Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Moonlit Desire-Carolann Camillo

Moonlit Desire

Carolann Camillo

Camel Press, Mar 16 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781603818728

In 1759 Catherine Bradshaw leaves London to marry wealthy Jeremy Flint in the colony of New York in an arranged marriage. As soon as she steps off the ship, he weds her immediately. His behavior frightens her as they travel by coach to his Tarrytown estate. However, French Army Captain Rive St. Clair and his associate stop the coach. Rive abducts Catherine after informing Flint who he is and where he can collect his wife.

Sixteen years ago, Flint made his first killing when he stole pelts after arranging for a massacre at an Indian village. Rive has waited for the right moment to lure back this sleaze to that village as he knows the coward will follow as he cannot accept such an affront to his reputation. Flint behaves just as Rive expected, but Catherine is nothing like he anticipated. As they fall in love, the honorable and loyal Rive escorts her to Quebec City as the British army begins to take the last major North American French stronghold; she will soon know what it means to risk one’s life for someone you cherish.

This is an exciting late Colonial Romance starring an intrepid hero and a woman with plenty of mettle as she adjusts to a life far different than what she had in London or expected with Jeremy. Fast-paced from the moment of the kidnapping and never slowing down, sub-genre fans will appreciate this engaging tale though Flint proves an unworthy opponent with more than half the historical storyline left after his cowardly failed attempt at retrieval.

Harriet Klausner

Summer Rose-Elizabeth Sinclair

Summer Rose

Elizabeth Sinclair

Bell Bridge, Jan 2 2012, $12.95

ISBN: 9781611940893

Registered nurse Rose Hamilton agreed to be a surrogate mother to her foster care friend Beth and Patrick. She carries twins, but is now responsible for them as Beth and Patrick died in an accident. In Carson, West Virginia she applies for a position at Paws & Claws Animal Clinic. Dr. Hunter Mackenzie hires her when she manages to get an orphaned lion cub to eat. This is the first time she touched an animal not counting a cricket that her foster mother stepped on years ago. Her only concern is the health insurance will not cover her prenatal care

Hunter and Rose are attracted to one another from that first interview and their attraction grows though she hides her delicate condition from him. She assumes a man in love with the wild does not need three dependents; besides which she knows her employer has issues with Mayor George Collins over his lion cubs and wolf. The vet wonders why he has a constant urge to kiss his new employee.

The return to Hawks Mountain is a warm regional romance. The support cast is strong as people like Granny Jo brings a local flavor to the mix while the animals add compassion. The lead couple is a tender pairing of two people fearful of relationships falling in love as he recognizes her as a natural and she realizes he is her hero.

Harriet Klausner

Stuck With You-Trish Jensen

Stuck With You

Trish Jensen

Bell Bridge, Jan 2 2012, $13.95

ISBN: 9781611940862

Paige Hart practices law in Macon, Georgia. She is always there for her crazy large family though that leaves her more often than not in some sort of trouble.

Ross Bennett practices law too. He does not have the large family that Paige does, but he devotes plenty of time to charity and avoids slimy clients.

Paige and Ross respectively represent a divorcing couple, Jasmine and Carmon Carbone arguing over ownership of Doodles the poodle. However their snake shrew labels explode when a bomb ignites inside the courthouse. They are rushed to a hospital in an ambulance contaminated by the Tibetan Concupiscence Virus which leads to intense sexual desire. CDC quarantines the pair who turns to one another for relief and perhaps much more.

Mindful of Monkey Business starring Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers, Stuck With You is a zany lighthearted courtroom-hospital romance starring two likable combatants. The support cast from the medical to the court to the You Can’t Take it With You (by Hart and Kauffman) Sycamore family adds humorous lunacy to the mix. Fans will relish a wild gender war between a snake and a shrew in viral lust and maybe love.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, February 27, 2012

Blazing Bedtime Stories, Volume VI-Tori Carrington & Kate Hoffmann:

Blazing Bedtime Stories, Volume VI

Tori Carrington & Kate Hoffmann:

Harlequin Blaze, Mar 20 2012, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373796793

“Maid for Him” by Tori Carrington. Off the coast of Southern California, Kieran Morrison is taken aback when he finds Daphne Moore on his ship. She came out of the Pacific and is a mermaid, but that species only exists in movies. Daphne is attracted to the human, but knows that always ends badly for her race. When they meet on shore, they make love. She must decide between love of this landlubber and her love of the sea.

“Off the Beaten Path” by Kate Hoffmann. They met seven years ago at work at Johnson-Jacobs Advertising; Alex Hansen and Greta Adler became best friends. He invites her to join him at a cabin owned by his top client Thea Michaels. However, Thea is also there with plans to take Alex. Instead Alex persuades Greta to pretend to be his lover; only in his case he has wanted that since they made love four years ago while drunk. Greta fears relationships having watched her parents’ marriage collapse as a child. However, Alex’s kisses make her forget her commitment phobia.

The latest “Blazing Bedtime Stories” contains two well written romances with engaging characters; although the fun storylines are somewhat linear and the sub-genres different.

Harriet Klausner

One Man Rush-Joanne Rock

One Man Rush

Joanne Rock

Harlequin Blaze, Mar 20 2012, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373796823

The client Phil Goodwell placed Philadelphia Phantom hockey star Kyle Murphy on the top of his list for those he considered as a match for his twenty-four year old daughter Stacy. Matchmaker Marissa Collins attends a Phantom event at the suburban Normandy Farms Hotel to arrange an introduction between the client’s daughter and the hunk on ice. However, when Marissa sees Kyle and him her, the sparks between them destroy their respective professional goal; as she loses sight of the needed lucrative fee and he loses sight of the Stanley Cup.

However, as Kyle and Marissa fall deeper into lust and god forbid love, the team makes a strong run towards making the playoffs, but the couple has problems as she panics over her need to earn money to take care of her ailing mom. Phil is upset with the matchmaker and with his daughter who is attracted to non-athlete graphic chips maker Isaac Reynolds.

This delightful “Double Overtime” sports romance is an entertaining contemporary as two couples fall in love though the hockey player and the matchmaker are the prime lead. The protagonists are a wonderful pairing with their fears keeping their relationship in peril; while the support cast is solid especially the other couple, his “Wrong Bed” family (see Riding The Storm), his teammates (especially his foster brother Axel –his tale to come) and her mom. Readers will enjoy Joanne Rock’s engaging tale.

Harriet Klausner

Master Of Sin-Maggie Robinson

Master Of Sin

Maggie Robinson

Kensington Brava, Mar 27 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758251053

In 1820 on Duca Alessandro’s yacht is the owner, his wife Giuletta, their baby Marc and Andrew Rossiter. Duca paid Andrew an exorbitant stud fee to sire a baby with his spouse. Alessandro’s former heir Gianni and a thug invade the yacht killing Alessandro and Giuletta. Andrew is injured but kills the hired hand before escaping with his baby.

Andrew changes his name to Ross. Through the husband of a friend, Andrew buys a house in the Western Isles where everyone speaks Gaelic except him. He meets his son’s governess Miss Peartree. Andrew fires her but instead she takes care of feverish Marc, which leaves Andrew jealous as she has hooked the toddler while he failed. A few days later, Andrew sees the skinny Peartree leaving a bath. Having been a prostitute to men and women, he is stunned by his reaction as he is hard with desire. He realizes his son’s governess must leave. She wonders why her employer hides on this isolated small island. In love, she reveals her real name and sordid past while Andrew denies he feels the same way. Meanwhile Gianni continues his search for the child.

The entertaining Regency romance is wonderfully developed as the lead protagonists are refreshing characters with what each conceals though Andrew remains in denial too long. The suspense enhances the plot, but the villain’s search seems inane even if he fears the baby showing up in two decades with a claim. Still readers will enjoy Maggie Robinson’s delightful historical with ties to the “Mistress” Courtesan Court saga; as love brings hope to a pair who gave up on life.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bound By Desire-Jaymie Holland

Bound By Desire

Jaymie Holland

St. Martin's Griffin, Mar 13 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780312386658

University professor Annie Travis wonders what has happened to her vanished twin cousins (Alice in Taken by Passion and Alexei in Claimed by Pleasure) as the anniversary date one year apart comes. Aunt Awai arrives with food and tells her about being a Domme at a BDSM club. Auntie takes her niece there. The shapeshifting King of Diamonds Karn escorts Annie into his realm; just like his brothers did before him with her cousins.

However, as she falls in love with her mentor, he conceals his feelings due to his past deeds that make him feel unworthy of this intellectual passionate woman who owns his heart. The Diamond King tells his captive to go home; expecting the reaction of a mouse fleeing for her hole. Instead Annie proves a lioness when it comes to her man as she refuses to let him run from what she believes they share unless he looks her in the eyes and says he does not love her.

The third Wonderland erotic romance is an enjoyable tale starring a shy big babe academia with a southern upbringing and the outgoing King of Diamonds with a beastly demeanor. The storyline is fast-paced as Annie learns why Awai says the sub has the true power over the dom as the mentor gets mentored in love.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Husband Hunt-Lynsay Sands

The Husband Hunt

Lynsay Sands

Avon, Feb 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780061963100

Lisa Madison loves Robert Langley; Robert Langley loves Lisa Madison too but not in the same way. He still sees Lisa as an impish child rather than the woman she has become. Although like her older siblings (see The Heiress and The Countess), she has many wannabe suitors, Lisa plans to prove to Robert that she is a woman in love with a dolt who she believes loves her too.

However, someone stalks Lisa. She is poisoned and almost abducted. Robert vows to protect Lisa though he prefers to keep his distance as he knows beneath his veneer of pretending she is a child, he wants her. His parents’ marriage left him with a commitment phobia. However, when his beloved Lisa vanishes, Robert risks his life to save her and tell her how he really feels.

The latest Madison Sisters historical romantic suspense is an engaging tale as Robert affirms the child is the adult with his anti-marriage stance that needs a greater trauma to shake him up. The story line is fast-paced and filled with pathos and humor. The villain’s obsession comes across genuine though his overall performance (four attempts) is poor. Readers will enjoy this exciting nineteenth century thriller due to the fully developed flawed key characters.

Harriet Klausner

Blame It On Bath-Caroline Linden

Blame It On Bath

Caroline Linden

Avon, Feb 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780062025333

Plan A is for Gerard de Lacey to find the blackmailer threatening his family; his backup plan is to marry wealth so he can pay off the extortionist. Widow Lady Katherine Howe knows Gerald needs funds so she offers him a deal as she needs a husband. She explains that her late older husband’s nephew, his heir Lucien, wants to force her into unholy matrimony as he needs her money; if he fails to wed her he owes her a fortune due to the dowry arrangement. Gerald accepts her proposal of a marriage of convenience.

Katherine conceals from her new spouse that she always has had a crush on him. Meanwhile Gerard finds his wife an equal partner in his investigation and Katherine finds her husband very protective of her. As his admiration grows for Katherine, Gerald falls in love with his passionate mate.

The latest Truth About The Duke (see One Night In London and the prequel I Love The Earl) is an entertaining Regency romance. The marriage of convenience premise has been used a zillion times especially in historical novels but is made fresh by the inquiry into who blackmails the de Lacey siblings. Though Lucien proves too weak an opponent, fans will enjoy the youngest brother working his way through the maze of love.

Harriet Klausner

Between The Duke And The Deep Blue Sea-Sophia Nash

Between The Duke And The Deep Blue Sea

Sophia Nash

Avon, Feb 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780062022325

At Whites’ Club in Mayfair, several dukes and the Prince Regent get drunk at Lord Candover’s bachelor party. No one remembers what happened except the hangover is very painful. However, a reporter jogs their memories with an article on their outrageous behavior and Candover’s marriage was cancelled due to the scandal that has many outraged by the intoxicated behavior and one person is dead. The Prince Regent informs his fellow partiers they will rusticate while finding brides.

Lady Roxanne Vanderhaven searches for her beloved Edward the dog when her spouse Lawrence insisted he fell off Kynance Cliff. She looks’ falls over and now dangles over the edge while her husband says he will return with a rope. Eddie arrives to see his mistress in peril. The mongrel finds Lord Alexander Barclay, one of the Regent’s exiles, heading to his Cornwall estate. He rescues her from certain death. While Roxanne is in shock over her near death experience and her spouse’s betrayal, Alex offers her a haven pretending to be a visiting relative. After attending her “funeral”, they become friends and soon fall in love. However, her husband’s activities leave Alex in trouble. His beloved and his drunken mates believe in him so he investigates what her husband wrought.

The first Royal Entourage Regency romance is a humorous historical version of the Hangover. The jocular storyline is fast-paced while even the mystery is filled with mirth (unless you are the magistrate or Lawrence). Though the protagonists and the antagonist are not fully developed, fans will enjoy the first aftermath of the early nineteenth century’s most scandalous bachelor party.

Harriet Klausner

The Tattooed Duke-Maya Rodale

The Tattooed Duke

Maya Rodale

Avon, Feb 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780062088925

After a dozen years globetrotting in search of adventure, Sebastian Digby returns to England in 1825. He has come home not out of love for his country, but because he is broke and can no longer afford the lifestyle he cherishes; at least not as a bachelor. In the tradition of financially strapped aristocrats, Sebastian plans to marry wealth so he can fund his escapades with her money, but knows his scandalous past severely limits the available pool.

The London Weekly assigns Eliza Fielding to go undercover inside the prodigal duke’s home in order to report his activities. Eliza obtains a position of housemaid in Sebastian’s home. She exposes his secrets in her reporting. However, she finds him caring and warm while he is attracted to the witty maid. Though she fears his reaction when he learns of her duplicity as he hunts for the reporter making him the laughing stock of the Ton; Eliza also wants to kiss every tattoo on Sebastian’s body. Love is inconvenient for Eliza and Sebastian.

The latest Writing Girls late Regency romance (see A Groom Of One's Own, A Tale Of Two Lovers and The Tattooed Duke) is a charming tale starring two fascinating protagonists. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment Eliza joins Sebastian’s household and never slows down until the explosive finish. The epilogue reminded me of Bob Thaves’ comment: "Sure he (Fred Astaire) was great, but don't forget Ginger Rogers did everything he did backwards and in high heels!"

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, February 12, 2012

From Father To Son-Janice Kay Johnson

From Father To Son

Janice Kay Johnson

Harlequin SuperRomance, Mar 6 2012, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373717644

His dad got ten years while fifteen year old Niall MacLachlan lingered in youth detention. His older brother Duncan tells him mom left. Duncan says he will take him home, but expects Niall and the tweener youngest Conall to shape up or leave. Niall realizes Duncan the valedictorian and star athlete has given up on his dream of attending college to care for his younger siblings. Niall knows this is hard core love.

Straightening himself out, Niall becomes a police detective with a vow of no family. Duncan became a cop too and has a pregnant wife (see Between Love and Duty). At a time when he struggles with his second killing of the year and an almost shooting of a child, Niall loathes his attraction to his new landlady Rowan Staley, who inherited the place from her octogenarian grandma Enid Cooper. Making matters worse the widow is the mother of two small children (Desmond and Anna) and a nudnik canine. He wants to break the lease, but she needs his rent in order to avoid moving into the home of her in-laws.

The second Brother’s Word romantic family drama is a terrific tale starring a wounded warrior and the brood that heals his soul. The cast is fully developed as Niall proves the child is the adult. He knows only tough love so chooses a loner lifestyle. Readers will enjoy this tale as the impetus to shake up the hermit comes from two families loving him and a deep need to protect the landlady and her kids from a viable threat.

Harriet Klausner

Outside the Law-Kara Lennox

Outside the Law

Kara Lennox

Harlequin SuperRomance, Mar 6 2012, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373717675

Houston based not for profit Project Justice forensic scientist Beth McClelland is attracted to coworker computer nerd Mitch Delacroix. Part of her fascination is that Beth believes Mitch is not a risk taker. Beth’s best friend Raleigh Shinn calls her chicken as she encourages her to tell the geek how she feels. Screwing up her courage, she asks him to attend a concert, but he says he is busy as he conceals his feelings for her because he knows in his heart she deserves better.

Mitch’s half-brother Coot’s Bayou, Louisiana cop Dwayne informs him that his partner in an auto theft twelve years ago Robby Racine recently was found dead; he died a dozen years ago when all this time everyone though he fled town to avoid three strikes and you’re out. The only suspect is his auto-thieving partner Mitch. Unable to accept her gentle Mitch as a killer in spite of learning about his secret identity, Beth accompanies him to Coot’s Bayou to investigate a cold case homicide.

This is an exhilarating romantic investigative tale with a great twisting finish. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment Dwayne arrives and never slows down until the final altercation. This is a super thriller as love may not be enough for this pair especially with his violent history including his clandestine Cagey Cajun character.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 10, 2012

Taking A Shot-Jaci Burton

Taking A Shot

Jaci Burton

Heat, Mar 6 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780425245521

Jenna Riley understands the irony of her disinterest in sports as she runs the family sport’s bar as the last man (woman) standing and has a brother Mick (see The Perfect Play) who is a NFL quarterback and another sibling Gavin (see Changing the Game) playing major league baseball. Instead since her birth, sports has left her mind drained.

NHL star Tyler Anderson has fallen in love with Jenna. However, she refuses to play ball (puck) with him because he is an athlete. He rejects her game misconduct penalty in order to purse the only prize greater than the Stanley Cup. Tyler learns why she resolutely denies her desire for him; He encourages her to stop doing the family thing in order to do her thing while offering to play defense for her.

The third Play-by-Play Riley heated sports romance is an entertaining tale starring an intriguing female protagonist. Jenna’s anti sports fervor brings freshness to the storyline and somewhat abates the non-use of a gender bending concept in which she is the athlete and he the fan. With enough heat to melt the ice, fans will enjoy Tyler’s game plan as he takes a slap shot at love.

Harriet Klausner

Geared For Pleasure-Rachel Grace

Geared For Pleasure

Rachel Grace

Heat, Mar 6 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780425245668

“Earthly Desires.” When Queen Idony of Theorrey is kidnapped, Queen's Chalice Demeter "Dare" Senedal and her comrade the Queen's Sword Cyrus Arendal risk their lives to rescue their royal friend. Dare becomes a captive found chained and naked by Bodhan who teaches her pleasure while she wonders if she trust him with her quest; if yes then with her heart.

“Fiery Temptations.” Seraphina the Felidae thief is a cat burglar extraordinaire because of her feline nature. Phina can do anything including making men bow to her needs. However, when Phina meets prisoner Cyrus, she wonders who the captive is as he tries to persuade her that this guardsman has the right saber to thrust into the thief.

The interrelated Elemental Steam Romance novellas are two engaging heated fantasies. The protagonists in both tales are fully developed yet a bit of mystery lingers with each. Readers will enjoy the visit to Theorrey as the Grace mythos proves compelling.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Rogue By Any Other Name-Sarah Maclean-

A Rogue By Any Other Name

Sarah Maclean

Avon, Feb 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780062068521

In 1821 Michael Lawler realized the eight of diamonds left him penniless as all he now owns is the title Marquess of Bourne. The Ton rejected him, which forced Michael, fueled by an obsession to regain his ancestral home from the Marquess of Needham and Dolby, into working the underground. He started as a pit boss, but a decade later worthy Michael is co-owner of The Fallen Angels gambling hell.

Penelope Marbury ends another engagement to the chagrin of her family and the ostracism by the Ton. She recklessly decides to find her former friend and pen pal Michael as she thinks she may love him. When she succeeds, she realizes he is not the warm person she remembers, but instead is cold and angry. He sees an opportunity to achieve his goal as she is the daughter of his enemy. They marry and begin to fall in love, but Michael cannot move past is his need for revenge.

The opening The First Rule Of Scoundrels is an engaging historical romance that is fun to read as love battles acrimony. The lead couple is a nice pairing as she is his redemption card but he believes she is his revenge card. Although their personal tsuris eventually slows down the plot, readers will enjoy the 1831 version of Guys and Dolls with humorous eccentric support characters.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Waltz This Way-Dakota Cassidy

Waltz This Way

Dakota Cassidy

Berkley, Mar 6 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780425245507

With TV cameras filming, the sleaze reporter from Hollywood Scoop and other paparazzi invade ballroom dance instructor Melina Cherkasov’s studio to obtain the woman’s unfiltered reaction to photos of her famous choreographer husband Stan with Yelina from the show Dude, You Can Dance. Twelve year old Tito helps her escape from the vicious rat pack. Their prenuptial leaves Mel with the canine. Refusing to act like her douche husband, Mel retreats from Hollywood to her dad Joe's retirement community Leisure Village in New Jersey.

Six months later she begins to teach dance at the retirement center and from there at Westmeyer private school for boys. She also meets septuagenarian resident Myriam Hernandez’s nephew Drew McPhee. They are attracted to each other but when she has a chance to go Hollywood he says if she leaves they are finished.

Although the theme is identical to Burning Down the Spouse, readers will enjoy the latest amusing ex-wife contemporary romance (see You Dropped a Blonde on Me). The story line is breezy from the moment the paparazzi like a horde of locust assault the beleaguered heroine who tells one of them to change her peroxide. Although Mel’s character is identical to that of Frankie from Burning Down the Spouse, fans will appreciate her “Gotta dance” (from Broadway Rhythm Ballet) with a crappy dancer.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, February 6, 2012

Return To Grace-Karen Harper

Return To Grace

Karen Harper

Mira, Feb 21 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9780778313236

In Home Valley, Ohio, heartbroken by Seth Lantz’s infidelity leading to his marrying pregnant Lena Miller, Hannah Esh left her Amish home to become a singer. Three years later, her worldly Englishe friends (Liz Bartoli, Tiffany Miles, Mike Swanson and Kevin Miles) have a Halloween boos and booze party at the Oakridge Road Amish Graveyard near where Hannah used to live. Their irreverence towards the dead disturbs Hannah. Shots are fired with Tiffany hit in the shoulder, Mike in the head and Hannah in the wrist. Hannah calls 911.

Seth riding home hears the shots and screams. He arrives at the cemetery where Hannah fled with shame and guilt sits in shock. He also has issues as the shooter destroyed the marker of his late wife Lena. Hannah’s parents, Bishop and Mrs. Esh arrive while the emergency vehicle comes to take the victims to the hospital. FBI agent Linc Armstrong leads the official investigation into what seems like a crime of hate. Hannah serves as the tie between the Fed’s Englishe roots and her Amish community as she wants to prove her worthiness to herself and her family. Single dad Seth, who never stopped loving, Hannah, prays for a second chance.

The latest Home Valley Amish romance (see Fall From Pride) is a wonderful character driven suspense as the heroine must choose between two cultures and potential loves; her dilemmas that provide insight into the Amish lifestyle are at the heart of the storyline. The investigation is superb as a killer observes the inquiry especially Hannah’s role, but it is the overall heroine’s tragic homecoming that makes for an engaging thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Passion Wears Pearls-Renee Bernard

Passion Wears Pearls

Renee Bernard

Berkley, Mar 6 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425247945

In 1860 London, Wealthy businessman Edmond Perring makes a shocking offer to seamstress Miss Eleanor Beckett; she rejects his scandalous deal. Later Perring assaults Eleanor, but Josiah Hastings intervenes.

Josiah has been depressed from over a year in a dungeon in India as much as his eyes weakening; something not good for an artist. However, he has a surge of optimistic energy as he believes Miss Eleanor is his masterpiece. She reluctantly agrees to serve as his model even though that is inappropriate; but she has no choice as she is held culpable at work and at the boarding house for Perring’s attack. As Eleanor lives in Josiah’s home, she falls in love with her kind hearted host, who has vowed to free the woman he cherishes once he completes his portrait.

This is a warm Victorian romance that uses social class as a key impetus to the relationship between the artist and the model. Passion Wears Pearls is a well written tender historical starring two superb protagonists, who may learn too late that love may be blind to the knowledge of what the other cherishes.

Harriet Klausner

Passion and Pretense-Susan Gee Heino

Passion and Pretense

Susan Gee Heino

Berkley, Mar 6 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425246986

In 1820 England, Anthony, Lord Rastmoor spares no expense in his desperation to marry off his fickle sister Lady Penelope. To his chagrin, she has been engaged four times; yet remains single and heading to a permanent stay on the shelf.

Penelope does not want to marry, but instead wants to go to Egypt as a student of Professor Oldham. To end her sibling’s latest marital push, Penelope realizes she needs a fake fiancé who her brother will loathe as unsuitable. She selects Harris “Lord Harry” Chesterson, as the perfect ruse to get her sibling to send her to Egypt instead of the altar. Harry notices the scarab necklace the brazen lady wears and knows he is that much closer to finding the crook stealing antiquities. He agrees to be her intended as a means to go undercover in order to catch a thief. Neither expected love to intrude on their respective personal agenda.

Passion and Pretense is an amusing Regency romantic thriller starring two wonderful protagonists who each has a strong reason for a fake engagement, which in turn leads to a comedy of errors involving family and suspense. With ties to Susan Gee Heino’s previous historical tales (see Temptress In Training, Damsel in Disguise and Mistress by Mistake), fans will enjoy the antics of the scandalous rogue and the obstinate lady.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Yours To Keep-Shannon Stacey

Yours To Keep

Shannon Stacey

Harlequin HQN, Feb 21 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780373776863

Worried about her granddaughter Emma Shaw’s single status, family matriarch Grandma Cat leaves her new Florida home to visit her in New Hampshire. Emma told her Grandma that she has a fiancé, but now needs to introduce her persistent relative to a flesh and blood male. Previously selecting now honorably discharged former soldier Sean Kowalski as her man based on her friend Lily mentioning him as her cousin-in-law, Emma visits him at his home; where she informs him she is his fake fiancée.

Though a bit surprised by her confession, he agrees to pretend to be her future mate living together while also working for her landscaping firm. However what started as pretend turns real when the kisses become increasingly passionate and needing.

Though the theme of a pretend spouse to fool a caring relative has been done a zillion times (see Brigit Asher’s The Pretend Wife), the latest Kowalski contemporary romance (see Exclusively Yours and Undeniably Yours) is a fun tale. Putting aside the ethics of deception, fans will enjoy this zany tale as his boisterous clan and her persistent diligent relative make it impossible for the couple to have a respite; love compounds the dilemma as Sir Walter Scott said: “Oh what a tangled web you weave when first you practice to deceive.”

Harriet Klausner

Redwood Bend-Robyn Carr

Redwood Bend

Robyn Carr

Mira, Feb 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778313106

Single mom of five years old twins (Andy and Mitch) Katie Malone quits her job after a failed attempt at a romance with her boss who rejects her since he is gay. With her her sons, she drives from Vermont so that she and the boys can spend the summer with their only family, her brother Connor (see Hidden Summer) and the woman he loves whom she has not yet met.

When the Malone vehicle has a flat in the rain, chivalrous Dylan Childress, biking with his buddies on their way to Virgin River, stops to change it. They are attracted to one another, but he warns her that commitment-is not him. Both accept a summer romance, but love intrudes. When he fails to admit his feelings, she ends their tryst. Realizing his blunder, Dylan who adores her kids, knows they are the way back into her heart.

The latest Virgin River contemporary romance (see Moonlight Road and Paradise Valley) is an enjoyable tale though there is a sense of déjà vu as readers have traveled this road before. The lead couple is a wonderful duet, consisting of a single mom and an avowed bachelor with both understanding that the twins come first. Fans will enjoy this tender family drama as the second Malone finds love in Virgin River.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 3, 2012

I Want Candy-Susan Donovan

I Want Candy

Susan Donovan

St. Martin’s, Feb 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312536220

Several years ago BFFs Cherise Newberry and Candace Carmichael left Bigler, North Carolina for Tampa. They had early success, but recently everything has fallen apart for both of them. Cheri went home (see Cheri On Top) and suggested to her realtor friend whose business collapsed with the market implosion to do likewise.

Candy returns to Bigler without a job, a prospect, or ironically a place to live except illegally rooming with her mother at a luxurious retirement home. Widower Sheriff Turner stops her for a moving violation. Candy kisses him, but becomes upset when she sees he wears his wedding ring though his spouse died four years ago. Turner still grieves his wife’s death, but also knows the female who raised his pulse level to stratospheric levels in high school now turns his heart beat to tropospheric. However, someone else targets Candy too.

The second return to Bigler contemporary romance is a fun tale with an overall lighthearted feel to the storyline yet also provides a look at the impact of the housing depression. Breezy with eccentric lunatics running wild in the streets; I Love Candy is a sort of modern day Carolina King Of Hearts. Readers will enjoy Candy’s coming home.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, February 2, 2012

With Just One Kiss-Francis Ray

With Just One Kiss

Francis Ray

St. Martin’s, Feb 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312536480

Fashion magazine writer Cicely St. John wrote a tepid blog entry re the New York bar owned by C.J. Callahan. He is outraged by what he believes is an insult at a time when he is already unhappy with having to take over his family’s software business taking him away from his beloved bar. C.J. wants to give Cicely a piece of his mind even if she is a close friend of Dianne, the wife of his BFF Alex Stewart (see A Seductive Kiss).

However, he also recalls how she felt in his arms when they danced at the Harington-Stewart wedding; she too has not forgotten that moment in which every cell tingled and her heart pounded. However, he is New York and she seems destined for Paris until each agrees to a truce that leads to their attraction exploding out into the open.

The latest tender Grayson Friends (see It Had To Be You) is an engaging entry starring two people who ignore their attraction for each other as both focuses on their career goals. Character driven, fans will enjoy the romance between the C & C as falling in love appears to be not strong enough to supersede their respective needs to succeed in business.

Harriet Klausner

Lessons In Loving A Laird- Michelle Marcos

Lessons In Loving A Laird

Michelle Marcos

St. Martin’s, Feb 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312381790

After spending much of his life in London, Scottish Laird Conall MacEwan returns home to manage the estate he inherited. Part of what he has been paid by a renter is ownership of indentured servants, Shona and Willow Slayter. The twins and their mercenary brother Malcolm (see Secrets To Seducing A Scot) watched their family massacred two decades ago when their father was accused of desertion; they grew up without a clan.

Conall intelligently knows he knows nothing about estate management but also realizes Shona does. He pays her to work and Shona begins to turn around the estate from debt to profit. As he falls in love with his employee, she fears telling him how she feels about him. He enjoys her company and has come to respect and love her. She is afraid to reveal her feelings for him though she plans to seduce him into freeing her. However, his brother Stewart places Conall in a situation he loathes, to avoid a scandal Conal has to marry a lady his sibling ruined.

The latest Slayter children as adults regency romance is a terrific humorous tale of love conquers all. Shona with her fierceness, a wicked sense of humor and her business acumen brings freshness to the entertaining storyline; while Conall proves he is no chauvinist pig when it comes to economics. Fans will enjoy the education of Shona and Conall as each learns Lessons In Loving A Laird and a defrocked lady.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Insatiable-Opal Carew


Opal Carew

St. Martin’s Griffin, Feb 14 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780312674618

Crystal and Brent are about to marry when the best man Evan, having spent a restless night overthinking what he should do, confronts the bride with his confession that he loves her. Stunned by his revelation, Crystal is further shocked when Brent vanishes just before the ceremony.

The marriage is off so Evan persuades Crystal to go on her honeymoon with him. They arrive at the tropical getaway only to their amazement Brent shows up too. He wants his fiancée back as he insists he loves her but hepanicked and fled. The two best friends compete for Crystal who knows she must choose one and leave the other behind or none when the two weeks in the tropics end; as the days of ecstasy pass, she considers keeping both of her lovers.

This is a heated erotic romance with plenty sex between W-M, M-M and F-F. While the heat is on, the story line is thin and none of the characters are full blooded except for the males’ lower heads. Still sub-genre fans will enjoy a sexual fantasy stay in the tropics.

Harriet Klausner