelope and her Book of Spells with the vanishing.

Her friend Janice Meany accompanied by Penny the cat arrives in Chloe’s car. The three begin investigating what happened to the town. Clues implicate Isadora the Fae as Casting Spells and imply the answers are in Salem. However, an unknown adversary wants to prevent the two females and the feline from getting to Salem. When they overcome the obstacles to reach the city, they find their adventures in strangeness have just begun.

This super New England fantasy mystery follows the threads of Laced With Magic. The story line is fast-paced yet character driven by the courageous threesome who knit together what is going on in Salem (past and present) that has stolen away Sugar Maple. Readers will enjoy the return to Sugar Maple even with the town no longer listed in MapQuest.

Harriet Klausner

In Dreams Begin-Skyler White

In Dreams Begin
Skyler White
Berkley, Nov 2 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425236956

On her wedding night, Laura Armstrong is haunted by powerful dreams focused on the late Irish freedom fighter Maud Gonne. She is bewildered when she learns the vividness of what she sees are not actually dreams.

A jealous Victorian occultist Ida Jameson uses her medium skills to bring forth from the future Laura who meets and falls in love with William Butler Yeats. Occupying Maud’s body Laura becomes a sort of muse for the poet. However, Ida has an agenda for transporting Laura into the past, which leaves the latter in peril as the former wants absolute power especially over the poet encouraged by the beast of love.

This is a fascinating complex time travel tale that enables the reader to learn much about Yeats and indirectly his beloved muse Maud. However, that is also the key issue complication as Laura’s modern day assertiveness (some will say aggressiveness) takes over the personality of her host body even when the woman from the future is unaware she is in the past. Thus the readers will struggle with what is considered historical fact and what is pure fiction. Still In Dreams Begin, Skyler White provides a whimsical lyrical salute to Eire through the bridge of love that crosses the barrier of time.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hot Stories for Cold Nights-Joan Elizabeth Lloyd

Hot Stories for Cold Nights
Joan Elizabeth Lloyd
Heat, Oct 5 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425235270

The thirty entries are in fact twenty separate tales as the other ten are additional chapters rather than stand alone short stories. Thus, readers initially will be confused but quickly pick up that “Creating a Bestseller” is followed by “Creating a Bestseller: The Next Chapter” thanks mostly to Jared and Mandy. The longer multiple entries like the Madam’s Brothel" (Options in five parts), “Movie Mania (three parts), and "Friday Night Games" (played in three periods) are the best contributions as the reader has the chance to meet the lead participants outside of just sex. Still even the short shorts (approximately eight pages on an average) are fun to read as accentuated by the opening act in which Pete and Missy capture a Leprechaun who provides lovemaking advice that the Penthouse Magazine guide would say makes for a wonderful cocktail. Ranging in sub-genres and encounters, for the most part, Joan Elizabeth Lloyd provides entertaining erotic Hot Stories for Cold Nights (temperate and hot nights too).

Harriet Klausner

His Sinful Secret-Emma Wildes

His Sinful Secret
Emma Wildes
Signet, Nov 2 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451231666

In London, Michael Hepburn is stabbed in the ribs fighting off an attacker. He cannot go home due to his injury as his parents host guests. He goes to the home of Lady Antonia Taylor who with her lover Laurence patches him up. Antonia loves Michael who saved her life in Spain, but he is marrying an innocent in two days Lady Julianne Simpson out of a sense of duty towards his parents who are grieving the death of their older son Harry. Michael assumes his war time enemy Roget attacked him for the second time in a week though Laurence disagrees.

Michael feels unworthy of Julianne and fears he is betraying his brother. Still they marry and he is very gentle with his shy virgin. They discuss Harry before making love. She realizes the aloof Michael is sensitive to her feelings; something his amiable late brother would not have done. Michael and Julianne make love every night, but Julianne concludes she has his passion, name and protection but not his affection as she believes Antonia has that. His control of his feelings disheartens her; as she wants a marriage like those of their respective parents. As the newlyweds fall in love, each has secrets; his involves his war time work while hers involves her late fiancé.

The latest Notorious Bachelor Regency romance (see My Lord Scandal and One Wicked Mistake) stars a strong lead couple whose marriage is brought about by the death of a loved one; she especially shows intelligence and keen observation, which in this sub-genre are traits of the male. The story line focuses on a suspicious spouse believing her new husband whom she does not know is concealing something from her. Although the villain turns out to be weak, readers will enjoy this engaging Regency romantic suspense.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, October 3, 2010

One Wicked Sin-Nicola Cornick

One Wicked Sin
Nicola Cornick
Harlequin HQN, Oct 26 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373774876

By 1813, following a divorce and her family disowning her, Lottie Cummings has no options. As the scandal of the moment she desperately takes a position at the Temple of Venus brothel, but Madam Mrs. Tong fires her when five visitors leave because she bored them.

Irish Baron Ethan Ryder was a mercenary in Napoleon’s cavalry before he was captured by the English. An illegitimate son of a duke, Ethan is on honor-bound parole. He offers Lottie the position of being his mistress, which she accepts as even the houses of ill reputes reject her. However, Lottie may be outrageous in her behavior, but she is no fool. Something is not quite right with her employer who seems to be using her as a façade, but for what she has no idea nor is she sure she wants to know; as she fears the street would be her next domicile.

This is an excellent Scandalous Women of the Ton saga (by sea, Whisper of Scandal) as love is not enough especially when trust is non existent and betrayal seems everywhere. Fast-paced, Regency romance fans will want to know the One Wicked Sin between the mercenary and the divorcee and whether they will fly away together.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Willow-Linda Lael Miller

Linda Lael Miller
Pocket, Sep 28 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9781416598558

In the Montana Territory, the father of two, Devlin Gallagher married a woman with two kids of her own. Ten years younger than her stepbrother Gideon Marshall, teenage Willow believes she loves him, but understands nothing can come of this because of their age difference.

Willow and Gideon are married by a fake minister. After they exchange their vows jokingly, they learn the minister is real and their wedding genuine. Willow goes home humiliated after the nuptials are annulled. Years later she is to marry, but he arrives and stops the ceremony. Meanwhile her biological brother Steven, once kidnapped by their mom, Chastity, has become a train robber. A bounty hunter wants him dead or alive and does not mind collateral damage like using and even killing Willow. Gideon also seeks out Steven as the robberies are of trains owned by his family. He stays near her as she is the ticket to her sibling, but by being in close proximity he can no longer conceal he reciprocates her feelings.

Linda Lael Miller’s myriad of fans will appreciate the author rewriting a much shorter historical she wrote in 1984. Having not read the previous entry, I cannot make comparisons. The 210 book is fast-paced with several strong characters especially the title heroine, her stepbrother and her brother as they forge an intriguing triangle. The ending is a fabulous spin that only Ms. Miller could have devised and also makes it feel genuine. This is a wonderful Americana romance as the trains come to Montana but it is love that ties the bonds of families.

Harriet Klausner