Archive for November, 2008

The Sweet in Between-Sheri Reynolds

November 29, 2008

The Sweet in Between

Sheri Reynolds

Shaye Areheart (Crown), Nov 2008, $23.00

ISBN: 0307393895

 

In Virginia seventeen year old Kendra “Kenny” Lugo fears the near future.  Her mom died years ago of cancer and her dad is serving time.  She lives with her dad’s girlfriend “Aunt” Glo who has two kids of her own (tweener Quincy and teen Tim-Tim) and her seven years old granddaughter Daphne, dumped on her by her oldest child.  Glo survives her responsibilities thanks in part to prescription pain killers.

 

Kenny fears Glo will kick her out of her home once she becomes an adult, which is soon.  The teen also struggles with identity issues especially hiding her feminine body.  When their alcoholic neighbor Jarvis Stanley accidentally kills a college girl, Kenny obsesses over the deceased as her morbidity makes her believe Glo will kick her to the curb soon.  Her plan is to soon become responsible and dependable; Glo will beg her to stay.

 

Told by the frightened Kenny, THE SWEET IN BETWEEN is a fascinating family drama starring a frightened teen filled with anger, remorse and fear.  The rest of Glo’s extended family is fully developed characters who enhance the at times subtle and other moments in your face story line.  However, this is Kenny’ tale as she sadly expects the worse but hopes for the best, which in this case is not being kicked out of the only shelter, albeit a relatively poor one, she knows at a time she wonders why she feels different from girls her age.

 

Harriet Klausner


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Forever Princess-Meg Cabot

November 29, 2008

Forever Princess

Meg Cabot

Harper, Jan 2009, $16.99

ISBN: 9780061232923

 

Genovia Princess Amelia is looking forward to the near future as she will soon turn eighteen, graduate high school, go to her senior prom, and attend an Ivy League School or an equivalent in Europe.  Princess Amelia shows everyone her public upbeat persona especially with her kingdom about to hold their first elections.

 

Mia fears her make believe world is about to collapse.  Grandmere plans to host her eighteenth birthday gala in a style fitting a royal, which means no fun.  Her boyfriend J.P. has not asked her to the prom and for whatever dumb male reason he has not, she rationalizes though the clock is running out.  Finally all those schools like Yale, Columbia and Harvard have not tendered a student seat although she has everyone think they did.  Making matters more complicated is the triumphant return from Japan of her former boyfriend Michael, whose medical technology procedure has been adopted as the way to go.  Finally, even her medieval romance novel (see RANSOM MY HEART) written under the pseudonym Meg Cabot has failed to find a publisher.  Mia has less than one month before the big crunch implodes her world.

 

 The tie in to the “co-authored RANSOM MY HEART is fun and cute, as Meg Cabot and Mia Thermopolis write the novel, which in the final Princess Diaries’ tale includes excerpts.  Fans will appreciate the usual doubting Thomasina as Mia disparages herself for fear of failing even as she has grown from the frightened teen eleven episodes ago to understanding the significance of a strong front to hide a queasy stomach.  The audience will be elated with the climatic final tale wondering if all will go right as the heroine turns eighteen.

 

Harriet Klausner

Star Bright-Catherine Anderson

November 29, 2008

Star Bright

Catherine Anderson

Signet, Jan 2009, $7.99

ISBN: 0451225716

 

Knowing how lethally dangerous her affluent influential husband Peter Danning is as he has killed two previous wives and not desiring to be next when he finally goes over the edge with her, Lorraina Ann with help from her friend Janet arranges for her death on a ship at sea to fool him when he searches for her.  Rainie Ann no longer exists as Anna Pritchard is born.  Besides altering her appearance, Anna plans to disappear to isolated tiny Crystal Falls, Oregon.

 

In the small town, Anna obtains work as a bookkeeper at Parker Harrigan’s horse ranch.  However, Parker believes his new employee is not just hiding secrets, but concealing her identity for whatever reason.  As their attraction grows, Anna fears it because she knows all she can give to her beloved employer and his extended family is death if her psychopathic spouse finds her in Crystal Falls.

 

The third of the five Harrigan siblings romantic suspense tales (see MORNING LIGHT and SUN KISSED) is an exhilarating tale that refreshes the theme of a woman in peril from her insane but connected husband (think of Roberts-Bergen in Sleeping with the Enemy).  The story line is fast-paced from the moment Rainie Ann no longer exists and Anna Pritchard with her Elvira wig does.  Fans will enjoy the latest Harrigan saga as the besieged brave woman and the readers know the maniacal predator is coming for her.

 

Harriet Klausner

Lone Star Woman-Sadie Callahan

November 29, 2008

Lone Star Woman

Sadie Callahan

Signet, Jan 2009, $6.99

ISBN: 0451225775

 

In West Texas three generations of Campbell-Strayhorn blood own the Circle C Ranch.  Grandpa may be the family patriarch, but his son J.D. runs the spread while his granddaughter Jude looks forward to soon take over from her dad.  However, the two men in her life prefer Jude to marry and raise the next generation, preferably males.

 

Independent and upset with her dad and granddad, Jude buys the nearby 6-0 ranch to prove to her chauvinistic kin she can run a spread.  However, she finds a stranger nesting on her new property; to her chagrin, recently divorced Brady Fallon makes her warm all over until he asserts he inherited the ranch she just bought.  Brady is attracted to Jude, but he is coming off of a nasty divorce and knows better than to fool around with the daughter of his neighbor, who has given him a job that he needs to bring in money to restore the 6-0 ranch.  As J.D. mentors Brady to replace him at Circle C, her daddy breaks Jude’s heart again.

 

LONE STAR WOMAN is a fabulous contemporary ranch romance that is kept fresh by the lifestyle depth of the three generations of Campbell-Strayhorn’s.  The storyline us fast-paced as Brady struggles between loyalties and Jude by betrayal by the three men in her life.  Readers will appreciate this fine Texas tale starring a strong female and three chauvinists who love her but fail to give her the chance she deserves.

 

Harriet Klausner

Hot Mail-Janice Maynard

November 29, 2008

Hot Mail

Janice Maynard

Signet, Jan 2009, $14.00

ISBN: 045122583X

 

In Statlerville, Tennessee Jane Norman has always wanted her former best friend Ethan Oldham, but he never displayed any inclination of caring for her that way.  Their friendship forged as the two tallest kids in junior high school ended four years when Ethan became engaged to a gold-digging pariah.  Although Jane sort of moved on, her love for Ethan remains strong.

 

Deciding he will never take the first step, thirty-two year old Jane decides on an anonymous inane HOT MAIL campaign to win his heart or at least intimate time with him in his bed.  She begins sending him love letters so graphic he fears his hands will burn by touching them; once a week they arrive and he finds himself anxiously waiting for the next one even as he wonders who is sending them.  When someone burglarizes Jane’s stationary store, Assistant Chief of Police Ethan investigates.  As they renew their friendship ironically the erotic letter writer causes a triangle that leaves Jane looking on with desire while her shadow self wins his heart.

 

HOT MAIL is an amusing contemporary romance that contains underlying issues which strengthens the story line.  The lead couple is a terrific pairing even if Ethan is ignorant to the facts while the support cast especially his older sister facing empty nest syndrome with her ex in Florida and her daughter about to attend college at U of South Florida deepens the plot.  The letter campaign proves too successful opening up more problems for the heroine whose New Year’s Resolution looks dead with Valentine’s Day approaching.  Janice Maynard provides a delightful humorous charmer.

 

Harriet Klausner


Bedeviled-Maureen Child

November 29, 2008

Bedeviled

Maureen Child

Signet, Jan 2009, $6.99

ISBN: 0451225767

 

Maggie Donovan goes over to her soon to be former fiancé’s office to return him is ABBA CDs and his classic Star Trek DVDs only to walk in on a nightmare.  Something female from a horror flick is dining on poor nice Joe Erickson before turning to chow on Maggie.  She grabs the bi*ch’s pendant and uses it against the carnivore, which enables her to survive the demonic assault, but inhales a strange powder that gives her astonishing powers.

 

Otherworld Fae warrior Culhane feels his hundreds of years waiting impatiently for the right woman which has finally occurred.  He believes Maggie, who has Fae blood in her, is destined to fight and defeat the evil Queen Mab.  However, in spite of her libido deserting her with her attraction to Culhane, she rejects the Fae until attacks on her human family begin.  She knows she must confront Mab who has everything going for her in a one on one battle except for Maggie’s grit to keep her loved one safe from the malevolent witch.

 

Maggie owns this wonderful urban fantasy although some might argue she adapts to her off kilter new world disorder too easily.  She is terrific as the chosen one (at least Culhane’s chosen one), which she believes only places a bulls-eye on her chest for Queen Mab to send her worms to attack her.  Readers will enjoy the opening gamut as the Child universe is established in a way that the heroine feels so BEDEVILED she would empathize with Alice falling through the looking glass.

 

Harriet Klausner

Simple Wishes-Lisa Dale

November 28, 2008

Simple Wishes

Lisa Dale

Forever, Jan 2009, $6.99

ISBN: 0446406899

 

With her failure at making it in New York followed by her mom Marge’s death, Adele Martin quits her job as an art gallery manager and leaves Brooklyn to return to the Pennsylvania mountain cottage she grew up in to consider what next.  Adele and her mom had a falling out over the former leaving for the big city and now she feels guilty over their estrangement although she knows part of the problems was her mom’s secret past.  Aunt Christine comes by to see her niece for the first time in years and weekend warriors the Lopresti family invites her to Korean fare.

 

Adele meets her next door neighbor, the only year round resident, artist “Hermit Jay” Westvelt.  They are attracted to one another, but have differing opinions about Marge.  As they fall in love, she begins to learn the deepest secrets about her unknown father, her mother and her aunt that make her want to flee the Pocono’s for Brooklyn and the restraining order she left behind.  Jay hopes to persuade her that mountain life is good when filled with love and besides the big city of Scranton is nearby.

 

More a deep family drama with a romantic subplot, SIMPLE WISHES is an interesting character study of a woman who begins to learn what love is and is not after meeting Jay, Skipper the dog, her aunt and the Lopresti family.  Before them love was conditional with controlling strings and IOUs; after them she begins to realize love can be unconditional just there.  Although the story line lacks action with the focus on the characters’ emotions, fascinatingly, the Lopresti teen granddaughter is her prime teacher, as Adele sees history repeat the same errors she made, but will she understand in time to save her relationship with Jay starting with her real given first name.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

 

Promises of Change-Joan Medlicott

November 28, 2008

Promises of Change

Joan Medlicott

Pocket, Jan 2009, $15.00

ISBN: 9781416524588

 

In rural Covington, North Carolina, Hannah and Max marry, but maintain their separate houses although she spends many nights at his.  Her two friends Grace and Amelia who share a farmhouse with Hannah are fine with the arrangement, as is Max.

 

However, their marital bliss abruptly ends when Max’s estranged son Zachary accompanied by his pregnant wife Sarina, arrives from India.  Hannah and her two best buddies welcome Sarina to the Tar Heel State with friendship and quickly the mother-daughter in-laws forge a strong bond while baby shopping in town together.  However, the schism between their husbands remains wider than the Great Gorge even after Sarah is born, which dampens the joy of a newborn

 

Fans of the Covington tales will enjoy the latest escapades as Hannah’s new family issues take center stage although plenty happens to Grace and Amelia too.  Hannah worries that the estrangement between her beloved husband and his son, which already huts the pair, will cause pain to others, but is unsure how to proceed to bringing about a reconciliation.  Obviously for the Covington audience, this is a warm character driven entry; as all the novels are.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Love We Share Without Knowing-Christopher Barzak

November 28, 2008

The Love We Share Without Knowing

Christopher Barzak

Bantam, Dec 2008, $12.00

ISBN: 9780553385649

 

In Ami, Japan, sixteen year old American Elijah Fulton is bored.  His only outlet is running.  On an isolated path he meets a red fox who seems to imply he should follow; he does and ends up in a sacred circle.  Soon after still suffering ennui, Elijah without telling anyone takes the train to Tokyo.  After spending the day there, he tries to find the train back to the town where he, his parents and younger sister reside, but fails; no one seems to help him until a teen calling herself Midori helps him as she is going there too.  After leaving the train at Ami they walk together until she heads to her father’s farm while he goes home.  Later he learns Midori committed suicide thirteen years ago.

 

In Tokyo, Hitumi meets Kazuko in a restaurant after each of their respective dates let them down.  Soon afterward Asami and Tadashi the only male of the four form a suicide club pact that reminds Hitumi of her late friend Midori.

 

More a series of somewhat related vignettes rather than short stories or a novel, THE LOVE WE SHARE WITHOUT KNOWING is a deep look at loneliness and its twin need to belong to others.  Christopher Barzak makes the case that the human need for companionship is a basic requirement just a notch less critical than physical survival needs like food, water and shelter.  Well written with more episodes than those above, but somewhat depressing because part of belonging could lead to negative consequences like forming a suicide club pact.  Fans who appreciate a powerful character study that gets into the essence of human need (think of the Maslow’s hierarchy) will relish this engaging but gloomy glimpse into the human psyche.

 

Harriet Klausner

Border Moonlight-Amanda Scott

November 28, 2008

Border Moonlight

Amanda Scott

Forever, Jan 2009, $6.99

ISBN: 0446541354

 

In 1386 Edinburgh, at the altar, fourteen years old Sibylla Cavers says no to a marriage to ancient Lord Galston.  A year later she is at the altar where she meets her latest groom for the first time, but says no again when he cannot even smile; he vows vengeance for her impudence.  Two years later she informs her irate frustrated father Sir Malcolm she will not marry his third choice who spends all his time with his men.  Her father writes her off and plans to arrange his next oldest daughter’s marriage, praying she is more biddable.

 

In 1391, Sibylla is riding alone when she hears a child’s scream.  She sees the lass drowning in the nearby river and makes a gallant attempt to rescue the young lass from the current, but is hurt in the unsuccessful process.  Laird Simon Murray returning home accompanied by a small contingency saves her while his men rescue the child.  He takes the injured Sibylla home even as both recognize one another from her jilting him at the altar over three years ago.  As they become better acquainted with one another, they fall in love, but trouble on the border appears ready to divide clans in a potentially ferocious war.

 

This is an exciting Border romance with plenty of action as strife seems everywhere starting with an abduction.  The story line is fast-paced from the opening moment when the intrepid Sybilla says no to the priest in front of her father and others and never slows down until the final clan confrontation.  Amanda Scott fans will enjoy her latest medieval romance starring a brave female and the arrogant laird in a terrific historical gender war.

 

Harriet Klausner