Thursday, June 30, 2011

Happy Birthday-Danielle Steel

Happy Birthday
Danielle Steel
Delacorte, Jul 19 2011, $28.00
ISBN: 9780385340304

Valerie Wyatt is the leader of home decoration. She has a popular television show and several bestselling books. Everyone in the media wants her as a guest or interviewee.

Her daughter April works as diligently as her mom. April is a master chef and owner of a popular trendy Manhattan restaurant. She is pregnant carrying Mike Steinman’s child, but is unsure whether to tell her lover or not. Besides the successful pair working extremely hard, they share in common the encroachment of an undesirable milestone birthday.

Jack Adams is a former NFL quarterback but retired a dozen years ago to become a diligent successful TV sports analyst. Women still want him, but as he turns fifty he feels his age after a night like none before leaves him in pain as if blindsided by a middle linebacker. He and Valerie meet and are attracted to one another.

Happy Birthday is an entertaining contemporary romance that fans of Danielle Steele will enjoy due to the two couples who garner reader empathy especially aging boomers. Although the story line is thin, readers will relish the birthday presents as two pairs of relationships are forged, but surviving in tact for the next milestone birthday remains to be seen as each person’s idiosyncrasies places some doubts on this occurring.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Redeeming Love-Francine Rivers

Redeeming Love
Francine Rivers
Multnomah, May 9 2005, $14.99
ISBN: 9781590525135

In 1835 eight year old Sarah became an orphan when mama died; she was sold into sexual slavery to an affluent citizen the Big Man who preferred little girls. He changed her name to Angel, but by the time she could escape she only know how to use her body to make a living.

In 1850 the prostitute arrives in California where she joins the stable of the infamous Duchess. Each night she is auctioned to the highest bidder as the most popular Cyprian. Michael Hosea the farmer heeds God’s words to redeem the whore. He spends his money to talk to Angel in hopes of persuading her to give up hooking. At first he fails on his mission, but Angel begins to slowly find self esteem and basks in God’s unconditional love that has her believing she can be more than a hooker.

This is reprint of a groundbreaking inspirational historical romance that uses real issues of pedophile, other depravities and prostitution to tell the heroine’s story of redemption. Angel makes the tale work as she is sold into prostitution but at the first opportunity becomes her own woman so she sets the foundation for her later belief in God and the love of Hosea. Although her repetitive running to and from Hosea makes sense for this doubting Thomasina soiled dove, these reiterations slow down the pace. Still, based on the Prophet Hosea’s relationship with Gomer the prostitute who God had him marry and show unconditional love for her even if she sleeps with other men, Redeeming Love remains an entertaining tale of the healing power of the Lord encouraging love.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How to Seduce a Scoundrel-Vicky Dreiling

How to Seduce a Scoundrel
Vicky Dreiling
Forever, Jun 28 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780446565387

In 1817 a rake of the first order the Earl of Hawkfield is shocked when his best friend the Duke of Shelbourne Tristan Gatewick asks a favor of him. Marc Darcett would do almost anything for Tristan, but he feels put out when requested to serve as guardian to the Duke’s sister for the season. Tristan explains that his mother will be with him while caring for his bed-ridden pregnant wife Tessa (see How to Marry a Duke) and the females in Marc’s family are with his Grandmamma who suffers from heart palpitations.

Lady Julianne Gatewick is attracted to Hawk, but assumes her regard is unrequited until he dances a waltz with her during the opening ball of the season. However, he busted her bubble when he simply walked away from her; making her the target of the whisperers. Julianne abetted by bodacious Lady Hester writes the outrageous A Lady’s Guide to Enticing Unrepentant Rakes. She heeds her own advice to trap Hawk who arrogantly tells the rookies to stay away from her. As her temporary guardian he escorts her around town and sets the rules for her season’s behavior, but she laughs at him except when he kisses her. SAs hawk falls in love but one dark secret keeps him from handing in his guardian hat to replace it with adoring husband hat.

This is a fun How To … Regency romance as a scoundrel’s code of conduct is broken once he dances a waltz with his friend’s sister. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Shelbourne asks Hawk for a favor and never looks back. A subplot involving a young lad adds poignancy to an entertaining historical.

Harriet Klausner

The Secret Mistress-Mary Balogh

The Secret Mistress
Mary Balogh
Delacorte, Jul 12 2011, $24.00
ISBN: 9780385343312

Sister to the Duke of Tresham Jocelyn, Lady Angeline Dudley wants a prim and proper gentleman as her husband after being surrounded by rakes. As she waits impatiently for Jocelyn to arrive, fiendish rake Lord Windrow assaults her; Earl Edward Ailsbury rescues her. His family thinks Lady Angeline is the perfect match for him; she agrees with their assessment.

No one asked Edward for his opinion. If they did he would reveal his secret love for Eunice Goddard. However Hurricane Angeline refuses to back away from her choice although she hides her doubts. He proposes but she demands passion and feels once she jumps his bones he will not be able to resist. As Angeline brings out the love and beast in her man, Edward brings out the need and desire in his woman.

The latest marvelous Mistress Regency romance (see A Secret Affair) is an amusing coupling of a rationalist with a romanticist. Edward cannot understand why logic fails to work in his dealings with emotional women while ardent Angeline cannot understand why her beloved remains prim with her. His behavior amplifies her insecurities. Fans will enjoy this comedy of errors as the proper noble and the spirited lady fall in love.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mistress of the Storm-Terri Brisbin

Mistress of the Storm
Terri Brisbin
Kensington Brava, Jul 1 2011, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758235206

In Scotland, Sigurd covets power; there is nothing this avaricouse individual would not do to gain more affluence. He even sells his stepdaughter Isabel to lairds or with connections willing to buy. She acquiesces to Sigurd’s pimping her in return keeping her sister Thora safe from this abomination and his family business.

Sigurd’s latest mark is Duncan a healer with ties to the king. Isabel stuns Duncan with her touch as he can feel it, which goes contrary to his otherworldly skills that always have diminished his senses. Duncan takes the whore to his holding to learn about the woman. She fears his kindness as men are nice when they want something. Watching him tenderly heal and seeing the aftermath of how much is taken out of her host, Isabel feels trapped as she is falling in love but must protect Thora even at the cost of her heart.

The fourth Storm paranormal medieval romance (see A Storm of Pleasure) is a terrific tale of good and evil; yet the key is the impact on innocent pawns. Action-packed in and out of the boudoir, fans will enjoy the war for Isabel’s heart soul between the kind healer who she loves and the malevolent stepfather who she loathes as her sibling is the bait.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa-Melanie Dobson

Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa
Melanie Dobson
Summerside, Jun 1 2011, $12.99
ISBN: 9781609361358

As the Civil War devastates the nation, the seven Amana Colonies villages constructed less than a decade ago in Iowa remain out of the deadly fray for the most part. Twenty-four year old hard working Amalie Wiese arrives from the Inspirationists' original Kolony, Ebenezer, New York at the Amana village to meet her betrothed Friedrich Vinzenz who has joined the Union Army after meeting an escaped slave.

Being a great cook; Mr. Faust believes the best ever on the trail; Amalie opens up a communal kitchen to keep her mind off her concerns over Friedrich’s safety. While waiting and praying for his return, she turns to Friedrich’s friends who she knew back in Ebenezer. However, her fiancé’s most trusted confidante Matthias is cold to her though she knows not why. He conceals behind his icy demeanor his love for his best friend’s woman.

Melanie Dobson escorts her readers back to the Amana Colonies (see Love Finds You In Homestead, Iowa) with an engaging Civil War drama. The story line digs deep into the personal conflict facing conscientious objectors opposed to the war on religious grounds as being “unholy” yet the Union argument of eliminating the evil of slavery is powerful and surely supported by God. Amalie and Matthias are strong antagonists who fall in love while the man in each of their hearts risks his life at the front. Friedrich knew his commune would buy him from serving after he was conscripted by the Union Army draft, but he felt slavery is unholier than the war. He brings the moral conscience to a powerful romantic triangle as love and war finds you in Amana.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Heiress in Love-Christina Brooke

Heiress in Love
Christina Brooke
St. Martin’s, Jun 28 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312534127

In 1814 Lord Fredrick Roxdale died leaving behind his grieving widow Lady Jane and her husband’s six years old nephew Luke. Jane inherited much of the wealth while Fredrick’s cousin Constantine "blackest of the Black” the title and the estate. However, what bothers Jane is he instead of her was named Luke’s guardian.

Jane obeyed the Ministry of Marriage’s order she marry Fredrick but though she cared for her late husband she vows not to marry again. Ironically Constantine has made the same pledge to never marry. However he arrives at the estate to offer her a marriage of convenience deal in which she gets to stay and raise her nephew while he obtains funds. Reluctantly she agrees, but he soon wants more emotionally from her.. As they fall in love, Jane and Constantine dream separately of a real marriage but fear trusting their heart with the other.

The first Ministry of Marriage Regency romance is a wonderful gender war as the lead couple fight, fuss and fall in love. Luke is a matchmaker in this marriage of convenience historical while Ministry marvelously muddles the muck with their intrusions. Readers will enjoy the battling Roxdale duet as they argue, lust and love.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Canary Island Song-Robin Jones Gunn

Canary Island Song
Robin Jones Gunn
Howard (Simon and Schuster), Jul 5 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9781416583417

Her husband Jeff died seven years ago, but Carolyn remains in the early phases of grief even as she has taken care of her sister and her nieces. Now with her aunt married and worried about her mom, twentyish Tikki lectures Carolyn to take care of her gracious self. Heeding her daughter’s advice, Carolyn decides to leave San Francisco to surprise her mother Abuela Teresa on her seventieth birthday with a visit to see her in the Canary Islands.

It has been years since Carolyn has set foot in the Canary Islands. Once there after a warm welcome by her mom, she meets her one time summer fling from high school Brian Spencer. Still attracted to him, she wonders if he ever outgrew his beach bum lifestyle and at her age she also ponders if not whether that is such a bad thing anyway.

This entertaining islands romance (see Maui Moon) is owned by Carolyn who comes home to rejuvenate her life. The support cast including the Canary Islands enhance the theme of grief may be customized to the individual, but loved ones must be there to help the anguished one remember never wait for tomorrow what you can do today. Although the story line is thin following an expected route, readers will enjoy visiting the Canary Islands guided by Carolyn, Brian and Abuela.

Harriet Klausner

Saved by her Embrace-Wayne Jordan

Saved by her Embrace
Wayne Jordan
Harlequin Kimani Romance, Jun 21 2011, $6.25
ISBN: 9780373862191

Sandra Walters distrusts men after she learns her boyfriend cheated on her. She dumped the rat and vowed never again to be romantically involved especially with a doctor.

In Barbados, Sandra attends the wedding of her BFF (see One Gentle Knight) and is attracted to another guest Dr. Troy Whitehall, but has vowed off physicians especially those like her ex and her father. The surgeon wants her. They share a night of lovemaking that neither will forget. He tries to persuade her to join him in round two, but she rejects another tryst. Her opinion on medical professionals remains intact that they cannot commit to anyone except their work. Troy has to find the cure to her heart, but first must break a physician rule of do not practice on yourself if he is to succeed.

This engaging Barbados romance (see Embracing the Moonlight) stars two likable lead protagonists who are attracted to one another but each has reasons that repel them from coming together. Troy likes the single life while Sandra has obsessive issues with white coats that symbolize men who don’t commit. Although Sandra’s anti doctor soliloquy is too frequent a refrain, fans will enjoy Troy breaking down her barriers (and his own) with love and impatience.

Harriet Klausner

Saved by her Embrace-Wayne Jordan

Saved by her Embrace
Wayne Jordan
Harlequin Kimani Romance, Jun 21 2011, $6.25
ISBN: 9780373862191

Sandra Walters distrusts men after she learns her boyfriend cheated on her. She dumped the rat and vowed never again to be romantically involved especially with a doctor.

In Barbados, Sandra attends the wedding of her BFF (see One Gentle Knight) and is attracted to another guest Dr. Troy Whitehall, but has vowed off physicians especially those like her ex and her father. The surgeon wants her. They share a night of lovemaking that neither will forget. He tries to persuade her to join him in round two, but she rejects another tryst. Her opinion on medical professionals remains intact that they cannot commit to anyone except their work. Troy has to find the cure to her heart, but first must break a physician rule of do not practice on yourself if he is to succeed.

This engaging Barbados romance (see Embracing the Moonlight) stars two likable lead protagonists who are attracted to one another but each has reasons that repel them from coming together. Troy likes the single life while Sandra has obsessive issues with white coats that symbolize men who don’t commit. Although Sandra’s anti doctor soliloquy is too frequent a refrain, fans will enjoy Troy breaking down her barriers (and his own) with love and impatience.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

So Sensitive-

So Sensitive
Anne Rainey
Kensington Aphrodisia, Jul 1 2011, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758239006

Gracie Baron has ignored the flattering emails from an unknown person whose closing salutation is “Your Admirer”. That changes when someone purposely forces her off the road, severely injuring her. She admits an unknown dangerous person stalks her.

For several months, private investigator Wade Harrison has been asking his friend’s assistant Gracie on a date, but she always says no. When Wade learns of the accident, he refuses to take no for an answer as he moves in with her to keep her safe. When the attacks increase, Wade concludes the predator knows Gracie personally as her adversary seems aware of too much info for a stranger to possess. Wade eventually persuades Gracie to accept him as her loving Dom and she is his cherished Sub, but first comes her safety.

So Sensitive is a fabulous erotic romantic suspense as Wade and Gracie make a wonderful couple while the unknown stalker adds tension to the entertaining story line. Even with the BDSM encounters preoccupying his lower head, Wade leaves some blood in his upper head as he never loses sight of his missions to win Sarah’s heart (he has her vagina) and to end a predator’s terrorizing of his beloved Sub.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Her Cowboy Daddy-Cathy Gillen Thacker

Her Cowboy Daddy
Cathy Gillen Thacker
Harlequin American, Jul 5 2011, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373753673

In Laramie, Texas thirty-four years old Jeb McCabe earned his notoriety when he jilted his fiancée Avalynne at the altar ten years ago. He is in Houston visiting his long time friend Cady Keilor who mysteriously asked him to see her. She informs her buddy who she has hidden her love for him for years that the Stork Agency believes they have a baby for her. Jeb agrees to accompany Cady to meet the teen mom Tina.

Her sister Suki and her brother-in-law Herman are going to Australia on a film project. Cady will watch her three nephews all under five years old for two weeks. He has doubts she can do it and she ends up betting him he could not last a week with them. As Dalton, Finn and Micah run wild with only Jeb able to keep them in line, the cowboy realizes he loves Cady.

This is a warm Texas romance with a strong support cast (especially three rambunctious boys) and two wonderful lead characters. The story line is fun as Jeb realizes he is in love, but needs to reveal the truth about what really happened a decade ago. Readers will appreciate this fine drama as good intentions may have paved the way to hell.

Harriet Klausner

The Bull Rider’s Secret-Marin Thomas

The Bull Rider’s Secret
Marin Thomas
Harlequin American, Jul 5 2011, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373753680

Brody Murphy rides into Bandera, Texas as part of his escaping the tragedy of his past as a cowhand in Montana. Since his five year old girl Angel died two years ago, he roams from town to town as a wanderer who is stinky at his vocation, bull riding. He decides to enter the Hog Explosion but needs a partner for the hog-catching contest; so Brody enlists thirteen year old Ricky Sovo though neither has any experience. They succeed though the teen gets a split lip when they collide.

As they wait to learn if they are the solo winners Ricky tells Brody his single mom Katarina is a farrier and he rarely sees his dad Dwayne. After splitting their share of the winnings, Brody gives Ricky a ride to the Wild Rose Ranch where his mom is in charge of the wild horses. Unable to stay out of a dispute she was having with two cowhands (Roger and Clyde), Brody intercedes. They leave threatening Kat and Brody. She persuades him to stay and help her, but as they fall in love he wonders how long before he wanders

Brody is a refreshing individual who knows he stinks at bull riding but as Kat tells him how good does not matter as he on a suicide mission since he blames his Angel’s death on his selfishness. Kat has issues as single mom who had her child as a teen and Ricky has emotional problems with knowing his dad rejected him. These three forge a family if Brody can end his rolling stone death wish.

Harriet Klausner

Invitation to Italian-Tracy Kelleher

Invitation to Italian
Tracy Kelleher
Harlequin SuperRomance, Jul 5 2011, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373717217

University Hospital of Grantham obstetrician Dr. Julie Antonelli and the CEO cardiologist Dr. Sebastiano Fonterra disagree on care as he understands the bottom line while she focuses exclusively on the patient. Though the hospital has foreign language assistants; Julie enrolls in an adult class Italian Conversation. However, she is taken aback when the instructor is Sebastiano.

She becomes the teacher’s pet as he teachers her about the importance of family and love. As they fall in love, both contain baggage that keeps them from committing. She feels survivor guilt due to a driving incident that killed her friend and he feels desertion guilt for leaving his wife after their child died. If both fail to move on, what could be a lifetime of love will never happen.

Ignoring Julie’s sudden impulsive enrollment in an adult education class, Invitation to Italian is a terrific contemporary medical romance due to the strong lead couple. Each has remorse holding them back. Character driven, readers will enjoy Julie and Sebastiano trying to move on to each otherwhile struggling to let go of the past.

Harriet Klausner

Beyond Ordinary-Mary Sullivan

Beyond Ordinary
Mary Sullivan
Harlequin SuperRomance, Jul 5 2011, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373717170

After her friend Neil died in a biking accident, grieving Angel Donovan drops out of college to return home to Ordinary, Montana. The motorcycle she was riding ran out of gas so she was going to ignite it in honor of Neil, but the Ordinary Citizen Newspaper owner Timm Franck intercedes before she causes a wildfire in the dry heated land.

Timm wants Angel as he always has, but sees her as shallow and unable to look past his horrific burn scars to the inner man. He affirms his belief she is a loser when he learns her role in her friend Neil’s death. However, he revises his opinion as he and Angel begin to see one another because like he accused her, he previously failed to get passed the shallow wild siren to the inner caring woman.

Beyond Ordinary is an engaging Big Sky romance starring two indivduals with baggage. The story line is character driven as she struggles with survivor guilt and grief and he with being a loner since the burns. Readers will enjoy the scarred reporter and the wild dropout falling in love.

Harriet Klausner

The Husband Lesson-Jeanie London

The Husband Lesson
Jeanie London
Harlequin SuperRomance, Jul 5 2011, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373717163

In the Catskills Karan Kowalski Steinberg-Reece is unfairly convicted of a DUI by Judge “Wannabe Jenny” who loathes her due to her cheerleading in high school. Karan had one glass of Champagne but her low sugar caused her to fail the sobriety test. Rather than spend fifteen days in jail for her first offense, she does community service at New Hope of Bluestone Mountain domestic violence shelter.

Karan’s former husband Dr. Charles Steinberg is irate and appalled to learn his ex wife will be doing 360 hours of court ordered community service at the shelter as he thinks she is worthless. His diligent partner Dr. Rhonda Camden agreed when approached by Police Chief Jack Sloan who in high school was dating Karan. Though unfair for a first offender, Karan knows she must let go of her ire if she is to avoid jail time. However as the former spouses battle but realizes they remain in love, Karan shocks everyone including herself when she proves a major asset to the women and children at the shelter.

The key to this entertaining second chance at love is the baggage of the lead characters. He is angry at her for dumping him while she is angry at the Judge for her unfair retaliatory (from high school) sentencing. Readers and eventually Charles will realize that Karan’s flippant attitude hides her insecurities that she is only a pretty heiress with no redeeming qualities. Enhanced by a strong look at the problems of a shelter, The Husband Lesson is a wonderful contemporary.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Wedding Wager-Jane Feather

A Wedding Wager
Jane Feather
Pocket, Jun 21 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439145258

In 1762 to inherit his late uncle’s estate, Sebastian Sullivan like his two brothers must marry a fallen woman. Apparently his sibling Jasper has succeeded (see Rushed to the Altar). However, Sebastian frets that he has only one choice as he knows only a single fallen female Lady Serena Grantley, who he loathes for betraying him by leaving for the continent with her guardian her stepfather General George Heyward.

When Serena’s mother died, Heyward wasted his stepdaughter’s inheritance on gambling and women, and used her to seduce inane males to the tables. Now she and the General are back in London but nothing has changed including Sebastian wanting to marry her though his reason is different. However, the general has sold her to pay off his debts with only Sebastian able to save her

The second Blackwater Brides Georgian romance is a warm second chance at love tale starring a desperate sibling and a soiled dove. The subplot involving the devious amoral general adds suspenseful depth to what would otherwise be a thin plot; but also never explains why Serena left with her wicked stepfather rather than stay with her beloved Sebastian. Still the middle Sullivan story is a fun historical.

Harriet Klausner

Seduction and Scandal-Charlotte Featherstone

Seduction and Scandal
Charlotte Featherstone
Harlequin HQN, Jun 21 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373775873

Born in scandal, illegitimate Isabella Fairmont plans on a prim and proper marriage. She wants her life to be serene even if it means passionless to her British Museum Curator of Medieval Studies Mr. Knighton who prefers dirt to her.

Her fantasies are the opposite as she dreams of being the heroine in the gothic novel that she serendipitously is writing. Death is the protagonist of her tale as a dark, sexy hunk. However, Isabella is stunned when she meets her “death” in the Earl of Black who never steps out of his “mausoleum”. Their waltz shatters her marital thoughts However Black hides his reason for dancing with her. He investigates her fiancé who appears to have found information on his family’s ancient, secret organization. Although he conceals the truth from her, a betrayal has Black risking his life to keep Isabella safe.

The first Brethren Guardians thriller is a terrific exciting Victorian romantic suspense as Black is pulled in two directions by his heart as his duty must come before his love. Isabella is a brave protagonist caught between her obsession to avoid scandal even at the cost of her happiness and her growing attraction to the enigmatic Black. Loaded with twists, Seduction and Scandal is fabulous opening act with Isabella’ best friend Lucy stepping to the plate in the next Brethren Guardians historical.

Harriet Klausner

Mystical Warrior-Janet Chapman

Mystical Warrior
Janet Chapman
Pocket, Jun 28 2011, $6.99
ISBN: 9781439159903

In eleventh century Scotland, Fiona Gregor was raped and died. For the next millennia she was a hawk helping her siblings heal fractured souls.

In the twenty-first century Maximilian “Mac” Oceanus the wizard returns Fiona to her former female human form. However, all those centuries she never lost the horrific memory of the brutal assault. Her brothers fear that Fiona not only has never moved on passed the attack but will be unable to cope with twenty-first century life. Still they feel they need to leave her alone to do so; like tossing a child into a pool to learn to swim. They arrange for her to stay in am apartment owned by a friend, former Afghan veteran now a New England lobsterman Trace Huntsman. When demons attack Mac, Fiona and Trace are caught in the crossfire.

The latest Midnight Bay Warrior romantic urban fantasy (see Moonlight Warrior and Dragon Warrior) showcases Janet Chapman incredible talent as she combines humor with suspense and romance starring two wounded warriors. The story line is character driven as Trace and Fiona find love but both understands she needs to find her land and sea legs after soaring for centuries. Their leisurely relationship pace is abruptly ended with the Big Mac attack. Mystical Warrior is a superb entry in one of the best urban fantasy series on today’s market.

Harriet Klausner

Deceived by Others-Jess Haines

Deceived by Others
Jess Haines
Zebra, Jul 1 2011, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420111897

New York based private investigator Shiarra Waynest and her boyfriend Chaz the werewolf are vacationing in the Catskills. She was especially looking for 24/7 sex in their remote cabin. However, she knows his pack will spend the full moon howling with them as he hopes his clan accepts her though he fears most of his brood will be irate with Shiarra’s professional association with vampires.

However, their alone time is disrupted when someone breaks into their cabin and trashes it. The culprit left behind several nasty notes filled with rage especially at Shiarra but also at Chaz for carousing with the enemy. Soon after a pack member assaults Shiarra and she learns her boyfriend has another female. Knowing it is time to go home, she leaves.

The third H&W Investigations (see Hunted by the Others and Taken by the Others) is an entertaining tale but feels like a transition set up novel as no major subplot is resolved. Still series fans will enjoy the fast-paced thriller that establishes several threads for future entities, which includes the lead couple having to deal with cross-species issues.

Harriet Klausner

Lure of the Wicked-Karina Cooper

Lure of the Wicked
Karina Cooper
Avon, Jun 28 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780062046901

In New Seattle Holy Order of St. Dominic witch hunter Naomi Ishikawa West reluctantly agrees to pretend to be an heiress at the luxurious Timeless spa. She hates her mission of surveillance of a man who murdered two church officials because to Naomi this assignment feels like the missionary prison the Church took her out of.

At Timeless, Naomi rushes from the elevator into spa owner Phinneas Clarke’s arms; where she almost ruined his family jewels with a knee lift. He conceals his family secrets and his witch rescuing underground activity behind the respectability of Timeless. However, naïve nice Naomi has him wondering if there is more to life under the church’s tyranny.

The latest Dark Mission futuristic romantic urban fantasy (see Blood of the Wicked) is an exciting thriller with a strong cast anchored by the lead couple. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Naomi knees Phinneas and never slows down until the final confrontation. Although the post apocalyptic world of Cooper is not further enhanced from the setting of Blood of the Wicked even with a stop in Old Seattle, sub-genre fans will appreciate this exhilarating tale.

Harriet Klausner

Embraced by Blood-Laurie London

Embraced by Blood
Laurie London
Harlequin HQN, Jun 21 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373775866

Former undercover Guardian Alfonso Serrano the vampire went undercover to help the agency prevent the deadly Darkbloods from trafficking in human Sweetbloods. However, the Enforcer and his brother Alfonso killed the Darkblood overlord Pavlos (see Bonded by Blood).

Alfonso is now trying to regain his life that he placed on hold. An assassin wants him and anyone he cares about dead. While he is unaware of his stalker, Alfonso wants a second chance with the love of his life Tracker Lily DeGraff. She, on the other hand, is concerned with what his return means to heart as he previously broke hers; additionally something is not right with her abilities. Meanwhile the Darkbloods announce their intent when they abduct one of Lily’s students.

The second Sweetblood urban fantasy is an entertaining thriller as the various subplots contain suspense, intrigue and romance in the dark London world where two known Vampire factions are at war over the humans. The story line is fast-paced when the Guardian and Tracker are in the field; the novel slows down somewhat when the subplot focuses on Alfonso’s second chance quest too frequently rejected by fearful Lily. Still readers will enjoy this overall fun tale as Bellingham in the Pacific Northwest has become a hotbed of biting vampiric activity.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Give Me A Texas Outlaw-Jodi Thomas, Linda Broday, Phyllis Miranda and DeWanna Pace

Give Me A Texas Outlaw
Jodi Thomas, Linda Broday, Phyllis Miranda and DeWanna Pace
Zebra, Jul 1 2011, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420111736

“The Outlaw” by Jodi Thomas. In 1852 Cozette Camanez’s dying father gives control of the family ranch to his brother unless his daughter marries. She explains she has a fiancé, but made him up. Due to his bumbling uncles, outlaw Michael Hughes is trapped at her ranch, but agrees to marry her so she can own the spread and he can keep his uncles from jail.

“Trouble in Petticoats” by Linda Broday. In 1878, Larissa Patrick’s father hires gunman Johnny Bravo to recue his youngest daughter kidnapped by outlaws. He goes out alone, but the victim’s older sister Larissa follows him until he is forced to allow her to accompany him.

“Texas Flame” by Phyllis Miranda. In 1889 Ranger Ethan Kimble catches debutante bank robber Savannah Parker. Before he takes her to jail, she explains to him what led her to become a bank robber.

“Most Wanted” by DeWanna Pace. In 1888 Shadow Rivers owes a personal debt he pays off by keeping Odessa Kilmore safe from those who want her dead.

The latest “Give me A Texas …” western romance collection contains four fine diverse tales. Although the story lines are thin except for Phyllis Miranda's complicated "Texas Flame" sub-genre fans will enjoy traveling the Lone Star State with these outlaws and the women in peril who tame them.

Harriet Klausner

Stay-Allie Larkin

Allie Larkin
Plume, Jun 10 2011, $25.95
ISBN: 9780525951711

Although she put on a happy face, Savannah “Van” Leone is heartbroken having watched as the maid of honor Peter Clarke who, she has loved for several years wed her best friend Janie. Van combines a Rin Tin Tin marathon with vodka. Drunk, she buys a German shepherd puppy on line.

However, her canine arrives but is not a cute little dog, but instead is a humongous Slovakian police dog; she calls her roommate Joe. Bigger than a gorilla, the neighbors fear Joe as does Van’s devastated furniture. However owner and pet become best buddies as she tells him about her broken heart made worse when the couple come home from their honeymoon. Still Joe rejects her moping around; pushing his significant other towards a new romantic interest.

Van and Joe makes this warm contemporary romance fun to read as she struggles with unrequited love and a humongous canine demanding she move on. The support cast can be distracting as there seems to be enough to fill the Hartford Civic Center though each contains diverse personalities but especially eccentric Louis. Fans will enjoy Van finding her groove after believing she lost it forever.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Waking Up With the Duke-Lorraine Heath

Waking Up With the Duke
Lorraine Heath
Avon, Jun 28 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780062022455

In 1860 in Leicestershire, the Marquess of Walfort tells his friend the Duke of Ainsley he owes him. A few years ago when hey were in their twenties, the two cousins got drunk celebrating the pregnancy of Walfort’s wife Jayne. Driving the carriage under the influence led to an accident that left Walfort a paraplegic unable to move his legs and as he informs Ainsley his penis. He demands Ainsley seduce Jayne and make her pregnant with his heir. Filled with guilt for destroying four lives, he acquiesces.

Jayne loathes the man she holds culpable for her husband’s paralysis and the loss of her baby. However, she reluctantly agrees to spend a month with Ainsley, but under her rules. As passion ignites between them and Jayne sees a caring remorseful Duke, they begin to fall in love. However, neither wants to hurt Walfort and learn of Cousin Ralph’s threats.

Although somewhat linear as the story line goes as expected, readers will appreciate this profound Victorian romance that digs deeply into extended family dynamics and the moving relationship between Lord and Lady Walfort. Character driven by the complexities of the one size fits all rules of the Ton on the triangle; readers will relish the tale of the third of London's Greatest Lovers (see Passions of a Wicked Earl and Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman).

Harriet Klausner

Silk Is For Seduction-Loretta Chase

Silk Is For Seduction
Loretta Chase
Avon, Jun 28 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061632686

Offspring of two notorious (infamous on both sides of the Channel) con artists, the sisters Noroit (Marcelline, Sophia and Leonie), own Maison Noroit. By 1835 their London dress shop is growing rapidly but the competition is nasty. Still the siblings think they need one major patron to turn their business into the must fashion stop of the English and French aristocracy.

Marcelline believes she has just the candidate when she learns the Duke of Clevedon is to marry. She travels to Paris to persuade the Duke in the family’s seductive way to send his fiancée Lady Clara Fairfax to Maison Noroit for her wedding gown. Her scheme is perfect as she flirts with the Duke; however, Marcelline soon realizes it is too perfect as the Duke ignores Lady Clara for the dressmaker. As she finds herself falling in love, a cross Channel gender war ignites.

The keys to this offbeat wonderful tale is the eccentric cast as the Duke realizes his Marcelline does not have a pure dark heart of avarice, but instead has a need to help those she appears to con (just ask Clara) though she has to make nation exits rather quickly. She takes Paris by storm as a “Dreadful DeLucey” and a “Notorious Noroit” who seduces a duke to chase after her. Amusing and filled with wit, pre Victorian romance fans will look forward to a pair of other con artists to follow.

Harriet Klausner

Loved by a Warrior-Donna Fletcher

Loved by a Warrior
Donna Fletcher
Avon, Jun 28 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061934728

Four bandits trap the beautiful woman, but as Reeve MacAlpin observes from his concealment, none braved a step towards her as they feared her as the “death bride”. They debated amongst themselves how to rob her and decided that to void the curse they must kill her. Reeve comes out of his hiding place to run them off.

Tara explains she is widow two times plus other loved ones have died as she knows she is cursed to kill those she loves. Her father has arranged for her third spouse, but this time she decides to vanish instead of having another corpse as a mate. They travel together, but many assailants stalk them. As the pair forges a relationship, he takes her to his family for her safety. He is in love, but she fears his death due to the curse that will kill him.

The second early eleventh century MacAlpin brothers’ Scottish romance (see Bound to a Warrior) is an exhilarating refreshing medieval tale due predominately to what the curse does mentally to Tara and how Reeve reacts to it. Fast-paced but driven by the wonderful lead couple, readers will enjoy Donna Fletcher saga of “siblings” prophesied to raise the True King onto the Scottish throne.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Lady’s Lesson In Scandal-Meredith Duran

A Lady’s Lesson In Scandal
Meredith Duran
Pocket, Jun 28 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781451606935

Her dying mother stuns her poverty-stricken daughter Nell Whitby who works in a factory when she says go visit the Earl of Rushdon. When she does the new Earl Simon St. Maur is stunned at first sight and shows her why. She looks at a portrait of the missing heiress, Lady Katherine, daughter of the previous late Earl of Rushdon.

Simon offers Nell a deal. He will mentor her on proper behavior if she becomes his wife in a marriage of convenience so he can share in the wealth she would inherit. Ironically in spite of her looking identical to the lost heiress, Simon believes he is fostering a fake on Polite Society. However, he struggles to change her from pistol carrying slum dweller into an aristocratic lady. Worse he has fallen in love with his student who begins to question her first impression that her teacher is a scoundrel.

With a nod to Shaw’s Pygmalion, Anastasia and Dickens, this great Victorian romance looks deeply at factory conditions, medical care for poor women and children, and shelter in the slums inside a warm gender battle. Brave Nell is more than arrogant Simon’s match. With a terrific twist (no Dickens’ pun intended), readers will enjoy the mystery of whether Nell is the lost heir or not.

Harriet Klausner

Tamed by a Highlander-Paula Quinn

Tamed by a Highlander
Paula Quinn
Forever, Jul 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780446552363

In 1678 Connor Grant left the Highlands to join the forces of English King Charles II. He pledged to his beloved Mairi MacGregor that he will return to her. While he is away, Mairi learns swordplay.

In 1685 Mairi is undercover at the English King’s court. Her mission is to determine who has betrayed the Highlanders as families and whole villages have been murdered and destroyed based on religious persecution. She thinks Connor is one of the traitors especially after they meet at court. Still in love, he tries to persuade Mairi he has not betrayed his people. Meanwhile in the shadows the traitor watches both of them preparing to pounce if need be.

The latest MacGregor seventeenth century romance (see Seduced by a Highlander and Ravished by a Highlander) is an engaging tale that emphasizes the complexity of the Scottish-English relationships even with the Stuart dynasty sitting on the thrones of the entire British Isles. The story line is fast-paced as courageous Mairi banned by her father from coming home to fight goes undercover while believing her beloved betrayed his people and their love. This Highlander historical is terrific due to the battling lead couple struggling to identify a traitor in dangerous times.

Harriet Klausner

This Perfect Kiss-Melody Thomas

This Perfect Kiss
Melody Thomas
Avon, Jun 28 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061898761

In 1775 Saundra sprains her ankle leaving her bedridden and unable to attend a gala. Her cousin Christel Douglas borrows the gown and sneaks into the masked ball. Her slipper falls off her foot and Camden St. Giles picks it up. He kisses her. However, Camden marries Saundra while Christel leaves Scotland for America where she marries and becomes a widow.

It is almost a decade since the kiss that shook her core, but now Christel finally comes home to watch over her late cousin’s child. Camden is not the man she remembers as he suffered injuries during the war with the colonies and cannot believe his side lost. She hears rumors about Saundra’s death and he believes she killed those who murdered her husband. As they are wary of each other, the kiss remains burned in both of their souls.

This Perfect Kiss is an exciting Georgian romance filled with betrayal, twists and spins. The key support cast is fully developed but it is the lead couple who makes the tale entertaining as each has lost their mate in some ways to the recent colonial revolt, but has each other if they can trust their heart. Melody Thomas provides an engaging historical second chance at love.

Harriet Klausner

A Matter of Scandal-Suzanne Enoch

A Matter of Scandal
Suzanne Enoch
Avon, Aug 28 2001, $7.99
ISBN: 9780380818501

The Earl of Haverly, Dennis Hawthorne asks his nephew Greydon Brakenridge, the Duke of Wycliffe to come to his remote estate in Hampshire during the London season. Needing an excuse to flee the females of the Ton including his mother, Grey leaves for Haverly Manor. However, he fails to rid himself of all his troubles as an entourage accompanies him.

Grey’s uncle has accumulated bad debts, but refuses to allow his nephew to pay it off. Instead he asks Grey to come up with a plan to help him with his financial crisis. Grey starts by raising the rents on the tenants including the Miss Grenville’s Academy. The schoolmistress Emma Grenville argues with Grey that tripling her rent will shut down the school, but he believes that is no loss as these finishing schools are really marriage brokers. Still Grey cannot ignore how pretty Emma is when she makes a bet with him on whether she could persuade him that females deserve a formal education. When they placed the bet, neither one expected her at the center of a school for scandal debacle nor for love to grow between them.

Reprint of A MATTER OF SCANDAL is a refreshing Regency romance that completes Suzanne Enoch’s gregarious “With This Ring” series. The story line centers on the war of the sexes as Grey and Emma clash over female education as much as their love for one another. Through her shrewd characters, Ms. Enoch provides a perceptive perusal of the options facing aristocratic women in the early nineteenth century England inside a strong romance that will delight sub-genre fans.

Harriet Klausner

Lord of Shadows-Alix Rickloff

Lord of Shadows
Alix Rickloff
Pocket, Jun 28 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439170373

In 1815 in Ireland, Lady Sabrina Douglas leaves her feuding clan following the murder of her father to live at a cloister where the otherworldly Danu sisterhood has hidden the hybrid fae-human for seven years. Sabrina has become Sister of High Danu, studying the underworld, protecting and hiding the Others and also working as a healer.

A severely scarred male washes ashore in a near death state. She heals the body of man who suffers from amnesia, but feels a need to help him recover his memory and heal his soul. The Abbess names him Daigh MacLir who begins to recover his memories; as he does he feels an incredible out of control rage and has superhuman skills. Sabrina and her patient share past life memories as they fall in love, but fear they have done so futilely before. Yet Daigh risks all even his relationship with his beloved to defeat the evil that owns his soul because his Sabrina deserves no less from him

The second Heirs of Kilronan paranormal Regency romance (see Earl of Darkness) is an engaging tale with a mystery involving the haunting of Daigh. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the healer and the scarred male meet and never slows down as evil must be confronted. Although the use throughout the novel of a series of fragmented phrases enhance the foreboding dark atmosphere, this technique also makes the sentence structure feel off kilter; for instance the description of the rectory as seen by the lead male. Still fans will enjoy Alix Rickloff’s latest entertaining Douglas clan saga.

Harriet Klausner

The Tarnished Lady-Sandra Hill

The Tarnished Lady
Sandra Hill
Avon, Jun 28 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780062019134

At one time Lady Eadyth was known as the Silver Jewel of Northumbria. That was before she had an illegitimate child in 946 AD that led to her being dubbed as the Tarnished Jewel. Eadyth needs a husband to protect her and her offspring from a nasty brute who plans to gain custody of her son.

Needing a bodacious plan, Eadyth marches into Ravenshire Castle to persuade that barbaric “loathsome lout" Lord to marry her. He is aghast by her hag looks and her sassy mouth. However, instead of rejecting his guest’s strange proposal, he becomes interested when he learns who sired her son. Eirik plans to use Eadyth as a pawn to get to his adversary who is also her son’s father. He will be further stunned when he learns what she really looks like but trouble is fomented by their common enemy and leaves them in peril.

This is a reprint of a 1990s award winning tenth century Viking romance starring two battling Vikings in love and a common vile enemy. The story line is fast-paced with a humorous Sandra Hill trademark romance although the adversary is stereotyped detracting from their jocular gender war.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tailspin-Cara Summers

Cara Summers
Harlequin Blaze, Jun 21 2011, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373796267

Nash Fortune of the Denver Fortune five hundred is teaching flying at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. However, he has been bored except when he flies. His grandmother Maggie believes Nash’s problem is he let go of the right woman, his high school girlfriend though the elderly woman knows they were too young for anything permanent.

Thus she hires the former sweetheart nonfiction author Bianca Quinn to write the definitive Fortune family saga. Her objective is to see whether the sparks still could light up the Mile High city. Bianca also is writing a true crime story about a cold case involving a missing cadet in which Nash is a prime source of information. While grandmother’s theory proves right, someone else wants the inquiry dropped and will kill to assure this happens.

This exhilarating second chance romantic suspense is a gripping frantic tale as the Quinn inquiry proves dangerous to her life while her interlude with Fortune proves dangerous to her heart. Although the two subplots never quite determine which is the main theme, readers will enjoy the hectic thriller as matchmaking Maggie knows best.

Harriet Klausner

Wicked Pleasures-Tori Carrington

Wicked Pleasures
Tori Carrington
Harlequin Blaze, Jun 21 2011, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373796274

Lazarus Security Lincoln Williams is tracking down Billy “the Bank Robber” Johnson. He knows his best bet to capturing the escaped convict is through Billy’s former girlfriend, Regina Dodson. However though he understands duty being a former marine and ex FBI agent, Linc wants Regina.

He rationalizes that he can watch her much closer if he sleeps with her. After a chili powder shower, Linc realizes he will never have enough of this woman even after the surveillance is done and Billy is caught but fears how she will react when he confesses to her.

The lead couple heat up the sheets and a full other hot spots in this engaging romantic suspense as both find Undeniable Pleasures (see Reckless Pleasures) with each other. Although at times the sexual encounters supersede the Billy subplot in which kidnapping and breaking and entering occur. Sub-genre fans will enjoy the match-up of Linc and Regina though he breaks the rule of surveillance (mindful of the Dreyfuss character in the movie Stakeout) while also wondering can their relationship survive Billy and after chili what next?

Harriet Klausner

The Amish Nanny-Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould

The Amish Nanny
Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould
Harvest House, Jul 1 2011, $13.99
ISBN: 9780736938617

Amish Ada Rupp must decide between joining the faithful and hopefully landing Widower Will Gundy as her mate or leaving. Both are viable options since she met for the first time her sister Lexie Jaeger who helped her understand her illness and is marrying James Nolan in Aurora, Oregon (see The Amish Midwife). However, a chance to travel to Switzerland as a companion to Will’s daughter Christy enables Ada to learn about her ancestors especially her birth mother who gave her to the Amish.

Ada obtains help from Daniel Hart the Mennonite scholar who she likes, but Will occupies her heart and soul. However, it is grief stricken no longer caring about anything or anyone Christy who grabs her soul as The Amish nanny wants to help the tweener move on.

The second Women of Lancaster County tale (see The Amish Midwife) series focuses on suddenly confused Ada who knew her path until she met her sibling for the first time. Now she has an alternative and a quest. Readers will appreciate this engaging Amish romance as a second Mennonite romance of Ada’s traveling companion Morgan and insight to the life (past and present of the Plain people make for a fine at times amusing novel.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Deadly Silence-Lindsay McKenna

Deadly Silence
Lindsay McKenna
Harlequin HQN, Jun 21 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373775842

Casey Cantrell never recovered mentally from a brutal beating while at Colorado State University. Upon graduating she becomes a forest ranger to conceal her fears. Her first assignment is giving a lecture on raptors to second graders.

Firefighter Lieutenant Matthew Sinclaire’s wife died in an arson-set blaze. Their eight years old daughter Megan called 911 but could not save her mommy as she and Tickle Me Elmo escape the inferno. Suffering from survivor guilt as she feels she failed her mommy, Megan has a deep rooted child form of post traumatic stress disorder, which has left her mute.

At the lecture Casey is kind to Megan who becomes very attached to the ranger. Matt sees the connection between a woman he is attracted to and his daughter. Casey feels for the child and likes the father, but has own issues. However irate Senator Carter Peyton loathes Matt who he holds culpable for his first wife and two children dying in a blaze near Jackson Hole; he will destroy anyone the firefighter cherishes such as Casey.

Deadly Silence is a character driven suspense thriller Matt and Carter grieve their respective losses but react differently to the deaths of their loved ones. Although Peyton’s lunatic “eye for an eye” logic can be arguably caused by grief turning him insane, he remains in my mind as way over the top of the Grand Tetons. With a strong romantic subplot between two cautious adults to enhance the taut thriller, fans will appreciate the warmth of loving nurturing helping a little child regain her zest for life.

Harriet Klausner

Shameless-Anne Stuart

Anne Stuart
Mira, Jul 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778312970

In 1842 to Polite Society, Viscount Benedick Rohan is cold and cynical. However, he hides from the Ton how much the death of his two wives has impacted his soul. Benedick knows he needs another spouse to birth the heir and spare, but will choose one that cannot bring out his passionate need; he will go elsewhere to satiate his desires. Thus he seeks a “biddable bride”.

Widow Lady Melisande “Charity” Carstairs helps soiled doves start over. When she learns Rohan’s younger brother Brandon has resurrected the family’s notorious Heavenly Host, she vehemently visits Benedick with demands. She insists he act as young women have recently vanished with her believing the Heavenly Host is abducting them. Benedick is shocked with how much he wants Monsoon Melisande and she is as stunned with her desire for the rakish Rohan. They team up to investigate who is behind the change to the Host from orgies to satanic rituals.

Victorian romance readers will enjoy visiting The House of Rohan (see The Wicked House of Rohan and Ruthless) as the family is known to be Shameless when it comes to seducing women. Benedick is no different except he soon finds his Charity seducing him. The entertaining story line is fast-paced as Benedict and Melisande argue, fuss and fight with her dive first into danger mentality. Still in spite of or perhaps due to the seduction war, they team up in love and their inquiry into the Heavenly Host out of concern for the innocent (Charity’s motive) and his brother (Rohan’s motive).

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Courtesan’s Guide to Getting Your Man-Celeste Bradley and Susan Donovan

Courtesan’s Guide to Getting Your Man
Celeste Bradley and Susan Donovan
St. Martin’s, May 24 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312532567

Boston Museum Culture and Society curator Piper Chase-Pierpont knows she is a shy mouse especially when it comes to her colleague Mick Malloy who she secretly loves. She becomes excited when she obtains the nineteenth century memoir of an English courtesan Blackbird.

Piper reads the journal and learns why Ophelia fought to free everyone after being locked in Newgate and trapped by a scandalous trial. The modern day curator applies Ophelia’s advice to win the heart of Mick by doing a total makeover from mouse to lioness.

A bit over the top of the Green Monster and Big Ben as neither subplot seems likely; the Courtesan’s Guide to Getting Your Man is a whimsical romance in which a nineteenth century woman’s memoir works for a twenty-first centrum social media savvy professional female. Rotating perspectives between the past and present, readers will root for both women to achieve their respective objective. Celeste Bradley and Susan Donovan team up to provide readers with an entertaining charmer.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, June 10, 2011

Burning Down the Spouse-Dakota Cassidy

Burning Down the Spouse
Dakota Cassidy
Berkley, Jul 5 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425241080

In Riverbend, New Jersey, when Frankie Bennett learns her spouse of eighteen years TV Chef Mitch of Mitch in the Kitchen is cheating on her she explodes on national TV. He divorces her leaving her with a broken down car and Kiki the dog due to the pre-nuptial agreement that gives her nada. Suffering from depression she remains in bed in her Aunt Gail’s retirement apartment when Maxine Barker arrives, insisting Frankie not let a SOB like Mitch ruin her life.

Maxine takes Frankie to the Greek Meets Eat Diner where owner Nikos Antonakus interviews her. He insists he has no idea who she is or who Mitch is. He hires her even if she cannot boil water. His brother Cosmos lectures him for lying to Frankie, but he says he owes Maxine and likes Gail. Nikos actually cheered for Frankie when she ripped Mitch’s head off on TV. Mitch calls the diner to speak to Frankie. Nikos’ mama Voula mentions Bad Mitch to Frankie who refuses to speak to Mitch. As Nikos and Frankie fall in love, someone helps Bad Mitch steal Voula’ secret meat loaf recipe; Nikos blames Frankie.

The second Ex-Trophy Wives contemporary romance (see You Dropped a Blonde on Me) is an enjoyable story line that remains almost exclusively focused on the prime plot of the lead female returning to life after a major depression. The ensemble cast is solid with diverse personalities and even includes a secondary romance. Although unethical behavior and poor hurtful judgments are forgiven too easily, readers will enjoy Frankie finds her groove.

Harriet Klausner

Heartbreak Creek-Kaki Warner

Heartbreak Creek
Kaki Warner
Berkley, Jul 5 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425241226

In 1870 in war ravaged Louisiana, Edwina Ladoux signs over Rose Hill Planation to the bank in order for the land to be auctioned to pay back taxes. Answering a mail order bride ad, she and her half-sister Prudence Lincoln leave the South taking the train to Heartbreak Creek, Colorado where she is to marry widower Declan Brodie and help raise his four children.

After meeting Maddie and Lucinda, Ed gets Declan to agree to a three month courtship as she fears she is not cut out for life on the frontier since she can’t even cook and he knows his first wife ran away before being killed. As she and the Brodie quintet fall in love, his dead first spouse Sally comes home. Also arriving is Lone Tree seeking vengeance against the rancher from when Brodie was a sheriff.

The fabulous first Runaway Brides western romance contains a strong cast and a vivid description that establishes time and place. Edwina initially seems like a fish out of water, but Ed wins over everyone she meets with her energy and élan. Although a late unhealthy contrivance abates some of the conflict, sub-genre readers will welcome this strong post Civil War romance.

Harriet Klausner

The Secret Desires of a Governess-Tiffany Clare

The Secret Desires of a Governess
Tiffany Clare
St. Martin’s, May 24 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312381844

In 1848, Abby Hallaway arrives at the castle in Northumbria to start her new position as governess to the eight year old son of the Earl of Brendall Widower Elliot Wright. Abby needs the job so she internally vows to behave herself while taking care of young Jacob. However, she loses her good intentions of prime and proper deportment at their first meeting when in the rain she had to walk fifteen miles because he failed to arrange for a carriage to transport her to his abode. He thinks the wet female wants a tryst until she informs Elliot she is the governess.

Elliot is attracted to the intelligent, diligent and feisty governess. Abby is attracted to the intelligent, brooding and enigmatic Earl. As they begin to fall in love, she hears stories about Elliot’s mom and wife, but needs to know what caused the dark emotional chains he carries that has him in knots. However, Abby is unaware that someone watches them; which places her in danger.

This is an entertaining throwback to the Virginia Holt legendary Gothic tales as Tiffany Clare employs all the elements from the innocent female, to the foreboding castle to the brooding hero inside a romantic suspense thriller. Abby and Elliot are terrific lead characters while the support cast especially his son, the villagers, and her family make for a wonderful Victorian Gothic romance.

Harriet Klausner

The Solitaire Ghost-Sylvia Kelso

The Solitaire Ghost
Sylvia Kelso
Five Star, Jul 6 2011, $25.95
ISBN 9781432825324

In Australia, barrister Dorian Wild enters the elevator to go to her office at Lewis and Cotton when she sees the ghost coming through the floor. She drops the lunch bags she holds when the spirit places a miner’s panning dish on her head as if she is a post. The ghost vanishes while the junior partner receives solace and doubts from her friends at a nearby bar.

Soon after her first paranormal encounter, Dorian’s boyfriend Chris the geologist with a mathematical formula to expedite the location of mining sites dies in a questionable car accident. She inherits his model and learns of a hostile takeover of the company. Not one to sit idly by, Dorian investigates the ties between the Solitaire mine and late nineteenth century reporter Jimmy Keenighan, who covered the gold rush as he somehow travels to her time where they meet and are attracted to one another.

Book One of the Blackston Gold paranormal romantic suspense saga is a delightful tale that introduces a fully developed cast especially the heroine who holds the plot together. The story line is fun to follow as the life portrait of Dorian Wild that she laid out turns upside down. Although The Solitaire Ghost spends a lot of time setting the tone especially the golden link between the 1880s and 2011, which limits the plot even the time traveling romance, fans will enjoy this opening suspenseful act.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Heat Waves-Susan Lyons

Heat Waves
Susan Lyons
Heat, Jul 5 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425241240

Liz and Peter can’t think of a more fun place to get married than the Greek Islands, so they’ve rounded up a small group of family and friends and board the Aphrodite for an unforgettable wedding.

“Rock the Boat.” Wedding planner Gwen Austin is working the wedding of Liz Tippett and Peter Kirk on the Aphrodite touring the Greek Isles. However, she is unhappy with learning the Aphrodite cruise director she expected to work with has been replaced by a stranger Santos Michaelides. He is attracted to her and tells her the truth that he is an undercover insurance fraud investigator trying to catch a wedding guest who stole $5 million. They begin a sea cruise tryst.

“Making Waves.” Prosecutor Kendra Kirk has joined her family on the Aphrodite for the wedding. She is shocked to find information technology expert Flynn Kavanaugh on board as the authorities tried him for a $5 million theft but lost. Flynn insists to Kendra he is innocent and the thief is on board. They begin a sea cruise tryst until he obtains information that will dissolve Kendra’s beliefs.

This anthology contains two interrelated novellas starring two lead couples and a Love Boat of support. The romances are top rate, but it is the stolen money that provides the spice to a strong romantic suspense with a terrific late unexpected twist.

Harriet Klausner

Baby, Come Home-Stephanie Bond

Baby, Come Home
Stephanie Bond
Mira, Jul 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778329947

A tornado destroyed their small town in the Georgia Mountains (see Baby, I’m Yours). However, the three Armstrong brothers want to rebuild Sweetness. The only problem with their plan for greening Sweetness is the lack of women. Thus they advertised and the youngest sibling Porter has found a woman to love (see Baby, I’m Yours).

Middle brother Kendall was praying his first and only love his former fiancée Amy Bradshaw would come home; he even advertised in the newspaper of her current town Broadway, Michigan. Civil engineer Amy left Sweetness a dozen years ago vowing never to go back as she distrusts the commitment of small-town Southern men. However, Kendall’s older brother Marcus offers her a job she cannot refuse. Now it is up to Kendall to finalize the deal if he can get her to cross the bridge that keeps them apart, but she comes with an unexpected bonus.

The second Southern Roads contemporary romance is a fun amusing tale with the underlying message that home is not a where but whom the heart is most confortable with. Kendall and Amy are likable antagonists as he desperately wants a second chance with her while she avoids small town Southern men as if they are a disease. Although the story line is somewhat linear, fans will enjoy driving the mountain roads of Georgia as Kendall tries to persuade Amy to make a home with him.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Cover Me-Catherine Mann

Cover Me
Catherine Mann
Sourcebooks, Jul 1 2011, $6.99
ISBN 9781402244957

A mountain climber is stranded on Mt. Redoubt in the Aleutian Islands. Air Force Tech Sergeant Wade “Brick” Rocha Tech parachutes onto the frozen mountain to rescue Sunny Foster. However, she wants him to leave her alone as she insists she has great survival skills as a survival guide and does not need any saving especially from the military as she belongs to a secret community who hide from authorities.

As someone tries to kill Sunny, she, her dog Chewie and Wade discover bodies in the ice. With a blizzard coming, the trio must find better shelter than her cave, but a predator wants them dead. They battle their attraction and the increasingly nasty weather, as the Tech Sergeant the survival guide and the canine named after Star Wars team up to hunt a predator.

Similar in tone to Catherine Mann’s Dark ops saga (see Renegade), the first Elite Force romantic suspense is an exciting romantic suspense thriller starring a “brick headed” Air Force Pararescue tech and a rock hard survivalist with a cause. Fans will enjoy this fun thriller although what is happening in the Aleutians seems over the top of Mt. McKinley, as Wade quickly learns Sunny and Chewie can take care of themselves; but he insists on keeping his woman and their canine safe from whoever wants her dead.

Harriet Klausner

Savor the Danger-Lori Foster

Savor the Danger
Lori Foster
Harlequin HQN, Jun 28 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373775828

Mercenary Jackson Savor has wanted sex with Alani Rivers since he first met her. However, when he wakes up feeling ill and finds her naked in his bed, he is stunned as he has no recall of what should be his greatest memory. Bewildered especially when she wakes up and acts like they are lovers, he knows he has been drugged. Alani becomes angry with his distance, but soon also realizes Jackson has been drugged.

They each wonder who did this to him and what the motive is. When they are run off the road by someone who seems to want them dead, Jackson considers Alani’s recent abduction as the likely source. He vows to keep her safe from those threatening them.

Readers will appreciate the exciting finish to the Rivers trilogy (see Trace of Fever and When You Dare) as the anticipated from the opening act romance between Alani and Jackson is something to savor even if the final matchmaking device is drugs that took away the hero’s control. Fast-paced and loaded with action, fans will relish this taut romantic suspense while anticipating another “Storm” to follow.

Harriet Klausner

Pillow Talk-Freya North

Pillow Talk
Freya North
Sourcebooks, Jul 1 2011, $14.99
ISBN 9781402254468

In London, jewelry designer Petra Flint hears a song on the radio written by Arlo Savidge. At the same time Arlo the music teacher hears the song that reminds him of Petra. Both dream of what was between them when they were teens in love seventeen years ago.

When they meet, their attraction remains as strong as when they were in love. They begin seeing each other, but conceal secrets from one another. She has a poor excuse of a boyfriend and struggles with sleepwalking caused by her past that is still haunting her, and he gave up playing music and his heart when tragedy hit. Concealing their weaknesses will doom their second chance, but revealing them could prove abasing and heart-breaking if rejected.

Pillow Talk is a warm passionate contemporary romance starring two flawed people who as teens were in love and now as adults remain in love. Although the story line starts a bit slow as Freya North establishes the present lifestyles and respective emotional baggage of the lead pair, fans will enjoy reading whether the second chance at love will succeed knowing that it only can if Petra and Arlo explain to each other their flaws.

Harriet Klausner

The Creed Legacy-Linda Lael Miller

The Creed Legacy
Linda Lael Miller
Harlequin HQN, Jun 28 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373776009

Rodeo performer Brody Creed returns to his hometown of Lonesome Bend, Colorado for the first time in years after seeing his younger twin Connor (see Creed’s Honor). No one expects the rolling stone to remain home for long as he always had itchy feet.

However, Brody plans to stay in town permanently if he can persuade Carolyn Simmons, who he dumped eight years ago to give him a second chance. Carolyn wants nothing to do with the cowboy who broke her heart. However, she cannot totally avoid him as she and his sister-in-law Tricia are business partners. Though she still loves him, she does not trust him to stay.

The latest entry in the Creed saga (see A Creed in Stone Creek) is a warm second chance at love romance. The lead couple is a nice pairing as she distrusts his staying power. In some ways animals steal the show reminding readers of W.C. Field’s wry commentary “Never work with children or animals” as Linda Lael Miller displays her high regard for the Humane Society of the United States. Fans of the ever growing Creed universe will enjoy the return of the prodigal wanderer.

Harriet Klausner

Bodyguards in Bed-Jamie Denton, Lucy Monroe, Elisabeth Naughton

Bodyguards in Bed
Jamie Denton, Lucy Monroe, Elisabeth Naughton
Kensington Brava, Jun 1 2011, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758210333

"Who's Been Sleeping in My Brother's Bed?" by Lucy Monroe. After finding her apartment broken into, Ph.D. candidate Danusia decides to stay in her brother's empty place only to find black-ops agent Maxwell staying there.

"Hot Mess" by Jamie Denton. Alyssa goes to the airport to pick up whistle-blower Charles, but is unaware that FBI special agent Noah pretends to be her client.

"Acapulco Heat" by Elisabeth Naughton. On a photo shoot, former army ranger Finn is the bodyguard to supermodel Lauren when all hell breaks loose and they flee from the tropical beach into the rain forest.

With a nod to the movie Bodyguard (starring Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston), these three passionate heated romances are fun to read though the suspense is limited by the format.

Harriet Klausner

One Summer-JoAnn Ross

One Summer
JoAnn Ross
Signet, Jul 5 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451234001

Former Marine Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist Gabriel St. James arrives in Shelter Bay as a favor to a Semper Fi besotted battle buddy Cole Douchett (see The Homecoming). When he and Harborview Veterinary Clinic veterinarian Charity Tiernan meet at the nuptials he works a mission, they are attracted to one another. However, she considers a short fling with the visiting veteran as she has no time for anything permanent while running her “no-kill” shelter.

A rolling stone, he shocks himself as he wants much more from the animal doctor than a week-night stand though he agrees to a tryst to buy time in order to campaign for more. Although Gabe completed his mission that brought him to town and his head orders him to retreat, his rebellious heart delays his leaving hoping to persuade Charity they belong together. However as kids and a dog enter their lives he lacks the courage to move to the next level while she bravely embraces the change in their relationship.

The newest Shelter Bay contemporary romance (see On Lavender Lane) is an engaging tale that hooks the audience from the time the lead couple meets as the relationships matures over the course of the well written story line. Although there is some suspense brought by the kids but for the most part the plot is character driven straighter than the Bonneville Flats yet the talent of JoAnn Ross shines as readers will enjoy visiting Shelter Bay.

Harriet Klausner

One Night Scandal-Christie Kelley

One Night Scandal
Christie Kelley
Zebra, Jun 1 2011, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420108781

In 1818 England Sophie Reynard feels good about finding husbands for her four best friends (see Something Scandalous, Every Night I'm Yours, Every Time We Kiss and Scandal of the Season) due in part to her ability to see the future. However, the gifted matchmaker wonders about someone for her as she envisions no one.

Needing a change of scenery, Sophie travels to Venice. Someone accidentally knocks Sophie into a canal and Marquess Nicholas Tenbury rescues her. They are attracted to one another, but she goes back to London with plans to avoid him as she feels his future title needs someone more acceptable than an illegitimate like her. So when he proposes, she says no. With the help of her happily married friends, Nicholas begins a campaign to win over his beloved.

The latest paranormal Regency romance is a fun tale as stubborn scandalous Sophie and persuasive, passionate Nicholas make this an engaging historical romance as he convinces her friends to join his campaign to win her mind as he owns her heart. Readers will enjoy Nicholas and the returning lead characters as they play matchmaker to the woman who meant so much to their happiness. Though sub-genre fans will want to lecture Sophie to go for it, One Night Scandal is a warm entertaining romance.

Harriet Klausner

The Naked King-Sally Mackenzie

The Naked King
Sally Mackenzie
Zebra, Jun 1 2011, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420102550

When Lady Anne Marston was seventeen years old, odious Lord Brentwood raped her. She concealed her humiliation and rusticated for the next decade. She only came to London for her sister’s first season before a full retreat back to the countryside.

When Anne and Stephen “King of Hearts” Parker-Roth meet they are attracted to one another. A chat leads to a stunning kiss which is caught by the gossips so Stephen knows he must marry the glasses wearing beauty. He considers vanishing back into his pre King of Hearts lifestyle, but is conflicted as he is falling in love. When Brentwood threatens to expose Anne’s secret, Stephen defends her, but it is Anne who must confront the malevolent beast if the she and Parker are to find happiness.

Although the characters especially the caricature of a vile villain Brentwood are somewhat stereotyped, readers will enjoy Sally Mackenzie’s latest for the most part jocular and “Naked” regency romance. The story line is an amusing comedy of errors and love except when Brentwood the beast appears. Fans will enjoy the triangle with Lady Anne who is no longer just a defenseless abashed teen when Brentwood accosts her for the second time as she is emboldened to fight back by love.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Feel the Heat-Lorie O'Clare, P.J. Mellor and Lydia Parks

Feel the Heat
Lorie O'Clare, P.J. Mellor and Lydia Parks
Kensington Aphrodisia, Jun 1 2011, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758238146

"Fight Fire with Fire" by Lorie O'Clare. Since they were childhood friends, Mary Hamilton secretly has loved Nate Armstrong, but he has never shown any signs that he wants more than being her buddy. However, when a mutual friend dies in a suspicious fire, they turn to each other for solace and more.

"Heat Wave" by P.J. Mellor. Firefighter Thorne Paxton saves the life of Summer Wadsworth when her house burns down. She finds him hotter than the inferno that destroyed her house, but ever time they seem ready to heat the sheets, duty calls.

"Smoldering Lust" by Lydia Parks. Hannah Hayward works in the mayor's office managing the budget. However, the new Fire Chief Lee Evans wants more than the bottom line from her. She wants to go over the numbers on the sheets with the return of the town’s bad boy after he was over a decade away.

Although the novella format limits character development, these firefighters and the women who enflame them with desire and lust will blaze readers with their escapade and sexcapades.

Harriet Klausner

Embrace the Night-Crystal Jordan

Embrace the Night
Crystal Jordan
Kensington Aphrodisia, Jun 1 2011, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758238313

Biochemists Chloe Standish the witch and Damien Raines the vampire work together on a research project to help werewolves in their transformation. They had a short fling but she found him flinging with someone else. He is married and his wife is pregnant.

Someone viciously murders the Raines’ couple. The police suspect his research partner in a jealous rage committed the homicide. Chief investigator Merek Kingston expects Chloe did the crime although he prays not as their one night stand a few months ago remains etched in his two heads. Although both carry baggage and know logically he is the cop and she the person of interest, they have sex as neither can resist a second encounter. She wins him over to her theory that the werewolf elixir is the reason Damien and his wife were murdered.

This heated romantic urban fantasy is a terrific investigative tale with plenty of hot sex. The key to this engaging whodunit is the lead couple makes love but never lose sight of the objective of proving her innocent. Fast-paced, fans will believe in witches, vampires, werewolves and Normals who are unaware of the paranormal (a common sub-genre element) while enjoying this arousing thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Black Ties and Lullabies-Jane Graves

Black Ties and Lullabies
Jane Graves
Forever, Jul 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780446568470

After violating her personal pledge as a bodyguard with a one night stand with her client, Bernadette Hogan quits her position protecting Jeremy Bridges CEO of Sybersense Systems. He asks to return to her job, but she refuses as she believes he is heartless womanizer, which Jeremy knows is true. Besides she has no time for the immature lady’s man as she cares for her mom Eleanor suffering with the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

As he waits for her to come begging like all females do with him, Bernie learns she is pregnant. He adamantly tells her he will be involved raising their child. Jeremy’s childhood was not a role model so he swears he will be a good father to his offspring as he needs to have his offspring know he is the dad. As they argue over what his role is to become, Jeremy wants the mom in his life too, but must overcome first impressions.

This is an entertaining at times amusing gender war as ultra responsible Bernie and the fun loving Jeremy argue over their unborn as she insists 1 and 1 equal a single mom while he claims 1 and 1 and 1 make a family. Eleanor brings the serious tone to the otherwise somewhat lighthearted tale with her slowly crippling disease in which she still knows what is happening to her but cannot prevent it. Although having his baby as a matchmaker has been used a googol number of times (see Karen Rose Smith’s Baby by Surprise) contemporary romance fans will enjoy the battles between the bodyguard and her CEO client.

Harriet Klausner