Friday, December 19, 2014

The Marshal-Adrienne Giordano

The Marshal
Adrienne Giordano
Harlequin Intrigue, Dec 16 2014, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373698103

Diligent when he is on the job protecting government officials in danger from nut cases, Deputy US Marshal Brent Thompson obsessively uses his limited downtime seeking clues to the over two decades old murder of his mother to give to the Carlisle Sheriff’s Department.  He knows that homicide shaped him, but also believes he and his sister moved on due to strong family support led by his maternal aunt.  At a gala he attends in Chicago as a guest honoring a former client octogenarian Judge Kline, Gerald and Pamela Hennings, parents of another of Brent’s protected person defense attorney Penny who learns of the murder of Brent’s mother.

Hennings and Solomon (see The Prosecutor) law partner Gerald assigns his investigator (and former Miss Illinois runner-up) Jenna Hayward to work the Thompson cold case.  FBI Special Agent Russ Voight (see The Defender) assists them.  As they follow leads, Jenna and Brent are attracted to each other, but try to remain professionally focused.

The Marshal is an entertaining romantic intrigue that starts extremely slow but once the cast is set and the good guys teamed up, the storyline accelerates into a rousing suspense.  Brent is a captivating character who believes he moved passed his mom’s murder until he meets Jenna and realizes he flees from commitments.  Jenna starts off believing her twin peaks and looks make her an excellent sleuth, but learns her brain is more vital to her success.  Adrienne Giordano provides an absorbing twisting murder mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Wound Up-Kelli Ireland

Wound Up
Kelli Ireland
Harlequin Blaze, Dec 16 2014, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373798322

In Seattle, Beaux Hommes stripper Justin Maxwell knows tonight is his last performance having just received his doctorate in psychology though he has eighty more hours of practicum to complete.  In the audience on his farewell show is his former student Grace Cooper.  Justin has wanted her for years, but controlled his desire as he accepted that would have been immoral; but joyfully realizes not anymore.

After his final act aimed as if she was his only person in attendance, Justin and Grace leave together.  However, in spite of the best night of their respective lives, Grace the intern relocates to Baltimore in two weeks.  Both reluctantly accept their relationship has no future but things turn worse when they learn each volunteers at the not-for-profit Second Chances helping disadvantaged youths; particularly since Justin mishandles what this means after their one niter.  Still as they work together, the attraction turns into love but their attitudes re Second Chances remain a major schism.

The second Pleasure Before Business blazing romance (see Stripped Down) is a heated tale starring protagonists with youth traumas that shaped their respective adult lives.  An exciting relevant suspense subplot distracts from the prime theme of whether this couple in love can find the emotional fortitude to commit to a long term relationship; with readers cheering for them to make it.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Seducing the Marine Kate Hoffmannr

Seducing the Marine
Kate Hoffmann
Harlequin Blaze, Dec 16 2014, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373798315

As Marine Staff Sergeant Will MacIntyre works on deactivating an IED in Afghanistan, he thinks of his high school and college sweetheart back in Michigan’s Upper Peninsular.  While he dropped out of school to join the military to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, she became Dr. Olivia Eklund.  When he steps on another explosive, Will is sent flying; severely injured his last words before becoming unconscious is his former Yooper girlfriend’s name.

As he hides in his grandfather’s remote cabin near Calumet while on medical leave, Will, missing his appointment with the VA doctor, ignores his health yet still hopes eventually to return to his unit.  When he runs into his Liv, Will knows she will always be his one, but she never understood his joining the military as accentuated by her Dear Will letter four months into his military career.  Unable to resist he kisses her.  However when a seven years old hockey player breaks a wrist during a game, Will helps distract him while Liv works on his injury.  Unable to resist, they renew their love and he starts taking care of himself.  Still his being in the military remains an obstacle to a long-term commitment.

This profound Uniformly Hot! military romance focuses on the problems that even loving couples confront when one of them is away on long term deployments; ironically in this plot the hero is home but both anticipate his return to theater.  With a deep support cast and terrific protagonists, Kate Hoffmann authors an insightful look at a military-civilian relationship.

Harriet Klausner

Mountain Retreat-Cassie Miles

Mountain Retreat
Cassie Miles
Harlequin Intrigue, Dec 16 2014, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373698073

Six months and four days ago U.S. Marine Nick Corelli disappeared inside the South American dictatorship, Tiquanna.  In Austin his worried fiancĂ©e Sidney Parker keeps her eidetic memory from torturing her 24/7 by working nights at the Silver Star Saloon where she can recall specific orders from even 12 customers.  Her day job at Texas Tritan led to her meeting Tiquanna dictator Tomas Hurtado three years ago. 

During her ordeal, sixteen times CIA or military Intel have interrogated Sidney, but offer little info re her Nick.  This time the CIA Special Agent-in-Charge Victoria Hawthorne informs her that Hurtado and his wife Elena will be in Austin next week.  After his superior leaves, Special Agent Sean Phillips tells Sidney to leave the room and run to her left; there she finds Nick who looks at her from the eyes of a stranger.  With Nick still undercover, Sidney is placed in a safe house.  When that is breached Nick takes his beloved to a Mountain Retreat, but the persistent seemingly in the know enemy pursues them.

The key to this exhilarating romantic intrigue is the heroine who proves she has the right stuff under lethal conditions.  Filled with action as the protagonists know the mission is staying alive especially since their unknown adversary anticipates their movements in this thrilling suspense.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Party Starts At Midnight-Lucy King

The Party Starts At Midnight
Lucy King
Harlequin KISS, Dec 1 2014, $5.99
ISBN: 9780373179114

Before he gives a speech about their company at a holiday gala at the South Bank Hotel in London, client Jake sends his events planner Abby to the penthouse searching for his missing in action brother Leo.  She finds him sprawled out sleeping on the floor of the bathroom.  Abby awakens the exhausted and somewhat intoxicated hunk; who due to her drill sergeant efforts manages to attend the party.

Abby and Leo are attracted to each other, so as she cleans up after the celebration ends he persuades her to share what’s left of an all-niter with him.  That tryst leads to an email relationship.  As both of them fall in love, she dreams of marriage while he suffers from commitment phobia having been hurt before.

This is a refreshing long distance information age romance between two pleasant independent protagonists.  The email courtship engages the audience; as the heroine knows he’s the one, while her champion wants to delete it but cannot do so.

Harriet Klausner

Starting With June-Emilie Rose

Starting With June
Emilie Rose
Harlequin SuperRomance, Dec 1 2014, $6.75
ISBN: 9780373608874

At Quantico, due to his depth perception failing him U.S. Marine Sam Rivers receives the depressing news of a medical discharge ending his military career.  On his mind is thirty one and washed up.  Waiting in the parking lot for him is his buddy and former marine sniper peer Roth Sterling (see A Better Man) who needs his help.  Four months ago, Chief of Police Roth arrested and fired his dirty senior deputy, but believes there are more corrupt cops on his Quincey, North Carolina force.  He hires Sam to go undercover to recon which cops are breaking the law.

Sam teams up with police officer June Jones, but conceals from his partner why he came to Quincey.  Attracted to each other, he refuses to acknowledge his heart though he wants June.  Instead Sam remains steadfast to his goal to leave the “armpit of the world” and return to active duty once he completes the mission and gets his perception back; only his perception has changed.  June assumes the men she loves, like her hypercritical father and her denying partner, find something lacking in her.   

The third Quincey contemporary is an engaging police force romance in which Sam’s attitude and his assignment seem to doom their relationship.  Sam and Roth appear too similar in personality although one can argue they fit the profile of a successful military sniper.  With a nod to Rookie Blue (hopefully this coupling finds a way to stay together rather than hop around), readers will appreciate this tale.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, December 15, 2014

Forgiving Maximo Rothman-A. J. Sidransky

Forgiving Maximo Rothman
A. J. Sidransky
Berwick Court Publishing, Apr 16 2013, $16.95
ISBN: 9780988954007

In 2005 caregiver Marie Leguenza enters nonagenarian Jewish immigrant Max Redmond’s apartment in 195 Bennett Avenue.  Instead of the usual greeting from the frail senior when she delivers his favorite Dominican food rather than the strict kosher of his daughter-in-law Rachel that he hates; she finds his battered body. 

NYPD Detective Anatoly Kurchenko leads the investigation.  Kurchenko notices Max’s Orthodox son Shalom Rothman (nee Steven Redmond) and Rachel seem indifferent to the family patriarch’s death as they focus on HaShem and their autistic son Baruch’s participation; refusing even to ride in a car to the hospital on a Jewish holy day.  Tolya questions Dominican youngster Carlos Pabon who visits Max twice a week as part of his probation.  On his last visit to Max, the old man advised Carlos re his absentee father that "life is too short to make enemies of those we love" though Redmond never forgave God for the Holocaust.  The detective reads Max’s four decades of diaries seeking clues; but finds himself fascinated by Max’s journey from Nazi Germany to the Jewish town of Sosua in the Dominican Republic and finally upper Manhattan.  This leads him to reflect on his estranged dad’s escape from Soviet Russia, the deaths of his sibling and mother, and their lapsed Judaism. 

This is an excellent twisting historical that uses a police investigation as a springboard to explore six plus decades of Judaism with a focus on the good in the 1940s Dominican Republic and the 2005 cross culture reach out in Washington Heights, and the ugly of the Holocaust and 1970s Soviet Russia.  This profound novel contains a fully developed cast and fascinating rotating subplots.

Harriet Klausner