Monday, January 31, 2011

Harvest Moon-Robyn Carr

Harvest Moon
Robyn Carr
Mira, Feb 22 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778329428

In San Francisco Kelly Matlock has a breakdown of sorts as she is unable to handle the stress of working as a sous chef nor deal any long with her relationship with internationally renowned boss Luciano Brazzi when his wife Olivia demands she not sleep with her husband; Kelly says she is not sleeping with Luca though she admits to herself she is in love with her boss. Olivia says Luca sent her to clean up his latest mess. Unable to cope she has an anxiety attack that has her rushed to the emergency room. After being released and suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and flattened molars made worse by a broken heart and by her immediate boss Durant, Kelly flees to hide and heal at her sister Jillian’s home in Virgin River.

Though she knows better, Kelly still under the influence of Valium stops at Jack’s for a courage drink though she knows better than to mix alcohol and medicine. Widower Leif Holbrook the screenwriter rescues her from herself; having practice with his stepdaughter Courtney. Kelly and Leif are attracted to one another, but she remains hurt from her previous relationship and he is fathering a rebel with one cause of no other woman in their home.

The latest trip to Virgin River is an engaging contemporary romance that in spite of a plot used many times feels brisk and fresh due to the strong cast as each of the lead trio has belonging issues. Character driven, readers will enjoy the return to Virgin River as different types of love blossoms in the gardens under a Harvest Moon.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sweet as the Devil-Susan Johnson

Sweet as the Devil
Susan Johnson
Berkley, Mar 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425240410

In 1893, Scottish Baron James Blackwood is a lover of renown, but takes his day job seriously as a guard protecting the Duchy of Dalmia Prince Ernst. When someone assassinates the heir to Dalmia, Prince Rupert, James swears he will find the traitor who killed his friend.

Instead Ernst asks him to keep safe his other offspring, Sofia Eastleigh. James recently met Sofia during one of his trysts, but resisted the temptation of seducing her; which now that he knows who she is he is grateful for his self control. However, Sofia and James are shocked by their desire for one another as both have always controlled their passions. As they fall in love during several gender skirmishes, a predator stalks Ernst’s offspring.

The latest “as” heated Victorian romance (see Gorgeous as Sin and Sexy as Hell) is a fun erotic thriller. The boudoir scenes are scintillating; slow and steamy while overwhelming the prime plot of exposing the killer. Still fans of Susan Johnson will appreciate the escapades of the devil and the daughter especially in the bedroom (and a few other places).

Harriet Klausner

Pleasure Me-Monica Burns

Pleasure Me
Monica Burns
Berkley, Mar 1 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425238790

In 1897 London, Marston kindly tells his mistress forty-one years old Lady Ruth Attwood that he has formed a tender with Ernestina Fitzgerald. Ruth knows he is being kind as the tendre is because Ernestine is much younger than her until she asks for the money he promised her. He becomes a sanctimonious pig telling her to sell the jewelry he gave her; she knows that will bring in a paltry sum considering her loyal servants Simmons and Dolores and the orphans at St. Agnes she funds. She knows her career as a prime choice courtesan is over.

Considered a stud Baron Garrick Stratfield learns like the rest of the Ton that Marston cut off Ruth. Being the son of a mother who abandoned him and his sister and a father who committed suicide masculine Garrick is extremely discreet. However even after bashing in a lord who insulted his sister, he has a secret that has left him a virgin. Garrick hires Ruth to teach him how to make love with a woman. As they begin their tryst, they shockingly begin to fall in love though he is so much younger than she. However, a serpent wanting to blackmail one of them and bury the other begins using insider knowledge to tell lies.

Pleasure Me is a refreshing late Victorian erotic romance starring two unlikely lovers in a May-September relationship. Ruth is a rare protagonist as an experienced woman “passed” her prime falling in love; Garrick is as rare male lead as a virgin. Although the villain’s actions detract from a profound gender bending character study, historical romance readers will appreciate the love story of the older courtesan and the very virile virgin.

Harriet Klausner

Wicked Seduction-Jade Lee

Wicked Seduction
Jade Lee
Berkley, Mar 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425240151

Due to a betrayal, Kit Frazier spent seven years enslaved on a pirate ship. All that kept him going was simply a soul-burning need to avenge the atrocity inflicted on him. Thus when he finally escapes and makes it back to England, Kit immediately deploys his vengeance plan that he worked on in his head for those seven horrific years.

However, the best laid plans of mice and men go astray when a woman gets involved. Kit and Madeline Wilson meet and his perfectly laid out scheme is put on hold by their attraction. Maddie needs a good match, which the uncivilized boorish Kit is not. However, she sees passed his beastly demeanor to the tortured soul that she wants to heal with her love. Kit has a new goal to make himself into the man his beloved believes he is. As they help each other, a fresh betrayal threatens their relationship.

The sequel to Wicked Surrender stars a fresh male protagonist and the woman who brings him out of his mental hell with her love. The support cast is solid whether they are villain or good guys while the story is fast-paced from the start to the final climax. Readers will appreciate Jade Lee’s strong late Victorian romance as the problems faced by the lead couple seem unmanageable and eternal without love bonding people.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, January 28, 2011

An Unlikely Countess-Jo Beverley

An Unlikely Countess
Jo Beverley
Signet, Mar 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN 9780451232717

In 1765 in Yorkshire, Prudence Youlgrave lives in poverty. She knows her only hope to escape is to marry wealth above her social level. However, meeting someone with money is difficult for someone in her economic straits.

Catesby Burgoyne rescues Prudence from robbers. Shocking himself though he knows his intoxicated state keeps him from remaining logical, he asks her to marry him; shocking herself she accepts. When sober he regrets his fight with his brother the Earl of Malzrad and not because he has no money being cut off. Resigning from the military, he and Prudence are further shocked with what fate spins next. Cate's older brother dies unexpectedly, which makes the remorseful spare an Earl and his wife Prudence the Countess. As they fall in love, her former fiancé arrives to stake a prior claim on Prudence.

The class distinctions come across very powerful in this super Georgian romance as the support cast of aristocrats could make or break the new Countess. Although the ending with Prudence’s ratty fiancĂ© seems unnecessary and a bit weak, this fast-paced tale will thrill fans of Jo Beverly’s Malloren saga as the engaging historical romance contains combat on two fronts: gender and class warfare.

Harriet Klausner

Playing for Keeps-LuAnn McLane

Playing for Keeps
LuAnn McLane
Signet, Mar 1 2011, $6.99
ISBN 9780451232762

Former Major League baseball pitcher Noah Falcon turned actor has been fired from the soap opera he performed on. Decided a respite is in order Noah goes back to his old Kentucky home after two decades away.

Olivia Lawson attended Cricket Creek High School with Noah; she never forgot that the star athlete ignored the bookworm except when she tutored him. He does not want to ignore her now as he thinks the schoolteacher is beautiful and her voice sexy, but she knows from the tabloids he is a playboy. As their attraction grows, they perform together on stage in a local production where she realizes he cares about the play, the people and the town. The audience can see that love flows between them, but she still she fears his rejection once he goes back to Hollywood.

This Cricket Creek contemporary romance is a fun tale due to the brisk banter between the lead couple. With a strong secondary cast mostly the townsfolk who encourage the protagonists as they fuss, fight and fall in love, fans will enjoy LuAnn McLane’s mantra that “There’s no place like home.”

Harriet Klausner

A Creed in Stone Creek-Linda Lael Miller

A Creed in Stone Creek
Linda Lael Miller
Harlequin HQN, Feb 22 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373775552

Wanting a safe place to raise five year old Matt St. John, guardian Steven Creed an attorney moves to Stone Creek, Arizona where he buys a dilapidated ranch. He hopes the small town with his McKettrick kin nearby is the right atmosphere for Matt, whose parents Zack and Jillie recently died. Zack being Steven’s best friend asked him to take care of Matt if he should die as Jillie already had passed away from breast cancer.

Steven and county prosecutor Melissa O’Ballivan meet and are attracted to one another; feelings neither want at the moment. He needs to focus on fixing up the ranch and insuring Matt adjusts well; while she has not had a male in her life except in court in two years ago. As the adults fuss and fight, they begin to fall in love, but both remain stubborn. So a little sad-faced matchmaker, encouraged by senior citizens, abetted by Elvis the dog who demanded adoption and much more want Melissa in the extended family as the child’s mommy and the guardian’s wife.

The latest return to stone Creek is an enjoyable angst-laden contemporary romance starring a likable lead couple, Elvis, a pony and a confused grieving orphan serving as the catalyst of love. The story line is character driven from the moment Steven stops at the motel with his grieving ward and never takes an emotional respite. Fans of the McKettrick-Creed crowd will appreciate stopping in Stone Creek.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Light at Winter's End-Julia London

A Light at Winter's End
Julia London
Pocket, Feb 22 2011, $7.99
ISBN 9781439176498

Heartbroken Wyatt Clark watched his wife Macy leave him to return to her first husband Finn Lockhart, who had been mistakenly reported dead by an IED in Afghanistan (see Summer of Two Wishes). Wyatt spends the next two years moving back and forth between anger as he brought Macy back to life after she learned her Finn died and self pity as he believed Macy owed him. He remains in isolation on his Texas ranch.

In Austin, Texas Holly Fisher has dreamed of being a songwriter for a long time. Now the time is right to begin her career. However, her aspirations are put on hold when her estranged sister, Hannah, a drug addict, arrives with a baby. She dumps Mason on Holly before leaving to enter a rehab program. Holly takes Mason with her as she goes to the Fisher family spread, next door to the silent sourpuss Wyatt. As she falls for Wyatt and Mason, she wonders whether a love song can do her feelings justice only reality turns her lyrics to How can You Mend a Broken Heart (BeeGees).

This sequel is a super character driven Texas romance starring a mentally wounded rancher who understands Nazareth’s Love Hurts so refuses to go back on the horse that threw him and a nurturing woman who puts her aspirations aside to care for her one year old nephew. Filled with angst due to realistic characters, readers will enjoy A Light At Winter’s End though it helps to understand Wyatt better by reading his previous heartbreaking appearance in Summer of two Wishes.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, January 23, 2011

How to Knit a Heart Back Home-Rachael Herron

How to Knit a Heart Back Home
Rachael Herron
Avon, Mar 1 2011, $13.99
ISBN 9780061841316

In Cypress Hollow, California, thirtyish Book Spire bookstore owner Lucy Harrison volunteers as a fire brigade fighter. However, she is also a serial knitter who cherishes the work of famed late knitter Eliza Carpenter, who was a friend of Lucy’s grandmother and of Alzheimer’s victim Irene Bancroft.

Irene’s son retired SFPD police officer Owen returns home due a duty related injury. Lucy is euphoric as she loved unrequitedly Owen during their days together in high school. She hopes the second time is the charm as she considers How to Knit a Love Song. Adding to her delight is that he moves in next door to her bookstore. He is as attracted to her as her to him. Lucy helps him with his mother’s items since Irene moved into an assisted living facility. Doing so enables Lucy to find a wealth of material on her idol and writes a biography. When Irene runs away from the home and moves into an unsteady shut down lighthouse, Lucy has to retrieve her as Owen’s injury does not allow him to do so.

This is a warm knitter romance in which Rachael Herron’s love of the craft shines throughout the enjoyable story line. The Cypress Hollow cast makes for a fun time especially for the knitter crowd; though we civilians will appreciate the wonderful second chance at love prime plot and the loving lore of the craft. One last aside to Knitters: there is a wonderful end that in my opinion is worth a first look.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Bird House-Kelly Simmons

The Bird House
Kelly Simmons
Washington Square Press (Simon and Schuster), Feb 1 2011, $14.00
ISBN: 9781439160930

In Gladwyne, Pennsylvania, septuagenarian Ann Biddle knows her short term memory is failing her as she suffers from dementia. On the other hand her long term memory works better than ever as recalls in vivid detail her past; especially traumatic events. She knows everything about her daughter’s death and her failed marriage, for instance.

Her eight years old granddaughter Ellie asks for her help with a school project. Ann is excited, but knows her daughter-in-law Tinsley will interfere as she cocoons her daughter from hurts. As Ann and Tinsley war over Ellie, the child feels unsure what to do as she does not want to hurt either her mom or grandma but struggles with her older loved ones trying to control her relationship with the other.

The Bird House is a wonderful family drama that looks deeply at the relationship between three generations of women. The story line in some ways is a parable about the American family as Ann begins to understand nuances re her mom and grandma at war over her. For instance, the little girl concludes "A house divided against itself cannot stand" (Lincoln) and her loved ones created a governance “constitution” built on lies and secrets that led to remorse and regrets, but remains strong and positive. With three real people acting and reacting in genuine ways, Kelly Simmons provides a super relationship feud in which one family represents the national family.

Harriet Klausner

Never Kiss a Stranger-Heather Grothaus

Never Kiss a Stranger
Heather Grothaus
Zebra, Mar 1 2011, $6.99
ISBN 9781420112429

The three Foxe sisters rule Fallstowe Castle. However, being the oldest and most ruthless, Lady Sibylla rules over her two sisters Lady Cecily and Lady Alys. Thus she arranges for her flighty out of control youngest sibling Alys to wed uncomplicated Clement Cobb.

On a wintry full moon night, Alys sneaks out to the nearby Foxe Ring stones hoping the legend will send her the right man for her to marry. On his way to London, Piers Mallory takes a shortcut crossing through the ring of stones. Alys believes he is her mate and tells the flabbergasted man that they are married IAW the legend. She insists she accompany him on his trek and be at his side when he pleads with the king to accept the proof of his birthright; though bewildered he agrees to her coming with him thinking a woman would help masquerade him from his murderous enemies.

This charming whimsical historical romance hooks the audience from the moment that the believer in the legendary enchantment and the skeptical pragmatist meet inside the stones. Alys assumes they are fated while Piers sees an opportunity to disguise himself. On the trek as they argue, fuss, and kiss, he realizes he had no choice with his spunky companion. The first tale of the Foxe females is a fabulous fable.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Countess-Lynsay Sands

The Countess
Lynsay Sands
Avon, Jan 25 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061963049

Reluctantly Christiana Madison marries Richard Fairgrave, Earl of Radnor, so her father can pay off his gambling debts before the family, especially her beloved sisters, is ruined. “Dicky” proves nasty as a spouse treating his wife as an object and not allowing her to see anyone even her family. Having enough she brazenly enters his off limits office to confront her husband, only to be greeted by his corpse.

Since her sister wants to attend a gala in which she would chaperone, Christiana conceals that her husband is dead as she would have to mourn her loss though inside her she is euphoric. However, Richard arrives to the shock of Christiana. She soon learns the newcomer is the real Richard and she was married to his psychopathic identical twin George. Richard investigates his deadly sibling’s murder with the prime suspect being his sister-in-law who he is attracted to. She agrees to pretend this new kind and caring Richard is her spouse as he searches for a diabolical killer who is planning to blackmail the real Earl and his widowed sister-in-law.

The Countess is an intelligent historical romantic suspense with identity theft being the driver of the story line. This tale is very witty and fans will enjoy the pretend relationship between the real earl who assumes his “wife” is a gold-digger and the title character who fears madness runs in families. With a murder investigation and a blackmailer attempting to extort money, readers will enjoy Lynsay Sands wonderful tale.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Healing the Highlander-Melissa Mayhue

Healing the Highlander
Melissa Mayhue
Pocket, Feb 22 2011, $7.99
ISBN 9781439190203

Hybrid Fae-human Leah Noble fled the twenty-first century breeding program of the Nuadian Fae who tortured her by doing what she thought is her only chance for a haven; going back in time to 1293 MacQuarrie Keep where Grandma Mac takes her in. Leah assumed she would be safe back in time. However, by 1305 her assumption proves false when Richard MacQuarrie lives up to his nickname of Dick by promising her in marriage to a nasty Englishman.

Leah flees again but not in time. This time she seeks shelter with the MacKiernan clan who has Fae blood. However, when she falls into a loch, severely injured Highland warrior Andrew MacAlister rescues her. Her tumble into the water costs her the map and letter she needs to obtain a welcome from the MacAlister clan. Andrew escorts her even claiming she is his wife when her enemy catches up to them.

The latest Daughters of the Glen historical fantasy romance (see A Highlander's Homecoming, A Highlander's Destiny and Soul of the Highlander) is a warm entertaining time travel tale. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing as each needs the other to heal from physical and emotional hurts. Although the story line is more linear (even with the heroine going back several centuries) than usual for this enchanting series, fans will enjoy Melissa Mayhue’s magnificent seventh saga.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Seduced by Destiny -Kira Morgan

Seduced by Destiny
Kira Morgan
Forever, Mar 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN 9780446548175

In 1561 Scotland, raised by three combat veterans, Josselin Ancrum is a trained warrior. She travels to Edinburgh to see the arrival of Mary, Queen of Scots. However, her mouth gets her involved in a brawl. Undercover as a Highlander, Englishman Drew MacAdam rescues her from a nasty situation.

Drew prefers fighting on the golf links than the war zone where he proves better than the locals winning Scottish money. Josselin is attracted to Drew as she enjoys drinking beer with him as long as he pays the tab. However, she refuses to allow anyone to interfere with her quest to secretly keep her queen safe. Her undercover effort fails as she cannot conceal her zeal from anyone, but her sword proves mightier than the golf club when it comes to protecting Queen Mary. Meanwhile Drew roots for the woman he adores even though he assumes she can out fight him regardless of his choice of weapon.

This refreshing superb sixteenth century romance stars two unique protagonists as she is a warrior skilled with the sword and he is golfer skilled with the clubs. Their engaging banter is fun to follow as Kira Morgan provides a brisk entertaining historical (see Captured by Desire) due to a wonderful pair of battling combatant in love.

Harriet Klausner

Simply Forbidden-Kate Pearce

Simply Forbidden
Kate Pearce
Kensington Aphrodisia, Feb 1 2011, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758241399

Major Gabriel Swanfield returns home to England after spending time in prison in France. He does not come home to a hero’s welcome as everyone assumes he gave away military secrets to the enemy and they believe that is why he was freed. His avaricious uncle controlled Gabe’s estate while his nephew served in the military during the Napoleonic War and became a POW; he continues to run Swanfield as his battle fatigued nephew fails to fight back.

Lisette Delornay sees Gabe enters Madame Helene's Pleasure House; she decides she wants him and she gets what she wants. He is attracted to her but assumes she cannot give him the satisfaction he obtains at Madame Helene's Pleasure House. The daughter of Madame Helene, although convent raised, plans to prove him wrong.

The latest House of Pleasure Regency romance (see Simply Shameless and Simply Insatiable) is a great entry due to the hero who suffers from Post traumatic Stress Disorder made worse by the unwelcome response of family and friends who consider him a traitor. Lisette has her issues too being the daughter of the notorious Madame Helene. Men expect sexual favors from her. As this pair fails in love, he vows to prove his innocence and regain control of his estate while she pledges to have his back and other parts of his body.

Harriet Klausner

Sinful Harvest-Anitra Lynn McLeod

Sinful Harvest
Anitra Lynn McLeod
Kensington Aphrodisia, Feb 1 2011, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758235350

In the Onic Empire, Kerrick the Harvester performs his duty of sex with a myriad of virgins with control expected of one of his vocation. However, the rules governing sex are changed leaving Kerrick shocked. He is expected to be the submissive sexual servant to his mate Harvester Ariss.

She is elated as finally she controls her pleasure instead of taking care of virgins. Ariss enjoys her monthly sensual time with Kerrick and soon discovers only he pleases her. She breaks the rules and sneaks into his room, but they are caught and punished. Worse a God takes control of Kerrick’s body with the intent to teach Ariss to only enjoy sex when pain is part of the encounter.

The latest Harvest romantic fantasy is an interesting tale that continues the premise of the Onic Empire being an extremely dark place in which sexual depravity is the norm with rape and torture a way of life regardless of gender. Anitra Lynn McLeod cleverly uses the victim’s emotional aftermath to tell the violent molestation. Although the story line is overall fast-paced, deceleration occurs at times due to the exceedingly convoluted complexities of the fascinating McLeod realm (it helps to have read Wicked Harvest and Dark Harvest).

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Captive-Christina Phillips

Christina Phillips
Heat, Feb 1 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425238820

Druid priestess Morwyn watched in horror when all she believed in died with the successful Roman invasion of Britain. Angry at her failed Goddess, Morwyn takes a vow of celibacy while also seeking to free her people from the ruthless legion.

She masquerades as a trader trying to reach Cymru and her fellow Britons hiding while regrouping in plans for a counter insurgency. However, a Roman unit catches her and abuses her until their leader Brennus ends their assault. He claims the Celt as his. As they travel together, they fall in love. Her visions say he is the man she seeks to save her people, but Morwyn distrusts anything sent by the Goddess. She flees to where her king is only to find Brennus beat her there; as he reveals he is not a Roman but an undercover Gaul loyal to her monarch.

The second hot Ancient Britannia romance is a superb tale as the Druid priestess knows her abstinence pledge is being tested by her meeting the “Roman”. The story line is filled with action yet also insures the audience will feel caught in the conflict in AD 50, seven years after the invasion. Each of the lead couple struggles with an attraction that has come at the wrong time in the wrong place, and further complicated by purposely misleading omissions. Readers will want more historical thrillers like Captive and Forbidden from Christina Phillips.

Harriet Klausner

The Perfect Play-Jaci Burton

The Perfect Play
Jaci Burton
Heat, Feb 1 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425238813

Right Touch event planner Tara Lincoln feels fortunate that she got the gig for the NFL San Francisco Sabers summer party. For the past four months Tara killed herself as she know this gala could be a walk-off winning touchdown or a game costing fumble.

The team’s star quarterback Mick Riley congratulates her for hosting a fine event. They share a great night together in which she assumes Cinderella goes home to never see Prince Charming ever again. Besides as a single mom she has enough trouble with the male in her life, her troubled teenage son Nathan. However, Mick’s trait of never quitting which serves him well in the NFL also has him remain resolute as he wants more than just a one night stand.

This is an enjoyable heated football romance starring a superstar athlete and a single working mom. The story line is faster than Bob Hayes ran for a touchdown in and out of the sack. Ironically the “matchmaker” is also the alibi as Tara hides behind her need to project her child from the crap she went through at his age. Readers will enjoy this excellent sports romance as the QB seeks the Perfect Play to win the game of love as he already has her heart.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Tainted by Temptation-Katy Madison

Tainted by Temptation
Katy Madison
Avon, Jan 25 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780062017345

In London Velvet Campbell was a magnet for gossip. Needing to escape the unfair whispers and innuendos, she accepts employment in Cornwall although she has heard cruel accusations of her employer murdering his late wife by throwing her off the nearby cliffs. Lucian Pendar hires her as governess to his daughter Iris in spite of a horrific first meeting.

Velvet and Lucian are attracted to one another, but both know that the needs of grieving Iris must come first. The child not only wants her mom to come home, the woman’s ghost seems to be walking the mists near where she fell to her death. As Velvet investigates the questionable death, she falls in love with father and daughter, but her efforts to prove Lucian is not a killer prove futile as each new piece of evidence she finds affirms the rumors that he murdered his wife.

Although a linear story line in which readers will find no twists, Tainted by Temptation is an engaging gothic historical whodunit romance. The lead couple each has secrets that explain their role in the scandals that engulf them, but neither trusts the other with the baggage they carry. Action-packed from the moment Velvet faints at Lucian’s feet and never slowing down, fans will appreciate Katy Madison’s entertaining romantic amateur sleuth.

Harriet Klausner

Mine Is The Night-Liz Curtiss Higgs

Mine Is The Night
Liz Curtiss Higgs
WaterBrook, Mar 15 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9781400070022

In 1746 those who supported Prince Charles’ claim to the throne during the failed Jacobite Rebellion are paying the price. Widow Marjorie Kerr saw her two sons Donald and Andrew die at Falkirk and her family’s title stripped for supporting Charles. She and one of her widowed daughter-in-laws Elisabeth head to Selkirk where her cousin Anne lives in meager conditions.

Marjory knows she is a charity case imposing on a poor relative she ignored for a decade. Ann, who earns her living as a lace-maker, allows them shelter. Elisabeth is unafraid of hard work as she is talented with a needle. She obtains work sewing shirts for Widower single father Michael Dalgiesh’s haberdashery. Marjory becomes the cook for her cousin and her daughter-in-law. She also fears for the life of her butler Gibson who should have been here before then, but has failed to arrive. Meanwhile wealthy hero Lord Jack Buchanan is expected shortly and his arrival could prove disastrous to widows of traitors.

This is an entertaining eighteenth century Christian romance starring three Kerr females struggling to survive in a world turned upside down by the late men in their lives. Elisabeth and Marjory turn to the Lord for guidance when things look dire and gloomy. Although the story line is straightforward with no surprises from start to finish, ending the way the audience expects, the strong surviving women and the solid support cast make for a fine historical (see Here Burns My Candle for the previous Kerr saga).

Harriet Klausner

Restless Heart -Emma Lang

Restless Heart
Emma Lang
Kensington Brava, Jan 25 2011, $14.00
ISBN 9780758247520

In 1872 the third wife of abusive Latter Day Saints Elder Josiah, Angeline Hunter flees from his brutality as she has no place to turn to in their Mormon community; not even papa who agreed to her marriage to this vicious but highly important man older than him. She makes a new life working at the Blue Plate but always looks over her shoulder in Wyoming. The townsfolk quickly like and admire the outgoing caring newcomer.

Reticent half-breed Sam Carver struggles with his injured leg and caring for his elderly father. He especially is charmed by the vivacious Angeline. As the pair falls in love encouraged by the townsfolk, she knows she cannot marry as she is already a wife even if she took a chance with giving her heart to gentle Sam.

This sequel to Ruthless Heart (the romance of Angeline’s sister) is an exciting post Civil War romance that brings to life rural Wyoming. The story line is fast-paced with a delightful flawed lead couple struggling with their feelings. Although Josiah is the stereotype of the malevolent abusive leader cloaked in religious respectability, fans will enjoy High Noon in late nineteenth century Wyoming.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, January 14, 2011

Angel’s Rest-Emily March

Angel’s Rest
Emily March
Ballantine, Feb 15 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780345518347

Architect Gabriel Callahan’s life ended in Virginia when his wife Jen and their son Mathew passed away; today his child would be six years old. Out walking in the snowy Murphy Mountains Just outside of Eternity Springs, Colorado, he trips but does not bother to get up. Instead he pulls out a glock with one bullet in it when a beast jumps on his back with claws ripping him. Thinking it is amountain lion, he is ready to fight for his life when he hears the sound of barking from a mangy boxer who tongues him in joy. Realizing the irony, Gabe laughs for the first time in months.

Gabe brings the injured canine to Eternity Springs Veterinary Clinic where Dr. Nicole Sullivan practices animal medicine. As Dr. Nic cares for the unconscious boxer hurt by an animal trap, she also notices Gabe’s shirt is bloody from the dog’s claws and teeth. She cleans his cuts and quarantines the canine until they can insure he is not rabid. Starting with the canine and soon “volunteering” on a renovation project, Gabe finds the townsfolk will not leave him alone. Finally there is Dr. Nic who he liked even before the dog introduced him to her. However, though she makes it clear she loves him as does Clarence the dog; he knows love hurts fearing this second chance to breathe again.

The first Eternity Springs contemporary mountain romance is a warm inspiring linear tale starring two likable individuals who have found possible second chances at life in the Rocky Mountains if they take the risk; she is willing and has with her veterinary practice while he hesitates. Aptly named Clarence is more an angel than a just a dog as readers will believe It’s A Wonderful Dog’s Life.

Harriet Klausner

How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf-Molly Harper

How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf
Molly Harper
Simon & Schuster, Feb 22 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439195864

Mo Duval-Wenstein drives from Leland, Mississippi to Grundy, Alaska; population of 2,053. She left behind a broken engagement and a concerned mother who has flooded her cell’s voice mail with a zillion “call me” messages that she deletes each night without listening to them. She needed to get away so she leased the Meyers’ place for a year. Her first person to greet the Lower Forty-eight transplant is Yosemite Sam AKA Nate Gogan the lawyer.

Her abode smells of dead fish as the last residents were weekend anglers. At the Blue Glacier Saloon, Mo meets owner Evie DuChamp who tells her as long as they don’t offer her meat they are harmless. She also meets Cooper Graham who scoffs at a southerner surviving in Alaska. He conceals from her that from his first sniff he knows who she is to him. Soon afterward, Mo is taken aback when a naked Cooper with an animal trap locked onto his ankle limps onto her porch. He is a werewolf, who fears he is the serial killing wolf murdering people. Mo refuses to believe her alpha life mate is a psychopath even in animal form so he risks her life to prove her assertion.

This jocular Alaskan romance places a dysfunctional werewolf pack whose alpha has deserted them and a Mississippi Delta woman into the middle of Northern Exposure. With culture clashes that make Fleischman seem like another Native Alaskan instead of a New Yorker, How To Flirt With A Naked Werewolf is a zany tongue in cheek lampooning of the sub-genre. Filled with sassy southern sensitivities and wacky werewolf wanting, fans will enjoy “Nice Girls Don’t” marry dead men with fangs in places like Leland or Half Moon Hollow, but in Alaska tongue out of cheek lycanthropes make better lovers.

Harriet Klausner

How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf-Molly Harper

How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf
Molly Harper
Simon & Schuster, Feb 22 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439195864

Mo Duval-Wenstein drives from Leland, Mississippi to Grundy, Alaska; population of 2,053. She left behind a broken engagement and a concerned mother who has flooded her cell’s voice mail with a zillion “call me” messages that she deletes each night without listening to them. She needed to get away so she leased the Meyers’ place for a year. Her first person to greet the Lower Forty-eight transplant is Yosemite Sam AKA Nate Gogan the lawyer.

Her abode smells of dead fish as the last residents were weekend anglers. At the Blue Glacier Saloon, Mo meets owner Evie DuChamp who tells her as long as they don’t offer her meat they are harmless. She also meets Cooper Graham who scoffs at a southerner surviving in Alaska. He conceals from her that from his first sniff he knows who she is to him. Soon afterward, Mo is taken aback when a naked Cooper with an animal trap locked onto his ankle limps onto her porch. He is a werewolf, who fears he is the serial killing wolf murdering people. Mo refuses to believe her alpha life mate is a psychopath even in animal form so he risks her life to prove her assertion.

This jocular Alaskan romance places a dysfunctional werewolf pack whose alpha has deserted them and a Mississippi Delta woman into the middle of Northern Exposure. With culture clashes that make Fleischman seem like another Native Alaskan instead of a New Yorker, How To Flirt With A Naked Werewolf is a zany tongue in cheek lampooning of the sub-genre. Filled with sassy southern sensitivities and wacky werewolf wanting, fans will enjoy “Nice Girls Don’t” marry dead men with fangs in places like Leland or Half Moon Hollow, but in Alaska tongue out of cheek lycanthropes make better lovers.

Harriet Klausner

Dark Prince-Christine Feehan

Dark Prince
Christine Feehan
Morrow, Mar 8 2011, $19.99
ISBN: 9780062009623

In the Carpathian Mountains lives an immortal race of blood drinkers. These eternal Carpathians face several crises that have the species nearing extinction. There are few females and no new child has been born alive in ages. Humans with their superior numbers hunt Carpathians as soulless beasts. The assertion has support as the male must find his soulmate within a few centuries or turn into blood sucking vampires; some recognize the emotional void when they lose the ability to see colors and choose suicide.

Prince Mikhail Dubrinsky despairs for himself and his people as he is on the brink of lunacy. His emptiness overwhelms him so he wants to shut down the emotions; still he holds back his anguish as his people need him as their moral anchor. He wonders if he totally lost it when he hears a female telepathic voice in his head. Mikhail finds the woman psychic Raven Whitney the serial killer hunter. He knows who she is to him so he abducts her. Using mind-sex to make it with his virgin, Mikhail begins to win the heart of his savior. He has little time to persuade her that they are life mates as a serial killing monster hunts Carpathians with species cleansing the objective.

“The Author’s Cut Special Edition” reprint of the original first Dark Carpathian romantic fantasy (released in 1999) includes over a hundred pages removed from the initial publication. These include sexual padding but also provide deeper insight into the Carpathian culture. Mikhail is a wonderful lead character with his mental roller coaster while Raven proves his equal as his soul savior. This life mate team must prevent the genocide. Reader of the twenty-one books series will enjoy the revised alpha thriller with its marvelous underlying premise while newcomers will find this is an excellent way to enter Christine Feehan’s Dark.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Deadly Games-Kate Noble

Deadly Games
Kate Noble
Zebra, Feb 1 2011, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420101720

Rocco Taylor was in the field when Gena Armstrong lost their baby. Rocco Taylor was in the field when Gena Armstrong married someone else. Rocco Taylor was in the field when Gena Armstrong turned to drink. Rocco Taylor was in the field when Gena Armstrong became a recovering alcoholic widow.

Rocco knows she wants nothing to do with him, but everyday he prays and wishes she would give him a second chance. He did not expect his wish to ever come true as sometimes you get what you wish for. Rocco knows his enemies attack him indirectly by going after the few people he cares about; especially targeted is his Gena. She is stunned when the ghost that she once loved arrives to keep her safe from a malevolent predator who plans to destroy Rocco through his Achilles’ heel: Gena.

Deadly Games is an action-paced second chance romantic suspense. The story line for the most part is fast-paced though looks back at the first time around slows down the pace even as that enhances understanding of why Gena feels so disappointed with Rocco and why he agrees with her assertion. Readers will enjoy this exciting thriller as Rocco knows nobody lives to tell tales after an agent of death marks them on a deadly assignment (see Deadly Seduction).

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Swept Off her Feet- Hester Browne

Swept Off her Feet
Hester Browne
Gallery (Simon and Schuster), Mar 8 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9781439168844

Evie Nicholson works for Max Shacks at his antique shop in Chelsea. He is upset because Evie the dreamer overspent on a lot of junk. Her organized sister Alice arrives and agrees to issue a check to cover the purchases, but asks her sister for a favor. She arranged for Evie to catalogue Kettlesheer castle whose owners Duncan and Ingrid must sell antiques to keep the place. Alice asks Evie to cover for her for now with her boyfriend Fraser Graham who Evie has a crush on. Evie reluctantly agrees though is confused by her sister.

Evie drops Fraser off at the home of his parents. When she arrives at night, a man hugs her. The Kettlesheer heir Robert thought she was Alice. She also meets neighbor Catriona Learmont and her hosts. Guests show their valuables to Evie to appraise in a drive-by valuation party. Robert is cynical and thinks Evie is naive as he sees Kettlersheer as a white elephant while she sees it as a historical treasure trove. He shows her the complicated Reel of Luck dance that Alice dumped on her to partake in with seven other experienced dancers; both sisters hated dancing as they towered over the boys as youngsters. Evie will soon learn why her sister failed to accompany Fraser; knowing that her beloved Robert has a better match with Catriona.

The ensemble cast is strong and diverse with the lead character a refreshing dreamer. A late twist involving the furniture enhances the strong look at how the British aristocracy survives in the Internet era. Although the story line is linear with the climax expected occurs, fans will enjoy Hester Browne’s wonderful contemporary romance.

Harriet Klausner

Devil's Own -Veronica Wolff

Devil's Own
Veronica Wolff
Berkley, Mar 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN 9780425240182

In 1647 in Aberdeen, Scotland, someone abducts ten years old Aidan MacAlpin from his uncle’s home Dunnottar Castle. His twin brother Cormac and their playmate Marjorie are helpless to prevent the kidnapping.

Seventeen hateful years later, Aidan finally escapes from the pirates who took him to the Indies. He comes home, but is not the friendly person he was as he has one objective: to enact revenge on those who enslaved him. However to succeed he needs to read; so the illiterate Aidan hires bookworm Elspeth Josephina Farquharson to teach him. She understands how he feels as her father needs money that he can waste on his vices so he plans to sell his daughter in holy matrimony. As the pair studies the Book of Common Prayer and Shakespeare’s sonnets, they fall in love. However, giving away his heart intrudes on his life’s mission, but not giving away his heart intrudes on his soul; while her father objects to him and his past is sailing to Aberdeen.

The abducted twin’s seventeenth century romance (see Devil's Highlander for Cormac’s tale) is a fabulous historical. Aidan suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after almost two decades of pirate imprisonment; his mind insists on revenge while his heart disagrees since he fell in love with his teacher. Readers will enjoy this superb sequel as everyone will agree that Elspeth would make a lovely pirate bride if Aidan can move passed his understandable obsession.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Restless Heart-Wynonna Judd

Restless Heart
Wynonna Judd
NAL, Jan 25 2011, $25.95
ISBN: 9780451229267

In Wilmot, Kentucky, thanks to some manipulating from caring friends Destiny Hart wins the local talent contest. She knows she would never have entered if her friend Cooper had not planned the prank on her. She easily wins with her strong voice.

Moving to Nashville with dreams of becoming a country and western star, four years since she won the Wilmot competition, Destiny still waits for her break. When it finally comes and she is a success on the stage, pressure from Wilmot also arrives as her loved ones plead with her to come home. Her parents’ relationship teeters on the brink of collapse; her former boyfriend Seth wants a second chance; and her older sister Grace needs her. Destiny tries to balance her dreams and the Wilmot demands wondering why she can’t have both. Her family and Seth answer her plea as they soon become her biggest cheerleaders.

Restless Heart is a warm contemporary romance that sings to the reader to follow your dreams but not lose sight of your reality anchor your well meaning loved ones. The entertaining story line uses a deep look at making it (or not) in the Music City to add depth to a well written family drama. Fans will enjoy Wynonna Judd’s strong tale while pondering will success spoil Destiny Hart? Not if her family has any say.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Guy Next Door -Lori Foster, Susan Donovan, and Victoria Dahl

The Guy Next Door
Lori Foster, Susan Donovan, and Victoria Dahl
Harlequin HQN, Feb 15 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373775569

"Ready, Set, Jett” by Lori Foster. School teacher Natalie Alexander and private investigator Jett Sutter enjoy their tryst until he decides he wants their relationship to go to the next level.

"Gail's Gone Wild” by Susan Donovan. Accompanied by her teenage daughter, Professor Gail Chapman travels to Key West where she and author Jesse Batista meet and fall in love.

"Just One Taste" by Victoria Dahl. Brewery owner Eric Donovan and erotica boutique manager Beth Cantrell meet and fall in love, but her job upsets the pedantic beer maker.

These are three warm romances though the story lines’ tones differ.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Maddie Inherits a Cowboy-Jeannie Watt

Maddie Inherits a Cowboy
Jeannie Watt
Harlequin SuperRomance, Feb 1 2011, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373716906

Ty Hopewell blames himself for the death of his friend Skip Blaine as he was driving the truck when the accident occurred. Two years have passed since that fatal day, but Ty has not moved on in spite of knowing Skip would demand he did.

Skip’s New York anthropology professor PH.D sister, Madeleine arrives at Ty’s ranch to learn why her inheritance from her late brother has stopped turning a profit. She assumes Ty is cheating her out of her rightful share. Even before she arrived, she was thinking of selling her share. A few days at the archaic ranch with no heat and not even a bed convinces her that her decision to sell is right. However, she also realizes that her partner wallows in guilt and grief as he holds himself responsible for her sibling’s death. Though she has job issues back home, she decides to stay a little longer to protect the livestock and to help Ty finally move on; unaware that her Good Samaritan endeavor will help her move on too.

This is an enjoyable second chance at life contemporary ranch romance. Ty makes the tale with his remorse driven attitude that could frost the tropics; although Madeline has made her share of mistakes too. Readers will root for the city slicker and the remorseful rancher to make it as they need each other and not just because of love.

Harriet Klausner

Taken to the Edge-Kara Lennox

Taken to the Edge
Kara Lennox
Harlequin SuperRomance, Feb 1 2011, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373716890

Feeling burned out for the second time in two years having left the Houston Police Department previously; Ford Hyatt leaves Project Justice after another woman ends up in intensive care due to his diligently getting an allegedly innocent person out of jail. Just after his resignation, Robyn Jasperson joins him at a bar to plead with him to take on the case of her former husband, Eldon, who sits on death row. Suffering from guilt and post traumatic stress disorder, Ford says no though he had a crush in high school on the notorious bad girl. However, though fearing he is thinking with his wrong head, he reluctantly agrees to take on the case when there is no one else available to do so and Robyn’s plea that her ex spouse is innocent.

Ford looks at the evidence that convicted Eldon of killing his son Justin though no body or any sign of foul play was found tied to him. Believing the death row inmate is innocent, he and Robyn, who has not had a chance to mourn for her son, investigate the vanishing.

The key to this exhilarating Project Justice taut thriller is that the romance plays a secondary role to the investigation that proves increasingly dangerous. Tense from the moment the long legged Robyn enters the bar, sub-genre fans will appreciate accompanying the lead couple as they make inquiries into what happened to Justin.

Harriet Klausner

In His Good Hands-Joan Kilby

In His Good Hands
Joan Kilby
Harlequin SuperRomance, Feb 1 2011, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373716876

Retired pro Australian football player Brett O’Connor returns to his hometown Summerside accompanied by his teenage daughter Tegan with plans to open a gym there. He goes to the Community Bank for a loan. The bank’s loans manager is someone he went to high school with, Renita Thatcher. She had a crush on him back then when she was his math tutor and to her chagrin still does. He admits he is obtaining a divorce from gorgeous Amber.

Renita approves part of what he asks for. Still he persuades the overweight bank officer to join his gym. She and her dad do. Renita quickly knows she always loved Brett and still does, but believes he can choose any woman he wants so why settle on a chub like her; yet he seems always be around her.

Renita makes this Australian second chance at love work as her insecurities about her looks makes for a fascinating character study of a unique (that is for romance novels) protagonist. Brett remains as resolute as when he banged heads playing football. The support cast enhances a terrific tale as readers will know they are in good hands when Joan Kilby is the author.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Moon Burning-Lucy Monroe

Moon Burning
Lucy Monroe
Berkley, Feb 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425239803

She would do anything to save her endangered shapeshifting people, but fears extinction is a reality that is coming unless Sabine believes she can pull off a desperate ploy to obtain and return the sacred Moon stone to her clan. The problem is the enemy Donegal clan possesses what she believes rightfully belongs to her people.

Sabine sets up a scenario for Chrechte Laird Donegal to rescue her. He does and she shams amnesia as a means to gain access to his keep. However, Sabine had not counted on falling in love with her enemy host while he reciprocates her deep feelings. Failure to take the holy artifact home will destroy her people, but doing so will destroy her.

The third Children of the Moon historical romantic fantasy (see Moon Awakening and Moon Craving) is a wonderful entry as the heroine struggles with her quest and her heart. Character driven, the fast-paced story line requires some reader adaptation to Scottish medieval vernacular, but that use of authentic language also adds to the sense of belief that Chrechte shapeshifter lead Celtic clans in the twelfth century.

Harriet Klausner