Friday, July 27, 2012

All Afternoon with a Scandalous Marquess-Alexandra Hawkins

All Afternoon with a Scandalous Marquess

Alexandra Hawkins

St. Martin's, Jul 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781250001375

In 1812 in Diphill Green, Catherine Deverall survived a horrid childhood filled with abuse and the sexual assault by her foster cousin Robert Royles when she was fifteen. Knowing her foster parents blame her, she fled for London, where she became a courtesan and five years later has become Madame Venna, the half-masked proprietress of the exclusive Golden Pearl brothel.

However, Madame Venna shares the most incredible night of her life with the Marquess of Sainthill, sinful Simon “Saint” Jefferes. Needing to get the Saint out of her blood, she sleeps around with his friend and other customers; while also dispatching employees to satiate the Saint’s needs.

The latest Lords of Vice Regency romance (see Sunrise with a Notorious Lord, Till Dawn with a Devil and All Night with a Rogue) is an entertaining historical with a unique spin. The actions of the two fascinating amoral protagonists are intriguing as each throws other bodies at each other to keep their distance. Though over the top of the Tower as no one will accept a permanent relationship can be forged between them even if they are in love; fans will enjoy the journey as the lead couple uses very wicked tricks to avoid that unwanted emotion.

Harriet Klausner

Almost A Scandal-Elizabeth Essex

Almost A Scandal

Elizabeth Essex

St. Martin's, Jul 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781250003799

In 1805 Richard Kent dishonored his stunned family when he vanished rather than board the HMS Audacious in Portsmouth. To save the honor of her family his older sister Sally puts on the British Royal Navy uniform. She joins the crew of the Audacious as a midshipman. Sally loves sailing the High seas and being liberated from the rigid rules of polite society as she proves to be a super sailor.

Lieutenant David Colyear knows the Kent family having sailed with them over the years. He suspects something not quite right about Richard so he keeps an eye on the lad until Col realizes Richard is Sally. Col keeps it secret as he knows she is a superior sailor than most of the crew. However in sea battles with the Spanish and French navies, he becomes concerned for her safety and ready to batter a sailor for bullying her. As they fall in love amidst the war, neither is ready to deal with this undesirable feeling.

The first Reckless Brides Regency romance is a delightful high seas thriller as love and war merge. Fast-paced from the moment Sally becomes Richard, fans will enjoy the scandalous behavior of Sally as she is more comfortable in sea battles than in aristocratic balls.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Mad Lord’s Daughter-Jane Goodger

The Mad Lord’s Daughter

Jane Goodger

Zebra, Aug 7 2012, $6.99

ISBN: 9781420111521

In 1862 Melissa Atwell lived in isolation with her father the "Mad Lord of Northumberland" until his recent death. Melissa is stunned as she has no time to grieve her loss since her life as a recluse is over as her guardian her uncle Lord Braddock plans on introducing her to society; expecting his ward will find a proper husband. Braddock hires Miss Stanhope as Melissa’s chaperone.

He assigns his son John to help Melissa adjust to the Ton. John is attracted to Melissa and whenever he thinks of her marrying someone beside him he becomes agitated. Melissa is attracted to John and vows to marry him or no one. However, both know they can never wed though in love. At the same her late father’s secret that she is unaware of and he supposedly took to the grave with him begins to surface; if revealed she will return to rustic solitude as The Mad Lord’s Daughter.

This is an enticing Victorian romance starring two fabulous “fools in love”. The key to the engaging storyline is the secret that "Mad Lord of Northumberland" took to his grave (apparently not) as readers will want to know why Lord Atwill became a single dad hermit in Jane Goodger’s delightful historical romantic romp.

Harriet Klausner

A Woman Made For Pleasure-Michele Sinclair

A Woman Made For Pleasure

Michele Sinclair

Zebra, Aug 7 2012, $6.99

ISBN: 9781420126495

Having vowed to never marry, by 1816 Lady Millie Aldon loves excitement. She feels her childhood friend Marquis Chase Wentworth, who just returned to London after spending time in Spain, will provide her with plenty of stimulation as she senses he hides a secret that she plans to learn what it is.

While she clandestinely conducts surveillance of Chase, he steals a kiss from her, which has both reeling from the impact. As they fall in love, she reconsiders her non-marriage pledge and he thinks of his dangerous secret mission to uncover the murderous traitor who betrayed the crown and him in Spain. However, his attention towards Millie places his beloved in danger from his diabolical adversary. Instead of running from the peril, she thrives on the peril of their awesome adventure.

A Woman Made For Pleasure is a great regency romantic espionage thriller starring a dedicated “Spy Who Came In From The Cold” and a marvelous “Thoroughly Modern Millie”. Filled with danger, a great romance, and a thrilling late twist, fans will relish Michele Sinclair’s strong spy saga.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Naked Games-Anne Rainey

Naked Games

Anne Rainey

Kensington Aphrodisia, Jul 31 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758269034

Two months ago Catherine Michaels’ fiftyish parents died in a horrible car crash. Now family friend Dr. Cabel informs a grieving Catherine that she was adopted. She and her BFF Mary go through documents until they find a letter from Catherine’s biological mother thanking the Michaels. Catherine also learns from that note that she has an older sister Gracie Baron in Zanesville, Ohio.

Six weeks and several emails later, a scared Catherine visits Gracie (see So Sensitive). The latter introduces her visiting sister to her fiancé Wade Harrison and his younger brother Dean who accepts she is a lost sister of Gracie but also thinks Catherine is a con artist, which upsets him because he is attracted to her. Soon afterward Wade’s twin sister Deanna and her boyfriend Jonas (see Pleasure Bound) arrive. Dean and Catherine cannot resist their need so begin a boudoir BDSM tryst, but he remains wary about her motive for coming to Ohio,

The sisters’ subplot enhances a strong erotica as Dean and Catherine fall in love, but he still looks for her angle while she has doubts about relationships after feeling her late parents failed to tell her the truth. Fast-paced, fans will relish returning to Zanesville, Ohio, the BDSM capital of the world.

Harriet Klausner

Simply Voracious-Kate Pearce

Simply Voracious

Kate Pearce

Kensington Aphrodisia, Jul 31 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 978-0758269461

In 1826 London, Jeremy sexually assaults Lucinda “Lucky” Haymore. Her friend Emily Ross takes her to her stepmother notorious owner of the Pleasure House Madame Helene Delornay. Lucky sees compassion in Helene’s eyes as the older woman says the animal will try to blackmail her and her ducal family into forcing her to marry him or face scandal.

Jeremy threatens Lucky if she fails to marry him. Her best friend Paul St. Clare offers to wed Lucky though he has no plans to end his tryst with Lieutenan. Colonel Constantine Delinsky. However, he also wants Lucky in his bed so proposes a ménage a trois. Meanwhile a raging Jeremy plots to expose the trio.

The latest House of Pleasure (see Simply Carnal and Simply Forbidden) is once again simply a pleasurable historical. The cast, especially the FMF triangle, is fully developed except for one trick Jeremy. Though the storyline is thin, Lucky, Paul and Constantine provide readers with an enjoyable post Regency erotica.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, July 20, 2012

Pleasures of a Tempted Lady-Jennifer Haymore

Pleasures of a Tempted Lady

Jennifer Haymore

Forever, Jul 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780446573160

On the Irish Sea the crew of the Freedom captained by Commander William Langley search for smugglers when they spot a drifting vessel. They rescue an unconscious woman with a frightened boy not older than six. However, Will is stunned as the female is his lost beloved Meg Donovan, who disappeared at sea eight years ago while the child is named Jake.

When she finally awakens, Meg explains that she escaped from the Defiant taking Jake with her when her friend the captain’s wife recently died. She knows ruthless Jacob Caversham will come after them as he cannot accept such an affront especially in front of his vicious crew; as Jake is his son. Will vows to keep his beloved safe, but Meg refuses to allow either of the two males she cherishes to come to harm from vicious Caversham.

The third Donovan sister historical romance (see A Season Of Seduction) is an entertaining tale as Meg this time unlike in Confessions of an Improper Bride actually comes back from the dead. Although the premise for why she failed to attempt to escape much earlier seems too altruistically unlikely, fans will relish her return even if it means she is now her twin “Serena” and “Serena” is “Meg”.

Harriet Klausner

Return of the Viscount-Gayle Callen

Return of the Viscount

Gayle Callen

Avon, Jul 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780062076069

In 1841 Cecilia Mallory and a friend of her late military father Sergeant Michael Blackthorne become pen pals. She assumes her writing buddy is her dad’s age and he believes her to be plain. However, her last letter concerns him as she tells him she must marry so that she can gain control of her inheritance from her guardian in order to help her immature brother Oliver with the estate; she boldly proposes to him

In 1843 Michael, having left India, arrives in Middlesex to honor his late friend Lord Apperton as he owes Cecilia’s father so much by insuring the success of the estate. However, as they fall in love, she fears her pen pal wants to harm her and her brother; since he came to Middlesex there has been a rash of accidents.

The first Brides of Redemption Victorian romance is a strong historical that twists the marriage of convenience theme into a fabulous nineteenth century Hitchcockian Suspicion as the evidence points to Michael. Fans will want to know whether her enlisted viscount is the cause of the dangerous incidents that place his beloved in peril as Gayle Callen provides an exciting romantic suspense thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Lessons From A Scandalous Bride-Sophie Jordan

Lessons From A Scandalous Bride

Sophie Jordan

Avon, Jul 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780062033000

Her mother had three stillborn siblings and four brothers and sisters who died very young. As the only survivor Cleo worries when her mom gives birth again to a fourth corpse. She fears for her mom’s life while her stepfather “sells” Cleo to her wealthy biological father Jack Hadley who ignored her since she was born.

Lord Logan McKinney arrives in London seeking an affluent title hunter to fund his failing estates. His objective changes when he meets Cleo as he wants her. Cleo is attracted to the gold-digger but prefers to wed an older man who will not demand she carry the heir and the spare as her deceased siblings and her mom haunt her. Logan knows he must earn his beloved’s trust as he believes he already has her love just like she has his.

The latest Forgotten Princesses historical romance (see Wicked In Your Arms) is a fast-paced gender war as the lead male changes his life’s goal from a cold relationship to a loving need; while the heroine is the classic the adult is the child as she witnessed what marriage means. Cleo’s neurotic trepidations freshen up what would otherwise have been an overly used premise; instead fans will relish their lessons in love.

Harriet Klausner

The Warrior Laird-Margo Maguire

The Warrior Laird

Margo Maguire

Avon, Jul 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780062122889

In 1717 in the Scottish Highlands, Major Donal Ferguson informs Dugan MacMillan that the Duke of Argyll demands 3,000 pounds from him or his entire clan will forcibly be removed from Braemore Keep. Though he prefers to tell the odious Campbell to shove his demand up his arse, Dugan knows his clan could not deal with the deadly assault that would follow. Irate, he realizes he calmly must find the hidden gold that he knows exists but needs to obtain the rest of the treasure map that shows the location.

Her father arranges for Lady Maura Duncanson to marry nasty elderly Lord Kildary. Instead she flees and is rescued by Dugan. She possesses a segment of the map, but her hero learns he can save his clan from the ignominy of surrender or the suicide of combat by “selling” Maura to her fiancée. There is one major obstacle to his ransom scheme: his heart.

Although the key cast is underdeveloped, the passionate caring protagonists on the lam make for a thrilling Georgian romance; as he is desperate for money while she is “Brazen” for freedom. Using the real Glencoe massacre of 1692 as a jump off point, readers will enjoy riding at a fast-pace through the Highlands alongside of Dugan and Maura.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Out of Depths-Pamela Hearon

Out of Depths

Pamela Hearon

Harlequin SuperRomance, Aug 7 2012, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373717996

In Kentucky, Marshall County Sheriff Blaine calls Paducah-based attorney Chance Brennan to inform him five more kids were found exploring the cave on the latter’s lakefront property. Chance tells the sheriff he will look around tomorrow when he gets to Kentucky Lake while his perfectionist dad demands he finish his briefs and date Denise Macomb.

Chance’s former girlfriend Kyndal Rawlings had become a good nature photographer until she became black-listed six months ago because of Mike Sloan’s stupidly that killed the True Tennessee website. Mike tells her that the state commissioned Charlie Short to start a quarterly tourism magazine; Charlie wants photos of the less known smaller caves; she knows of only one. Blaine catches Kyndal trespassing and arrests her. Chance arrives at the station. She tells him that she found a vug room of crystals in his cave. They go to the cave together where they first made love and end up making love again. She becomes pregnant and he proposes in spite of knowing she is bad for his aspirations of the bench by forty. She rejects his offer as he burned her once before when he dumped her for his Ivy education and partnership with his dad.

The key to this engaging second chance at love romance is the abuse of power by those with influence against those with none. The lead couple has flaws as he tries to please his dad by being perfect like his late brother Hank was and she is a clinger who smothers her loved ones. Their chance at a permanent relationship is zero as his father will do anything to keep his surviving son from the unacceptable photographer even if he never meets his grandchild.

Harriet Klausner

Within Reach-Sarah Mayberry

Within Reach

Sarah Mayberry

Harlequin SuperRomance, Aug 7 2012, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373717958

Single Angela Bartlett visits her BFF Billie Young, a mother of small children (Charlie and Eva), to wish her friend a happy thirty-second birthday. Suddenly in a shallow voice, Billie complains her chest hurts before falling unconscious on the kitchen floor. Billie dies from a previously undetected congenital heart defect.

Billie’s depressed husband Michael takes a one year leave of absence to help him and his children move passed their grief. Ten months after watching her friend die, Angela worries that neither Michael nor the kids are healing so she decides an intervention is in order. However, the two adults are appalled by their attraction that causes each feelings of survivor guilt over dissing the memory of their beloved Billie.

This is a tender second chance at life family drama that starts with the tragic death of a beloved mom and follows with the aftermath lack of adjustments by those she left behind. Character driven, readers will appreciate Sarah Mayberry’s strong contemporary as the Nazareth song is right that “Love hurts, love scars, love wounds …”, but as Michael learns love lives.

Harriet Klausner

On Her Side-Beth Andrews

On Her Side

Beth Andrews

Harlequin SuperRomance, Aug 7 2012, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373717941

With the long buried remains of their mother Valerie recently found, the three Sullivan sisters want justice though Layne the cop knows not all cases are solved (see Unraveling the Past). Though her sister attorney Nora feels good that her mom did not run away eighteen years ago as everyone believed, she obsesses over finding the prime suspect Dale York.

To do so she feels the only lead is in confronting York’s adult son Griffin, but Layne says she and her boss Ross already questioned him and his mom; both insist they have no idea where the scum is; nor do they care as long as the abuser stays out of their lives as Dale has for almost two decades. Soon after Nora challenges Griffin, Dale arrives in Mystic Point and quickly threatens the Sullivan sister to back off or else. No longer the frightened child who remains even today traumatized for failing to protect his mom or his brother Tanner from his psychopath dad, Griffin vows to keep Nora and his mother safe.

The second Truth About The Sullivans romantic suspense is a fast-paced gripping thriller. The two protagonists, though falling in love, have a seemingly insurmountable shared tragic past that prevents a permanent relationship from forming unless each moves pass the trauma. Readers will enjoy this tale while looking forward to the conclusion starring the last Sullivan sibling Tori.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sweet Deception-Heather Snow

Sweet Deception

Heather Snow

Signet, Aug 7 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780451237606

In 1817 British double agent Lord Frederick “Derick” Aveline heads home to Derbyshire with plans to leave espionage after completing one last mission: to expose a traitor. Derick has not been back at his northern most estate in over a decade, but what greets him is a shocker even for a spy like him.

His childhood adversary Emma Wallingford is the Derbyshire magistrate who is conducting a murder investigation. She makes it clear she expects the aristocrat to stay out of her official inquiry. However, neither Derick nor Emma can resist the unwanted attraction as each works their respective case while trying to conceal from the other what they are doing. Both are unprepared for the truth in which deception and lies supersede the seductiveness of love.

The second Veiled Seduction Regency romantic thriller (see Sweet Enemy) is an entertaining historical starring an independent female magistrate and a professional spy whose separate infestations entangle in a delightful twisting climax. Fast-paced, readers will enjoy the dueling inquiries as fans will enjoy the antics of pair still battling one another after all those years.

Harriet Klausner

One Night Rodeo-Lorelei James

One Night Rodeo

Lorelei James

Signet, Aug 7 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780451236845

Barrel racer Celia Lawson knows the womanizing reputation of bull rider Kyle Gilchrist which makes her keep her distance. Kyle feels the same as she is the kid sister of a close friend. They both go to Las Vegas where they get drunk and married.

The next morning his mom calls to tell him his mystical father is dying and wants to see him. Sarcastic Kyle mentions his wife to his mom. While Celia wants an annulment, Kyle likes being married to her. Dangling the end of their marriage as blackmail, he coaxes his spouse to come with him to meet his dying dad Marshal Townsend. His father is already dead but left him a sizable ranch and money. Kyle tells Celia he will grant a divorce if she helps him for six months with the spread while the no sex clause is negotiable.

The latest Blacktop Cowboys Wyoming ranch romance (see Wrangled And Tangled; Corralled; and Saddled And Spurred) is an engaging tale though fans of the series will feel a strong sense of deja vu. The lead protagonists are a fascinating pair who fight, fuss and fall in love while working the ranch together.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Amish Bride-Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould

The Amish Bride

Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould

Harvest House, Aug 1 2012, $13.99

ISBN: 9780736938624

In Lancaster County, Ella Bayer and Ezra Grundy have loved each other since they were children. However though both are Plain, she is Mennonite and he is Amish. One of them will have to give up a way of life if they are to marry as each wants.

To emphatically end the relationship, his family sends Ezra to work on the Kline Amish farm in Nappanee, Indiana. Her grandmother gives Ella a journal that once belonged to the elder’s mother Sarah; she wants Ella to interpret the entries especially the drawings. Taking the journal with her, Ella shocks everyone when she follows her beloved to the Hoosier state. Ella obtains a job at Rosalee Neff’s Plain Treats Bakery and soon meets Amish farmhand Luke. Attracted to the nervous Luke as well as Ezra, Ella feels fickle but knows if given a choice she will “have to finally decide and say yes to one and let the other one ride” (Lovin’ Spoonful’s Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind?).

The latest Women of Lancaster County (see The Amish Midwife) is a delightful Plain people romance starring an independent Mennonite who risks alienating her family to go after the man she cherishes. Filled with fabulous twists including the early twentieth century journal, fans will enjoy Ella’s dilemmas as she frets over making up your mind.

Harriet Klausner

Cherished-Maya Banks and Lauren Dane


Maya Banks and Lauren Dane

Heat, Aug 7 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780425247532

“Exiled” by Maya Banks. Exiled Prince Xander Carrera waited on the island while his three friends (Sebastian, Garen and Nico) who also are his bodyguards bring Talia Montforte to him. The couple met four years ago when she was a teen, but though he wanted her he waited until she turned twenty-two and graduated from the University of Paris. Now he and his BFFs teach her multiple pleasures until he leaves to return to his struggling country while she goes home heartbroken though the royal is not finished with her.

“Sway” by Lauren Dane. On Bainbridge Island near Seattle affluent widower Levi Warner is twice the age of free spirited twentyish dance instructor Daisy Huerta. They each know they are wrong for one another, but both cannot ignore the attraction. As they enjoy their tryst, he must decide between his reputation and his woman; she already decided what she wants.

The full blooded (not just the lower head) cast makes these two enjoyable erotic romances; as Maya Banks makes the MFM relationships seem real even with a blue-blooded penis while Lauren Dane provides a “Delicious” BDSM romance.

Harriet Klausner

Temptation’s Edge-Eve Berlin

Temptation’s Edge

Eve Berlin

Heat, Aug 7 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780425247846

Mischa Kennan owns the Thirteen Roses tattoo shop in San Francisco. She flies to Seattle as a maid of honor at her friend Dylan Ivory’s wedding in two weeks. Upon arrival in bad weather, she goes to Dylan’s engagement party to Alec Walker (see Pleasure’s Edge) and is also greeted by Dante DeMatteo and Kara Crawford (see Desire’s Edge).

However, it is Alec’s friend Connor Galloway who on their first encounter stirs her libido. Each agrees to a fortnight of no strings sex. As he mentors her in the pleasure of BDSM at the Pleasure Dome Club, she realizes he owns her heart, but vows to slink back to San Francisco once Dylan marries. Dominant in the boudoir, Connor feels like a nervous sub as he wonders how to change their casual tryst into a commitment relationship without driving his beloved running from him back to the Bay.

The third Pleasure Dome BDSM romance is a heated (duh!) contemporary erotica starring two fascinating lead characters. The storyline is filled with sex, sex and more sex and after that more sex (I kept expecting him to wear bandages as Dr. Young (Harry Reems) did in Deep Throat). Yet the relationship between the protagonists change over the two weeks as Eve Berlin tattoos a tender “edge” to this engaging drama.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Cowboy and The Princess-Lori Wilde

The Cowboy and The Princess

Lori Wilde

Avon, Jul 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780062047779

In Texas Brady Talmadge has five rules of life. His fifth rule is never to pick up a hitchhiker as his skull can testify from when he did and ended up pistil whipped and out $1300 plus expenses for four days at a hospital. So he chastises himself when he breaks rule # 5 and gives a ride to cold and wet Annie Coste and her BFF Lady Astor.

As he takes her to Jubilee, Texas, he breaks rule # 4 “Avoid damsels in distress” as he finds he likes his companion and one kiss later adhering to rule # 2 “Always trust your gut” and breaking rule # 1 “Never tell a lie” he believes she reciprocates. However, she has a secret that prevents them from forming a relationship as Annie is Princess Annabella Farrington of the tiniest European country Monesta on the lam from an arraigned political marriage to much older Prince Theodore Forsythe of the second smallest nation on the continent Dubinstein. The royal violates rules # 1 and # 3 “Never order chili at a truck stop.”

The latest Jubilee romance (see The Cowboy Takes a Bride) is an amusing madcap tale mindful of Roman Holiday (starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn) but in a modern day version of a 1930s zany comedy. Though the storyline is thin, readers will laugh out loud as the European princess and the Texas horse whisperer shatter his five rules.

Harriet Klausner

Pushing The Limits-Katie McGarry

Pushing The Limits

Katie McGarry

Harlequin Teen, Jul 31 2012, $17.99

ISBN: 9780373210497

Overnight Eastwick High School student Echo Emerson went from the in-crowd to social outcast due to the scars that appear on her arm that she has no idea how she got them. Everyone avoids cigarette smoking bad guy Noah Hutchins who insures no one comes close to him as he has one objective to obtain custody of his younger brothers (Tyler and Jacob) on his soon to be eighteenth birthday.

Eastwick High School clinical social worker Mrs. Collins tries to help both troubled teens who reject her efforts, but she rejects their rejection. That commonality has Echo and Noah comparing notes with each realizing they are attracted to one another and have more secrets than the Pentagon. Each knows love comes at a bad time, but both need to feel wanted.

Rotating perspective between the two troubled studentss, Katie McGarry provides an engaging teen tale. The protagonists seem real as they struggle with numbing tsuris but soon have each other’s back (and heart). Fans will want to know how Echo was scarred and whether Joe and Carrie who have custody of the boys are the devil as Noah believes. This is a deep character driven drama.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Wedded In Sin-Jade Lee

Wedded In Sin

Jade Lee

Berkley, Aug 7 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425251034

Dispossessed second son Samuel Morrison notices things that most people ignore. He watches a young woman holding a crying boy while she shouts at someone inside the Shoemaker’s house where she just was evicted. However, everyone saw that scene including the constables, but Samuel realizes her screaming tantrum is a sleight of the hand ruse to enable her to toss unnoticed (except by him) a bag onto the rubbish. The garbage she deftly threw away seems to contain a man’s foot.

Unable to resist Samuel offers to help Penny Shoemaker with her problems. She explains that her parents were murdered, her inheritance stolen, and the family business gone. Furthermore Penny says she supports her brother and herself by designing shoes for A Lady’s Favor dress shop. As he investigates her claims, they fall in love, but someone wants to prevent the sleuth and the shoemaker from learning the truth.

The latest A Bridal Favors historical romance (see Wedded In Scandal) is a wonderful tale due to the fresh protagonists teaming up on the investigation. Samuel is a fascinating individual who sees the world rather differently than apparently everyone else; his observatory skill makes him an ideal detective. Fans will enjoy the escapades of the amateur sleuth and his “client” as they fall in love while trying to solve the mysteries that threaten the shoemaker and her sibling.

Harriet Klausner

Blackstone’s Bride-Kate Moore

Blackstone’s Bride

Kate Moore

Berkley, Aug 7 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425250884

In 1825 as he sails home on the HMS Redemption, Lyle Massing, Baron Blackstone, knows poverty awaits him as his family paid the ransom to free him from Greek warlord Vasiladi. In England, needing money, Lyle agrees to go undercover as a government agent trying to prevent a foreign operative from deploying a deadly mission. He pretends to be an amoral rake who allegedly had a harem and owns an infamous portrait of his voluptuous mistress.

The women want him, but his first assignment is pretending to be the fiancé to the one female who loathes him heiress Violet Hammersley. She prefers to ignore the SOB who humiliated and broke her heart a few years ago, but needs his help to find her missing brother, a British agent who vanished as he was delivering a critical report, so she agrees to the fake engagement. As each realizes they remain in love and begin to close in on the clever enemy, Violet learns Lyle’s secret.

This an entertaining second chance at love late regency espionage romance starring the wealthy banker’s daughter and the scandalous rake. The gender war is fun to follow as neither trust the other with their back and especially with their heart; yet they have no choice except to team up. The undercover subplot is exciting and filled with tension partially because the engaged couple distrusts one anther leaving them further likely to suffer a defeat from a diabolical foe. Fans will enjoy this engaging historical.

Harriet Klausner

A Lady Never Lies-Juliana Gray

A Lady Never Lies

Juliana Gray

Berkley, Aug 7 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425250921

In 1890 widow Lady Alexandra Morley flees England to avoid her creditors. She heads to the Florence, Italy area. At the same time, inventor Phineas Burke and his Italian rival Delmonico agree to have a race. To prepare for the contest, Finn travels to Italy planning to focus on his horseless carriage invention that includes abstinence from women.

Alexandra cons Finn and his two traveling companions out of their room at a Tuscany inn. Soon after they met, the two English expatriates realize they have leased the same castle. Though he knows he needs to steer clear of her, Finn finds Alexandra a welcome distraction. As they fall in love, he learns she has financial interests in Manchester Machine Works horseless steamer. Irate, Finn becomes apoplectic when Alexandra enters the road race.

This is a strong late Victorian romance that takes readers on a joy ride in Italy to an era when the horseless carriage battled traditional modes of transportation and competed within on different ironically still timely power sources that include electric vs. combustible. The protagonists are fully developed interesting individuals while the support cast adds eccentricity to a wonderful historical.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wild Texas Rose-Jodi Thomas

Wild Texas Rose

Jodi Thomas

Berkley, Aug 7 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425250372

In 1876 Texas, twenty-five year old Rose McMurray panics as she leaves Whispering Mountain for the first time in years to attend the wedding of a former school mate Victoria Chamberlin in Fort Worth. While most people who know her assume she is a coward, Rose knows why she fears adventure which goes back to the trip as a little girl from Chicago.

Like Rose, Texas Ranger Duncan McMurray is adopted. He has always kept little Rose safe and vows to do so while she is in Fort Worth. However, he inadvertently places his sweet Rose in peril from Owen and Jeb Tanner and their deadly outlaw gang who vowed to kill every McMurray. Though he needs to remain in Dallas on Ranger business for a few days, he arranges for his mysterious friend Stitch to keep Rose safe. Regardless several confrontations are coming to Fort Worth.

The return (loosely that is ) to Whispering Mountain (see Tall, Dark, And Texan; and Texas Blue) is a delightful Reconstruction Ear Texas romance that contains plenty of suspense and several tender romances. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment Rose arrives in Fort Worth and never slows down as readers anticipate the battle between the Tanners and their ruthless gang, and the Ranger and his allies. Fans will appreciate this deep in the heart of historical Texas as love is everywhere but danger is the other side of the two-step.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Knight to Desire-Gerri Russell

A Knight to Desire

Gerri Russell

Gerri Russell, Jun 28 2012

ISBN: 9780983899785; Amazon Digital Services - ASIN: B008GGFJQU

Brianna Sinclair trained all her life to become a knight though her male counterparts scoff at a woman using weapons though she uses a sword as well as any man can. Templar Knight Sir Simon Lockhart knows Brianna’s cause for gender equality is right but cannot afford to alienate his allies at a critical moment as he must find Joyeuse the sword of Charlemagne and the Holy Grail before a maniac uses these stolen relics to destroy Scotland.

Simon asks Brianna to help him with his quest as he feels her visions of a horrific battle leads him to believe he needs her at his side guiding him especially when an unknown Templar has betrayed the Order. She agrees to assist him on his dangerous but noble quest to save the Scottish people and the Order. Both are attracted to one another, but the mission must come before their desire.

The final Brotherhood of the Scottish Templars historical romance (see To Tempt a Knight, Seducing the Knight, and Border Lord's Bride) is a superb end to a strong saga. As a fourteenth century Boadicea, Brianna brings freshness with her demand to become a knight and her lack of fear as only how her heart feels about Simon scares her. Fast-paced with a touch of the paranormal, fans will appreciate the adventures of the Templar and the warrior woman as they fall in love while facing death as they seek to prevent a madman’s deployment of Joyeuse and the Holy Grail.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, July 9, 2012

Touch of a Scoundrel-Mia Marlowe

Touch of a Scoundrel

Mia Marlowe

Kensington/Brava, Jul 31 2012, $14.00

ISBN 9780758263568

In 1860 when the Earl of Devonwood Griffin Nash touches an object that others have handled, he sees twelve hours into the future. His younger brother Teddy arrives at Devonwood Park accompanied by Emmaline Farnsworth and her ailing Egyptologist father Teddy plans to marry the American while Emma plans to fleece the family to pay for her dad’s medical bills by conning the Devonwoold family into sponsoring and funding a fake Egyptian expedition.

Devon touches a sketching pencil previously held by Emma and envisions them in a romantic scenario. He refuses to ignore what he knows is inevitable as he does not want to hurt Teddy. Emma needs no paranormal skills to know Devon is trouble for her and her desperate scheme as she feels guilty over what she must do and worse is attracted to the aristocrat.

The third touching paranormal historical romance (see Touch of a Rogue and Touch of a Thief) is a terrific nineteenth century frolic containing a madcap triangle mindful of the Hudson-Day-Randall movies. Fast-paced from the moment Devon touches the pencil, readers will enjoy this zany Victorian as the psychic and the con artist fall in love, while Teddy, Dr. Farnsworth, a villain and others observe the antics.

Harriet Klausner

The Bride Wore Pearls-Liz Carlyle

The Bride Wore Pearls

Liz Carlyle

Avon, Jul 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9780061965777

With the death of her English military spouse, mixed-blood Lady Anisha Stafford, accompanied by her two sons, leaves India for her late husband’s homeland as she has no safe place for herself or her kids in her homeland. She hopes to fit in for the sake of her boys though she fears London will prove radically different from Calcutta.

Anisha turns to the Guardians of St. James Society for assistance. She also is attracted to Guardian Lord Rance Welham, who hides his feelings for her as he fears what would happen to the widow’s reputation if she is seen with him. Instead he tries to keep her and her boys safe while also struggling to prove he is not a murderer.

The latest St. James Society Victorian romantic mystery (see One Touch of Scandal and The Bride Wore Scarlet) is a wonderful tale that fans of the series will especially enjoy as the relationship between the protagonists has been changing since they first met. Fast-paced Liz Carlyle deftly merges a rousing romance with a powerful perilous murder investigation inside of a vivid Victorian backdrop as Lord Rance and Lady Anisha team up in love.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, July 6, 2012

Catching Fireflies-Sherryl Woods

Catching Fireflies

Sherryl Woods

Mira, Jul 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9780778313595

Serenity High School student Misty Dawson cuts classes in order to avoid the bullying by Annabelle who taunts her whenever they are near each other and writes nasty commentary with pictures on a social networking site about her target Misty’s sexual encounters. Misty’s English teacher Laura Reed worries about the junior so with support from her principal Betty Donovan decides to learn why the drop in performance and the skipping of classes.

Laura turns to Misty’s pediatrician, J.C. Fullerton for help. They team up to learn why a contented teenager has become so unhappy. Eventually the teacher and the doctor learn Misty is the target of a bully; a scenario both adults are familiar with. As they gain support from the Sweet Magnolias that Serenity, South Caroline will not tolerate any bullying, Laura and H.C. fall in love.

This unique Sweet Magnolias tale provides readers with tense look at the impact of bullying from the perspective of the victim and her caring defenders although the tormenter’s motives from her viewpoint are lacking. Though the romance feels out of place, the profound storyline casts a deep light on the impact of this social issue through Annabelle’s psyops campaign that comes across as a form of terrorism that requires takes a caring village to prevent.

Harriet Klausner

The Siren-Tiffany Reisz

The Siren

Tiffany Reisz

Mira, Jul 24 2012, $13.95

ISBN: 9780778313533

In New York City in six weeks editor Zachary “The London Fog” Easton will leave the Royal House Publishing Manhattan office for the Los Angeles branch. He has one final book to work on, which he prefers not to do as he cherishes art and poetry over Brownian thrillers and porno romances. Zach agrees to edit popular erotica writer Nora Sutherlin’s latest hot romance, but the Brit places specific demands on the book by an author who hopes for a contract with Royal House who needs her sales in their stable.

She accepts his terms as a chance to prove to the world (and herself) that she can really write. In Connecticut Zach meets her teenage intern Wesley Railey before he puts the pressure on Nora to write in the style he demands of her. However, he is attracted to his client but refuses to act on his need though his lower head argues with his upper head that he is being an idiot. Meanwhile though she wants her editor she knows he remains hung up on his Grace and besides she needs the book more while still having the hots for Soren.

This heated Original Sinners is an intriguing intense psychological erotica starring two flawed protagonists and an interesting support cast. The BDSM scenes enhance the deep look into what makes rigid Zach and irreverent Nora tick. Though somewhat stereotyped, fans will relish this fascinating hot tale with the proper climax and the metafiction of a book within a book (fans would appreciate a novella of Nora Sutherlin's The Consolation Prize).

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Forever And A Day-Jill Shalvis

Forever And A Day

Jill Shalvis

Forever, Jul 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781455503698

Four months ago, Grace Brooks left New York for a bank investor job in Seattle that ended when she refused to have sex with her employer. With no money she drives as far as she can until she runs out of gas in Lucky Harbor, Washington. She does odd jobs to survive and makes friends over chocolate with Health Services Clinic RN Mallory Quinn (see Lucky In Love) and waitress Amy Michaels (see At Last).

Overworked single dad Dr. Josh Scott hires Grace to walk Tank the Antichrist that his angry out of control wheelchair bound sister Anna gave to his five year old son Toby. After a soaking and failure with the mutt, Grace expects a firing; instead Josh hires her to take care of his troubled child when the nanny left. She feels for Toby who barks rather than talks. As she obtains bookkeeping jobs, attracted to each other Josh and Grace agree to a no strings relationship. When they fall in love, Josh knows caring for his son and his sister as well as his dedication as a doctor comes before his desires.

The latest Lucky Harbor contemporary romance is a wonderful zany affair starring two protagonists whose first hilarious meeting sets the tone of a strong serio-comedic tale. Fast-paced from the moment Tank the matchmaker causes a ruckus, fans will appreciate love and chocolate with a touch of the Jedi and wheelchair racing in a town affectionately summed up nicely by Sheriff Sawyer Thompson as fecking Mayberry.

Harriet Klausner

Can’t Hurry Love-Molly O’Keefe

Can’t Hurry Love

Molly O’Keefe

Bantam, Jul 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9780345525611

Her husband the financial investor was involved in a Ponzi scheme. When caught, he took the easy way out by committing suicide. He left behind an impoverished widow Victoria Schulman raising their seven years old son Jacob by herself. Victoria knows she lacks marketable skills and is guilty by association so her only answer is to leave New York and accompanied by Jacob move onto her nasty late father Lyle Baker’s Crooked Creek Ranch, a place she hated as a child when she was forced to spend summers there.

Eli Turnbull worked for years at the ranch with hopes of one day buying what was once his family’s land. Her plan is to convert the spread into a spa, which anger Eli who wants her to go back to Manhattan’s high society. Finally accepting he will not help her she fires him. She turns around and hires his estranged mom Amy the architect who left him, his father and their ranch when Eli was eight years old. His father lectures Eli that not everything comes easy but quitting is for losers. As Eli and Tori fall in love, both must overcome their demons, which the Crooked Creek Ranch in many ways symbolizes.

Not for everyone as Eli and Tori each has plenty of emotional scars that makes the storyline much darker than her brother Luc’s tale (see Can’t Buy Me Love) though he and Tara Jean had their share. Character driven by protagonists whose anger and hurt leave them vulnerable, fans will appreciate this second chance at life though it is difficult to believe this couple can overcome the baggage flowing through their respective circulatory systems.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

In The Barrister’s Bed-Tina Gabrielle

In The Barrister’s Bed

Tina Gabrielle

Zebra, Jul 3 2012, $6.99

ISBN: 9781420122756

All his life his father the Duke of Blackwood failed to recognize James Devlin as his son though he occasionally was allowed to visit his sire’s Wyndmoor manor. James became an efficient aloof London barrister. In 1819, the duke dies and to his shock, James inherits as he turns out to have been legitimate.

Though he knows he is being foolishly sentimental James compulsively needs to own Wyndmoor Manor, which was sold, as the only place he connected with his late father. He buys the estate, but when James arrives at Wyndmoor he finds the “owner” widow Bella Sinclair already residing there. She has a deed too and refuses to leave. As they battle for ownership, James uses seduction as a means to achieve his end; but soon wonders who is seducing whom as he falls in love; just when her past brings danger that threatens their lives.

The second Barrister regency romance (see In The Barrister’s Chamber) is an engaging historical gender war. Readers will root for the intrepid heroine who learned patience from her first marriage as she outlasted her late odious husband; on the other hand we will hiss at the poster child of the heartless barrister whose obsession leaves him initially willing to do anything to possess Wyndham Manor. Fans will enjoy this entertaining tale but will want more action in the courtroom chambers rather than the manor chambers.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Honorable Rancher-Barbara White Daille

Honorable Rancher

Barbara White Daille

Harlequin American Romance, Aug 7 2012, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373754205

In Flagman's Folly, New Mexico Paul Wright asks his best friend Ben Sawyer to watch over his wife and their children while he served in the military overseas. One year ago, Paul died and ever since Ben has been there for the widow and her dependents.

Dana tries to limit her dependency on anyone. She also hides from everyone that just before Paul died, she and he had agreed to a divorce as she wants their kids to think of their dad as a hero; just like everyone of Flagman’s Folly does. However, when Dana and Ben share a night that he has dreamed of since kindergarten, they begin to dream of much more, but the children come first.

This engaging Land of Enchantment ranch romance is a warm second chance to love starring two engaging lead characters as she wants the memory of Paul kept revered while he wants her. The theme has been used a zillion times, but the eccentric support cast brings freshness to the madcap storyline.

Harriet Klausner

A Cowboy’s Duty-Marin Thomas

A Cowboy’s Duty

Marin Thomas

Harlequin American Romance, Aug 7 2012, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373754182

Thanks to the sponsorship of her friend Shannon Douglas, Dixie Cash becomes a bronc-rider at rodeo competitions. She plans to use the money to launch an on-line business selling homemade organic bath soaps. At the Boot Hill Rodeo in Boot Hill, Arizona, Dixie meets Afghan veteran contestant Gavin Tucker when she lands at his feet after a bronco tosses her. They share a night of lovemaking.

Dixie becomes pregnant. Gavin swears he will be there for her and their baby, but will not marry her. Dixie never expected he would make them into a family as she knows firsthand dads leave. As he is always around her, they fall in love; but when a tragedy strikes and she most needs him he proves to be just like her father and leaves.

The latest Rodeo Rebels drama (see Arizona Cowboy) is an entertaining contemporary starring two fully developed protagonists whose flaws seem real especially when an emotional crisis occurs that shows love is not enough. Fans will enjoy this heart-wrenching poignant drama.

Harriet Klausner

A Perfect Home-Kitty Glanville

A Perfect Home

Kitty Glanville

Berkley, Aug 7 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780425247778

Claire raises her children (twins Emily and Oliver, and baby Ben) while running her Emily Love business from the exquisite house that her husband William and his parents bought while she was away. A magazine is doing an article showcasing the house with Stefan the photographer. William spends most of his time renovating the house and lecturing his wife over the behavior of their children; only Emily is never criticized.

Stefan tells Claire the house is special. He surprises her when he gets on well with Ben and Macavity the cat. She talks to William about the article but he ignores her and instead mentions he will build a summerhouse. Claire and the kids have fun while William is unhappy that the shoot takes away from house projects. Stefan and Claire discuss Emily Love, Inc. and he orders an apron for his ailing sister. Stefan emails Claire saying he would like to pick up the apron. They begin to exchange emails until she says she would like to see him. They begin a tryst, but as they fall in love family matters and distrust separate them.

The key cast (including the house) is fully developed and more important so are their interrelationships especially William’s obsessive love for the house. However, many American readers will find the cast’s behavior (especially William and his obnoxious snobbish mother) too British and frown at a late separation caused by an overly used misunderstanding of the “other” woman in this character driven contemporary.

Harriet Klausner

Dream Lake-Lisa Kleypas

Dream Lake

Lisa Kleypas

St. Martin’s Griffin, Aug 7 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781250008299

The ghost cannot remember anything as he is stuck inside a lake house that has no occupants until Sam Nolan buys the property. Over the next two years Sam with help from friends, his work crew and his brother Mark fix up the place. Sam’s other brother Alex arrives at the house. The ghost sings a song; Alex hums it. Stunned the ghost says he is here and Alex sees him. Alex leaves and the ghost goes with him.

Over the next two years, the ghost detests Alex but cannot leave the alcoholic who still has sex with his ex-wife though she plans to sell his house. Sam introduces Zoe Hoffman to Alex. He is attracted to her but acts surly and avoids her. Zoe’s marriage to Chris ended when he left her for a man. Her father remains distant from her and her beloved grandma Emma suffers from dementia; her mother left them years ago. She plans to have Emma live with her in the cottage that her cousin is fixing up for them using Alex as the contractor. The ghost tells Alex to get rid of him; he needs to know who he is and what he did; and believes the evidence is in the attic of Sam’s house.

The second Nolan Brother contemporary romance (see Rainshadow Road) is a wonderful drama starring flawed individuals. The relationship between the ghost and Alex comes across as real as does Alex’s relationships with Zoe, his brothers and his ex-wife. Although Zoe comes across as the Mother Theresa of Washington State as she is too nice, fans will root for her and Alex to make it and need to know who the ghost was when he lived.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, July 2, 2012

Riley’s Baby Boy-Karen Rose Smith

Riley’s Baby Boy

Karen Rose Smith

Harlequin Special Edition, Jul 24 2012, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373656875

In Miner’s Bluff, Brenna McDougall arrives at Riley O’Rourke’s place holding a six week old baby. She tells him the infant is his. Filled with doubts, the former marine asks his high school sweetheart why she failed to tell him she was pregnant. She replies complications with her life as a designer in New York, with doubts on how he would react, and with what she wanted to do. Riley knows that the old times’ sake fling at their high school reunion would have been when she conceived. He questions paternity and she answers that she has not slept with anyone for a long time, but test the DNA of Derek. Her parents do not know they are grandparents.

Neither trusts the other and their offspring senses the tension. Additionally the grandchild reignites the feud between their respective families. Brenna knows she needs to flee for New York with a broken heart (again), but instead of just designs she will have her beloved Derek to help ease the pain.

The latest Reunion Brides (see Once Upon A Groom, and His Daughter...Their Child) second chance at love is a warm romance starring two protagonists with a history, a strong secondary cast mostly family, and a matchmaking baby. Brenna’s decisions re her pregnancy and Derek’s birth at first seem inane, but as the enjoyable storyline unfolds, readers will understand her real motive is a fear of rejection for her baby by those who she loves. Karen Rose Smith provides another deep entertaining contemporary.

Harriet Klausner