Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Mistress Of Normandy-Susan Wiggs

The Mistress Of Normandy
Susan Wiggs
Mira, Jul 29 2014, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778316367

In 1414 Westminster, King Henry V honors peasant soldier Enguerrand Fitzmarc for saving his life and that of his brother the Duke of Clarence from the religious fanatical Lollard assassins and for war heroics by naming him a knight the Baron of Longwood.  However, he also learns how diabolically clever the monarch is as his estate is in Normandy where his paternal roots will help since he speaks French; additionally his chosen bride Lady Lianna who rules there.

Irate Lianna learns that the King sent an outsider from across the Channel to be lord of her and her land as her husband.  She refuses to bow down to anyone even the monarch’s anointed.  When Lianna and Rand meet in the nearby woods; they are attracted to each other until she learns his identity.  Though she loves Rand, Lianna, feeling betrayed, rejects him.  While he struggles to earn the trust of the fiery female he cherishes, enemies of the English plot to kick the English off the continent starting with killing the pair and other Henry loyalists.

This “revised” version of 1991 The Lily and the Leopard (don’t know how much was refreshed) is a winning medieval romance though the changing relationship between the lead couple is typical of the subgenre.  Still Susan Wiggs (see Tudor Rose Trilogy) provides a satisfying historical starring two resilient resolute personalities clashing over love and leadership until a mutual deadly enemy threatens both of them and the locals they cherish.

Harriet Klausner

The Hexed-Heather Graham

The Hexed
Heather Graham
Mira, Jul 29 2014, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778316374

Peabody, Massachusetts high school senior, Craig “Rocky” Rockwell is not into Melissa Wilson though she makes it clear she wants him.  When he hears her calling out to him, he ignores her until he realizes she pleads for him to help her.  Thinking of slasher movies he rushes towards where he believes the voice emanates; only to find Melissa with her throat sliced.

Thirteen years later, a second female victim in nearby Swampscott with the same M.O. of a sliced throated, posed as a pentagram and a silver medallion on her chest enables FBI Agent Rocky’s transfer to the Krewe of Hunters unit.  Special Agent Jackson Crow assigns him to the Massachusetts case though there is some concern over his emotional attachment to the first known vic. 

Following the death of her great-Aunt Mina, Devin Lyle inherits her cabin and moves back to Salem to live there.  She finds a corpse nearby her home, which brings Rocky into her life.  They both quickly realize they share in common the ability to talk with ghosts as her Aunt Mina tries to assist them on their inquiry.

The latest Krewe of Hunters urban fantasy police procedural (see The Cursed and Phantom Evil) is a thrilling entry in which Heather Graham captures the essence of coastal Massachusetts north of Boston (I lived in the area including a wonderful month in Peabody in the early 1980s).  Although the protagonists feel less developed than the usual zoo Krewe, the paranormal investigation brings as always top rate enjoyment with the otherworldly elements feeling genuine; while Ms. Graham hauntingly brings to life (and death) Salem and the surrounding towns.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Dog Park-Laura Caldwell

The Dog Park
Laura Caldwell
Mira, Jul 29 2014, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778317142

In Chicago, stylist Jess Champlin and reporter Sebastian Hess spent most of their time together arguing.  To save their floundering marriage they adopted Baxter the Goldendoodle.  His human parents fall in love with him, but their relationship ended in divorce with shared custody of Baxter.  Jess and Sebastian continue to fight, for instance over Baxter’s leash and collar, as they see each other once a week since their dog moves back and forth between them.

While walking with Jess, Baxter breaks loose and runs at full speed towards a toddler and her mom.  He knocks the toddler down just before a truck would have hit little Clara.  Vinnie recorded the incident and placed it on YouTube where it goes viral as everyone agrees with the grateful mom Betsy that Baxter is a superdog hero.  As Jess’ business takes off, she begins dating for the first time since her relationship (except for Baxter) with Sebastian ended, but a betrayal over what happened to her in New York shatters her confidence yet she has gained strength to face the past including her love for ex.

The Dog Park is a fascinating contemporary starring an OCD female and her beloved canine she treats as her toddler; in fairness her ex sees Baxter as a “man” since the canine no longer is a puppy.  Baxter the superdog is the lead protagonist as he and the other dogs steal the show from his two-legged momma; his human dad is a secondary character.  Though at times the plot turns too cute, The Dog Park is an enjoyable tale that looks deeply at the bond between a dog and a human.

Harriet Klausner

Mr. Right Goes Wrong-Pamela Morsi

Mr. Right Goes Wrong
Pamela Morsi
Mira, Jul 29 2014, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778316497

Accompanied by her teenage son Tru, Mazy Gulliver left Wilmington to move back to her mom’s home in Brandt Mountain, North Carolina; a place where her rep is that of a loose woman making bad decisions when it comes to men.  Needing a job, the accounting clerk is grateful when her former lover, Tru’s dad, Tad Driscoll hires her as a debt collector.

Her childhood friend Eli Latham still loves Mazy though she dumped the nice guy twice for unsavory types.  Deciding to go for a walk-off homerun or a game ending strikeout, Eli the good guy changes his image into a bad boy as that is what Mazy always wanted.  As she falls in love with the boy next door, he miscalculates the effect of the Tru factor; Mazy wants her Mr. Right to return to his being Mr. Nice instead of Mr. Wrong bad boy.

This regional third chance at love romance is a pleasurable contemporary starring a woman who found love with all the wrong men until now and a man who changes his nature so that he is her next and most important last one.  Although Eli’s changing his lifelong instinctual mental state 180 degrees overnight never comes across as plausible, readers will want Mazy and her caring Mr. Right to make it.

Harriet Klausner

Mr. Right Goes Wrong-Pamela Morsi

Mr. Right Goes Wrong
Pamela Morsi
Mira, Jul 29 2014, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778316497

Accompanied by her teenage son Tru, Mazy Gulliver left Wilmington to move back to her mom’s home in Brandt Mountain, North Carolina; a place where her rep is that of a loose woman making bad decisions when it comes to men.  Needing a job, the accounting clerk is grateful when her former lover, Tru’s dad, Tad Driscoll hires her as a debt collector.

Her childhood friend Eli Latham still loves Mazy though she dumped the nice guy twice for unsavory types.  Deciding to go for a walk-off homerun or a game ending strikeout, Eli the good guy changes his image into a bad boy as that is what Mazy always wanted.  As she falls in love with the boy next door, he miscalculates the effect of the Tru factor; Mazy wants her Mr. Right to return to his being Mr. Nice instead of Mr. Wrong bad boy.

This regional third chance at love romance is a pleasurable contemporary starring a woman who found love with all the wrong men until now and a man who changes his nature so that he is her next and most important last one.  Although Eli’s changing his lifelong instinctual mental state 180 degrees overnight never comes across as plausible, readers will want Mazy and her caring Mr. Right to make it.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, July 28, 2014

No Strings Attached-Susan Anderson

No Strings Attached
Susan Anderson
Harlequin HQN, Jul 29 2014, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373778874

Seven years ago on Andros Island, Bahamas, Tasha Riordan and Diego shared a terrific tryst.  He told her he had to meet his boss but asked her to delay her flight home from Nassau for another day of sex, which she did as this trip was the highlight of her life.  A few hours later, Drug Enforcement Unit Inspector Rolle arrested Tasha for possession with the intent to sell as these next two days prove the lowlight of her life. 

In Razor Bay, Washington, running late for a going away party thrown for Gina, Bella T’s pizzeria owner Tasha enters the room only to see Diego “NoLastName” sitting at the table with the guest of honor’s daughter Harper and Max (see Some Like It Hot).  Stunned she drops the food and wine she brought to the gala.  Max’s brother Luc Bradshaw remembers his time with Tasha in the Bahamas as his greatest memory though he regretted leaving her behind due to a DEA undercover mission.  Now he wants a second chance but needs to know what happened because he believes she left him to go home on her scheduled flight; though she still wants him, she distrusts the man who left her lingering terrorized with fear in that hellhole Bahamian jail.

Putting aside the odds, the third Razor Bay Bradshaw brothers’ contemporary (see That Thing Called Love) is a diverting second chance drama in which “… the truth will set you free”, but in this case probably alone.  Luc and Tasha make for a fun romance as trust died in the Bahamas crippling their love.


Harriet Klausner

Hot Intent-Cindy Dees

Hot Intent
Cindy Dees
Harlequin HQN, Jul 29 2014, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373778898

Kindergarten teacher Katie McCloud joined Doctors Unlimited as a translator in war torn Zaghastan where she assisted Dr. Alex Peters with providing medical help to pregnant women.  When danger arrived, Alex deployed skills no geek possesses and managed to get them back to the States along with newborn Dawn whom Katie delivered and carried home with her; though America’s illusion of haven proved false (see Close Pursuit).

While Alex was away for a year in training, his CIA handler Andre Fortinay warned Katie to have no expectations with her lover.  When Alex finally arrives at their DC home, Katie welcomes him back as her hero.  Soon afterward, Katie and Alex travel to Cuba to help hurricane victims.  However, his espionage past catches up to the two lovers.  When the CIA orders him to dump the woman he loves, Alex must choose between his heart which shouts he belongs with Katie and Dawn; and his training and tortured past which insist eliminate mission threats especially vulnerabilities like Katie and Dawn.

The latest Doctors Unlimited romantic suspense is a thrilling sequel starring a haunted hero who seems capable of doing anything except love, and a spunky female who refuses to quit on her anguished man.  Although lacking the unique profoundness of a war torn Zaghastan village (see Close Pursuit), the depth into Alex’s abnormal mental state filled with rage hooks the audience.  Readers wonder throughout whether Alex will allow his two beloveds to become expendable pawns; as the pressure from the CIA and his paternal Russian family amplifies with each side agreeing on one thing in the international game of deadly intrigue: dump the female albatrosses.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Game And The Governess-Kate Noble

The Game And The Governess
Kate Noble
Pocket, Jul 22 2014, $7.99
ISBN: 9781476749389

In 1822 “Lucky Ned” Ashby has become pompous and conceited ever since he became the earl several years earlier due to several untimely deaths.  He hires his war friend John Turner as his secretary.  However, their third pal Dr. Rhys Gray notices a strain between them probably caused by the changing of their relationship since Turner was Ashby’s superior officer while fighting Napoleon.  After an argument over whether women consider wealth when selecting a man, Ned and John make a bet.  Ned will pretend to be John the secretary while John will be Ned the earl.  As John, Ned must persuade Phoebe Baker to want him as working class Mr. Turner.

Five years earlier, then seventeen year old Phoebe’s circumstances collapsed due to the inaction of the Earl of Ashby who chose to protect his lofty name and reputation rather than take down scoundrel Mr. Sharp; her father died and all she could hope for was becoming a governess.  Ned begins his campaign to win Phoebe’s heart, but she seems uninterested in him as her goal remains moving to America.  As he falls in love, Ned learns firsthand the downside of England.  His biggest fear is that his good luck may have run out when it comes to Phoebe who loathes the Earl of Ashby.

Though historical romance wagers are not new (see His By Christmas by Kaitlin O'Riley), Kate Noble refreshes the concept due to Ned’s coming of age maturation into a caring person rather than vacuous “Lucky Ned”.  As he finds out what life is like for non-aristocrats; ironically the romance begins later than usual yet the brave heroine steals this fun Regency from the three betters.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Taken-Lora Leigh

Lora Leigh
St. Martin’s, Jul 22 2014, $14.99
ISBN: 9781250045454

“Reno’s Chance.”  Raven loves her best friend Morganna’s brother, but Reno treats her like another sister.  With Reno on leave, Raven decides this is the time to show him what she wants.

“For Maggie’s Sake.”  Grant fooled his wife Maggie and his SEAL friend Joe as part of the vicious Fuentes gang.  Joe believes Maggie who he loved but lost to Grant somehow is involved with this dangerous drug lord. He reassesses his belief when his Maggie is abducted.

“Atlanta Heat.”  Mason and Emerson are attracted to each other, but he refuses to act on his desire out of fear her godfather Admiral Holloran would fry certain body parts he cherishes.  A failed kidnapping brings the pair’s feelings out into the open.

“Night Hawk.” For three years Elite Ops agents “Black Jack” and “Night Hawk” have met clandestinely sharing no personal information.  This night is their last time together.

“Cooper’s Fall.” Former army ranger Ethan has the biggest boner of his life when he stares out his window like a pervert seeing virginal Sarah naked (except for nipple rings) masturbating; unaware he is the star of her sexual fantasies.  

“Sheila’s Passion.” Nick saw a lot of crap while in combat as a marine. Out of the service, Nick loves Sheila, but believes she sees him as a pal after being hurt recently by a former boyfriend. Sheila wants Nick to admit he passionately loves her.  The dynamics change when an adversary threatens Sheila.

These six reprinted erotica tales star “Real Men” (from Lora Leigh’s series) and females proving to be their equals.  Though the plots are thin, The Heat Is On (Glenn Frey) every page.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Blood Ties In Chef Voleur-Mallory Kane

Blood Ties In Chef Voleur
Mallory Kane
Harlequin Intrigue, Jul 15 2014, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373697816

Four older brothers assisted by male cousins suffocate Cara Lynn Delancey with their testosterone fueled protectiveness.  So when Jack Bush courted her and offered her love, she eloped with him.

One month later, Jack is elated as the first stage of his mission proved successful when he married Cara Lynn to get easy entrance to the Delancey clan.  His objective is to complete his late grandfather Armand Broussard’s dying request: “Clear My Name.”  Two decades ago, Armand was convicted of murdering his employer Cara Lynn’s grandfather Con Delancey; the convict went to his grave insisting he was innocent and his grandson believes him.  Jack’s plan works perfect except for one minor problem: he loves his wife.

The latest Delancey Dynasty romantic suspense (see Sanctuary In Chef Voleur) is a superb thriller with what happened between the late grandfathers serving as a most likely match-breaker.  A fast-paced mystery as much as a relationship drama built on a foundation of lies, Mallory Kane provides a tense tale as two descendants twenty years after the murder of Con Delancey allegedly by convicted Armand Broussard fall in love.

Harriet Klausner

Dare Me-Jo Leigh

Dare Me
Jo Leigh
Harlequin Blaze, Jul 15 2014, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373798124

In New York City, wine connoisseur Molly Grainger has no time to foster a normal long-term relationship as she works diligently long hours to be the best at her vocation.  Thus she has no one to escort her to critical events in which she knows she would be more acceptable with a hunk on her arm if she is to make it.  Molly turns to the underground Trading Card dating service for a companion; she selects brew master Cameron Crawford.

They agree to a dinner date, but instead of a one night as each advocate, Cameron and Molly begin seeing each other.  As they fall in love, neither is comfortable with their feelings as both fears a committed relationship will interfere with each of their particular occupations and devastate their single regiment that enhances their respective profession.

The latest It's Trading Men (see Seduce Me, Choose Me, Have Me and Want Me) romance is a delightful contemporary as the amiable protagonists dread the L word.  Although the premise is not new Jo Leigh brews a splendid Manhattan love story.

Harriet Klausner

Riding Home-Vicki Lewis Thompson

Riding Home
Vicki Lewis Thompson
Harlequin Blaze, Jul 15 2014, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373798117

Filled with guilt over cheating on her then fiancĂ© Regan O’Connelli (Riding High) with his veterinary partner Drake Brewster (see Riding Hard), Jeannette Trenton follows the pair to Shoshone in the Jackson Hole area of Wyoming to atone for her transgression.  She hopes everyone at Last Chance gives her a chance to prove she is more than a Jezebel who admits she made a terrible mistake, but Jeannette also sees the stares paint her as an amoral loose woman.

When Jeannette and cowboy Zach Powell meet, each feels a deep attraction.  Though filled with remorse, she no longer wants forgiveness from her former fiancĂ©, her lover or the Chance extended family except for Zach.  As the fallen female and the former attorney turned cowhand fall in love, Jeannette remains under the microscope of condemnation, but no longer cares how others feel about her except for her Zach.

The latest Sons of Chance romance is a brisk Wyoming ranch contemporary.  Although Drake had an easier path to local acceptance than Jeannette faces (sexism rides high and hard), this likable entry is the best of the Virginia triangle trilogy.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Bridegroom Bodyguard-Lisa Childs

Bridegroom Bodyguard
Lisa Childs
Harlequin Intrigue, Jul 15 2014, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373697786

In the hospital where he was best man at his twin Logan’s wedding (see Explosive Engagement), Payne Protection Agency bodyguard Parker Payne knows someone put out a hit on him.  He realizes he was fortunate to avoid the explosion that killed two family men PPA operatives in an SUV he was supposed to be in.  Logan talks to his in-laws the Kozminskis how to keep his new bride Stacy and his brother Logan safe.  Their younger brother Cooper (see Groom Under Fire) cuts short his honeymoon to protect Parker who tells his siblings to leave with their wives in order to keep them away from harm as he is the danger magnet.

Judge Brenda Foster ordered her law clerk Sharon Wells to stay off the grid and keep her nine month old son Ethan safe before she vanished.  Two weeks later, Sharon arrives at the hospital to introduce Ethan to his father Parker Payne.  Disbelieving Parker becomes concerned when Sharon’s car blows up in the parking lot, but DNA proves he is a dad and she informs him who the mom is.  He takes Sharon and his son to safety even marrying her to protect her; but that unknown assailant with connections and money seems always to be at least two steps ahead of them.

The latest Shotgun Weddings is a satisfying romantic suspense that hooks readers from the opening hospital scene (that will remind readers of Groucho’s cabin in A Night At The Opera) as the extended Payne family rally around the endangered trio.  Readers will receive plenty of delight from this action-packed tale with a neat twist as The Bridegroom Bodyguard risks his life to keep his beloved new family safe.

Harriet Klausner

From Maverick To Daddy-Teresa Southwick

From Maverick To Daddy
Teresa Southwick
Harlequin Special Edition, Jul 15 2014, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373658299

In Rust Creek Falls, Montana, rancher Caleb Dalton visits his lawyer dad Ben to take him out for a beer at Ace in the Hole; only the eight years old Asian “receptionist” insists he wait since he has no appointment.  Ben’s paralegal Mallory Franklin comes into the waiting room and apologizes for her orphaned niece Lily keeping Caleb waiting to see his dad.  Manhattan transfer Mallory and Ben discuss why they have not met before as they obviously travel in different circles.  Before the two Dalton males leave, Lily informs Caleb that Mallory needs a husband, preferably a cowboy who can teach her to ride a horse.

As his family welcomes the two females and they are especially kind to Lily, Caleb becomes the little girl’s favorite cowboy.  As Caleb and Mallory fall in love, he panics over his feelings for the guardian and her waif; but like Mallory accepts Lily’s needs come before their desires.

This Montana Mavericks: Twenty Years In The Saddle romance is a warm contemporary starring two people with different needs falling in love.  Although Lily is too precocious, her antics make for a pleasant Montana Mavericks Cowboys (see The Maverick's Christmas Homecoming) family drama.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Wickedest Lord Alive- Christina Brooke

The Wickedest Lord Alive
Christina Brooke
St. Martin's Paperbacks, Jul 1 2014, $7.99
ISBN: 9781250029362

Marquis Xavier Westruther enters the dark room offering his new wife escape as neither wanted this marriage.  Lady Alexandria says they should consummate and they do.  As he leaves, he vows to leave his marchioness alone as she deserves better than a rogue like him paying off his mother’s debt to her father by marrying her.  Not long afterward, confused by her husband’s actions especially disappearing on their wedding night, Lady Alexandra vanishes too.

Eight years later, Xavier arrives in Little Thurston where his wife pretends to be amnesiac Lizzie Allbright, who lives with the kind parson and helps those in need.  Infamous as the Notorious Bachelor, Xavier explains to Alexandria he needs an heir or his avarice family will take control of a fortune.  Alexandria prefers he leaves the village except when he kisses her.  As they fall in love, his mother arrives in this sleepy hollow.

The third Westruthers' Regency romance (see London's Last True Scoundrel and The Greatest Lover Ever) is an engaging historical.  Christina Brooke provides her fans with a wonderful second chance at love (though the first chance ended in premature rejection) starring two stubborn protagonists whose relationship never began.

Harriet Klausner

Wild Iris Ridge-RaeAnne Thayne

Wild Iris Ridge
RaeAnne Thayne
Harlequin HQN, Jun 24 2014, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373778591

After years away, recently unemployed Lucy Drake returns to Hope’s Crossing where she inherited her late Great-Aunt Annabelle’s Victorian mansion.  As she muses no longer working eighteen hour days, Lucy considers converting her home into a B&B, which she thinks means 24 hour days.  Lucy also reflects back to why she left town years ago; when she fell in love with Brendan Caine, but he fell in love with her BFF cousin Jess. 

Fire chief Brendan hopes Lucy leaves town as his memory of her is unfavorable.  A widower single dad for two years, Brendan raises five year old Carter and nine year old Faith; and believes he has enough on his plate rather than have to deal with cold Lucy.  She prefers to avoid him as she cannot handle a second rejection from him.  When they meet each feels a deep attraction that neither desire.

The latest Hope’s Crossing contemporary (see Willowleaf Lane, Blackberry Summer and Woodrose Mountain) is a warm second chance at love family drama.  The changing relationship between the lead adults cleverly goes through Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ phases: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  Though the acceptance phase seems too abrupt fans will enjoy this warm tale.

Harriet Klausner

Secret Service Rescue-Elle James

Secret Service Rescue
Elle James
Harlequin Romantic Suspense, Jul 1 2014, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373278787

In Raleigh, Patrick O’Hara demands help from former Vice President Kate Winston to find their missing granddaughter Shelby; who was taken from the Beth City University library two weeks ago.  Kate and her three adult sons are stunned while the VP’s Secret Service agent Daniel Henderson insures her safety.  Patrick explains that Kate gave up their daughter Carrie so he raised her as a single dad.  Daniel obtains information from arrested disgraced agent D’Angelis.  He and Kate’s son RPD officer Thad drive to the house where Shelby is being restained.  Ignoring an inferno, Daniel runs inside and brings Shelby out; he stays with her as his new assignment.

When Shelby learns she will receive 24/7 bodyguards, she refuses until she finds out why she was abducted and why the Feds insist on protecting her with agents.  Kate remains in shock because years ago her mom insisted the baby died in childbirth.  Assigned to protect Shelby, Daniel struggles to control his unprofessional attraction; Shelby recognizes her hero’s reluctance battling his desire as she shares all the same feelings while coping with her new found maternal family.

The latest delightful Adair Legacy romantic suspense (see Special Ops Rendezvous by Karen Anders, Executive Protection by Jennifer Morey and Her Secret, His Duty by Carla Cassidy) is an exciting contemporary that sweetly wraps up the major overarching threads.  With a nod to the relationship in the movie the First Daughter (sans comedy), Secret Service Rescue is a well-written fun tale.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Hot On The Hunt-Melissa Cutler

Hot On The Hunt
Melissa Cutler
Harlequin Romantic Suspense, Jul 1 2014, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373278794

Accused of seditious acts against the government disgraced former Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent John Witter remains in hiding in the Virgin Islands while seeking a way to get to the only person who can prove his innocence to make him talk.  His last friend within ICE emails John that his accuser Rory escaped from the Fort Buchanan prison and his beloved Alicia Troy vanished.  He knows he must retrieve Rory before Alicia kills the rat who left her behind dying from a bullet she took on a black ops mission.  Witter also assumes that ICE deploys its best field agents to prevent Alicia from assassinating her would be killer. 

Once lovers, John and Alicia collide when both seek the same person for differing purposes.  Whereas he still loves her, she is colder than the tundra towards him as she distrusts him and expects Witter to betray her as she believes he did once before by selling her to ICE in exchange for his freedom.  ICE redirects it operatives to take out both rogue ex-agents.

The third ICE: Black Ops Defenders romantic suspense (see Tempted Into Danger and Secret Agent Secretary) is a fabulous action-packed thriller as two operatives in love clash over what to do to the person who destroyed both their livers.  Fans will appreciate this engaging taut second chance drama rooting for the hero to moonwalk for the woman he loves.

Harriet Klausner

With This Ring-Celeste Bradley

With This Ring
Celeste Bradley
St. Martin's Paperbacks, Jul 1 2014, $7.99
ISBN: 9781250016140

In 1818, Lady Elektra Worthington obsesses with a deep desire to restore her family estate to its once glorious past.  However that means money, which her impoverish clan lacks.  Her only commodities are her beauty and her Worthington eccentricity to do whatever oddity it takes regardless of what outsiders think.

After a decade in exile in the Bahamas due to a scandal he did not cause but took the hit, Lord Aaron Arbogast heads to his grandfather’s estate in a storm; he hopes to prove to the family patriarch that he is worthy of being the Earl.  During the trek Aaron exchanges coats with his manservant Hastings to give his ailing companion a warmer outerwear.  They reach an inn where Elektra waited for his arrival.  She kidnaps him, but Aaron insists he is not the aristocrat but instead the servant Hastings.  Chagrined over her plan’s failure, Elektra and Aaron travel to London.  While on the road, they fall in love, but he must decide between the zany female he adores and his grandfather’s demands.

The latest Worthington family madcap Regency frolic (see And Then Comes Marriage and When She Said I Do) is a humorous screwball comedic romance, as Aaron plays the straight man to wonderfully wacky Elektra.  Readers will enjoy the inane yet entertaining and amusing abduction (of his heart).

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Hearts In Vegas-Colleen Collins

Hearts In Vegas
Colleen Collins
Harlequin SuperRomance, Jul 1 2014, $6.75
ISBN: 9780373608584

In Las Vegas, Vanderbilt Insurance assigns agent Frances Jefferies to investigate stolen jewels and antiquities.  In spite of a court warning to break no laws after receiving probation for stealing a few years ago, Frances breaks into Fortier’s Jewelry to take back a brooch belonging to Lady Melbourne that was stolen a decade ago from an Amsterdam museum. 

Dmitri Romanov calls Morgan-Leroy Investigations to speak to security specialist Braxton Morgan. He explains to Brax and his brother Drake (see Sleepless in Las Vegas) that the Russian community is concerned over the arrest and rumors involving Yuri Glazkov who Brax once worked for at the Topaz club.  Meanwhile Frances is caught on tape doing the brooch switch; a Russian holding the tape demands she steal the extremely valuable Helena Diamond necklace; which Brax has been hired to prevent.  When the two private investigators meet: first comes attraction; then comes danger; third comes love; and last comes trust.

The third Private Eyes in Las Vegas (see The Next Right Thing) is a fabulous romantic mystery as Russian mobsters and a thief inadvertently play matchmakers.  Readers will take delight in this twisting tale.

Harriet Klausner

In The Mood For Love-Beth Ciotta

In The Mood For Love
Beth Ciotta
St. Martin's Paperbacks, Jul 1 2014, $7.99
ISBN: 9781250001351

In Sugar Creek, Vermont, residents establish a betting pool on when widowed single dad of two small children Sam McCloud will have a woman in his celibate life.  In fact, if anyone wagered on the recent past they would have won because Sam and recent Los Angeles emigrant public relations expert Harper Day have enjoyed a fling that each insists is sexual only.

Seeking mental asylum after barely surviving the spa killing and to avoid the rage of her beloved deceased Andrew Wilson’s irate father, Harper fled Southern California relocating to the opposite side of the country.  Suffering from PTSD, she likes and may even love Sam, but knows she is not mother material especially now though she needs a husband to remain in the States.  Sam is attracted to the PR guru, but his kids come first.

The latest Cupcake Lovers Green Mountain State romance (see Fool for Love, The Trouble with Love and Anything but Love) is an appealing contemporary as the protagonists’ respective pasts preclude a long term relationship though love challenges their shared belief.  Beth Ciotta provides her fans with an engaging maple sweet second chance at love.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, July 7, 2014

Cop By Her Side-Janice Kay Johnson

Cop By Her Side
Janice Kay Johnson
Harlequin SuperRomance, Jul 1 2014, $6.75
ISBN: 9780373608560

In Angel Butte, Oregon near hysterical Andrew Wilson tells the police that his wife Melissa and their daughter Brianna are missing.  Police Sergeant Clay Renner recognizes the names as Melissa is the sister of police Lieutenant Jane Vahalik who he loves and lost due to his sexist attitude.  As Andrew explains, he left his other child Alexis with a neighbor; Clay learns that Lissa was in a car accident in an isolated area that her sister or husband cannot explain why she was there instead of heading home from the Rite Aid. 

Clay briefs Jane with the news that that her comatose sister was rushed to ICU and her niece Bree remains missing.  As a search party looks for the missing girl, Jane tells Clay that her brother-in-law was unemployed for four months and widening his geographical search for a job over the objection of his wife.  With Lissa's phone missing and apparently broken, and no one saw her or the little girl at Rite Aid as reported by Drew, ABPD suspects the husband tried to kill his wife.

The latest Mysteries Of Angel Butte (see Bringing Maddie Home and Everywhere She Goes) is a fabulous twisting romantic police procedural that readers will appreciate as the lead cops know finding Bree takes precedent over their second chance at love.  Readers will relish this thriller in which the search for the missing little girl allows the frantic aunt to realize her beloved sexist has her back when he risks disciplinary action by allowing her to work the case with him in spite of her conflict of interest.

Harriet Klausner

Heaven Sent Rain-Lauraine Snelling

Heaven Sent Rain
Lauraine Snelling
FaithWords, Jul 1 2014, $15.00
ISBN 9780892969135

Food for Life CEO Dr. Dinah Taylor notices the boy and his dog outside of Extraburger, but ignores him the first time she sees him.  When she sees him again outside Extraburger during a cold mist, she buys him a sandwich.  A polite Jonah thanks her before he and Downmutt walk to school.

Upset Jonah calls Dinah late at night begging her to help injured Downmutt.  Dinah drops everything to take the dog to  emergency veterinarian Dr. Garret Miller.  The vet and the youthful pet owner are instant buddies, but Garret seems to find the CEO repugnant and she reciprocates his dislike.  However, as health crises impact love ones and Dinah’s diabetes breakthrough faces political pressure fostered by big Pharma, the two adults, already adoring their young matchmaker, fall in love.

This is a fantastic inspirational romance as readers will be hooked early on by the little boy and his dog standing in the rain.  Garret and Dinah are flawed individuals and Jonah has issues; while the changing relationships make for a wonderful contemporary drama.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Her Irresistible Protector- Michelle Douglas

Her Irresistible Protector
Michelle Douglas
Harlequin Romance, Jul 1 2014, $5.99
ISBN: 9780373742967

In Sydney, Police Officer Mitch King arrives at Tash Buckley’s home to both their chagrin as they have not spoken to one another since they broke up several years ago.  He asks her if she recently spoke to Rick Bradford; she responds by accusing him of arresting innocent Rick of crimes she insists he did not commit.  He shows her photos of an arson and an attempted murder car crash in which Mitch insists paragon Rick did both and more; and believes this vile man is coming to Sydney targeting Tash next.  She refuses to accept the cop's assertion as he always had a negative opinion about her friend.

To protect her, Mitch takes Tash to his beach cabin.  Tash is upset with herself for still desiring the hunk who hurt her when he used her to get to Rick; while Mitch knows she is the one, but performing his duty let her get away.

The first Wild Ones tale (see next month’s The Rebel and The Heiress for the other duet entry) is an entertaining second chance at love Australian thriller.  With this imprint being Harlequin Romance, ironically the twisting taut suspense is much stronger than the romance. 

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Texan’s Cowgirl Bride-Trish Milburn

The Texan’s Cowgirl Bride
Trish Milburn
Harlequin American Romance, Jul 1 2014, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373755271

In Texas Savannah Baron manages The Peach Pit on her family farm. She also competes in barrel races.  Recently at a rodeo she ran into her schoolmate widower Travis Shepard who just retired from the army.  When she takes a fall while racing, Savannah suffers an injury but insists on taking care of her horse first before heading to the hospital.  Her BFF Abby insures Bluebell is okay while Travis drives her to the hospital where she learns she suffered a severe bruise only.

While fantasizing that Travis was nipping her breasts, Savannah finds a lump.  The nurse suggests she learn if breast cancer runs in the family.  Thus she asks her sister Lizzie (see The Texan’s Baby by Donna Alward) about their mother who deserted them years ago before hiring private investigator Travis to locate her mom.  As they fall in love, Travis must overcome his fears of losing her like he did Corinne while Savannah needs to meet her mom before committing to her beloved.

The second Texas Rodeo Barons is an enjoyable contemporary as two high school friends fall in love years after they graduated but her health scare frightens both of them from commitment.  Readers will appreciate this engaging tale as love may not be enough to bring this couple together permanently.

Harriet Klausner

Talking After Midnight-Dakota Cassidy

Talking After Midnight
Dakota Cassidy
Mira, Jun 24 2014, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778316312

“Talking After Midnight.”  In Plum Orchard, Georgia Marybell Lyman works as a phone- sex operator at Call Girls.  She has the voice for seducing men though many of her customers would be shocked by her Goth look enhanced by biting sarcasm.  Contractor Taggart Hawthorn is attracted to Marybell.  His attention scares her as he persistently asks her out and she persistently says no.  Though she likes him and his obvious desire turns her on, Marybell fears once he knows her dark secret, his love will die.  When she finally finds the courage to tell Tag, Marybell is too late as a cruel person tells him the truth about his beloved

“Talk This Way.”  In Atlanta Catherine Butler never takes a respite as she works at any job she can get in order to pay for her cancer-stricken mom residency at the Oakdale Nursing Home.  Cat loses her job at a coffee shop due to an exchange with annoying Flynn McGrady whose mom also is at Oakdale.  However, Landon, who was a resident at Oakdale where Cat met him, offers her the position of managing his phone-sex company in his penthouse.  She accepts unaware that Flynn lives in this building too.

Talking After Midnight is an engaging Plum Orchard entry (see Talk Dirty To Me and Something to Talk About) with two “outsiders” falling in love while the phone-sex crowd continues to provide culture shock to the rural residents.  Talk This Way is the print version of a delightful e-novella that introduces readers to Landon who in death shook the complacent conservative town when he willed his thriving business to relocate there.

Harriet Klausner

The Promise-Robyn Car

The Promise
Robyn Carr
Mira, Jun 24 2014, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778316206

Peyton Lacoumette arrives in Thunder Point, Oregon to check out the town and its solo doctor Scott Grant as she decides whether to apply for the Physician's assistant vacancy.  She chats with Devon McAllister (see The Hero) who after learning why Peyton stopped amusingly calls her Miss Sneaky Pants.  Clearly overqualified with experience in Portland and elsewhere, Grant hires her on a three month trial expecting her to leave.

Peyton and Scott are attracted to each other, but both hesitate to act on their mutually-shared feelings.  She suffered heartbreak from a lover with kids; while he struggles with the loss of his wife and as a single dad he knows his two small children (Penny and Will) come first.  However, love proves difficult to ignore.

The fifth Thunder Point leisurely-paced relationship drama is an engaging second chance at life drama though the respective reasons for inertia have been used often.  The entertaining warm romance is enhanced by the continuation of those from the previous entries (see The Chance, The Newcomer and The Wanderer),

Harriet Klausner