Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mo Said She Was Quirky-James Kelman

Mo Said She Was Quirky

James Kelman

Other, Apr 23 2013, $15.95

ISBN: 9781590516003

In London, Helen works extremely hard as a night croupier at a casino in order for her Pakistani Muslim mate Mo and her six year old daughter Sophie to survive. On the way home by cab from another grueling day of work, Helen notices a homeless drunk leisurely crossing in front of the taxi with a companion. The disheveled man looks like her brother Brian; a sibling she has not seen in years since she and her family became estranged over her choices. She muses over her mom, her brother, their Glasgow home and her boyfriend Mo who insists “she was quirky” though all she feels is tired and fearful that if she falls further down she will land in the ooze of failure never to rise until the next day when her cycle begins again.

This is a fascinating character study of a Scottish woman trying to keep from drowning though she wants to give up but others depend on her so she keeps treading. Most of the storyline focuses on Helen’s internal thoughts, which are bleak and depressing; as life is a combat sport not worth the fight. Polar opposite of Sutherland’s 24 when it comes to action as there is none; instead we get inside the head of a seemingly ordinary person for one day after a potentially shocking encounter as readers will agree with Mo she is quirky.

Harriet Klausner

The Honey Thief-Najaf Mazari and Robert Hillman

The Honey Thief

Najaf Mazari and Robert Hillman

Viking, Apr 18 2013, $26.95

ISBN: 9780670026487

This thirteen interrelated story collection provides readers with a strong discerning glimpse into the Hazara people though the oral tales handed down through generations for centuries in their part of Afghanistan. The opening tale “Hazara” provides background into a minority people living in a landlocked nation who believe the “tribe is a world.” In the title story young Abbas stole honey hives before becoming a hive-keeper apprentice. “The Life of Abdul Khaliq” revolves around his assassinating a murderous king; followed by “The Death of Abdul Khaliq” when the dead monarch’s son becomes ruler and has the assassin and his extended family and friends hung. “The Cookbook of the Master Poisoner Ghoroob-e-astab of Mashad” is filled with poisonous treats that diners including royals would die for. During the Soviet occupation, Hazara leader Abdul Ali Mazari sends Abbas the beekeeper on a mission of forgiveness; his traveling companions die during an air assault yet he saves the life of “The Russian” enemy combatant. This is a great look at the resiliency of the Hazara people though a rich story-telling tradition.

Harriet Klausner

Taking Chances-Molly McAdams

Taking Chances

Molly McAdams

Morrow, Apr 16 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9780062267689

Harper leaves North Carolina to attend San Diego State University with a sense of freedom and adventure as she escapes from her father the marine who home schooled her at the office even when he was away on a deployment. On the California campus Harper rooms with Bree. Her roommate introduces Harper to her brother Chase and his house mates including Brandon.

All the males adore Harper and treat Harper like a waifish princess who they fear hurting. Harper is attracted to Chase and Brandon though the latter prefers distance from Harper. When Chase dies, a grieving Harper learns she is pregnant while turning to Brandon for comfort.

This is an engaging character study of a military dependent seeking independence for the first time when she goes off to college. Readers will root for Harper to achieve her objective, but also find her frustrating as she makes no progress; instead she depends on a civilian semper fi support group in which everyone holds her up even at the expense of a loved one.

Harriet Klausner

Shadow's Soul-Jami Gray

Shadow's Soul

Jami Gray

Black Opal Books, Jun 22 2012, $11.99


ISBN: 9781937329495

Portland-based Taliesin Security Wraith, Kyn-human hybrid Raine McCord knows she will successfully complete her latest assignment, protecting Northwest Magi leader Cheveyo while he meets with his Southwest counterpart; as the bodyguard assignment is easy compared to the evil she defeated (see Shadow’s Edge). Instead, the task turns ugly when a Soul Stealer abducts Cheveyo and almost kills Raine.

Severely injured with her magic damaged, Raine’s confidence was destroyed when she failed to prevent the kidnapping. Her Taliesin Security Wraith co-worker Gavin Durand tries to help her recover by refusing to allow her to run from her internal fears to including their feelings for each other though she feels guilty for what happened to him at the hands of the mad scientist (see Shadow’s Edge). He insists they investigate the kidnapping in order to rescue the regional chief as someone inside with power abetted the Soul Stealer.

The second Kyn Kronicles urban fantasy is an exciting tale with the relationship between the protagonists heating up during their quest. The entertaining storyline is filled with angst, romance and action within vivid Northwest scenery as various paranormal species come across as real. Readers will enjoy this entry in which the Soul Stealer stole the heroine’s confidence while her peer tries to help her bring it back; though one must wonder whether she proves W. C. Fields is right: "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no point in being a damn fool about it."

Harriet Klausner

Monday, April 29, 2013

From Ashes-Molly McAdams

From Ashes

Molly McAdams

Morrow, Apr 16 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9780062267726

In California, Ty and Cassie grew up as BFFs. Whereas Ty’s parents are nice and supportive; Cassie’s mom and stepdad are abusive drunks. For the next decade Cassie’s parents batter her, but she made her buddy promise not to tell anyone. Ty leaves for the University of Texas at Austin where he will room with his cousin Gage. Cassie goes with him. When Gage and Cassie meet, they each are stunned by their reaction. He also sees bruises on her body. Ty explains he feared leaving her behind with her abusive parents.

Gage feels protective of Cassie and lectures his cousin for not interceding to keep his girlfriend safe. Ty shows Gage pictures he took over the years in which Cassie shows no emotion. Ty sees how Gage and Cassie look at each other. When he tries to kiss her, he upsets her. Ty tells Cassie that Gage sees her as a sister and hates chauffeuring her to work like he does every morning. Cassie is upset but drives herself to work, which upsets Gage who likes taking her to her job. Gage tells Ty he loves Cassie. Ty says he loves Cassie too. Eight months since Cassie crushed Gage’s heart when she ended his driving her, he tells his concerned family he loves Cassie but she loves Ty.

Cassie’s resiliency makes her an inspiring heroine as she grows up a victim, but refuses to remain a victim although excessive melodramatic tsuris is piled on her. The key support cast like Cassidy’s BFF, her mom and a cop act out of character at pivotal moments, but fans will enjoy the touching relationship between Gage and Cassie.

Harriet Klausner

Amity and Sorrow-Peggy Riley

Amity and Sorrow

Peggy Riley

Little Brown, Apr 16 2013, $25.99

ISBN: 9780316220880

The First Wife, Amaranth did the unthinkable when she fled with her bound to each other at the wrists daughters (Amity and Sorrow) from her husband Zachariah as he did the one thing she rejected. Four days of no sleep constant driving in fear that her spouse will come for her and their kids as none of his fifty wives ever fled the patriarch. The road escape ends in a crash in Oklahoma on Bradley’s farm.

Grieving the loss of his wife, Bradley allows the strange three females to remain on his failed farm though he cannot understand their odd polygamous belief system. Amaranth feels welcome by the farmer; while Amity enjoys the chance to see the world beyond the confining compound; but suffering with stomach problems. Sorrow misses her home desperately. As the foursome forge a family of sorts, each struggles with a faith that is tested by the others.

Amity and Sorrow is an intriguing look at the effect of a polygamous lifestyle on the next generation. The sisters make the tale as their different reactions to the outside world seems deftly genuine as do the flashbacks to life in the compound. Although the fascinating storyline turns too twisting and complex at times; overwhelming the insightful glimpse at what a family and a community is, readers will appreciate Peggy Riley’s deep character-driven novel.

Harriet Klausner

The Sultan of Byzantium-Selçuk Altun

The Sultan of Byzantium

Selçuk Altun

Telegram Books, Apr 16 2013, $14.95


ISBN: 9781846591488

In 1453 Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI led the defense of Constantinople against the Ottoman horde. He died in combat and the over millennium old empire died with him. However, his body was never found; leading to a mythos of the Immortal Emperor who escaped death and the beleaguered city by ship.

Over five centuries later, a thirtyish Istanbul professor reflects on his growing up as the child of a Turk and Canadian who divorced when he cheated on her. However, his look back at his child hood ends when sexagenarian Nikos Askaris meets with him to lecture him on the true history of the Byzantine Empire after the Ottoman conquest. The professor begins to research all he can on the empire until he finally ventures to the ruins of Tekfur Palace in Istanbul where he meets the Nomophylax Guardians of the Law who have kept the Byzantine throne and treasure safe in secret as decreed by the will of Constantine who died over two decades after the defeat. They give him a box in which he must find six tiles that fit the slots. If successful, he will be the next emperor if he fails he will be dead. He begins his global quest for the tile.

The Sultan of Byzantium is a fascinating deep way to tell the history and influence even today of the Byzantine Empire. Nor for everyone as the action in spite of the quest is muted, readers will relish the Byzantine heritage and historical information though that supersedes the professor’s journey as Selçuk Altun, using metafiction, provides a deep look at the once thriving empire.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, April 28, 2013

His to Command-Opal Carew

His to Command

Opal Carew

St. Martin's Griffin, Apr 16 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9780312674632

Two years ago, Kate left Matt and Manhattan without a word. She quietly moved to Connecticut where she became a successful businesswoman. However, near the Cavendish Mall, Kate thinks she sees her greatest fear, Matt. As she scrambles away from him, Kate thinks back to his betrayal at a party after she gave him her heart and also her body as his submissive. She will avoid him and not learn why he is in Connecticut

Matt cannot believe he saw his Kate at the mall; worse he also witnessed her flight from him as if he was infected by the plague. Though he holds her culpable for deserting him as he felt they had a great dom-sub relationship, Matt compulsively needs to know why she abandoned him with nary a word. He will find her and learn why. Taking advantage of a need for an investor, Matt gets Kate to agree to time together at his mansion as she once again becomes His to Command.

This BDSM romance is a heated tale that originally was a six-part e-book serial, but now is in one erotica novel; the above two paragraphs come from the first chapter, the second chance encounter The Chase. The enjoyable storyline flows smoothly as Kate and Matt explore their feelings (and each other) as they communicate; and not just sexually. Though Kate’s fleeing New York two years ago seems unlikely overkill as Matt is not a Neanderthal, erotica readers will enjoy Opal Carew’s torrid tale.

Harriet Klausner

Josiah’s Treasure-Nancy Herriman

Josiah’s Treasure

Nancy Herriman

Worthy, Apr 16 2013, $14.99


ISBN: 9781936034796

In 1882 San Francisco, the late Josiah Cady leaves his home to young Sarah Whittier. She wants to convert it into an art studio for women with no moral choices. However, she lacks financing and potential backers ignore her plea.

Daniel Cady seeks his father Josiah who deserted him, his mother and two younger sisters almost a decade ago. When he finds his father died but left his estate to a gold-digger instead of his family, Daniel is irate. However when someone breaks into the home searching for the alleged treasure buried there, Daniel, used to protecting vulnerable women, instinctively reacts to keep Sarah safe even though he distrusts her and she likewise him; neither trusts in love.

Josiah’s Treasure is an entertaining late nineteenth century Americana romance that timely brings to life the plight of the working poor especially immigrants. Daniel is a fully developed character with anger towards his late dad and his father’s endowment recipient; while Sarah is more fascinating with her do-gooder obsession though more insight is needed as to why she is motivated to help the helpless. Still fans will enjoy the treasure Josiah left behind sought by enemy combatants.

Harriet Klausner

Daughter of Jerusalem-Joan Wolf

Daughter of Jerusalem

Joan Wolf

Worthy, Apr 16 2013, $14.99


ISBN: 9781936034673

Due to the jealousy of her beauty by her stepmother Judith, Mary is exiled from her family home in Bethany, Judea. She knows she will miss her younger stepsiblings (Lazarus and Martha) who love her as much as she does them. Her father Jacob escorts her to live with her widowed Aunt Leah in Magdala on the Galilee. Mary knows that the Galilee is a barbaric place where Jews are lax in their faith unlike in Judea. Leah’s nephew-in-law Daniel greets her and she begins to care about him.

Over her objections as she loves Daniel and her chosen mate emulates the pagan Greeks, Mary is forced to wed affluent Aaron in a family arranged marriage and moves to Sepphoris, the capital of the Galilee. Unhappy Mary turns from the Lord as she suffers a string of tragedies leaving her a despondent widow. . Disappointed in her marriage, Mary moves to the Capernaum where she learns of John the Baptist who helps her return to God before he is assassinated. When she hears rumors of a miracle worker, Mary goes to meet this Jesus, who claims to be the Son of God.

Daughter of Jerusalem is an entertaining “autobiographical” fictionalized account of the life of Mary Magdalene. Though there are some questionable liberties, the engaging storyline depicts the variety in first century Jewish life which Mary learns is not very monotheistic. Mary is a terrific protagonist who evolves as miserable circumstances caused by others like her father, Leah’s brother-in-law and her spouse impact and shape her until she becomes the most devoted true believer of the Son.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Candlemoth-R. J. Ellory


R. J. Ellory

Overlook, Apr 4 2013, $25.95

ISBN: 9781590205167

In 1982 as he sits on Death Row in South Carolina’s Sumter Penitentiary with thirty days left before his execution for murdering his best friend Nathan Verney, thirty six year old Daniel Ford muses he has been betrayed four times in his life as he chats with Father John Rousseau. Daniel, who has lived on Death Row for a third of his life, explains to the Chaplin that he and Nathan became friends as six year olds in 1952 Lake Marion, North Carolina though he being white and his buddy colored made their friendship difficult to sustain, but they did it. In the 1960s, they fled the draft. In 1971 Nathan was murdered and Daniel convicted.

This is a strong “memoir” that grips the audience throughout as Daniel tells his tale of betrayal to the backdrop of major events in the Deep South through three decades of tumultuous change. The twisting storyline hooks the reader with a need to know what happened as R. J. Ellory provides a fascinating dark bittersweet spin through recent Carolina history.

Harriet Klausner

The Big Beyond-Michael Lister

The Big Beyond

Michael Lister

Pottersville Press, Apr 12 2013, $16.00


ISBN: 9781888146332

During WWII in in 1940s Panama City, Florida, private investigator Jimmy “Soldier” Riley awakens strapped to a bunk after two thugs knocked him out. He has one thought besides his constant one of how he failed Lauren Lewis: quick death before the woman who hooked up electrodes to his penis can give him a charge. However, former combat pilot Clipper Jones and Salvation Army nurse Ruth Ann Johnson rescue him from the psychos.

Jimmy, who has lost his right hand to the mean streets and his soul to his dead angel, thinks what a trio as Clipper lost an eye so no longer flies military planes and Ruth Ann lost a leg providing combat medical care to troops. Ruth Ann loves Jimmy, but knows he remains obsessed with Lauren. She decides to have a makeover in her ghostly rival’s image because she believes

that is her only chance with him though she knows in her gut that Jimmy will not move on until he confronts Lauren’s killer.

The sequel to The Big Goodbye is an exhilarating historical noir that brings to life the Florida Panhandle during WWII. Action-packed from the moment the protagonist wakes up strapped, fans will enjoy the adventures of the three hardboiled wounded warriors investigating murders in Panama City.

Harriet Klausner

Game Drive-Marie Moore

Game Drive

Marie Moore

Camel, Apr 15 2013, $13.95

ISBN: 9781603819619

Mississippian Sidney Marsh works as a travel agent at Itchy Feet Travel in lower Manhattan. When she arrives at the office, Sydney is shocked by the dramatic makeover from staid typical agency to African décor. Her boss “Big Bwana” informs Sydney and her best friend and peer at the office Jay Wilson that with the economy tanked they need an edge; so they will offer African safari tours.

Big Bwana dispatches Sidney and Jay to Cape Town to test the safari tours before offering them to customers. Both look forward to the paid working vacation though Jay fears domesticated kittens. In Cape Town however, it is not the four legged that turn their adventure into a misadventure after Sidney apparently witnesses a murder. On the Table Mountain cable car, someone picks her pockets and at Leopard Drive game lodge overlooking Kruger National Park, an agent is dead while Sidney tempts the “Marsh Curse” with a handsome local.

The second Sydney Marsh Murder Mystery (see Shore Excursion) is an enjoyable amateur sleuth tale as the heroine feels right at home in South Africa having landed in her natural state of tsuris. Though circumstance is critical early on, fans will relish this fast-paced tale enhanced by vivid descriptions of the country; as readers will want to join a tour just probably not one sponsored by Itchy Feet.

Harriet Klausner

Blood of Dragons-Robin Hobb

Blood of Dragons

Robin Hobb

Harper Voyager, Apr 9 2013, $27.99

ISBN 9780062116857

The Elderlings human-dragon hybrids reestablish the lost city of Kelsingra so that the young dragons they have pledged to protect can thrive. However, most of the fledglings cannot fly across the river to their new sanctuary, which leaves them exposed. The dying Duke of Chalced needs dragons to live; thus he has hunters stalking the beasts so that he can extract their life sustaining attributes.

Meanwhile the ancient dragon queen Tintaglia also struggles for her life after a vicious attack by Chalced mercenaries seeking blood for their duke. Her followers scream for war against the humans who committed this audacious atrocity. At the same time the Elderlings search for Silver so that the dragons do not lose their memories of their true form especially within a city filled with species’ memories.

The latest Rain Wilds Chronicles epic fantasy involves a vast rotating cast so that the engaging storyline always seems slightly off kilter yet works for those who read the previous entries (see Dragon Keeper, Dragon Haven and City of Dragons) as the depth makes the world of Hobb seem genuine. Fans will enjoy the confrontation between the good (Thymara), the bad (Chalced) and the ugly (Hest).

Harriet Klausner

Friday, April 26, 2013

Taking Eve-Iris Johansen

Taking Eve

Iris Johansen

St. Martin’s, Apr 16 2013, $27.99

ISBN 9781250019981

With help from beyond, forensic sculptor Eve Duncan solved the murder of her daughter that haunted her for years (see Sleep No More). Finally feeling some closure, Eve and her lover police detective Joe Quinn escape to Lake Cottage in Atlanta while her adopted child Jane MacGuire is coming from London to join them.

However, Joe has to leave to testify at a trial and Jane detours to San Juan when her dog Toby suddenly became ill and Seth Caleb offered her a private jet. With his plan coming together to isolate his target, Jim Doane takes advantage of Eve being alone. He abducts her and demands she uses the skull of his deceased son Kevin to reconstruct his child’s face. Eve cooperates while plotting to escape. Joe learns from CIA agent Venable that Doane recently vanished from the grid.

Taking Eve is an exhilarating taut thriller as an insane evil kidnaps her. Fast-paced, fans will appreciate the setup but be frustrated by having this be a trilogy as the audience will want closure. Still readers will enjoy Eve Duncan’s latest tale (see Sleep No More) as she is snatched by a brilliant but crazy tactician.

Harriet Klausner

Her Brother’s Keeper-Sara Hoskinson Frommer

Her Brother’s Keeper

Sara Hoskinson Frommer

Perseverance, Apr 7 2013, $15.95

ISBN 9781564745255

In Oliver, Indiana, senior center director Joan Spencer also works as the part-time manager of the Oliver Civic Symphony and music librarian. However, much of her time involves her daughter’s upcoming wedding and insuring her visiting ne’er-do-well brother Dave, in town for his niece’s marriage, stays out of trouble.

Joan’s husband Police Lieutenant Fred Lundquist responds quickly to a 911 call at Ellen Putnam’s B&B where the out of town wedding guests are staying. He rushes into the kitchen to find his mom Helga holding a bloody knife while a man lies dead near her. Helga explains she took out the knife from his body because the weapon was killing him. Because of a conflict of interest, Sergeant Johnny Ketcham leads the inquiry instead of Fred

The latest Joan Spencer mystery (see Death Climbs a Tree) is an engaging whodunit as murders places a gloomy darkness on the wedding. In some ways the enjoyable investigation is more a family affair as Fred’s mom and all of the out-of-towners are suspects.

Harriet Klausner

Beyond Confusion-Sheila Simonson

Beyond Confusion

Sheila Simonson

Perseverance, Apr 7 2013, $15.95

ISBN 9781564745194

In 2008, in spite of the economy in the tank, Latouche County, Washington voters supported the library levy ballot initiative. However, not all is smooth for the county librarian Margaret McLean. Malicious library administrator Marybeth Jackman wants to be the chief at all costs to others; not just Meg.

In nearby Two Falls, Klalos Tribal Chief Madeline Thomas offers a farmhouse as a library. Marybeth takes Madeline and her tribe to court claiming she owns the farmhouse. Soon after her filing, someone vandalizes the farmhouse and firebombs Madeline’s home. Not long after these incidents, Marybeth falls to her death and librarian Annie Baldwin is injured during an assault on the bookmobile she was driving. Undersheriff Rob Neill investigates the string of disturbing related cases.

The latest Latouche County library mystery (see An Old Chaos) is a super tale that focuses on religious and racial prejudice, and avarice. Fast-paced from the moment readers meet the librarian queen of mean, fans will appreciate the exciting Beyond Confusion as this is a strong investigative thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Shadows on a Cape Cod Wedding-Lea Wait

Shadows on a Cape Cod Wedding

Lea Wait

Perseverance, Apr 7 2013, $15.95

ISBN 9781564745316

On Cape Cod, Maggie Summers calls 911 when she finds a dead body on the beach. Winslow, Massachusetts Police Chief Ike Iron identifies the apparent drowning victim as drunkard Dan Jeffrey. Following standard operating procedures, Ike initiates an investigation into Dan’s death.

While Ike looks into Dan’s seemingly accidental death most likely caused by intoxication, Maid of Honor Maggie helps her best friend Aunt Augusta’s Attic antique shop owner Gussie White prepare for the latter’s wedding to lawyer Jim Dryden. As Ike revises his premise from accident to murder, the wedding preparations continue with last second modifications even as a hurricane veers towards the Cape and a second homicide occurs.

The latest Antique Print regional cozy (see Shadows on the Coast of Maine and Shadows of a Down East Summer) is an engaging whodunit as murders places dark Shadows on a Cape Cod Wedding. The whodunit is fun but not very tense as the wedding supersedes the inquiry. Still fans will enjoy attending Gussie’s nuptials that weather, murder, a groom’s cake shaped like a fish, and handicaps cannot deter.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Secrets From the Past-Barbara Taylor Bradford

Secrets From the Past

Barbara Taylor Bradford

St. Martin’s, Apr 9 2013, $27.99

ISBN: 9780312631666

Thirtyish Serena Stone chose to follow her dad’s dangerous occupation as a photo-journalist rather than her late mother the actress. After working in the Middle East for several years and with the death of her hero her father in France, Serena feels burned out and decides to go to New York to grieve and to honor her father by writing his biography.

However, Serena revises her plans when she finds out that her ex-lover Zac North suffers from PTSD. She travels to Venice to help nurture Zac and persuades him to join her on her paternal homage project. Together they go to her family home in Nice to look over her father’s work. However, Serena is stunned to find information that contradicts what she believed about her and her parents. Needing the truth, she follows the clues to Civil-War torn Libya.

Secrets from the past is an entertaining tale starring a woman seeking the truth though she fears in her case this will not set her free. With a strong cast, especially her father’s boss and Serena’s twin sisters, fans will relish accompanying the heroine and her one-woman man as they investigate a family mystery.

Harriet Klausner

The House That Love Built-Beth Wiseman

The House That Love Built

Beth Wiseman

Thomas Nelson, Apr 2 2013, $15.99

ISBN: 9781595548894

In Smithville, Texas single mother of two children, Brooke Holloway still grieves the death of her beloved husband Travis though two years have passed. She supports her kids (ten year old Travis and six years old Meghan) by running the family-owned hardware store.

Acrimonious divorcee Owen Saunders moves to Smithville after buying the Hadley Mansion. He and Brooke meet when he comes to her store. They become friends as he reassesses his vow of no women and she wonders if there may be life after Travis. As the pair investigates the mystery of Hadley Mansion, they fall in love though he has doubts after being burned by his ex and she feels guilt that she betrays her Travis and fears how her kids especially the older one will react.

The House That Love Built is a delightful inspirational second chance at love romance. Character-driven with a touch of mystery that is more a suspense device to bring the lead couple together, readers will appreciate Beth Wiseman’s enjoyable contemporary as the protagonists know love may not be enough as Travis and Meghan must come first.

Harriet Klausner

Without A Summer-Mary Robinette Kowal

Without A Summer

Mary Robinette Kowal

Tor, Apr 2 2013, $24.99

ISBN: 9780765334152

In 1816 England is suffering from an extremely cold summer due to volcanic activity. Glamour artists Jane and David Vincent recover from their horrible working honeymoon and her miscarriage in Blinche, Belgium (see Glamour in the Glass) at her family home. When the couple decides to accept am Irish Catholic couple as clients, they leave Long Parkmeade to return to their London house with Jane’s depressed sister Melody joining them as she has no suitors while rusticating.

At a time when the freezing weather is blamed on the magic using Coldmongers and the raging Luddites attack machinery, Jane and David fear that Alastair O’Brien, son of their current clients, is involved in sedition. Making the situation worse is that Alastair is courting Melody and David’s abusive father comes a calling.

The third Glamourist Histories fantasy (see Shades of Milk and Honey) is an engaging thriller that deftly uses real events like the 1816 weather, the Luddites and the English-Irish dispute; and people like Jane Vincent nee Austen within a London teeming with the magic of glamour. Filled with action after a leisurely start and still seeking a mate for Melody, fans will enjoy this entry as Mary Robinette Kowal paints a fabulous alternate Regency England.

Harriet Klausner

Prophet of Bones-Ted Kosmatka

Prophet of Bones

Ted Kosmatka

Henry Holt, Apr 2 2013, $27.00

ISBN: 9780805096170

In 1954 at the University of Chicago, scientist Willard F. Libby invented Carbon-14 dating. Six years later he won the Nobel Prize for debunking Darwin and the evolutionists when he proved the Earth is 5,800 years old. At the same time public school student Paul Carlsson, abused as is his Chinese mother by his violent but brilliant father, enjoys studying mice.

Years later, the Axiom Corporation sends ancient DNA expert Carlsson to join an archeological dig in Indonesia. He and others find bones that shatter their beliefs as the tests prove them to be older than the Libby accepted theory of the earth. Axiom Corporation CEO Martial Johansson wants the discovery to remain buried so sends goons to kill those at the excavation site. Paul escapes initially but when caught he learns the secret of the bones and much more.

Prophet of Bones is an exhilarating action-packed thriller that grips the audience even before the protagonist heads to Indonesia. The storyline is fast-paced and switches from the fascinating DNA science fiction mystery to a more standard albeit thrilling horror tale especially on Flores with a stunning late twist. Though readers will question Johansson’s decisions, we also will relish joining Paul as he makes one incredible discovery after another while trying to stay alive to tell the world what he found.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sinners and the Sea-Rebecca Kanner

Sinners and the Sea

Rebecca Kanner

Howard/Simon & Schuster, Apr 2 2013, $22.99

ISBN: 9781451695236

She was born with a wine mark over her left eye. The midwife tried something with the afterlife to rid the newborn of the mark, but that failed. Her father tried all types of remedies that also failed. He refused to name her as the mark turned from red wine to a deep purple. No one would touch her once her father gave up his efforts after sacrificing a finger for deity intervention. No one wanted her even knowing they would inherit her father’s olive grove as all feared she was the devil’s spawn since only sinners have marks on their face.

Six-hundred year old Noah seeks a woman of virtue to name as his Wife. He chooses the ostracized female with the mark on her face. While Noah preaches to the sinners of the world to repent, his dedicated Wife raises their children and helps nurture the fallen. When God orders Noah to construct a giant ark to house his family and the animals of the world when the torrent begins, Wife loyally supports her distant husband though she fears the sinful villagers of Sorum will kill her mate, their three sons and her as devil lunatics before he completes the project.

Sinners and the Sea is a terrific retelling of the Genesis story of Noah from the perspective of his Wife, who becomes the Eve of the post-flood world. The key characters feel genuine as each has flaws with Wife ashamed of her facial mark and feeling alone as her much older spouse chats with the Lord while ignoring her. Readers will appreciate the Sinners and the Sea as faith proves a complex convoluted feeling.

Harriet Klausner

Sunflower Summer-Evangeline Kelley

Sunflower Summer

Evangeline Kelley

Guideposts, Apr 1 2013, $13.99


ISBN: 9780824932473

On Nantucket Island the three sisters (Caroline Marris, Gracie Gold and Sam Carter) own the renovated Misty Harbor Inn, which they open for business. Meanwhile they continue seeking to learn what happened in 1880 to the original owner’s widow, Hannah Montague, causing her to vanish. Their objective is to prove Hannah did no transgressions but Sam finds information to the contrary buried in a secret room.

The trio also struggles to run the inn as daily chores are more tedious than glamorous. Still Gracie and Caroline feel God wants them to help visitors. As such Gracie even tries to assist newlyweds whose honeymoon appears to be a marital breakup.

The second Postcards from Misty Harbor Inn (see Seaside Harmony) continues the warm inspirational family drama that follows the coming together of three middle age sisters who drifted apart to care for their own families. The storyline is leisurely-paced with a focus on the characters; enabling readers to understand further the motivations of each sibling though also limiting the action even with the late nineteenth century mystery.

Harriet Klausner

The House Of Special Purpose-John Boyne

The House Of Special Purpose

John Boyne

Other Press, Apr 2 2013, $16.95


ISBN: 9781590515983

In 1981 octogenarian Georgy Daniilovich Jachmenev looks back on his life especially growing up in Russia before the Revolution. When he was sixteen, inexplicably at least to him or his family, he was selected as companion to the tsarist heir Prince Alexei. Six and a half decades later he still cannot fathom why an uneducated rural peasant was chosen; especially after Tsar Nicholas II explained his tasks to him.

In St. Petersburg for the first time, Georgy sees fifteen year old Anastasia and feels an attraction like no other. After residing in The House Of Special Purpose in Ekaterinburg for the first year after the Revolution dethroned the Tsar, Georgy and his wife Zoya flee his homeland; never to see any family member again. In Paris he worked at a bookstore and now at eight-two Georgy lives in London looking back at his life in Russia.

This is an entertaining retelling of Anastasia from the perspective of someone her age who worked for the imperial family and survived their overthrow. The storyline engages the audience but is more an enjoyable historical romance than a profound look at the fate of the Tsar, Tsarina and their family especially Anastasia.

Harriet Klausner

The Great Escape-Susan Elizabeth Phillips

The Great Escape

Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Morrow, Apr 2 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9780062106186

In Wynette, Texas perpetual First Daughter Lucy Jorik jilted her fiancé retired PGA star Ted Beaudine. After she fled town with Panda Shade, a dangerous-looking stranger on a motorcycle, Lucy's BFF Meg Koranda married the town mayor (see Call Me Irresistible). Thirtyish Lucy feels overwhelmed with guilt and remorse. She needs time to think while ridding herself of the pretense of being the offspring of a POTUS. Instead she pretends to be a kick butt biker chick and behaves like a street hooker.

On the same island lives impoverished divorcee Bree residing in a rundown cabin. She is guardian to angry tweener Toby, who hates her. Though she wants no part of raising any child especially a hurting belligerent one, Bree needs to rid her acrimonious self-loathing; smitten Mike plans to help her.

The Great Escape is an enjoyable contemporary romance though the Bree subplot is the more realistic and entertaining of the two stories. Fans who accept Lucy’s radical personality change as part of a coming of age metamorphosis will root for her to find contentment and love while also hope for the best for Bree.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Story Of X-A. J. Molloy

The Story Of X

A. J. Molloy

Morrow, Apr 2 2013, $13.99

ISBN: 9780062268525

Dartmouth students Alexandra “X” Beckmann and Jessica Rushton are in Naples. The BFFs hope to have fun, but X also studies the Camorra crime mob. While drinking coffee at an outdoor café, X feels her libido explode when she sees affluent handsome Lord Marcus Roscarrick for the first time. She believes he is the one to give her the adventure of a lifetime.

X and Marc begin a tryst that has the naive American believe she is in love for the first time in her life. Marc asks X to join him in the Mysteries. X wants to with her Marc exploring the sexual initiations the Mysteries offer, but also fears losing her identity to this dark compulsive craving.

This is an enjoyable tale starring two people who act like an erotic version of George du Maurier’s Svengali and Trilby. Although more about the Mysteries past would have anchored the present beyond just a mechanism for diverse obsessive sex and sexual assaults, sub-genre fans will enjoy The Story X, the aristocrat and the Mysteries’ strangers in Naples.

Harriet Klausner

The First Move-Jennifer Lohmann

The First Move

Jennifer Lohmann

Harlequin SuperRomance, Apr 2 2013, $5.75

ISBN: 9780373718443

At his ex-wife’s wedding, Miles Brislenn recognizes by the reaction of his body the photographer. When he was in high school, he suffered from unrequited love of Renia Milek, a rebel without a cause. Though he doubts his teen crush will remember even his name, Miles says hello to Rey while vowing to himself to make a play as dreams fail to compare to the reality. Though Rey fails to recall Miles, she finds him charming and attractive. However, she fears he knows her shameful secret when he left high school for a year and plans on keeping her distance.

When they meet while he is with his teenage child Sarah, Rey realizes Miles is a good father and person. As he asks her out on a date, her teenage past returns with a haunting phone call that shakes her emotional equilibrium. Miles plans to be there for his beloved though she tries to push him away; instead he pushes her away when he fears his daughter follows Rey’s shaky past.

The key to this warm romance is that the strong cast deals with complex issues. As he says Miles is the Weird Science nerd while Rey is his fantasy Kelly LeBrock, but reality hits each of them in hard. Readers will enjoy salsa dancing with this couple as Jennifer Lohmann provides a wonderful deep tale.

Harriet Klausner

A Better Father-Kris Fletcher

A Better Father

Kris Fletcher

Harlequin SuperRomance, Apr 2 2013, $5.75

ISBN: 9780373718450

With the death of his toddler’s mother Robin, NHL superstar Sam Catalano changes his game plan. Instead of hockey, babes and endorsements; he plans to become a full-time dad. He buys Camp Overlook overlooking the Ontario side of the St. Lawrence as a home for him and two year old Casey as he has fond childhood memories of the place.

However, the only drawback besides Robin’s Nova Scotia family, meddling social workers and court officials is the assistant director Libby Kovak. Sam and Libby were once a passionate entry, but though he wants a second time with the female he left behind years ago, his focus must be providing Casey with stability. However, both realizes they remain in love with each other; but though he changed his family plan to include a wife and mother, his first star refuses to allow him out of the penalty box.

A Better Father is an entertaining second chance at love family drama with a strong cast and no “forced” villains; as Sam and readers will realize that Robin’s mom Sharon loves her grandchild. Though the engaging storyline goes as expected, fans will enjoy Sam’s efforts to become A Better Father, person and lover.

Harriet Klausner

You Are Invited …-Holly Jacobs

You Are Invited …

Holly Jacobs

Harlequin SuperRomance, Apr 2 2013, $5.75

ISBN: 9780373718467

When Bridget Wallace Langley died from cancer in Valley Ridge, New York, she named her best friend rolling stone Mattie Keith as guardian to her three preadolescent children (Abbey, Zoe and Mickey). Mattie feels inadequate as the barista lacks experience with kids and the money needed to raise them. Making matters worse is Bridget’s Buffalo-based surgeon brother has sued for custody of his blood relatives. She knows he can provide them with material things she cannot, but also ponders why her BFF failed to name her sibling.

While Abby and the others keep asking for their mommy, Mattie asks herself what Bridget would have done. As she considers leaving, Mattie and Finn continue to argue over the best interests of the children even as they find a potential compromise forged by falling in love with each other.

This Valley Ridge Wedding is an engaging family drama summed up by Abbey when in near tears says: “I want my mommy.” Rotating perspective between the adult leads, fans will enjoy this character driven by a strong cast tale as love blossoms between two grieving opposites trying to do what each believes is best for three hurting youngsters.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Healing Heart-Angela Breidenbach

A Healing Heart

Angela Breidenbach

Abingdon, Apr 1 2013, $12.99

www.Abingdon press.com

ISBN: 9781426752608

In Bozeman, Montana, single mom Mara Keegan still grieves the loss of her husband David who died three years ago. She raises their three children and runs the family business while creating a special photo-memory quilt for her oldest Cadence who will soon leave for college.

However, Mara also holds God culpable for her David’s death and now has a new grudge when her business mentor retires and replacing him is a man she hates as much as the Lord. Even before she could bury her David, vulture Joel Ryan swooped in to take over the business; she prevented him from succeeding and now he is her business coach. He swears he is not that avarice scavenger since he found Jesus. When Mara suffers a heart attack, Joel takes charge of the business and the family as her heart physically heals, but emotionally proves more difficult.

The latest Quilts of Love (see Path of Freedom by Jennifer Hudson Taylor, A Wild Goose Chase Christmas by Jennifer AlLee, Beyond the Storm by Carolyn Zane and Threads of Hope by Christa Allan) is a strong inspirational family drama. Though her heart attack is a convenient awakener Mara is a great protagonist who almost kills herself to insure her family has basic sustenance; but that also keeps her somewhat aloof towards their (and hers) emotional and spiritual needs. Readers will enjoy this tale; as Mara goes from why God allows bad things to happen to good people to the Lord works in mysterious ways healing a hurting heart and soul.

Harriet Klausner

When The Morning Glory Blooms-Cynthia Ruchti

When The Morning Glory Blooms

Cynthia Ruchti

Abingdon, Apr 1 2013, $14.99

www.Abingdon press.com

ISBN: 9781426735431

In 2013, unmarried high school student Lauren Trundle gives birth to a son Jackson. Still living at home, her mom Becky takes care of her grandson though she fears she is not doing mother and child a favor by stepping in.

In 1951 unmarried Ivy Carrington fails to inform her boyfriend, Drew Lambert that she carrying his child as he deploys to Korea. She fears informing him may distract him while in combat. Ivy meets elderly Anna Grissom at the nursing home where the former works and the latter lives. Anna persuades Ivy to write down her memories before her mind goes. Initially she assumes her patient’s senility leads to Anna’s discourse, but soon Ivy becomes convinced the tales about six-decade old Morning Glory home for unwed mothers existed that her patient created over family objections back in 1890 is real.

Whether it is 1890, 1951 or 2013, unmarried pregnant women are judged lacking in morals; while the male is just being a man. The prime characters come across as real as each has tsuris while raising a baby without a father and not all of their issues resolved. Comparing society’s mores in three eras, decades apart, readers will appreciate Cynthia Ruchti deep look at having and raising a baby without the dad

Harriet Klausner

Darkness Before Dawn-Ace Collins

Darkness Before Dawn

Ace Collins

Abingdon, Mar 1 2013, $14.99

www.Abingdon press.com

ISBN: 9781426714672

Police Officer Roland Johnson calls a sleeping Meg Richards to inform her that her husband Steven, working late, died in a car accident on his way home to celebrate their anniversary. Later that morning she learns she is pregnant. The other car was driven by a drunken teen James Thomas whose father Alfred is an influential judge with the ability to etch-a-sketch his son’s transgressions including a DUI vehicular homicide.

Politically ambitious District Attorney Webb Jones wants this case to go away. He arranges a deal in which remorseless James will do community service and Meg would receive money. Irate, avenging Meg rejects the settlement. Unhappy Webb assigns the volatile prosecution to his least experienced Assistant District Attorney Cheryl Bednarz, who in spite of being dumped into the feeding frenzied media fishbowl, plans to get a guilty verdict.

The key to this engaging drama is the change in Meg from a kind loving person to a nasty bitter individual who takes her rage out on everyone within her circle including God. Though at times heavy-handed due to Meg’s out of control rage, Darkness Before Dawn is filled with angst as the consequences of DUI destroy several lives.

Harriet Klausner

Scorned Justice-Margaret Daley

Scorned Justice

Margaret Daley

Abingdon, Apr 1 2013. $14.99

www.Abingdon press.com

ISBN: 9781426714368

After receiving a dozen dead roses, District Court Judge Rebecca Morgan heads to her brother Thomas Sinclair’s birthday party. After a warm greeting from her nieces, the widow finds out Thomas has not come back from his work on his ranch. She rides a horse to get him only to find Thomas severely injured from an assault.

While Thomas is rushed to Mercy Memorial, Rebecca believes the attack is related to her presiding over the trial of deadly Russian mobster Dmitri Petrov. Detective Charles Nelson leads the investigation with an assist from Rebecca’s high school boyfriend Texas Ranger Brody Calhoun, who is home caring for his ailing father. Brody protects Rebecca while also looking to find evidence of cattle rustling as well as Petrov’s murderous tampering. When they fall in love, Brody realizes his beloved fears a relationship with a law enforcement official; as her late husband was a cop killed in the line of duty.

The latest Men of Texas Rangers (see Saving Men and Shattered Silence) romantic police procedural is a tense thriller starring two courageous heroes though Rebecca takes questionable risks. Action-packed with a fabulous late twist, fans will enjoy the superb Scorned Justice as the romance supports the suspense.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Wolf Prince-Karen Whiddon

The Wolf Prince

Karen Whiddon

Harlequin Nocturne, Apr 2 2013, $5.75

ISBN: 9780373885671

Heir to the throne of Teslinko, shapeshifter Prince Ruben fears his inner wolf is taking control of his body and mind at a time when his parents King Leo and Queen Ionna demand he marry. Ruben knows who the only female he covets is unacceptable as his future queen.

At the Seelie court, someone murders a servant. Ruben persuades Princess Willow to escort him into the palace so he can investigate and find the killer. He quickly realizes his hostess is unwanted by her fae brethren because her dark pigment means she is the offspring of an undesirable Unseelie. As they fall in love while working the homicide, the pair also looks into the royal reject’s heritage.

The latest Pack romantic fantasy (see Wolf Whisperer and The Wolf Princess) is an enjoyable investigative thriller starring two troubled souls finding solace in their love for one another. The thrilling storyline is fast-paced though a deeper look at the impact of scornful Sidhe discriminating against a royal due to the color of her skin would have added profundity to the mix of two lost individuals falling in love during a murder investigation.

Harriet Klausner

Beauty’s Beast-Jenna Kernan

Beauty’s Beast

Jenna Kernan

Harlequin Nocturne, Apr 2 2013, $5.75

ISBN: 9780373885688

Empathic seer Samantha Proud knows the price she pays to save the soul of a child from the demon possessing the youngster, but the bear shifter does anyway. When she displayed her power, Samantha placed her family in harm from the Ruler of Ghosts Nagi; who has stalked her and her kin forcing them into hiding after her Good Samaritan deed exposed them. The Thunderbirds rescue the Prouds but scatter them to different places to make it difficult for Nagi to complete his species cleansing.

Samantha is dropped off near Alon Garza the ghost child trying to prevent his evil father Nagi from murdering any perceived threats like the shifter and ghost children that might impede his plan for world domination. Samantha suggests the two beleaguered groups team up in the fight to end Nagi’s quest to rule the world.

The latest Trackers paranormal romance (see Ghost Stalker and Dream Stalkers) is a super thriller that continues the strong saga based on Native American mythology. Though similar in premise to Soul Whisperer, as the likable lead heroes are natural enemies who need each other against a more powerful mutual adversary leading to strange bedfellows falling in taboo love. Well written, readers will be fully engaged by Jenna Kernan’s fabulous tale.

Harriet Klausner

A Profiler’s Case For Seduction-Carla Cassidy

A Profiler’s Case For Seduction

Carla Cassidy

Harlequin Romantic Suspense, Apr 2 2013, $5.75

ISBN: 9780373278183

The murders in Vengeance, Texas forty miles from Dallas has the FBI believing a serial killer is loose. While his team disagrees with his initial assessment, FBI agent Mark Flynn considers Darby College Sociology Professor Melinda Grayson as a person of interest so attends her lecture to get a deeper impression of the instructor.

Mark enlists student Dora Martin to assist him in his effort to look deeper at Melinda. For her part, Dora wants nothing to do with the Brainiac hunk as she vowed off men while trying to use her second chance for a life starting with a degree. Still, as they work together, they fall in love while he knows she hides something from him that he fears involves the homicides and could make her part of the body count.

This is an entertaining romantic suspense that the audience will enjoy though the motive is inane. Still fast-paced with two likable protagonists falling in love while working the case, fans will appreciate visiting Vengeance in Texas.

Harriet Klausner

Copper Lake Confidential-Marilyn Pappano

Copper Lake Confidential

Marilyn Pappano

Harlequin Romantic Suspense, Apr 2 2013, $5.75

ISBN: 9780373278176

It has been a long time since Macy Howard last was in her hometown of Copper Lake, Georgia. She left following the death of her husband Mark and her miscarriage. After a year in an asylum and living with her aunt and uncle in Charleston, Macy decides to return to Copper Lake over the objection of her concerned caring kin especially her worried brother.

In Copper Lake, Macy meets veterinarian Stephen Noble, who also writes fantasy novels. They are attracted to one another and she begins to see hope for a future though she has trust issues after her tragic past. However, something is slightly off kilter at the old house that has Macy wonder if she left the asylum too soon as items are not where she swore she left them and a slight lingering odor that dissipates quickly should not be possible. With Stephen at the side of the woman he loves, Macy struggles to keep her equilibrium while seeking the truth.

The latest Copper Lake romantic suspense (see Copper Lake Secrets) is a great taut thriller that grips readers from the moment the vulnerable heroine returns home and never slows down until the final confrontation with a toss of the paranormal enhancing the climax. Fast-paced with several twists including a stunning late spin, readers will relish Marilyn Pappano's fabulous tale due to the insightful look at the mind of troubled Macy who fears she is insane.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, April 19, 2013

Seaside Harmony-Evangeline Kelley

Seaside Harmony

Evangeline Kelley

Guideposts, Apr 1 2013, $13.99


ISBN 9780824932466

The three sisters went their separate ways once they left the nest. However, the siblings Caroline Marris, Gracie Gold and Sam Carter reunite for the funeral of their mother. As children the trio spent summers on Nantucket Island with their parents. However, each is appalled with what has happened to their favorite place, the Misty Harbor Inn, which is on the market for sale. The once-beautiful historic house is terribly run down and the fabulously kept gardens look like a jungle.

Caroline convinces her sisters to join her in owning and converting Misty Harbor Inn into a B&B though widow Gracie has doubts. As the threesome try to work together as a team in spite of their diverse personalities, they find hand-written postcards that have them investigating what happened to Hannah Montague who vanished in 1880.

The first Postcards from Misty Harbor Inn is a warm inspirational family drama that follows the coming together of three middle age sisters who drifted apart. The storyline is leisurely-paced enabling readers to understand the siblings and accept the changing second chance relationship between them; as team Kelley makes it clear it is never too late to come together. Readers who appreciate a character-driven storyline with muted action will relish visiting Nantucket island with the sisters as guides.

Harriet Klausner

Whispers of a New Dawn-Murray Pura

Whispers of a New Dawn

Murray Pura

Harvest House, Apr 1 2013, $13.99

ISBN: 9780736951708

In 1917, because of the patriarch Jude Whetstone’s self-sacrifice to keep his Amish brethren out of the draft as his People are war objectors and his wife Lyyndaya is working with Spanish flu victims in Philadelphia, the family was shunned (see The Wings of Morning). However, their offspring Nate and Becky share their love of helping others.

Nate was a missionary in China where he witnessed the brutality of the Japanese military first-hand before returning home to Paradise, Pennsylvania. In 1941, the American army “drafts the Whetstone family as flight instructors training pilots in Oahu, Hawaii. Becky is assigned Christian Raven who she deems an irritant not worth instructing. Heeding her Aunt Ruth’s advice, Becky talks with Christian; both share tragic losses though they grieve differently. As a friendship forms, each wonders if they found love until a “day in infamy” explodes at Pearl Harbor.

The latest Snapshots in History (see The Face Of Heaven) is a great historical that provides readers with a profound look at events including atrocities leading to the War in the Pacific. The romance enhances the deep thriller as Murray Pura provides the audience with a strong saga as an Amish family prays for peace on our and future times, but unlike their brethren accept that God has condoned war at times (Battle of Jericho, etc.).

Harriet Klausner

Zombies Don't Forgive-Rusty Fischer

Zombies Don't Forgive

Rusty Fischer

Medallion Press, Apr 1 2013

ISBN: 9781605426365

After the insane Zerker zombies attack left most residents of Barracuda Bay dead (see Zombies Don't Cry), three sane zombies (Maddy, Dane, and Stamp) flee town. Their plan is to hide in plain sight from the Sentinel enforcers who demand they face justice. Three months since they went underground, the fugitives mix in amidst the Normals of Orlando; obtaining positions at the Great Movie Monster Makeover show.

Stamp relishes this new environment as he seems to have a different girl each week while Maddy and Dane prefer to stay safe. When Stamp meets enigmatic Val who insists on no pictures, Maddy and Dane become concerned that his girlfriend may be an undercover Sentinel.

The latest amusing Living Dead Love Story continues the zombie misadventures of kill first and ask questions later. Maddy and her two cohorts star in this tale once again primarily targeting the teen crowd, but other zombie-maniacs will enjoy the thriller too. The fab four seem fully developed as Val is devilishly delightful and Stamp an impish trouble magnet; while Maddy and Dane turn to one another. Fans will not forgive Rusty Fischer if he does not provide us with more zombie fever.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Project: Runaway Heiress-Heidi Betts

Project: Runaway Heiress

Heidi Betts

Harlequin Desire, Apr 2 2013, $5.50

ISBN: 97803732732388

In Los Angeles, Ashdown Abbey fashion owner Nigel Stratham needs a new personal assistant as the latest quit with no notice after receiving an acting gig. At the same time New York based designer Lily Zaccaro of Zaccaro Fashions is outraged that Stratham stole her designs. She vows to find the thief and hiding her mission from her sisters, she goes to L.A. Undercover Lily becomes the CEO’s latest PA.

Lily proves her value right away, but struggles to figure out who stole her designs. Worse for Lily is that her siblings wonder what is going on; and the worst is her attraction to “Public Enemy Number One” Nigel. As they fall in love, she fears how he will react to her going undercover.

The first Project: Passion romance is a fun contemporary that provides readers a glimpse of the designer business. The lead couple is nice paring of the two coasts although the audience will have doubts ultra-passionate with a cause Lily can conceal her stealth amateur sleuthing from her siblings, her new office, and her boss the love of her life. Readers will appreciate this designer tale and look forward to Lily’s sisters starring in their personal romantic project.

Harriet Klausner

Along Came Twins...-Rebecca Winters

Along Came Twins...

Rebecca Winters

Harlequin Special Edition, Apr 2 2013, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373742387

Kellie and Leandros Petralia are separated with their divorce soon to be finalized as reconciliation is impossible with her in Philadelphia and him in Greece. She knows her obsession with becoming pregnant destroyed her marriage. Ironically now that she resides in the Sates and he in Europe, Kellie is carrying twins.

Deciding she should tell her soon to be ex-husband that she is pregnant, Kellie travels to Greece. Leandros is euphoric with the news of becoming a father, but that is only one of the reasons he wants to remain married as he misses the love of his life. A resort builder, Leandros will do anything to rebuild his marriage.

The second Tiny Miracles contemporary romance (see Baby Out Of The Blue) is an entertaining family drama although the protagonists’ separation fails to feel long enough for how they act towards each other. Still fans will enjoy this second chance (I wonder if a short term separation can categorize a novel as a second chance) at love Grecian romance.

Harriet Klausner

A Place to Belong-Lauraine Snelling

A Place to Belong

Lauraine Snelling

Bethany House, Apr 1 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9780764204173

In 1906 South Dakota, Lucas Engstrom and Cassie Lockwood are engaged. However, as she works the shooting contest circuit before winter arrives, Cassie realizes she does not love her fiancé; instead she misses his brother Ransom. She prays to the Lord for guidance and concludes that God intends for her to become Lucas’ wife since everyone knows she has made him a better person since becoming part of his life.

As Ransom opens up a furniture store, he misses Cassie who is on a Wild West show tour. At the same time, Lucas tries to conceal the fact that he is attracted to Betsy Hudson because he has disappointed his family so many times before and they want him to marry Cassie.

The third Wild West Wind historical romance (see Valley Of Dreams and Whispers In The Wind) is an exciting early twentieth century on the northern Great Plains tale. Cassie holds the engaging Americana storyline together with a need caused by her circuit touring childhood to own things especially a house she can call home until her heart tells her to take a leap of faith.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Reaper’s Legacy-Tim Lebbon

Reaper’s Legacy

Tim Lebbon

PYR, Apr 9 2013, $17.95

ISBN 9781616147679

Several years have passed since the 2017 Doomsday terrorist attack left London an isolated Toxic City (see London Eye) surrounded by Chopper troops trying to keep survivors inside and other people outside as the rest of Britain believes no one lives within this wasteland. Unbeknownst to the outside world, government experiments on surviving Londoners have been conducted leading to humans morphing into beings with supernatural powers.

Lucy-Anne continues to have strange futuristic dreams. She and Rook head north in search of any of her family especially her brother who might have survived Doomsday and the aftermath. Her boyfriend Jack knows they are changing having been healed by Rosemary after true-believer Jenna stabbed him and was subsequently touched by Nomad. As his Irregulars teammates begin to die; he, his best friend Sparky and Jenna search for Jack’s father, Reaper and Lucy-Anne. At the same time researcher Miller knows of Nomad’s touch and wants to dissect Jack while the government no longer deploys the containment policy; instead the final solution countdown has begun.

Rotating between the two strong prime subplots, Reaper’s Legacy continues to build on the enigmatic conspiratorial events of London Eye. Loaded with action that moves forward the exciting storyline, this thriller also sets the stage for Contagion. Fans will appreciate this dark dystopian urban fantasy (with sci fi elements) as Tim Lebbon turns London into a Toxic City wasteland.

Harriet Klausner

Reconstructing Amelia-Kimberly McCreight

Reconstructing Amelia

Kimberly McCreight

Harper, Apr 2 2013, $25.99

ISBN: 9780062225436

In Manhattan during a meeting with a key client, the temporary secretary interrupts attorney Kate Baron to take a call from Grace Hall as her fifteen year old daughter Amelia has been suspended for three days. She arrives by train at Park Slope’s "Brownstone Brooklyn" only to be greeted by first responders who tell her Amelia fell from the school’s roof to her death.

Stunned by what occurred, Kate is further shocked to learn her daughter allegedly committed suicide after being caught and suspended for plagiarizing an English assignment. Kate reluctantly accepts the alien concepts her daughter cheated and killed herself; as Amelia was a good teen who did volunteer work. Everything changes for grieving Kate when she receives a text that claims Amelia did not jump.

Rotating between a grieving and guilt-filled Kate trying to understand what happened and the last month in the life of her daughter, Reconstructing Amelia is an insightful family drama that digs deeply into how vicious and vindictive students can be. The key to this character-driven thriller is Amelia’s teen behavior seems genuine; and ergo anchors the profound look into first love and bullying especially towards those that are different from the in-crowd such as autism and being gay.

Harriet Klausner

September Storm-Brenda K. Jernigan

September Storm

Brenda K. Jernigan

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Nov 2 2012, $8.99

ISBN: 9781480144187

In 1987 San Antonio, struggling advertiser Danielle Kapur arranges to meet her fiancé Steven Coffee, son of her boss at Coffee Advertising. They have not seen each other in over eighteen months, but are meeting at resort Sea Horse Island off the North Carolina coast where she plans to return him his ring. At the same time, she flies east under the influence of alcohol and airsickness medicine, Mass Corporation partner Adrian Massimino takes time off for the first time in ages as a birthday present he gives to himself. He tells his caring friends not to send him a high priced hooker.

Danielle and Adrian meet at the candle lit beach house and make love; as she thinks he is Steven and he believes her to be his birthday gift. In the morning after the greatest night of her life, a mortified Danielle realizes she made love with the wrong man. Neither immediately can flee as a hurricane hits the barrier islands and grounding the ferry. After they go their separate ways, Adrian sends Danielle business as she has opened her own advertising from after ending her engagement. When Adrian learns she is pregnant and proclaiming he is the father, an irate Adrian rejects her claim as he is sterile. She leaves, but later he finds out the child probably is his and wants to do right by Danielle and give their offspring his name, but she rejects him.

September Storm is an entertaining second chance romance starring two amiable protagonists. The enjoyable but linear storyline follows the path fans anticipate; yet is fun to read as Brenda K. Jernigan provides readers with a winning contemporary.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Daddy’s Gone A Hunting-Mary Higgins Clark

Daddy’s Gone A Hunting

Mary Higgins Clark

Simon & Schuster, Apr 9 2013, $26.99

ISBN: 9781451668940

Retired Gus Schmidt meets CPA Kate Connolly at four thirty in the morning at her family-owned Connelly Fine Antique Reproductions in Long Island City; where he once worked. An explosion leaves Gus dead and Kate unconscious. While Kate lies comatose and unable to defend herself, rumors abound as to why she met with a former employee before the place was open.

Her sister, fashion designer Hannah, wants the truth, which she believes will exonerate her sibling. Clues lead to the disappearance almost three decades ago of an aspiring actress from Illinois whose attorney brother has just moved to the city and to a two years old cold case murder of a Barnard student.

Readers who can ignore the quadrillion happenchance plot forwarding moments will enjoy this suspenseful tale; as Hannah, bungling her amateur sleuthing endeavor, brings tension to the entertaining storyline; more than the villain and the felonious few abetting the culprit. Though not one of Mary Higgins Clark’s stronger thrillers, fans of the author will want to know what is going on in this exciting mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Dangerous Refuge-Elizabeth Lowell

Dangerous Refuge

Elizabeth Lowell

Morrow, Apr 9 2013, $26.99

ISBN: 9780062132710

When Uncle Lorne Davis died, LAPD homicide detective Tanner Davis returns to the family ranch in Refuge, Nevada to settle the estate. However, Tanner quickly becomes suspicious of the cause of his late relative’s death as increasingly he believes someone murdered Uncle Lorne and he uncovers several suspects with motives.

One of those who had reason for murdering his uncle is historical heritage protector Shaye Townsend. To their chagrin, each feels a heat hotter than a Nevada desert summer for the other. As they agree to jointly investigate what happened to his Uncle Lorne, they also share intense love-making; but neither wants to acknowledge that love is the impetus. That changes when the diabolical killer goes after Shaye as Tanner willingly risks his life to keep his beloved safe.

Although as much a romance as a mystery, readers will enjoy this exhilarating suspense thriller especially the fabulous climax in deserted Sierra Nevada mines. Fast-paced though Dangerous Refuge never deviates from the expected romantic suspense path, readers will appreciate Elizabeth Lowell’s entertaining tale.

Harriet Klausner

Leaving Annalise-Pamela Fagan Hutchins

Leaving Annalise

Pamela Fagan Hutchins

SkipJack Publishing, Mar 15 2013, $5.95


ISBN: 9781939889010

Thirtyish attorney Katie Connell left Dallas for San Marcos after a melt down in court and her love life tanked (see Saving Grace). She has become a chanteuse singing with her partner Ava Butler and seeing owner-chef Bart while having her home, haunted by Annalise the jumbie, renovated. However, she ends her relationship with Bart when the love of her life private investigator Nick Kovacs arrives from Dallas to explain what happened. Nick says he protected his sister Teresa and his infant nephew Taylor from the lad’s violent father Derek.

Nick returns to the States to keep Taylor safe while Teresa attends college. However, obsessed Bart stalks Katie on San Marcos; and Derek goes after Teresa and Nick in his obsession for custody of his son. Soon murders occur at both locations.

The second Katie and Annalise thriller (see Saving Grace) starts somewhat slow as readers meet the cast, but once the stalking begins in earnest, the engaging storyline accelerates into a taut suspense. With a touch of the jumbie adding a distinct flavor to the mix and the romance perfectly kept on the backburner while dealing with predatory psychopaths, fans will enjoy Leaving Annalise.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, April 15, 2013

Fear In The Sunlight-Nicola Upson

Fear In The Sunlight

Nicola Upson

Harper, Apr 9 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9780062195432

In 1954 Scotland Yard’s Archie Penrose learns that someone confessed to the murders of three women during the filming of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window in California. That same person also admitted to killing three people two decades earlier in Portmeirion, Wales.

In the summer of 1936, mystery writer Josephine Tey celebrates her fortieth birthday with friends at a resort in Portmeirion, Wales. Movie director Alfred Hitchcock films the gala while wanting the rights to her novel A Shilling for Candles that his wife Alma gave to him to read as a possible adaption to the big screen. The renowned director also plans to deploy experiments in how people negatively react to the belief they caused someone else’s death. While many of the Tey party believe Hitchcock is a pest, someone brutally slashes to death an actress at a cemetery. Hitchcock has gotten what he wished for as long time friends look at each suspecting one another is the killer. Scotland Yard Chief Inspector David Penrose becomes involved in the investigation.

The latest Tey-Penrose “Golden Age” historical British mystery (see Two for Sorrow, An Expert In Murder and Angel with Two Faces) is a tense whodunit based on the real encounter between Tey and Hitchcock in Wales over filming her novel. Although a cast that Cecile B. DeMille would relish slows down the storyline, fans will appreciate this psychological suspense as the joyous birthday bash turns from a happy occasion into a fearful one.

Harriet Klausner

Sleight of Hand-Phillip Margolin

Sleight of Hand

Phillip Margolin

Harper, Apr 9 2013, $26.99

ISBN: 9780062069917

A decade ago, millionaire Horace Blair met and fell in love with Carrie when she was a Commonwealth ADA prosecuting his DUI trial. Much older than her, he persuaded her to marry him, but also sign a prenup in which she would receive twenty million dollars if she never cheated in the first ten years of their marriage. One week prior to her fulfilling the terms of their agreement, Carrie vanishes. The police arrests Horace charging him with murdering his wife to avoid paying her the money. He hires defense attorney Charles Benedict to defend him in court.

Private investigator Dana Cutler returns to Virginia after failing to find an Ottoman Empire stolen gold scepter on the other side of the country. The former cop becomes involved in the Blair case and begins to find contrary evidence that the wrong person is on trial for a Capitol Murder. However, attempts on her life affirm her belief that a magician is getting away with a Sleight of the Hand.

The latest Cutler investigative thriller (see Supreme Justice and Executive Privilege) is an exciting mystery as the sleuth confronts a diabolical brilliant adversary. Fast-paced and filled with suspense, readers who can ignore the villain’s seemingly superhuman skills to get away with murder and grand theft will enjoy this taut tale.

Harriet Klausner

Chihuahua Confidential-Waverly Curtis

Chihuahua Confidential

Waverly Curtis

Kensington, Apr 2 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780758274960

Partners Geri Sullivan and Pepe the Chihuahua she rescued from the local pound drive from their home in Seattle to Hollywood as contestants on Dancing With the Dogs. Geri, used to Pepe never shutting up, listens to her canine friend tell her about his time living in Southern California as a pampered pet of starlet Caprice Kennedy.

Pepe expects to win the dance contest if Geri can keep up with his steps. However, when they go on stage, they are greeted by one of the three judges being dead. A second corpse follows and several canines vanish. While the Washingtonian duo dances together, they also investigate the murders and dognapping.

The latest Barking Detective mystery (see Dial C For Chihuahua) is a lighthearted engaging whodunit as the reality show humor provides a fun counterbalance to the homicides and canine abductions. Readers will appreciate Pepe’s antics as he seems to have a nose for trouble that match paw to hand to the stratospheric levels of tsuris attained by Geri’s boss, private investigator Jimmy G.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Braking Points-Tammy Kaehler

Braking Points

Tammy Kaehler

Poisoned Pen, Apr 2 2013, $24.95

ISBN 9781464200991

At the Road America event in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, racing car driver Kate Reilly tries to pass Miles Hanson on the oval, but he refuses to allow her so she bumps his vehicle. The NASCAR officials call the crash a racing incident in which both drivers are at fault. Miles ends up at a nearby hospital and off the track for a few months while he heals from his injuries.

Irate Miles is a fan favorite with a huge following. At the same time while his supporters demand she at least be banned until his return, “Racings Ringer” constantly assaults the allegedly violent Kate in his blog. Kate fears for her safety as the vitriol gets worse and a hit and run attempt almost succeeds. Still she heads to the next stop to Petit Le Mans in Georgia while wondering whether pit reporter Felix Simon, who loathes females on the track, is the culprit until he becomes a murder victim and the war against Calamity Kate intensifies with the murder of her friend Ellie Prescott who once was engaged to Kate’s current boyfriend Stuart Telarday.

The second Kate Reilly mystery (see Dead Man's Switch) is a fabulously fast spin around the track as some sports fanatics quickly turn psychotic (mindful of the murder of Columbian soccer player Andres Escobar in 1994) although that also leads to an overly abundance of suspects. Still readers will enjoy this entertaining sports whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Parrots Prove Deadly-Clea Simon

Parrots Prove Deadly

Clea Simon

Poisoned Pen, Apr 2 2013, $24.95

ISBN 9781464201042

In Beauville, to the shock of no one working at the LiveWell retirement complex as she was very ill, octogenarian Polly Larkin dies in her Room 203. Polly’s fiftyish daughter Jane asks pet guru Pru Marlowe to retrain Polly’s roommate, foul-mouth African grey parrot Randolph Jones.

However, Pru listens to Randolph’s mimicry and concludes the parrot is repeating Polly’s last words. The psychic animal expert further thinks Randolph witnessed a murder instead of the natural death that staff Dr. Wachtell insists happened and that someone wants the parrot silenced forever. Pru and her animal team (Wallis, Buster, Frank and Growler) investigate what each believes was the murder of an elderly woman.

The third Pru Marlowe Pet Noir (see Dogs Don’t Lie and Cats Can’t Shoot) is an enjoyable psychic mystery as the heroine “talks to the animals” in order to seek their guidance on solving the case. Though the whodunit solution seems obvious in spite of several viable suspects, fans will appreciate this fun anthropomorphic investigation.

Harriet Klausner

The Frozen Shroud-Martin Edwards

The Frozen Shroud

Martin Edwards

Poisoned Pen, Apr 2 2013, $24.95

ISBN 9781464201073

Five years ago in Ravenbank, England, someone viciously murdered Katya Moss on Halloween with a shroud used as a frozen cover to conceal her battered face. The homicide eerily reminds locals of the Faceless Woman brutal murder in the exact same way on Halloween just prior to the start of WWI because her ghost allegedly haunts Ravenbank. Criminologist Daniel Kind finds the eerie similarities too macabrely fascinating to ignore; so he begins to look into the murders almost a century apart.

Meanwhile Cumbria cold case Detective Chief Inspector Hannah Scarlett must deal with austerity that cuts her office’s budget cuts to a level in which she must reduce her workforce as salary is the major expense. When a third killing identical to the two cold cases Kind investigates happens, Scarlett opens up an inquiry into those murders with the criminologist assisting her and her unit.

The latest Lake District police procedural (see The Serpent Pool and The Hanging Wood) is a strong entry that grips the audience from the opening murder and never loosens its hold until the final denouement. Fast-paced, the romance between the DCI and the criminologist for the most part simmers on the back burner as the murder investigation takes center stage throughout in this super whodunit(s).

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Double Play-Jen Estes

Double Play

Jen Estes

Camel, Apr 1 2013, $15.95


ISBN: 9781603819411

The Buffalo Soldiers make the postseason playoffs. Team reporter Catriona McDaniel is euphoric the team has a good chance of winning it all. She also loves her live-in boyfriend Professor Benji Levy even if he prefers comic books to baseball.

Her older charming half-brother Quinn McDaniel arrives in town to his sister’s chagrin. Benji likes the charming Quinn while ignoring Cat’s warning consternation. Following a gala at a steakhouse to celebrate making the playoffs that Quinn crashed; he, Benji and several players come to Cat’s home to play cards. Several beers late, star pitcher Ryan Brokaw falls off the balcony and breaks his non-throwing arm; ending the dreams of winning the World Series. As BPD Detective Khan and the team investigate the incident, the city blames Cat while the roguish Teflon Quinn once again escapes culpability.

The third Foul Cat McDaniel sports cozy is an engaging look at the convergence of money and baseball as Quinn’s arrival sets in motion a game ending Double Play for the beleaguered Cat, the most hated person in Buffalo. Though less baseball action than in the first two innings of the series (see Curveball and Big Leagues), fans will enjoy Cat’s family reunion as her seemingly bright long career in baseball appears to have hit into a game ending called strike three.

Harriet Klausner

Some Like It Hot-K.J. Larsen

Some Like It Hot

K.J. Larsen

Poisoned Pen, Mar 5 2013, $24.95

ISBN 9781464200984

Billy Bonham opens up a detective agency in Bridgeport. His training consists of watching Bogart play hardboiled sleuths. Bartender and murder witness Cristina McTigue becomes Billy’s first client; on her part because of a brain tumor and his part because she is a Mary Astor-like femme fatale. She employs him to find stolen diamond earrings that Marilyn Monroe wore on Some Like It Hot.

Chicago-based Pants on Fire private investigator Cat DeLuca gets Santa garbed Billy out of a jam. However that night Cat’s brother informs her that someone murdered her first boyfriend Billy. Cat claims to have been Billy’s partner to uncover the identity of the killer. She quickly learns the history of the diamonds while eluding bullets and searching for a killer and the gems with help from the posse and Mama’s Cannoli.

The latest Cat DeLuca Mystery (see Liar, Liar and Sticks And Stones) is a fun farcical thriller. Fast-paced with some macabre graveyard humor, fans who enjoy a lighthearted over the top of the Willis Tower detective tale will enjoy Cat’s zany escapades as she learns “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend” except instead of men, gems grow cold when you are dead.

Harriet Klausner

Blood, Ash, and Bone-Tina Whittle

Blood, Ash, and Bone

Tina Whittle

Poisoned Pen, Mar 5 2013, $24.95

ISBN 9781464200939

Her former cheating boyfriend John Wilde arrives at Tai Randolph’s Atlanta gun shop. He says he married her former best friend Hope last month, but she left him last week taking an artifact with her that he wants back. Further explaining, he says they run a pawn shop in Jacksonville where they found inside a roll-top desk a bible signed and dated by Lincoln to Sherman. John hires Tai who charges him 15% rather than the usual 10% finder’s fee.

Tai and her boyfriend security expert Trey Seaver deliver authentic Civil War items to the participants at the Southeastern Civil War Expo reenactment in Savannah. They also search for Hope and the missing King James Bible, but soon learn the hard way rabid rivals seek the same valuable artifact and much more at any cost to competitors.

The third Tai Randolph finder mystery (see The Dangerous Edge of Things and Darker than Any Shadow) is an exciting twisting thriller as the feisty but foolhardy heroine and her brave but deliberate partner end up in one perilous mess after another. Separately they could end up as cannon fodder, but together they make a powerful team. Readers will relish this terrific entry while, like Tai, compare reserved Trey to passionate John.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Rancher and the Vet-Julie Benson

The Rancher and the Vet

Julie Benson

Harlequin American, Apr 2 2013, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373754526

Widower Colt Montgomery demands his brother Reed return from San Francisco to Estes Park, Colorado take care of his daughter Jess as he is being deployed to Afghanistan and his in-laws who blame him for their daughter’s death are unable to do it due to hip surgery. The last place Jess wants to be is the Rocking M Ranch where his drunken abusive father resides. However, he comes home to take care of Jess.

When the now CEO fled for California, he left his heart in Colorado. Colt and veterinarian Avery McAlister meet with both knowing the attraction remains stratospheric. However, though she will help him with Jess and continue to care for the ranch animals, Avery refuses to give the man who broke her heart years ago a second chance at destroying her again.

The third McAlister romance (see Big City Cowboy and Bet on a Cowboy) is an enjoyable second chance at love tale. Colt is a complex person who believes his father’s DNA taints him while Avery hates loving him; but it is the troubled teen who forces him to look inside his heart. Fans will enjoy this family drama.

Harriet Klausner

If He’s Tempted-Hannah Howell

If He’s Tempted

Hannah Howell

Zebra, Apr 2 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9781420118803

Lady Olympia Wherlocke listens to crying teenager Lady Agatha Mallam tell her that her evil mom Lady Letitia sold her to perverted Baron Minden while her older brother Brant fails to respond to her messages begging for help. Olympia promises to see her sibling. When Brant fails to respond to her notes, Olympia comes to his home. A child Thomas informs her that the intoxicated Brant is in the library. Thomas says he is the late earl’s illegitimate offspring as are four other servants in the stable while two more have vanished.

Olympia takes Brant to task for failing his sister as he is controlled by his mom who has guardianship over Agatha. They realize several servants spy on him for his mom; Olympia fires them. Brant feels guilty that he failed to stop his wicked mom who sells people like she did his deceased fiancée. In London no one welcomes Brant in their home. Olympia tells him his mother spread stories as disgusting as that of perverted Minden. They kiss before she sends him to her cousin the solicitor to help him regain the authority he lost to his mother. At a gala, Lady Letitia warns Olympia that her son is evil and continues to spread her poison expanded to include Lady Wherlocke.

The latest Wherlocke Georgian romance (see If He’s Dangerous and If He’s Wild) is an exciting historical starring interesting protagonists; especially Brant. The paranormal elements add depth but are kept low-keyed. Although the fickle Ton too easily accepts the word of the 200-proof villainess that her son is a pervert while ignoring rumors about her depraved activity, fans will enjoy the least Wherlocke to take on love and evil heart-first.

Harriet Klausner

Sinner's Heart-Zoe Archer

Sinner's Heart

Zoe Archer

Zebra, Apr 2 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9781420122299

In 1763 the quintet of rakes who made up the Hellraisers sells their souls to the devil who grants each a different supernatural power and a wish. Lord Abraham “Bram” Stirling relishes the way all women beg him to take them as lust enables him to ignore his time in battle that haunts him otherwise.

Besides wanting to forget the harrowing memories of when he was a soldier, Bram also prefers to ignore that London has become hell. However, the spirit of Roman Priestess Valeria Livia Corva refuses to allow Bram to pay no attention to what the devil has done as she feels guilt for raising him in the first place even though she sacrificed herself to return him to hell. To his chagrin he wants the one female he cannot reach except when she insists he become what he fears the most in life: a soldier.

The third exciting Hellraiser Georgian romantic fantasy is a fast-paced paradoxical Faustian thriller starring a bad boy hero who sold himself to the devil and the female who needs to rescue his soul if she is to fix what she wrought. Though the premise is similar to Devil’s Kiss and Demon’s Bride, Livia brings freshness with being the original sinner as the only way to defeat the devil is through the heart and soul.

Harriet Klausner

One Texas Night-Jodi Thomas

One Texas Night

Jodi Thomas

Zebra, Apr 2 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9781420131413

“In Amarillo By Morning.” In 1889 Fort Worth, Charlie and Dolly Tucker invite three potential suitors to dinner to meet their single sister Agnes visiting from Chicago. Hank Harris knows he cannot compete with his much more affluent and handsomer rivals Pitter Stockton and William J. Randall. Thus when Aggie accepts his marriage of convenience proposal, Hank is shocked. When he falls in love with his wife, Hank risks his heart to make their marriage genuine.

“Silent Partner.” After time in prison, Rowdy Darnell comes home to Kasota Springs planning to earn some money in the rodeo. However, he needs the fee to be paid to enter so he seeks a silent partner as no one would want to publicly bankroll a felon. Laurel Hayes wants nothing to do with the convict she once considered a friend, but their kisses speak otherwise.

“In The Outlaw.” In 1852 Cozette Camanez's dying father gives control of the family ranch to his brother unless his daughter marries. She explains she has a fiancé that she actually made up. Due to his bumbling uncles, outlaw Michael Hughes is trapped at her ranch, but agrees to marry her so she can own the spread and he can keep his uncles from jail.

“The Ranger's Angel.” In 1870, former Army nurse Annaline Barkley comes from DC to assist her brother the physician with his practice. However she and three men are trapped inside a stagecoach station surrounded by Randolph Thorn and his gang. She persuades Ranger Wynn McCord to take her with him as he flees into the night seeking to find help.

These are engaging reprints from four different Texas western romance anthologies published in the last five years with wonderful lead characters.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Trouble With Love-Beth Ciotta

The Trouble With Love

Beth Ciotta

St. Martin’s, Mar 26, 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9781250001337

Over a decade ago in Sugar Creek, Vermont, Jayce Bello and Rocky Monroe fell in love, but instead of a forever relationship, they broke up. Jayce moved to Brooklyn wondering to this day what he did wrong while Rocket remained home wondering if any other man will replace him in her heart. Their recent reunion went the way it always did between them: love and hate competing for lead emotion (see Fool For Love).

At a meeting of the Cupcake Lovers, Tasha Burke announces she heads to New York to close a book deal with Highlife Publishing. Purple-haired Gram Monroe insists Rocky goes too though the two younger women dislike each other going back to high school. In the Big Apple Tasha stays at the Waldorf while Rocky stays at a less pricy hotel. Though very early in the morning, Jayce calls his dawn rising friend Rocky’s older brother Dev to tell him he is moving back home while also learning Rocky is in New York. When a mugger snatches Rocky’s purse, she turns to Jayce for help; he vows this time to marry his beloved.

Though the prime arc, there is much more to this engaging second chance at love as what is happening to the rest of the Cupcake Lovers Club members is also included. Although the overused major misunderstanding premise has kept the in-love couple apart, readers will enjoy the romance as Jayce and Rocky need to open up with their fears as much as their desires.

Harriet Klausner