Archive for February, 2009

Glamour-Louise Bagshawe Klausner

February 28, 2009


Louise Bagshawe

Plume, Feb 2009, $15.00

ISBN: 9780452289420

The three young girls meet at a posh Beverly Hills high school because they are the outsiders; undesirables not good enough to mingle with the rest of the affluent student body. Thus Texan Sally Lassiter, Englishwoman Jane Morgan and Jordanian Helen Yanna form their own pact to help each other survive the bullying barracudas and harassing sharks. However, finances force Sally and Jane to drop out and Helen is packed off in marriage to live in the Middle East.

Over the next few years separately all three obtain business success with Sally a designer, Jane a corporate officer, and Haya (formerly Helen) an international carpet seller. A decade later, the trio meets in Los Angeles; where they concoct a concept to combine their skills to open up a luxurious shop GLAMOUR. While the store is extremely successful, the partners never recapture the level of friendship they had as teens and drift in separate directions while taking potshots at one another.

The obvious homage to Sex and the City is throughout this intriguing character study, but Louise Bagshawe puts her own spin on affluence and trysts. The three prime players contain differing personalities. As teens they need to bond with someone in similar dire straits, but as late twenties with professional success, they no longer need one another. Although there are some cul de sac scenes that feel like padding, fans of women’s modern fiction will enjoy following the exploits of three women in Los Angeles.

Harriet Klausner


A Flickering Light-Jane Kirkpatrick

February 28, 2009

A Flickering Light

Jane Kirkpatrick

Waterbrook, Apr 2009, $13.99

ISBN: 9781578569809

In 1907 in Winona, fifteen year old Jessie Ann Gaebele loves to take pictures of in Minnesota’s beautiful landscapes. Neither her family nor her peers understand the teenage girl’s obsession with photography. No one except that is professional photographer F.J. Bauer who feels an affinity with the young girl as he loves picture taking too. He hires her as his apprentice.

Jessie Ann proves adept at all the workings involving photography including the use of dangerous toxic chemicals in the backroom and the flash powder used as lighting. However, she feels out of her league as a woman and loaded with guilt when she falls in love with her married mentor as she knows his somewhat difficult wife Jessie is not a bad person. Although he knows not to act on his wants, Bauer finds himself increasingly desiring his apprentice especially her unabated enthusiasm for what he cherishes too, photography.

Reaching back to her family tree, historical novelist Jane Kirkpatrick provides readers with a terrific “biographical fiction” of her grandmother as a teen at the turn of the previous century breaking the gender barrier. The key to this super tale is that the prime three players based on real persona are not over the top nasty people; instead the audience will empathize with each. Readers will also obtain a deep look at the danger of photography in the first decade of the twentieth century and cannot help compare it with “danger” of the digital age; as exposure has different connotations. Ms. Kirkpatrick provides a profound look at an era when women were given limited options yet Jessie Ann refuses to allow societal restraints from preventing her from being what she wanted to be and open-minded Bauer encourages her.

Harriet Klausner

The Seduction of a Duke-Donna MacMeans

February 28, 2009

The Seduction of a Duke

Donna MacMeans

Berkley, Apr 2009, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425228067

In 1880 her mother ignores Newport heiress Francesca Winthrop desire to marry someone she loves as inane because social status is everything. Instead mom arranges a marriage for her daughter with an impoverished English duke.

William Chambers prefers to marry for love or not at all, but has no choice except to accept the Winthrop’s social climber’s offer for her wealthy daughter. Bitterly he accepts his title for her money.

William and Fran meet at a masquerade ball and each is attracted to the other. He gores so far as thinking marriage to an American if it is her will be okay; she thinks similar thoughts. However, both are anxious leading to a great misunderstanding they misconstrue what is happening until Fran reads a courtesan’s diary; given to her a few months ago when the American was in Paris by her former tutor. She applies the tips and soon has William out of control with desire. However, her past surfaces and threatens the marriage between the heiress and the duke.

The sequel to THE EDUCATION OF MRS. BRIMLEY, THE SEDUCTION OF A DUKE is a wonderful Victorian romance starring two likable protagonists who fall in love while she applies the courtesan’s diary to their relationship. The story line contains droll double entendres, a staple of Donna MacMeans. With a strong support cast and plenty of wit, sub-genre readers will enjoy this intelligent amusing historical.

Harriet Klausner

Packing Heat-Penny McCall

February 27, 2009

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Packing Heat

Penny McCall

Berkley, Apr 2009, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425228050

On her first case, desperate FBI agent Harmony Swift enters Lewisburg United States Penitentiary to free white-collar criminal Cole Hackett’ because she needs his computer skills to rescue a kidnapped agent whose ransom is information; her agency geeks will not do it. Two feds try to stop her breaking him out, bur she succeeds. She tries to persuade him to help, but he points out he is no longer the naive kid who the FBI “F” eight years ago leading to is incarceration; trust of a fed is no longer in his DNA.

Shockingly, the FBI conceals the break-out, which makes no sense to Harmony. As Cole hacks into the FBI database seeking the information, Harmony reconsiders what is happening now and what happened to Cole the first time he worked for the FBI; something is not right, but she has no idea what that is and who is behind the scenes manipulating everyone including an escapee convict and a renegade agent on the run.

This fast-paced thriller stars two wonderful people on the lam as he is rightfully a pessimist and she is an optimist; as a team they slice off the top half of the glass that contained liquid to the midpoint making it filled to the top. Fans will enjoy the wild adventures of the Fed and the anti-Fed as they fall in love while working on allegedly saving a kidnapped agent, but nothing is quite the way it seems in this action packed romantic suspense.

Harriet Klausner

I’m Perfect, You’re Doomed: Tales from a Jehovah’s Witness Upbringing

February 27, 2009

I’m Perfect, You’re Doomed: Tales from a Jehovah’s Witness Upbringing

Kyria Abrahams

Touchstone, Mar 3 2009, $25.00

ISBN: 1416556842

Kyria Abrahams was raised as a Jehovah Witness, which she explains means humans are divided between the have and have nots; the have true believers will live forever in a new Eden on earth while the “worldly” will be shunned though ironically the Jehovah’s Witness extended community pray for their salvation. She did not celebrate Halloween or her birthday except with thank you prayers to the Lord. Every night she would go to bed expecting the end so had her end of the world pack ready for expeditious movement. She shunned a friend for having a devil’s device, an Ouija board. However, when she married as a teen she began to have doubts as she hated her spouse and turned to drugs and alcohol. When that failed she went on line where Ms. Abrahams discovered a whole new world out there including adultery. Now in her twenties, she is a shunned fallen one having kicked Jehovah out of her life and having the Jehovah Witness “fire” her.

This is a well written autobiography that provides insight into the lifestyle of a former member and her family. The keys to this intriguing account are that the author uses humor and clearly remains fond of her apparently dysfunctional family and even the religion; she avoids acrimonious nastiness. The memoir changes in tone from semi-humorous to totally serious at the point Ms. Abrahams married as she quickly detested her husband and turned to escapist self destructing activity. Although the author seemingly has turned her life around as evident by this fine book, she fails to explain how and what helped her overcome two plus decades of upbringing. Still Ms. Abrahams provides readers with a profound anecdotal look of growing up as a Jehovah Witness.

Harriet Klausner

Hold Love Strong-Matthew Aaron Goodman

February 27, 2009

Hold Love Strong

Matthew Aaron Goodman

Touchstone, Apr 2009, $24.95

ISBN: 9781416562030

In 1982 in the Ever Park project in New York City, thirteen year old Jelly Singleton gives birth to Abraham on the bathroom floor of her grandmother’s apartment while her mom thinks her daughter is having a gas attack. The rest of the family that includes his nine year old Uncle Roosevelt, his Aunt Rhonda and her brood especially the oldest four year old Donnel are at the movies watching ET.

Over the tweener years, Abraham dreamed of becoming a member of the Huxtable family in Brooklyn while his mom turned to crack and Roosevelt went to prison. During that period grandma kept the family together. When Donnel, who was more like an older brother to his younger cousin, goes to prison, Abraham is ready to give up. However, his girlfriend Kaya keeps the pressure on that education is their tickets out of the projects. His hope for a scholarship resides more on his basketball skills than his classroom success, but with encouragement he tries to improve his academic standing.

HOLD LOVE STRONG is a powerful look at inner city life and survival in the projects as a poor family struggles to overcome addiction, deaths, incarcerations, and broken dreams. Grandma is the key to keeping her family together and giving hope to all even addicted Jelly and Donnel who through away an NBA career. Character driven, Matthew Aaron Goodman provides a profound family drama of living in the projects where daily existence easily snuffs out the hopes and dreams of those who want the life of the Huxtables.

Harriet Klausner

Madame Bliss-Charlotte Lovejoy

February 27, 2009

Madame Bliss

Charlotte Lovejoy

Signet, Mar 2009, $15.00

ISBN: 9780451225979

In the eighteenth century waif Marianna Wren is taken into an aristocratic home where she became a servant. However, as she blossomed into a beautiful woman, she is accused of unbecoming behavior when her owner took her virginity and consequently fired her. Marianna tries to hitch a ride and is picked up by Calliope. They hit it off and the more experienced woman tutors her new friend in the vast delights of a wide variety of sex with male and female partners

Marianna loves her new freedom and changes her name to Madame Bliss. She enjoys seduction and being seduced, but deep down in her heart, Bliss knows Marianna is still that stray trying to belong to someone; she wants to love and be loved by her own personal Eros.

As Signet states, MADAME BLISS will remind readers of Fanny Hill and Tom Jones. This is the amorous adventures of a woman of pleasure in a delightfully lewd coming of age historical. Marianna is like a wren until her mentor teaches her the love and joy of blissful bisexual bawdy encounters of all kind. Fans will enjoy Madame Bliss’ erotic escapades.

Harriet Klausner

The Winter Vault-Anne Michaels

February 26, 2009

The Winter Vault

Anne Michaels

Knopf, Apr 21 2009, $25.00

ISBN: 9780307270825

Avery and Jean met near the St. Lawrence River. The engineer and botanist are attracted to one another, fall in love and marry. In 1964 he is assigned as part of a team dismantling, relocating, and reconstructing the Great Temple. Traumatized with the loss of their child that leaves both heartbroken, their relationship becomes a victim too as they go back to Toronto separately.

Avery returns to school as an architectural student and Jean meets Polish artist Lucjan, a Polish immigrant. However, Lucjan proves errant when it comes to relationships; as if he is unable to relax perhaps from his time in Warsaw when the Red Army more than just threatened everyone. Jean has her baggage too as she has not forgotten Avery and their history together that included two watery destructions of the past.

This is a profound tale that looks deep into the debate between historical heritage and modern day progress as Avery and Jean participate in the development of two watery graveyards that on the one hand provided great economic growth to the respective regions. The story line is character driven with the action somewhat muted to the support role as THE WINTER VAULT is more cerebrally poetically passive than active.

Harriet Klausner

Mommy by Mistake-Rowan Coleman

February 26, 2009

Mommy by Mistake

Rowan Coleman

Pocket, Mar 2009, $15.00

ISBN: 1416583882

She is stuck on a train when she meets him where they talk. The next thing Natalie Curzon knows is that they are in Venice enjoying the sights in between making love. Jack tells her he will call her soon, but does not; breaking her heart. She soon learns she is pregnant and keeps her baby Freddie. When her electricity fails, she tells Gary the electrician that her spouse Freddie’s daddy is in Dubai.

Natalie meets Gary’s assistant teenage girlfriend Tiffany, also as a single mom is raising a child who black and tells her the same lie. The pair attend a first aid class where they meet Meg who believes her husband is cheating. They begin to form a single moms’ group with two other women. Jack is back and wants to be a father to Freddie, but shows no interest in Natalie, who detests the word platonic because she loves Jack. She also wonders how to tell her new sisters that she is single having made up a spouse in Dubai.

The latest Rowan Coleman mommy lit (see THE ACCIDENTAL MOTHER and ANOTHER MOTHER’S LIFE) will remind the audience of family dramas by Eileen Goude and Barbara Delinsky. Natalie learns the hard way that raising a baby nukes the parent’s lifestyle as does her new friends who forge a support group to help control the nuclear waste. Points of view rotate so the audience knows what the prime characters are thinking and feeling, but Natalie is the focus as a likable vulnerable single mom.

Harriet Klausner

Gorgeous As Sin-Susan Johnson

February 26, 2009

Gorgeous As Sin

Susan Johnson

Berkley, Mar 2009, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425226810

In 1891, his Grace the Duke of Groveland George Montagu Fitz-Robbins Monckton, left the countryside and his latest married paramour at the urgent request of his barrister Prosper Hutchinson. Prosper explains that if a Mrs. St. Vincent refuses to sell her bookstore on Monckton Row, his project would fail and His Grace will be out at least 90,000 pounds. The lady is obstinate.

To save his project, Fitz visits the lady in question who refuses money. He likes her courage and stubbornness so different than all the women he knows who do whatever he asks of them. He changes plan from cash to seduction as no female can resist his lure. Rosalind knows her adversary is GORGEOUS AS SIN and desires him, but she knows he will break her heart so rejects her need of him and his enticement leading to an immovable force colliding with an irresistible object.

This engaging late Victorian heated romance stars two enemy combatants insisting it is only passing lust that will go away like gas does. The gender war makes for a fine historical as Fitz and Rosalind feel they have good cause to motivate them to fight and win the battle while ignoring their respective seditious hearts and other body parts. Although the plot is a bit thin, Susan Johnson provides an enjoyable late nineteenth century romance because of heated hostility between the lead couple.

Harriet Klausner