Wednesday, February 27, 2013

One Night With A Cowboy-Cat Johnson

One Night With A Cowboy

Cat Johnson

Kensington Brava, Feb 26 2013, $9.95

ISBN: 9780758285386

Dr. Becca Hart loses her assistant English professor position at Vassar at the same time her boyfriend moves out. A month after the seminar ended she remains unemployed with the only vacancy at Oklahoma State University. She tells her sibling Emma she will not apply. OSU English Department Dean Mark Ross asks Becca to come to Stillwater for an interview. Emma submitted her résumé. The sisters travel to OSU. The sisters attend the rodeo and meet bull riders Tucker Jenkins and Jace Mills. Divorced army sergeant Tucker and Becca are stunned by their attraction. The foursome goes back to the hotel where Becca and Tucker take out a room.

Becca teaches at OSU while Emma returns home. Dean Ross hosts a part welcoming Becca. On the faculty, Tucker attends. Both are stunned to see each other. He is upset as she never told him she interviewed for a job and she with his not mentioning the military. Tucker’s superior officer warns him of the non-fraternization rule. Still each agrees to become friends with benefits until he volunteers to return to Afghanistan so she would not be fired.

The latest Oklahoma Nights Romance (see Two Times as Hot and Three Weeks with a Bull Rider) is a fun military academic romance in which the attraction at first sight is deftly handled as each protagonist is fully developed. The rodeo scoring rules and ROTC training are deftly interwoven into the engaging plot due to a solid support cast. Although his logic for volunteering to serve in Afghanistan seems crazy and affirms the lead couple’s somewhat infantile behavior, readers will enjoy One Night (and many more) With A Cowboy.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Dusk With A Dangerous Duke

Dusk With A Dangerous Duke

Alexandra Hawkins

St. Martin's, Feb 26 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9781250001382

Six years ago, Nicolas Towers became the Duke of Huntsley when his parents died. His Grandmother arrived at Telcliffe Castle to raise the child with a tough love attitude. In 1806, Hunter meets a weeping baby; the daughter of a duke with a large dowry. Grandmother tells her shocked beardless virginal grandson that he will wed two year old Lady Grace Kearly when she turns twenty-one.

After years of rakehell activities, in 1825 the time for Hunter to wed his fiancée has arrived if he wants to keep his inheritance instead of his cousin Walker getting it. Having seen her once almost two decades ago when she bit him, he does not look forward to his second encounter with Lady Grace. She also fears marriage to this dedicated Lord of Vice as she assumes he wants the heir, the spare and her nowhere near. Thus, Hunter is shocked when Lady Grace refuses to honor their families’ nuptial agreement. Hunter’s new mission is winning the heart of his former fiancée unaware he also brings danger to her.

The latest Lords of Vice Regency romance (see Sunrise with a Notorious Lord, After Dark with a Scoundrel, Till Dawn with the Devil and All Night with a Rogue) is an entertaining historical. Though the premise has been used frequently before and Grace’s abrupt change of heart never is explained though implied during the fiery climax, sub-genre fans will enjoy the delightful Dusk With A Dangerous Duke.

Harriet Klausner

The Earl Is Mine-Kieran Kramer

The Earl Is Mine

Kieran Kramer

St. Martin's, Feb 26 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9781250009890

Heir to the Marquess of Brady though not his son, Lord Gregory Sherwood the architect needs a wife. However, his choice Lady Eliza has selected his best friend Dougal instead of him.

Gregory has no time to mend his broken heart as childhood friend and fellow survivor of Uncle Bertie’s parties Pippa Harrington storms back into his life as she has done several times over the years. She explains to him that she heads to Paris to avoid an unwanted arranged marriage. As she takes a detour masquerading as his valet, she always has known deep in her soul that he is the one person who could break her heart if she trusts him with her love.

The second House of Brady Regency romance (see Loving Lady Marcia) is an amusing lighthearted historical with not so subtle references to the TV show beginning with the names of the Brady Bunch and Alice the housekeeper. Readers will enjoy this amusing historical as Gregory and Pippa learn that love makes everything seem better.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Best Man-Kristan Higgins

The Best Man

Kristan Higgins

Harlequin HQN, Feb 26 2013, $7.99

ISBN 9780373777921

In Manningsport, New York, high school sweethearts Faith Holland and Jeremy Lyon are engaged. As the wedding nears, he jilts her when he realizes he is gay. Shook up by her fiancé’s revelation, Faith left town heartbroken and feeling betrayed though in lucid less emotional moments she knows she owes thanks to Jeremy for ending their relationship before they said I do. Still she trusts no man with Jeremy’s Best Man Levi Cooper the subject of her biggest scorn for failing to tell her that her fiancé was gay; using background checks that would make FBI agents envious, Faith has no faith in any man.

Several years after she left her Upstate New York town, Faith comes home to a dysfunctional family. Making matters worse for Faith is that she loathes her attraction to Levi, the town’s Police chief. He feels the same way as he wanted her when she was dating his best friend. Both are wary to take a chance as he brought back his Afghan war experience as a wounded warrior and she struggles to move passed the betrayal.

This is a fun madcap romance filled with plenty of feelings as the protagonists suffer from carrying differing emotional baggage. Although the fully developed support cast (especially Jeremy and Faith’s family including her leg-humping canine) adds overall depth, they also impede the prime romantic storyline. Still fans will enjoy the love story of the jilted bride and The Best Man.

Harriet Klausner

All He Ever Desired-Shannon Stacey

All He Ever Desired

Shannon Stacey

Harlequin HQN, Feb 26 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780373777563

After graduating from college, Ryan Kowalski fled his hometown of Whitford, Maine when the love of his life Lauren married his best friend Dean Carpenter. The couple divorced eight years ago after she caught him cheating; their sixteen year old son Nick lives with Lauren who works as the office assistant at Demarest Insurance.

After years away from town, Ryan returns to help his family renovate their Northern Star Lodge. When he catches teenager Nick vandalizing Kowalski property, Ryan must confront the woman he loved and lost. They agree to allow Nick working for Ryan to pay for the damage he caused. Both remain attracted to one another, but each is wary of a relationship. At the wedding of his brother Mitch and Paige (All He Ever Needed), she takes the risky first step.

The latest "Killer" Kowalski contemporary romance (see Yours To Keep and Exclusively Yours) is an enjoyable third chance at love tale (he unsuccessfully tried to persuade her to take her then infant and go away with him). The storyline is the usual warm madcap mania as the extended Kowalski brood celebrates a wedding in their boisterous style. However, the key to this entertaining entry is the pace as Ryan and Lauren take their time to regain trust and faith in love.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Operation Reunion-Justine Davis

Operation Reunion

Justine Davis

Harlequin Romantic Suspense, Feb 19 2013, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373278152

Chad Tucker vanished just after the murder of his parents over a decade ago. The two intertwined cases have gone cold, but Chad’s sister Kayla continues to search for her sibling. Her obsession has driven friends and family away, including her beloved Dane Burdette. He believes she is throwing away her life on the delusion that her brother is innocent and is tired of coming in a distant second to her all-encompassing quest.

At a time when she has run out of ideas, Kayla and Cutter meet. The Belgian canine escorts the distraught woman to Quinn Foxworth and Hayley Cole (see Operation Midnight). They and their team take on clients like Kayla with no one else to turn to for help. While Dane remains doubtful, but nearby, Cutter and his humans replenish Kayla’s hope.

This Cutter’s Code entry is an entertaining romantic suspense that affirms the W.C. Field’s comment “Never work with animals or children” as the delightful daring dog steals the show from the two pairs of couples. Fast-paced, Operation Reunion is an engaging story as fans will conclude that the canine knows best.

Harriet Klausner

What She Saw-Rachel Lee

What She Saw

Rachel Lee

Harlequin Romantic Suspense, Feb 19 2013, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373278138

College student Haley Martin works as a waitress at a truck stop. She fantasizes about a consistent customer whose shirt says Devlin. Ray Liston, who she knew in high school, stops for coffee. Soon after he leaves to drive his rig, Deputies Micah Parish and Sarah Ironheart arrive to ask questions about Liston; which Haley answers without hesitation that he seemed fine to her. Ten miles from the truck stop, Liston drive his rig off the road and died.

Former MP, truck driver Buck Devlin investigates the death and other odd events impacting his firm. Already attracted to the college student, he fears her chatting with Liston places her in danger as a “loose end”. To keep her safe and besides which he needs her help to uncover the truth, he asks for her assistance by pretending to be lovers.

The latest Conrad County: The Next Generation (see Rancher’s Deadly Risk) is a taut romantic suspense thriller due to the super protagonists. Fast-paced from the moment the deputies enter the truck stop and filled with twists while never slowing down, readers will appreciate Rachel Lee’s interesting investigative romance.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 22, 2013

How To Catch A Prince-Leanne Banks

How To Catch A Prince

Leanne Banks

Harlequin Special Edition, Feb 19 2013, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373657292

Sophie Taylor argues with her boss Max Carter that he should meet his royal family and is previously unknown sister Coco Jordan (see A Home for Nobody's Princess); both offspring of Prince Edward of Chantaine. Unimpressed by the uproar, he insists he is too busy designing roads to visit his biological family at the Royal House of Devereaux even with his being in country on a project.

Still a reluctant Max listens to his assistant’s advice and meets the royals. His regal half-sisters know that their new sibling and his assistant are in love with each other though they also conclude he is in denial and she gave up on his inability to commit. Thus the royals play matchmaker.

The latest Royal Babies (see The Princess and the Outlaw) is an entertaining contemporary romance. The relationship premise between the protagonists has been used frequently (see the movie The Duchess of Idaho), but made fresh by the royals especially the matchmakers.

Harriet Klausner

The Right Twin-Gina Wilkins

The Right Twin

Gina Wilkins

Harlequin Special Edition, Feb 19 2013, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373657308

Aaron Walker grew up as one of the “Terrible Trio” in Texas. His cousin Casey has recently married and set up a law practice in Tennessee (see The Texan’s Tennessee Romance); his twin brother Andrew has become a successful private investigator. Only Aaron remains a “Terrible” one with debacles and screw-ups his norm.

Fleeing his family’s condemnation of his latest fiasco, Aaron travels to the Bell Resort and Marina on Lake Livingston. He is stunned when a beautiful blond greets him with an enthusiastic hug. Shelby Bell mistook Aaron for Andrew who has helped her family. She persuades him to go undercover as her pretend boyfriend to catch a thief. However, quickly both acknowledge (to themselves) that they wish the modifier was dropped from boyfriend.

The latest Walker extended family romance contains a strong investigative mystery that enhances the changing relationship between the lead couple. Readers will enjoy when Aaron sets out to prove initially to himself but soon to his beloved that he is The Right Twin for her.

Harriet Klausner

One Less Lonely Cowboy-Kathleen Eagle

One Less Lonely Cowboy

Kathleen Eagle

Harlequin Special Edition, Feb 19 2013, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373657278

Thirteen years ago, Mike Reardon kicked his pregnant daughter Lily out of their home. Now with no money, the unemployed schoolteacher accompanied by her daughter Iris heads to her family Rocking R Ranch in Lowdown, Montana hoping her dad will allow her and his granddaughter to temporarily stay. Iris’ plans to work as a substitute teacher until she and Iris can get a place to stay.

Day worker Jack McKenzie works on several of the ranches though recently he is spending most of his time helping his mentor Mike. A divorcee with two kids (Becky and Wade) living with his remarried ex, Jack has heard Mike proudly talk about Lily for years. At the ranch, Lily helps out with the chores; while she and Jack feel an immense attraction though both have doubts because they do not wanting to hurt an ailing Mike.

One Less Lonely Cowboy is an engaging warm romance with a second chance at family underlying premise. The lead couple and her family make for a tender Big Sky contemporary as a small family operation struggles to survive amidst the mega corporations.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sizzle-Katherine Garbera


Katherine Garbera

Harlequin Blaze, Feb 19 2013, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373797455

San Diego based Sweet Dreams Bakery owner Staci Rowland meets New Orleans chef Remy Cruzel in the elevator just before they and others vie for slots on the Premier Chef reality TV show competition. The selecting committee teams up in pairs the contestants leading to the Cupcake Girl and the Cajun Chef arguing over who should lead whom. Each makes the cut.

As the contest continues on the air, the heated attraction between sweet and spice improves both their performances. Over the weeks of the show, Staci and Remy fall in love, but he conceals his wealth as the heir to his family’s renowned Gastrophile Restaurant. When his beloved learns the truth, Remy fears she will dump him as trust in the kitchen means a lot to sweet Staci.

The Sweet Dreams sequel (see One More Kiss starring Staci’s partner Alysse Dresden) is a lighthearted culinary competitive romance. Using a chef reality show contest is not a new device, but made fresh by the lead couple who turn sweet and spicy into a sizzling sexy story.

Harriet Klausner

Smooth Sailing-Lori Wilde

Smooth Sailing

Lori Wilde

Harlequin Blaze, Feb 19 2013, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373797462

Affluent playboy Jeb Whitcomb spent a year in atonement to prove to his ex, marine biologist Ph.D. candidate Jackie Birchard; he earned a second chance with her. He spent one year of near celibacy while redeeming himself working on the rebuilding of St. Michael’s Island in the Caribbean.

Instead he learns his Jackie is marrying Coast Guard Lieutenant Scott Everly in Key West in four days. Jeb reacts poorly as he desperately needs to stop the wedding unless he is the groom. Jeb sails to Key West only to find an angry nurse Haley French on board. Someone attending the bash he threw drugged her. As Mr. Shallow and Ms. Irate sail together, each struggles to ignore the desire that accompanies them on their sea cruise.

The second male obsessing over Stop the Wedding (see Night Driving for Jackie’s half-brother Boone on land) of Birchard-Everly wedding makes for another zany at sea romance starring two opposites falling in love. Character driven by the lead couple, fans will enjoy the changing relationship between the hedonist playboy and the dedicated nurse.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Her Sister-Karen Rose Smith

Her Sister

Karen Rose Smith

Amazon Digital Services, Feb 19 2013, $3.99


When Clare Thaddeus was five years old, someone abducts her three year old sister Lynnie. The child never came home and their parents Amanda and Max divorced. Clare never quite recovered from her loss and subsequent family collapse; behaving wildly as a teen years.

Almost three decades since the tragedy that changed her life, single mom Clare struggles with her defiant teenage daughter Shara while musing fate is giving to her what she gave to her parents when she was sixteen. Clare’s mom calls to tell her that retired Detective Grove, who worked the Lynnie kidnapping twenty-seven years ago, thinks he has a lead. He meets with Clare and her parents at her Amanda’s Yesteryear office. The former cop says Luther Brown on death row in Texas for killing two little girls says his sister struck a deal with authorities that led to the corpses, but now dying from pancreatic cancer, she gave her sibling’s journal to the FBI. Two girls Winnie and Barbara were abandoned in Pittsburgh. A DNA test will prove whether one of them is Lynnie.

The seventh Search For Love contemporary tale (see HEARTFIRE and CASSIDY'S COWBOY) is an engaging family drama that looks deeply into the impact on people when a tragedy destroys their idyllic world. Two well-developed romances rightfully play second fiddle to the mystery of Lynnie with each affected by the kidnapping and now the DNA test. Though there may be too much tsuris as an unwanted pregnancy adds to the family issues, the character-driven strong storyline showcases how each Thaddeus deals differently to the abduction that devastated their loving home though they have a second chance at coming together after failing to do twenty-seven years ago.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Daybreak-Shelley Shepard Gray


Shelley Shepard Gray

Avon Inspire, Feb 12 2013, $12.99

ISBN: 9780062204400

For the past six months New Order Amish Viola Keim has worked at the Daybreak Retirement Home. Her favorite resident is Mennonite Atle Swartz who cherishes his son Edward; every time he receives a letter from his offspring, Atle reads it to everyone especially Viola. She cannot understand why Edward traipses around the world instead of his daed living with him at home as she would never abandon her medically needy twin sister.

When Ed makes a surprise return from his missionary work in Nicaragua, Viola condemns him for abandoning his father to strangers. He is shocked by her animosity as she seems so kind to his daed. As they become better acquainted, Viola realizes Ed is a caring son adhering to his beloved daed’s wishes. She and her siblings learn a secret about their austere grandmother that causes a family schism. Meanwhile Viola and Ed fall in love and want to marry. However, she has never left home and hates leaving behind her family especially her sister, but must decide whether to accompany him back to Nicaragua, wait for him at home or end their relationship.

The first Days of Redemption Amish family drama is an engaging tale as each Keim member has issues to deal with though Viola’s is the storyline’s prime focus. Viola has choices to make at a time when she believes her family needs her most. As it should be, the romance is straightforward; with the Keim brood struggling to deal with a shocking revelation that has Viola pondering between love of her family and love of Ed.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

My Cowboy Valentine-Jane Porter and Tanya Michaels

My Cowboy Valentine

Jane Porter and Tanya Michaels

Harlequin American, Feb 5 2013, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373754427

“Be Mine, Cowboy” by Jane Porter. In Mineral Wells, Palo Pinto County, Texas single mom Rachel James struggles to make a decent life as a baker for her and her autistic four and a half year old son Thomas. Five years ago, she left her beloved Cade King because he chose Jack Daniels over her. Sober, he wants a second chance with Rachel and a first chance with her child she says is not his offspring and who insists this stranger leave.

“Hill Country Cupid” by Tanya Michaels. Single dad Rick Calhoun arrives late to pick up his six years old daughter Bailey from her dance class. He likes the teacher Tess Fitzpatrick who notices the shy father eying Farrah Landon, the single mom of another student. Tess decides to help Rick with Farrah. However, Rick prefers his dating instructor.

These are two warm Texas Valentine Day romances starring wonderful protagonists with children complicating both relationships.

Harriet Klausner

The Alaskan Rescue-Dominque Burton

The Alaskan Rescue

Dominque Burton

Harlequin American, Feb 5 2013, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373754441

Dr. Cole Stevens flies from Ketchikan to Marshall’s Fishing Lodge And Resort on Prince of Wales Island, Alaska to attend to several sick guests. However, he becomes livid to learn that the owner Frank Marshall lied about the ailing individuals who instead of Kansans were foreign visitors; thankfully suffering from Strep and sea sickness, and not a virus. He stays the night and meets dancer Sashi “New York” Hansen who dreams of opening up a ballet studio in Alexandria, Virginia, but gruelingly works at Marshall’s with three days of employment left here for her and her BFF anthropologist Kendra Knight. The dancer and the doctor spend the night together.

A few days later, a distraught pregnant Kendra runs outside at night after seeing the father of her unborn Freddy Marshall with another woman; Sashi follows her. A bear attacks them killing Kendra and injuring Sashi. When they are reported missing, Cole joins the rescue party that finds Sashi. As Cole and Sashi fall in love, his rage against Freddy and her guilt over Kendra keep them from emotionally healing.

The Alaskan backdrop enhances a strong contemporary romance. Character driven, fans will root for the doctor and the dancer to forge a healing tango built from their love.

Harriet Klausner

The Lieutenant By Her Side-Jean Thomas

The Lieutenant By Her Side

Jean Thomas

Harlequin Romantic Suspense, Feb 5 2013, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373278121

In New Orleans the man informed fifth grade schoolteacher Clare Fuller that if she is to prove her sister Terry did not commit the murder she is accused of she will do his bidding. He explains she will steal an amulet from US Army Ranger Lieutenant Mark Griggs in exchange for the proof that her sibling is innocent. At the luxurious Pelican Hotel, Clare calling herself Nola cons the heroic soldier but feels guilty for doing so to a warrior recovering from a war injury obtained protecting a child from the Taliban.

However, before she escapes with the amulet, Mark catches her when engine trouble grounded the last ferry off the island. Contrite to his irritated, she tells him the truth. Mark agrees to help her learn what the hidden agenda of the blackmailer is. Though neither trusts the other with good reason, they head to New Orleans to investigate knowing they have nothing to offer to the police. Falling in love leaves both vulnerable.

The Lieutenant By Her Side is a taut investigative romantic suspense headed by the title hero and a beleaguered teacher. Fast-paced from the opening seduction and never slowing down until the final confrontation, readers will enjoy this tense thriller as Mark’s Ranger DNA means protecting even someone he distrusts though to his chagrin desires.

Harriet Klausner