Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Desire Becomes Her-Shirlee Busbee

Desire Becomes Her

Shirlee Busbee

Zebra, Jun 26 2012, $15.00

ISBN 9781420118445

He escaped Madame Guillotine thanks to Emily who married his half-brother Barnaby and her smugglers (see Rapture Becomes Her). So when Emily’s obnoxious cousin Jeffery Townsend begins fleecing an intoxicated Harlan Broadfoot, Lucian Joslyn decides to intercede on the foolish lad’s behalf. Unable to resist the challenge of beating “Lucifer” as Luc is known in gambling holes, Jeffery accepts a game of hazard. He wins back the boy’s losses and takes him home without telling anyone who actually won the game.

Luc comes across a broken phaeton with injured Silas Ordway stranded there. He helps get the elderly man to safety. A few days late, Luc visits Silas to see how he is doing. There he meets Silas’ niece Widow Gillian Dashwood, who allegedly killed her gambling odious husband. Also at Silas’ home are Gillian’s brother Stanley and his friend Lord George Canfield who blackmails Gillian. As Luc and Gillian fall in love, they are forced to marry when caught in a compromising position, but he knows she conceals something from him that he fears could cost her life at a time when Emily and Barnaby need his help against angry avenging smugglers.

The latest “Becomes Her” historical romance (see Passion Becomes Her) is an engaging late eighteenth century tale due to a strong support cast including returnees and the mutual dichotomous distrust and attraction between the protagonists. The storyline is action-packed as the two subplots come together nicely though the romance between the lead couple follows too closely a traditional “path” even with the freshness brought by their interfering families including some nasty ones. Fans will enjoy the tale of the gambler and the Widow falling in love before learning to trust.

Harriet Klausner

Breakfast in Stilettos-Liz Kingswood

Breakfast in Stilettos

Liz Kingswood

Camel Press, Jul 15 2012, $13.95

ISBN: 9781603818780

Seattle Sun Times Senior Editor Kenner assigns thirtyish Lifestyles Editor Emily Royce to cover the city’s "slutterati" community. Emily does some research and chats with her ex Seattle Zealot columnist Frank Trager who ended their relationship abruptly for no apparent reason. When she has no one to go with her, prudish Emily agrees to allow Frank, who has been there, to escort her to the Slutterati Salon.

Emily meets six foot plus fetish friendly sex therapist Dr. Rachel Steiner and sub Pixie Caldwell as part of her research. On line subs beg her to spank them. As Emily waits on line for Frank to arrive so they can enter the salon together, she meets programmer Joe Stratton. Inside, Emily is shocked yet excited by what is going on though Frank dumps her while Joe escorts her. She begins to learn more about herself and Frank over a glass of wine.

Not for everyone, Breakfast In Stilettos is an intriguing unique BDSM second chance at love tale. The magnificent Em makes the storyline work as her metamorphosis rings true albeit perhaps her acceptance is too fast; after she spent too much of the early plot moaning about losing Frank while everyone else groans too frequently he is a loser. Fans will enjoy visiting the Slutterati Salon with Liz Kingswood as out escort.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Search-Shelley Shepard Gray

The Search

Shelley Shepard Gray

Avon Inspire, Jun 19 2012, $12.99

ISBN: 9780062089724

After several months in Crittenden, Kentucky Perry Borntrager vanished. Three teenagers found his corpse at the bottom of an abandoned well on the Miller Farm. Knowing he was in over his head, Crittenden County Deputy Sheriff Mose Kramer asked his friend Cincinnati PD Detective Luke Reynolds to help with the inquiry, which he agreed to do (see The Secrets of Crittenden County: Missing).

Luke focuses on Frannie Eicher, Amish owner of the Yellow Bird Inn, as he believes she is hiding something important. She is filled with guilt and remorse blaming herself for Perry’s death because she rejected his plan for them to leave the Amish and failed to get Perry off the drugs. However, she also feels unhappy that she is fickly is attracted to the Englischer detective. When Frannie is hurt in an accident, Beth Byler takes over running the inn; while Luke, already struggling with his desire for her, knows his heart is winning the battle with his brain.

The second Secrets of Crittenden police procedural romance continues the engaging investigation by the Englischer detective amidst uncooperative Amish, but made more complicated by his unprofessional attraction to one of the prime suspects. The clash of cultures is deftly handled so that differences don't overwhelm the delightful prime plot of falling in love while a murder investigation is occurring. Although it behooves fans to have read Missing first as Search builds off of the first book’s foundation, readers will appreciate this fine entry as Luke “Found” his heart, but not the killer.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Beach Colors-Shelley Noble

Beach Colors

Shelley Noble

Morrow, Jun 12 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780062103086

Designer Margaux Sullivan introduced her line to universal praise at New York City's Fashion Week. However, while she shows off her line, her husband Louis vanishes, but not before emptying all their accounts. Still reeling, Margaux takes another double shot to her gut when the bank forecloses on her Manhattan-based business and her apartment. Humiliated, despondent and feeling like an idiot, Margaux crawls back to her family’s summer beach house in Crescent Cove, Connecticut where Police Chief Nick Prescott greets her with a speeding ticket.

Nick a townie wanted Margaux when they were growing up but never crossed the great divide between the permanent and the summer. After a stint with the army, he came home to help his mom raise his nephew Connor. He still wants the star of his fantasies, but gave her a ticket anyway because she was thirty miles over the limit. As she enjoys the beach with Nick and Connor, Margaux works on a new line to regain her position at the top of haute couture ladder, but will soon need to decide between New York and Connecticut.

This is a warm contemporary romance starring two engaging protagonists and a caring support cast (Manhattan and Connecticut) with one exception; Louis is a pathetic weasel who not only stole their savings, he visits Margaux to demand she give him more money. The enjoyable storyline focuses on love and goals as the heroine must choose between ambition to overcome her shame and her love for Nick and Connor though there is a third option if she wished for it at the grotto.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Canyon Shadows-Vonna Harper

Canyon Shadows

Vonna Harper

Kensington Aphrodisia, Jun 1 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758242273

In Oregon, Shari Afton runs a kennel and K9 training business. Wyoming cattle rancher Maco Durant wants to purchase two of her Doberman guard dogs. Shari is shocked how much she fantasizes running wild with her newest customer based on his voice only.

However, someone shoots Shari’s dog Ona and fires a second shot at her; Maco arrives to rescue her and Ona. They conjecture whether the assassin belongs to an angry ranch group that violently opposes a dam project Maco’s brother is building, could it be her history as her father was a murder victim or a poacher. As Shari and Maco fall in love, they have each other’s back though they are unsure from whom; only this lethal enemy wants one or both of them dead.

This heated romantic suspense deftly blends sex with a stalker subplot. Fast-paced from the first call that stirred the respective libido of the lead couple and never slowing down whether the focus is erotic or mystery, Vonna Harper provides a tense thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Beach Season-Lisa Jackson, Holly Chamberlin, Cathy Lamb, Rosalind Noonan

Beach Season

Lisa Jackson, Holly Chamberlin, Cathy Lamb, Rosalind Noonan

Kensington, May 29 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780758265630

“June Lace” by Cathy Lamb. On the Oregon coast, wedding dress designer June McKenna briefly turned her back to the ocean when a wave hits. Songwriter Reece O’Brien saves her life and perhaps her soul too.

“Second Chance Sweethearts” by Holly Chamberlin. Thirtyish Thea Foss fled Boston to escape her abusive former husband Mark Marais. She stops in Ogunquit, Maine but Mark continues to torment her. In a diner, she meets her first love Hugh Landry, who reminds her she was once Thea with a brave heart. With Hugh, her kind landlady Alice Monroe and Henrietta the cat she is ready to confront Mark.

“Carolina Summer” by Rosalind Noonan. New York realtor Jane Doyle and her friend Tia witnessed a murder. However, the culprit kills Tia; before he can eliminate Jane, she flees for Florida. Bad weather forces her to stay in the North Carolina Outer Banks where Sheriff Cooper Locklear rescues her from the storm, but she knows the real storm is pursuing her.

“The Brass Ring” by Lisa Jackson. Shawna McGuire’s fiancé Parker Harrison suffers a head trauma as well as other injuries. As he heals, he still suffers from amnesia unable to recall ever meeting Shawna before the accident. Shawna refuses to give up on love.

Beach Season lives up its title with fun but thin stories. Whereas the first three tales are new, Ms. Jackson’s entry is a reprint of a 1988 novel.

Harriet Klausner

Bannon Brothers: Honor-Janet Dailey

Bannon Brothers: Honor

Janet Dailey

Kensington, May 29 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9780758255778

Following his brother’s wedding (see Trust), Intelligence Agent Linc Bannon sees a news report of a car crash in which he recognizes the license plate KENZYZ. He rushes to the hospital to see but gets no information so after she fails to answer her phone; he races to her house where he notices someone run off. Army K9 trainer Kenzie Mackenzie is at home as she lent her car to her friend Christine Corelli who is like a sister to her.

Soon afterward, Kenzie learns that another friend, Frank Branigan died while on a routine patrol in Kandahar. Linc and Kenzie find a link between the accident and the death that has Kenzie shook up. She and Linc investigate in an attempt to prevent more lethal incidents.

The latest Bannon Brothers romantic suspense is an exciting thriller starring two fascinating protagonists. He brings to life contemporary technology and she enables the audience to obtain a handle on the K9 corps. Although the romantic subplot seems off as her I’m Not In Love refrain grows tedious (unlike the 10cc song), fans will enjoy this taut tale.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Kiss The Bride-Lori Wilde

Kiss The Bride

Lori Wilde

Forever, May 22 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781455512676

“There Goes The Bride.” In Houston the upcoming marriage between Delaney Cartwright and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Evan van Zandt makes all of the societal pages. However, the bride has doubts although she admits Evan is a nice likable person; she wants sparks and there are none. Delaney stops at a consignment shop where she makes a wish to get out of her nuptials while holding a wedding veil. Her friends persuade her to abduct Evan and have her way with him. Instead she almost kidnaps Evan's patient, undercover Detective Dominic Vanetti, whom she has seen in a vision when she first touched the veil. Still her plan now is to hire someone to abduct her so she does not have to say I do, but someone else has the same agenda with a different outcome.

“Once Smitten, Twice Shy.” Two years ago Secret Service agent Shane Tremont and wedding videographer Tish Gallagher divorced though they remain hot for one another. While Tish's business borders on bankruptcy, Shane protects the POTUS' daughter Elysee. When he is injured in the line of duty, Elysee thinks he is her knight in shining armor; Shane thinks he is in love. They become engaged as the country goes wild over the romance between the government agent and the First Daughter. Elysee hires Tish to videotape their engagement party and their wedding as she knows Shane still has a torch for his ex and believes that should bring finality to the couple. However, Elysee’s plan backfires as Shane and Tish realize they still love each other, but they failed once.

This reprint of two whimsical Wedding Veil Wishes tales contains Wilde madcap entertaining paranormal contemporary romances.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Life Rebuilt-Jean Brashear

A Life Rebuilt

Jean Brashear

Harlequin SuperRomance, Jun 5 2012, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373717873

The Foundations for Families are building their fourth house in a bad neighborhood using volunteers. Jenna MacAllister heads over to see the progress on the Marin family dream home when she spots a volunteer kid Freddie stealing copper. Someone bigger and older than Freddie grabs her from behind and orders the troubled teen to finish the job.

Suffering from PTSD, Special Forces soldier Roman Gallardo has become a night owl who cannot sleep for more than four hours at a time since he came home from Iraq. He sees the gangbanger with the knife on top of the woman and intercedes. When the cops arrive, he disappears into the darkness like a ghost. When she and her partner Teo Hernandez arrive in the morning, the sheetrock mess was removed anonymously. Roman finds Freddie who says Mako made him help by threating his little brother Damien. Freddie cons Roman into helping at the site. As Roman reluctantly gets involved with Freddie and Jenna, he finds a reason to care, which means he will need to obtain help for his PTSD.

This is a strong poignant look at the impact of PTSD on a brave war veteran so crippled by the ailment, he has become an urban recluse who cannot sleep or even shake hands. Jean Brashear makes a powerful case for more mental healthcare funding (including training professionals) for the vet and active soldier. Action-packed from the moment he intervenes in the assault on her, fans will relish this deep tale as Pollyanna shines her loving light onto the darkness that engulfs the former combat vet.

Harriet Klausner

Bring Him Home-Karina Bliss

Bring Him Home

Karina Bliss

Harlequin SuperRomance, Jun 5 2012, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373717842

Eighteen months ago in Northern Afghanistan, Steve Langford, Nate Wyatt and others are in deep trouble after an IED explosion is followed by an assault. Steve’s leg is trapped in their vehicle while Nate helps another wounded soldier to safety. Before he can return to his BFF, an explosion kills Steve. Stunned and feeling survivor guilt, Nate knows Steve asked him to take care of his widow Claire and their teenage son.

Claire travels from New Zealand to Los Angeles to ask Nate to come home to co-sign papers enabling her to sell her home so she can start a charter fishing business. He ignored his late BFF’s dying plea because he cannot face Claire. However, her coming to Southern California makes him realize he needs to honor that death bed vow he made so he returns to New Zealand.

The key to this strong military romance is the impact of a soldier’s death in combat on his loved ones. Nate and the Langford duet grieve their loss deeply but differently as Claire knows it is time to move on while the veteran wants to still hide. As he shocks her with his caring, they begin to fall in love, but neither wants to harm her son or their memory of Steve. Readers will appreciate this strong look at the impact of combat on a veteran and two dependents that chicken hawks ignore when they debate sending the young into war.

Harriet Klausner

The Only Man For Her-Kristi Gold

The Only Man For Her

Kristi Gold

Harlequin SuperRomance, Jun 5 2012, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373717859

Though they came from different sides of the tracks and her family objected to him as not good enough for her, Rachel Wainwright and Matthew Boyd knew each other for several years before they married. They were a happy wedded couple for twelve plus years until the tragedy hit them four months ago when their premature baby Caleb died just a few hours after his birth. Both grieved their loss; one month ago, she left him as she explained he gave her no choice by his refusal to talk with her over the decision he made to save her life over that of unborn Caleb.

Rachel feels guilty that she chose to conceive by skipping her birth control pills though she knew her spouse did not want children. Matt feels he owes her the truth but believes even with bourbon he could not survive the look he fears he will see in her visage. Each feels they failed Caleb and their beloved mate.

Filled with angst, this is a super tale that centers on grief compounded by crippling guilt leading to an inability to talk about what bothers each of the protagonists. Matt and Rachel seem real which contributes to crafting this powerful and exciting family drama.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, May 18, 2012

When Morning Comes-Francis Ray

When Morning Comes

Francis Ray

St. Martin's Griffin, Jun 5 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780312681623

At Texas Hospital in Dallas, patient advocate Sabrina Thomas and Dr. Cade Mathis clash over a patient needing surgery to remove a brain tumor. This is not the first argument they had. Sabrina knows she plays with fire challenging the star sturgeon, but her job requires the patient comes first, which is why she left Houston and fears she will be gone from Dallas soon too. However, she tells the patient Ann Ward if she needed the operation Mathis would be at the top of her list. When he learns this Cade is stunned. He goes to her place to thank her, but is shocked to see the third degree burn scars on her body as she swims. She is attracted to him and wants to see him smile once while he is unable to ignore her.

Her best friend is hospital social worker Kara Simmons, a talented artist who recently broke off with a cheating Dr. Collins. She meets Tristan Landers, who works renovation projects that he also writes about. He likes her art and wants to use her work in his efforts but also is attracted to Kara.

This Family Affair romance is a tender tale that contains two love matches. Filled with a warm though unlikely twist, the strong cast including patients makes for a fabulous contemporary tale as fans will want the best for the couples, their extended families (with an nasty exception) and the patients and their families.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, May 17, 2012

End of the Trail-Vickie McDonough

End of the Trail

Vickie McDonough

River North, Jun 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780802404084

In 1886 in Waco, his mom and older sister deride sixteen year old Brooks Morgan for not doing his fair share of the chores. His dad lectures him further. Upset, he becomes angry when his dad says he will sell Brooks’ horse jester. Brooks leaves.

In 1896 Brooks meets elderly ailing Will Langston. They play cards and Brooks wins the man’s Raven Creek Ranch; Will asks him to take care of Keri. Feeling guilty, Brooks decides to return the spread to Will, but instead his new friend is dead. At the same time, Keri Langston looks forward to leaving Wesleyan Female College in Georgia to return to her beloved Uncle Will’s ranch. Brooks arrives at the ranch only to be strung up with a rope around his neck. Keri rescues him, but believes in spite of the deed Brooks possesses that her Uncle Will would want her to own Raven Creek Ranch. As they fall in love, someone has plans for the ranch, which exclude the niece and the deed holder.

The sixth Texas Trails Morgan Family nineteenth century western romance is a superb finish to a strong historical saga. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action while bringing to life Texas in the last decade of the twentieth century. Written by three authors romance (see Darlene Franklin's Ranger’s Trail and The Lone Star Trail; Cowgirl Trail and The Captive Trail by Susan Page Davis; and Long Trail Home by Vickie McDonough), this is a fitting End of the Trail for a great epic.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Along Came A Duke-Elizabeth Boyle

Along Came A Duke

Elizabeth Boyle

Avon, May 29 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780062089069

In 1810, orphan Tabitha Timmons lives with uncle and aunt who treat her as unpaid help. However, she will inherit a fortune if she marries respectable Mr. Barkworth before she turns twenty-five; which is one month from now.

Stopping at an inn on her way to meet her fiancé in London, Tabitha meets the rakish Duke of Preston who is exiled by the Ton for his scandalous behavior. Though he knows better as like her he needs to make a socially correct marriage, he steals a kiss. Both are stunned by their reaction. However, she continues her journey but he follows her. At a London ball, Preston insults Barkworth and dances with Tabby. With family, friends and dogs matchmaking Preston and Tabby, they fall in love. However, Preston believes he must do what is right by his Tabby, but first looks into the will that has the odd stipulation regarding her inheritance.

The first Rhymes With Love Regency romance is an amusing historical that satirizes the sub-genre with hyperbolic characterizations to include the ultimate rake, the on the shelf spinster, the proper fop, matchmaking dogs and cruel relatives, etc. Filled with humor, fans will wonder whether the heroine will choose scandalous love, prim money, or lonely asylum.

Harriet Klausner

A Night Like This-Julia Quinn

A Night Like This

Julia Quinn

Avon, May 29 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780062072900

Raging High Prentice accuses drunken Daniel Smythe-Smith of cheating at cards. Though struggling for coherency, Daniels denies it, but Hugh, who knows every card, insist he could not have an ace. They agree to a duel. Hugh fires his gun a nanosecond early hitting Daniel in the shoulder. Though irate Daniel plans to shoots at a tree, but is distracted and hits Hugh causing permanent harm to a leg. Hugh’s angry father Ramsgate vows vengeance as Daniel leaves the country for Italy.

For eight years Anne Wynter has hidden from her past. Currently she is governess to three Smythe-Smith females. Whether she butchers the piano at the family musicale or fears death by tuba, Anne does all with calmness until she meets the Earl of Winstead; as after three years on the continent Daniel is back. As they become friends and fall in love, accidents begin to occur that Daniel believes is intended to hurt him with only the Hugh incident coming to mind as the likely source.

The second Smythe-Smith Quartet Regency romantic suspense (see Just Like Heaven for the story of Daniel’s sister Honoria and his BFF Marcus) is an engaging historical starring two likable protagonists who find love strip away their caution. Filled with humor, tension and a surprising plausible twist, fans will enjoy this wonderful entry.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Rescue Me-Rachel Gibson

Rescue Me

Rachel Gibson

Avon, May 29 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780062069122

When Sadie Hollowell turned eighteen she left Lovett, Texas. Over the next few years, she only came home to attend family events as she and her dad did not have a warm relationship and she realized she could never compete with his ranch for his affection; ergo she prefers her single life as a Phoenix realtor than time on the ranch. Sadie is in Lovett for her cousin’s wedding but plans to leave ASAP.

Former SEAL Vince Haven struggles with adapting to a less regimental lifestyle as a civilian. He comes to Lovett because his aunt wants to talk a business deal with him. Vince and Sadie meet when she gives him a ride after his truck breaks down. Forced to remain in town when her dad is injured, she and Vince begin a casual affair, but neither expected to fall in love.

This is an engaging contemporary romance starring a resigned heroine who believes “love was only true in fairy tales” (Monkees’ I’m A Believer) and the angry sibling in Any Man of Mine who wanted to rip out the guts of the hockey player who left his sister a single mom. The storyline is amusing as the zillion folks in Lovett provide a local jocular eccentricity to the plot. Although typical of the relationship-phobic theme and the ending sudden, fans will enjoy the protagonists’ rescue each other’s heart.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Casanova Code-Donna MacMeans

The Casanova Code

Donna MacMeans

Berkley, Jun 5 2012. $7.99

ISBN: 9780425250839

Edwina, Faith, Sarah and Claire are unhappy with the Mayfair Messenger failure to include an article on how many birds die to make a fashionable woman’s hat. The female reformists also upset over a personal ad from a “the refined gentleman” advertising for a companion to stay home for conversation rather than the social whirls of the Ton. They know the author Ashton Trewelyn is a rake who has seduced several naive women forced to escape to the continent. To stop his predatory ways, they form the Rake Patrol with him being their first target.

In fact Ashton is not that scandalous person anymore ever since he served in the King’s Royal Rifles which has changed him. He has found a coded message that implies trouble for the Crown and his family. Soon he “abducts” Edwina taking her into a secret room inside the hidden gallery. Knowing she is an expert on finding patterns he asks for her help with deciphering the code. Can a rake and a modern woman find love?

The first Rake Patrol historical romance is an entertaining thriller starring a reformed rake and a “modern” woman. Filled with action, The Casanova Code is a fun read whether it is investigating the pattern of the mysterious message or enjoying pillow talk.

Harriet Klausner

Lucky In Love-Jill Shalvis

Lucky In Love

Jill Shalvis

Forever, May 22 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781455503728

In Lucky Harbor, Washington Mallory Quinn is tired of being the Mary Poppins of her hew town as she always is there for others in need. The nurse wants to have a fling, which would go against her image of being a nice caring girl.

Ty Garrison is the newcomer in town. He makes sure everyone knows he is here for a short stay as the SEAL medic recovers from injuries sustained in a burning plane over the Pacific. Mallory decides Ty is perfect though he is not Mr. Right or Mr. Wrong to mentor her in the art of sex. Not one to forsake his duty, Ty willingly becomes her instructor while wondering who is teaching who as each begins to muse could they have become Lucky In Love.

The latest Lucky Harbor contemporary romance (see At Last and Forever And A Day) is a wonderful amusing tale made fresh by the townsfolk. The lead couple is a strong pairing of two nice people with diverse outlooks on life. Seemingly everyone has advice for the town’s good girl poster child while Ty finds it amusing to be caught in the crosshairs from her loyal posse including that darn cat Sweet pea. Though the premise of the sex teacher and willing student falling in love is not new, fans will relish this delightful charmer.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Home For The Summer-Mariah Stewart

Home For The Summer

Mariah Stewart

Ballantine, May 29 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780345531223

Thirtyish Lucy Sinclair loves her family and relished growing up in St. Denis, Maryland but as an adult loathes going back there; not just because her business in in California. One traumatic incident that she has shared with no one has left her hating any return to Chesapeake Bay.

Clay Madison was her best friend but she never told him what happened and he believes something must have occurred that has Lucy never coming home unless there is an occasion and fleeing the first chance she can. He stayed behind to run his family farm and recently opened up a brewery. When she comes back to plan a wedding, they spend time together as they renew their friendship and soon show tokens of affection, which blossoms into love. However, besides their vocations being on different sides of the country, her two-decade old nightmare remains in the way.

The newest Chesapeake Diaries (see Hometown Girl, Home Again and Almost Home) is owned by Lucy who learns she can come home to love from her family and from Clay if she let’s go of the nightmare that haunts her. Though the engaging storyline goes totally as expected, fans will enjoy the latest visit to Chesapeake Bay.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Gentleman Undone-Cecilia Grant

A Gentleman Undone

Cecilia Grant

Bantam, May 29 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780553593846

Those who survived the bloody Battle of Waterloo were considered heroes back home, but Lieutenant Will Blackshear watched his brothers in arms die; the most devastating was Talbot who left behind a wife and son. Suffering emotionally, he returns to London broken but a quest gives him focus. He obsesses over making enough money to insure Talbot’s family is financially secure, but needs to do so fast, which means winning at cards at the gentlemen’s clubs.

Lydia Slaughter takes Will to the cleaners, which awakens him to the fact that he needs a teacher. They strike a deal in which she will instruct him and he will assist her with her goal to leave her current protector and become independent not beholding to any man. As the war hero and the card sharp team up, they buck the odds by falling in love.

This is a terrific character driven Regency romance starring two fascinating protagonists. Whereas he suffers mentally from battle fatigue, she suffers economically from codependence. With a passionate timely (the soldiers returning from the wars) plot, Cecilia Grant provides a super historical (see A Lady Awakened).

Harriet Klausner

More Than A Stranger-Erin Knightley

More Than A Stranger

Erin Knightley

Signet, Jun 5 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451237712

In 1804 England, Richard Moore informs his family he has met a new best friend at Eton. His eleven years old sister Evie is irate with his announcement and writes a letter to intruder Benedict Hastings that her sibling has a best friend. Lonely since his family deserted him as a worthless second son at Eton, Benedict finds solace in the letters he and Evie exchange over the next few years until he abruptly stopped sending them in 1809 though he regrets never having met his Evie.

After years working for the Crown, in 1816, Benedict comes to Mayfair to ask his friend Richard to allow him to say at Hertford Hall as a safe house while he ponders what to do about a serious situation without involving his friend as this is his fight so he blames his Mother. Due to his lover fiery Isabella, Richard agrees rustication sounds healthy. Evie runs into James Benedict who for her safety hides his identity. However, his teen love remains strong as the reality proves better than the fantasy; Benedict wants to tell his Evie who he is, why he vanished and how much he loves her. Fearing his family is treasonously abetting his enemy and having lost focus, his adversary arrives placing Evie and her family in peril.

The first Sealed with a Kiss Regency romantic suspense hooks the readers with the youthful correspondence between the loving protective Little Bit of a sister and the lonely second son and never loses that hold as the adults are in love but his past has arrived bringing danger to two families. Action-packed, sub-genre readers will enjoy this warm passionate yet taut tale starring two charming protagonists.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Jacked Up-Erin McCarthy

Jacked Up

Erin McCarthy

Berkley, Jun 5 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425250808

Public realations specialist Eve Monroe reads the riot act to Jackman Nolan Ford for his ass showing up on You Tube when he ripped his pants working crew while his brother Evan drove. As she yells at him as the sponsors are outraged, he thinks she is hot as he has had a crush on her for quite a while. He claims an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction and uses her blouse as an example that this happens.

Nolan asks Eve to join him for a beer. She is shocked as men run when she rants and raves. They begin dating and he tosses her a birthday bash in Vegas that leads to sex. As she struggles with her unwanted feelings, he encourages her to go around the track permanently with him.

The latest Fast Track contemporary romance (see Hot Finish) is a fun tale of two polar opposites falling in love; she is a prim and proper workaholic while he is the king of mellow. Though somewhat similar in tone to Hard and Fast, fans will enjoy this trek around the Fast Track.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mine To Hold-Shayla Black

Mine To Hold

Shayla Black

Heat/Berkley, Jun 5 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780425245514

LA Times reporter Delaney Catalano wrote fluff pieces when LAPD Vice Detective Tyler Murphy knew her. Now she is at his Lafayette, Louisiana home carrying his infant son Seth while she is on the run from ADA Martin Carlson who had her car with loads of evidence blown up. Tyler asks how his former partner wheelchair bound Eric is doing. She says they divorced sixteen months ago when Eric realized his wife loved his friend and only stayed with him out of duty; he rejected her pity.

However, Carlson’s reach is wide and his goons follow Del. As the enemy attempt to kill her and her protector, Del and Tyler know Seth’s safety comes before their passion that led to the baby’s birth and even their love as they must deal with the ADA’s murderous minion.

This is a heated romantic suspense starring a caring “Cockgilla” and a dedicated single mom journalist in trouble. Fast-paced, fans will enjoy this entertaining tale though Carlson’s evil empire seems over the top of Mount Lukens. Still filed with twists, Mine to Hold is an engaging heated thriller.

Harriet Klausner

The Taming of a Scottish Princess- Karen Hawkins

The Taming of a Scottish Princess

Karen Hawkins

Pocket, May 22 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781439175958

In 1822, Egyptologist Michael Hunt and his prim and proper assistant Miss Jane Smythe-Haughton continue their search for the Hurst Amulet, but he is stunned by where he believes he will find the gem. An encoded map of Scotland leads the intrepid pair to the Hebrides Isle of Barra.

Jane acts out of character as they head to the archipelago to the west. The locals are stunned when they see Jane who they insist looks exactly like their deceased princess. Meanwhile Michael realizes he loves his loyal aide as he knows life without her in his ventures and at home is unacceptable; but additionally is fascinated by her “resemblance” as her secret past becomes revealed while adversaries want them dead.

With a delightful twist, the finale of the Hurst Amulet Regency romantic adventure saga (see Scandal in Scotland, One Night in Scotland and A Most Dangerous Profession) is a super climax to an engaging series. The protagonists are a wonderful pairing while the secrets of the amulet and the lost princess are deftly written by Karen Hawkins. Readers will enjoy the Hurst episodes filled with love and danger.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, May 7, 2012

Harvest of Rubies-Tessa Agshar

Harvest of Rubies

Tessa Agshar

River North, Apr 20 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780802405586

In the third year of the reign of King Artaxerxes of Persia, seven years old Sarah’s mom died. Her dad Simeon ignores his grieving daughter. To get the attention of her father, a royal scribe at the Persian court, Sarah teaches herself to read and write. Five months of hard labor proves fruitful when Simeon realizes what his child can do. He mentors her while she shows tremendous proclivity towards several languages.

Her cousin Nehemiah the Cupbearer to King Artaxerxes notices Sarah’s talent. He recommends her as a scribe to Queen Damaspia. Sarah quickly becomes the queen’s chief scribe. When Sarah prevents a conspiracy to destroy the queen, Damaspia rewards her with a marriage to Lord Darius. Sarah tries to stop the wedding, but fails to do so and is unprepared when she exchanges vows with her husband. Her behavior leaves her in disfavor as the royals, her spouse, her father and others accuse her of insulting the Queen and Darius. Forced to remain behind in her husband’s palace while he travels, Sarah learns that Darius’ steward Teispes is stealing. She seeks proof while her adversary seeks to stop her anyway possible.

The latest Tessa Agshar’s ancient biblical romantic thriller (see Pearl in the Sand) is a great saga that takes place in a vividly described Persia not long after the reign of Xerxes and Esther of Purim fame in which assimilation has occurred although Jerusalem is being rebuilt. Sarah is a tremendous protagonist as she learns her self-worth is more than just being a scribe and that God did not abandon her when the Lord took her mom away, but her lessons learned may be too late for her marriage and even her life.

Harriet Klausner

Summer Days-Susan Mallery

Summer Days

Susan Mallery

Harlequin HQN, May 29 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780373776832

Heidi Simpson loves her grandfather Glen who raised her while he worked the carny circuit, but she always dreamed of roots like a normal person. Thus she jumps at the opportunity to buy Castle Ranch in Fool’s Gold, California. She plans to raise goats in order to sell specialty cheese.

However, when Glen’s friend Harvey needed treatment for cancer, he sold part of the spread that he does not own to May Stryker for $250,000. May’s San Francisco-based CEO son Rafe threatens to send the old man to prison on fraud charges. In the courtroom, the judge orders Rafe and his mom, and Heidi and her grandfather to move onto the ranch temporarily. Neither Rafe nor Heidi expected love to further complicate the mess.

The latest Fool's Gold contemporary romance (see Summer Nights) starts a new Stryker sibling arc with a warm amusing tale as goats and the flu serve as matchmakers between two obstinate souls who are experts at botching the game of love. A secondary romance involving zebras and an elephant enhance the fun lighthearted tale of a jocular tender out of control property suit.

Harriet Klausner

Big Sky Country-Linda Lael Miller

Big Sky Country

Linda Lael Miller

Harlequin HQN, May 29 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780373776436

Joslyn Kirk sold her software business and left Phoenix to return home to Parable, Montana on a secret mission. Her late stepfather cheated many locals out of their money; she wants to pay them back so the townsfolk are confused by anonymous checks arriving in the mail. Only her childhood BFF realtor Kendra Shepherd believes Joslyn is behind the checks.

When rancher John Carmody dies, he shocks his legitimate son Hutch and his illegitimate son Slade Barlow when he splits his fortune including Whisper Creek between his two offspring as he never recognized the latter when he was alive. Slade, now the sheriff, is attracted to Joslyn, who he had nothing to do with when she grew up affluent while he was poor. His half-brother Hutch used to be her boyfriend so he expects Hutch to start up again with her though he looks at Kendra a lot. Complicating matters is Slade’s former wife Layne’s daughter sixteen year old Shea wants to stay with him rather than boarding school as her mom has a new relationship with her no part of it.

The first Parable Big Sky Country romance is an entertaining tale starring an engaging cast who bring to life a small town. The protagonists are a delightful pairing of a couple who grew up on opposite sides of the tracks so though they knew each other, this is their first chance at love. Though a late spin seems unlikely, fans will appreciate Linda Lael Miller’s Montana family drama.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, May 4, 2012

Blazing Midsummer Nights-Leslie Kelly

Blazing Midsummer Nights

Leslie Kelly

Harlequin Blaze, May 22 2012, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373796939

Anna informs her friend and renter Mimi Burdette that her daughter and grandson are moving into one of the units and a hottie is leasing 1B. Though her sex life is in the midst of a Sahara size drought, Mimi stays focused on her goal of winning her father’s approval so when he retires she moves into his office. She even dates her dad’s right hand man Dmitri though her libido remains in the tundra.

She meets 1B in somewhat embarrassing scenarios. To her shock, Mimi finds her libido is equatorial hot as she wants her new neighbor firefighter Xander McKinley. As they share a summer romance, Xander and Mimi fall in love, but he is not in her future plans and he cannot deal with how fast his heart beats when she is near.

This is a heated contemporary romance in which a summer breeze tryst turns into love. The charming protagonists struggle with accepting their feelings as neither was ready for love to happen to them so fast; if they only read the Bard they would have understood what can occur during a Midsummer Night’s Dreams

Harriet Klausner

Blazing Bedtime Stories; Volume VII-Rhonda Nelson and Tawny Weber

Blazing Bedtime Stories; Volume VII

Rhonda Nelson and Tawny Weber

Harlequin Blaze, May 22 2012, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373796922

“The Steadfast Hot Soldier” by Rhonda Nelson. On leave, Army Ranger Major John "Bear" Midwinter returns home to the hell of Hydrangea, Mississippi to see his Mommy Dearest who always blamed him for her failure to make it in dance. He promised her he would fix up her dance studio that she sold to a former student ballet teacher Veda Hayes. His mom meets him at the airport but not to take him to town as she is on her way to Paris. At the studio Bear and Veda meet. She reminds him of his two rules of women: no tiny women and no dancers as each reminds him of dearest mom. In spite of his reiteration of his mantra, he and Veda are attracted to one another, but he refuses to accept the desire he feels is really love.

“Wild Thing” by Tawny Weber. His new partner sends private investigator Percy Graham to retrieve a tiny Chinese Crested dog Medusa owned by Gregory Day from groomer Andrea Tanner. He arrives at her shop to find her tied up. Percy says he has had fantasies about her ever since their one night together, but she rejected him though he is unaware of the reason why. She is afraid this hunk will break her heart as she has a phobia about her looks. They team up in search of Medusa while he reminds her of what they shared and what they can share

These are two entertaining romantic novellas starring such engaging protagonists that readers will want them to make it.

Harriet Klausner

Bet On A Cowboy-Julie Benson

Bet On A Cowboy

Julie Benson

Harlequin American, Jun 5 2012, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373754090

Director Maggie Sullivan needs a new bachelor ASAP for her show Finding Mrs. Right. Her first choice is married so she turns to her second choice Colorado cowboy Griffin McAlister. Griff tells her he is uninterested and refuses to hear her pitch. However, his position on the show changes when his mom needs money for her cancer treatments. Reluctantly Griff accepts the gig of ten episodes at 3K per show though he has no plans to wed the chosen bride or for that matter ever Finding Mrs. Right.

However, at first sight Griff is in shock when he finds himself attracted to Maggie. She reciprocates his desire as he wants to kiss her and likewise she wants him too; though both know that is a mistake. As the show goes on with him as the bachelor seeing ten beautiful women, they fall in love but he must overcome his commitment issues and she must overcome her belief he never would choose her over the beauties; then there is the lawsuits that would follow.

This is a fun reality TV contemporary romance starring two likable lead characters and a strong support cast. Fans will enjoy this engaging tale as the everywoman wins the heart of a reluctant cowboy over the perfect size 1s.

Harriet Klausner

The Rancher’s Bride-Pamela Britton

The Rancher’s Bride

Pamela Britton

Harlequin American, Jun 5 2012, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373754113

Leaving behind in Georgia her abusive former fiancé and her business Wedding Belles, Jorie Peters takes a job at the Clayborne Ranch in Texas working for Odelia Clayborne as a wedding coordinator. Odelia expects her son Ryan to marry his childhood friend pregnant Laurel Harrington as does her father though the child is not his. However, he is attracted to the Georgia peach and Jorie feels the same way about him.

As Ryan and Jorie fall in love, his mom pushes his engagement to Laurel. When Odelia learns her employee slept with her son, she fires Jorie as a wedding planner cannot sleep with a “client”. Ryan fails to tell Jorie he loves her so she assumes he will obey his mom as he always does. She leaves town.

This is an intriguing ranch romance starring a fascinating cast with issues that keep the lead couple apart. Although the love relationship between the rancher and the coordinator never feels “undying”, contemporary fans will enjoy this Cowboy For Every Move tale as he must listen to his heart not his mother if he wants Georgia as his yellow peach of Texas.

Harriet Klausner

Bedding Lord Ned-Sally Mackenzie

Bedding Lord Ned

Sally Mackenzie

Zebra, Jun 5 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781420123210

Miss Eleanor Bowman loves Lord Ned, but he had married her best friend Cicely Headley who died in childbirth along with their offspring. Though she grieved her loss, she hoped Ned would turn to her, but he did not. Now four years since Cicely’s death, twenty-six year old Eleanor wants children so giving up on Ned, she seeks a husband before she becomes placed on the shelf.

Known as the “Duchess of Love”, Ned’s mother The Duchess of Greycliffe hosts her annual Valentine house party that Eleanor attends. The duchess believes Ned and Ellie belong together, but her son still struggles with the death of his wife. To Eleanor’s chagrin, her infamous silky red drawers that almost ended with her being labeled a Jezebel is in her bag. Sir Reginald the cat steals her bloomers and dumps them in Ned’s room. Though afraid to love again, the silky red drawers have Ned dreaming of loving Ellie if he dares take a chance on love and life.

This is an amusing lighthearted historical romance starring a grieving widow, an unrequited in love lady, a felonious cat, and the scandalous silky red bloomers. Fast-paced from the moment the kleptomaniac Reggie pilfers the lingerie, fans will appreciate this Duchess of Love madcap romantic comedy.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

No Tan Lines-Kate Angell

No Tan Lines

Kate Angell

Kensington, May 29 2012, $14.00

ISBN 9780758269195

Their families have hated each other for several generations as they compete for beach customers in Florida. Like their kin, Shaye Cates and Trace Sanders have detested one another since they were small children.

Shaye runs her family’s failing boardwalk and nearby fishing village businesses. Realtor Trace recently came home to help his ailing father injured in a fall; he runs his family’s boardwalk businesses. They must team up on a beach volleyball tournament that neither wants though the money is too good to ignore. Worse still is the attraction that both feels and loathes yet each also knows how their blood would react if they made physical contact..

This is a lighthearted contemporary romance in which the family feud is part of the DNA of each disputing side. The storyline is symbolized by her being shorts and him being suits. Although the ending seems weak, fans will enjoy this fun story while wondering what the survey says about love, sand, kids’ softball baseball and family visits.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bride of the High Country-Kaki Warner

Bride of the High Country

Kaki Warner

Berkley, Jun 5 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780425247501

In 1855 New York City, brothel owner Mrs. Beale sells children to her patrons. A fire guts her place just before the latest auction. Father O’Rourke finds twelve year old Cathleen Donavon in a nearby alley. He takes her to a friend Judge and Mrs. Throckmorten.

In 1870 railroad mogul Doyle Kerrigan and Widow Ida Throckmorten’s ward Margaret Hamilton are engaged. Doyle’s partner Tait Rylander regrets not courting Margaret first as he is attracted to her. Margaret intercedes when she sees a man abusing a woman with a child. She also sees pedophile Horne who she knows from her Beale days; he is running for governor. Doyle says he will take care of the woman who accuses him of murdering her husband. Later she overhears servants talk that the mother and child were dumped in the East River. Margaret learns Doyle was a runner; an occupation that has destroyed many Irish lives including her family.

On the wedding day, Ida tells her to go west. At the ceremony, Doyle gives his bride railroad stock. However, before they sign the documents that would legalize their marriage, Ida shams she cannot breathe. She persuades Margaret to leave giving her a pre-packaged valise. Margaret takes the stock with her and leaves. Doyle is angry and Tait confused as they fail to find Margaret. Tait soon follows her as she flees the city

The latest Runaway Bride historical romance (see Colorado Dawn and Heartbreak Creek) is a wonderful tale that brings to life Post Civil War America through the eyes of the super survivor heroine and a strong secondary cast. Fans will appreciate this deep drama as Margaret proves her mettle.

Harriet Klausner

The Scarlet Bride-Cheryl Ann Smith

The Scarlet Bride

Cheryl Ann Smith

Berkley, Jun 5 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425250815

Simon Harrington hears a woman cry and sees two footmen accost a female. He rescues Laura and takes her to a home where sisters Eva and Noelle sponsor a school to rescue courtesans. Laura fears her patron Earl of Westwick who held her prisoner for fourteen months in a locked room while torturing her; she expects him to kill her. He was selling Sabine as he called her at an auction when she escaped.

Two weeks later, Laura feels good as her enemy has not found her. Simon asks her to come help him decorate an estate he just bought. She agrees but is shocked as the estate was owned by her cousin and she and her late dad lived there. She even married here but her husband said they never wed as the parson was a fake. He used her as his sex prisoner. Simon admires Laura’s spirit that was not broken. A storm forces them to spend the night there. Laura and Simon make love. Later Laura learns Westwick was murdered allegedly by his missing courtesan Sabine. Simon plans to find the real killer.

The third School for Brides Regency romance (see An Accidental Courtesan) nicely sets the time and place mostly through how much power a male exerts over a female. The heroine is a courageous person who suffered terrible abuse, but never lost her spirit; while the lead male is a strong person. Although the killer gets in and out of secure places too easily and two early major coincidences involving random encounters seem improbable, fans will appreciate this investigative historical thriller.

Harriet Klausner