Saturday, July 4, 2015

Flame Tree Road - Shona Patel

Flame Tree Road
Shona Patel
Mira, Jun 30 2015, $14.95
ISBN: 9780778316657

In 1870s East Bengal, India young Biren Roy grieves the death of his father.  However, even more shocking to Biren is to observe the pariah treatment by previously loving family towards his mom for the crime of widowhood.  He vows to change this insane outcast custom.

Biren goes to England to study law and while there joins the women’s suffrage movement.  Eventually he returns to India with a goal to fight for women’s rights starting with education.  Though he feels he climbs Everest in winter and several times is ready to give up on what seems a helpless cause, his beloved Maya keeps him fighting for what each knows is right.

Occurring decades before his descendant’s 1940s Teatime for the Firefly drama, idealistic Biren’s battle to change the Caste System turns this into an excellent Victorian.  His efforts come at a high cost to him and Maya; as community and family ostracize them; but with his beloved’s encouraging him, Biren continues “To dream the impossible dream; … To right the unrightable wrong” (Man of La Mancha - "The Impossible Dream (The Quest)".

Harriet Klausner

The Hardest Fight - Amy Vastine

The Hardest Fight
Amy Vastine
Harlequin Heartwarming, Jul 1 2015, $6.50
ISBN: 9780373367313

Two months ago, Chicago cut out funding the Safe Haven women’s shelter.  This makes it extremely difficult to maintain the service and pay the mortgages on the facility in Logan Square and the office in Lincoln Park.  The City Board wants to convert the shelter into luxurious condos.

Prime Developer led by affluent Ms. Clayton sends a retinue to negotiate a deal.  Their lawyer is Dylan Hunt; while Open Arms Advocacy Center attorney Lucy Everhart represents Safe Haven.  They were an entry at law school as a couple. A healthy competiveness and idealistic advocacy brought them together.  However, five years ago Dylan ended his relationship with his Lulu and obviously turned traitor to their cause.  Each blames the other for breaking their respective heart, but deep down both craves a second chance that ironically both struggles to conceal.

This is an appealing second chance contemporary starring two fascinating protagonists although uncompromising Lucy foolishly can be a bull in a china shop when finessing the more powerful enemy is needed.  The romance of the oldest Everhart “Chicago Sisters” (see The Best-Laid Plans and The Better Man) to the man who left her two years after they graduated law school entertains the Heartwarming audience.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, July 3, 2015

A New Hope - Robyn Carr

A New Hope
Robyn Carr
Mira, Jun 30 2015, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778317876

Following the SIDS death of her baby Josh and the subsequent collapse of her marriage, grieving Ginger Dysart heeds her father’s admonition to move to Thunder Point, Oregon.  There her second cousin Ray Anne gives Ginger a room and obtains for her a job at Grace’s Florist.

At a Basque wedding between Scott Grant and Peyton Lacoumette, the intoxicated brother of the bride Matt hits on Ginger even after she says she wants to be left alone.  When he grabs her boob, she punches the drunken professor.  After he sobers up, appalled Matt Lacoumette apologizes to Ginger for his ghastly behavior.  As they become friends; he wants more from their relationship, while she still mourns her loss and fears he still desires his former spouse.

The eighth Thunder Point Oregonian romance (see One Wish, The Homecoming and The Promise) focuses on two wounded warriors whose respective pasts hamper their future.  Though Matt’s marriage breakup details feel forced into the plot, series fans will relish this terrific entry; character-driven by the leads and a deep secondary bench.

Harriet Klausner

Miss Match - Laurelin McGee

Miss Match
Laurelin McGee
St. Martin's Paperbacks, Jun 30 2015, $7.99
ISBN: 9781250059185

Fired and unable to obtain a position in her field due to her last employee’s horrific blackballing “reference”, out of work marketing analyst Andrea Dawson chose between paying the Internet bill and a new suit needed for job interviews.  Her baby sister Lacey insists Andy answers a personal ad in the newspaper placed by a man seeking a wife.  Though she believes her potential client seeks a pimp, Andy applies and to her surprise businessman Blake Donovan hires her to find him a spouse who meets his required, stringent and specific criteria.

Andy’s first reaction to Blake is that he is a heartless Mr. Robot (not the TV series) and his first impression of her is that she is a free spirit lunatic.  As she finds him perfect female after female, he keeps rejecting them.  Neither wants to face the truth; that the woman he desires as his wife is his matchmaker and the woman he wants as his wife is his matchmaker.

The key to this entertaining screwball comedic romance is Blake who over the course of the plot goes from a person who seemingly never used his heart to a likable Pinball Wizard (The Who).  On the other hand irresponsible Andy is a fun protagonist in a sort of Holly Golightly (Truman Capote's Moon River) way.  Readers will enjoy this lighthearted farce as the matchmaker makes him a match.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Mountain Story - Lori Lansens

The Mountain Story
Lori Lansens
Simon & Schuster, Jun 30 2015, $26.00
ISBN: 9781476786506

On his eighteenth birthday while residing with his aunt in her trailer, an extremely depressed “Wolf” Truly ponders about life’s unending cruelty.  He thinks about his late mom who died violently when he was a child back in Michigan and his wastrel father who was never there for him.  Already contemplating suicide, the severe injury suffered by his BFF Byrd has pushed Wolf over the edge.  Wolf takes the tram to Angel’s Peak where he plans to leap to his death.

On the tram with Wolf are the three Devine females: matriarch Nola, her daughter Bridget and her granddaughter Vonn.  They plan to spread the ashes of Nola’s recently deceased husband on the summit.  However, they get lost on a cold November night and adding to their fears Nola breaks her leg.  No longer contemplating ending it, Wolf and his stranded compatriots struggle to survive a wilderness filled with life threatening peril from the weather, the wild and Nola’s injury.

With a strong cast whose desperation and trepidations grow throughout, this is an exciting thriller that grips readers with a sense of urgency compounded by horrific choices needed to be made from the moment the leads get lost on the mountain.  Although the flashback technique detracts at times from the mounting suspense, Lori Lansens writes a dramatic terse winner.

Harriet Klausner

The Silenced - Heather Graham

The Silenced
Heather Graham
Mira, Jun 30 2015, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778317999

Lara Mayhew calls her BFF newbie FBI Agent Meg Murray at 2:30 AM to tell her not to worry about her; as she is leaving DC to return home to Richmond.  Ignoring Lara’s voice mail; Meg worries about her friend for abruptly leaving town in the middle of the night but is also compounding her concern for Lara is her failure to pick up her cell.  Meg fears for Lara as her buddy seems to have vanished.

Using his communicating with the dead skill, experienced Krewe of Hunter Agent Matt Bosworth investigates the serial mutilation of women.  His inquiry into stopping a deranged killer entangles him with rookie Krewe Agent Murray’s search for Lara.  They team up unaware that the psychopath targets Meg next.

The latest Krewe of Hunters urban fantasy police procedural (see The Betrayed, The Cursed and The Hexed) is an engaging entry starring two interesting Feds whose respective paranormal abilities seem genuine (wonder about the skills of any offspring).  The deranged serial killer seems more like a weak caricature, but the cats and mouse (and dog) hunt makes for a solid Krewe thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Heat of the Moment - Lori Handeland

Heat of the Moment
Lori Handeland
St. Martin's Paperbacks, Jun 30 2015, $7.99
ISBN: 9781250020130

In Three Harbors, Wisconsin, veterinarian Becca Carstairs fears she is losing her mind when she begins telepathically hearing animals “talking” to her.  Perhaps even more frightening is Becca’s unwanted attraction to wounded warrior Owen McAlister; as he broke her heart when he left town a decade ago.

Owen knows he hurt Becca badly ten years ago, but though he wants to reconcile, he focuses on recovering from his Afghan war wounds with the help of his BFF Reggie the bomb detection K9.  However, Owen is stunned when he and Reggie enter his house to find dead animals in what looks like ritual mutilations.  Meanwhile Prudence the wolf saves Becca’s life from a deadly assault.  While she has no idea why someone wants her dead; supported by their four-legged companions Becca and Owen investigate.

The second Sisters of the Craft romantic urban fantasy (see In The Air Tonight) is an exhilarating coming of witch age paranormal thriller; as the two human and three animal (to include Grenade the kitty) leads come together in an overall exciting paranormal.  Though appearances by the stars of previous series will please the author’s fans and hint at wider implications in the Handeland world; they add little to the good (women learning their DNA contain previously dormant witchcraft, and the loyal men and animals dedicated to keep them safe) and evil (hunters and probably much worse) plot. 

Harriet Klausner