Archive for December, 2008

The God Cookie-Geoffrey Wood

December 31, 2008

The God Cookie

Geoffrey Wood

Waterbrook, Feb 2009, $13.99

ISBN: 9781400073443

Coffee shop owner John Parrish enjoys debating anything and everything with his best friends, his employees Mason and Duncan. He especially relishes their arguments over faith and Heeding God’s voice. At a Chinese restaurant, Parrish opens up his fortune cookie to a bizarre message: “Take the corner.” Whereas his buddies believe this is some cookie cutter nonsense, John believes God is calling him to take a leap of faith.

Although he has doubts and expects he will end up humiliated in the eyes of his two friends and several strangers, John heeds the note to go to the nearest corner to obtain further divine guidance. There he picks up a mysterious letter from the ground by the bus stop. John decides his heavenly quest is to deliver the note to its rightful owner. His odyssey has begun.

The story line starts slow until Parrish’s quest leads him to meet people who react differently to his heavenly need to deliver the letter. His mission enables him to see what others need as if he is wearing their shoes. The interaction between the lead character and the support cast makes for an unusual inspirational tale that fans will enjoy trekking along side Parrish on his journey of the soul.

Harriet Klausner

Love and Other Natural Disasters-Holly Shumas

December 31, 2008

Love and Other Natural Disasters

Holly Shumas

5 Spot, Jan 2009, $13.99

ISBN: 9780446504775

During Thanksgiving with her spouse and their five years old son Jacob, eight months pregnant Eve thinks her Jonathon is having an affair, sort of. She sees how friendly he is on the phone with some unknown female and concludes where there is smoke there is fire. He denies her accusations.

Eve opens his e-mail, which affirms he never physically touched the other woman, but shared a deep emotional relationship with her. However, Eve and Jon also realize how much they had drifted apart when both considers whether it is worth saving their marriage for themselves and not just the kids.

This is a thought provoking deep look at what is cheating in a relationship especially in the electronic age. Fans will ponder whether one is stepping out on a spouse although there is no physical contact between the mate and the other person. Holly Shumas also raises the ethical question of whether it is ethically acceptable to perform domestic spying when a spouse suspects their mate of an affair; especially to check the personal email to find evidence they are cheating. Although the story line is a bit slow as the focus is deeply on the emotional behavior of the lead couple, readers will appreciate this fascinating sharp tale that asks what denotes cheating in the modern age.

Harriet Klausner

We Take This Man-Candice Dow and Daaimah S. Poole

December 31, 2008

We Take This Man

Candice Dow and Daaimah S. Poole

Grand Central, Jan 2009, $14.99

ISBN: 9780446501835

In Florida Dwight and Tracey Wilson seem to have the perfect marriage as they raise their two children in their new home. They are euphoric when Dwight has a chance for a major promotion, but Tracey changes her mind when she learns the job is in Maryland. They talk and argue over relocating until Dwight takes the position and leaves on own with plans to return to Florida on weekends; while Tracey remains behind with the kids. That arrangement fails.

Dwight ends his marriage with Tracey and soon afterward has an affair with his work peer Alicia Dixon. When she becomes pregnant, Dwight marries her, but he is unaware that his divorce from Tracey is not finalized. Instead his legal wife arrives in Maryland hoping to save their marriage.

This is a well written entertaining extended family drama starring three people with personal issues that make each struggle with relationships. However, most readers will have a problem with the basic premise that each of the two women wants Dwight as their mate to help them raise their kids although he comes across as emotionally feeble and unable to cope with one family let alone raising two. Fans will enjoy this intriguing tale of a bigamist caught between two women, three children, and his inability to decide what to do; leaving it up to Tracey and Alicia to come up with an alternative family arrangement if the two strong women can stop their bickering and compromise.

Harriet Klausner


Houston, We Have a Problema-Gwendolyn Zepeda

December 31, 2008

Houston, We Have a Problema

Gwendolyn Zepeda

Grand Central, Jan 2009, $12.99

ISBN: 9780446698528

In Houston twenty –six year old single Jessica Luna is perhaps the most superstitious person in Texas; she will argue otherwise insisting it is a survival technique to dealing with her family especially her mom and older sister. She depends totally on psychic Madame Hortensia for guidance and buys special good luck gizmos from the spiritualist especially after the clairvoyant makes three predictions that all happen.

Jessica has decisions to make as she loathes her job in insurance even with a promotion coming her way when she would prefer to use her Art History degree. However, it is the two men recently in her life who represents her work vs. her vocation whom she must choose from. Guillermo the lazy flaky Latino artist and a prim and proper white businessman Jonathan are attracted to her. Jessica turns to her advisor Hortensia for her job decision and for which man she should select.

HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEMA is an entertaining lighthearted Latina chick lit romp focusing on the metamorphosis of a young woman lacking confidence in herself so she depends on amulets, horoscopes, and psychic reading, etc. to boost her esteem. Readers will root for her while enjoying the amusing antics of Madame Hortensia, the psychic whose objective is contact with dead presidents on official government paper yet has a consciousness. Fans will enjoy this fascinating coming of age tale with a psychic dependence twist starring a passionate believer who relies on undependable forecasts to make her decisions.

Harriet Klausner

The Bishop’s Daughter-Tiffany L. Warren

December 31, 2008

The Bishop’s Daughter

Tiffany L. Warren

Grand Central, Jan 2009, $13.99

ISBN: 9780446195140

After his mom praised Bishop Kumal Prentiss with increasing fervor, freelance journalist Darrin Bainbridge moves to Atlanta with plans to investigate the celebrity minister. He figures he will not have to dig far to find dirt for a story and in turn obtain accolades from his father.

However, Darrin quickly realizes that God works in mysterious ways when Darrin visits Bishop Prentiss’ Freedom of Life Church to join the congregation as an undercover reporter. There he meets THE BISHOP’S DAUGHTER Emoni Prentiss. As he falls in love, Darrin uncovers the scandal that would make him famous and get his father’s praise, but he must weigh that with being the righteous person his beloved pious Emoni warrants.

THE BISHOP’S DAUGHTER is a terrific inspirational romance starring two fully developed wonderful lead characters. This fine duet is nicely supported by solid family members and the congregation. The story line is loaded with scripture as “Honor thy father” becomes increasingly difficult to achieve but the biblical references enhance the tale of love between the cynical undercover reporter and the title character. Their rotating perspective to include his blog augment a delightful realistic romance as doubting Darrin falls in love with the enemy’s daughter.

Harriet Klausner

Scandal-Carolyn Jewel

December 31, 2008

Scandal

Carolyn Jewel

Berkley, Feb 2009, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425225516

Gwilym, the Earl of Banallt, relishes his reputation as a rake of the first order. However, he has one clink in his roguish armor; he loves Sophie Evans, wife of a womanizing friend and sister to another. In other words, she is untouchable even if her marriage was scandalously over the anvil elopement.

In 1814 Sophie has become a widow, so Gwilym decides to pursue the intelligent independent Sophie. However, she rejects his advances, not wanting a tryst or two with any man as love failed her once already. Gwilym knows what he wants is not a short affair, but a lifetime with his beloved while Sophie hides her deepest love for him; he no longer fancies his reputation as he must overcome his bad reputations She illogically fears if she submits to her desire he will use her like Evans did and go on to his next conquest while she knows if he stays she will lose her independence.

Sophie makes this character driven Regency romance into a great story as she has learned her lesson re falling in love with rakes as unlike the myths that they make the most faithful dedicated spouses, they remain rogues charming to others while ignoring their wives. Thus Gwilym knows he has an extremely difficult task ahead to prove to his beloved he is just like the legends of reformed rakes and not like her late spouse. Fans will relish this jewel of a historical.

Harriet Klausner


The Funeral Planner Goes to the White House-Lynn Isenberg

December 30, 2008

The Funeral Planner Goes to the White House

Lynn Isenberg

Mira, Feb 2009, $13.99

ISBN: 9780778327356

Much of the country regardless of political affiliation is in shock with the unexpected sudden death of the charismatic First Lady Haley Stone; not only was she widely loved and respected, this was a first for a FLOTUS. Even before Americans can move on, the Secretary of State Jonathan Darcy having worked diligently and successfully forged a Middle East accord died from a broken heart three months after his terminally ill fifty-two years old wife did.

Funeral planner Madison Banks of Lights Out Enterprises had tastefully handled Mrs. Stone’s memorial and that of the Darcy couple; earning the appreciation of the nation and the widower President Andrew Stone. He appoints Maddy on the hastily created House Bereavement Specialists Committee, a temporary group to help the nation obtain closure and move on in the grief cycle. Called “The Grief Czar”, Maddy struggles with her assignment especially being there for Andrew as his “grief buddy”. She sets up a special government sponsored event, My Grief Day while her boyfriend Victor Winston works on the legacy of his former boss, Darcy, on implementing the peace accord in the Middle East.

There are too many “stand up comic” type jokes and chick lit asides that subtract from what otherwise is a superb satirical political thriller. The story line is fast-paced as Madison is drafted by POTUS to help the country work its way through the stages of grief. Fans will agree that Maddy has come a long way since her first foray into the Adam Smith world as THE FUNERAL PLANNER.

Harriet Klausner

Second Chance Pass-Robyn Carr

December 30, 2008

Second Chance Pass

Robyn Carr

Mira, Feb 2009, $5.99

ISBN: 0778326462

Friends Matt Rutledge and Paul Haggerty meet flight attendant Vanessa Booth, the daughter of a retired general. Matt pursued Vanni until they married; while Paul ever the marine stayed out of the way of their romance though he loved her too. However, Matt died leaving behind his pregnant widow.

Vanni raises their son Matt in Virgin River. She wants to move on with her life, but wants to do so with Paul who she loves. Paul loves her and her son, but he cannot act on his feelings out of honor to his fallen comrade who was killed in Baghdad and knowing he owes all to his pregnant lover Terri; he will do what is right by her and their offspring once the child is born and by his late best friend and his family.

The latest Virgin River contemporary romance (see SHELTER MOUNTAIN, WHISPERING ROCK, A VIRGIN RIVER CHRISTMAS, and VIRGIN RIVER) is an enjoyable tale that displays Robyn Carr’s talent as the plot skirts but never quite enters soap opera territory. The extended cast is strong (a trademark of this series). Although Paul seems too principled at times to be human, his morality makes the tale work as he tries to do what he believes in his marine heart is the honorable choice, but each step he takes seems filled with IEDs. Fans will relish this fine tale as the marine learns that values are complex and convoluted when it runs up against the values of others especially when heart felt in relationships forge.

Harriet Klausner

Fireside-Susan Wiggs

December 30, 2008

Fireside

Susan Wiggs

Mira, Feb 2009, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778326175

Public relations expert Kimberly van Dorn is reeling. Her professional basketball star lover dumped her following a public argument. Soon after that spat, she is fired by her firm. Needing time to recuperate and decide what next, Kim goes home to stay with her widowed mom for a while.

However, mom has converted their house into a boardinghouse; more shocking is she is dating one of her renters. Also residing there is baseball pitcher Bo Crutcher, who is about to reach the majors playing for the Yanks, and his son AJ. The child stays with him since AJ’s mom got into serious immigration issues and is probably going to be deported. However, Bo is caught between two conflicting spitballs as he has never met his kid before the dumping while he must attend the Fame School if he wants to play for the Yankees. Bo hires Kim to be his PR guru. Though attracted to one another, he can’t get to first base with her as she has vowed to never date professional athletes ever again.

The latest Lakeshore Chronicles (see SNOWFALL AT WILLOW LAKE, DOCKSIDE, THE WINTER LODGE and SUMMER AT WILLOW LAKE) is a fabulous lighthearted romantic romp. Susan Wiggs cleverly combines humor with a strong cast working through a difficult situation as life after striking out Kim has thrown two splitters at Bo just when he is about to join the Yankees.

Harriet Klausner

Gallant Match-Jennifer Blake

December 30, 2008

Gallant Match

Jennifer Blake

Mira, Feb 2009, $6.99

ISBN: 0778326195

In 1846 in New Orleans, Kentuckian sword master Kerr Wallace is proud to have earned the honor of being recognized as a maitre d’armes after years of obsessive training. However, through all that hard work, he also has not lost his focus. He lives for one thing; to avenge the death of his brother killed by Pierre Rouillard who resides like a noble in Mexico.

When Pierre decides to bring his Creole fiancé Mademoiselle Sonia Bonneval to him in Vera Cruz, he hires Kerr to escort her; unaware of the man’s deep grudge against him. Sonia surprises Kerr as she refuses to marry Pierre in a marriage arranged by her family. However, though attracted to her he ignores her wishes as he has two vows to complete. First he pledged to deliver her to Pierre safe and sound; second he pledged to his late sibling he will kill Pierre. The trek is dangerous, but the biggest peril awaits the travelers in Vera Cruz.

The latest Master at Arms historical romance (see CHALLENGE TO HONOR, GUARDED HEART, and ROGUE’S SALUTE) is terrific entry in a strong mid nineteenth century saga. The story line is refreshed by partially moving out of New Orleans (especially in Mexico) and by the Kentucky hero who has become a maitre d’armes for all the wrong reasons. Fans will relish how the French Creole Mademoiselle Sonia bursts his unshakeable resolve with love as his objective turns from killing her fiancé to keeping her safe especially from her fiancé. GALLANT MATCH lives up to its title as an exciting pairing of two wonderful protagonists.

Harriet Klausner