Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Closer You Get-Kristi Gold

The Closer You Get

Kristi Gold

Harlequin SuperRomance, Feb 5 2013, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373718337

Nine years ago, Brett Taylor began his ascent as a country music superstar at the same time his wife left him taking their daughter with her. Cammie Carson obtains the bus driving position on Brett’s tour. She is attracted to Brett, but realizes that he leaves broken hearts in his wake. When a band member becomes ill, Cammie is drafted as the replacement.

Brett and Cammie become an item even while she expects he will dump her very soon. Still they fall in love, but she remains consistent expecting her heart to break as she knows he has commitment trust issues having failed to move on with what happened almost a decade ago.

This is a warm second chance at love romance starring a charming angel and an emotionally scarred devil. The enjoyable storyline will have readers feeling they are on the bus touring along with Brett and his retinue; while also answering the Lovin’ Spoonful’s question “Do you believe in magic?” with only when love is “in a young girl’s heart.”

Harriet Klausner

Flora’s Wish-Kathleen Y’Barbo

Flora’s Wish

Kathleen Y’Barbo

Harvest House, Feb 1 2013, $13.99

ISBN 9780736952101

In 1887, known as "Fatal Flora" due to her four fiancés dying accidentally before any of them married her, Flora Brimm travels to Eureka Springs, Arkansas seeking a husband. Her Grandmama accompanies her to the Crescent Hotel to attend a masquerade ball where Flora believes number five Will Tucker is her destined mate who will join with her to produce the heir required by her late grandpa’s will to keep her Natchez inheritance Brimmfield within the family.

Pinkerton detective Lucas McMinn pursues Tucker for professional reasons as he insists the man is a thief and more so for personal reasons for what he did to his sister. At the Crescent gala, he sees the person he believes is Tucker with Flora; McMinn assumes she is his thieving partner and they plan something big with so many wealthy attending the bash. Lucas confronts and handcuffs Flora who swears she may be “fatal” to her fiancés, but not a felon while her Grandmama makes it clear to the intruder his behavior is boorish. As they argue over Tucker, the two obstinate individuals fall in love, but to catch a thief stands between them.

The first Secret Lives of Will Tucker late nineteenth century romance is an engaging regional historical due to a strong cast as Flora, her family (siblings included), Lucas and Tucker bring to life the Deep South two decades after the Civil War. Although the entertaining storyline follows the expected path even with a nice late twist, readers will relish feisty Fatal Flora’s Wish.

Harriet Klausner

Love Comes To Paradise-Mary Ellis

Love Comes To Paradise

Mary Ellis

Harvest House, Feb 1 2013, $13.99

ISBN: 9780736938679

In Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, the inferno at the King family farm left their Maem and Daed dead. Following the funeral, two of the King children (Amy with her fiancé and Nora) moved to the much more rigid Amish community in Harmony, Maine (see Living In Harmony).

Nora meets and falls in love with Elam Detweiler. When he moves to Paradise, Missouri, she follows him. As she begins to appreciate the freedom and independence of the Englisher after being stifled by the strict rules of Harmony, Lewis Miller comes to Paradise to persuade Nora he loves her and wants her to return to Maine with him as his wife.

The Second King family New Beginnings Amish romance is an entertaining tale of faith in taking God’s path which leads to joy, harmony and eventually paradise even when one does not understand why bad things happened to good people we cherish and love. The cast is solid as Nora may have moved physically, her beliefs shaken by the tragedy; but Elam and Lewis represent diverse starting over opportunities.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Reservations For Two-Jennifer Lohmann

Reservations For Two

Jennifer Lohmann

Harlequin SuperRomance, Feb 1 2013, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373718344

In Chicago, Chef Tilly Milek opens up Babka, a restaurant serving Polish cuisine. Her life is going great as her restaurant has had some early success and she meets Dan Meier who is attracted to her like she is to him and shares with her a love of food. However, her optimism collapses when the Eater food critic rips Babka in CarpeChicago.

As her dream along with her confidence collapses, Tilly vows to find the Eater and rip his or her guts out. That changes when she learns her Dan betrayed her as he is the anonymous Eater. Dan realizes he erred with how he handled the review as he broke protocol; he also concludes someone inside wants Tilly to fail. Knowing he lost the trust of the woman he loves and may have destroyed an excellent Polish restaurant, Dan tries to make amends.

Reservations for Two is a delightful foodie romance starring two “star-crossed” lovers as critics and chefs don’t mix. The Polish cuisine in many ways steals the show as irresistible Chicago pierogies remind me of the Bronx delis’ knishes. Readers will enjoy this scrumptious contemporary.

Harriet Klausner

Bending The Rules-Margaret Watson

Bending The Rules

Margaret Watson

Harlequin SuperRomance, Feb 1 2013, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373718320

Restaurant owner Nathan Devereux and Department of Children and Family Services social worker Emma Sloan meet at the teen center FreeZone, which his sister Frankie and her beloved Cal established. She notices his limp, which Frankie says came from a car hitting him. Frankie also teases Emma as she, Cal and others saw how the social worker and Nate looked at each other. Meanwhile his FBI brother Patrick asks Nate for documents related to his restaurant.

CPD Officer Trenton calls Emma to inform her that her best friend single mom Sonya Michaels died suddenly while riding a bus. Emma, licensed as a foster parent, takes in Sonya’s grieving teenage daughter Harley. Lawyer David Sanders tells Emma that Sonya named Harley’s biological father, Nathan Devereux. Having handled paternity cases for DCSF, Emma tells a stunned Nathan and a shocked Harley. Nate knows Emma wants to adopt Harley, but he wants in the life of his offspring; and for that matter her foster parent too.

Though a father not knowing he sired a child is an old theme, Margaret Watson provides an engaging family drama starring three likable lead characters struggling with what Sonya left behind and a strong support cast. A taut fresh subplot involving a menace to the extended Devereux family and anyone in their sphere enhances the contemporary with suspense; as Nate fears his presence in the lives of the two new women he just met and loves places them in danger.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, January 28, 2013

Love’s Journey Home-Kelly Irvin

Love’s Journey Home

Kelly Irvin

Harvest House, Feb 1 2013, $13.99

ISBN: 9780736953184

In Bliss Creek, for the seven years since her spouse died widow Helen Crouch supports herself and her children by selling her jams and canned goods. Lately she has been disappointed with the out of control behavior of her only son sixteen year old son Edmond during his rumspringa. At a gathering, Helen and her daughters meet newcomer widower Gabriel Gless and his eight children who left Indiana to reduce Englisher influence on the kids. Everyone seems to be getting along until Edmond driving a buggy recklessly almost runs over Gabriel’s young daughter Isabelle.

Widow Annie Plank loves her fourteen month old son Noah who reminds her of her late David (see A Heart Made New). She assumes no one will ever replace him in her heart until Gabriel’s oldest son Isaac enters her bakery. As Annie wonders whether God has given her a second chance at love, Gabriel and Helen fall in love but each struggles to bury their respective beloved spouses.

The latest Bliss Creek Amish drama (see To Love and to Cherish) is a terrific entry that has more stories than the two above as a crippling drought threatens to destroy the community. Character-driven by an ensemble cast, readers will enjoy returning to Bliss Creek; a place where family values are more than a meaningless political bumper sticker as what happens to one person matters to all.

Harriet Klausner

A Dream For Tomorrow-Melody Carlson

A Dream For Tomorrow

Melody Carlson

Harvest House, Feb 1 2013, $13.99

ISBN: 9780736948739

In 1856 widow Elizabeth Martin decided to fulfill the dream she and her late husband James shared of moving to Oregon Country where her brother-in-law and his family lives. James’ parents and Elizabeth’s brother Matthew Dawson agreed to join her, her two children (Jamie and Ruth) and her freed slave Brady visit her parents for Christmas. By 1857 the Dawson Party in three modified prairie schooners joined a wagon train heading west.

As the trek heads into dangerous territory, Elizabeth and wagon train scout Eli Kincade are attracted to one another, but both have doubts. Also interested in the widow is widower Will Bramford, a Boston lawyer with three teens. In Oregon Territory, the travelers go to their separate destinations with the Dawson Party sailing south along the Pacific coast.

The second Homeward on the Oregon Trail (see Westward Hearts) is a fabulous mid nineteenth century Americana due to a strong cast and vivid scenery that readers will believe we traverse rushing rivers and snowcapped mountains. Elizabeth holds the engaging storyline together with her belief in the Lord enabling her to overcome hardship, fears and doubts especially when some travelers prove duplicitous and ugly. The relationships between Elizabeth and her extended family and her with the two men attracted to her add depth enhancing a strong historical fiction.

Harriet Klausner

That Night on Thistle Lane-Carla Neggers

That Night on Thistle Lane

Carla Neggers

Mira, Jan 29 2013, $7.99

ISBN 9780778314202

In Knights Bridge, Massachusetts, librarian Phoebe O’Dunn lends vintage dresses she found in in the library’s attic to her sister Maggie and their BFF Olivia Frost so she can attend a charity ball in Boston. Phoebe will not attend though Olivia’s fiancé, Dylan McCaffrey, invited her too.

Dylan’s BFF San Diego based NAK CEO Noah Kendrick calls Loretta Wrentham about a stalker, but she knows nothing. He goes to the ball dressed as a swashbuckler where he meets Phoebe who changed her mind. They dance and kiss though neither knows who the other is; she is his princess and he is her swashbuckler. When Noah takes a call, she leaves but overhears someone on a cell talking about her and her swashbuckler. Later Noah asks Dylan and Olivia if they know who his princess is. Instead of flying home as he planned, Noah remains in town seeking his princess. When they meet again, she realizes he is her swashbuckler and he knows she is his princess. As they and others identify who stalks him and research who left the dresses and more in the library, Phoebe and Noah fall in love.

The latest Knights Bridge tale (see Secrets of the Lost Summer) is an enjoyable romance due to the fully developed ensemble cast enabling a close look at relationships in a small New England town (and to a lesser degree Southern California). The resolution of the dress making mystery is brilliant yet simple while the stalker suspense fizzles. Contemporary fans will enjoy spending that night and much more on Thistle Lane.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, January 27, 2013

All Natural Murder-Staci McLaughlin

All Natural Murder

Staci McLaughlin

Kensington, Feb 5 2013, $$7.99

ISBN: 9780758275011

Ex-Silicon Valley copywriting hot shot, Dana Lewis enjoys life as a marketing expert and all around laborer cleaning cabins and duckling herding at the O’Connell Organic Farm and Spa; Dana also loves quality time with her boyfriend Jason who is reporter for the Blossom Valley Herald. The only two negatives on her serenity are her drama queen sister Ashlee and the creative food Zennia gets from “Torture Cuisines R Us” that she serves to crash dummies like Dana.

When someone murders Monster Truck driver Bobby Joe Jones, the cops question his girlfriend Ashlee; as her Facebook entry and witnesses at the Fairgrounds heard her say she will kill him for cheating on her; her responses increase the belief she killed the victim. Though she prefers to stay out of a homicide investigation, Dana knows how it feels being the prime suspect (see Going Organic Can Kill You). Additionally, her mom and sister badger her so over personal objections, Dana investigates the murder seeking a motive that has nothing to do with Ashlee’s out of control superego.

This Blossom Valley mystery is an entertaining whodunit as the heroine finds her inquiry places her in danger while Ashlee flits and flirts her way through life. Although a critical cleaning coincidence that feels unlikely occurs, the amateur sleuth audience will enjoy Dana’s quirky friends and family encouraging her to step into the pig sty and challenge Monster Trucks.

Harriet Klausner

Austensibly Ordinary-Alyssa Goodnight

Austensibly Ordinary

Alyssa Goodnight

Kensington, Jan 29 2013, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758267450

Cate Kendall teaches high school English in Austin, Texas. Her favorite author is Jane Austen whose novels she uses in her classes. Though she dreams about an Austen brooding male sweeping her off her feet at a ball, Cate feels alone as she has no Darcy in her life and feels jealous of Elizabeth; though she enjoys her weekly scrabble games with teacher Ethan even if she never wins.

When Cate obtains a journal in which she writes an entry followed by something odd as if the book has ties to Jane Austen. Suddenly following Austen advice, Cate attends galas where she meets a mysterious brooder while noticing Ethan acting different towards her. From none to two admirers almost overnight, Cate will need Austen, Texas style, to navigate her romances.

The latest Austen in Austin romance (see Austentatious) is an engaging tale as Cate finds her groove confusing rather than enlightening but with Jane to guide her through the fog of relationships. Although the storyline starts very slow (may be a down side to the unique approach as Austentatious v likewise) as readers meet Cate, once the teacher has the journal and Jane as her coach, the plot accelerates from Austensibly Ordinary to Austensibly fabulous.

Harriet Klausner

The Forgotten Queen-D.L. Bogdan

The Forgotten Queen

D.L. Bogdan

Kensington, Jan 29 2013, $15.00

ISBN: 9780758271389

Margaret Tudor understood early in her life that she was a pawn to help her younger brother the “treasured heir” Prince Henry especially when he sits on the English throne. Thus she accepts her fate as a young teen when her father King Henry VII arranges her marriage to King James IV of Scotland. To her amazement, Margaret loves her spouse and a country she grew up to believe were barbarians to the north. A decade together, they have a son who becomes king when James dies during a battle at Flodden Field against King Henry VIII. Her goal changed to insuring her son sits on the Scottish throne and she becomes entangled with the Earl of Argus.

The latest Tudor D.L. Bogdan historical (see The Sumerton Women) focus on the oldest sister of King Henry VIII. Margaret is a fascinating individual who does her duty, but adapts with each change in the stormy winds. Filled with vivid detail, readers will feel they are in late fifteenth and early sixteenth century England but mostly Scotland. Tudor fans will appreciate The Forgotten Queen whose legacy is her great-grandson’s Union of the Crowns when he became King of Scotland, England and Ireland.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, January 26, 2013

When She Said I Do-Celeste Bradley

When She Said I Do

Celeste Bradley

St. Martin’s, Jan 29 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9781250016126

In 1816, the storm in the Cotswolds swelled the river pouring vast amounts of water over a bridge and flooding the carriage carrying the Worthington family from London. Calliope, her brother Dade, their Mama and their now unconscious dad seek shelter in a nearby seemingly abandoned mansion.

However, the dusty abode has a resident, cynical recluse Ren Porter who watches the Worthington brood make themselves at home. While her parents sleep and her sibling went back outside to help their manservant Morgan with the horses, Ren’s first reaction to Calliope is she is an angel until he sees her taking a pearl necklace. Revealing himself to her, Ren demands his angelic thief pay for the jewelry. His price is marriage and nights of lovemaking for each pearl. Although frightened of her host after seeing his monstrous scarred visage, Calliope steps between her brother and the hermit as they begin a duel. She intercedes by stating to her family and the beast that she accepts his proposal. After marrying in nearby Amberdell village, the newlyweds settle in his mansion. As the pair fall in love, a killer obsesses over eliminating an obstacle.

This entertaining Regency fairy tale romance stars a brave spinster, a hermitic caring “monster” and a maniacal compulsively-driven villain whose motive seems over the top of Cleeve Hill yet enhances the delightful storyline. Readers will enjoy what happens after the Beauty said I do to the Beast.

Harriet Klausner

Reunion-Mary Daheim


Mary Daheim

Camel Press, Feb 1 2013, $16.95

ISBN: 9781603818896

In 1860 Massachusetts, business mogul Marcus Farrar arranges a marriage for his headstrong daughter Serena to sea Captain Brant Parnell, who needs money to save his ship. Outraged by her father selling her to a fortune hunter, Serena makes it clear to both men she does not wish to marry him; instead she wants to become a reporter in Springfield though she settles for the New Bedford Mercury.

After they wed, Serena’s rejection sends an angry Brant back to the sea while a scandal ends her journalism career. Fleeing New England to stay with her sister Cecelia, who is married to a half black in New Bern, North Carolina, Serena obtains a local reporter position seeking the truth. As war breaks out and her cousin provides medical care to both sides, Brant arrives in town to see his wife who he loves in spite of her condemnation of him.

This is a reprint of an engaging 1980s release Pride’s Captive as the storyline focuses on northerners residing inside the Confederacy while married to southerners. The three female blood relatives and their mates bring alive the Civil War in North Carolina. Although the vile sadistic Stanbroke siblings add tension, they are stratospherically over the top of Mount Mitchell with their stereotypical maliciousness. Fans will enjoy Mary Daheim’s historical over a century and a half, and across the continent from Hillside Manor.

Harriet Klausner

Sex And The Single Fireman-Jennifer Bernard

Sex And The Single Fireman

Jennifer Bernard

Avon, Jan 29 2013, $5.99

ISBN: 9780062088987

As she has done for the past thirteen Thanksgivings, Sabina Jones turns up the volume while fleeing San Gabriel, California for Reno hoping her mom will finally call her. She receives a ticket for running a red light and a lecture from single dad Rick Roman who calls her insane for drowning out his first call with his son in two thousand miles.

A few days later, Rick arrives at the San Gabriel fire station as the new captain. Rock hard when it comes to enforcing the rules, he was hired to end the "Bachelor Firemen" (see One Fine Fireman) ending up as centerfolds in the tabloids. One of his firefighters is Sabrina. Attracted to each other, Rick tries to control his libido unaware that Sabrina feels the same way about their attraction and their desire to keep the distance; in her case exposure of her famous past could end her firefighting career.

The latest Bachelor Firemen tale is an amusing romance between two obstinate firefighters proclaiming not to be in love while the strong support cast knows otherwise from the heat they emit. Fast-paced, readers will appreciate two firefighters fighting the fire in their respective hearts that they cannot put out.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, January 25, 2013

How To Get Over Your Ex-Nikki Logan

How To Get Over Your Ex

Nikki Logan

Harlequin Kiss, Jan 22 2013, $2.59

ISBN: 9780373207022

On Valentine’s Day in London at Radio EROS, Georgia Stone proposes to Daniel. To her chagrin, he says no. EROS station manager Zander Rush feels for Georgia having been jilted, but his sympathy only goes so far as he must face advertisers seeking happily ever after. Thus he demands she complete her one-year contractual obligation though both thought it would involve her wedding plans.

Instead Zander plans to turn naive Georgia into a sympathetic heroine while leaving Daniel looking shallow. She agrees to allow the station follow her exploits as she moves passed the on air REJECTION. With Zander at her side, Georgia enrolls in spy and belly dancing classes even as he begins to wonder if he could be Prince Charming with Georgia as his happily ever after soul mate.

This is a fun British coming of age frolic as humiliated Georgia finds her groove over the year. Zander proves adept and flexible by turning a PR disaster into a win-win-win for the station, him and Georgia. The romance is sweet and slow like it needs to be as the storyline focuses on the greater relationship between the protagonists. Although reality radio seems so late 1930s Orson Wells as TV or the Net would be better venues, fans will enjoy how Georgia got over her ex by finding real love.

Harriet Klausner

Shadowkiller-Wendy Corsi Staub


Wendy Corsi Staub

Harper, Jan 29 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780062070326

In Glenhaven Park, New York Allison and Mack MacKenna feel as if the nightmares are over. She finally has moved passed her encounter a decade ago with the Nightwatcher and him with being a potential serial killer as a Sleepwalker. Instead they enjoy suburban Westchester County while raising their children. In fact she muses her biggest issue is to finish the novel before her book club meeting in three hours.

However, neither is aware of a murder on Saint Antony Island in the Caribbean that will haunt them as Allison’s dark childhood past comes home to roost. A raging someone brutally ripped the face off a Jane Doe victim with the only clue a faded photo. This vicious killer deploys plans to remind Allison of their shared past; which returns NYPD Detective Rocky Manzillo into the Mackenna family.

The latest MacKenna-Manzillo tale (see Sleepwalker and Nightwatcher) is a taut twisting thriller that grips the audience from the opening suspense in the Caribbean until the final stunning confrontation. Action-packed, readers will relish this tense climax to an exciting trilogy although the finish is over the top of Bailey Mountain.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Heatseeker-Lucy Monroe


Lucy Monroe

Kensington Brava, Jan 29 2013, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758242037

Goddard Project (see Deal With This) agent Rachel Gannon worked undercover in Helwan near Cairo to end the illegal operations of sadistic Egyptian Abasi Chuma. However, her informant inadvertently gave away her cover. In the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, her captors torture Rachel using three minutes of electricity at consistent intervals, but she refuses to give them information beyond screaming out the name of the US Marine she loves who failed her a decade ago.

No longer a marine, Kadin Marks leads an Atrati team of mercenaries to rescue Rachel. Complicating matters, she refuses to leave willingly unless her informant is protected as her sister’s suicide still haunts her since she blames herself for not being there for her. Still when Kadin and his unit succeed in extracting her, she tries to persuade the man she never stopped loving that the prize of destroying Chuma and his unknown partner are theirs for the taking.

This is an exciting black ops romantic thriller with two pairs of loving coupling (besides the protagonists, two male team members are an entry though one of them refuses to come out of the closet and tell his family). The engaging romances provide a deep look into the respective psyches of the lead couple and to a lesser degree the gay pair; though these relationships feel out of place while on a black ops mission. Still readers will enjoy the Lucy Monroe’s entertaining “Road to Morocco” (and Egypt).

Harriet Klausner

Demon Hunting In A Dive Bar-Lexi George

Demon Hunting In A Dive Bar

Lexi George

Kensington Brava, Jan 29 2013, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758263131

In Hannah, Alabama, hybrid demon-human Rebekah "Beck" Damian own and runs a dive that employs the gamut of paranormal species serving the gamut of paranormal species; this includes allowing Wampus Kitty inside her establishment though she hurts business with her gloom and doomsday soliloquies frightening the patrons, staff and even somewhat Beck. However her open door policy becomes challenged when Conall Dalvahni demon hunter enters as his kind is at war against her paranormal half.

To their respective chagrin, Beck and Conall are attraced to each other though neither trusts the other. Allegedly Conall searches for a mega-powerful demon-possessed weapon which his prey supposedly possesses that the hunter believes would result in genocide of his kind. As the odd couple fall in love, both know their natural inclination is to kill their beloved and grieve afterward.

The third Demon Hunting urban fantasy (see Demon Hunting In Dixie and Demon Hunting In The Deep South) is a fabulous action-packed thriller due to Lexi George’s ability to make her paranormals appear genuine. The star-crossed lovers are beloved enemies as everyone knows that a demon hunter and a half demon make war not love. While the protagonists fall in love, the overarching theme also moves forward as Beck’s brother Tommy would testify. Filled with danger and jocularity, fans will enjoy stopping at an equal opportunity dive bar in Sweet Home Alabama (Lynyrd Skynyrd).

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Seventh Victim-Mary Burton

The Seventh Victim

Mary Burton

Zebra, Jan 29 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9781420125054

Seven years ago, the Seattle Strangler murdered six women who he placed in white dresses. The seventh victim was about die when a car honked and men shouted; seconds away from killing photographer Lara Church, the Strangler considers there is no sense in finishing the job if she cannot see his face; he leaves her alive as he vanishes.

In Austin, after being placed on three weeks administrative paid leave by his captain due to the political uproar over the Misty Gray case, Texas Ranger Sergeant James Beck returns to work to investigate the murder of a woman garbed in a white dress; the second victim in the state in a few weeks. Beck thinks of the Seattle Strangler, who never was caught. He finds out that the sole survivor Lara Church resides in Austin, which probably is the reason the serial killer apparently left the Pacific Northwest and surfaced in Texas. Beck warns Lara and pleads with her to help him end the killing spree as he insists he will keep her safe while thinking of what happened to ten year old Misty. However, Lara has been on the run since with her only companion her car as she does not want to return to her darkest moment when she was seconds from death.

The triangle lead cast turns The Seventh Victim into a great taut suspense. The serial killer is diabolical; the title character strong yet suffering from PTSD; and the dedicated Ranger risking his life to protect the photographer and catch the Strangler. With a terrific deadly twist adding tension to a gripping storyline, readers will appreciate Mary Burton’s thriller.

Harriet Klausner

The Importance of Being Wicked-Victoria Alexander

The Importance of Being Wicked

Victoria Alexander

Zebra, Jan 29 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9781420117073

In 1887, cousins Grayson Elliot (see What Happens At Christmas) and Viscount Winfield Elliott stare at the fire damage done to the latter’s Fairborough Hall. Gray insists it is not too bad and Winfield keeps reminding himself it could be worse until the worst occurs when the roof collapses.

Though she hides from her family her running of her late husband’s building construction firm, Lady Miranda Garret is an active earnest owner. Win hires her firm unaware that Miranda will design and supervise the renovation. Miranda knows of Win’s reputation having ended three engagements, but when they meet she is attracted to the Lothario and him to his architect. As they play a game of wicked desire, they fall in love, but neither is prepared to be first to change the rules of engagement.

The latest Millworth Manor Victorian romance is an entertaining gender war starring two witty protagonists who sub-genre fans will adore. Fast-paced and somewhat wild especially the horde moving into the nearby the dower house, Victoria Alexander provides her audience with a wonderful historical.

Harriet Klausner

Travis-Georgina Gentry


Georgina Gentry

Zebra, Feb 5 2013, $6.99

ISBN: 9781420121681

In 1889 Texas Ranger Travis Prescott follows the Grande Kid who killed a Ranger into Red Rock, Kansas while the townsfolk celebrate the land run. In a showdown, Prescott kills the Kid but takes a bullet to his wrist. Doc tells him a piece of steel is lodged inside that he cannot take out and that his gun-drawing days are over. Prescott begins the depressing journey home as he has no idea what he will do now that he is no longer a Ranger.

Saloon girl Violet LaFarge finds four abandoned young orphans when the eleven year old oldest asks her to adopt them and a dog. Determined to find them a home, Violet believes the Ranger who she saw take out the Kid is what she needs to keep her make-shift family safely together. Pretending to be a young teen, Violet cons Travis into helping them get to Texas. As he escorts the quintet, Travis finds his thoughts disturbingly focusing on Violet. She, in turn, falls in love with their protector even as a gambler and his gunslinger pursue her.

The latest Texans western romance (see Colt and Rio) is a thrilling tale starring a wounded warrior, a jaded woman in disguise, four precocious kids and a dog. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment the young quartet asks Violet to adopt them and never slows down until a final confrontation with a nice twist. Sub-genre fans will appreciate this entry as Travis and Violet disagree with E.C. Fields’ wry comment to “never work with animals or children," as they love each other and their charges.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Affair-Colette Freedman

The Affair

Colette Freedman

Kensington, Jan 29 2013, $15.00

ISBN: 9780758281005

In Boston, Kathy and Robert Walker have been married for almost two decades. They have two children (Brendan and Theresa) and a successful film documentary company R&K Productions. Needing a mailing address to send a perfunctory card, Kathy looks it up in Robert’s phone book. In his book, she finds the one name she thought deleted from their lives, Stephanie Burroughs. Several years ago Kathy believed Robert was having an affair with Stephanie and decides this time to find proof rather than just confront him as she did the last time. However, he has made conclusions about their marriage and their film company that he conceals from his wife.

Rotating perspective between the wife, the lover and the man who loves both of them, The Affair is a deep look at relationships. Character driven by the triangle, readers will be spellbound by the often illogical emotional musings of the protagonists as none of the lead trio is a bad person; only confused humans.

Harriet Klausner

No Mercy-Jenna McCormick

No Mercy

Jenna McCormick

Kensington Aphrodisia, Jan 29 2013, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758287557

Gia the pilot is at a bar on a planet so far from earth, she can’t exchange currency; instead a barter system thrives. Since she wants sex she needs a way to persuade Los the bartender to scratch her itch on her ship. An empath like every native, Los declines as he needs more than a one night stand to satisfy him; which leaves her to believe she is the serpent in Eden. Making matters worse is when euphoric Gen calls her as Gia is jealous though happy that her friend has found divine ecstasy with Rhys (see No Limits).

Gia and Zan the space pirate meet and feel a strong attraction. They share the best sex either ever has had, but her reactions frighten and embarrass Gia. However, during an incredible carnal encounter, Gia’s health guard fails flooding her with her partner’s memories. Knowing his darkest secret and on the run with him, other tsuris follows them until they are at the mercy of his abusive father.

No Mercy is an enjoyable erotic science fiction romance as long as the audience accepts various intercourse (same sex, ménage a trois and especially the lead couple) occurring frequently including during improbable moments. Still with a wonderful lead couple, a sadistic vile villain and a strong support cast, fans will relish the fun erotic adventures of the pilot and the pirate.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, January 21, 2013

Reunion at Red Paint Bay-George Harrar

Reunion at Red Paint Bay

George Harrar

Other Press, Jan 29 2013, $14.95

ISBN 9781590515457

In Red Paint, native son Simon Howe owns and edits the Red Paint Register. As they go out to dinner leaving their son Davy alone for the first time, his wife Amy teases him about the newspaper, which carries stories from UFO sightings to terrorist landings to town hall meetings; the residents enjoy the fiction over the news.

However, Simon’s idyllic life becomes disturbed when he begins receiving postcards from someone slowly coming to Red Paint. This unknown person seems to know Simon and accuses him of wrong doing at a graduation party in which the editor was so intoxicated he barely remembers anything. Simon remains unsure who has targeted him except that the culprit apparently is a former local seeking revenge against Simon. After seeing a psychologist, using the name Paul Chambers and believing God sent him on an eye for an eye mission, the postcard writer comes to Red Paint, Maine.

The suspense grips the audience from the arrival of the ignored first postcard and never slows down as readers anticipate a final showdown between Paul and Simon at Red Paint. Part of the tautness is the contrast between the obsessively driven Paul and the serene "Friendliest Town in Maine" especially Simon’s family. The series of confrontations escalates the tension; however the key players act seemingly out of character (though one could argue under pressure changes people from their norm). Still readers will appreciate the Reunion at Red Paint Bay of Paul and Simon.

Harriet Klausner

Crazy Thing Called Love-Molly O’Keefe

Crazy Thing Called Love

Molly O’Keefe

Bantam, Jan 29 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780345533692

Madelyn Baumgartner was excited when the hometown Pittsburgh Pit Bulls drafted her sweetheart Billy Wilkins in the second round. A couple years later, he became the team’s enforcer with a flash temper at the cost of his marriage. Fourteen years after being called up, he plays for the losing Dallas Mavericks whose coach Hornsby refuses to use Billy as the league turned away from goons due to concussions, but Billy had not altered his style. After losing a playoff spot, he coldcocks the visiting Boston team’s best player. Hornsby tells him we needed a leader not a brawler.

Madelyn Cornish hosts Am Dallas morning TV show. No one she works with knows she was once the naive wife of Billy “Brawler” so she refuses to be involved in a month makeover of her ex-husband. Billy agrees to the show as a desperate chance to win back what he lost as he still loves Madelyn. As they work closely, he sees the desire in her eyes giving him hope even with her obstinacy of no second chance between them. However, his family remains an obstacle.

The third Texas “love” story (see Can’t Buy Me Love and Can’t Hurry Love) is an engaging contemporary romance. The lead couple is a nice pairing as they fell in love when she was the playground enforcer as a tweener and remains in love though they split apart years ago. With issues of childhood abuse and neglect adding substance, fans will enjoy this second chance at love romance although the NBA especially Mark Cuban will not appreciate the Dallas Mavericks as an NHL team.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Proof Of Guilt-Charles Todd

Proof Of Guilt

Charles Todd

Morrow, Jan 29 2013, $25.99

ISBN: 9780062015686

In 1920 London, WWI officer turned Scotland Yard police inspector Ian Rutledge still mentally suffers from his harrowing experience in the trenches. However one incident remains the prime cause of his battle fatigue; he killed insubordinate Hamish for disobeying a direct order; Hamish “resides” inside Ian’s head.

Based on a suggestion from Metropolitan Police Constable Meadows, Scotland Yard Acting Chief Superintendent sends Rutledge to look into a hit and run accident that normally would be a local matter. Rutledge goes to Chelsea where he learns no witnesses not even the milk man have come forth. The unidentified victim possesses a valuable watch. The inspector tracks the watch to Lewis French, a missing person from a wine merchant family. His sister looks at the body and says he is not Lewis. Rutledge realizes he has two probably unrelated cases: to find a killer while identifying the deceased and to locate Lewis; but guided by Hamish and hampered by the new acting chief, Rutledge’s investigation turns even more complicated when French’s partner and cousin Matthew Traynor arrives from the Madeira office only to vanish too.

Once again team Todd’s latest exciting Inspector Ian Rutledge historical police procedural (see A Lonely Death and The Confession) combines an entertaining clever mystery with a deep look at PTSD during an era when sufferers conceal their ghosts to survive in a condemning society. Making the investigation more difficult is the protagonist’s new boss who rejects any clues that lead away from one of French’s women especially the ex-fiancée. With only Hamish (though less haunting than usual) having his back, Rutledge becomes the next target.

Harriet Klausner

Speaking from Among the Bones-Alan Bradley

Speaking from Among the Bones

Alan Bradley

Delacorte, Jan 29 2013, $24.00

ISBN: 9780385344036

In 1951 in Bishop’s Lacey, Great Britain, church officials are excited with the opening of the tomb of Saint Tancred on the five-hundredth anniversary of his death. However, no one is as enthused with the excavation as tweener amateur sleuth Flavia De Luce the home grown chemist. She has solved murder mysteries (see I Am Half-Sick of Shadows) but not the mysteries of her older sisters or the enigma of her mother.

The Vicar and other adults fail to keep the curious Flavia away. As she sneaks closer to the crypt, Flavia stumbles over the body of the current church organist Mr. Collicutt. Complicating her inquiry is Adam Sowerby, who insists they team up on the Collicutt investigation as Flavia works alone.

The latest fabulous Flavia 1950s amateur sleuth (see A Red Herring Without Mustard, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag) is a superb locked crypt whodunit. Flavia is her usual precocious self as she relishes chemistry, dead bodies and irritating her siblings. Fans will enjoy this exciting historical village cozy as Flavia works the murder mystery, deals with a “partner” and makes progress on her mom’s mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Gates of Paradise-Melissa de la Cruz

Gates of Paradise

Melissa de la Cruz

Hyperion, Jan 15 2013, $16.99

ISBN: 9781423157410

As the London coven has little to celebrate the New Year, Lucifer begins his final assault on the gate of Paradise as he believes victory is now. Supporting him is the powerful sibling angels Abbadon and Azrael, respectively known as Jack and Mimi Force elsewhere, who are assigned by Lucifer to kill their loved ones.

While Lucifer continues his attack, former vampire Bliss Llewellyn and Lawson the wolf team up to liberate his people from hell; Abbadon and Azrael prepare for the right moment for a betrayal. At about the same time Schuyler Van Alen, worried about Jack who she last saw in Egypt, becomes a prisoner in Hell where she thinks the only hope for Heaven and earth resides with doing what Michel refused to do when faced with the same crisis in Ancient Rome.

The final Blue Bloods urban fantasy (see Lost In Time and Bloody Valentine) is a super climax to a strong good and evil saga as the prime subplots are tied up. The cast is powerful from the diabolical Prince of Hell to the Force angels who expect death regardless of the outcome to the heroic sacrificing Schuyler ready to die in hell for a heavenly cause.

Harriet Klausner

Gates of Paradise-Melissa de la Cruz

Gates of Paradise

Melissa de la Cruz

Hyperion, Jan 15 2013, $16.99

ISBN: 9781423157410

As the London coven has little to celebrate the New Year, Lucifer begins his final assault on the gate of Paradise as he believes victory is now. Supporting him is the powerful sibling angels Abbadon and Azrael, respectively known as Jack and Mimi Force elsewhere, who are assigned by Lucifer to kill their loved ones.

While Lucifer continues his attack, former vampire Bliss Llewellyn and Lawson the wolf team up to liberate his people from hell; Abbadon and Azrael prepare for the right moment for a betrayal. At about the same time Schuyler Van Alen, worried about Jack who she last saw in Egypt, becomes a prisoner in Hell where she thinks the only hope for Heaven and earth resides with doing what Michel refused to do when faced with the same crisis in Ancient Rome.

The final Blue Bloods urban fantasy (see Lost In Time and Bloody Valentine) is a super climax to a strong good and evil saga as the prime subplots are tied up. The cast is powerful from the diabolical Prince of Hell to the Force angels who expect death regardless of the outcome to the heroic sacrificing Schuyler ready to die in hell for a heavenly cause.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Lass Wore Black-Karen Ranney

The Lass Wore Black

Karen Ranney

Avon, Jan 29 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780062027801

In 1862 London, Catriona Cameron panics when she sees Andrew Pender at a gala as he is the only person she had sex with and she fears will expose the beautiful “virgin” to ridicule. Riding inside her coach, a shot kills Maisie the horse followed by an explosion. Shards of glass rip into Catriona’s face and her leg twists at a horrible angle as the coach turns over.

In 1863 Edinburgh, Catriona’s Aunt Dina MacTavish worries about her niece, who hides from the Ton and wears a veil to conceal the scars when she must venture outside. Desperate to help Catriona who she thinks of as her daughter, Dina asks Dr. Mark Thorburn to help her niece who she admits is not a blood relative. Reluctantly Mark has no time for wallowing fools as his patients are the city’s needy slum dwellers, but visits Catriona who thinks he is a handsome footman. He revises his opinion of her from self-pitying idiot to someone in need. As much as he heals her, she mends his heart with love. Though he knows he owes her the truth that he is an aristocratic heir, neither is aware someone wants to finish the job started with the killing of Maisie by murdering Catriona.

This is an engaging Victorian romance starring a dedicated doctor and his despondent lost soul patient. The exciting fable provides readers with a strong moral premise by looking profoundly at what beauty truly is. Although the ogre is obvious early on, fans will relish this powerful fairy tale romance.

Harriet Klausner

One Good Earl Deserves A Lover-Sarah MacLean

One Good Earl Deserves A Lover

Sarah MacLean

Avon, Jan 29 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780062068538

In 1824, Jasper Aresley muses over the freedom of being the spare while his older brother Owen will one day become a prisoner to the responsibility of being the earl. However, his hedonist world crumbles when his disapproving father tells him of Owen’s death by angrily stating it should have been worthless Jasper.

In 1831, fifteen days before her marriage to boring Lord Castleton, bespectacled “scientist” Lady Pippa Marbury realizes she looks forward to rusticating with Castleton while performing experiments. Before her nuptials Pippa decides to conduct live scientific “ruination” experiments on the marriage bed with a stunned Cross, the gaming hell owner of the Falling Angel as her research associate; she explains he is a legend when it comes to scandalous gaming, sprits, pugilism, but especially coitus. As they fall in love, he conceals his secret from her because he knows he is unworthy of a woman like his genius Pippa.

The second First Rule of Scoundrels historical romance (see A Rogue by Any Other Name) is a fabulous nineteenth century romance due to a strong cast starting with the brilliant lead protagonists. The storyline is fun from Pippa’s shocking early pronouncement and remains that way until a final confrontation; with Castleton proving to have surprising great depth. In some ways the tale reads like an amusing 1930s (rather than 1830s) madcap comedic romp as fans will appreciate this entertaining scientific look at love.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Blue Bloods-Melissa de la Cruz, Robert Venditti (adapter) and Alina Urusov (art)

Blue Bloods

Melissa de la Cruz, Robert Venditti (adapter) and Alina Urusov (art)

Hyperion, Jan 15 2013, $19.99

ISBN: 9781423134466

Only the elite Blue Bloods attend Manhattan’s ultra-exclusive Duchesne School. However though the students are a special breed as offspring of the movers and shakers, there is a caste system at Duchesne like any school. Below in the ooze underneath the hierarchal ladder is where Schuyler Van Alen and her friend Oliver Hazard-Perry reside or as far from superstar Jack Force or his twin sister Mimi is possible. That is until they change as their reincarnated vampire genes manifest with nightmarish looks as far back as seventeenth century Roanoke.

Duchesne student Augusta Carondolet dies at a nightclub; also there with her were the Force siblings, new pupil bad dude Dylan Ward, student Bliss Llewellyn and sneaking in for the first time Schuyler and Oliver. Soon after Aggie’s death, other Blue Bloods die. As she learns the truth about who she is, Schuyler also inquiries about a schism that goes back to the original Virginia colony as an avenging group the Silver Bloods have begun a killing spree.

This terrific graphic novelization of the first Blue Bloods young adult vampire thriller captures the essence of the original storyline and its high school age lead characters. Fans of the series will appreciate Robert Venditti’s wonderful adaptation enhanced by powerful Alina Urusov’s art as Melissa de la Cruz’s entertaining vampiric teen lit suspense (with two mysteries) comes vividly alive.

Harriet Klausner

The Boogie Trapp-Kerry Copeland Smith

The Boogie Trapp

Kerry Copeland Smith

The Peppertree Press, Oct 31 2012, $29.95

ISBN: 9781614931126

In May 2008; after seeing the black cat with a red collar and a red Corvette, septuagenarian Kerry Copeland Smith thinks back to his childhood when he was called Boogie, short for Boogieman due to all the 6s in his birth. He expected the Shreveport letter that arrived from his childhood late best friend Charles Edward Trapp’s sister Jean; inside is a sealed envelope that Trapper gave to his wife Marlene who had her sister-in-law forward to Boogie; reminding him of his promise to Trapper six decades ago. Boogie knows the time has arrived for him to get off his butt and begin writing what happened to a pair of young teens in 1949 at the Black Creek coal mining town in Alabama.

The thirteen year old friends were having fun when they run afoul of a dangerous predator. Boogie and Trapper fear they will be next as someone has killed and will insure no witnesses live. Instead of kisses with his item Darlene, Boogie (and Trapper) realizes they are in trouble with no one not even the Sheriff or their parents able to help them.

The Boogie Trapp is an exciting historical adolescent suspense with sprinkles of BFF humor. The teen Deliverance storyline brings alive the bygone era of Alabama coal camp towns while juxtaposing with contemporary Florida retirement. However, the keys besides capturing the vivid essence of rural (ironically only 20 miles from Birmingham but years before the superhighway system) Alabama are the cast as Kerry Copeland Smith captures the essence of two teens in over their respective heads (run is their mantra).

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

All That I Am-Anna Funder

All That I Am

Anna Funder

Harper Perennial, Jan 22 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9780062077578

In 2001 in Bondi Junction, Australia Dr. Ruth Becker receives a FedEx package sent from Columbia University. Inside is a first edition of political poet Ernst Toller’s autobiography I am German with a note “For Ruth Wesemann.” Becker thinks back to the 1930s when she, her husband Hans, his best friend Berthold Jacob, Toller and his lover Dora Fabian resisted the Nazis.

Though her short-term memory reflects her age, Ruth recalls in detail what happened in the 1930s. Ruth and Toller were leftists with the playwright becoming head of the Bavarian Republic before the Nazis forced both and others to flee to London. In Great Britain, they were frustrated with their host nation’s refusal to acknowledge Hitler and so relocated in 1939 in New York where they lived in the Mayflower Hotel, which in 2001 is about to be demolished and the reason Ruth got the package.

This is a great historical fiction tale that uses real people who resisted the Nazis in the 1930s. The storyline rotates between Becker’s 2001 observations especially looking back in time and Toller’s 1939 narration. Filled with tension yet leisurely paced, readers will appreciate the courageous quintet and others as they passionately try to prevent Hitler and the Nazis from their extermination path.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Out Of Warranty-Haywood Smith

Out Of Warranty

Haywood Smith

St. Martin's, Jan 22 2013, $25.99

ISBN: 9781250003522

The medical profession universally agrees there is nothing wrong with fifty-something widow Cassie Jones except inside her head. One doctor after another concludes she is a hypochondriac though she complains about arthritis and counters their claims with her twenty-four surgeries and four joint replacements. Cassie desperately misses her late Tom for what they planned to do together in retirement. However, it is medical costs that are destroying her as she has too much income for Medicaid and too little income to pay her bills rejected by her Green Shield Health Insurance provider.

In Buckhead, Cassie meets COPD sufferer Jack Wilson at Doctor Shamlan Patel’s Fungal Institute office; neither likes the other. Dr. Patel tells Cassie she suffers from a rare genetic form of arthritis and an extreme allergy to yeast, mold and fungus. She cannot afford the cure and knows her Antichrist insurance will reject her claims. Cassie tries employment but finds only minimum wage jobs. Deciding she needs a husband with money, she tries dating; that proves worse than her employment opportunities. Her only hope is to marry the one-legged grouch she met in Patel’s waiting room as she needs his insurance and he needs her pristine abode since his farmhouse hoardes tons of dirt and whatever resides in filth.

Out Of Warranty is a biting satire that rips the American medical system through two captured customers. Cassie brings amusing caustic asides while Jack adds likable grumpiness though both at times become irritants (in fairness each stays in character). Mindful of Michael Moorer’s Sicko documentary with a deep storyline Obama could have used a few years ago, Haywood Smith lampoons the essence of the health system in which profit supersedes caring.

Harriet Klausner

Villa Triste-Lucretia Grindle

Villa Triste

Lucretia Grindle

Grand Central, Jan 22 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9781455505371

In 2006 in Florence, Italy, Police Detective Allesandro Pallioti investigates the murder of a WWII “honored hero” Giovanni Trantemento. He soon learns someone is executing "honored heroes of the Resistance" with a bullet to their respective heads and symbolic salt poured into their mouths. Pallioti learns much more about the “honored heroes” who seemingly readapted to civilian life after the war ended and the motive for their murders when he finds Caterina Cammaccio’s war diary on Trantemento’s desk.

In 1943 Italians hear rumors that the country has signed an armistice and Bagdolio fled Rome. Caterina expects her oldest brother Enrico to come home from Rome and her fiancé naval medic Lodovicio to return from Northern Africa shortly and soon after they will marry. However, as the family prepares for her wedding and her mom’s fiftieth birthday, the Nazis arrive. They take over Villa Triste where they incarcerate and interrogate partisans and their supporters while hunting Jews. Caterina’s sister Isabella resolutely supports efforts to force the Germans from Villa Triste.

Rotating eras between the 2006 investigation and the 1943-44 resistance, Lucretia Grindle provides a taut deft police procedural-historical blend. Readers will enjoy Pallioto’s inquiry as he copes with more than a serial killer; pondering “what happens when the statue on the pedestal comes crumbling to the ground” (Blessed Is the Rain by Brooklyn Bridge). The 1940s entries are also top rate, especially the diary, as the war arrives in Florence causing the upper class sisters and others to deal with the occupiers. Villa Triste is a strong thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Mongoliad: Book Three (The Foreworld Saga)-Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey, Nicole Galland, Mark Teppo, and Cooper Moo

The Mongoliad: Book Three (The Foreworld Saga)

Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey, Nicole Galland, Mark Teppo, and Cooper Moo

47North, Feb 26, 2013, $14.95

ISBN: 9781612182384

In 1241, the Mongol Empire horde continues their feral assault from the east on the European Christian countries. Only the Shield-Brethren company of warrior priests seems to offer any resistance to the Khagan Onghwe Khan and his invading army as the Holy Roman Church remains divided with Cardinals split into rival camps each claiming Jesus supports their quest for power. The resolute Shield-Brethren have doubts as they bury with honor fallen comrades like Finn.

From within the Mongol Empire, the desperate few surviving Shield Brethren holy knights (Raphael and Percival the initiates, Yasper the alchemist companion and exiled Old Man of the Rock knight master Feronantus) deploy a drastic dangerous plan to get to the Khagan. While each expects to die on the mission in the middle of the enemy’s ever expanding empire; in the Holy City of Rome the angrily splintered Cardinals turn to Father Rodrigo Bendrito who insists he has found the savior. In Hunern, the Shield Brethren led by Rutger the Quartermaster of the Rock Knight Master prepare for the war to come to them.

The Mongoliad: Book Three is an action-packed climax to an entertaining alternate historical saga. The storyline never slows down whether it occurs in the East, Rome or Hunern; yet also provides insight into thirteenth century beliefs as the forces of Christ are divided while the Mongols appear more monolithically in support of the Khan of Khans. Ironically, the myriad of subplots mostly are tied up in the 700 plus pages, but also several seem short-shifted. Still this entry and its Foreworld predesescors provide fans with a great epic.

Harriet Klausner

My Lord Immortality-Alexandra Ivy

My Lord Immortality

Alexandra Ivy

Zebra, Dec 24 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781420122725

Over two centuries ago, Nefri the most powerful vampire, used the magic of a Medallion to create the Veil that separates the world of mankind from the realm of the undead. Recently Nefri fears an undetermined threat that could destroy both planes. Knowing the Medallion is the avenue for the evil ones, she breaks it into three parts before hiding them amidst three young mortal ladies unaware of what they possess. However, Nefri also realizes three avaricious vampires plan to take the objects; so with the support of the Great Council, she sends trustworthy vamps to protect them.

Sebastian St. Ives protects amulet recipient Amelia Hadwell from Drake Ramone who will do anything to achieve his hedonistic objective of taking what he wants when he wants from the humans. Drake knows the way to Amelia’s piece of the amulet is through her family. She accepts her kind loving brother William is different but their parents want to lock him up so society never sees his gentle craziness. Two males from the other side with polar opposite objectives vie for her attention.

This reprint of the third Immortal Rogues vampire romance is an entertaining thriller starring a strong human female, a bewildered arrogant vampire, a vile villain, and a gentle-souled sibling. Fast-paced William brings freshness to the triangle that otherwise reads somewhat similar to the predecessors (see My Lord Vampire and My Lord Eternity).

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Baby Out Of The Blue-Rebecca Winters

Baby Out Of The Blue

Rebecca Winters

Harlequin Romance, Feb 5 2013, $4.99

ISBN: 9780373178612

Kellie invites her recently divorced (from attorney Rob) BFF since elementary school in Philadelphia, Fran Myers to stay at the Persephone luxurious getaway in Thessalonica on the Greek Riviera built by her husband Leandros Petralia. Fran, realizing Kellie is upset, wonders if her beautiful marriage is teetering. Forced to stop before reaching their destination due to a horrific hail storm and a T-4 tornado, Kellie says she is losing her beloved to new employee Karmela Paulos, younger sister of his late first wife.

In Athens Angelis Corporation CEO Nik Angelis learns of the tornado destroying hotels on the Greek Riviera including suites at Persephone Resort where his sister Melina, her husband Stavros and their infant daughter were staying. Meanwhile, Kellie and Fran learn five people died at the resort. In the hotel garden where they stopped, Fran finds a severely injured baby suffering, who apparently was swept away by the tornado. They take her to the hospital where the infant’s Uncle Nik arrives from Athens to learn his niece’s parents are two of the dead and to see Fran with baby Demi.

This entertaining Grecian contemporary showcases Rebecca Winters’ talent as the grief of Nik (and his siblings too) losing his sister, caring of his niece, and to a lesser degree Fran’s recent divorce takes front and center over the romantic subplot between the protagonists. Adding in the Kellie-Leandros tense relationship to the mix leads to a strong drama starring a powerful cast.

Harriet Klausner

A Memory Of Light-Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

A Memory Of Light

Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

Tor, Jan 8 2013, $34.99

ISBN: 9780765325952

The forces of the Light and the Darkness prepare for the final battle, which appears will occur north of the Mountains of Dhoom in Shayol Ghul. Meanwhile hostilities flare up elsewhere as Talmanes leads a depleted Band of the Red Hand in a fight against the Trollocs in Caemlyn; Elayne had taken much of their force especially the cavalry to the Field of Merrilor where the rulers will decide whether to support Rand al’Thor’s dangerous plan to free the Dark One or kill him before his insanity demoralizes the humans. Regardless of who stands victorious in the Last Battle, The Wheel of Time is moving to end this age.

This is an exciting finish to the two decade old Wheel of Time saga as Brandon Sanderson provides an action-packed final battle (and several precursor combats) in his third effort (see The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight). The battle scenes are top rate while making up the brunt of the 900 plus page tome, but also have a déjà vu sense after several war scenes occur. Not surprisingly, some of the numerous long-running subplots receive short shrift as do key characters and races. Still, this is a well-done climax as several fronts explode while the adversarial forces prepare and meet for the final battle that will determine the fate of humanity as the Wheel of Time turns.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Crossing-Mandy Hager

The Crossing

Mandy Hager

PYR, Jan 8 2013, $16.95

ISBN: 9781616146986

The islanders on Onewere in the middle of the Pacific survived the pandemic Tribulation that destroyed much of humanity. Trapped on the coral off their island is the Star of the Sea cruise ship. Residing on board this vessel are the revered Apostles of the Lamb deities who enforce the Holy Book Rules that the Onewere Chosen and other survivors must obey.

Marym believes in the Apostles and their scripture from the Holy Book. She is elated when she learns she is a Chosen to spread the Word of peace to other survivors. On board the Star of the Sea, Marym sees nothing close to the message of peace and harmony; instead she witnesses rape and murder of the darker skinned Chosen Islanders by the Caucasian Apostles in the name of the Lord; and betrayal including sacrifice of loved ones and neighbors by family and friends. Stunned Marym considers the Apostles are devils using the Holy Book to enslave her naïve believing people to do their bidding.

With a nod to Lord Acton’s wry commentary that “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”, this is an exciting profound dystopian post-apocalyptic thriller. The intense storyline looks deeply into organized religion propagandizing its message to further self-interests rather than that of the flock. The cast is developed and constantly changing as on-board death is the consistent final word for the Chosen. Readers will appreciate this extremely dark tale as the fabulous heroine concludes obeisance means rape and death and disobedience means rape and death.

Harriet Klausner

Scent of Darkness-Margot Berwin

Scent of Darkness

Margot Berwin

Pantheon, Jan 29 2013, $25.00

ISBN: 9780307907523

When Evangeline was a little girl growing up with a single mom in Brooklyn, her beloved grandma “Louisiana” Louise the aroma grandmaster taught her to appreciate the power of various scents. Eva enjoyed visiting Louise every summer in Cyril, New York where she learned about the power of perfumes like placing lavender under her pillow so she could sleep dreaming of her Prince Charming. When Eva turned eighteen, elderly Louise gave her a special gift of a scent customized for her.

Ignoring the accompanying warning that if she opens the vial, her entire life will radically change, Eva places a dab on her neck. Always a background shadow with others before she applied her personal scent, suddenly both genders is aware of her with intensity; even animals want to be her pets. Attracted to Gabriel the student, Eva is euphoric when he falls in love with her. However, strangers, acquaintances, friends, family and cats stalk her for a sniff and a touch. Frustrated with all the adulation, she doubts any of her worshippers care about the real Evangeline rather than just Eva’s scent. That is until Eva meets Michael the artist, who seems to ignore her irresistible aroma.

With an olfactory spin, Scent of Darkness is a wonderful coming of age Bayou fantasy in which a regretful Eva learns perhaps too late that sometimes a person receives what she wished for. Eva is a wonderful protagonist who finds out the hard way that being the “It Girl” magnet proves undesirable. If you enjoy something with a different enticing aroma than the usual sub-genre entry, you will want to read Margot Berwin’s engaging second tale (see Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire).

Harriet Klausner

Friday, January 11, 2013

‘Til The World Ends-Julie Kagawa, Ann Aguirre and Karen Duvall

‘Til The World Ends

Julie Kagawa, Ann Aguirre and Karen Duvall

Luna, Jan 29 2013. $14.95

ISBN: 9780373803491

Dawn of Eden by Julie Kagawa. The Red Lung pandemic devastated much of the world. Kylie is a rare person immune to the horrible disease. As the lethal virus proves even more gruesome to the dead, Kylie finds a slight flicker of hope when she meets Ben. This prequel to the Blood Of Eden post-apocalyptic series (see The Immortal Rules) is an engaging tale due to the lead couple and the Kagawa world.

Thistle & Thorne by Ann Aguirre. Following the toxic chemical spill that destroyed the United States, the affluent and their corporations established safe zones for those who could pay for sanctuary inside of fortresses. Others like Mari Thistle reside as scavengers in the dangerous Red Zone where a friend will kill you for your bottled water. Mari and Thorne Goodman meet and soon uncover a diabolical lethal plot to exterminate Red Zone survivors. The keys to this exhilarating post-apocalyptic thriller are the lead couple and the Aguirre environmentally devastated world.

Sun Storm by Karen Duvall. Sarah Daggot is a storm chaser who is outside when the worst solar flares ever recorded bombard the earth; leaving a devastated planet in its wake. She survives, but the immense radiant that blasted her changed Sarah into a Kinetic, who senses when storms from the sun and elsewhere are coming. When Sarah meets other Kinetics, they team up to prevent the final planetary destruction by the sun. However, to succeed, they need the only dissenter Ian Matthews to join them as they are one short. Sun Storm is an exciting doomsday thriller.

The three novellas contain strong protagonists, fabulous support characters and diverse dark earths.

Harriet Klausner

Sunset of the Gods-Steve White

Sunset of the Gods

Steve White

Baen, Jan 1 2013, $14.00

ISBN: 9781451638462

Temporal Regulatory Authority leader Kyle Rutherford asks his most experienced Ancient Greece time traveler Hesperian Colonial Rangers Commander Jason Thanou to lead an expedition to study the Battle of Marathon. The mission is to answer historical questions and to determine whether any alien Teloi survivors that escaped the Minoan entrapment were involved in the pivotal battle. Jason met the Teloi masquerading as gods like Zeus when he, geologist Dr. Deirdre Sadaka-Ramirez (who stayed behind with Perseus) and historian Dr. Sidney Nagel (who died heroically) traveled to three millennia ago (see Blood of the Heroes). Reluctantly, Jason agrees to lead the expedition consisting of historian Dr. Bryan Landry, soldier Alexandre Mondrago and xenologist Dr. Chantal Frey to 490 BC.

The quartet arrives in 490 BC weeks before the battle. They claim to be exiles from Macedon whose King Alexander I swore allegiance to the Persians. On the road top Athens, Jason and Alexandre see the mythological Pan. As they are given sanctuary by Themistocles, the budding Athenian democracy debates how to defend itself against the Persian military. They soon encounter Zeus and a stunning anomaly in which conspirators are using Pan and the Teloi to achieve their long term objective.

The clever second Thanou time travel science fiction is an exciting thriller that provides a deep look at the Battle of Marathon. The storyline uses too many passive explanations re the rules of time travel and 490 BC Athens though these explicatory soliloquies add a sense of scientific and historical genuineness to the plot. Still fans will enjoy learning the secret of Pan as Jason and his team must thwart a diabolical plot to influence the outcome of the key Battle of Marathon.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tiger by the Tail-John Ringo and Ryan Sears

Tiger by the Tail

John Ringo and Ryan Sears

Baen, Jan 1 2013, $25.00

ISBN: 9781451638561

Ex-Navy SEAL turned Caucasus Mountains Kildar warlord Mike Harmon decides he and his Keldara followers deserve R&R after their efforts in the war against terrorism. However, instead of returning to their home in the former Soviet republic Georgia, he leads his team of Keldara and other retired SEALs like Charles Adams against pirates off Pulau Manghai Island near the Malaysian Peninsular, thousands of miles from their mountainous land.

The mission proves successful especially with the enigmatic find of an unlabeled box containing nuclear reactor computer chips. Harmon knows there is no way these pirates should possess these chips so he tortures information out of pirate Captain Yeung Tony to learn how he obtained them and who his customer(s) and destination are. With leads, Harmon, his SEALs and the Keldara follow a lethal trail leading to Myanmar.

The latest Paladin of Shadows tale (see Ghost, Kildar, Choosers of the Slain, Unto the Breach and A Deeper Blue) is an exciting entry that starts off with plenty of action, but decelerates in the middle before stepping on the gas. The banter and camaraderie between the reoccurring cast is fun to follow while newcomers like teenager Vanel Kulcyanov feel like they came out of the generic Keldara typecasting. Still fans will enjoy this Southeast Asia thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Hooked-Liz Fichera


Liz Fichera

Harlequin Teen, Jan 29 2013, $9.99

ISBN: 9780373210725

Lone Butte High School Golf Coach Larry Lannon consistently watches his team come in last place in Maricopa County, Arizona. Principal Graser warns Lannon if the team fails to improve, he will lose his coaching position and return to teaching history fulltime. Desperate to avoid the dire straits of classroom instruction, Lannon observes a teen girl displaying the most natural golf swing he ever saw.

After persuading her poor Gila River Indian Reservation family he will keep her safe, Lannon arranges for Fred Oday to attend affluent Lone Butte and join the golf team. To make room for his new star, Lannon kicks Seth off the team. Seth’s best friend Ryan Berenger, other team members and much of the school are irate though the golfers acknowledge the Rez female has skills. Fred feels like a complete outsider, but is attracted to Ryan when he is nice though more often he is nasty to her. Meanwhile someone filled with anger sabotages Fred’s game taking the assaults to dangerous levels.

Hooked is a refreshing teen romance starring an arrogant spoiled rich kid and a poor lack of confidence Rez female. The concept of an athletic female playing with the boys is deftly handled as is the changing relationship between the protagonists who rotate perspective though I did not like the change in print to delineate who’s the lead is as that felt like dumbing down. Even with the attacks eventually feeling over the top of the Estrella Mountains, fans will be Hooked by fabulously feisty Fred.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Ambassador's Daughter-Pam Jenoff

The Ambassador's Daughter

Pam Jenoff

Mira, Jan 29 2013, $14.95

ISBN: 9780778315094

In 1919 “the war to end all wars” seems over as world leaders arrive in Paris to negotiate the peace treaty. Margo Rosenthal’s Papa Friedrich, the Jewish Oxford Professor and now a diplomat, attends the peace conference because her maternal Uncle Walther the industrialist supporter of the war insists family be at the table. Papa brings Margo with him to Paris; neither father nor daughter wants to come to France at this time.

Worried about her wheelchair bound fiancé Stefan Oster left behind in Berlin, Margo runs into seething resentment by the Parisians towards Germans. As Margo adjusts to Paris, she meets the daughter of a Polish diplomat Krysia Smok the accomplished pianist, who knows her father’s writings on suffrage and introduces her to others debating the continent’s future. As Margo becomes invigorated by the free thinkers she encounters, she meets German Naval Captain Georg Richwalder who believes the National Socialist Party is his country’s savior. Put in the middle of rage to and from Germany as everyone except Wilson blames her hinterland for the war, Margot must decide between protecting her father, accused of stealing a top secret document, protecting her heart, and protecting her country.

Pam Jenoff’s latest early twentieth century historical (see WW II tales: The Kommandant's Girl and The Diplomat's Wife) provides a strong look at the end of a centuries old social class distinctions torn apart by WWI and at the resentment towards an increasingly upset Germany. Although there is too much improbable happenchance, fans will appreciate the not so peaceful Paris peace conference.

Harriet Klausner

Blood of the Sorceress-Maggie Shayne

Blood of the Sorceress

Maggie Shayne

Mira, Jan 29 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778314219

In 1501 BC in Babylon, the king’s favorite slave Lilia the witch fell in love with the ruler’s right hand man and best friend Demetrius. When the monarch learned of his beloved’s betrayal of his heart, Demetrius kills him to save Lilia. After a search of the harem, Lilia and her two sisters Indira (see Mark of the Witch) and Magadalena (see Daughter of the Spellcaster) are thrown off a cliff to the rocks below. The High Priest Sindar deploys dark magic to strip Demetrius of his soul and banish him to a formless nonexistence in the Underworld.

After three and a half millennia, her two reincarnated siblings returned parts of his soul to Demetrius who has escaped his horrid incarceration. As Lilia sees him for the first time since that bloody day in ancient Babylon, she knows her chance to return and complete Demetrius’ soul has finally arrived. However, he no longer wants his soul even if that means eternal damnation or her love, and besides Sindar, now a demon, stalks them.

The final Portal romantic fantasy is a fast-paced thriller starring a strong lead female, a PTSD male struggling to adjust to a physical world and worse his refurbished feelings besides his only companion for ages: rage, and a powerful diabolical demon. As with the previous trilogy entries, Maggie Shayne casts a spell on her audience.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Power Under Pressure-Andrew P. Mayer

Power Under Pressure

Andrew P. Mayer

PYR, Jan 8 2013, $17.95

ISBN: 9781616146962

In New York, the assassination of Sir Dennis Darby on the Brooklyn Bridge by the Automaton devastated the Society of Paragons. Sir Dennis served as the groups’ social compass; without his ethical leadership, the Society collapses as individuals chose self-interests over the good of the group.

Former member Sarah "the Adventuress" Stanton possesses the steel clockwork heart of her killing friend the Automaton; having hidden the mechanical beater in an obscure Brooklyn junkyard. Craving to gain favorite status from Sarah though he knows her heart is filled with revenge for the deaths of her father and mentor, Emilio vows to reconstruct the Automaton over the objection of his angry victimized sister Viola. Also needing the steel heart to complete his plans to industrialize the world under a thick blanket of smog is Lord Eschaton. His plans near fruition with the creation out of death of the Shell and the capture of Nathaniel, Eschaton must prevent the Adventuress from thwarting his scheme; while she must find a way to bring back together the Society of Paragons enhanced by reformed supervillains and still crazy mad scientists to forge the Society of Steam dream team to stop her adversary from achieving his world domination objective.

The third Society of Steam Steampunk Victorian fantasy (see Hearts of Smoke and Steam, and The Falling Machine) is an exciting tale as the frustrated beleaguered heroine wonders if she made a poor decision when she left high society to join the Paragons with vengeance filling her heart. Readers will appreciate this entry as Fortified Steam serves as the technological base for a fast-paced alternative nineteenth century New York thriller.

Harriet Klausner

The Dark Hunger-Joelle Sterling

The Dark Hunger

Joelle Sterling

Strebor, Jan 22 2013, $15.00

ISBN: 9781593094911

The cursed zombie Jonas LaRoche left his beloved teen witch Holland Manning in America to return to Port-au-Prince to protect his mother and sisters from the money lenders who demand payment for providing the cash for his ill-fated journey to the States. Meanwhile Holland becomes a new student at exclusive Stoneham Academy and becomes friends of Tami, Sierra and Giselle while concealing her only power, vampire killing blood.

While she goes to classes, back in her hometown of Frumbleton, Georgia, vampire Elson Chandler tells his flock that he will replace the missing Constable Sullivan and introduce a power hierarchical change with vampires on top and humans as their blood bank slaves. Former football star receiver Jarrett Sloan becomes enslaved to Elson’s vampiric follower Isene.

At a tea party thrown by Kate Leighton, the hostess bites a guest. In a nearby onion field, the foreman chews on a migrant worker. Soon afterward at the hospital the worker attacks a nurse and a patron in Dunkin Donuts. Hell has arrived in rural Georgia while Holland’s new buddies see her birthmark that affirms she is a first order witch; she proves this further by helping Sierra take back her stolen power from her thieving Aunt Jocelyn while all she wants is her forbidden lover back into her life.

The second Eternal Dead young adult rural fantasy (see Midnight Cravings) is a great entry with several strong subplots (perhaps too many) that anchor the Sterling mythology that make witches, zombies, and vampires seem genuine. Action-packed throughout, the star-crossed taboo romance between the Haitian zombie and the young witch is just one part of a terrific rotating teen horror thriller as Joelle Sterling moves her series forward on numerous fabulous fronts.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, January 7, 2013

When Summer Comes-Brenda Novak

When Summer Comes

Brenda Novak

Mira, Jan 29 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778314233

After learning she needs a liver transplant and that her prospects were slim at best as time was running out, photographer Callie Vanetta, accompanied by Rifle the dog, moves to her late grandparents’ run down farm in the Sierra Nevada Foothills. With no neighbors nearby, she becomes frightened when a man bangs on her door pleading for help. Afghan war veteran Levi McCloud explains his motorbike broke down a couple of miles away followed by dogs attacking him.

Knowing she has little time to live anyway, reluctantly Callie gives Levi shelter while he repairs his bike; in return he will work on the farm. On the run from the nightmarish deaths of his Afghani fiancée and their unborn, and a police matter that means prison time, Levi plans to leave as soon as his bike runs. However, neither he nor his hostess expected to fall in love, but each owes the other an inconvenient truth.

The latest Whiskey Creek romance (see When Lightning Strikes and When Snow Falls) is an interesting tale starring two wonderful protagonists with no future. Although the overall intense storyline loses momentum when the focus turns to secondary characters, fans will enjoy the tale of the dying photographer and the scarred vet who find a miracle in love but need more if they are to count their relationship in decades instead of months.

Harriet Klausner

For The Love Of The Goblin Warrior-Shona Husk

For The Love Of The Goblin Warrior

Shona Husk

Sourcebooks, Jan 8 2013, $6.99

ISBN: 9781402262098

His humanity died when his wife and children died. Once a noble warrior and caring family man ages ago, Meryn the DeCangli was cursed to roam along with his King Roan (see The Goblin King) and Prince Dai (see Kiss of the Goblin Prince) with avaricious Goblins in the Shadowlands. Thanks to Roan falling in love freeing them from their Roman era Druid curse and Dai rescuing him from the Shadowlands, Meryn knows he has a second chance as a human if his mind will let go of his ugly past that he and his former beastly comrades did over two millennia.

In Perth, Australia, Nadine the nurse suffers from nightmares too since her mother died. The cops bring the scruffy looking man (Meryn) with a head injury to the hospital where they ask Nadine if she understand the language he uses as she also speaks French and Nuer besides English. She thinks he uses Latin. As he recovers from his injuries, Meryn and Nadine are attracted to each other, but each has a violent past that makes both reluctant to consider a relationship.

The latest Shadowlands romantic urban fantasy is an engaging entry with the emphasis on the respective fascinating histories of the lead protagonists and Meryn’s struggles to cope with modern society. Fast-paced fans of the series will enjoy For The Love Of The Goblin Warrior though the romance rightfully is relegated to a support role.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Simply Scandalous-Kate Pearce

Simply Scandalous

Kate Pearce

Kensington Aphrodisia, Dec 24, 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758269478

A retired spy, Richard Ross has mixed feelings about how his extended family perceives him as their belief that he is listless means he did his work well but still feels insulted. He recognizes his father’s new wife Madame Helene who ran Pleasure House in London and that his half-brother Christian Delornay does now, but that does not mean he is uninteresting; only grieving the death of his beloved in France.

Former espionage agent Violet LeNy faked her death. She knows the love of her life Richard will be livid when he learns the truth that Vincent Lennox is actually Violet. She realizes she must risk her heart to keep her twin brother Jack and herself safe as only her Richard is capable of protecting them, but has no idea how to regain his trust and his love. Meanwhile, someone blackmails Richard’s sister Emily who loves freed slave Ambrose the House of Pleasure manager, but he refuses to act on his matching feelings as he accepts she is above his social station, he is the wrong race and he cannot afford to alienate his employer.

The latest House of Pleasure erotic regency romance (see Simply Forbidden and Simply Sexual, etc.) is simply an entertaining historical with two engaging subplots involving the Ross siblings. The prime though somewhat thin (except for the hero’s lower head) focus is on Richard and the ghost he loves as they investigate the threat to the twins in between their Simply Carnal renewal. However, it is the Emily-Ambrose entry that is more fascinating as she puts a unique spin to class warfare.

Harriet Klausner

Prince Of Power-Elisabeth Staab

Prince Of Power

Elisabeth Staab

Sourcebooks, Jan 8 2013, $6.99

ISBN: 9781402263187

Vampire and wizards have been at war seemingly forever. The Wizard Master exiles his son Anton to die for failing to perform his duty as the lad is not a chip off the old block since he hates killing vampires to steal their power. However, Anton has one last chance to return home in glory: steal her power before killing Tyra Morgan, sister of the Vampire King Thad (see King of Darkness).

Since Tyra works in a shelter in Ash Falls, Virginia; to gain access to her Anton pretends to be homeless, which ironically he knows he is if he fails his last chance. Anton saves Tyra’s life. Attracted to each other, neither trusts the other as both know their eternal legacy. His species demands he take her power before murdering her; while hers demands the execution of him.

The second vampire-wizard war once again is a complex superb romantic urban fantasy in which the Staab mythological universe seems genuine due to strong supporting characters like widowed vampires and a young female human player. Fast-paced from the moment the star-crossed lead couple meets in the Virginia homeless shelter and never slowing down, sub-genre fans will relish the forbidden romance between the Sister and the Prince of Power

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Taking The Reins-Kat Murray

Taking The Reins

Kat Murray

Kensington Brava, Dec 24, 2012, $9.95

ISBN: 9780758281043

Her older brother Trace and her younger sister Bea fled their amoral widow mom and the M Star Ranch in Marshall, South Dakota. Thus the middle child Peyton Muldoon was left alone as a teen to save the spread that her mom has been destroying ever since their father died. However Peyton is devastated to learn she owns only one third of the ranch as her absentee siblings own equal shares. She demands her late dad’s heir apparent her rodeo brother and soap opera actress sister come home to reach an agreement on her managing the ranch.

Trace arrives with his infant son Seth and no plans to leave; Bea also seems to settle in at the ranch. Meanwhile Peyton persuades highly regarded horse trainer Red Callahan to work for her. Employer and employee are attracted to each other; each tries to keep a professional distance but their attraction proves too strong to ignore.

The first Roped & Wrangled ranch romance stars a determined heroine and a strong trainer who recognizes a kindred spirit when it comes to love and horses though their attraction never quite gels until late as each place saving the ranch over saving their hearts. The secondary subplots involving the siblings enhance the background into the life of Peyton as well as introducing the audience to future series leads.

Harriet Klausner

Battle-Michelle West


Michelle West

Daw, Dec 31, 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780756407957

In the Essaylieyan Empire capital Averalaan, eight weeks have passed since Jewel Markess ATerafin became head of the most powerful of the ruling Ten Houses, Terafin (see Skirmish). Since her rise, four assassination attempts, three by magic, have occurred. She knows how dangerous her position is as her predecessor who named her as successor was murdered by a demon. Her rivals for Terafin covet the seat, but her biggest fear is not feeling ready for the reasonability.

The Kings order an honor celebration for the armies returning home after winning the war to the south; attended by the royal twins, the Ten and the people. During the parade, another demonic attempt to kill Jewel occurs. With help by Meralonne and telepathic advice from Avandar who says she is not ready for Battle with the Kialli as she must accept at times killing is right in order to protect the common good; Jewel escapes by flying on Snow the winged cat. The Kialli pursues while destroying anyone unfortunately in its path. Jewel confronts the demon in the forest near her Family manse. The Kings demand she present herself to them, but she becomes victimized by the pandemic sleeping plague where she must elude the Warden of Dreams and her treasonous Terafin House Council.

Though in many ways Battle is a transition tale in the House War series, fans will enjoy this fascinating entry as the heroine matures in her new role while even taking what she learned about power into the realm of Dreams. The subplots of other players like Meralonne APhaniel and Angel move forward also, but book five focuses on Jewel’s coming of age on the job training in the use of political and magical power.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Last Minute-Jeff Abbott

The Last Minute

Jeff Abbott

Grand Central, Dec 18 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780446575232

Sam Capra understands his comatose former wife Lucy’s allegedly seditious actions cost him his position with the CIA "Special Projects" after she and others blew up the London office killing over twenty employees. The Agency accuses him of abetting his spouse as the lone survivor of the mass murder and his subsequent cleaning up the aftermath while seeking Lucy and their now born baby (see Adrenaline).

He joined the Round Table so that he could continue his activities, but now faces a new personal crisis when The Nine Suns kidnap his baby Daniel. This nefarious felonious group informs Sam if he wants Daniel back he must assassinate the person who possesses incriminating evidence re the criminal activities of the Nine Suns. Furthermore they warn him that if others besides their assigned individual to work with him Leonie the hacker (whose daughter Taylor was also snatched) help him they will kill both infants. His boss at the Round Table Mila understands her subordinate’s dire situation, but decides to assist him anyway as she feels he needs all the help he can garner, a third group targets her and her million dollar wanted price tag.

The latest Sam Capra thriller (see the short story Last Chance) is an action-packed tale with a fascinating moral dilemma as the hero and his new partner know they must kill an innocent individual to save their children. Fast-paced throughout with a strong lead baggage laden trio, fans will relish this Adrenaline pumper enhanced by Mila’s trafficking background.

Harriet Klausner

Redemption-BJ Daniels


BJ Daniels

Harlequin HQN, Jan 29 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780373777570

Jack French spent the last two years in prison doing forced ranch labor after being convicted for cattle rustling, a crime he did not do. After his release, he returns home to Beartooth, Montana with one mission in mind: enact vengeance on the unknown(s) who framed him.

While he did hard time, Kate LaFord relocated to Beartooth where she owns the Branding Iron Café. Beartooth General Store owner Lynette “Nettie” Benton persuades Sheriff Frank Curry to uncover the secrets of the enigmatic Kate and also wants to know more about her mysterious new tenant Tiffany Hayes. Lynette and Frank are attracted to each other though her remaining married but separated from her husband Bob (who resides in Arizona) leaves both hesitating to do more than harmlessly flirt. Having found a murdered corpse, Frank asks Lynette to look at a photo he found on the unidentified body; she confirms it is the dead for three decades Ackermann family. As Kate serendipitously searches for rumored gold that her mom swears exists, she and Jack meet and fall in love.

The latest Beartooth Big Sky romantic suspense (see Unforgiven) is an entertaining thriller as once again deaths from decades ago (and rumored lost gold) keep a firm grip on the townsfolk. Fast-paced from the moment Jack returns home as an unappreciated Good Samaritan and never decelerating, readers will enjoy this taut Montana tale with multiple (perhaps too many) mysteries and one and a half romances.

Harriet Klausner