Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Rapture Becomes Her-Shirlee Busbee

Rapture Becomes Her
Shirlee Busbee
Zebra, Jun 28 2011, $14.00
ISBN: 9781420118421

American Viscount Barnaby Joslyn has no idea how he ended up in the Channel. Sea Captain Jeb finds Barnaby and brings him to the Crown tavern owned by Widow Mrs. Gilbert. Dressed as a man, very tall Emily Townsend knows the guest interrupted their smuggling that keeps her beloved great Aunt Cornelia and Widow stepmother Anne safe from their cousin Squire Jeffery Townsend. Jeffery wants the three women out of his house with his plan to wed pliable Anne to his odious business partner Ainsworth who needs a wife immediately or lose a fortune as his inheritance has a stipulation.

Barnaby knows something is not right with the tall boy near his bed while Emily realizes he is the American. Jeffery arrives raging so Emily escapes through a closet as the five Gilbert daughters delay him before he rushes into the room occupied by Barnaby. The patient gives Jeffery a hard time. Barnaby knows they are smugglers but he owes all of them his life. He will find a way to pay then back though Mrs. Gilbert demands his silence as the only remittance. Meanwhile he wonders who wants him dead besides Mathew and considers his other cousins Thomas and Simon. Barnaby finds Emily and Anne in distress having been run off the road. Barnaby protects the three females while attempts on his life occur even as he and Emily fall in love.

The lead couple is atypical of the sub-genre while the ensemble cast enhances a strong story line. The story line is loaded with action but though there are a couple of other possible suspects, the villain seems obvious relatively early. Still historical romance readers will enjoy Shirlee Busbee’s exciting thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, May 30, 2011

Married by June-Ellen Hartman

Married by June
Ellen Hartman
Harlequin SuperRomance, Jun 7 2011, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373717118

As he struggles with writing his wedding vows political speech writer Cooper Murphy decides instead to end his engagement to wedding planner Jorie Burke. She is heartbroken at a time her business is tanking though she admits herself she would have learned to love him even if it was her late mom’s initial doing.

His parents demand a seat in the US Senate, which his brother Bailey held from Pennsylvania. However, Bailey has a newborn out of wedlock, which make him poison to his constituents. “Saint Cooper” as Bailey calls his brother will replace as the senator for the remaining few months to the term; heir apparent cousin Theo will be thirty and run in the election. To hold the “family” seat, Cooper needs Jorie as his fiancée because word of his dumping her on top of his sibling’s indiscretion would lose the governor’s support. Jorie accepts a new engagement only if they work on their relationship.

This refreshing political romance works because the audience will believe in the emotions of the lead couple. Fans will accept the tenet that politics is a contact sport played by amoral opportunists (no wonder Congress has such a low rating). Character driven especially by a strong cast (his father, uncle and the state governor are something else while Bay’s logic for the affair is a stunner) readers will enjoy a look behind the scenes of DC power brokering.

Harriet Klausner

Twice the Chance-Darlene Gardner

Twice the Chance
Darlene Gardner
Harlequin SuperRomance, Jun 7 2011, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373717149

While jogging in Ashley Greens Park near Charleston, South Carolina, Jazz Lenox notices the redhead with the right shade of color. Although she has seen the tint a dozen times since moving here three years ago, this preadolescent is the first that is the approximate age of the twins she gave up for adoption eight years ago when she was behind bars convicted of armed robbery. She sees a boy who could be her other child and with them is a man she assumes is there father playing soccer with them. Because she was bleeding from a fall and the ball came to her, Uncle Matt Caminetti accompanied by Robbie and Brooke asks if she is okay.

Matt invites her to stop by every Sunday at the park. Jazz knows she should not, but she is attracted to him and wants to know more about her offspring. When Matt and Jazz begin going out, she knows she owes him the entire truth, but fears that will end their relationship as well as her time with the kids since he will never allow harm to his nephew and niece.

Although the initial coincidences are a bit of a stretch even with Jazz checking every redhead for three years and having a somewhat unique coloring, fans will enjoy this family drama as Jazz knows the twins have wonderful parents. The key to this engaging well written contemporary is the heroine, whose torment feels real and makes for a complex romance.

Harriet Klausner

Honor Bound-Julianna Morris

Honor Bound
Julianna Morris
Harlequin SuperRomance, Jun 7 2011, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373717132

In Sand Point, Oregon, eighteen year old Kelly James wonders why her relationship with Ben Santoni ended. Kelly is also worried about her single mom Shanna who falls in love all the time and expects them to marry her like this Nate guy she is seeing. When Shanna crashes the car killing herself, Kelly as the passenger expected Ben to rescue them, but another first responder Mitch Lawson arrived instead.

Fifteen years later, Ben is the police chief and widower Kelly Lawson is the city hall public relations specialist. She is also a mystery writer under another name whose novels have been donated by her publisher to the town library. However two men were recently murdered as described in her books. When he learns the identity of the author and that someone is conducting surveillance of her home, Ben tries to protect the woman he never stopped loving.

Although the heroine holds Ben in contempt for not being there for her during the tragic accident fifteen years ago seems over the top of Mt. Hood even factoring in shock and grief, fans will enjoy this second chance police procedural romance. The investigation is fun to read as fact follows fiction.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Falling for the Nanny-Jacqueline Diamond

Falling for the Nanny
Jacqueline Diamond
Harlequin American Romance, Jun 7 2011, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373753628

Alec Denny fled Boston with his four years old daughter Fiona after her mom Sabrina endangered the child. He took her to his hometown Safe harbor, California where her maternal grandma can provide her loving stability.

His high school girlfriend Patty Hartman, a former cop, is in town too working as a private investigator. He knows he hurt her when he broke up but they were teens in love and his studies to become a doctor took precedent. When Sabrina threatens Fiona’s safety, Dr. Alec, who vowed never again regardless of inane court rulings that jeopardized his little darling once before, hires Patty to keep his beloved child safe. However, the former sweethearts soon realize their heated attraction is much more.

This second chance at love romance is a wonderful contemporary starring a terrific lead couple and a string support cast. The Safe Harbor Medical story line (see Officer Daddy) is for the most part amusingly fast-paced, but fills with taut suspense when Sabrina surfaces. All though her scheme seems insanely over the Sierra Madres, fans will enjoy father and daughter Falling for the Nanny.

Harriet Klausner

A Cowgirl’s Secret-Laura Marie Altom

A Cowgirl’s Secret
Laura Marie Altom
Harlequin American Romance, Jun 7 2011, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373753635

A decade ago, pregnant teenager Daisy Buckhorn fled Weed Gulch, Oklahoma leaving behind her heartbroken family and a despondent boyfriend Luke Montgomery. She settled in San Francisco as Julie Smith and went to school until now the single mom is a practicing attorney.

Luke finds her in San Francisco as she battles a fever. She wants to explain why she fled Buckhorn Ranch by still feels shame from when popular family friend Henry Pohl molested her. When her BFF Heidi arrives with Kolt, Luke is shocked and irate as he knows the ten years old is his son. He rips into her for being a coward by running away with her teen pregnancy. Kolt believes his father never loved him, but the truth makes him question his mom for the first time. Still in love with her while also detesting her, Luke wants the full truth even as he forces a reluctant Daisy accompanied by Kolt to return to Weed Gulch, site of her nightmare.

Besides a second chance romance, this contemporary family drama contains a powerful child/teen molestation subplot. The cast is fully developed including returning Buckhorn Ranch characters (see The Rancher’s Twin Troubles and The Bull Rider’s Christmas Baby). However, a late suspense subplot detracts from an otherwise deep tale.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Darkest Sin-Caroline Richards

The Darkest Sin
Caroline Richards
Kensington Brava, Jun 1 2011, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758242778

Rowena Woolcott suffers from partial memory loss and horrific nightmares of her brutal imprisonment and being rescued from a near drowning. Not one to sit and wait for her unknown adversary to attack her and her family again, Rowena decides to find the culprit and confront him.

She knows she lacks the skills and experience to investigate, so she decides to ask the assistance of Lord James Rushford, who has solved at least a homicide case. He refuses until she forces his hand. Using her ploy, he demands that she pretend to be his mistress as he needs her to uncover the identity of the perpetrator and the motive. Soon as the threats to Rowena’s well being rises, the play acting between the pretend mistress and her benefactor turns intensely real.

The latest Woolcott Sin Victorian romantic suspense (see The Deadliest Sin) is a taut investigative thriller in which the lead couple makes inquires into who haunts the heroine and her family. The secondary characters anchor time, place, and a sense of pending doom. Sub-genre fans will enjoy Caroline Richards’ taut thriller as Lord James and Lady Rowena work the case and keep her safe while falling in love.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Heartbreak Trail-Shirley Kennedy

Heartbreak Trail
Shirley Kennedy
Camel Press, Dec 3 2010, $18.95
ISBN: 9781603818315

In 1850 Boston, twenty-six years old Brahmin Lucy Parker knew there was no place for her in the mansion of her widower father when he married Little Napoleon. When she and widower father Jacob Schneider meet at her younger sister Sarah’s wedding, they are attracted to one another and marry three months later.

However, Lucy is unprepared when Jacob informs her that they, accompanied by his five years old son Noah and his brother Abner will head to California seeking gold. On the wagon train heading west, Jacob dies leaving behind a pregnant wife to raise her stepson and their unborn. Train leader Clint Palance, who met Lucy in Boston, protects her and her child while Abner is scornful of her and his nephew.

More a historical tale with a romantic subplot, readers will feel they are part of the harrowing wagon train heading west. Although a different trail the deep detailed descriptions reminded me of the Oregon Trail game. The trek is dangerous for a seasoned scot like Palance, but even more difficult for a pampered miss like Lucy. The audience will enjoy riding along Heartbreak Trail as gold fever strikes the country.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Reckless Pleasures-Tori Carrington

Reckless Pleasures
Tori Carrington
Harlequin Blaze, May 24 2011, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373796212

Former Marine Megan McGowan understands being away from home on deployment. Now a private security expert, Megan misses her boyfriend and firm’s partner, Marine Darius Folsom as he is overseas when his reserve unit was mobilized and deployed

Megan and another partner Dari’s best friend Jason Savage work on a kidnapping case together. Their proximity heats up their attraction and soon the pair makes love together several times. When Dari returns home early, Megan must choose between her two lovers; that is if her returning marine allows her a choice. First the trio along with their other partners Lazarus and Lincoln Williams work to rescue a kidnapped Finley.

The first Pleasure Seekers romantic suspense is a taut thriller that moves out on two subplots: the personal triangle and the abduction. The romantic segue is deftly developed as Tori Carington puts a powerful spotlight on the human cost of deployments as Dari feels betrayed by his beloved and his BFF while he was in theater. The kidnapping provides tension and twists including a brilliant spin that fans will relish while waiting for the Wicked Pleasures of Linc’s tale.

Harriet Klausner

Should've Been A Cowboy-Vicki Lewis Thompson

Should've Been A Cowboy
Vicki Lewis Thompson
Harlequin Blaze, May 24 2011, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373796229

Tyler Connelli has achieved her dream position as she is being trained as a cruise ship director. Euphoric she goes home to see her sister Morgan married to Gabe Chance (see Claimed), one of the three sibling owners of the Last Chance Ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

However, she is taken aback to find Alex Keller whose sister married Jack Chance (see Ambushed), working as the ranch’s marketing director. They had a one nighter in a hayloft when she attended the marriage of Morgan and Gabe, and he was the DJ at the reception. Tyler is attracted to him and offers her party planning skills to assist Alex with his upcoming open house; her altruistic motive allows her to spend time with him although she knows that will be short as next week she ships out. Besides he has trust issues after Crystal left him in Chicago.

It’s clearly an extended family affair in the latest Last Chance Ranch romance (see Wanted for Nick Chance’s romance). The lead couple is a charming match as love may not be enough since she is leaving and he thinks he knows best for both of them. Sub-genre fans will enjoy another visit to Jackson Hole.

Harriet Klausner

Guarding a Notorious Lady-Olivia Parker

Guarding a Notorious Lady
Olivia Parker
Avon, May 31 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061988400

Lady Rosalind Devine loves matchmaking, but she thinks she cleverly conceals her passion. Her brother (see At the Bride Hunt Ball) does not trust her to be left alone so as he goes off on his honeymoon, he asks his best friend Marquess Nicholas Kincaid to watch his meddlesome sister Rosalind.

He thinks he cleverly conceals keeping her safe, but struggles with his attraction to the obstinate Rosalind who fell in love with him seven long seasons ago when she was nineteen years old. Knowing her sibling, she is sure he appointed his best friend as her warden. She vows to herself to expose him as her protector by making him earn his keep even as she finds herself dreaming and considering how to change Nicholas’s role into that of a passionate lover.

This amusing gender battle is a fun Regency romance starring two delightful lead protagonists. Rosalind is a courageous woman who not just accepts but prefers spinsterhood rather than settling while the only man that she loves fears what she does to his heart (and other body parts). Sub-genre fans will enjoy this warm jocular historical.

Harriet Klausner

Too Wicked to Love-Debra Mullins

Too Wicked to Love
Debra Mullins
Avon, May 31 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061882500

In 1876 affluent Lady Genevieve Wallington-Wallis distrusts males having been hurt by her deceiving former fiancé, Midshipman Bradley Overton. However, Genny is upset with herself for being attracted to Admiral Samuel Breedlove’s coachman John Ready especially after a shared kiss. Still she does not trust him for two reasons: he does not act like a coachman and more important he is a man.

John conceals from his employer that he is a duke seeking to prove his innocence before he is hung for a murder he did not commit; instead Raventhorpe killed his wife Elizabeth as he has others in the way of his sex trading business and framed John who fled to America, but is back. As he seeks evidence, he becomes the protector of Genny’s friend Annabella Bailey who has drawn Raventhorpe’s attention. Genny joins John on his quest to keep Annabella safe and find proof that Raventhorpe is a human trafficking killer.

This exciting Victorian amateur sleuth romantic suspense hooks the audience with the opening scene introduction to the evil snake Raventhorpe and never slows down as undercover John tries to protect two women and find proof to hang the malevolent enemy. Sub-genre fans will find it difficult to stop reading until the final confrontation occurs.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Three Sinful Wishes-R.G. Alexander

Three Sinful Wishes
R.G. Alexander
Heat, Jun 7 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425241110

“Sinful Desires”. Roommates Dani and Liam are in love and heat, but she must confront her past and he must reveal what he conceals.

“Sinful Sensations”. Inn manager Bailey knows logically making love with her employer Cameron is inappropriate, but she cannot stop her desires while he is a love them leave them type except this time it feels different.

“Sinful Pleasures”. Psychic Kaya is attracted to roommates Jace and Nick; they reciprocate the need and pleasure.

These heated passionate romances star three BFFs and the men who bring lust and love into their respective lives after each makes a sinful wish.

Harriet Klausner

Addicted to You-Bethany Kane

Addicted to You
Bethany Kane
Heat, Jun 7 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425241103

Movie director Rill Pierce was born in Ireland to a single mom. He never learned who his father was. He attended UCLA and becomes a success in Hollywood. His life is perfect until his beloved Eden dies in a car accident. Unable to cope, he turns to alcohol while his career crashes. He ends up in Vulture’s Canyon, Illinois with no future only a long forgotten past.

Beverly Hills attorney Katie Hughes has secretly loved Rill but hid her feelings due to their friendship. She worries about him and so she searches for him. When she finds him hammered drunk, he makes love to her. She cannot stop him as he fulfills her deepest wish. Stunned with what he did while intoxicated, he is further shocked when Katie becomes pregnant. Her carrying his child is the impetus for Rill to go home seeking his roots.

Addicted to You is an entertaining contemporary romance as fans will enjoy the heated relationship between the lead couple. The story line is character driven, but needed more of Rill’s back story early on to gain reader empathy for him. Still fans will appreciate his return to sobriety thanks to his angel.

Harriet Klausner

Red Heat-Nina Bruhns

Red Heat
Nina Bruhns
Berkley, Jun 7 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425241851

Though unfair, former KGB agent but now the Ostrov submarine Captain Nikolai Romanoff finds his secretive past coming back to haunt him. He knows he has sunk very far from when he loyally served Russia.

American Julie Severin loathes the Russians as she holds them accountable for the death of her father during the Cold War. She is on board a Russian sub under the Arctic ice pretending to be a reporter but instead spying on her hosts. Nikolai has been assigned to extract information from the American visitor. However, each detests the attraction they have for the other that started the evening before when they first met ashore. As their seemingly polar opposite objectives merge, they fall in love while facing deadly danger together in an isolated scenario.

The first Men In Uniform romantic suspense is a taut thriller in which the Red Heat generated by the lead couple melts the polar ice faster than global warming. The freshness in this exhilarating tale are the location and the heroic Russian who is a wonderful unique protagonist especially in a romance. Readers will relish this tense story as love puts an exclamation point end to the remnants of the Cold War.

Harriet Klausner

Jaded-Anya Bast

Anya Bast
Heat, Jun 7 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425241097

Powerful Magick Alek Chaikoveii is depressed so his friend Byron Andropov hopes to get him out of his funk. He asks Lilya Orensdaughter who has entered the Temple of Dreams to help. She agrees as she feels she owes Byron who saved her life following a vicious assault when she was eighteen by a madman.

Alek has wanted Lilya since he healed her from her injuries, but delayed showing his feelings. As he opens his heart to her, she feels fickle between loving Alek and Byron though her best friend Evangeline has two husbands (see Jeweled); while her personal predator who injured her stalks her as in his mind Lilya belongs to him, dead or alive.

The second Court of Edaeii ménage a trois erotic fantasy romance is an engaging heated but dark thriller that has a medieval and modern day (outdoor café in the downtown drinking coffee) Eastern Europe feel to the plot. The lead trio has suffered traumas, but love heals all wounds in their respective cases; while the obsessed villain acts maniacal in his belief that Lilya belongs to him. Jaded is an exciting character driven tale as readers anticipate a showdown over who controls Lilya.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cascade-Lisa T. Bergren

Lisa T. Bergren
David C. Cook, Jun 1 2011, $9.99
ISBN: 9781434764317

Sisters Gabi and Lia Betarrini have returned to the present after a stint in 1332 Italy (see Waterfall). Her recently widowed mom archeologist Dr. Adri Betarrini wonders where her two daughters found the centuries-old clothing in such good shape that they are wearing. Gabi fell in love in medieval times and wants to return to her Marcello. Lia agrees to help her. The siblings know the risk but try anyway and succeed.

The villagers of Siena welcome the heroines who were keys to their defeat of Florence. On the other hand the losers want to assassinate the outsiders who were instrumental in their losing the battle. Marcello shares Gabi’s feelings of love, but knows she must decide between her twenty-first century and his fourteenth century.

The second River of Time travel thriller is a terrific tale mostly again due to the transplanted sisters as Gabi still has problems with being too tall to find female clothing that fits and both struggle with taken for granted necessities of modern day life. Filled with twists (especially a stunner at the end), fans will enjoy this fine story while wondering which century Gabi will choose.

Harriet Klausner

The Inconvenient Marriage of Charlotte Beck-Kathleen Y'Barbo

The Inconvenient Marriage of Charlotte Beck
Kathleen Y'Barbo
WaterBrook, Jun 21 2011, $13.99
ISBN: 9780307444820

In 1887 London, American Charlotte Beck informs her Uncle Edwin she was accosted as astronomer Lord Alex Hambly arrives with her battered fan. Edwin does not wait for explanations when he punches Alex in the eye. Thus Charlotte and Alex have cause to detest one another.

Her father Daniel wants her married while Charlotte prefers going to college and join his company after graduating. Daniel offers a deal to his daughter and the aristocratic astronomer. They marry and he will fund Alex’s passion to save the Hambly family from financial scandal, and his offspring’s education. Charlotte and Alex agree to Daniel’s terms; but make a secret arrangement between them to annul their marriage first chance they get. All goes accordingly until Alex refuses to end their inconvenient marriage.

This amusing late Victorian romance will have readers loudly laughing at the gender war between two strong willed individuals. Charlotte is a terrific protagonist who is used to having her way; while Alex proves her equal as he has the guts to say no to her. Fans will enjoy this delightful twist to the marriage of convenience as Kathleen Y’Barbo provides another delightful historical.

Harriet Klausner

The Harlot-Saskia Walker

The Harlot
Saskia Walker
Spice (Harlequin), May 24 2011, $14.00
ISBN: 9780373605569

In 1715 in the squalid Dundee inn, Gregor Ramsay enjoyed the cat fight between the Harlot and another wench due to the fine butt of the former. With all sorts of wagering going on, Gregor’s favorite pins the other. Gregor learns that the winner Jessie Taskill is known as the wild Harlot of Dundee. The loser Eliza accuses Jesse of witchcraft. She is arrested and taken to the jail to be burned like her late mom at the stakes.

A minister enters her cell not to give her a chance to repent, but instead an opportunity to escape. Gregor believes she is the one with spirit and intelligence who can help him fulfill his decade long thirst for revenge against the man who destroyed his family. His plan is simple; she will seduce his enemy. She agrees to his plan but plots to seduce her business partner while concealing that Eliza’s words of accusation are not false though she never used witchcraft to win the wrestling match.

This is an exciting, enticing eighteenth century romance with a touch of whimsical witchcraft. The lead couple is an ideal pairing of an obsessed avenger and a vigorous harlot who understands supply and demand as her body is the only commodity she can sell without being burned to death. Readers will appreciate Saskia Walker’s bawdy historical with a bewitching nod to the Memoirs of A Woman of Pleasure.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Beach Lane-Sherryl Woods

Beach Lane
Sherryl Woods
Mira, May 31 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778329893

In Chesapeake Shores, Maryland Mack Franklin and Susie O’Brien are BFFs. Although everyone laughs at their contention they are not dating, the pair do everything together as they have for the past three years. Recently, their relationship has become sweeter and hotter as their friendship blossoms into love.

Mack plans to propose to Susie, but a week before Thanksgiving, he loses his sports reporting job at a Baltimore newspaper’ so he delays his asking her to marry him until he obtains new work. Susie is frustrated with Mack for not telling her he was canned, but soon has her own worries as she may have ovarian cancer at the same his former lover Kristen Lewis arrives in town

The seventh Chesapeake Shores contemporary (see Moonlight Cove and Driftwood Cottage) is a warm tale of love as the latest O’Brien struggles with her relationship with her beloved. The lead couple is a delightful pairing as Mack knows he should tell Susie he was fired but cannot bring himself to do so even knowing she will find out soon enough. Susie’s health issue is made even more realistic by her just learning that her mom had cancer, but hid the history from her children until now as the deadly big C is not something that generation overtly discussed. Sherryl Woods provides a strong angst-laden summer romance as love don’t come easy for this couple.

Harriet Klausner

Baby Drive South-Stephanie Bond

Baby Drive South
Stephanie Bond
Mira, May 24 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778329442

Ten years ago an F-5 tornado devastated Sweetness, Georgia. The Armstrong brothers (Marcus, Kendall and Porter) and other men decide to rebuild their ravaged mountain town. Porter points out that there is a minor problem with their plan: no females. He advertises for women to come and meet the men of Sweetness with matrimony in mind (and hopefully body).

An army of single females including heartbroken Dr. Nikki Salinger invade Sweetness. She sets Porter’s broken leg, but also believes she made an error coming here. When the town’s Southern boys ridicule her, Nikki decides to leave. Porter has other ideas for his little doc so he incapacitates her car to give him the time he believes he needs to win her heart. His plan works thanks in part to animals until her ex Darren and truths arrive.

The first Southern Roads romance is a fun but straighter than the Bonneville Flats tale. Readers will appreciate the diverse personalities of the Armstrong siblings with middle brother Kendall still referring the battles between the oldest Marcus and the youngest Porter. Entertaining, fans will enjoy how Porter found his groove and some broken body parts when he fell in love with his little doc.

Harriet Klausner

Blackberry Summer-RaeAnne Thayne

Blackberry Summer
RaeAnne Thayne
Harlequin HQN, May 24 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373775934

In Hope's Crossing, Colorado, single mom of two kids (Macy and Owen), a dog (Chester) and a pain in the butt mom (Ruth), Claire Bradford owns struggling String Fever beads shop. She loves her town with the only blight being her ex Jeff with his new wife Holly. Someone broke in to her shop in a robbery and also vandalized it by knocking the beads all over the floor and destroying the daughter of the mayor’s customized wedding dress. The police dispatcher Donna tells her she is the fourth victim.

New Police Chief Riley McKnight arrives at Claire’s shop. When he was in high school he had a crush on her that has continued with years of Claire fantasies, but she was and still is BFF to one of his older sisters; besides which back then he was a troubled teen after his dad walked out. He still wants her, but knows he better ignore his desire. All the robberies were shops protected by TopFlight Security, but the system failed. Claire is hurt in an accident while the anonymous enigmatic "Angel of Hope" inspires people to be all they can be. Still this benefactor and love may not be enough for Riley and Claire.

This is an engaging police procedural romance due to the super strong townsfolk; as the key support cast contains diverse personalities, but behave like a town in financial difficulty. The whodunit takes a backseat to the romance with Riley and Claire knowing the zillions con reasons to not become involved and the one pro reason arguing for involvement.

Harriet Klausner

Blood Ties-Sharon Sala

Blood Ties
Sharon Sala
Mira, May 31 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778312642

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

Savannah loved her life with her parents and siblings on the family ranch, but is stunned to learn she has lived a lie. She finds out that her biological mother Chloe gave her to traveling preacher Andrew to keep her safe when she learned she was dying. Her birth mom feared for her infant’s life having been threatened to meet the same fate of Savannah’s biological father Gerald Stoss who was murdered in what looked like a car accident. Needing closure and uninterested in the Stoss Industries billions, Savannah leaves her beloved Judd Holyfield to go to Miami to prove her dad was murdered; not comprehending that her paternal side are classic Darwinists who know how to insure they remain the fittest.

The second Searchers romantic suspense (see Blood Stains for Maria’s heritage) is an engaging thriller as Savannah meets her odious paternal side and like readers learn first hand why Chloe pleaded with Andrew to take her baby with him. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the heroine encounters her kin and never slows down until the final legal denouement. Although most of the Stoss are stereotypes with no redeeming qualities, fans will enjoy Montana comes to Miami.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Wedding of the Century & Other Stories-Mary Jo Putney, Kristin James, Charlotte Featherstone

The Wedding of the Century & Other Stories
Mary Jo Putney, Kristin James, Charlotte Featherstone
Harlequin, HQN, May 24 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373775507

The Wedding of the Century by Mary Jo Putney. In 1885, beautiful and affluent Sarah “Sunny” Vangelder of the New York upper crust has come to London to follow in the footsteps of her godmother who rode like a Comanche in Hyde Park and not wanting to wed just for a title. Justin Aubrey needs income to save his dukedom. First came marriage, and then came love.

Jesse's Wife by Kristin James. Amy McCallister knows she is a plain wallflower who cannot compare to her vivacious beautiful younger sister, but dreams of Charles Whitaker courting her. She was walking on her father’s ranch with Charles, but Jesse Tyler spots them. Her reputation is ruined when Charles insists he loves her and begins to kiss her over her objection. Jesse rescues her and offers to marry her as he seeks acceptance. First came marriage, and then came love.

Seduced by Starlight by Charlotte Featherstone. In 1874 England, rake Jase Markham loves Blossom, who is his brother Samuel's fiancée. They were engaged since they were children. Samuel informs Blossom he loves someone else so she ends their engagement as he races with his love to Gretna Green. Euphoric Jase is in the game for the first time as he plans to court and marry his angelic succubus Blossom. For her first came marriage, and then came love; for him first came love and then came marriage.

These are three wonderful historical romances though Kristin James’ feels a bit out of place with the two Victorian English aristocratic tales and also is a reprint of a 1994 tale.

Harriet Klausner

Creed Honor-Linda Lael Miller

Creed Honor
Linda Lael Miller
Harlequin, HQN, May 31 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373775804

Tricia McCall left Seattle to settle her late father’s affairs in Lonesome Bend, Colorado. While working on selling her dad’s financially failed campgrounds for RVs, she stays with her great-grandmother Natty and a sardine smelling cat.

Conner Creed works hard paying homage to his beloved uncle who raised him by insuring his late relative’s ranch remains a success. His wild estranged twin brother Brody returns to town accompanied by Connor’s former girlfriend Joleen. As Connor and Tricia fall in love, he tries to ignore his feelings for the Washingtonian as she is big city technology and he is ranch soil dirtolgy. However he will learn he does not have a chance to avoid his heart since Natty, a tweener, a dog, a cat and a twin refuse to accept anything short of marriage for this pair in love.

The second Creed Cowboys romance (see A Creed in Stone Creek) is an entertaining tale starring a warm lead couple and a powerful support cast. Ironically the focus of the story line is relationships with family members as the twins struggle to mend fences and the heroine wants to know her Natty better and her goddaughter as well; the lead couple’s love angle stays somewhat in the back until the rest of the gang give it CPR. Fans of the ever expanding saga will enjoy stopping in Colorado as Connor finds his groove in Tricia.

Harriet Klausner

Bad Girl by Night: A H. O. T. Cops-Lacey Alexander

Bad Girl by Night: A H. O. T. Cops
Lacey Alexander
Signet, Jun 7 2011, $14.00
ISBN: 9780451233233

In Turnbridge, Michigan, Carly Winters is a highly respected single woman who owns Winterberry’s Woodcrafts and Fine Furniture. She drives two hours to touristy Traverse City when she wants sex in the city; at the Lodge bar she masquerades as Desiree as she selects her partner for the night. This time she picks up Jake Lockart of Texas and his companion Colt for a one night ménage a trois.

One month later while she muses over the best tryst of her night, she meets the new Turnbridge cop Jake. He is confused as Carly looks like his Desiree but acts like the sweet girl his mentor Frank claims she is. As they dance apart, Jake wants an amalgam of the two personalities displayed by the woman he cherishes, but also must deal with his demons from when he was seven years old.

This is an exciting erotic romantic suspense as the lead couple has flaws and issues. He must confront his child molestation demon that restricts his heart reaching out and she must choose between Desiree, Carly or a combo as the lives of a good girl by day and a Bad Girl by Night are no longer feasible. Although the police suspense subplot is over the top of the spans of the Mackinac Bridge, fans will relish this hated character driven erotica.

Harriet Klausner

Vanish in Plain Sight-Marta Perry

Vanish in Plain Sight
Marta Perry
Harlequin, HQN, May 24 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373775767

In Springville, Pennsylvania, Afghan war veteran Link Morgan takes a sledge hammer to a shoddy panel inside the farmhouse he inherited form his late Uncle Allen. To his shock, inside the wall he finds an old battered suitcase containing women’s clothing including an Amish apron and a photo of a mother and little child. He calls the Spring Township cops who identify the photo as scandalous Barbara Angelo.

Marisa Angelo has spent her life wondering why her beloved mom walked out on her dad and her when she was five years old. Now she learns her mother’s suitcase has been found buried inside a house in Lancaster County. Hoping to find answers and closure, Marisa leaves Baltimore to head to her hometown in Pennsylvania. While Link plans to move to California and wants no part in the investigation of why there is a suitcase of Marisa’s mom hidden in his uncle’s home, he admires obsessed Marisa’s determination to learn the truth regardless of what that may be. As he falls in love with the resolute Marisa, he remains steadfast in his need to insure she remains safe.

The second “… In Plain Sight” Amish romantic suspense is a great thriller that enhances and expands as well as builds on the opening entry (see Murder in Plain Sight). The gripping story line is fast-paced with the sleuthing subplot serving as the lead while the romance supports the investigation. Readers will enjoy this taut tale as the Amish lifestyle that Marisa’s mom was raised in and thought processes were imprinted by is critical to what happened to her years ago.

Harriet Klausner

Trace of Fever-Lori Foster

Trace of Fever
Lori Foster
Harlequin, HQN, May 31 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373775750

Although his friend Dare rescues his sister Alani from the human traffickers (see When You Dare), Trace Rivers remains in an obsessive rage. He lives to destroy these predatory beasts that prey on females. His targets are those above the law untouchables like affluent influential businessman Murray Coburn.

Trace obtains a position as a bodyguard to Murray as the first step in destroying this monster. Step two is put on hold when Priscilla “Priss” Patterson brazenly marches into Murray’s office insisting he is her father. She plans to get close enough to her sire to destroy him. As the undercover bodyguard and the newly discovered offspring share plans, they fall in love; but first there is malevolent monstrous Murray to eliminate.

The latest Men Who Walk the Edge of Honor romantic suspense once again focuses on the evil prevalent human trafficking as predators like Murray buy and sell people as commodities. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action, but it is the human marketing that grips the audience with horror over what people do to people. As the pair fall in love, fans will wonder whether Murray is toying with them before selling them at auction to the highest bidder.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Nearly a Lady-Alissa Johnson

Nearly a Lady
Alissa Johnson
Berkley, Jun 7 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425241813

Emotionally suffering from his combat time, ex soldier Lord Gideon Haverston learns that for years his stepmother Rose cheated his brother’s ward Winnefred “Freddie” Blythe out of her allowance set aside by their late fathers. The Marquess sends his sibling to deliver money directly to Freddie who upon arrival Gideon finds living in poverty in Enscrum, Scotland with her governess Lilly Ilestone; that is after he recovers from their assault.

Freddie loathes Gideon who reminds her of the hypocrisy of the Ton while Lilly demands he host the pair of them for a season in London. Out of his element as he finds liberating smugglers a lot easier to do he agrees reluctantly. Freddie displays even less enthusiasm for the idea but acquiesces out of her love for Lilly. However, as Gideon and Freddie fall in love, neither realizes who Lilly’s secret love is.

This amusing gender war regency is an intelligent historical starring two battling protagonists and a charming support cast. The story line is fast-paced as the confident heroine no longer needs a male protector while the veteran needs a woman to help him overcome his battle fatigue demons. Readers will appreciate this warm historical.

Harriet Klausner

Money Shot-Susan Sey

Money Shot
Susan Sey
Berkley, Jun 7 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425241844

In the middle of a freezing winter U.S. Secret Service agent Maria “Goose” di Guzman is sent to Mishkawa Island to investigate Park Ranger Rush Guthrie. Her assignment is to uncover Rush’s ties to a group allegedly smuggling counterfeit money using the island as a key locale.

In fact, he is an ex SEAL trying to emotionally heal from what he saw and did. Two years on the remote island his family calls home helped, but not as much as when he first meets Goose when she arrives; his gut and another body part inform him immediately he wants her. Goose feels the same way but refuses to come out from behind her shell of indifference. Just like she cracked his veneer, he begins to crumble hers. As they begin to fall in love, someone is smuggling counterfeit money on the island; the suspects share Rush’s DNA so he understands her insistence to show her the Money, Honey.

This is an exciting amusing romantic police procedural starring two wary individuals who find love stronger than their respective guards around their heart. The mystery is somewhat in the background to the changing relationship between the lead couple; yet the fast-paced plot also reminds readers that the Secret Service does more than protect the First Family. Susan Sey scribes an outstanding second story.

Harriet Klausner

Nearly a Lady-Alissa Johnson

Nearly a Lady
Alissa Johnson
Berkley, Jun 7 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425241813

Emotionally suffering from his combat time, ex soldier Lord Gideon Haverston learns that for years his stepmother Rose cheated his brother’s ward Winnefred “Freddie” Blythe out of her allowance set aside by their late fathers. The Marquess sends his sibling to deliver money directly to Freddie who upon arrival Gideon finds living in poverty in Enscrum, Scotland with her governess Lilly Ilestone; that is after he recovers from their assault.

Freddie loathes Gideon who reminds her of the hypocrisy of the Ton while Lilly demands he host the pair of them for a season in London. Out of his element as he finds liberating smugglers a lot easier to do he agrees reluctantly. Freddie displays even less enthusiasm for the idea but acquiesces out of her love for Lilly. However, as Gideon and Freddie fall in love, neither realizes who Lilly’s secret love is.

This amusing gender war regency is an intelligent historical starring two battling protagonists and a charming support cast. The story line is fast-paced as the confident heroine no longer needs a male protector while the veteran needs a woman to help him overcome his battle fatigue demons. Readers will appreciate this warm historical.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Devil in Disguise-Stefanie Sloane

The Devil in Disguise
Stefanie Sloane
Ballantine, May 24 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780345517395

In 1811 the Ton believes Lord William Randall is a notorious rake. However, the Duke uses his roguish reputation to conceal the fact that he belongs to the top secret Corinthians; an espionage cell working for the Crown.

Information from a reliable source claims that French assassin Antoine Garenne plans to kidnap England’s wealthiest heiress Lady Lucinda Grey. The Corinthians assign “Iron Will” to keep Lucinda safe. Lucinda rejects his company until he offers her a deal; his racing horse King Solomon’s Mines for a chance to court her. She accepts his terms. As she begins to see the brave caring man behind the façade and him her courage and élan, they begin a friendship that turns to love. However, an assault on her forces him to reveal his secret identity to protect her; this angers her as she no longer trusts what is in his heart.

The first Corinthian Rogues Regency is an engaging romantic suspense that grips the audience from the moment the lead couple meets and never slows down until the final confrontation with the villain and with each other. The story line is fast-paced and though similar to many nineteenth century undercover espionage thrillers (see Joanne Bourne’s Spymaster series), the refreshing protagonists make for a wonderful historical.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, May 9, 2011

Secrets In A Small Town-Kimberly Van Meter

Secrets In A Small Town
Kimberly Van Meter
Harlequin SuperRomance, May 3 2011, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373717064

The Dayton Tribune rips Big Trees Logging company owner Owen Garrett for his irresponsibility. Three times reporter Piper Morning Dew Sunday tears into the “big bad logger” ruinning a reputation that he has worked diligently to fix after the scandal by his father Ty twenty-five years ago. Worse the hippie offspring wants to interview him while he wants to strangle her.

He threatens to sue her and the paper if they do not retract her slanderous commentary. However, Piper gets his attention when she insists she wants to look at the incident that shaped him because she believes his father was innocent when he and others died at a racist compound. Stunned Owen agrees to work with Piper to uncover the truth of what really happened a quarter of a century ago.

The key to the latest Mama Jo’s Boys tale (see A Chance in the Night) is the realistic changing relationship between the reporter and the logger especially as they begin to uncover buried truths about the massacre that occurred. The romantic suspense story line is fast-paced and filled with tension as readers will relish this terrific entry.

Harriet Klausner

A Father’s Quest-Debra Salonen

A Father’s Quest
Debra Salonen
Harlequin SuperRomance, May 3 2011, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373717040

While Jonas Galloway served in Afghanistan, Cheryl took their seven year old daughter Birdie from their Memphis apartment and vanished inside the shrinking GoodFriends cult that travels the delta circuit. Cheryl explained to her confused child that brother Thom is the second coming. Birdie thinks “Mommy” is wrong about Brother Thom who plans to dump Cheryl and perhaps sell the redheaded child he considers a ghost with her sneaking around. Birdie wants her daddy.

Back in the States, Jonas wants to find his beloved child buried inside the cult somewhere in Louisiana. He believes his best hope to retrieves his offspring resides with his psychic former girlfriend Remy Bouchard, who used her talent to find him when he went missing as a child. He is still hurting from when he ended their relationship based on her mom’s stunning revelation that left him believing his beloved is his half-sister. Jonas pleads with her to help him even as he realizes he loves her as a mate and not a sister. Remy offers to use her skill but also wants them DNA tested as she still loves her Jonas.

The latest Spotlight on Sentinel Pass is an enjoyable second chance romance starring two strong protagonists and a delightful but frightened child. The support cast enhances the tale especially her twin Jessie and her mate Cade (see Return to the Black Hills); even as hyperbole makes Mommy seem more unhinged and Brother Thom more villainous than needed. Readers will appreciate this fun tale while wondering when Maury will appears with “The DNA says you are …”

Mitzi’s Marine-Rogenna Brewer

Mitzi’s Marine
Rogenna Brewer
Harlequin SuperRomance, May 3 2011, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373717095

After losing much of his leg in a combat incident that left his best friend who was his then fiancée’s sibling Freddie dead in Iraq, Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Bruce Calhoun ended his engagement to Navy Chief Petty Officer Mitzi Zahn. They needed each other while grieving, but he shut her out.

To his chagrin, he and Mitzi work in the same Navy/Marine Corps recruiting station. He still loves her, but she has not forgiven him for dumping her over a year ago when she needed his comfort and felt deeply he needed hers too. Worse, his Mitzi is seeing Army First sergeant Daniel Estrada who is a nice guy.

This In Uniform contemporary romance is a great insightful look at severely injured military failing to adjust to physical and emotional changes as they “recover” at home. The emotional plight of Gunny Bruce is brilliantly rendered as he has three strikes (his loss of his BFF, his loss of his leg, and his loss of his woman); while Mitzi also struggles with multiple losses. Readers will relish this engaging profound tale of a wounded warrior’s mental struggles to regain his self sense of worth as with his leg went his esteem.

Harriet Klausner

A Marcelli Wedding-Susan Mallery

A Marcelli Wedding
Susan Mallery
Gallery (Pocket), May 10 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9781451612370

“The Marcelli Bride”. The four kidnappers wearing Halloween masks abduct the president’s daughter Darcy Jensen. When they reach their van, their leader looks at Darcy in disgust and informs his thugs they snatched the wrong one as no one cares what happens to this loser. They unceremoniously leave her behind in the parking lot as they plan to grab Darcy’s glamorous sister Lauren. The two siblings are sent to separate safe houses. After a harrowing overseas ops scenario, Lieutenant Commander Joe Larson and his men are happy to be back in the States. Joe is assigned to protect Darcy at the Marcelli Vineyards. He only recently learned that he is a Marcelli. Amidst the vineyards, Joe and Darcy fall in love, but first he must keep her safe.

“The Marcelli Princess”. In California Mia Marcelli is used to sleeping alone ever since Diego died several years ago. When she awakens to find a man in her bed she threatens to harm him while her two grandmothers charge into the room. The intruder explains he is Rafael, Crown Prince of Calandria. He faked his death but hides the reason for his reappearance; as he has come to take home their offspring four year old Danny, second in line to the throne. He even pretends not knowing he sired a son with her when she was in Calandria. If he gets the kid back to his kingdom, Mia has no legal rights.

These reprints of two of the Marcelli saga combine humor with suspense. Both entries are filled with action from the onset and strong characters though Rafael will not be liked. This omnibus contains two fine romantic thrillers.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Lone Tree-Bobbie O'Keefe

Lone Tree
Bobbie O'Keefe
Five Star, May 6 2011, $25.95
ISBN 9781594149641

Following the death of her mother, Lainie Johnson travels from California to meet her maternal grandfather on his Lone Tree Ranch in West Texas. Miles was estranged for over a quarter of a century from his late daughter so is unaware that he has a granddaughter until she arrives.

Unsure she wants to face Miles until they build a rapport or not, Lainie conceals their kinship from him, but obtains a position on his ranch as his personal secretary. Ranch foreman Reed Smith knows from the first time he sees Lainie’s face that she is his life mate. As her deadline to leave approaches, Lainie falls in love with Reed and Miles, but fears both will reject her when she admits to them who she is.

This is an engaging family drama as the death of the sandwich generation brings her father and her together though each has quite a chasm to overcome as both seek a blood connection. The story line is character driven as the emotions run high although Lainie at times seems too shrill with indignation considering she concealed her identity. Still fans will appreciate this enjoyable Texas Two-Step ranch romance.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, May 2, 2011

With This Ring I Thee Bed-Alison Tyler (editor)

With This Ring I Thee Bed
Alison Tyler (editor)
Spice, Apr 19 2011, $14.95
ISBN: 978-0373605552

This twenty-five short story collection focuses on sex (and humor) in marriage whether it is the honeymoon, the wedding day, the make up encounter or The Seven Year Itch (sans Marilyn) by Kristina Lloyd. Each entry is well written as the authors seemed to have had a good time writing about various aspects but with a strong sexual spin of marriage in under twenty-five pages. The opening act occurs with two empty first class seats as Now or Forever by Nikki Magennis moves the boudoir into the kitchen. Sommer Marsden’s bats second with a bride caught “Racing to the Altar,” by a cop who knows how to pat down a speeder. Fans will enjoy the Anniversary Waltz by Portia Da Costa and the male perspective with contributions by Thomas S. Roche (“A Lucky Wedding”) and Michael Hemington (“The Wedding Stoppers). All the tales are quickies as summed up with the aptly titled “Strippers and Cigars” by N.T. Morley and even the “Mother of the Bride” by Cheyenne Blue finds her groove. With This Ring I Thee Bed is an amusing heated look at sex and marriage, which goes together in this fun collection.

Harriet Klausner

The Marriage Solution-Megan Kelly

The Marriage Solution
Megan Kelly
Harlequin American, May 3 2011, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373753604

In Howard, Missouri Dylan Ross meets Tara Montgomery at his mom’s daycare center where she works. She recognizes him as a love 'em and leave 'em hunk; having met one before; Jay dumped her when she got pregnant four years ago. Now she raises her Jimmy as a single mom, but her child’s paternal grandparents are suing for custody insisting she is unfit though they only know her from her bad girl Jay days.

Violet Durant calls Dylan asking if he will attend her daughter’s funeral and what he plans to do about four year old Lily who he did not know existed until now. The computer guru and the day care provider share a common problem to which he offers a solution. She accepts his marriage of convenience proposal, as long as he understands her child comes first in her eyes.

Although the theme is not new, the characters turn this into a warm family drama filled with love as each has to overcome a misconception about the other. Neither adult can help but fall in love with the other’s child and subsequently each other. Contemporary fans will enjoy the Marriage Solution as neither parents anticipated the love.

Harriet Klausner

A Rancher’s Pride-Barbara White Daille

A Rancher’s Pride
Barbara White Daille
Harlequin American, May 3 2011, $4.99
ISBN: 9780373753574

In Flagman’s Folly, New Mexico Ronnie Ward dumps her daughter on her ex husband Sam Robertson and his mother Sharleen informing the latter she is starting over with a new man. He is stunned as he never knew he had a child. Still reeling Sam vows to be the best daddy in the world to four year old Becky.

He learns his pride and joy is deaf, but he does not care one iota. However, his former sister-in-law Kayla Ward arrives from Illinois vowing to obtain custody of her niece from the absentee father. A sign language teacher, Kayla hates Sam based on what Ronnie told her about her abusive spouse. Sharleen gets hurt in a fall; Sam goes with her to the ER though he distrusts Kayla not to flee with her niece. However, thinking what is best for the child and realizing the aunt and father wants that too, Judge Lloyd Baylor orders the pair to provide a stable environment for Becky for six weeks of joint custody before returning to court.

This is a fabulous family drama as the aunt and the dad fight for custody over his child who turns into the matchmaker. The characters are fully developed with flaws like obstinacy as each learns how irresponsible Ronnie is. Though the solution is obvious as this is a romance, fans will enjoy the trip getting their as a precocious little girl turns Flagman’s Folly into the land of Enchantment.

Harriet Klausner