Friday, December 30, 2011

A Seductive Kiss-Francis Ray

A Seductive Kiss

Francis Ray

St. Martin’s, Jan 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312536473

Famous model Dianne Harrington is the “Face” of her family’s House of Harrington fashion firm. Renowned for her beautiful face, lonely Dianne has low self-esteem fostered by her belief that her parents do not love her; they only used her to accomplish their ambitious goals.

Attorney Alex Stewart has always been there for Dianne since they were children. He loves her, but is cautious about pursuing her as he fears she will flee and end their friendship. Dianne has always been attracted to her brother’s best friend, but fears making a move would drive away one of her few buddies. When Dianne is fired, she must take charge of herself, especially where she wants to go with her life. Alex vows to be there to help his beloved.

The latest Grayson Family Friends tale is a warm coming of age contemporary romance between Dr. Catherine Stewart-Grayson’s (see Until There Was You) brother and his childhood buddy. Alex is a typical Francis Ray hunk, who cares about others as he has always been there for his Dianne. While the heroine brings freshness to the strong storyline with her deep rooted belief that if was not for her face she would be worthless. Readers will relish this entry as Dianne’s self-assessment has kept her champion in her life with gentle hugs, but also kept them apart.

Harriet Klausner

Home Front-Kristin Hannah

Home Front

Kristin Hannah

St. Martin’s, Jan 31 2012, $27.99

ISBN: 9780312577209

Michael and Joleen Zarkades have been married for a dozen years. They have two small children who round what seems to be a perfect family. However, the two adults are discontented with their relationship and considering a divorce.

Jo jointed the National Guard before she married Michael. Her unit is activated and depleted to Iraq. Their separation widens the fractures of their marriage. As Michael worries about his side’s safety while he remains on the Home Front caring for their kids, Jo looks back at her crumbling marriage trying to understand why as she knows she still lives her civilian spouse.

This is an excellent profound look at the impact of deployments on a marriage and a family. Michael and Jo have drifted apart and her mobilization provides a duality of reactions as her going overseas to the Iraqi theater of operation further widens their relational gap at the same worrying about her safety and the effect on the kids. Home front is a compassionate poignant character driven tale that reminds readers who truly sacrificed for the nation.

Harriet Klausner

Darkest Highlander-Donna Grant

Darkest Highlander

Donna Grant

St. Martin’s, Jan 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312533496

The Druids created Broc the warrior who has dedicated his heart to protecting his beloved Druidess Sonya’ though he hides how he feels as he knows they can never be together. Thus Broc is stunned when the woman he loves flees Castle MacLeod.

He follows her only to catch up to her nearly dead. As Sonya heals, she explains to Broc that she no longer can perform magic. Broc is confused as he can feel she still has the power. When Deirdre’s evil forces capture Broc, Sonya knows she must rescue the man she loves. He is chained to evil magic with no hope for escape for eternity. She helps Broc escape; with both of them ending up in an ancient tomb where they dig up an artifact hoping to prevent Deirdre from using it.

The latest Dark Sword historical romantic fantasy (see Shadow Highlander, Untamed Highlander, Dangerous Highlander and Wicked Highlander) is a great tale that deftly merges early seventeenth century Highlander lifestyle within the Grant Druid mythos. The lead protagonists propel the fast-paced The storyline as readers will wonder love can overcome malicious amoral malevolence.

Harriet Klausner

How To Dance With A Duke-Manda Collins

How To Dance With A Duke

Manda Collins

St. Martin’s, Jan 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312549244

Miss Cecily Hurston desperately needs admission to the Egyptian Club that her father belongs to. She knows the only way a female can join is as the wife of a member. Although she likes digs better than balls Cecily prefers to remain single but has no choice since her father scandalously has been accused of killing a member on an expedition; to prove his innocence means joining the Egyptian Club, which denotes marrying some boring elderly academic in order to uncover the identity of the real killer.

War hero Duke of Winterson, Lucas Dalton, also wants to know what happened to his brother who never returned from Hurston’s last dig. He agrees to help her obtain a suitable husband so she can gain access to the club enabling them to investigate from the inside. As they fall in love, neither Lucas nor Cecily are prepared to what the danger they dig up.

This is an entertaining historical romantic mystery starring a heroic wallflower; who uses her brains and guts to figure out How To Dance With A Duke. The storyline is fast-paced from the onset and never slows down as outstanding lead couple teams up in love to investigate what happened to his sibling on that fatal expedition.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Not Wicked Enough-Carolyn Jewel

Not Wicked Enough

Carolyn Jewel

Berkley, Feb 7 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425246603

In 1816 in Bittersweet, England intelligent and affluent Lily Wellstone comes to Mountjoy to comfort her best friend Ginny whose husband just died. On her journey, a Gypsy gives her a medallion claiming this will lead her to romance with a stranger. Arriving late at night in the rain, she meets Ginny’s brother the Duke of Mountjoy who toiled as a farmer all his life until recently he inherited the title and estate following a string of deaths.

Mountjoy takes his new position extremely serious. So his attraction to the perky playful visitor shocks him especially with her flirting. However, instead of writing her off as an aristocratic fluff, Mountjoy observes his guest is kind towards Ginny and loves the library, her favorite room. As they begin to fall in love, each wonders whether it is real or Gypsy medallion magic.

This Reforming the Scoundrels historical is an engaging Regency romance though neither protagonist could be labeled “scoundrel”. The character driven somewhat thin storyline is fast-paced, filled with passion and a touch of the whimsical as the lead couple each wonders what true love is.

Harriet Klausner

Before She Dies-Mary Burton

Before She Dies

Mary Burton

Zebra, Jan 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781420110210

He baptizes the evil “witches” to rid them of sin before he drives a stake through their cleansed heart pinning his victims to the ground. His count of purifying the gender rises as it is unsafe for women to be alone.

Defense attorney Charlotte Wellington hides her scandalous past behind a veneer of cold professionalism. She wants no one to know her sister was murdered and that she was raised in a traveling carnival. When her chidlhood troupe arrives in town, Charlotte’s hidden past is revealed. However, Charlotte fails to comprehend that the purifying serial killer targets her in needs of sin removal cleansing. Her only hope for survival resides with Detective Daniel Rokov who distrusts this damsel in distress partly because of his attraction to her.

The latest Mary Burton serial killer thriller (see Senseless, Dead Ringer, Dying Scream and Merciless) is a great tale because of Charlotte who holds the exhilarating storyline together. Readers will wonder who she really is as her past surfaces with death after death. Before She Dies is an intense suspense that grips readers from start to finish.

Harriet Klausner

Edge of Midnight-Leslie Tentler

Edge of Midnight

Leslie Tentler

Mira, Jan 24 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778313137

FBI agent Eric Macfarlane unofficially hunts the Collector serial killer haunting Florida. His thirst to end this predator’s killing spree is personal as the Collector murdered his wife.

On a Jacksonville Beach, a bloodied, confused female is found. Crime reporter Mia Hale is the first person to survive the Collector’s lethal assault. However, she remembers nothing about the psychopath who drugged and tortured her before leaving her “dead” on the beach. Eric persuades his leadership to allow him to investigate and keep the witness safe. As the serial killer adds to his deadly count, he targets the survivor and taunts her protector with reminders how Eric failed to keep his spouse safe.

The latest FBI Chasing Evil romantic suspense is an exciting thriller starring a diabolically clever but deranged villain, an emotionally damaged Fed and a crime reporter who has become the story. Although the plot has been done before including in this series (see Midnight Fear and Midnight Caller), the killer brings the freshness as readers meet this maniac up front and in person. Fans will enjoy his chess game against Eric, as the hunted and the hunter vie for the queen.

Harriet Klausner

Raylan-Elmore Leonard


Elmore Leonard

Morrow, Jan 17 2012, $26.99

ISBN: 9780062119469

In Harlan County, Kentucky, the two cash crops are marijuana and organ harvesting. U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (see Pronto and Riding the Rap) investigates who removed the kidneys from drug dealer Angel Arenas. His inquiry leads to weed dealing brothers Dickie and Coover Crowe who expanded their operations into the lucrative harvesting of organs to sell back at 10K to the donor; the Fed knows this pair’s combined IQ would remain in single digits so someone medically competent is the brains of the operation.

The Crowe family owns mountain land that a coal company covets. Executive Carol Conlon will kill anyone who gets in her firm’s mountaintop removal operation. Givens follows a deadly feud to the Crowe clan and the mining company.

Raylan pursues stoned bank robbing strippers. The clues lead to Jackie Nevada who pays for her college tuition at Butler by playing poker.

More novellas and shorts (there is additional vignettes) than a novel, the tie between the tales is Raylan. The zany tales are over the top of Black Mountain as the madcap police procedurals are fun to read while satirizing American capitalism especially through the various legal and illegal industries and the caricature villains and villainesses. Fans will enjoy Elmore Leonard’s latest madcap thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Claimed by a Vampire-

Claimed by a Vampire

Rachel Lee

Harlequin Nocturne, Jan 24 2012, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373618767

Writer Yvonne Dupuis moves into her new apartment, but feels uncomfortable as she believes a demon stalks her. Fearful she hires Messenger Investigations, Inc. private investigator Jude Messenger to protect her. Jude assigns investigator Creed Preston the vampire to keep the client safe.

Creed wonders who will keep Yvonne safe from him as his olfactory senses send his brain messages of desire from her elixir. Still he knows deep in his gut he would die to keep this mortal he wants safe from harm including from him. However, Creed and Jude miscalculate the totality of the threat wrought by the target’s odious former boyfriend, as the demon who claimed the writer has allies as evil as he is.

The latest Messenger Investigations, Inc. romantic urban fantasy (see Claim the Night) is a wonderful thriller starring two strong lead characters supported by Jude who seems never afraid. Yvonne is great as a bewildered frightened human while Creed is a terrific tormented vampire. The evil and his malevolent horde enhance a delightful paranormal romantic suspense as Yvonne learns the meaning of Claimed by a Vampire.

Harriet Klausner

A Warrior’s Desire-Pamela Palmer

A Warrior’s Desire

Pamela Palmer

Harlequin Nocturne, Jan 24 2012, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373618774

Due to a coup that removed the Queen of Esria from the throne, the Esri breach the wall into the human plane where one touch by the outsiders leads to the enslaving of the natives. Former military operative Charlie Rand is assigned to cross into Esria to free the deposed ruler, who had banned travel into the human realm and mortal slavery, and learn how to close the portal from her.

He crosses over and meets up with his guide Tarrys a former slave. Charlie fears his attraction to his escort distracts him from the mission while Tarrys fears her wanting the outsider will interfere with the successful completion of the objective. However, as they trek across a nightmarish landscape, he is quickly grateful to his companion as Tarrys saves his life several times.

This action-packed romantic fantasy is a fabulous thriller due to the gender bending rescuing of a man in peril by the intrepid heroine , She shows her guts under fire; while the lead human is not that different from typical military males on a mission until the heroine saves his life. With a tour of the deadly nightmarish Esria landscape, readers will relish Pamela Palmer’s vivid taut tale as a former warrior and a former slave fall in love while trying to save humanity from the touch of the Esri.

Harriet Klausner

Vengeance Born-Kylie Griffin

Vengeance Born

Kylie Griffin

Berkley, Feb 7 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780425245261

Tormented Annika the Na’Chi hybrid daughter of the Na’Reish demon chief loathes her sire and his minions as her brutish father constantly with glee reminds her she is a Vengeance Born product of revenge. A healer, she dreams of escaping her torturous life but none of the human blood slaves have ever escaped from the demon realm and lived to tell the story.

The Na'Reish Horde has increased their invasions and abductions in the human realm. Kalan the Lady’s Chosen leader of the Light Blade defends humankind against the demons; he fears his side is losing a war of attrition as his warriors are shrinking in numbers and those still at combat aging. He argues with the Council that radical changes must be implemented now or the demons will soon overwhelm the human realm. When the enemy captures him, a despondent Kalan despairs the massacre is imminent. However, new hope arises when Annika, who he distrusts, offers to free him if he takes her into his realm. Distrusting her new ally but with no turning back as Annika knows her sire branded her for death.

The first Light Blade romantic fantasy is a terrific thriller as the endless war between demon and humans is reaching a critical survival stage for the latter. The lead couple is a strong pairing while the support cast, especially the Na’Chi, the warriors and the Council, enhance the internal squabble in the human realm. With an insightful look at racial intolerance in a time of long-term constant combat and security alert, fans will enjoy Vengeance Born.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Simply Carnal-Kate Pearce

Simply Carnal

Kate Pearce

Kensington Aphrodisia, Jan 31 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758269454

At Madame Helene's Pleasure House, son of the owner Christian Delornay manages the brothel. Being around trysts 24/7 for years, he feels sex is a pleasant interlude in which romantic love does not matter or exist. The cynic hires Mrs. Elizabeth Smith as his assistant. He fails to inform the widow that part of her job description is his mentoring her in simply sensual seductive surrender:

However, Mrs. Smith conceals her innermost desires from her employer. He refuses to accept her not surrendering to him with her carnal need. As he simply brings her pleasure that equals his temporary satiation, he needs more of her.

The latest House of Pleasure erotic regency romance (see Simply Forbidden, Simply Sexual, Simply Sinful, Simply Shameless, Simply Wicked and Simply Insatiable) is simply a delightful entertaining historical. Christian and Mrs. Smith are fully-developed (beyond just his lower head) intriguing protagonists especially her as she brings an aura of sad mystery to the mix. Although the storyline is somewhat thin, series fans will enjoy the owner’s son and the widow making it as the pair brings sex and humor to a fun tale.

Harriet Klausner

Island Of Desire-Lorie O’Clare

Island Of Desire

Lorie O’Clare

Kensington Aphrodisia, Jan 31 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758261397

Mark Tripp, Sr. orders his son Jr. to come home to their island retreat to assist him with his latest money making scheme that includes a male beauty pageant. To the delight of Jr. Sr. hires beautiful Andrea Denton to run the pageant.

Andrea informs Mark the son that she is interested in a no strings sex with him while she remains on the island. Once the gala is over so is their tryst. Mark is ecstatic agreeing to her terms. As they enjoy their erotic exotic encounters, someone seems to be sabotaging the pageant as a string of suspicious accidents occur. The pair investigates who is behind the increasingly dangerous incidents.

The story line is thin (except for Mark’s lower head) in spite of the amateur sleuth subplot as that feels somewhat forced to add suspense to the engaging erotic romance. The lead pairing are likable protagonists who know what they (and readers) want and go out and perform. Sub-genre fans will enjoy Island of Desire as the sex is hot.

Harriet Klausner

His Duty To Protect-Lindsay McKenna

His Duty To Protect

Lindsay McKenna

Harlequin Romantic Suspense, Jan 24 2012, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373277612

Five years ago at the Apache flight school Army instructor Captain Tyler Hamilton led his sexist attitude get in the way of training Rachel Trayhern. He tried to fail her, but the determined woman refused to quit. Looking back, he regrets his behavior towards one of his better students, but is not totally cognizant that his bias comes from his childhood.

In Afghanistan, Rachel is assigned to Tyler’s unit. He owes her an apology, but she keeps everything strictly by the book and in the present. However, a mission turns potentially fatal as Tyler and Rachel are isolated from their team inside of the fluid enemy territory. To survive their harrowing trek they must trust and rely on one another.

This is a superb military romance with much of the focus on theatre operations starting with the Taliban grenade attack leaving the heroine mentally disoriented (and enabling flashbacks). The story line is loaded with action as readers will believe they are part of Tyler’s unit on patrol; on Afghanistan. Readers will enjoy the latest Black Jaguar Squadron thriller (see Operation: Forbidden and His Woman In Command) as the metamorphosis of Tyler from anti female in combat roles to firm believer in the capability of trained female soldiers occurs while they walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

Harriet Klausner

A Demon Does It Better-Linda Wisdom

A Demon Does It Better

Linda Wisdom

Sourcebooks, Jan 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781402236723

In Inderman, Dr. Lili Carter the witch takes a staff position at Crying Souls Hospital. She conceals from the hospital administration her real reason for returning to the asylum where she worked ages ago. Lili searches for her friend Sera who worked here before vanishing without a trace.

The physician is stunned by the poor conditions of the facility and the haphazard care of the staff. She is especially shocked by the mistreatment of Jared the demon Patient 1172. Dr. Mortimer incarcerated 1172 for what the patient thinks is forever. However, he may have found his miraculous cure with the new doctor as he and Lili are attracted to one another. They team up to learn the insidious truth of what is going down at Crying Souls Hospital.

This romantic fantasy is an exciting thriller due to a strong unique support cast from a feline complaining that Minneapolis is not Inderman to Dragon nurses to the return of the “Hellion Guard” (see Demons Are a Girl’s Best Friend). The protagonists are an interesting forbidden (not for medical relationship reasons) pairing of a patient and a doctor while the villain is as vile as they come. Although the romantic subplot at times distracts from the taut suspense, fans will enjoy visiting the Wisdom magical realm.

Harriet Klausner

Hold Me If You Can-Stephanie Rowe

Hold Me If You Can

Stephanie Rowe

Sourcebooks, Jan 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781402241970

Nigel Aquarian prefers painting to swordplay. However, after a century and a half of imprisonment with his warrior in arms brothers (see Blaine Underhill in Kiss At Your Own Risk and Jarvis Swain in Touch If You Dare) by an evil witch, he remains vigil though he believes the stroke of the brush is mightier than the sword.

Nigel realizes a more lethal threat has arisen. He puts aside the brush and palette to confront the evil. However, he believes chocolatier Natalie Fleming, who he is attracted to, is the key as the vortex of this deadly danger due to a Faustian gift.

The third Warrior urban fantasy is an entertaining paranormal romance starring a reluctant unique hero and a caught in the crosshairs heroine. The story line is fast-paced and filled with tense action yet also has some amusing moments (a trademark of Stephanie Rowe). Readers will enjoy the adventures in love and danger between Nigel the artist and Natalie the Chocolatier.

Harriet Klausner

The Lure of Song and Magic-Patricia Rice

The Lure of Song and Magic

Patricia Rice

Sourcebooks, Jan 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781402255748

Children television producer Dylan “Oz” Ozwin has spent the past year in a futile search for his missing son Donal. Concerned friends and family tell him to accept the reality that his child is dead, but Oz refuses end his hunt.

Recently the enigmatic Librarian sends Oz an email suggesting he talk with former tweener singing sensation Syrene at the Little Angels Childcare center in El Padre, California where he asks to meet with Phillipa “Pippa“ James, her real name. She vowed to never sing again while becoming a children’s author. While sympathetic to his dire quest, she fears reentering the public domain as the magic of her voice has caused emotional problems; yet Oz seems immune to her power.

Bringing the Malcolm Magic series (see Must be Magic and Magic Man) to the present (Pippa is a Malcolm), fans of the saga will appreciate Patricia’s Rice clever exhilarating romance. Part of the fun is Pippa’s efforts to hide her magic in the instant digital age (think of the opening scenes in I Am Number Four). Fast-paced from the moment the desperate father follows any even remote lead takes him to the voice of power, fans will enjoy This Magic Moment as he is immune to the Lure of Song and Magic but not love.

Harriet Klausner

Secrets: Would You Share Yours?-Freya North

Secrets: Would You Share Yours?

Freya North

Sourcebooks, Jan 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781402260148

Joe loves his life as he has a great job building bridges around the world, lives in a wonderful house in Saltburn by the sea, and has no dangling relationships. However, being away a lot, Joe needs a house sitter to walk Wolf, but she must respect his quiet. He advertises in the Cleveland Gazette. London manicurist Tess applies for the position. She arrives for the interview with her eighteen month old daughter Em. Although he wants no noisy children and does not like the fact she never mentioned Em, Joe gives her the job temporarily mostly because she likes the garden.

Joe and Tess forge a tentative relationship, but he finds it odd that she fears beaches. As they begin to open up to one another, Joe learns Em’s dad is Dick an irresponsible singer while Tess finds out why he relishes bridge building. As their threat of leaving abates, an attraction grows between them, but though he reaches out into the darkness with a need to be a Friend and Lover to her and a father to Em, her fears cripple her from crossing the bridge.

Although the reason for Tess’ trauma seems a bit weak, fans will appreciate this contemporary romance starring a reclusive male and a neurotic female. The support cast to include Em and Tess’ BFF Tamison and sister Claire are bridges to the story line as they anchor past and present. Readers will enjoy this engaging tale of a traumatized single mom finding love but contentment is much harder to achieve.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Nested Scrolls: The Autobiography of Rudolf von Bitter Rucker-Rudy Rucker

Nested Scrolls: The Autobiography of Rudolf von Bitter Rucker

Rudy Rucker

Tor, Dec 6 2011, $25.00

ISBN: 9780765327529

The opening chapter of this fascinating memoir sets the tone as Rudolf von Bitter Rucker entered “Death’s Door in 2008 when a vein burst in his brain; this cerebral hemorrhage had the author-mathematician on the verge of the big dramatic exit but “no spiral tunnel, no white light, no welcome from the departed one. Maybe it’s just that everything goes black.” Mr. Rucker obviously recovered to write an intriguing interesting autobiography motivated by his near death experience of nothingness. The author discusses his life as a mathematician, science fiction author, punk rocker, and hacker. He grew up in Louisville. In the same year another Louisville native son was winning a boxing gold medal in Rome, fourteen years old Rudy was injured in a swing accident. He told his dad he hurt his spleen, which proved correct as his prolific reading came in handy. With Hegel genes, it is not surprising that he read Philip K. Dick's science fiction and the writings of the On The Road beatniks; adapting the latters’ use of alcohol as a stimulator. This set the table for his life as a mathematician and a science fiction writer, but hindered his imagination rather than expanding it. Fans of one of the new light “cyberpunk” authors of the 1980s will want to read Nested Scrolls, but so will fans of nonfiction as The Autobiography of Rudolf von Bitter Rucker is a well written engaging memoir.

Harriet Klausner

Between Love And Duty-Janice Kay Johnson

Between Love And Duty

Janice Kay Johnson

Harlequin SuperRomance, Feb 7 2012, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373717583

The court assigns advocate Jane Brooks to protect the interests of teenager Tito Ortiz. His father is leaving prison and demands custody of his child. Police captain Duncan MacLachlan has acted as a big brother to the troubled teen as he knows first-hand what it is like to be not raised properly by terrible parents. He wants the right thing for Tito.

Duncan and Jane argue over what is right for Tito. He sees a world of good and bad with no straddling or gray area; she sees people acting at times good and bad. Attracted to one another, they disagree as to what is best for this at risk teen. However, when Jane’s life becomes threatened, Duncan knows he would risk his to keep her safe as he loves his adversarial advocate.

The key to this powerful contemporary romance is Duncan as his black and white philosophy about humans is deftly developed from a troubled childhood in which some people like his parents were bad and some like his mentor were good. Jane struggles with understanding his polar absolute belief as she sees the grays in everyone. Although the suspense is handled nicely, it is unnecessary as readers will relish this strong tale of two individuals in love but the adult is the child and each carries tons of childhood baggage.

On Common Ground-Tracy Kelleher

On Common Ground

Tracy Kelleher

Harlequin SuperRomance, Feb 7 2012, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373717620

Although she vowed to never go back, Grantham University graduate Lilah Evans returns to her alma mater to receive the Distinguished Alumni award at the ten year reunion. At the event Lilah and Justin Bigelow, her college boyfriend’s roommate, meet. They chat over old times and what each has done since graduating. He especially shocks her with his passion about being a kindergarten teacher as her memory of him is that of an egotistical BMOC player.

Lilah is further stunned when she learns Justin nominated her for the award. Far from being the self-indulged big man on campus jock, he is a caring person. As she revises her opinion of him, Lilah falls in love while Justin has been in love for over ten years.

This is a tender second chance relationship drama as Lilah realizes how wrong her misconceptions about this jock are as he proves to be a tender caring person who loves his work (I admire elementary school teachers especially the younger grades as it take a special person as those who can teach). Readers will enjoy their changing dynamics as this pair makes a wonderful warm couple.

Harriet Klausner

Just Desserts-Jeannie Watt

Just Desserts

Jeannie Watt

Harlequin SuperRomance, Feb 7 2012, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373717613

Schoolteacher Layla Taylor learns her boyfriend is cheating with a colleague of hers. Stunned by their betrayal, she ends her relationship. Feeling self-pity as she was faithful to the rat, Layla has too much to drink as a blizzard hits. Her high school enemy, catering business owner and pastry chef Justin Tremont with snow tires on his vehicle takes her home to comfort her (and him).

However, parents obtain a damaging picture of normally prim and proper Layla intoxicated and ill in public. The school fires her for reprehensible conduct. Rule breaker Justin comforts the depressed Layla. As their attraction grows from lust to love, each has major doubts whether opposites can stay together without killing one another.

This is a fun lighthearted romance starring two likable polar opposites in love; as he cannot even follow his own recipes while she cannot even bend a rule. Although the storyline is thin, fans will enjoy the lead couple’s changing relationship as first came hate, than came lust and finally came love.

Harriet Klausner

The Rodeo Man’s Daughter-Barbara White Daille

The Rodeo Man’s Daughter

Barbara White Daille

Harlequin American, Feb 7 2012, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373753956

As an impoverish teenager Caleb Cantrell left Flagman’s Folly, New Mexico over a decade ago to join the rodeo. His only regret is leaving behind his sweetheart Tess LaSalle, but he rationalized she could do much better than a poor non bitter person like him.

A recent near fatal injury has all but ended Caleb’s sterling career, He returns home wealthy but the acrimony he thought he left behind remains in his gut. Caleb comes back with a chip on his shoulder. However, his plan to for a second chance with Tess goes nowhere as the single mom refuses to have anything to do with him. When he learns her daughter is his, he rages at Tess for never telling him though he knew he never gave her a chance. Finally calming down, Caleb wants to be part of the lives of his two beloved females, but Tess doubts his staying power fearing he will hurt her and their child.

This is an engaging second chance at love tale starring two wounded warriors carrying tons of emotionally crippling baggage. Although the theme has been used frequently, fans will enjoy Caleb’s return to Flagman’s Folly (see A Rancher’s Pride) as he works his toughest contest ever, winning back the trust of the woman who was a pregnant teen though unaware of her condition when he abandoned her.

Harriet Klausner

The Detective’s Accidental Baby-Jacqueline Diamond

The Detective’s Accidental Baby

Jacqueline Diamond

Harlequin American, Feb 7 2012, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373753963

Safe Harbor fertility clinic nurse Erica Benford has no plans to become pregnant. However, a one night stand with private investigator Sherlock Vaughn proves that the plans of mice, men and Erica go astray when she learns she is carrying. Erica knows she does not want to raise a child especially as a single mom, but tells the father what she is doing. He refuses to sign away his paternal rights as a foster child alumni he distrusts parents so will learn to do it right as a single father.

Over the next few months, Erica bonds with her unborn and soon wants to raise the child with Lock. However, though he wants both in his life permanently, his ugly past has returned endangering his beloved Erica and their unborn.

The return to Safe Harbor will elate fans as heroes like Dr. Owen (see the Surgeon’s Surprise Twins) return in key support roles. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing of two people not ready to be an entry and especially not prepared to raise a child. Medical romance fans will appreciate Jacqueline Diamond’s warm baby makes three tale.

Harriet Klausner

Once Upon a Valentine-Stephanie Bond, Leslie Kelly and Michelle Rowen

Once Upon a Valentine

Stephanie Bond, Leslie Kelly and Michelle Rowen

Harlequin Blaze, Jan 24 2012, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373796670

“All Tangled Up” by Stephanie Bond. Forever Summer Tomlinson wanted Andrew Macmillan. They became business partners and share a bed, but she wonders if following Rapunzel’s lead will lead her beloved to a happily ever after with her.

“Sleeping With a Beauty” by Leslie Kelly. Historian Ashlynn Scott searches for Sleeping Beauty’s castle. He never expected to be the kisser of legend, but the fairy tale never mentioned the happily ever after in the sheets.

“Catch Me” by Michelle Rowen. Ginger Redman makes a wish on a magic cookie, which leads to her best friend Stephen Fox wanting her in his or her bed happily ever after.

These are entertaining lighthearted Bedtime Stories that are fun to read as readers obtain a modern take on the rest of the story of happily ever after.

Harriet Klausner

Sex, Lies and Valentines-Sex, Lies and Valentines

Sex, Lies and Valentines

Tawny Weber

Harlequin Blaze, Jan 24 2012, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373796700

Of the three offspring of notorious Tobias Black, the leader of Black Oak, California, Gabriel is the chip off the felonious block. Like father like son Gave is a con artist. However, his latest scam is busted by FBI Agent Danita Cruz. She gives him a choice between prison and an undercover sting in his hometown.

Gabe and Danita posing as his girlfriend arrive in Black Oak. Their undercover mission is to break up a drugs and guns trafficking mob that has taken root in the town. As they con his family who feel the heat between the pair and fool themselves into believing it’s the mission, each is in lust with the other, but the operation comes first or does it.

The final heated Sex, Lies and … romantic suspense (see Sex, Lies and Mistletoe, and Sex, Lies and Midnight) is an engaging thriller starring a sexy kick butt agent and the smooth king of lies operative. Although the fast-paced storyline ends suddenly, readers will enjoy the gender war between the Fed and the felon.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, December 26, 2011

Out Of Palestine: The Making of Modern Israe-Hadara Lazarl

Out Of Palestine: The Making of Modern Israel

Hadara Lazar

Atlas, Dec 29 2011, $25.95

ISBN: 9781935633280

In 1923 the League of Nations placed Palestine, no longer part of the defeated Ottoman Empire, as a Mandate under British control. The Southern part would become a “national home for the Jewish People” while the Arabs were expected to live side by side with their Jewish neighbors in peace. Both groups were euphoric with the Mandate. In 1948, Palestine was divided into two adversarial nations. Over the next six plus decades, there have been several wars and throughout the ultimate Cold War.

For the past twenty-five years Israeli journalist Hadara Lazar has conducted a series of interviews of those involved when The British Mandate ended in 1948. Fuad Shehadeh is an Arab whose family moved from Jerusalem to Ramallah in 1949. His description of Jerusalem in the last years of the Mandate sets the tone of a stunning series of memoirs as he recalls an upbeat community until the 1948 War that displaced many Arabs. James Livingstone of the British Consul remembers how much changed in 1946 from his previous assignments in Jerusalem as social life was limited to the British community. Meir Dreszner grew up in mixed Haifa while his wife Miriam in mixed Jerusalem. Under the Mandate Meir felt like a foreigner in an Arab restaurant; while Miriam says Jerusalem was a city of separate neighborhoods.

There are many more interesting anecdotal memoirs that provide readers the foundation of what has become entrenched enemies. Readers will appreciate the fascinating look back as Hadara Lazar interviews and obtains the thoughts and memories of numerous Jewish, Arab, and British people who lived in Palestine just after WWII as the Mandate was ending and the Jewish state formed.

The Wings of Morning-Murray Pura

The Wings of Morning

Murray Pura

Harvest House, Feb 1 2012, $13.99

ISBN: 9780736948777

In 1917 Jude Whetstone and Lyyndaya Kurtz are attracted to each other, but her Lapp Amish parents oppose a courtship between them. His stunt of flying a plane from Philadelphia to her Papa’s field where the hay was just cut is not well received by her parents though Lyyndy and her siblings enjoy the spectacle.

However Jude and other Amish lads are able to fight but refuse as war objectors are taken away from their community. They are placed in an abusive camp to break these war objectors. Lyyndy fears for her beloved who accepts a devil’s deal in order to keep his Amish brethren out of the draft. His self-sacrifice leaves him shunned by those he protected including her family. When Lyyndy learns he was shot down in France, she defies her family to work with Spanish flu victims in Philadelphia until beloved becomes her patient. However, the shunning remains in effect.

This excellent fresh WWI era Amish thriller provides wonderful unique perspective of the community at a time when aeroplanes and electricity are so new they have not been banned yet; even Bishop Zook demands a flight. The seemingly star-crossed romance between the shunned hero and the woman he cherishes enhances a great period piece that will have readers wanting more historical tales like this winner from Murray Pura.

Harriet Klausner

A Ranger’s Trail-Darlene Franklin

A Ranger’s Trail

Darlene Franklin

Moody, Feb 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780802405876

In 1874 Mason County, Texas, German cattlemen accuse Anglo ranchers M.B. Thomas and Allen Roberts of stealing their herd. The court trial led to six cowhands being fined while Derrick Denning was freed due to insufficient evidence. The Anglo ranchers are outraged that they have to pay any remittance while their German counterparts, still irate over the secession thirteen years ago, feel an injustice occurred.

However, the Denning celebration ends when someone assassinates him. The Germans say good riddance to a thief and other dead alleged rustlers while the Anglos led by former Ranger Scott Cooley counterstrike against their adversaries. The Texas Rangers including Buck Morgan arrives in Mason County to end the viscous range war and find out who made Leta Derrick a widowed single mom. Buck sets up a trap but Leta’s teenage brother Andy springs it. Shots leave Buck’s cousin dead and Andy as the prime suspect. Buck prays for a miracle for the extended Denning family and to end the frontier justice range war that is devastating his home town.

The fourth Morgan Family saga book (see Lone Star Trail by Darlene Franklin; The Captive Trail by Susan Page Davis; and Long Trail Home by Vickie McDonough) is a great entry that uses the real deadly Mason County “Hoo Doo” range war to tell a vivid Texas Trail tale. Buck is a great protagonist who prays for a peaceful solution but knows none is coming as each side remains resolution their Godly righteousness. Using real Mason County range war persona, while fast-paced with the romance deftly kept in the background, fans will relish Darlene Franklin’s second excellent entry in a powerful nineteenth century epic.

Harriet Klausner

The Legacy Of Eden-Nelle Davy

The Legacy Of Eden

Nelle Davy

Mira, Jan 24 2012, $15.95

ISBN: 9780778329558

Lavinia Hathaway’s dream was to make her family the royalty of Iowa at any cost to relatives, friends and the peasants. She destroyed so many people so that her three thousand-acre estate Aurelia was the Taj Mahal farm of the Hawkeye State. Generations after Lavinia’s seemingly success, decades later later prove her outcome an abysmal failure. The last Hathaway, forty-five years old Caledon, still lives at the once glorious but now in debt estate dies form cirrhosis of the liver (a male family trait) alone; none of the extended family wants anything to do with Lavinia’s curse.

In New York City, Meredith Pincetti receives a letter pleading with her to come home after seventeen years of blissful self-imposed exile using her mother’s maiden name. Her gut says to ignore it, but her DNA tells her to go home. Her sister Ava tells her she told the lawyers no. However, Meredith and her other sibling Claudia return to Aurelia, the site of some much anguish as Lavinia’s dream was everyone else’s nightmare.

This is a fascinating epic of the impact of a ruthless matriarch has on her descendants; for instance the three mostly estranged sisters have limited if any contact with one another and the males turn to alcohol to ease their torment. Although the story line is straighter than the Bonneville Flats lacking any twists, fans will enjoy this entertaining family drama.

Harriet Klausner

Austentatious-Alyssa Goodnight


Alyssa Goodnight

Kensington, Jan 31 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780758267436

In Austin engineer Nicola James loves anything Austen. While browsing in a quirky shop, Nic finds a blank antique journal amidst the Austen collection. She spills tea on the journal so under the you break it you bought it rule, she pays for the damaged item.

Nic begins writing entries starting with a co-worker’s wedding that she will attend without an escort. When she opens her journal to write a new entry, she finds her wedding comment changed to only a few pearls of wisdom. Stunned Nic concludes her journal has magical skills to provide her with “Fairy Jane” relationship advice that implies she needs to throw out as garbage her life plan in order to take a chance on Sean who does not fit the Nic plan but is perfect in accordance with the Fairy Jane plan (and Nic’s heart).

This is an entertaining fresh take on the ever expanding Austen mythos. Nic is a super protagonist who holds the amusing, profound storyline focused. Although the tale starts slow, once Fairy Jane gives Nic her marching orders, Austentatious goes into hyperspeed as Alyssa Goodnight provides an enjoyable contemporary Austen.

Harriet Klausner

Promise Me This-Cathy Gohlke

Promise Me This

Cathy Gohlke

Tyndale, Feb 1 2012, $13.99

ISBN: 9781414353074

Fifteen year old Michael Dunnagan came to the dock to celebrate his abusive Uncle Tom leaving as a stoker on the Titanic. The teenager is awe struck by the great ship, which has completed the trials and is getting ready to begin the maiden voyage. A stevedore hires Michael to help load supplies.

However, instead of leaving, he becomes a stowaway. Passenger Owen Allen heading to join the family firm in New Jersey, finds and befriends the lad. When the impossible occurs, Owen makes Michael give him a death bed promise that he will take care of his younger sister Annie in England. Michael sends Annie many letters from America but she resents his living while her sibling died. However, over time the grieving Annie begins to heal and welcomes Michael’s letters. It is believable that the two pen pals fall in love so he finally accumulates the funds needed to bring his Annie to America. Before she can come, WWI ignites ending their correspondence. He resolutely crossed the ocean once before when he had no money and sets off to do so again to find his beloved.

This is a great historical that brings to life the fatal voyage and its aftermath through the reactions of a terrific support cast; not all on board. The couple is a wonderful pairing, but it is the victims and not just those who died at sea, but the survivors like Michael filled with guilt, grief and respect as well as the mourning loved ones. Readers will relish this powerful rendition of the Titanic.

Harriet Klausner

An Amish Family Reunion-Mary Ellis

An Amish Family Reunion

Mary Ellis

Harvest House, Feb 1 2012, $13.99

ISBN: 9780736944878

In Winesburg, Ohio, Phoebe Miller loves her family but wishes she had some moments of quiet respite to draw but even the Sabbath is nosy since her Uncle Simon, his wife Aunt Julia and their extended horde live next door to her family. Her rumschpringe voyage enables her to escape from the Ohio Amish community that she loves. She travels to Niagara Falls.

Amish Eli Riehl is a highly regarded storyteller. When Phoebe hears his tale, she draws pictures of what he said. They agree to collaborate on a children’s book he will write and she will illustrate. However, their plans seem dead when his father suffers a heart attack as the solo son with five sisters goes home to run the family farm. Although his writing dream appears dead, Eli wants his beloved Phoebe to come with him as his wife.

This warm coming of age Amish romance stars two wonderful protagonists who belong together and a strong family support group. Ironically to achieve her two dreams of illustrating and finding a loving pious mate means Phoebe must accept Eli’s nosy family as hers. Readers will appreciate Mary Ellis’ tale as the Amish lifestyle makes for an engaging contemporary.

Harriet Klausner

Blue Moon Promise-Colleen Coble

Blue Moon Promise

Colleen Coble

Thomas Nelson, Feb 14 2012, $15.99

ISBN: 9781595549150

1877 is a bad year for most residents of Indiana especially in the Chicago area, but the Marsh siblings are particularly in trouble. Their lecherous landlord informs the oldest Lucy that he has sold the place where they live and she and her two younger siblings (twelve years old Jed and three years old Eileen) will have to vacate within ten days. However, Lucy learns that their father’s death was not the accident as reported; his second wife Catherine her stepmother abandoned the children. Older than her late father, Henry Stanton cites Abraham finding a bride for Isaac; he offers her a deal to marry his son Nate by proxy. To protect her brother and sister and to keep Jed out of further trouble, she accepts a marrying a total stranger.

Henry escorts the three Marsh siblings to the family ranch in Wichita Falls, Texas. Nate is stunned that his father returned home with a wife for him and two young in-laws. He assumes the city slicker will quickly run from ranch life. However, though insecure Lucy refuses to quit as she has a strong inner self-sacrifice that her husband respects but prays she learns to trust him with what disturbs her. When the Hoosier danger arrives at the Stanton spread, Nate risks his life and his ranch to keep his beloved new family safe.

The first Under Texas Stars is a terrific inspirational historical romance. The key to this engaging Americana is the cast as the lead couple are nice pairing of Isaac and Rebecca while the support characters add either intelligence and humor or the sale of their souls for shekels. Sub-genre readers will enjoy Colleen Coble’s charmer.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Summer of Secrets-Charlotte Hubbard

Summer of Secrets

Charlotte Hubbard

Zebra, Feb 7 2012, $6.99

ISBN: 9781420121698

Willow Ridge, Missouri is home to the Amish Old Ways. Childhood sweethearts carpenter Micah Breeneman and Rachel Lantz, who works at their two families’ Sweet Seasons Bakery Café, look forward to their upcoming marriage.

Tiffany Oliveri, an Englisher looking like a Halloween party attendee with her ghoulish clothing, spiked hair and tattoos, arrives. She uses profanity as Rachael takes her order and thinks the girl is her twin sister Rhoda or her with a ton of make-up on her. Her mamma Miriam believes the newcomer is her lost third triplet Rebecca. Her marriage to the late Jesse never was the same from that terrible day. The girl says she just buried her mom when her dad Bib said he rescued her from a tree on the Missouri River in the flood of ’93 when they were three. The dynamics have changed as relationships are altered forever.

The first Seasons of the Heart Amish is a terrific extended families’ drama. The ensemble cast is fully developed so that the readers understand the impact of the return of the lost child on three caring families. Fans will relish this tender tale as the Englisher finds her roots as cultures collide while love blossoms in Missouri.

Harriet Klausner

Matthew-Emma Lang


Emma Lang

Kensington Brava, Jan 31 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758269041

In 1836 in the Republic of Texas, twenty-five years old Matthew Graham, accompanied by six of his seven siblings, goes to town for supplies. On the way back to the six hundred acre family cattle ranch, he sees a fire. They arrive at their homestead to find their parents dead and their five year old youngest brother Benjy missing.

Two months later, Olivia tells Matt he needs to complete their dad’s dream of claiming the four thousand acres the Republic is offering. Although afraid to do so, he agrees and heads to Houston to file, but needs a wife in thirty days to keep the new land as he lied on the application. Matt stays at a boardinghouse run by Hannah Foley and her Granny. He proposes and though they are strangers the plain Hannah accepts Matt’s marriage of convenience. However, neither anticipated love between them nor the attacks on them and their families over land.

The first Circle Eight historical romance is an entertaining Texas tale starring a strong cast as the title character and his stranger wife fall in love. The villain is in plain sight, but deftly insures someone else is targeted as the culprit. Action-packed, sub-genre readers will enjoy the first Graham entry and look forward to apparently the Taming of the Shrew's story next.

Harriet Klausner

Firelight-Kristen Callihan


Kristen Callihan

Forever, Jan 31 2012, $5.99

ISBN: 9781455508594

In 1878 London, Lord Benjamin Archer comes to collect a debt from Hector Ellis whose pirates cost him salvation when they plundered his ship stealing the cure he needs. When he meets Hector’s daughter Miranda while she holds a knife on him, Archer finds himself attracted to her. She is the reason he allows Hector to live, but negotiates a new deal.

Three years later, Hector informs Miranda she will wed Lord Benjamin Archer to save her family from ruin as he blames her fiery gift for the family’s impoverished state. Wearing a mask to conceal his disfigurement, Archer finds his brave wife demands he give his soul to her like she offers to him. However, he cannot oblige her though he desperately wants to. Miranda wonders about his older companions especially when the members of the West Moon Club are viciously murdered. As Miranda wonders if she wed a killer, she investigates her husband; learning her gift may be the only thing that can save his soul.

With a nod to Beauty and the Beast though somewhat altered by the paranormal gift of Beauty, Firelight is a superb Victorian romantic fantasy. The story line is fast-paced from the first encounter to the last; while the protagonists are a fascinating pairing of a passionate soul with a dark soulless. Readers will appreciate Kristen Callihan’s entertaining paranormal historical thriller as London is rarely darker.

Harriet Klausner

Colt- Georgina Gentry


Georgina Gentry

Zebra, Feb 7 2012, $6.99

ISBN: 9781420121674

When Hannah Brownley was fifteen, she ran away from her abusive stepfather. She met and married Luther who she thought would treat her kindly, but he proved abusive in a different way and her husband tried but failed to break her spirit. Three years later, Luther held the rifle watching for Comanche while Hannah and the children picked plums. When the Comanche arrive, her cowardly husband flees knocking over children. The raiding party leader punches Hannah in the face, something she expects from all males, before she and her son are taken captive. Once again Hannah believes these brutes may hurt her physically but will not break her spiritually.

In 1856, Second Lieutenant Colt Prescott and the Second Cavalry out of Camp Cooper rescue Hannah, but fail to free her son. Colt learns that her Indian name is Muakatu (Moonlight) and that she is the woman of vicious Puhu Retsi (Spider). The major’s easterner daughter Miss Olivia Murphy takes charge of Hannah. While Doc and Colt understand Hannah, Olivia thinks the savage needs her Christian help while also deciding Colt will make a perfect mate for her. When Hannah goes for her child Travis, Colt decides to help her.

The third Texans romance (see Rio and Diablo) is a superb pre Civil War tale starring a strong title character and a brave woman who refuses to let men break her as she knows as a Texas girl the only male who could is Travis. The support cast is somewhat stereotypical, but that enhances the time and place as well as the relationship between the lead Texas couple. Georgina Gentry provides an engaging historical.

Harriet Klausner

An Accidental Bride-Denise Hunter

An Accidental Bride

Denise Hunter

Thomas Nelson, Jan 3 2012, $15.99

ISBN: 9781595548023

In Moose Creek, Montana, Shay Brandenberger knows men leave. Fourteen years ago her fiancé Travis McCoy jilted her on the courthouse steps while she was wearing her wedding gown just before they were to exchange their vows; he married the rodeo instead of her. She did marry, but her late spouse left her before he died. Now Shay struggles as a single mom to twelve years old Olivia while hoping they do not lose their family ranch.

Travis has returned home praying for a second chance to make up for his teenage blunder when he left his beloved. Miss Lucy asks Travis to play the art of Joseph Adams at the Founder Day Ceremony. He agrees when he learns he will be part of a reenactment wedding with Shay as his bride Prudence. However, Miss Lucy feeling true love needs intervention so she arranges the marriage to be real. Travis is euphoric while Shay leaves him on the top of her most loathed list. He promises to prove he means to stay by working the ranch platonically until she agrees to allow him to share the conjugal bed. However, both know they must factor in her daughter that he will soon learn is his.

Although hiding the truth about Olivia’s fatherhood from the biological dad is an old theme, Denise Hunter keeps her second chance at love plot fresh with inspired Miss Lucy pulling off the marriage ruse. Travis desperately wants a do-over while Shay believes men even caring ones like her former husband leave. Her daughter echoes that sentiment having had two dads leave. Fans will appreciate this warm Big Sky Romance as Miss Lucy once again matches tow people in love (see A Cowboy’s Touch).

Harriet Klausner

Kiss of the Vampire-Cynthia Garner

Kiss of the Vampire

Cynthia Garner

Forever, Jan 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780446585118

The Moore-Creasy-Devon Comet passes the earth every seventy-three years; causing a temporary opening in the rift between the human realm and that of the paranormal, allowing parasites to cross over to the earth. These alien entities enter human hosts becoming various supernaturally creatures who have gained legal rights though the natives resent them.

Violent murders of vampires increase the tension between races. The Council of Preternaturals assign special agent Tobias Caine the vampire to lead the investigation. Half-human/half-demon Nix de la Fuente is part of his team. They had a heated history but he abruptly ended it and has no plans to renew it until he sees her for the first time in several years. Their desire distracts each of them from their inquiry and leaves them at risk from a diabolical serial killer.

The first Warriors of the Rift romantic urban fantasy is a refreshing look at the origin of vampires, werewolves and other myths. Fast-paced, the romantic and police procedural subplots deftly balance a strong storyline that starts off with an Arizona newspaper editorial condoning the killing of a vampire and never slows down as Cynthia Garner provides a fascinating take on the supernatural.

Harriet Klausner

Shadows In Flight-Orson Scott Card

Shadows In Flight

Orson Scott Card

Tor, Jan 17 2012, $21.99

ISBN: 9780765332004

Julian “Bean” Delphiki suffers from a genetic alteration, in which his brain is light-years beyond genius, but his body suffers from extreme gigantism; he will be dead soon though he is only in his twenties. He left behind his wife Petra and their normal offspring to leave earth in 2210; taking with him their three infant triplets suffering from the same Anton’s Key disorder (see Shadow of the Giant). Over four centuries have passed on earth and his spouse and their kids dead; while on the vessel five years have passed. Fourteen feet tall Bean is unable to leave the cargo hold. Ender, named after his father’s friend, is a biologist seeking the cure for their genetic illness. His sister Carlotta is the engineer who insures their ship Herodotus functions properly. Finally the third sibling Cincinnatus better known as Sergeant is a soldier prepared for combat.

The triplets find an anomaly of a Formic colony ship that revolves around a planet; inside the vessel they find the Hive Queen dead along with her soldiers. However, they also find living things even as their dying father whom they call Giant reveals his master dream for them.

The latest Ender universe tale is an interesting character driven space odyssey. Readers get inside the minds of the four weary travelers; as the three kids feel the hopelessness of their flight while the Giant hopes rest on a dream for them. Series fans will appreciate the parallels between the earthlings and the Formic survivors while learning how the Hive actually thought when they Formic-formed China. Although the action is extremely muted, Shadows In Flight is a fun tale filled with aphorisms like parents lie to their children for the latter’s sake.

Harriet Klausner

Deadtime Stories: Grave Secrets-Annette and Gina Cascone

Deadtime Stories: Grave Secrets

Annette and Gina Cascone

Starscape/Tor, Jan 3 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780765330659

Amanda Peterson hits the walk off homer, but neither she or her friends (Laura Baxter, Kevin Stewart and Jarrad Clark) celebrate as the ball lands inside 704 Shadow Lane owned by the creepy old witch ”Barnsey”. Her mates tell her to forget the ball that landed right near the shred where Barnsey tosses rat heads by reminding her what the witch did to Luzard and French. Amanda retrieves the ball but bony fingers grab her wrist while the tweener hysterically shouts at her friend to not let Barnsey take her into the dungeon. Barnsey lets go, but a frightened Amanda panics as she lost her friendship bracelet. The four tweeners fear Barnsey will use the bracelet to cast a spell on Amanda.

The friends search in Amanda’s yard, but find a dead squirrel. They decide to bury the deceased in Amanda’s pet cemetery where Ralphie the hamster, Herman the goldfish, and Snitch the canary reside. Jarrod digs a hole when they hear mama. He uncovers a buried doll with no voice box. Amanda learns from her parents the pet cemetery was land that once belonged to Barnsey. The quartet uncovered a malevolence that makes little old lady-witches seem benign as they fear for themselves and Amanda’s five year old naive sister Robin.

The first Deadtime Stories is a terrific tweener horror thriller starring four children whose imagination runs wild, but does not compare to the realism of what they face. While Amanda’s parents insist Mrs. Barnsey is a nice neighbor, the buddies believe she is a witch although Jarrod is a skeptic. Fans will enjoy this entertaining tale from Team Cascone as the Youngers find out what evil truly is.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, December 24, 2011

To Love And To Cherish-Kelly Irvin

To Love And To Cherish

Kelly Irvin

Harvest House, Feb 1 2012, $13.99

ISBN: 9780736943710

In Bliss Creek, eighteen year old Catherine Shirack works at her family’s stand when her Mudder waves from the buggy. Farmer Bob Cramer comes around the road as Catherine’s Dad slows down to make a turn. The farmer’s truck plows into the Shirack vehicle. Catherine watches in horror as her parents die.

The oldest son Luke the blacksmith, his wife Leah and their children return to the family farm. His sister twenty four year old Emma is unable to forgive Bob for the deaths of her parents unlike a forgiving Luke. Emma’s former beau Carl Freiling who left her and their Amish community four years ago wants a second chance with her. Also interested in Emma is widower Thomas Brennaman, a single dad with a young child. Emma’s nineteen year old sister Annie has been rejected by her beau Robert and their seventeen years old brother Josiah has a New Order Mennonite girlfriend in Wichita but now suffers with remorse. Catherine is depressed while teenager Mark handles increase responsibility well and the five year old twins (Lillie and Mary) struggle with taking orders from Leah instead of Mudder.

The first Bliss Creek Amish family drama is a terrific tale as each member of the Shirack extended clan comes across fully developed with different issues though Emma is the star. Whereas Luke adapts seemingly effortlessly to his new patriarch role by concealing his fears, Catherine suffers from severe depression and Emma from doubt as “His will be done!” does not answer her question of why good people. readers will appreciate this strong Amish family drama as the eight offspring grieve and cope differently the loss of their parents in a tragic accident.

Harriet Klausner

Passing Love-Jacqueline E. Luckett

Passing Love

Jacqueline E. Luckett

Grand Central, Jan 25 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780446542999

Since she was nine years old and found the bluebook, fifty-six years old Nicole-Marie Handy loves all things French though she has never visited France. Her dying best friend Tamara makes Nicole agree to a death bed pledge of going to Paris. While her married lover Clint asks her to wait; as he swears he will leave his wife Eleanor to marry her and then take her to Paris on their honeymoon.

Nicole ignores Clint and travels to Paris. There she locates a photo of her dad lovingly inscribed by him to RubyMae, a woman she never heard of. She begins to investigate what happened in Paris to her dad after WWII had ended.

Rotating perspective between Nicole’s modern day saga and RubyMae’s 1940s-1950s drama, Passing Love is an interesting tale of two women coping with betrayal and failed love yet finding solace in Paris. Character driven by the lead female protagonists, readers will enjoy their similar stories linked by her father though six decades apart.

Harriet Klausner

A Town Called Valentine-Emma Cane

A Town Called Valentine

Emma Cane

Avon, Jan 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780062102270

Following her divorce, Emily Murphy drives from San Francisco to her late mom’s hometown Valentine, Colorado where she inherited her grandma’s restaurant. She plans to sell the establishment. Stopping at Tony’s Tavern after her car died, a tired Emily has too much to drink. She and cowboy Nate Thalburg play a game of pool for a kiss. He wins and kisses her and much more until she finally asks him to stop, which he does. Nate drives her to his grandma’s Widows’ Boarding House.

Emily meets the three widows who are kind to her. After breakfast Emily walks to the restaurant, which is a dump. Nate’s brother Josh worries his sibling is spread out too thin doing too much, but he ignores his sibling’s concern as he believes he must prove to his adopted dad that he loves their family ranch. He has not forgotten his biological dad abandoned him and his mom when she got MS.

Emily learns her late dad is not her biological father and wonders who is. Though she plans to sell the restaurant, Emily likes the townsfolk and is falling in love with Nate, but needs to know who her biological father is while he keeps a distance because he believes whenever he is nice to a woman she gets hurt.

This is an enjoyable character driven contemporary romance. The relationship between the lead couple changes in a logical deliberate manner while the prime support cast enhances the storyline. Although the “conflict” is weak, fans will enjoy A Town Called Valentine while looking forward to more visits.

Harriet Klausner

A Secret In Her Kiss-Anna Randol

A Secret In Her Kiss

Anna Randol

Avon, Jan 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780062025807

In 1815 following Waterloo, British Major Bennett Prestwood looks forward to going home to extract his sister from her abusive husband. He did this once before, but apparently his sibling cannot stay away from the brute so he will keep the monster away from his sister anyway he can. However Army Intelligence general Caruthers shows Prestwood a message containing only a picture of a butterfly; except with a magnifying glass shows a message that the Ottoman Empire is building a fort. The artist is British naturalist Mari Sinclair, who has spied for her home country and helped the Greek independence cause. Although he resigned his commission Prestwood is blackmailed into going to Constantinople to help Sinclair complete her last mission.

Like Prestwood, Mari is blackmailed to continue her espionage work. She finds her protector too stiff as he believes in obeying the rules while she prefers bending and breaking them. However, when Bennett realizes the full threat to this remarkable woman, he vows no rule will keep him from insuring his beloved remains safe.

With an exotic location; a terrific lead pairing; and a strong support cast mostly of locals; readers will relish this engaging refreshing Regency romantic suspense. Filled with plenty of action and intrigue, Anna Randol transports her delighted audience to Constantinople just after Waterloo.

Harriet Klausner

An Affair With Mr. Kennedy-Jillian Stone

An Affair With Mr. Kennedy

Jillian Stone

Grand Central, Jan 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451629002

In 1887 London, Detective Zeno Kennedy works for the Special Irish Branch of Scotland Yard whose mission is to prevent anarchists like the Fenians from exploding bombs. He believes a ring of dynamiter aristocrats plan to terrorize the city with bombings in a bid for Irish freedom.

Zeno feels he got a big break on his investigation when he learns his new tenant, Cassandra St. Cloud knows his prime suspect. An artist with a feminist mom the doctor as a role model, Cassie is not afraid or shy to show her attraction to Zak; as he likewise does to her. They begin a tryst but as they fall in love, she learns what caused his original interest and no longer trusts Zak with her heart though she will have his back.

This is an entertaining late Victorian romantic police procedural that grips the audience from the moment we meet the lead couple. The Fenian movement anchors time and place, but it is the relentless diligent detective and his courageous modern day equal who make the first Gentlemen of Scotland Yard historical a heated affair.

Harriet Klausner

Last Man Standing-Cindy Gerard

Last Man Standing

Cindy Gerard

Grand Central, Jan 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451606829

Several years ago, the ambush left Black Ops, Inc. operative Bryan Tomkins dead in Sierra Leone. His comrade in arms Joe Green finds some enigmatic evidence that suggests the deadly assault was not as random as reported. At Fort Meade, Maryland Joe ends his relationship with a stunned heartbroken Stephanie for her safety; as he plans to go solo to Sierra Leone to learn the truth and if what he suspects is real take down his friend’s killer.

Angry at her stubborn beloved, Stephanie is shook when she learns Joe has been arrested for murdering a priest In Freetown. His Black Ops, Inc. unit is communication shutdown as required by a deep undercover mission so she knows she must go solo to rescue Joe. However, someone in the shadows plans to keep the truth about Bryan interred even if that means killing the man’s sister and her lover.

The latest Black Ops, Inc. thriller (see No Mercy, Take No Prisoners) is an exciting action-packed tale that brings much closure to the overarching theme of what really happened to Bryan Tomkins. The key to the fast-paced story line that provides insight into that fatal mission that haunts much of the agents of BOI is the identity of the prime suspect behind the bloody ambush as the romantic subplot takes a back seat to who killed Bryan Tomkins?

Harriet Klausner

A Devil Named Desire-Terry Garey

A Devil Named Desire

Terry Garey

Avon, Jan 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780061986406

Gabriel the Lightbringer archangel asks his fallen brother Samael Divine if taking Eve was worth the cost. Sammy says yes but feels the Father was unfair to damn him but forgive the fools in the Garden. Gabriel asks him if he ever loved; Sammy responds no but believes his sibling needs a realistic view of humanity.

In Atlanta web designer Hope Henderson slashed her wrists after two years of anguish over her missing younger sister Charity. Sammy tells her Charity is alive, but Hope owes her life to him as she begged for the darkness when she tried to kill herself. He offers her a deal. She builds him a special web site by transcribing the Ars Goetia Key of Solomon that will enable his demons to cross over in exchange for her finding her sister.

Gabriel notices a woman with a bright halo and the darkness following her. He follows her, but when Hope sees Gabriel she ignores him, which shocks the archangel. He says he is a guardian and will protect her but unsure of from what. Gabriel is concerned with his feelings for Hope. Sammy tells him Hope belongs to him. Gabriel warns Sammy not to hurt Hope; as the archangel falls in love with this fallen human and he better understands why Sammy fell for temptation.

The story line focuses on the battle between Satan and Gabriel but contains several interesting twists including a deftly developed romance as Sammy knows there is a cost to comingling with the humans and a surprising offspring. Although the action is somewhat muted by a deep psychological look at the key characters, fans will appreciate this creative archangel romance.

Harriet Klausner

Deep Sleep: If Your Secrets Don't Kill You, Your Dreams Will-DyAnna Durbin

Deep Sleep: If Your Secrets Don't Kill You, Your Dreams Will

DyAnna Durbin

P.L.U.M. Readers, May 12 2011, $12.95

ISBN: 9780615306339

In 2006, architect Joel Lee Keys inherited 72 acres in Beaufort, South Carolina. He had no interest in the barrier island as his job and life kept him in Atlanta. However, a promotion to the firm’s new Savannah office has Joel and his fiancée Holly moving into the Beaufort house.

After arriving on his ancestral island, they go skinny dipping; Holly feels welcomed while Joel feels rejection as if the water loathed him. That first night while Holly sleeps like a baby, Joel suffers from a horrific nightmare. Three days later Holly is comfortable while Joel is burning up and out of control. He curses and chokes her. In the mirror he sees James and Rosa Lee together in 1942 though Joel fails to comprehend who they are, the year or what he observes. With the help of her best friend Adrian, his girlfriend Carmen and Erin, Holly begins the war for her beloved against an unknown malevolence; as his true family inheritance is the curse brought upon the clan by their wickedness culminating with the trial for his soul.

This is an exciting creepy horror thriller with a gothic location even if the house is 1970s, an odd seventy-nine years old native son Ned “Silent Night” neighbor, and the wickedness of the WW II era. Joel is the target of revenge for what happened in the 1940s; courageous Holly and her brave dedicated loyal band risk their souls to save his. Readers will enjoy the taut trial of Joel Lee Keys as Shakespeare says in The Merchant of Venice: “The sins of the father are to be laid upon the children.”

Harriet Klausner

Friday, December 23, 2011

Screwing Mother Nature For Profit: How Corporations Betray Our Trust - And Why the New Biology Offers an Ethical and Sustainable Future

Screwing Mother Nature For Profit: How Corporations Betray Our Trust - And Why the New Biology Offers an Ethical and Sustainable Future

Elaine Smitha

Watkins, Oct 4 2011, $19.95

ISBN: 9781780280189

Screwing Mother Nature for Profit comes out swinging from the onset with the opening chapter of a Planetary Crisis: Gambling Our Future as Elaine Smitha pulls no punches and never stops throwing hooks at the government industrial complex. The author uses powerful anecdotal examples like the BP spill to make her case that the world is being murdered by industry. Her first entry in New Guinea is a stunner while the insidious use of designer seeds to control the food supply is shocking. The destruction of the rain forests and wetlands under the guise of progress lead to man worsening horrific storms like Katrina; recent flooding in the Atlanta area shows what one county Clayton did with wetlands to lessen the impact. Ms. Smitha completes her treatise with an argument that going green to save the planet means also going bottom line black. The author’s contends that businesses are a form of a living system (not the activist Supreme Court definition of corporations are people); as such Ms. Smitha claims the business model needs to change from Screwing Mother Nature For Profit to the New Biology Ethical and Sustainable Future concept. With a nod to Rachel Caron’s still relevant The Silent Spring, Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and James Cameron’s Avatar, Ms. Smitha makes a case that we still have time to save the planet and create those green jobs. This is a well written cautionary yet hopeful commentary on changing the business model paradigm to the betterment of the world.

Harriet Klausner

Into The Free-Julie Cantrell

Into The Free

Julie Cantrell

David C. Cook, Feb 2012, $12.99

ISBN: 9780781404242

In 1936 in Mississippi, Millie Reynolds wants to escape the shame of her dysfunctional family. Her father is an angry serial abuser and her mother is a pathetic” nothing mama”. She wants to find a home she feels accepted, respected and safe, but believes that God and people abandoned her so she knows her dream is a fantasy for now.

Gypsies tour the region coming to Millie’s town every spring. She turns to them hoping to find solace. The wanderers help Millie locate a box containing generations of shocking family secrets. Stull unable to break her family chains, Millie feels lost until a tragedy coaxes her to take a chance on life, love and God.

Millie makes this superb Depression Era tale work as she struggles to survive a nightmarish family life. She knows to expect no help from heaven or earth so depends on no one. Readers will relish Millie’s sojourn to escape the vicious mad cycle of family abuse though that means taking a risk by jumping Into The Free life of leaving behind her parents. Julie Cantrell provides a deep inspirational historical.

Harriet Klausner

Lost and Found-Ginny L. Yttrup

Lost and Found

Ginny L. Yttrup

B&H Publishing, Feb 15 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781433671715

In San Francisco Brigitte Bouvier lives for wealth; she never has enough though she is one of the richest women on the planet. Her son Gerald always fears his manipulative mother but avoids her wrath by towing the line; and his wife Jenna did too though she remains a failure to her in-law for not birthing the heir. Recently ailing Jenna has been losing things like an heirloom diamond. She expects Brigitte to attack her for the missing jewel. However, she is unprepared when Brigitte accuses her of an affair with Matthew, her spiritual director. Brigitte threatens to destroy both their lives.

Andee Bell has come a long way since her youth as she has earned fame and fortune, but most important for her peace of mind, respect. She believes business is everything and pushes her boyfriend, Jenna’s brother Jason, who insists there is more to life than just business though his dad owns the Azul firm. However, as the Lightseeker blog angers Brigitte, she maneuvers everyone in her circle, but failed to understand she cannot hurt those who walk with the Lord.

This is an entreating character driven inspirational Christian drama. The cast is solid as each has doubts made worse by the serpent queen of mean who plays off other’s fears. Jenna is a fascinating protagonist who seems like a mouse but readers will learn she roars in her subtle way. Fans will enjoy this contemporary as those who embrace grace can survive anything the allegorical she-devil tosses at them.

Harriet Klausner

The Map And The Territory-Michel Houellebecq

The Map And The Territory

Michel Houellebecq

Knopf, Jan 3 2012, $26.95

ISBN: 978-0307701558

Jed Martin started off as a photographer of industrial artifacts. He turned to taking pictures of Michelin Road maps that became successful as his detached from nature mantra is "The map is more interesting than the territory;" this show brings him Olga in Paris.

The photographer switches to portrait painting focusing on a variety of occupations. He paints his elderly father the retired architect, a bar owner, a duality of Gates and Jobs, and a French author Houellebecq. However as Martin gains fame and fortune, his work is well received as an aloof artist focusing on the captains of capitalism. Over the decades Martin grows increasingly isolated from the world he draws.

With a nod to Voltaire’s Candide, this amusing but dark allegorical biographical fiction satirizes the belief that capitalism is a superior culture in which the market insures “everything is for the best in this best of all possible worlds.” Timely on several philosophical levels, readers will relish Martin’s sojourn as an artist in a capitalistic culture that encourages the individual to seek unconnected betterment at the cost of other members of society; as Martin’s dad says about capitalist morality, the creator is a hell of a good best-selling author.

Harriet Klausner

Another Woman-Penny Vincenzi

Another Woman

Penny Vincenzi

Overlook, Jan 19 2012, $27.95

ISBN: 9781590203576

Near Oxford, England, Cressida Forrest and Dr. Oliver Bergin of New York are marrying tomorrow. Both seem extremely ecstatic while their wedding party families are euphoric over the match. Contented Cressida goes to bed, knowing she will spend the rest of her life as the wife of her beloved gynecologist starting tomorrow.

However, in the morning her parents Maggie and James realize she is not home. As the families panic when a search for the missing bride fails to find her, Cressida’s sister Harriet assumes this is just another ruse by her “perfect” sibling especially when messages from her vanished sibling begin to arrive.

This is a great family drama as the mystery of Cressida grows with each minute she is away while the enigma masks of the rest of the wedding participants begin to crack under the strain. The key to this intelligent complex tale is Penny Vincenzi limits the clock to just two days. Containing numerous subplots starring various members of a strong ensemble cast, readers will enjoy this taut thriller of secrets revealed amidst two tense families wondering why the bride ran away.

Harriet Klausner

Nameless-Kyle Chais


Kyle Chais

Hunter/Gallery/Pocket, Jan 10 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9781439187258

In the purgatorial Nameless realm, they are the Nameless Fallen who are interchangeable with one another as names and individual identities belong to the masters. These Nameless are neither saved nor destroyed as they just exist in excruciating tedium.

One Nameless watches humans in New York City. This Fallen becomes fascinated by the self-destructing behavior of a pathetic gambling alcoholic dying from cancer. When thugs are about to murder this drunk Aurick Pantera for failing to pay his gambling debt, his Nameless watcher possesses his body saving his worthless life. Once inside the human shell the Nameless refuses to leave as the five senses are nirvana. Over the next three years, the new improved Aurick becomes a rock star, continues the psychiatric practice of the body’s predecessor, and wants to date a patient journalist Helena Way. Other bored Nameless observe Aurick and want the same. They are willing to go to war to activate the senses rather than remain in their eternal passive nonexistence prison. Nameless Aurick can join the others which will surely lead to the Null for celestial crimes against mankind or choose his beloved and the rest of humanity.

This is a fascinating cosmological urban fantasy that takes a deep look at the non-life of the “wicked” Fallen. Nameless Aurick is an intriguing protagonist who has found life and love inside the shell of a human loser. Although the Chais celestial mythos at times slows down the entertaining tale of Nameless Aurick, who defies heaven, hell and in between as Alfred Lord Tennyson (In Memoriam A.H.H.) states: "I hold it true, whate'er befall; I feel it, when I sorrow most; 'Tis better to have loved and lost Than never to have loved at all.”

Harriet Klausner

Another Woman-Penny Vincenzi

Another Woman

Penny Vincenzi

Overlook, Jan 19 2012, $27.95

ISBN: 9781590203576

Near Oxford, England, Cressida Forrest and Dr. Oliver Bergin of New York are marrying tomorrow. Both seem extremely ecstatic while their wedding party families are euphoric over the match. Contented Cressida goes to bed, knowing she will spend the rest of her life as the wife of her beloved gynecologist starting tomorrow.

However, in the morning her parents Maggie and James realize she is not home. As the families panic when a search for the missing bride fails to find her, Cressida’s sister Harriet assumes this is just another ruse by her “perfect” sibling especially when messages from her vanished sibling begin to arrive.

This is a great family drama as the mystery of Cressida grows with each minute she is away while the enigma masks of the rest of the wedding participants begin to crack under the strain. The key to this intelligent complex tale is Penny Vincenzi limits the clock to just two days. Containing numerous subplots starring various members of a strong ensemble cast, readers will enjoy this taut thriller of secrets revealed amidst two tense families wondering why the bride ran away.

Harriet Klausner

Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon-Mark Hodder

Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon

Mark Hodder

PYR, Jan 24 2012, $16.00

ISBN 9781616145354

In 1863 British Empire Prime Minister Lord Palmerston wants to prevent the seemingly inevitable world war that will devastate western civilization. He possesses two of the three Eyes of Naga black diamonds and seeks the last one because he believes the gems will give him the power to stop the war from occurring. He assigns King’s Agent Sir Richard Francis Burton to retrieve the third gem; rumored to be buried in the Mountains of the Moon.

Burton relishes the assignment as he remains upset and angry over his failed mission last year to find the source of the Nile which is somewhere in the Mountains of the Moon due to the betrayal of his partner John Hanning Speke. While Burton and his sidekick poet Algernon Swinburne begin their exploration, the Kaiser sends Speke to obtain the third Naga diamond.

With a nod to Jules Verne’s Five Weeks in a Balloon but in an alternative historical Victorian era, Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon is an exciting cross the African continent race. The fast-paced story line focuses mostly on the quirky British pair though the audience does obtain some insight into Speke. Readers will enjoy the convergence of time-stream dissonance with steampunk innovation as Burton and Swinburne conduct the amazing race in their latest expedition (see The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man and The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack).

Harriet Klausner

Boneyards Kristine Kathryn Rusch


Kristine Kathryn Rusch

PYR, Jan 24 2012, $16.00

ISBN 9781616145439

Lost Souls Corporation owner Boss has come a long way from her hermit days when she was searching for artifacts amidst rubble and dust by herself. Instead she now runs a corporation with several employees ever since Boss located that first Dignity vessel and its Stealth Tech (see Diving into the Wreck and City of Ruins). Boss and her crew found the Ivoire, an ancient vessel powered by Stealth tech that was propelled forward five millennia with its mates surviving the time change. Lost Souls and the Ivoire search for clues as to what happened to the rest of the fleet and why this ship and crew ended up five thousand years into the future. They find clues to an ancient battle that might contain the information Boss and company seek.

Meanwhile, the Enterran Empire continues its lethal research into Stealth Tech. As the scientists die from the experiments, one of their former colleagues Squishy destroys the prime Enterran Empire’s research lab, but fails to escape due to a distraction of meeting her former mate. Her only hope to escape empire justice resides with her friend Boss.

The third Boss futuristic science fiction is a fast-paced, action-packed space thriller starring a courageous heroine whose fight switch has her “diving” into some nasty scenarios. The entertaining storyline continues the theme that to the victors go the history books, but that generalization is enhanced by a close look into how the past impacts the present. Although there is some repetition, fans will appreciate this strong intelligent dive into the Rusch universe.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, December 22, 2011

What Happened to Hannah?-Mary Kay McComas

What Happened to Hannah?-

Mary Kay McComas

Morrow, Feb 7 2012, $14.99

ISBN 9780062084781

Her abusive father Karl caught his seventeen years old Hannah Benson kissing Grady Steadman. He assaulted her, but she fled Clearfield, Virginia into the night, vowing to never return.

Two decades later, Sheriff Grady calls Hannah, who lived up to her vow to never come home to see her mom or sister. He feels guilty for not contacting her a few years ago when her sister Ruth died as her mom Ellen could have used help with raising her granddaughter Anna. With the death of Hannah’s mom, she is guardian to fifteen year old Anna. Reluctantly Hannah returns to Clearfield while her high school sweetheart wants her to tell him the truth as to what happened on the night she left her family.

This is an intriguing look at what abuse does to a family as the three female Benson’s feared the wrath of the odious patriarch who learned his abusive behavior from his father. The fascinating storyline follows the anticipated path with readers easily guessing who do what to whom on that night. Character driven, the audience will appreciate Hannah’s version of You Can’t Go Home Again (Thomas Wolfe) even when the truth can set you free.

Harriet Klausner

Cassidy’s Cowboy-Karen Rose Smith

Cassidy’s Cowboy

Karen Rose Smith

Amazon Digital Services, 2011, $2.99


When Cassidy Sullivan was five years old, her only known relative her mom dies. She goes through the swinging doors of the foster care system until she finally stole a car when she was seventeen. An accident got her in trouble with the law, but Tina Christopher, owner of the Twin Pines Ranch in Long Brush, Wyoming, took her in. Now with Tina dead, twenty-six year old Cassidy owns the ranch and has met her twin sister Lucy (see Always Her Cowboy) who she never knew existed until recently.

Cassie agrees to allow Vermont resident Ben O'Donnell, the nephew of Ranch foreman Loren, to stay at the spread for a couple of months with his troubled nine year old daughter Julie who suffers from the abandonment of her mom eighteen months ago. Cassie and Julie hit if off over horses while the rancher and Ben are attracted to one another. However, as psychic Gillian Moore (see Nathan’s Vow) helps the twins search for their biological father, Cassie conceals the one secret that shames her from Ben while this father and daughter know women they love leave.

The sixth Search For Love drama (see Jake’s Bride, Always Devoted and Heartfire) is a superb contemporary due to the fully developed cast. Readers will know the fears that cripple each of the lead trio in forging caring relationships. Whether it is electronic or paper, no one does poignant family dramas better than Karen Rose Smith consistently does.

Harriet Klausner

Love Blooms In Winter-Lori Copeland

Love Blooms In Winter

Lori Copeland

Harvest House, Feb 2012, $12.99

ISBN: 9780736930192

In 1892 in Dwadlo, North Dakota, town postmistress Mae Wilkey worries about the mental health of her nonagenarian neighbor Pauline. Mae notices the increasing signs of dementia and wants to contact Pauline’s family but the older woman cannot remember if she has any. However, Mae finds the name of Tom Curtis in a drawer. She sends the Chicago and North Railway executive a telegram which he ignores as he assumes a prank has occurred. When she wires him again, he decides to go to South Dakota to learn the truth though he doubts he has a relative there.

Tom and Mae are attracted to one another, but she is almost engaged to town lawyer Jake Mallory though they have not set a date after six years together. Mae likes the way Tom treats her fourteen years old younger brother mentally challenged Jeremy and Pauline with patience and respect. Love Blooms In Winter during the Dakota Boom; as Tom, Mae and the townsfolk deal with two train wrecks assisted by an elephant while knowing God is there for them.

This is a warm inspirational Americana romance starring two likable protagonists and a strong quirky support cast. Although Tom is too perfect, fans will enjoy this entertaining late nineteenth century tale as runaway trains, mentally challenged people, elephants and herring leads to the blooming of love in wintry North Dakota.

Harriet Klausner