Monday, February 28, 2011

Fly Me to Paradise-Catherine Andorka

Fly Me to Paradise
Catherine Andorka
Five Star, Apr 6 2011, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594149535

In Illinois, neither she nor her husband Charles wanted children, but before he underwent a vasectomy, his wife Madeline Holt persuaded him to leave sperm at the Lynwood Fertility Clinic in case they change their minds. After he died, she decided to undergo insemination to raise a child of his. However, a mistake occurs and she learns she is carrying the offspring of Cromwell corporate pilot Kurt Williams.

Both are upset‚ but she makes it clear she will not abort the fetus nor give the child up once born. He surprises her as he agrees with her plans. However he has one exception; Though he suffers from Hodgkin ’s disease that he prays is in remission, he plans to be in their child’s life, as he vowed to never desert a kid of his like his dad did when he was six years old. As they spend time together, they fall in love. However, she keeps her distance as she feels his job is dangerous; besides which she fears heights; while he wonders why she never asked him why he donated sperm.

Fly Me To Paradise is an engaging contemporary romance in which a mistake serves as the matchmaker between a widow and a remission cancer victim. Readers will empathize with Madeline’s reluctance to get involved as love hurts especially since her late husband was cautions and still died in an accident; on the other hand Kurt serves more as a role model as he learns life is precious and potentially expendable. Although their hesitations becomes a bit repetitive, fans will enjoy this fun tale of two nice people falling in love, but each has doubts about their future except when it comes to the child she carries.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Taste Me-Tamara Hogan

Taste Me
Tamara Hogan
Sourcebooks, Mar 1 2011, $6.99
ISBN: 9781402246012

At the Subterranean Club for werewolves, a homicide occurred. Sabastiani Security Lukas Sabastiani the Incubus is very concerned as changes to the ruling Council is happening and homicides could derail the presenting of other species to the humans. Making it worse, the victim is Were Andi Woolf, daughter of the Council’s biggest opposition to coming out to humanity, Krispin Woolf. However, Andi still lives barely.

Meanwhile rock star Scarlett Fontaine the Siren is worn out from an extended tour with her band. However, the assault on Andi and other deadly attacks on the band and those associated with the band places her at risk; especially as the daughter of a Council member Claudette. Lukas is assigned to protect Scarlett, the female he knows owns his soul; she feels the same way about him. Neither realizes who the serpent is destroying their Eden.

This is an exciting and spellbinding second chance at paranormal love urban fantasy. Readers will believe that the other species exist as sirens, incubus, weres and oh! my! seem genuine. Although the set up of the Hogan universe starts a bit slow, sub-genre fans will enjoy clubbing with Scarlett and Sebastian while wondering who the psychopath is and the motives for the killings and the attempted murders.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Knitting Diaries-Debbie Macomber, Susan Mallery, and Christina Skye

The Knitting Diaries
Debbie Macomber, Susan Mallery, and Christina Skye
Mira, Mar 29 2011, $7.99
ISBN 9780778329374

The Twenty-First Wish by Debbie Macomber. Ten years old Ellen and her adopted mom Anne Marie write down a wish list consisting of twenty items each. However, Ellen conceals one additional wish from her mom that she wants her biological dad Tim and her adopted mother to marry and stitch together a family with her.

Coming Unraveled by Susan Mallery. Although she had dreams of Broadway, Robyn returns to Texas to manage her grandma's knitting store. However, angry T. J. is very unwelcoming of her though they are attracted to one another.

Return to Summer Island by Christina Skye. The car accident left Caro with severe damage to her hand and arm. She goes to Summer Island, Oregon to heal, but is unprepared for the warm welcome by a knitting colony and the passion in an exchange of letters with Gage the marine serving in Afghanistan.

These three charming uplifting yarns combine the passion of the heart with that of knitting.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, February 17, 2011

An Engagement in Seattle-Debbie Macomber

An Engagement in Seattle
Debbie Macomber
Mira, Mar 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778329183

Groom Wanted. In Seattle Russian biochemist Aleksandr Berinksi works in the United States on a visa that is expiring shortly. His only chance of remaining in America is to marry Julia Conrad, the boss of the firm where he works. They need each other and must fool the INS.

Bride Wanted. In Seattle, Chase Goodwin places an ad on a billboard, seeking a bride willing to come north to Alaska with him. Though hurt by a recent relationship and finding the billboard tacky, Lesley Campbell responds to the odd advertisement.

These are two fun reprints from This Day Forward (Silhouettes circa 1993-94) in which the protagonists become engaged under abnormal conditions.

Harriet Klausner

My One and Only-Kristan Higgins

My One and Only
Kristan Higgins
Harlequin HQN, Mar 29 2011, $7.99
ISBN 9780373775576

Martha’s Vineyard Divorce attorney Harper James is mortified with the news that her stepsister Wills is marrying Christopher Lowery her former brother-n-law in Glacier Park, Montana. She and Chris’ brother Nick married very young, but their marriage failed though the desire remained stratospheric as both realize when they meet in Big Sky Country.

Following the wedding of Wills and Chris, to their mutual chagrin Harper and Nick travel cross country together due to a mix up. On their trek, she begins to relook why their marriage failed and why she still loves him in spite of having Dennis the firefighter as her boyfriend for more than a couple of years; mostly her introspection focuses on abandonment.

This is an amusing lighthearted at times frantic second chance at love romance as Harper and Nick flirt, fuss, and fight while causing havoc across the country. The story line never turns serious as Kristin Higgins provides a wonderful jocular road trip starring a delightful divorce lawyer with a real experience on her résumé and a hunk of an architect who is her one and only, but is that enough.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Highlander's Curse-Melissa Mayhue

Highlander's Curse
Melissa Mayhue
Pocket, Mar 29 2011, $7.99
ISBN 9781439190326

Fourteenth century Scottish warrior Colin MacAlister ends up in the twenty-first century bed of present-day archeologist Abigail Porter. As she rips his skin verbally for being in her room, she also admires his naked skin that is muscle tight.

Colin and Abby are descendants of the Fae. Though neither are aware of it, each has been suffering from the donnee-wanting that impact the Fae when they are apart from their soul mate. The pair travels to Methven in 1306 as the great battle is about to begin. When the Nuadian Fae Flynn O'Dannan insists he is Abby's mentor, he conceals from her that he actually wants her Fae blood.

The latest Daughters of the Glen paranormal historical romance (see Healing the Highlander) is a great entry as the heroine defines the story line with her choice between eternal love and material comfort. Can the warmth of the heart and a hunk overcome indoor plumbing and heating (and air conditioning), microwave and toilet paper; for that is the question. From present day Denver and Scotland to early fourteenth century Scotland at a time when Robert the Bruce leads the battle for independence, Melissa Mayhue escorts her readers on a wonderful time travel romance in which the audience will ponder social working vs. a drafty castle.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Chase-Erin McCarthy

The Chase
Erin McCarthy
Berkley, Apr 5 2011, $7.99
ISBN 9780425240144

Kendall Holbrook and Evan Monroe were lovers over a decade ago; for each it was their first precious love. However, they broke up with each suffering from regrets and blaming the other.

Now Kendall has joined the same NASCAR racing team as Evan. Both are drivers with Kendall trying to prove she belongs with the big boys and Evan trying likewise after a disappointing season. When they chat, each realizes they wasted ten years over a misunderstanding. They become lovers and share a deodorant sponsorship but whereas he wants more she distrusts her feelings as they burned her once before.

The latest Fast Track romance (see Hard and Fast, Flat Out Sexy and Hot Finish) is an entertaining trip around the oval with two likable drivers although the second chance at love plot is actually very linear. The key to this fast as a NASCAR race tale is Kendall’s reluctance to take their relationship to another level because she believes her beloved Evan tried to defuse her dream when they were together the first time. With trademark Erin McCarthy humor and the return of the leads from previous entries, fans will enjoy the spin around the Fast Track.

Harriet Klausner

My Irresistible Earl-Gaelen Foley

My Irresistible Earl
Gaelen Foley
Avon, Mar 29 2011, $7.99
ISBN 9780061733963

Diplomat Jordan Lennox is an earl who gave up much of what he desired to join the infamous Inferno Club whose scandalous activity conceal their pledge to protect the king. Of all he left behind when he swore allegiance to the secret order, perhaps the one that hurts the most and the only to fill his soul with remorse is Lady Mara Bryce; who on first sight he knew she was the person he wanted by his side forever. Twelve years ago, he asked her to wait for him before vanishing to perform his duty. He never came back and she married, but is now a widow.

When they meet for the first time in a dozen years, Mara and Jordan know the attraction between them remains strong. He considers that destiny has brought them back together, but fears for her life as he works an undercover mission to prevent an evil cult from harming the monarch. However, his bringing Mara into the fold leaves her in danger while he second guesses his decision to not lose her again.

The third Inferno Club espionage Regency romance (see My Wicked Marquess and My Dangerous Duke) is an exciting second chance at love suspense thriller. The story line is fast-paced from start to finish although the overarching theme of the current battle between the Inferno Club and the Prometheans in their centuries-old war does not move as the espionage subplot never quite gels beyond bringing deadly danger to Mara. Still sub-genre fans will enjoy the love story of an Inferno.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, February 14, 2011

Texas Blue-Jodi Thomas

Texas Blue
Jodi Thomas
Berkley, Apr 5 2011, $7.99
ISBN 9780425240472

In 1875 Texas Ranger Duncan “Duck” McMurray informs his friend gambler Lewton Paterson that he plans to insure good marriages for his three female cousins by sending good citizens with upstanding families their way. Lewton yearns for that respectability so at Crystal’s, after he meets Walter Freeport the Fourth, a pompous abusive fool who hit a server, he decides to replace the nasty gentleman. A card game leads to Lewt possessing the train ticket,

Lewton meets the three ladies and finds each nice and pretty, but is drawn specifically to ranch manger Emily. However, though she is attracted to her cousin’s selection, she refuses to marry as that will cost her the independence that she cherishes. When they learn that Duncan has been held prisoner in Mexico, Lewt and Em ride out to rescue him.

The latest Whispering Mountain historical romance (see The Lone Texan) is once again a great read. The lead couple is a fabulous pairing of an independent ranch owner and a likable card shark posing as a dandy. From the moment they meet, sparks fly, as he says to the three cousins he will marry any of them as long as she is wealthy while she distrusts any male except kin ever since she helplessly witnessed an assault on her mom. Readers will enjoy this coupling as both have issues wider than Texas.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Falling Under-Gwen Hayes

Falling Under
Gwen Hayes
NAL, Mar 1 2011, $$9.99
ISBN: 9780451232687

In Serendipity Falls, California, seventeen years old Theia Alderson is taken back when she sees an inferno containing a man fall from the sky; when he crashes on her family’s lawn, he disintegrates into nothingness. Soon afterward at high school Theia sees Haden Black for the first time. The newcomer has been the star of her recent dreams, but she never thought he was real until now.

He makes it clear from that first encounter that he wants her, but for every time he makes a move towards her he pushes his Theia away. She knows she should fear this teen who she met in her sleep time before she met him awake, but though frightened of how that could be and what he may be, Theia feels they belong together.

This is a fascinating early teen romantic gothic fantasy starring two wannabe lovers who are unsure they should be together as forces greater than either of them try to pull them apart. Readers will appreciate the lead protagonists who will remain separated unless they learn geometry that the loving whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Although there are some odd seemingly misplaced support characters and scenes, young adult fans will relish two intelligent individuals struggling with their mutual attraction to one another.

Harriet Klausner

Rio-Georgina Gentry

Georgina Gentry
Zebra, Feb 1 2011, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420108514

In 1876 in the Austin area, Turquoise Sanchez knows her bloodline and her name are handicaps in her quest to marry an upper class Texan who cherishes and loves her. She ignores her spitfire personality as being hot blooded for that elite gentleman to appreciate. Turquois believes she has found her man in renowned State Senator Edwin Forester. However, her family objects profusely as they do not want the politician to water down their blood.

Vaquero Rio Kelly agrees with Turquois’ family assertion as he wants to be her mate. The four-leaf clover tattoo he has on him just adds to Turquois’ belief the poor vaquero is not good enough for her; but when she dreams and daydreams he is the star. However, neither she, her family or her beloved vaquero reckon with how ruthless a state senator can be when he wants something.

The second Texans historical romance (see Diablo) is an engaging tale in which fans of Georgina Gentry also will welcome the return of the extended Durango clan. The story line is loaded with action but driven by a somewhat irritating spoiled “princess” who must choose between her image of her beloved and the reality of her beloved. Fast-paced, readers will enjoy Rio though it is more Turquois’ tale.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 11, 2011

Two Against the Odds-Joan Kilby

Two Against the Odds
Joan Kilby
Harlequin SuperRomance, Mar 1 2011, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373716937

Australian government tax accountant investigator Rafe Ellersley audits artist Lexie Thatcher, who has failed to file a return in four years. Thus he leaves Melbourne to see her in her small bayside village of Summerside where the red snappers make it an ace assignment in his mind. His boss Larry Kiefer warns Rafe to remain professional after the fiasco of his last audit if he wants to keep his position and eventually open up a charter business by purchasing a boat.

His cold veneer slips when Rafe meets Lexie and is attracted to her though she is over a decade older than he is. He reminds himself to remain professional, but cannot keep his hands or lips off of her. They have an affair until she gets pregnant. He panics as he knows his tryst will cost him his job and his boating future; but when she miscarries he realizes she is his future.

Two Against the odds is a fascinating contemporary Australian relationship drama as the accountant and the artist engage in a gender war. The lead characters as dynamic opposites and the bayside setting drive the entertaining story line.

Harriet Klausner

Bone Deep-Janice Kay Johnson

Bone Deep
Janice Kay Johnson
Harlequin SuperRomance, Nar 1 2011, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373716920

Nursery owner Kat Riley is proud of the Snohomish County Business Owner of the Year award she has won. However, someone else must have a different opinion on her worthiness. Soon after receiving the accolades, bones of her husband Hugh appear in the nursery. Hugh disappeared several years without a trace, but has returned in pieces.

The cold case is reopened as a homicide, but police chief Grant Haller is more concerned that the sudden appearance of Hugh’s remains needs to be treated as a threat against his widow. He vows to keep this woman safe as part of his job but even more so for personal reasons as he loves Kat. As he investigates, he fears he is too close to Kat to remain objective, but also refuses to recluse himself and hand over the case to anyone else.

This fast-paced police procedural romance grips the audience from the first bone to the last confrontation. However, the key to the well written aptly titled Bone Deep is the heroic cop who feels guilt for breaking procedure by working a case he is emotionally involved in but knows he would feel much greater remorse if he stayed on the sidelines and something happened to Kat. With the killer in plain sight but still difficult to pick out, fans will enjoy Janice Kay Johnson’s super romantic suspense.

Harriet Klausner

The Past Between Us-Kimberly Van Meter

The Past Between Us
Kimberly Van Meter
Harlequin SuperRomance, Mar 1 2011, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373716944

FBI agent Tommy Bristol catches Cassi Nolan, the woman he loved when he was a foster child and she was the prom queen. Now he is a Fed while she is on the lam from the law charged with theft though she swears she is being framed by her stepfather, Lionel Vissher. Cassi insists Lionel killed her mother and set her up with the felony in order to control her family fortune. Tommy scoffs at Cassi’s insistence she is innocent as he knew her as an out of control party girl who would dare to do anything.

However, Tommy soon realizes the Cassi he loved is the woman with him frightened by how far her stepfather has gone. He vows to protect her at the risk of his job and will work with her to prove Vissher is a dangerous psychopath.

Mindful of the Bounty Hunter starring Butler and Anniston, but much more serious in tone, the first “Momma Jo” foster mother tale is a fast-paced romantic suspense. Readers will root for the lead couple as each possesses resolve, energy and love while hissing at the vile clever villain.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sarah’s Gift-Marta Perry

Sarah’s Gift
Marta Perry
Berkley, Mar 1 2011, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425238912

Amish Widow Sarah Mast loves her work helping people as a midwife. When her Aunt Emma Stolzus asks Sarah to join her practice in Pleasant Valley Pennsylvania as she can no longer handle the load; the niece accepts the offer and relocates excited to start a new life. Carpenter Aaron Miller agrees to build their facility though he personally detests the practice of midwifery. However, her joy of working with her aunt turns heartbreaking as Emma is ill.

Aaron’s pregnant married sister Molly is coming home as her spouse is working temporarily in Wisconsin. He vows to keep Molly away from midwives. When Molly arrives she chooses Sarah to help her with her pregnancy. Finally the English Dr. Mitchell presses charges that Sarah is practicing medicine without a license. Her only hope to defend herself resides with Aaron, but he is blind to what she has done for her patients and how he feels about her.

The latest Pleasant Valley inspirational Amish romance (see Anna’s Return) is a superb contemporary that focuses on the role of a midwife in modern America. Sarah is the glue holding the fine storyline together; as she learns to use what God has given her to help those in need even when skeptics like the man she loves rip her heart. Marvelous Marta Perry provides another powerful Pleasant Valley tale.

Harriet Klausner

Saddled and Spurred-Lorelei James

Saddled and Spurred
Lorelei James
Signet, Mar 1 2011, $14.00
ISBN: 9780451232243

In Muddy Gap, Wyoming Tan Your Hide beauty emporium owner Alice Samuels fires Harper Masterson as she no longer needs the help since she is shutting down the storefront to sell her products from her home. Harper needs temporary employment for a few months to cover bills for her and her sister Bailey before her sibling begins college. She plans to leave town once Bailey starts school as both will have new beginnings.

The only position available is working for Bran Turner pulling calves at his ranch; a man she has had a few arguments with. However, she is stunned when he hires her as besides their dispute, she lacks experience. He is surprised that she is diligent, intelligent and hard working as he assumed he hired a cotton candy former beauty queen. He especially appreciates her manner with animals. As they fall in love, Renner Jackson enters Harper’s life and Bran’s injured permanent employee Les returns to work; but it is his trust issues that causes the wedge bigger than the Grand Tetons.

The second Blacktop Cowboys (see Corralled) is an enjoyable ranch romance as each of the lead couple hides secrets from the other that lead to suspicion between them. The support cast is strong and the setting of rural Wyoming enhancing the problems that both face, especially the heroine. Readers will enjoy this wonderful contemporary.

Harriet Klausner

The Heiress-Lynsay Sands

The Heiress
Lynsay Sands
Avon, Feb 22 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061963094

Her sister Christian’s marriage (see The Countess) bought the family time, but at the rate their father loses money gambling, they still face the scandal of poverty shortly. Suzette knows she needs to find a husband, which will allow her to demand her inheritance.

Suzette wants an impoverished desperate male who needs to marry money and is wiling to negotiate with her over the joint use of her dowry. Daniel Woodrow pretends to be a pauper to elude gold-digging twits. However, when he and Suzette meet, both are attracted to one another. She insists she seeks a penurious spouse while he pleads insolvency. She stuns him with a proposal that he shocks her by accepting. Besides ridding them of a corpse, they chase after a blackmailer and must escape a diabolical adversary before they can say I do in love.

Since the Heiress is a co-read to the Countess, as several major incidents are reiterated here in a fresh brisk manner but from a different viewpoint (Einstein’s relativity at work), it behooves the audience to read both historical romantic suspense thrillers back to back. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the lead couple meets and never slows down as Lynsay Sands amusingly satirizes the sub-genre with a spin mindful of Oscar Wilde’s Victorian lampoon The Importance of Being Ernest; in this case the importance of being poor.

Harriet Klausner

One Night Is Never Enough-Anne Mallory

One Night Is Never Enough
Anne Mallory
Avon, Feb 22 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780062017307

Anyone who meets Lady Charlotte Chatsworth assumes she has frozen tundra for a heart as she comes across as unfeeling colder than the polar caps. Her father owes a major gambling debt so he offers Charlotte to the highest bidder. She does not argue with her reprobate father because if she does not acquiesce, her sister Emily will be next on the auction block.

Gambling parlor owner Roman Merrick detests Chatsworth as a worm who refuses to accept responsibility for his actions and vices. Roman is attracted to Charlotte so he accepts her father’s offer of a night with Charlotte for his vouchers. Roman and Charlotte spend the evening playing chess while she knows she wants him but she needs to marry up not down.

Although the theme of betting a female loved one as a stake has been done frequently in historical romances (see The Seduction by Julia Ross), Anne Mallory provides a fresh regency romance due to the strong cast especially the lead couple. Charlotte is a strong person sacrificing her virtue and a good match to protect her sister from her wastrel father; although she knows her efforts may prove temporary as dearest dad is a gambling addict. Roman is everything she should loathe in a man until she sees how kind and caring he is. Readers will enjoy their chess match including Trant, another suitor of sorts.

Harriet Klausner

Seducing the Governess-Margo Maguire

Seducing the Governess
Margo Maguire
Avon, Feb 22 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780062018212

In 1816 having served on the continent during the war where he suffered an eye injury, Nash Farris returns home to learn he is the Earl of Ashby and has become guardian to his orphaned niece Emmaline following the suspicious death of his brother. He has never expected to be the earl as he was the third son so he lacks the necessary skills. Worse he has no idea how to raise a child, especially a female.

Nash hires Mercy Franklin to be a governess to his niece. Their first meeting on the road to his dilapidated home sets the gauntlet as a gender war is declared. He is attracted to mouthy Mercy, but feels his first mission is to learn what happened to his sibling Arthur and his sister-in-law as well as their oldest brother Hoyt earlier in the year. Deadly accidents have occurred too frequently; so Nash, surrounded by veterans he fought with and trusts with his life, increases his efforts to find who is behind the incidents. As he falls in love with Mercy, Nash knows he should wed the girl next door but wants the governess.

Seducing the Governess is a wonderful Regency romantic suspense with two investigative subplots (the other not mentioned above). The story line is fast-paced as Nash and Mercy argue, detect and fight while falling in love; at the same time a captain Briggs is also conducting an investigation. With a strong cast and a fabulous whodunit as well as the other mystery, sub-genre fans will fully relish Margo Maguire’ magnificent historical while waiting for the second part of Brigg’s inquiry.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Billion Reasons Why-Kristin Billerbeck

A Billion Reasons Why
Kristin Billerbeck
Thomas Nelson, Feb 1 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9781595547910

When Katie McKenna was younger her boyfriend Luc DeForges was dynamic living life to the fullest; they even broke up in a public fiery split. However though she at times misses what was then, Katie knows this is now. Thus a mature Katie is seeing steady Dexter Hastings and expects they will marry sharing a secure family lifestyle.

Katie is taken aback when her former lover Luc the billionaire arrives to ask her to do him a favor. He wants her to sing at his brother, Ryan’s wedding in their hometown New Orleans that she fled after their relationship died. Thinking this is the way to truly move passed her past, Katie agrees.

This is a fun lighthearted contemporary romantic romp starring a nice young woman pulled in two different directions by a pair of opposite males. The story line is character driven by the life in Katie's men as the daredevil hunk and the levelheaded stud compete (in her mind). Fans will wonder who will Katie choose and whether Ryan and his Olivia will marry while dealing with Luc wanting to turn the wedding into the event of the century and the stereotypical caricatures of Eve Arden and Kaye Ballard as the Mothers-in-Law.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Her Scottish Groom-Ann Stephens

Her Scottish Groom
Ann Stephens
Zebra, Mar 1 2011, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420108682

Scottish Laird Kieran Rossburn understands that his crofters rely on him to earn a living. However, he does not have the money to keep his dependents living a reasonable lifestyle. To do this Kieran needs to marry money.

He wants an obedient affluent mouse as a spouse. As such, he selects visiting American Diantha Quinn, daughter of a crude, rude wealthy shipping magnate because she seems extremely docile having been raised by authoritative parents who kept her under their thumbs. She proves anything but timid as she offers him a marriage in name only. Kieran seduces his bride as they fall in love but family issues interfere with their relationship.

Her Scottish groom is a refreshing Victorian romance that deploys the overly used especially in this time period marriage of convenience. Readers get deeply inside the heads of the lead couple as each has mountainous doubts that at times supersede their needs for this marriage. Although the internal musings are fascinating, they also turn the pace passive as action is limited. Fans, who enjoy a reflective historical drama, will relish Ann Stephens' character-driven late nineteenth century tale.

Harriet Klausner

Wild Desire-Lori Brighton

Wild Desire
Lori Brighton
Zebra, Mar 1 2011, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420108668

In 1857 Beatrice Edmund leaves Scotland for India to spend time with friends. She wanted an adventure but soon after arriving she learns sometimes you get what you wish for when Colin Fitch rushes into her bedroom in India.

Being chased by deadly enemies, Colin needs obstinate Beatrice to help him as he senses she has dormant skills that she is unaware of; as her family like his are tied to powerful statues. Beatrice the pragmatic is shocked by her attraction to the stranger who barged into her room. He reciprocates her high regard, but plans to keep his Wild Desire under control as he has a different quest in mind. Together they travel across the subcontinent seeking four statues of legendary power while lethal foes pursue them.

With a nod to Richard Chamberlain’s Alan Quatermain in King Solomon’s Mine, Wild Desire is an exhilarating romantic historical thriller. Loaded with action and fast-paced as the lead couple trek across India, the romantic subplot rightfully takes somewhat a backseat to the daring reckless adventures. Fans who appreciate an exciting story line will want to accompany Beatrice and Colin on their India tour. Wild Desire would make a great movie.

Harriet Klausner

Any Wicked Thing-Margaret Rowe

Any Wicked Thing
Margaret Rowe
Heat, Mar 1 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425238646

A decade ago Lord Sebastian Goddard shared the greatest night of his life with his childhood friend Fredericka Wells. However she betrayed his love so he left heartbroken and over the next ten years became known as the depraved Lord of Sin.

In 1818 with the death of his father, Sebastian now the duke returns to Goddard Castle to find the place looking like hell as his late dad never maintained the medieval edifice. He plans to pay back Freddie for the big hurt she inflicted on him. However, Freddie who has lived there much of her life, stuns him when she offers him a proposition. She will be his mistress for one month if he sells her Goddard Castle. He agrees as he plans to make her need him so she will not be able to live without his touch; then he will dump her. He never expected she would cause an inferno of need in him and that what he thought happened a decade ago is not quite what occurred.

This is an intriguing erotic regency romance starring a seemingly amoral reprobate lead male and a steady Freddie female. Although Sebastian comes across for the most part as a nasty philander until late revelations occur, Freddie is a delightful patient heroine. Readers will appreciate Freddie’s effort to resuscitate the heart of the man she has loved since she was a starry eyed teen.

Harriet Klausner

Surrender to Me-Shayla Black

Surrender to Me
Shayla Black
Heat, Mar 1 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425236550

Her friend with F-benefits Ben provides Lafayette Parrish Probation Officer Katalina “Kata” Munez with a special birthday treat; by arranging for her fantasy to occur. He asks his buddy Navy SEAL Hunter Edington to join them in a ménage a trios. They have a fantastic night together.

However, Hunter wants more from Kata without a third party. He persuades a drunken Kata into marrying him in Vegas. When she flees for her home the next morning, a raging Hunter pursues his frightened wife back to Louisiana. There he tries to convince his submissive they belong together while also trying to prevent a professional killer from murdering his spouse.

This is an engaging erotic romance starring a bullying male and a timid female. The heated story line is fast-paced once Hunter and Kata meet and never slows down. Although Kata, used to working with the meanest dregs of society, seems too docile and frightened and Hunter’s late revelation on how to behave with his wife seems out of character for such a bad-ass. Erotica fans will enjoy this dominator-submissive relationship drama. It is hot read with a powerful storyline.

Harriet Klausner

Welcome to Last Chance-Hope Ramsay

Welcome to Last Chance
Hope Ramsay
Forever, Mar 1 2011, $5.99
ISBN: 9780446576093

On the lam, Mary Smith buys a ticket to the Carolinas to hide in aptly named Last Chance. She expects a dead quiet town so is surprised to learn a fiddler plays. When Mary and the musician Clay Rhodes meet they prove hotter than a peppercorn (thanks to Johnny Cash).

After a great night at the Peach Blossom Motor Court, Mary checks her sleeping partner’s wallet for his name. He assumes she is stealing from him and looks into her belongings to find out that Mary Smith is Wanda Jane Coblentz, a woman in distress. Both are irate with the other, but the church’s Ladies Auxiliary matchmakers, the communication center (owned by his mama) Cut ’n’ Curl Beauty Salon, his brother the cop and angels believe this couple belongs together forever.

Readers will feel Welcome to Last Chance thanks the small town residents who make the tale fun to read even though the action is somewhat limited. The key is the homespun hometown musings of mama who is worried about her son refusing to risk anything emotional since he left a band, but sees Mary-Jane as the perfect CPR maker. Mindful of Mossy Creek, readers who enjoy a warm welcome to a remote part of South Carolina will remember mama (and her female horde) and son taking a chance by offering Mary-Jane a last chance.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 4, 2011

High Octane-Lisa Renee Jones

High Octane
Lisa Renee Jones
Harlequin Blaze, Feb 15 2011, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373796052

Like his two Crazy Aces buddies former Ranger, Ryan “Cowboy” Walker seeks precarious thrills such as sky diving from a plane for the Texas Hotzone (see Crazy Aces). Reporter Sabrina Cameron is the daughter of a U.S. Senator who is running for the White House; so is prim and proper following the rules of engagement as written by her dad’s handlers.

Thus when Sabrina, on a dare, goes skydiving; the activity is out of character for the by the book daughter. When these opposites meet, Ryan challenges Sabrina in every way as he plans to jump start her sense of adventures especially her libido.

Ryan is ultra alpha as he orders Sabrina the omega to behave in a manner of his liking. In a sense he becomes her handler replacing the professional assigned by her daddy’s election team. Thus, there is a core of realism in their intriguing relationship, but his bullying and her acceptance though High Octane will leave romance readers with an uneasy feeling to what is a heated well written drama.

Harriet Klausner

Face-Off-Nancy Warren

Nancy Warren
Harlequin Blaze, Feb 15 2011, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373796014

“Ice Time”. Upon retirement from the NHL, star Jarrad McBride returns home to Vancouver to coach. When he and teacher Sierra Janssen meet they start dating, but she fears she is not in the class of his former wife, a swimsuit model.

“The Sin Bin”. Jarrad’s sister Samantha McBride and her former boyfriend firefighter Greg Olsen decide to start a new fling though she rejected his proposal before she left for college.

“Breakaway”. Their brother hockey player Taylor McBride and Canada’s top figure-skating star Becky Haines start dating until her parents intervene by arranging for their daughter to go out with a singer.

Ice turns ultra hot as Nancy Warren scores the Hat Trick with this charming tour of British Columbia.

Harriet Klausner

What I Did for a Duke-Julie Anne Long

What I Did for a Duke
Julie Anne Long
Avon, Feb 22 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061885686

Ian Eversea breaks one of the most powerful rules amidst the Ton. Everyone knows never to mess with arrogant Duke Alexander Moncrieffe; for if you do you will pay an exorbitant price.

The Duke is outraged when Ian had the audacity to fall in love with Alexander’s fiancée. He decides Eversea must pay for this affront. What better way than to seduce the man’s innocent sister before ruining and dumping her. However, Moncrieffe learns that the plans of mice and men often go astray when women are involved. Eversea’s sister Genevieve has spunk as she dares to enter Moncrieffe’s inferno where passion ignites both of them. However, Genevieve must choose between marriage to a man who adores her and a scandalous spinsterhood by selecting the duke she loves who apparently fails to reciprocate her feelings.

The latest Pennyroyal Green historical romance (see Like No Other Lover) is an engaging tale that is more aligned to the sub-genre than the previous seafaring I Kissed an Earl, but contains Julie Anne Long’s trademark freshness with an enjoyable gender war. If White’s took bets, the arrogant male would slaughter the innocent female; however she defies the odds just like her brother did as love is a powerful stimulus. This is a marvelous tale.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Reluctant Bride-Anne Marie Duquette

The Reluctant Bride
Anne Marie Duquette
Harlequin American Romance, Mar 1 2011, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373753529

Grand Canyon guide Max Hunter is frustrated with his fiancée sports photographer Kari Cavanaugh as she always has an excuse for delaying their marriage. He decides no more shenanigans from his beloved even if it means breaking their two-year old engagement and his heart.

They are heading to the Grand Canyon, which may be their last trip as an entry. However someone claiming to be Kari’s mother Margot arrives. Her mother allegedly committed suicide though no body was found. Kari prays the woman is her mother, but if she is why did she vanish; if not why is she terrorizing Kari.

This is an enjoyable romantic suspense as the mystery of Margot makes for a taut thriller that supersedes the underdeveloped romantic subplot. Still readers will be hooked from the moment Margot arrives in Arizona. Like the beleaguered heroine who is unsure whether she wants the woman to be her mom or not as there are pros and cons to each; fans will ponder could this be her mom and if yes where was she and why appear now; while if not sinister stalking seems strangely possible but once again why Kari.

Harriet Klausner

The Comeback Cowboy-Cathy McDavid

The Comeback Cowboy
Cathy McDavid
Harlequin American Romance, Mar 1 2011, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373753499

Though he has physically healed from the accident at the rodeo, former rising star Ty Boudeau has not mentally loved on. He has not been the same since he had to put down his favorite and best horse.

At her grandfather’s Seven Cedars Ranch, Adele Donnelly runs the Cowboy College. Outside of teaching her students, she avoids cowboys as she expects they would break her heart. Ty arrives hoping to regain his lost confidence by receiving roping lessons from the alleged best Adele, but soon wants to become the teacher’s pet more as he is attracted to his instructor. He changes the rules of engagement as she ropes his heart.

The fascinating part of this fun ranch romance is that the rough edged cowboy uses a gruff exterior to hide a soft interior (a sort of American male Sabra) while the patient teacher conceals a relationship phobia especially with rodeo participants. Although readers will shout at Adele to move on as she overdoes her irritating prickliness, fans will root for this couple to make it while thinking like Lani about the intertwining of their gene pool.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Invitation to Ruin-Bronwen Evans

Invitation to Ruin
Bronwen Evans
Kensington Brava, Mar 1 2011, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758259196

Melissa Goodly has always dreamed of marrying for love. Anthony Craven has always dreamed of remaining a bachelor. When the Lord of Wicked Depravity mistakenly enters the room of Lady Virginity, they both lose control. However, they are caught together in a comprised position.

Out of honor, Anthony proposes and Melissa accepts. Craven would never have seduced an innocent like his new spouse, but realizes she is perfect as a naive convenience to conceal his sinful activity. Thus the night of their marriage, she shocks him with her bold sexual behavior. He vows never again as his personal pledge was to never sire an offspring since he believes his family possesses evil blood. However, once again Melissa stuns him with her resolve to break through to her spouse. She fails until an enemy from his past abducts the wife Anthony now realizes he loves.

Although the theme of a tormented male believing his blood is too tainted to have offspring has been used before (see Too Wicked to tame by Sophie Jordan), Bronwen Evans keeps her historical romance fresh due to a super heroine and a strong support cast including a vile villain. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Craven enters the wrong room (another commonly used theme) and never slows down as the aptly surnamed lead couple make for a terrific tale as she teaches him goodliness is in everyone even the craven especially if one takes a chance on love.

Harriet Klausner

The Perfect Scandal-Delilah Marvelle

The Perfect Scandal
Delilah Marvelle
Harlequin HQN, Feb 15 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373775545

In 1829, Marquis Tristan Hargrove secretly authored the extremely popular tome How to Avoid a Scandal. He diligently tries to adhere to his book avoiding any impropriety, behaving as a perfect gentleman.

However, for the first time as an adult, Tristan struggles to keep his base desires at bay after seeing his new aristocratic London neighbor; he cannot stop thinking of her lips demanding he kiss her. Polish immigrant Zosia Kwiatkowska is King George’s ward. The monarch seeks to marry the volatile immigrant who wants her freedom to help liberate Poland from Tsarist rule. Unable to resist and ignoring his grandmother’s plea to not do it, Tristan resolutely sets out to make Zosia his wife. As they fall in love, her Polish freedom quest places both of them at risk.

The latest Perfect Scandal late Regency romance is made fresh by the Polish fight for independence. This historical backdrop enhances the storyline by providing a fascinating cast starting with the lead female who uses crutches to walk and upon meeting Tristan in person for the first time at her bedroom window where he proposes marriage. Although grimmer than the previous two entries (see Prelude to a Scandal and Once Upon a Scandal), Delilah Marvelle provides a perfectly marvelous finish to a wonderful historical series.

Harriet Klausner