Friday, December 31, 2010

Off Kilter-Donna Kauffman

Off Kilter
Donna Kauffman
Kensington Brava, Dec 28 2011, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758250896

On the Scottish island of Kinloch (see Some Like It Scot) businessman Roan McAuley cannot understand why he agreed to pose in the monty as he must drop his kilt for the 'Men of the Highlands' calendar even if the cause is worthy; he muses that he should have donated money not nudity. Adding to his displeasure is the irritating iceberg photographer Tessa Vandergriff who he assumes is a centerfold fluff taker until he learns she is a highly regarded award-winning war coverage photojournalist who volunteered her time to raise money.

Tessa suffers from post traumatic stress disorder from the cruelty she witnessed while covering war. She thinks Roan is a jerk until he shows his caring other side to her. As they fall in love, although he has personal issues too, she must overcome her fear of death that began as a child and affirmed as an adult if they are to forge a permanent relationship.

The romance plays second fiddle to the strong character study of a shell-socked woman healing due to the patience of a kind hearted man. Readers will enjoy the relationship drama as first impressions prove false as Roan revises his re the cold photographer and Tess alters her re the philandering hunk.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, December 30, 2010

After Dark with a Scoundrel-Alexandra Hawkins

After Dark with a Scoundrel
Alexandra Hawkins
St. Martin’s, Feb 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312381264

In 1823 Lord Hugh “Dare” Mordare, the second son of a Duke, is a close friend of Frost Bishop. Through him he has known Frost’s sister Lady Regan for years, who is an honorary member of Nox’s Gentlemen’s Club. All changes when Dare and Regan kiss as both are stunned by their reaction; that is far from sibling-like.

She is shipped off to Miss Swann’s Academy for Young Ladies boarding school while he returns to being a rogue. Five years later Regan comes back to London with plans to drive Frost crazy and to seduce Dare. Frost is ready to pull his hair out with his sister’s antics while Dare remains resolute to keep Regan away from the Lords of Vice like he is. However, she proves a worthy adversary and soon they marry. As she learns of his dark secrets, she finds herself in the midst of madness.

The latest Lords of Vice (see Till Dawn with a Devil and All Night with a Rogue) is an engaging Regency gothic romantic suspense as the brave heroine finds herself in peril; perhaps from the man she loves. Fast-paced from the moment they kiss even before she is exiled, After Dark with a Scoundrel grips the reader as Alexandra Hawkins’ fans will think of Hitchcock’s Suspicion placed in an early nineteenth century milieu.

Harriet Klausner

Absolutely, Positively-Heather Webber

Absolutely, Positively
Heather Webber
St. Martin's, Feb 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312946159

Lucy Valentine knows she is the odd duck in her family as everyone else has the ability to play Cupid matching people up. Her talent is to find lost things. Lucy’s current task is to locate a man who may be near death if he even still lives and to find a former criminal for a client of her family’s firm Lost Loves.

Lucy and her private investigator boyfriend Sean Donahue work on both cases. However, their efforts are turned complicated by the masked Lone Ranger who at the Commons throws money into the air before vanishing. As Lucy and Sean conduct inquiries, she has an attraction to the masked hombre until she suffers a horrifying vision of her boyfriend lying lifeless on the street.

No one will care that the third Valentine tale is similar in tone to Truly, Madly and Deeply but, Kemo Sabe brings freshness to the mix. Though over the Green Monster yet filled with quirky family humor and a touch of the paranormal readers will Absolutely, Positively find Lucy’s latest bodacious Boston brouhaha desperately zany yet truly scrumptious.

Harriet Klausner

I Dream of Genies -Judi Fennell

I Dream of Genies
Judi Fennell
Sourcebooks, Jan 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781402241895

Her three thousand year anniversary of confinement is arriving soon with no end in sight. Eden has begun feeling more than just claustrophobic living inside a bottle for almost two millennia though her abode is quite comfortable. Her problem is watching the hunk run past her everyday from the window of Murphy’s Antiques as she wants him with an uncontrollable lust.

Matt Ewing is a nice person who believes his perfect brother has all the Luck of the Irish; whereas Matt, irritated by the comparison, lives under a dark cloud. Eden wishes to escape at the same Matt wishes his luck changed. When she lands in his lap unconscious, he thanks the Lord for dropping the lovely miracle on him and considers receiving her with a kiss. However, he soon believes his luck remains twisted; as the woman he now cherishes turns out to be the world’s most incompetent genie, but in his mind the world’s greatest lover.

I Dream of Genies is a terrific romantic fantasy that pays homage to the TV show that made belly buttons in NASA. The story line is brisk lighthearted fun with seemingly incompetent boobs as the lead couple who prove that a minus times a minus equals a positive. The support cast (including her BFF Wilson the tree outside named after a stowaway volleyball) adds to the endearing romantic comedy.

Harriet Klausner

Taken-Lilith Saintcrow

Lilith Saintcrow
Harlequin Nocturne, Jan 18 2011, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373618538

In Jericho City, Sophie Wilson is a free woman though her abusive ex husband Mark still refuses to accept the divorce as he stalks her. Her BFF Lucy persuades her to go to a club. However, something kills Lucy and forces Sophie on the run with vampires pursuing her. She fears her fate will be like that of her murdered friend until the Carcajou shapeshifting werewolves take the purebred human under their protection; keeping her safe from the blood sucking Upir who killed Lucy.

The Carcajou believes Sophie is their shaman who will save them from becoming wild animals. One of the pack members Zach realizes Sophie is his life mate. He vows to keep her safe. Meanwhile the vampires dispatch a new convert to kill her; he was chosen because he knows Sophie’s weaknesses being her abusive former husband who manipulated her vulnerabilities.

Readers will be taken into the exciting world of Lilith Saintcrow with this fast-paced urban romantic fantasy. The story line is non stop action from the murder of Lucy until the final anticipated confrontation. Although the plot is somewhat linear, readers will appreciate the transformation of Sophie.

Harriet Klausner

Vampire Sheikh-Nina Bruhns

Vampire Sheikh
Nina Bruhns
Harlequin Nocturne, Jan 18 2011, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373618521

With her two sisters missing Gemma (see Shadow of the Sheikh) and Gillian (see Lord of the Desert), a desperate Josslyn Haliday charges into the last known place they were seen, the underground stronghold Khepesh. This is the bastion of vampiric demi-god Seth-Aziz.

When she meets Seth-Aziz, she offers herself up in exchange for the freedom of her siblings. He finds her amusing as if she could just walk away if he says no. However, he is bewildered by the strength of character she shows as humans normally fear him, but she shows no trepidation though she trembles at his touch. Meanwhile Joss is confused by her attraction to the beast who she knows took her siblings. When rival vampire demigod Haru-Re abducts the pair, Seth-Aziz admits to Joss he has fallen in love with her.

Though somewhat similar in tone to the previous Immortal Sheikhs vs. the Haliday sisters, the third desert romantic fantasy is loaded with action, sexual and otherwise, as Joss takes on Seth in a paranormal gender war. Fast-paced throughout, readers will enjoy the final tale of modern day Americans taking the respective hearts of Ancient Egyptians.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Turn Up The Heat-Isabel Sharpe

Turn Up The Heat
Isabel Sharpe
Harlequin Blaze, Jan 18 2011, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373795994

In Milwaukee Event planner Candy Graham has enough trying to make it in her chosen vocation so has no time for her former boyfriend Chuck’s crap. In spite of their dating for five years, she hangs up on him. Her three BFFs at a Women in Power lunch insist she needs to date again.

Not wanting to be alone on Valentine’s Day, Candy signs up on her friend Marie’s, a dating website. She creates four profiles emphasizing a different aspect of her personality. Reporter Justin Case believes the four profiles add up to a con artist. He asks her out planning to expose her. Instead he falls in love with the complete Candy who reciprocates Justin’s deep feelings.

This is a warm romantic comedy that in spite of the internet matchmaking has a throwback quality to the amusing 1930s Cary Grant movies. The jocular story line is filled with and thruway puns as this sharp tale in deed turns up the humor and heat for Valentine’s Day in Wisconsin or wherever the reader is.

Harriet Klausner

The Wild Card-Rhonda Nelson

The Wild Card
Rhonda Nelson
Harlequin Blaze, Jan 18 2011, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373795987

He says goodbye while playing poker with his mom while she dies and tells him her final wishes., Seth McCutcheon leaves the military he loves to be there for his abandoned sister and nephew. He obtains a job at Ranger Security providing personal protection.

On his first assignment he masquerades as a boy friend to Atlanta based wedding planner Penelope Hart in order to protect Orlando Mustangs football player Trent McWilliams from a stalker who has threatened to wreck the star quarterback’s wedding ceremony to Nella Francis. He obviously does not want to be here, but he made that death bed pledge and vows to do the new job right. However, his biggest fear starts with the photo of his “girl friend” he has not yet met.

Seth and Penelope are instantly attracted to one another though each understands their feelings must not interfere with the mission. However, though both comprehend the rule of taking care of the client first, each has a problem keeping their hands to themselves as love blossoms between them.

This is an entertaining family drama that starts off with the gripping scene of Seth and his mom playing cards. The support cast especially his family, her partner and the wedding party (and crasher) enhances a fun tale. Although the romance is slow to boil, that enhances the relationship as the audience will believe in the attraction between the wedding planner and the security specialist.

Harriet Klausner

Officer Daddy-Jacqueline Diamond

Officer Daddy
Jacqueline Diamond
Harlequin American, Feb 1 2011, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373753482

In Safe Harbor, divorced Dr. Nora Kendall and police officer Leo Franco meet at his brother’s wedding. He assumes she is high maintenance, which he loathes in a woman, and she has doubts about any man even the best man after her ratty ex Reese dumped her for a younger model. Still they share a great night after the ceremony.

However, she concludes he would be a keeper except he is not ready for a long term relationship. Nora files Leo away as a wonderful one night. However, the obstetrician is pregnant carrying Leo’s child. He admits he is attracted to her, but not ready to commit to a family. Besides, he spends all his energy on obtaining a promotion at work. Nora goes back to her first assessment of Leo that he rejects commitment; yet he wants to be a responsible daddy.

This is an engaging Safe Harbor Medical contemporary romance (His Hired Baby and The Holiday Triplets) starring a wonderful doctor and a respectable ambitious cop. Although the story line contains too many subplots with some not needed, the prime theme is a charmer as he goes from commitment phobia to desperate to get his beloved to commit. Even with a too quick sudden wrap up, fans will enjoy this fun tale.

Harriet Klausner

His Valentine Surprise-Tanya Michaels

His Valentine Surprise
Tanya Michaels
Harlequin American, Feb 1 2011, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373753475

In Braeden, North Carolina widower Mark Hathaway’s six year old daughter Vicki wants a mommy by Valentine’s Day. She is angry at Santa, as he recently failed her when she asked him at the mall for a mommy for Christmas. She knows her dad will not pursue dating so she must act to achieve her objective. Her eleven year old cousin Bobby suggests they find someone to date his uncle. Using her Aunt Dee’s computer, Vicki sends an email to all the members of the Woodside Elementary School PTA asking for someone to date her father on Valentine’s Day.

Mark is upset and humiliated by his daughter’s email. He feels it is hard enough being a single dad. The principal Shay Morgan finds the incident humorous. She informs Mark that he needs to spend some quality time with his precocious offspring. At the Up A Creek store Mark manages, owner Bennett Coleridge informs him he may close it if profits fail to increase; he also offers Mark a position in his more successful Colorado store. Besieged on all sides, Mark knows the worst of all is falling in love with the principal.

This is a fun amusing Valentine contemporary romance with a solid cast anchored by a lead couple with professional and personal issues that seemingly will keep them apart. The story line is brisk and jocular as Vicki makes the tale with her obsession that surface with the first line when she says she hates Santa. Although she is too precocious, fans will not care as the little matchmaker works on obtaining a mommy for Valentine’s Day.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Pride and Pleasure -Sylvia Day

Pride and Pleasure
Sylvia Day
Kensington Brava, Jan 25 2011, $14.00
ISBN 9780758231727

Eliza Martin prefers staying on the shelf rather than marrying some bonehead only interested in her money. In fact the heiress prefers rusticating alone than partying with the Ton. However, her guardian uncle keeps introducing Eliza to suitable suitors who want to control her fortune. She keeps rejecting these fortune hunters.

Recently Eliza has been a victim of a series of accidents that the intelligent woman suspects is not coincidental. She hires thief-taker Jasper Bond to go undercover as another suitor in order to protect her and to expose who she is trying to harm her and why. She is attracted to her bodyguard, but believes he is too big and handsome for her. Jasper conceals he is another member of the Ton wanting her though he wants to steal her heart not her money.

This is an exciting Regency romantic suspense as the lead couple falls in love as they investigate the incidents. Fast-paced, Jasper tries to never ignore his client’s safety while also hoping to win her love. Although the motive for the accidents seems preposterous, readers will enjoy Pride and Pleasure as the hero not only vows to keep his beloved safe, but overcome her prejudice towards him.

Harriet Klausner

Wild Man Creek -Robyn Carr

Wild Man Creek
Robyn Carr
Mira, Jan 25 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778329312

The helicopter crash left Colin Riordan severely injured. While his body heals, he paints wildlife scenes to help his mind mend too. Seeking inspiration he wanders onto property rented by public relations expert Jillian Matlock, who is also healing but her pain is from a broken heart and a probable second order effect of a broken career. To heal, she is working a garden.

Jillian and Colin are attracted to each other and agree to a tryst while they heal in Virgin River. Once either returns to their previous world, the affair is over. However, as they spend time together each learns the answer to How To Mend a Broken Heart (Bee Gees) is love that could let them live again if they take a chance.

The latest Virgin River romance focuses on love as a major healer, a theme used in previous series tales like Whispering Rock. The entertaining straight forward story line contains two likable leads needing emotional and mental recovery from recent trauma. The census aside, seemingly the fastest growing area in the country, Wild Man Creek is a fine tale that Robyn Carr’s Virgin River readers will enjoy.

Harriet Klausner

Against The Fire -Kat Martin

Against The Fire
Kat Martin
Mira, Jan 25 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778329305

In Texas Gabriel Raines is a successful businessman who knows he has made enemies. However, he is unsure what has triggered a serial arsonist targeting his new real estate development firm. He feels relief when he and his friend separately pick out seventeen year old Angel Ramirez from a line-up as being near the arson scene; the teen has a record for setting a fire. The police arrest Ramirez for the crime while Gabe assumes his life will go back to normal.

He will quickly learn how wrong he was when it comes to normal. Architect Mattie Baker knows Angel from her volunteer work at the Family Recovery Center for abuse victims. She rejects the notion the teen is the arsonist. Instead she challenges Gabe who reluctantly agrees to investigate the fires with her. As they begin to fall in love, which she ignores as she wants no man in her life, evidence begins to mount that Angel is innocent but the unknown guilty person remains elusive as does the motive.

The second Raines of Wind Canyon (see Against the Wind) is a terrific entry as another of the no account siblings proves his worth. Dedicated Mattie is Gabe’s equal as she lights his fire. Together they make a dynamic team inside a fast-paced thriller; as Kat Martin is two for two with her no account Raines boys’ trilogy.

Harriet Klausner

Blood Stains -Sharon Sala

Blood Stains
Sharon Sala
Mira, Jan 18 2011, $7.99
ISBN 9780778329411

In Montana, the three Shade sisters bury their rancher dad Andrew. Their late dad’s lawyer gives them a video to watch. Andrew explains that he loved his three daughters but that none of the trio is his offspring and they are not sisters by blood.

The deceased rancher informs Maria he adopted her when she was four years old after she witnessed her prostitute mother’s murder; Maria heads to Tulsa in search of justice for her mom. In Oklahoma, Maria meets detective Bodie Scott, who agrees to help her solve the two decade old homicide. Neither is aware that the killer knows Maria is in town and preparing to have the daughter join her mother.

Although once the three Shade siblings learn the truth about their respective ancestry, the linear story line focuses on Maria’s attempts to uncover who killed her mom. She and Bodie make a wonderful pairing as they fall in love while investigating the cold case homicide. Though there are no twists or stunners in this entertaining romantic suspense, fans will look forward to the next Searchers seeking her Blood Ties.

Harriet Klausner

Blood Stains -Sharon Sala

Blood Stains
Sharon Sala
Mira, Jan 18 2011, $7.99
ISBN 9780778329411

In Montana, the three Shade sisters bury their rancher dad Andrew. Their late dad’s lawyer gives them a video to watch. Andrew explains that he loved his three daughters but that none of the trio is his offspring and they are not sisters by blood.

The deceased rancher informs Maria he adopted her when she was four years old after she witnessed her prostitute mother’s murder; Maria heads to Tulsa in search of justice for her mom. In Oklahoma, Maria meets detective Bodie Scott, who agrees to help her solve the two decade old homicide. Neither is aware that the killer knows Maria is in town and preparing to have the daughter join her mother.

Although once the three Shade siblings learn the truth about their respective ancestry, the linear story line focuses on Maria’s attempts to uncover who killed her mom. She and Bodie make a wonderful pairing as they fall in love while investigating the cold case homicide. Though there are no twists or stunners in this entertaining romantic suspense, fans will look forward to the next Searchers seeking her Blood Ties.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, December 27, 2010

Once Upon A Scandal-Delilah Marvelle

Once Upon A Scandal
Delilah Marvelle
Harlequin HQN, Jan 18 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373775453

In 1824, teenagers Viscount Jonathan Pierce Thatcher and Lady Victoria Jane Emerson were in love. Both wanted to marry, but were too young. He proposed anyway but he left for Venice before she could say yes. Over the next few years they exchanged letters when abruptly he stopped sending them though she continued for a while longer until heartbroken she also stopped.

In 1829 Victoria Jane needs a husband to protect her and help her take care of her father who is going mad. Three men are chosen to court Victoria Jane, including Jonathan who has just come back to England after years away. He realizes he hurt her so badly that her heart has turned to stone. He tries to reach her, but she rejects his attempts; so Jonathan turns to seducing his beloved’s mind, body and soul. However, Jonathan realizes even if he succeeds at that he still has to overcome his neglect.

The latest marvelous Regency Scandal (see Prelude to a Scandal) is a super second chance at love tale starring two protagonists in love as teens and still in love five years later. Jonathan is a romantic at heart so when he stops corresponding he hurts his beloved even more because Victoria Jane knows he is. This makes his effort to re-win her that much more complicated as he already owns her heart, but not her trust.

Harriet Klausner

His, Unexpectedly -Susan Fox

His, Unexpectedly
Susan Fox
Kensington Brava, Jan 25 2011, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758259295

Jenna Fallon is driving to her sister’s wedding on the coastal California highway to Vancouver. When her car breaks down she needs a ride. She stops at a diner where she meets Dr. Mark Chambers. They have a lot in common when it comes to their families, but not with each other. He wants to save the planet and works out of his camper to do so one tiny spot at a time; she prefers being a carefree wanderer with no responsibilities. He agrees to drive her north.

Jenna enjoys teasing the straight laced scientist as she takes no one or anything seriously. He knows she ridicules his adherence to rules attitude, but laughs at her throwback hippie lifestyle. While she teaches him to stop and look around beyond the data he collects, but she fails to see the one majestic tree in the forest. He knows they have more in common than she realizes, but also believes she has to come to that conclusion too if they are to be more than a series of one night stands.

The latest Fallon sister contemporary romance (see Love, Unexpectedly) is a charming tale of two seemingly total opposites falling in love. Although the story line contains numerous environmental warnings, even industrialists will enjoy the road show as love may not be enough for this couple, especially with Jenna, to remain together once the drive ends.

Harriet Klausner

Save The Date-Jenny B. Jones

Save The Date
Jenny B. Jones
Thomas Nelson, Jan 5 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9781595545398

Lucy Wiltshire thought her boyfriend Matt Campbell was going to propose. However, instead he ended their relationship by taking a job in Dallas. He blames her insisting she has no time for anyone except her clients at her shelter. Stunned she says Saving Grace is a not for profit residential home.

Two years later, even more dedicated to Saving Grace, Lucy struggles with the recession as her prime benefactor Sinclair Hotels will reduce their funding by forty percent. That cut will close her residential home. She will be at the annual gala where she hopes to speak with former NFL quarterback Alex Sinclair who runs the hotel chain. Lucy knew him at college where he treated her and other size tens like her with scorn as the big man on campus could have anyone. She prays for a miracle before the dinner. Although they have disdain for one another, he makes a proposition. She pretends to be his fiancée as he runs for Congress and he will provide her the money. Reluctantly she agrees as Saving Grace comes before saving her integrity and ultimately her heart.

Save the Date is an engaging contemporary inspirational romance with plenty of jocularity and social issues to enhance the changing relationship between the lead couple. The engagement of convenience story line is character driven, but not just by the lead protagonists; as support cast like Marinell and Jose adds depth to a string tale.

Harriet Klausner

Icebreaker-Deirdre Martin

Deirdre Martin
Berkley, Feb 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425239797

The daughter of the Wild Hart pub owners, Sinead O’Brien is the only female partner at her law firm. Her parents worry about their offspring who is all work and no play as they dub her ethic as “workalholism”; she insists she is dedicated to her clients.

The New York Blades hire Sinead to defend defenseman Adam Perry who has been charged with a count of assault due to a hit during a game. Her first reaction to her client is that he played hockey without a helmet. She soon realizes he is as dedicated in his field as she is in hers. As an attraction grows between them, she breaks her rule about no dating the clients, but insists they conceal their relationship. Losing sight of his goal the Stanley Cup, Adam wants more than a secret tryst as he wants her skating at his side

The latest Blades hockey romance (see Body Check, Fair Play and Chasing Stanley, etc.) is a delightful entry starring two workaholics falling in love. Adam is the one in this relationship who wants it in the open as he believes they have a future together. However, Sinead hip checks their romance as she prefers to hide what they are doing rather than face a game misconduct for scoring assisted by her client. Sports romance fans will enjoy Deidre Martin’s latest run for the Cup.

Harriet Klausner

Tales from the Treasure Trove Volume VII-Carrie S. Masek, Jane Toombs, Janet Lane Walters, Karen Wiesner

Tales from the Treasure Trove Volume VII
Carrie S. Masek, Jane Toombs, Janet Lane Walters, Karen Wiesner
Whiskey Press, Feb 2011, $18.95
ISBN: 9781603133944

"Topaz and the Lucky Seven" by Carrie S. Masek. Zaida the Seven has always kept safe Princess Alma. However, she falls in love with Tarik the bodyguard to one of Alma’s suitors Prince Dale. When almost everyone succumbs to food poisoning, Zaida must decide who gets the lone antidote. A great tale..

"The Turquoise Gown" by Jane Toombs. Obese with poor skin, Theodora expects to remain single. Her stepmother promises her that a magical gown will lead to true love. Theodora visits her Great Aunt, who catches typhoid. This leaves Theodora running the estate, which brings confidence and much more to her. Delightful..

"The Amber Tower" by Janet Lane Walters. The witch enchants Prince Rafel before bringing him to Lamau. He learns his only escape from the amber tower is to marry one of the kingdom’s two princesses. Pragmatic, honest but reticent Jalese competes with beautiful, flirting but treacherous Cyna for the imprisoned prince. Magical.

"Moonlight Becomes You" Karen Wiesner. Lance Shaussegeny rejects his mate Heather who gives birth to their son. She struggles to regain her health while their baby becomes ill too. To save their child’s life, Heather believes she must travel to Woodcutter's Grim where the strange world of the Shaussegeny clan darkly differs from what she has experienced. A wonderful story..

These are very imaginative refreshing romantic fantasies. Well written and entertaining in spite of the novella format limiting somewhat the impact of the setting, readers will enjoy finding true love in the Jewel of the Quill realms.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Here to Stay-Catherine Anderson

Here to Stay
Catherine Anderson
Signet, Feb 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451232410

At Bronco Bart’s watering hole in Crystal Falls, Oregon, Zach Harrigan surveys the females who all look identical with breast implants and bleached hair as if a virus struck. A ruckus occurs when a cowboy tries to pick up a thin brunette who is with a blind man. The cowboy trips up the blind person. Zach calls the man a moron, so the brute punches him in the face; Zach kicks back. The cops arrest Zach who thinks of a magazine article about training tiny horses though if he decides to do so he will have to do it quietly to avoid ridicule from his older brothers.

Two years later, Zach has trained Rosebud the miniature horse to serves as guide for the blind. Twenty-eight year old Mandy Pajeck wants Rosebud to help her nineteen year old blind brother Luke. Zach agrees if Luke and Rosebud come together as a team. Instead Luke is petulant and only his attraction to the teen’s sister has kept Zach from pulling the plug. Zach begins to learn the childhood traumas that shape the relationship between the siblings, he knows he loves Mandy, but she has vowed to never marry.

Here to Stay is an engaging Harrigan contemporary romance (see Star Bright) starring a former hellion and a woman loaded with phobias from her childhood. The support cast is powerful especially Luke and Rosebud, but also Zach’s extended family. A cold case investigation into what happened to the siblings’ mom years ago adds tension, but the freshness comes from training guide horses (even with Rosebud pooping in the pharmacy) as Catherine Anderson provides a profound look at training including the link between the steed and the person. This is a special work by a talented author.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Love Is Blind...And It Don’t Pay the Bills Either-Karen Wiesner

Love Is Blind...And It Don’t Pay the Bills Either
Karen Wiesner
Whiskey Creek Press, Jan 2011, $18.95
ISBN: 9781611600018

Briar's Point Police Department Detective Orlando Bateman has not moved passed private investigator Sylvia Price’s rejection of his proposal as she said he is her brother in Christ. Instead she married his rival for her affection private investigator Den McHart. Still he knows his belief in the Lord will help him though he also prays he did not destroy their friendship that began when she was a cop on the force too; yet he has not answered the wedding invitation.

Den accompanies Keeya Nilson and Blair Sayer to the station to talk with Orlando and his partner Ty Shaw. The unpublished works of Keeya’s famous Blues grandfather Old denim Blues has gone missing as has $1200 withdrawn from an ATM. Additionally Keeya’s boyfriend Lance Smith vanished two weeks ago. Orlando sends Ty off on his fishing weekend. Thirteen years ago the two females survived a plane crash that killed her parents and Blair’s dad; and left both women disfigured and Keeya visually impaired; her recently deceased granddad, her Uncle Pax and Blair were there for her. However she distrusts God and males except for her family, as each beau has used her.

This is a super romantic Christian police procedural starring two people who if they can let go of recent relationship hurts can have a wonderful future together. Orlando is shocked by his attraction to Keeya as he ponders how the Lord works in mysterious ways. Keeya is more complicated as she feels fickle that she is attracted to the police detective, but has only Blair to remind her of men she liked who let her down; in Keeya’s mind this includes God. With a delightful late twist, readers will appreciate the second Denim Blues Mystery (see Retired and on the Rocks).

Harriet Klausner

Loose Ends-Tara Janzen

Loose Ends
Tara Janzen
Dell, Jan 25 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780440246107

Six years ago, Special Defense Force soldier J.T. Chronopolous died during a field operation (see the Crazy tales). His SDF team mates stunned by his death, still grieve their loss as that is the only dark mark on their illustrious record. Recently they are further shocked to learn J.T. lives (see Breaking Loose); using the name Conroy “Con” Farrell; his mission destroy SDF.

A black ops group captured and experimented on J.T. in order to turn him into a supersoldier. Desperate to bring him in, SDF operatives capture Scout, who Con tenderly treats like his daughter, to use her as bait to lure in their agent. Their trap works as Con is coming for Scout. However, a woman from his amnesiac pre torture days Jane Linden is caught in the middle of the pending hostilities between SDF and the supersoldier. He does not recall his catching her pick his pocket when she was a teen though she seems familiar. With her in a ’67 GTO, Con’s memory begins to return as desire is a strong impetus to the brain. Neither, he, Jane or SDF realizes someone else was also a test dummy, but that victim turned into a killing psychopath who is coming to complete the mission.

The apparent last romantic suspense SDF thriller (see the six Crazy tales and the previous five Loose novels) is a great finish that ties up major threads including one that the saga fans will go gaga over. Fast-paced and loaded with action, some over the top, what makes the SDF thrillers so good is the great characterizations; this one may contain the best yet. Not only is Con/J.T. fully developed so is Jane and several remorseful SDF buddies like Hart and Kid who know never to leave one behind. This is a super finish to two strong series.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, December 23, 2010

At Hidden Falls-Barbara Freethy

At Hidden Falls
Barbara Freethy
Pocket, Jan 25 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439176498

Isabella Silveira, sister to the Angel’s Bay, California police chief Joe, drives to town only to be in a car accident. Nick Haley saves her from certain death when her vehicle began sliding down a cliff. However, the accident is not as disconcerting to her as seeing Nick in person for the first time. He is one of the stars in her dreams in which her sibling is in trouble. She came to town to warn Joe.

Not quite as stunning to Isabella is her attraction to Nick; he reciprocates which he loathes at this time. Nick is trying to reconcile with his teenage daughter Megan who he had not seen in years. Joe investigates a missing mother who left her newborn behind and hopes to identify the father too. When Isabella helps at the theater, the puzzle pieces begin to come together, but may be too late for the people she cherishes.

The latest Angel's Bay paranormal romantic suspense (see In Shelter’s Cove Suddenly One Summer) is an exciting thriller that enables the reader to learn much more about the founding families especially through degrees from the lead couple. The story line is entertaining from the moment Isabella recognizes her rescuer and never slows down as each takes turns saving the other (and his daughter). Although the villain proves pitifully pathetic, fans will enjoy the latest adventures in Angel’s Bay.

Harriet Klausner

To Tempt A Rake-Cara Elliott

To Tempt A Rake
Cara Elliott
Forever, Feb 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780446541305

Having sailed around the world for her vocation, American botanist Katharine Woodbridge travels to England to end her estrangement from her grandfather, the staid Duke of Cluyne. Kate’s biggest fear upon arrival amongst the shocked Ton (re her behavior) is not with reconciliation with her relative, but from the Italian Conte of Como, Marco Ghiradelli, who might expose her.

Marco enjoys baiting Katharine as they have witty word wars. However, he cannot understand why he thinks he knows her though he cannot fathom from where or when. His work disallows what he wants to do, make love with the frisky intelligent American. All bets are off when someone frames Kate for murder and an assassin threatens the Vienna peace conference. As Marco works both with Kate at his side, a traitor sets in motion a deadly counter plan.

The third Circle of Sin thriller (see To Surrender to a Rogue and To Sin with a Stranger) is an exhilarating historical romance starring a serious scholarly scientist and a seemingly worthless wastrel. Their pairing make for a fast-paced tale especially when the local switches to Vienna on the eve of a historical conference. Although the traitor seems inept except for hiding behind a veneer of aristocratic polish, readers will enjoy dancing at this waltz.

Harriet Klausner

Notorious Pleasures-Elizabeth Hoyt

Notorious Pleasures
Elizabeth Hoyt
Vision (Hachette), Jan 25 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780446558952

In 1737 caring kindhearted sister to a duke, Lady Hero Batten, believes her prim and proper fiancé Thomas, Marquis of Mandeville is her ideal mate. However, she is stunned when she meets the brother of her intended Lord Griffin Remmington in St. Giles.

Hero is not shocked to see financial genius Griffin in the worst part of London as she knows he conducts business there and that he is a man with Wicked Intentions; her reaction to seeing him is out of character for her. On the other hand Griffin is flummoxed by finding any Lady in St. Giles, especially his future sister-in-law. He escorts her to the orphanage she supports. On the way each enjoys their witty battle of words, but he believes she is too good for him or for that matter his family; and she is engaged to the right brother in temperament at least that is what her mind says, but her heart differs.

The latest Maiden Lane Georgian romance is an enjoyable historical because of the strong passionate lead couple. Thomas is jealous of his brother’s high esteem in their mater’s eyes and some rivals of Griffin add tension, but the bottom line is this exciting story is a tender gender war between Hero and Griffin.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How To Woo A Reluctant Lady-Sabrina Jeffries

How To Woo A Reluctant Lady
Sabrina Jeffries
Pocket, Jan 18 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439167557

In 1806 nine year old Minerva Sharpe fell in love with Giles Masters when he held her hand as she struggled with the funerals of her parents; the papers insisted her father murdered her mother before he killed himself. Ten years later, Minerva still loves Giles, but he rejects her overture. She vows to never marry.

In 1825, on the shelf, Lady Minerva refuses to wed anyone because she knows no respectable husband will accept her profession as a gothic novelist. However, the writer has a major problem. Her grandmother demands her Hellions of Halstead Hall grandchildren marry or face disinheritance.

Barrister Giles Masters has loved Miranda forever though he knows he fumbled badly when she came to him almost a decade ago. He proposes, but instead of saying yes or no, Miranda concocts a scheme for them to pose as an engaged couple to trick her grandmother. Giles agrees as he sees an opportunity to court and win the heart of his beloved. However, although Minerva falls in love with her fake fiancé, his secret life and her obsessive need for honesty smash their relationship to bits in Calais; even as they become entangled in a dangerous seditious plot due to his clandestine activities.

The third Hellions of Halstead Hall Regency romance (see The Truth About Lord Stoneville and A Hellion In Her Bed) is a wonderful pairing of a couple who has a two decade history. Fast-paced with a strong support cast, fans will enjoy the female Hellion finding, losing and re-finding love.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

His Daughter … Their Child -Karen Rose Smith

His Daughter … Their Child
Karen Rose Smith
Silhouette Special Edition, Jan 18 2011, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373655809

In Miners Bluff near Flagstaff, Clay Sullivan knows what his former sister-in-law Celeste Wells wants. She has come to town to spend time with her three year old niece Abby. Clay refuses as he was burned by her twin Zoie who is traveling in France and not the least bit interested in her daughter. In fairness to her, Clay knows that Celeste is the more understanding caring of the siblings, but he still rejects her plea as she distrusts the Wells.

Making matters worse for Clay is that he is attracted to Celeste; she has loved him forever but he chose her extroverted sibling over her. He assumes that is because she looks like Zoie though her demeanor is different. He allows her to see his daughter, but expects her to go back to Phoenix and leave him and his societal mother to raise his “Ladybug”. Instead she proves kind to the child, staying even when Abby is ill to comfort her; his baby hugs her. Clay knows he owes Celeste as she was Abby’s surrogate mom, but fears when she leaves she will hurt his child and break his heart; besides he thinks Zoie was enough of a Wells for a lifetime.

The lead trio makes for an engaging family drama as stuffed animals enable Clay to see how different Celeste is with Abby than Zoie or his mom. Character driven by the trio, no one writes infant and toddler characters that seem genuine better than Karen Rose Smith consistently does. Fans will relish this strong tale of different types of love and need.

Harriet Klausner

To Desire A Wicked Duke-Nicole Jordan

To Desire A Wicked Duke
Nicole Jordan
Ballantine, Feb 22 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780345510099

In 1817 in Richmond, England Tess Blanchard has begun to move passed the death of her fiancé in combat two years ago. However when she and Patrick Hennessy, who has been assigned to keep her safe, kiss, she finds it insipid. Worse her long time adversary, the Duke of Rotham Ian Sutherland catches her and rips her up and down for her scandalous behavior.

Tess’ godmother Lady Wingate stuns her when she insists she marry Sutherland to avoid a scandal; failure to do so means Wingate will withdraw her support financially and titled. Tess reluctantly agrees, but vows their marriage will be in name only as she loathes the arrogant way Sutherland mocks her. However, Ian has other plans for his wife who he protects and mentors in the art of the bedroom. She begins to fall in love with her husband until she uncovers horrible secrets her spouse concealed. Despondent and irate, Tess flees to Sutherland’s Cornwall estate where something otherworldly haunts the castle. Ian follows her hoping his wife will forgive him as he loved her long before they married.

The latest Courtship Wars Regency romance (see To Pleasure A Lady, To Romance a Charming Rogue and To Seduce a Bride) is an enjoyable entry to a fun series. The dysfunctional yet loving lead couple’s behavior towards each other mirrors that of the stars of To Tame a Dangerous Lord. However, the entertaining story line is made fresh by a mutual third party and the haunting. Filled with secrets, misunderstandings and distrust, To Desire A Wicked Duke is an entertaining historical.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, December 20, 2010

Rory-Julia Templeton

Julia Templeton
Kensington Aphrodisia, Dec 28 2010, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758238177

Like his brothers, Rory Rayborne is a legend amidst the Ton for his sexual prowess. Rory enjoys his encounters and trysts, but is also a realist. He is well aware that his free womanizing days are nearing an end as like his siblings he needs to marry for money as his Mother Betsy threatened to cut off her three out of control rakehell offspring. He hopes to find someone who can also match him in the bed.

In a duel over a woman, Rory is severely injured. His seconds take him to his brother’s home where maid Shannon O’Connor is assigned to take care of him. Unable to resist the mysterious aura she emits, Rory seduces Shannon in an attempt to find out what dark secret she hides. Shannon fears she and her brother have been discovered by a homicidal relative who wants both of them dead at the same her heart belongs to her seducer whose mother has a widow in mind for her last bachelor son.

The final Rakehells of Rochester Regency romance (see Sinjin and Victor) contains a strong erotic undercurrent from the first time the nurse and the patient meet. This work is fast-paced and readers will enjoy the erotic scenes because they are part of the storyline. Fans will enjoy the youngest brother’s sexploits as Rory finds love in his most comfortable frequented habitat, the boudoir.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Animal Magnetism-Jill Shalvis

Animal Magnetism
Jill Shalvis
Berkley, Feb 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN 9780425239810

In Sunshine, Idaho animal kennel worker Lilah Young believes she will never meet her forever. That is until she backs her animal filled jeep into his parked truck as he watches the fender bender. The owner is a visiting hunk Brady Miller. They are instantly attracted to one another.

A pilot and photographer, just out of the military service, Brady is in Sunshine helping his foster brothers Dell and Adam. He and Lilah agree to a fling while he is in town; both understand once he leaves, their tryst ends. However, their lust grows stronger as they fall in love, but neither is confident enough to offer a change to the original rules of engagement.

There is plenty of sunshine and a few flaws in this fun contemporary romance. Whereas Lilah has begun to believe she is the anti-male stay magnet, Brady knows his reputation even with his two BFFs is that of Dr. Death. The story line is extremely linear, but the fun is walking and flying with the lead couple and their buddies (animals included) as love is everywhere the reader goes in Sunshine, Idaho.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Nocturne-Syrie James

Syrie James
Vanguard, Jan 4 2011, $19.95
ISBN: 9781593156282

Nicole Whitcomb came from the San Jose area to attend the wedding of her friend in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Since the meteorologists said the weather would remain fine, she decides to stay for an extra day of skiing. When she leaves for the Denver Airport, the weather remains okay, but soon snow begins to fall. The precipitation turns heavy and her rental fishtails out of control. She cuts her head and honks her horn hoping someone will rescue her.

Michael Tyler was cleaning off his driveway when he saw the idiot crash. He has never let anyone into his home so considers leaving the driver to die, but cannot. He reluctantly brings Nicole into his isolated house. They are attracted to each other from the first meeting. However, she senses something wrong about her host as she knows in her gut he thought he made the wrong choice bringing her into his home. Nicole also wonders why a hunk like Michael resides alone. Other signs seem to make no sense, but she ignores their warnings as Nicole quickly falls in love with a man who seems to know her better than she knows herself. He knows he cannot love anyone and never has; yet this is different as he falls hard for Nicole, a new undesirable feeling for him. However, he struggles to control the beast inside while also needing her to want him with all her soul.

This is an engaging star-crossed romance as the Rocky Mountains’ blizzard isolates the pair in his home. Nicole finds clues to as who her host is and why he chose to live as a hermit, but her logical mind rejects her conclusion until perhaps it is too late. Readers will relish this strong romantic suspense thriller wondering how this relationship will end.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, December 17, 2010

Family Affair-Debbie Macomber

Family Affair
Debbie Macomber
Morrow, Jan 4 2011, $16.99
ISBN: 9780061997129

In San Francisco, Lacey Lancaster knows she is in the midst of a self pitying and self cursing fit for being a coward afraid to tell her boss Mr. ”take credit for her designs” Sullivan she deserved a raise and accolades. Her listener is her Abyssinian cat Cleo who understands abandonment as her two siblings were bought two weeks before Lacy saw her look pitiful in the pet shop window. Unlike her cheating lying ex Peter, she knows Cleo would not hurt her. Still though her dream of a family is temporarily shattered, Lacey, thanks to her feline friend, remains hopeful that one day she will meet her mate, an honest soul.

The other irritants making her life miserable are the man in the next door apartment Jack Walker and his rogue womanizing cat Dog. Jack drives Lacey crazy with his non-stop insistent raging at his beautiful girlfriend; demanding she move in with him. His beast is the neighborhood’s worst womanizer trying to get into Cleo’s purr. When Lacey realizes Cleo is off her feed, she learns why. Her cat is carrying and the absentee dad lives next door. Lacey goes next door confronting Jack and Dog; both listen with exasperating male bonding grins. Confusing Lacey further is when she learns who his girlfriend Sarah is and what their fighting like cats and dogs is about.

This is a fun throwback contemporary romance in which boy meets girl; girl dislikes boy; girl and boy fall in love. The entertaining novella stars two delightful protagonists supported by their cats and Sarah as love is in the San Francisco air.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Unveiled -Courtney Milan

Courtney Milan
Harlequin HQN, Jan 25 2011, $7.99
ISBN 9780373775439

In 1837 the scandal in Somerset rocks the Ton in London and elsewhere as the adult children of the dying duke of Parford turn out to be illegitimate. Instead of an offspring, a distant cousin formerly Mr. Ash Turner found the proof that he now Lord Ash Turner is the legitimate heir. His younger brother Mark begs Ash not to do what he has wrought to the Duke’s children Richard, Edmund and Anna Margaret Dalyrmple who have become social pariahs, but they also file a countersuit asking parliament to pass a bill making them the legitimate heirs.

Parford’s shunned daughter Anna Margaret goes undercover to spy on the upstart Ash by pretending to be the dying Duke’s Nurse Miss Margaret Lowell. Her brothers want their sister to find proof to support their request for a royal proclamation of legitimacy. Ash and Margaret are attracted to one another from their first meeting. This tears her heart asunder as she falls in love with the kind enemy but wants to remain loyal to her brutish siblings.

This is an engaging early Victorian romance starring an obstinate lead male who vows vengeance against the Dalyrmple brothers for what they did to his siblings. However, Margaret’s emotional predicament makes the historical entertaining as she brings intensity to the storyline. Her brothers are rude and shallow, while Ash’s relationships with his family except somewhat with Mark are ignored for the most part. The Dalyrmple efforts to persuade Parliament to act on their behalf are a refreshing concept though if enacted is an abuse of power. Sub-genre readers will enjoy this intriguing nineteenth century tale.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Finding Home -Melanie Rose

Finding Home
Melanie Rose
Bantam, Jan 25 2011, $15.00
ISBN 9780553386875

In New England, while driving in a blizzard, the woman drives off the road. When she awakens she finds herself in the home of financier Vincent James. She has a bump on her head and suffers from amnesia. Vincent is stunned when his mute daughter Jadie begins talking to the stranger as she has not spoken in two years since her sister died from cystic fibrosis and her mother abandoned her surviving daughter in her grief.

A couple of neighbors help Kate as they call her as she tries to recover who she is and how she ended up at the James home. She also makes inquiries into the James family as Kate begins to fall in love with her host and Jadie who insists she is the angel her sister promised to send to her.

This is an engaging contemporary romance starring a fascinating cast to include, besides the live trio, the deceased sister, her ghost (at least that is what Jadie claims), and their missing mother. Putting aside the support seemingly required romantic subplot, the wonderful story line focuses on Kate’s slow recalling her past, but the memories feel wrong as if they belong to someone else. Fans will enjoy this fine paranormal low-key thriller while wondering Could It Be Magic in the cold New England air?

Harriet Klausner

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Fire in Ember -DiAnn Mills

The Fire in Ember
DiAnn Mills
Zondervan, Jan 27 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9780310412397

In 1888 Colorado, Wide O ranch hands grab Bert. They argue with one of their party Ted Hawkins whether a boy, even a horse thief like him, should be hung. As blood flows in her mouth and one eye is shut from the beating, Bert thinks “A hanging is no place for a woman”. She especially wonders about doing the right thing by returning a horse her brother Simon stole months ago from Victor Oberlander owner of Wide O. Upset Ted tells the others they are wrong before leaving

The oldest of five brothers, 5T rancher John Timmons likes working the land. Ted tells John about the hanging. A deputy marshal as well as a rancher, John, with Ted at his side, prevents the hanging. John and Victor negotiate a deal in which the 5T rancher gets the kid and the Wide O owner gets $100 and breeding rights. Frustrated with an unwanted mouth to feed, John reads the eleven years old boy the riot act and how he will behave while paying off his debt to John. A needed bath after mucking leads to the gender truth and Bert is seventeen years old Ember who works at the house with the Timmons’ matriarch Leah. Ember prefers to leave, but the family will not allow her to go. Meanwhile the second oldest sibling Evan can’t take his eyes off her while John and Ember fall in love. However, besides his sibling problems, her sibling problems will soon arrive.

This is a great western romance starring two wonderful protagonists and a strong supporting cast. Fast-paced from the opening hanging line and never slowing down as family troubles brew. Readers will appreciate the first Timmons tale and look forward for more action and romance starring John’s younger brothers.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Defiant-Jessica Trapp

Jessica Trapp
Zebra, Dec 1 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420100952

Jared St. John escapes from jail and an obvious execution for the murder of his brother. He has no time to grieve his sibling as he must find a way to prove his innocence beyond a shadow of a doubt and uncover the real culprit before he is killed. However, he fails to reach home because someone abducts him after drugging him. He is forced to marry Gwyneth of Windrose, whom he met years ago and was attracted to her back then.

Gwyneth was given a choice between a husband and poverty; as remaining unmarried meant losing her lands. She selected Jared as he reminded her of a kind monk who gave to her a book several years ago. Jared rages in hopelessness not just because she kidnapped him and married him, but because he is attracted to her and admires her grit. As they fall in love working her land together, she continues her efforts to help accused innocent women from being sentenced into slavery. However, when he perceives his beloved betrayed him, he wants nothing more to do with her. His rejection puts his wife in peril.

This is an enjoyable medieval romance with a great twist that brings a uniqueness rarely seen in the sub-genre. Fast-paced from the moment Gwyneth ties Jared to her cot and never slowing down, fans will enjoy the love story of the defiant ones as each understands imprisonment and the craving for freedom as well as each other.

Harriet Klausner

In a Cowboy’s Arms-Janette Kenny

In a Cowboy’s Arms
Janette Kenny
Zebra, Dec 1 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420106596

Maggie Sutton met Daisy Logan on the orphan train years ago. Now, not wanting to marry though having no choice if she stays, Maggie flees using Daisy’s identity as a cover.

In 1895 Colorado, Sheriff Dade Logan meets “Daisy” but she fails to recognize him. He quickly concludes she is not who she claims to be though he has not seen his sister Daisy in two decades when as siblings they were separated. Dade gets her to admit she is Margaret Sutton. To her consternation she is also attracted to the lawman-rancher; Maggie agrees to help him find Daisy. As they search for Daisy, an unscrupulous bounty hunter stalks Maggie and his outlawing relatives cause them havoc.

This is a terrific western romance starring two strong characters and like its predecessor (see A Cowboy Christmas) leaves the audience believing they are in 1895 in the wild west (Colorado in this case, Wyoming previously). The story line is fast-paced with a strong lead couple and powerful support cast. With a solid fine overarching mystery and knowing at least one more "Foster Brothers" cowboy romance will be published, readers will appreciate this delightful entry.

Harriet Klausner

When All My Dreams Come True-Janet Mowery

When All My Dreams Come True
Janet Mowery
Harvest House, Feb 1 2011, $13.99
ISBN: 9780736928076

In 1872, nineteen year old cowhand Bobbie McIntyre leaves the Simms Ranch after her father died and she became too comfortable there as she wants to own her owniko spread one day. Owner Roy Simms recommends her to his former protégé Jace Kincaid, who is stunned to learn Bobbie is female. Bobbi proves she is capable so he hires her.

Jace’s sister Anne, her banker husband Pete and their two kids adore the new wrangler. The rancher has issues as someone is stealing his cattle at the same time neighbor Hank Willet pressures him to sell. As the incidents mount and turn increasingly dangerous, Jace wonders why the Lord is testing him and how he can persuade Bobbie to return to God who she abandoned when her mom died. As Bobbie discovers her feminine side and also begins to reconnect with God, she and Jace fall in love. However, as the rustler’s actions turn ugly, Jace feels like Job as he knows he must end the terror or lose his beloved, his ranch and his esteem.

Although Bobbie returns to the Lord too easily, fans will relish this enjoyable Christian western romance due to the strong cast especially the lead couple, his family and several of the cowhands. The story line is filled with action from the moment that Bobbie and Jace meet yet it also contains humorous situations like her giving him a haircut, oops. When All My Dreams Come True is a warm tale of hope and faith even when you feel like a pariah or Job.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Haunting Jasmine -Anjali Banerjee

Haunting Jasmine
Anjali Banerjee
Berkley, Feb 1 2011, $15.00
ISBN 9780425238714

In Los Angeles, Jasmine Mistry has not fully recovered from her divorce from womanizing ruthless Robert. She knows she needs a new start and after prayer to Ganesh the Hindu god of new beginnings, she quits her high salary management position and moves to Shelter Island in Puget Sound where her Bengali family resides.

Jasmine takes over managing her Auntie's bookstore loaded with all sorts of artifacts and junk in a rundown allegedly haunted Victorian Queen Anne mansion. From nowhere except she assumes guided by Ganesh and assisted by Jane Austen’s spirit, Connor Hunt arrives in Auntie's foyer. Ignoring her parents and her heritage, Jasmine begins to move on past "Robert the dung heap."

This is a superb second chance at love tale with a whimsical mystical element that enhances the delightful character-driven tale that enables the readers to glimpse first and second generation Bengali-American culture. Jasmine holds the entreating story line together as she learns “we love and we lose …”, but the experience of love lost can break a person if they cede their soul to their former beloved or make one stronger as “… we can love again". –This is a fabulous endearing romance with a profound underlying concept of get off the floor and dance with the vigor of life again and if necessary again.

Harriet Klausner

The Perfect Mistress -Victoria Alexander

The Perfect Mistress
Victoria Alexander
Zebra, Feb 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN 9781420117059

In 1885 Widow Lady Julia Winterset plans to release her great-grandmother's kiss and tell manuscript titled - The Perfect Mistress: The Memoirs of Lady Hermione Middlebury. The Earl of Mondale Harrison Landingham learns of Julia’s intention, but becomes horrified to find out his father is one of those featured as a lover of Lady Hermione.

Harrison is determined to prevent the scandal using any method imagined. Julia needs the money, but it is Lady Hermione's ghost who encourages her to publish the tome. Having read the first escapade, amoral publisher Benjamin Cadwaller wants the manuscript and will do anything even criminal activity to obtain it. Finally there is the author wanting to claim writing the manuscript and will do anything even criminal activity to obtain it. Julia diligently navigates through a maze of plotters to help her ancestor.

This is a great Victorian filled with twists and spins as Lady Julia navigates the dangerous world of publication. Her efforts make for a fun time while enhanced by extracts from the “memoirs of a woman of pleasure” (nod to Fanny Hill by Fielding). Fast-paced and charming, sub-genre fans will enjoy the amusing The Perfect Mistress.

Harriet Klausner

The Seduction of His Wife -Tiffany Clare

The Seduction of His Wife
Tiffany Clare
St. Martin's, Feb 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN 9780312381837

Lord Richard Mansfield married Lady Emma Hallaway when she was fifteen years old in a marriage of convenience. They shared one night together before he left England to travel the world.

A dozen years later, Richard is back in London on business. He runs into his wife at the last place he expected to meet her, a brothel. She is there as an artist painting nudes secretly. The Earl is stunned with his desire for his now adult countess. However, though he makes it clear he wants her and she detests her body for reciprocating, she hates her husband for deserting her when as a teen she needed him most. Richard begins a courtship to win the mind of his wife; he already owns her heart and her body.

This is an entertaining early Victorian second chance at love romance in spite of the marriage of convenience desertion theme having been used frequently before (see The Phantom Husband by Alana Clayton). Richard’s courting of his spouse and a strong secondary cast especially her kick butt sisters makes for a fun historical; but like Elena’s profession in The Surrender of a Lady, Emma’s vocation provides freshness to this brisk tale.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Highland Master-Amanda Scott

Highland Master
Amanda Scott
Forever, Feb 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN 9780446574310

In 1401 Scotland, Lady Catriona Mackintosh accompanied by her dog is hunting. Instead of game, she finds wounded Fin of the Battles. She takes the injured warrior home while assuming her odious neighbor Rory Comyn attacked Fin. Catriona has her own issues with Rory who demands she marry him or else.

Her grandfather Chief of Clan Chattan realizes Fin is the sworn man of the wild Prince Rothesay. Comyn prefers Rothesay’s rival, sneaky Prince Albany, as he can gain favors with someone who is devious like he is. However, they have a history as her father led their clan in a slaughter of his clan including the death of his father. Loyalty by him to his prince and his late father, and by her to her family forces Fin and Catriona to undergo a deadly mission.

This is a strong medieval Scottish romance as Fin and Catriona in order to survive their quest must work as a supporting team, which they do. Fast-paced, the couple is dynamic in achieving their objective, their fierceness to protect the other, and their deep love. Amanda Scott proves once again she is the Highland Master when it comes to a thrilling tale starring Scottish Knights (see Tempted by a Warrior); in this case star-crossed lovers whose historical ties are a battle where blood flowed.

Harriet Klausner

Journey to Riverbend-Henry McLaughlin

Journey to Riverbend
Henry McLaughlin
Tyndale, Feb 1 2111, $12.99
ISBN 9781414339429

In 1878 in front of a small crowd twenty-two year old Ben Carstairs insists he is innocent, but is hung anyway. Only Sheriff Gideon Parsons and Preacher Michael Archer believed the lad was telling the truth but had no evidence to persuade the judge to delay the execution. Just prior to his hanging, Ben asked preacher Michael Archer to find his estranged dad Sam so in death father and son can reconcile.

In Riverbend, Michael learns Sam is an avaricious affluent businessman who has made a zillion adversaries with his cut-throat deals. Someone took exception to being ruined by Sam and kidnaps the mean-spirited mogul. Michael and Rachel Stone meet and to their surprise and consternation are attracted to one another; however both have a sordid history that makes them feel unworthy of the other. Meanwhile Michael joins a posse intent on rescuing Carstairs.

This is a terrific inspirational western romance told mostly by the lead male including when he rides with the posse. The story line is character driven more so by Ben seeking redemption for what he did yet and in regards to Rachel he feels unworthy of her; she has her haunting demons too. Henry McLaughin provides a strong faith-based historical in which one must confront personal demons with prayer, belief, and love.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Beneath the Night Tree-Nicole Bart

Beneath the Night Tree
Nicole Bart
Tyndale, Feb 1 2011, $12.99
ISBN: 9781414323237

Six years ago Patrick “Parker” Holt left his girlfriend Julia DeSmit in a parking lot at their college. Stunned by his desertion, Julia raises their son Daniel without him while also serving as mom to her ten years old half-brother Simon who was abandoned by his biological mother. Julia and the two young boys live with their grandma.

Julia works at a grocer while also taking night classes to obtain an associate degree. She has a caring boyfriend Michael Vermeer who is nice to her and her family and wants her and the boys to move with him to Iowa City. Parker sends her an email wanting back in her life and wondering if he sired a child with her. She knows she needs to let him meet his son, but has doubts about giving him a second chance.

This is a heartwarming inspirational family drama with a strong cast as each of the unorthodox DeSmit household and the two men in Julia’s life have different personalities and fears. Rejection and redemption are the common threads that run though the well written story line, but Julia holds the plot together as she must choose between the two adult males who want her or neither of them, but it is observing her two “sons” with each that helps her select. This is a terrific character study that defines family as a team of loved ones.

Harriet Klausner

Scandal of the Year-Laura Lee Guhrke

Scandal of the Year
Laura Lee Guhrke
Avon, Jan 25 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061963162

In 1903 in a London court, Lord Yardley is suing for divorce from his wife Julie on the grounds of adultery. When asked whether she had sex with Aiden Carr, Julie says yes though she knows she hurt him as she took away his self-respect. The court grants Yardley his divorce.

As part of his Ducal responsibility, Aiden needs a wife and an heir. He has money and looks, but has been jilted twice. Trix left him for her archeologist and Rosalind due to Julie. When he and Julie see each other at a ball, she expects his scorn, but instead Aidan acknowledges her before he leaves. Julie feels guilty with what she did to him. Later Aidan accuses her of using him to obtain the divorce. Julie does not deny it and pleads with him to marry for love. Julie asks Aiden for advice on getting a job as she needs to pay her debts and he is successful in business. Aiden hires her as his social secretary to help him find a wife. As she begins to find him suitable women, he rejects all of them as only one woman ever mattered to him ever since they met as teens in 1891.

The sequel to Wedding of the Season stars key support characters from the first historical Abandoned at the Altar romance. The lead couple is a fun pairing of seemingly enemy combatant opposites who were attracted to one another from that first meeting when they were teens. The support cast is solid, but not as critical to the story line as in the first tale. The serious undertone of the lack of rights for married women is the critical element to a strong Edwardian tale although the climax feels a bit stretched.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sin and Surrender-Julia Latham

Sin and Surrender
Julia Latham
Avon, Dec 28 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061783487

Following the deaths of their parents, the League of the Blade rescues the Hilliard brothers. A Blade member raises the siblings. Years later, as adults they join the Blade. However, one of the brothers Paul is stunned when he overhears a discussion between Blade members that insists the end justifies the means; even when an innocent is hurt as collateral damage. No longer a believer, he quits the Blades in anger disgust and immediately afterward leaves England.

In 1487 Paul returns to England. His adopted father asks him to help the League by protecting the king against an assassination plot. On the mission with him is his former student Juliana Gresham, who is assigned to keep Paul safe. Stunned by the surprising revelation of her role, Paul is further shocked by his wanting his former pupil who shares his attraction. As they work closely together and fall in love, the pair remains unaware a traitor watches their steps.

Sin and Surrender is a terrific League of the Blade - Hilliard brothers (see Taken and Seduced) medieval romantic suspense. The story line is loaded with action, but held together by the strongly moral lead couple bonded by love and their mission. Julia Latham writes an exiting late fifteenth century thriller that grips the audience from the moment Paul returns home and never slows down until the final exhilarating altercation.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Heart of the Falcon-Francis Ray

Heart of the Falcon
Francis Ray
St. Martin’s, Nov 30 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312365103

In Houston, Madelyn Taggart works as a production engineer at an oil firm. She has no interest in dating as her career comes first. The only man she has found interesting is African American- Native American Daniel Falcon, who she has never met but seen in a photo with one of her brothers as she learns the meaning of a picture is worth a thousand words.

CEO of Falcon Industries, Daniel is relocating to Houston. They meet and fall in the sack together. When Madelyn becomes pregnant, she only thinks of not repeating the unhappy marriage of her parents. Reluctantly Daniel proposes, but though she is in love with him, she says no. This stuns him as no one says no to him.

This is a reprint of a warm romance released a decade ago. Although Madelyn’s morals are critical to what happens in her relationship with her beloved, the key to this engaging tale is Daniel who learns the importance of love is not just the head bending sex, but the hug with your huggable and the spoon with the one you cherishes. With little action, fans still will enjoy character driven Heart of the Falcon and look forward to the re-release of his sister’s reprint soon (see Break Every Rule).

Harriet Klausner

Heart of the Falcon-Francis Ray

Heart of the Falcon
Francis Ray
St. Martin’s, Nov 30 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312365103

In Houston, Madelyn Taggart works as a production engineer at an oil firm. She has no interest in dating as her career comes first. The only man she has found interesting is African American- Native American Daniel Falcon, who she has never met but seen in a photo with one of her brothers as she learns the meaning of a picture is worth a thousand words.

CEO of Falcon Industries, Daniel is relocating to Houston. They meet and fall in the sack together. When Madelyn becomes pregnant, she only thinks of not repeating the unhappy marriage of her parents. Reluctantly Daniel proposes, but though she is in love with him, she says no. This stuns him as no one says no to him.

This is a reprint of a warm romance released a decade ago. Although Madelyn’s morals are critical to what happens in her relationship with her beloved, the key to this engaging tale is Daniel who learns the importance of love is not just the head bending sex, but the hug with your huggable and the spoon with the one you cherishes. With little action, fans still will enjoy character driven Heart of the Falcon and look forward to the re-release of his sister’s reprint soon (see Break Every Rule).

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Whisper Falls-Toni Blake

Whisper Falls
Toni Blake
Avon, Dec 28 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061765803

Following the collapse of her interior design career, Tessa Sheridan returns home to Destiny, Ohio with few hopes for her future. She struggles to pay her bills and eat even living in a woody cabin near Whisper Falls.

Next door is a biker whose Harley roars seemingly 24/7 driving Tessa over the edge. She also is attracted to the hunk, which she knows is a loser for a reticent person as she is. Once a rebel without a cause, Lucky Romo feels his name is accurate as he is attracted to his shy neighbor. Their attraction could ignite a forest fire, but will she allow Mr. Trouble to drive into her life.

Although the bad boy and innocent girl love story has been done a zillion times (Donna Kaufman and Lori Foster come to mind) the latest Destiny, Ohio contemporary romance (see Sugar Creek and One Reckless Summer) is a fun brisk tale. Lucky is somewhat stereotypical, but Tessa provides freshness with her reticence and reluctance to turn into a bad girl. Toni Blake provides an enjoyable entry as readers will wonder whether the lead male will in deed be lucky in love.

Harriet Klausner