Archive for May, 2009

Obsession-Gloria Vanderbilt

May 31, 2009

Obsession

Gloria Vanderbilt

Ecco, Jun 23 2009, $16.99

ISBN: 9780061734892

The Bingham power couple seems to live the perfect life.  Anyone who sees the influential pair know they love one another while sharing a wonderful life of affluence. Besides the best in Manhattan, they own several estates as Talbot is a famous architect in demand.

On their tenth anniversary, he suddenly dies leaving his beloved Priscilla as a grieving widow.  Several years later, still mourning her loss, Pris begins going through her late husband’s papers.  She finds shocking letters from a Queen Bee that vividly leaves nothing to the imagination.  Not only was this Bee Talbot’s mistress, she was his dominatrix while he was her slave.  Hurt and despondent not just because he cheated on her, she loathes he hid a key part of himself from her although rationally Pris understand why as she finds his venture in to bondage disturbingly sick.  She dreams of meeting Queen Bee who also would like to meet the wife she mocked in her correspondence with her late favorite customer.

Although nothing new and somewhat slight, OBSESSION is an interesting relationship drama with the key connector being a dead person that both women cherished.  The story line is fast-paced with an underlying psychological vent from the moment Pris obsesses over challenging her rival for the memory of Talbot.  Although the plot is thin, fans of erotic character studies will want to know who dominates when the widow meets the mistress.

Harriet Klausner

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Sadomasochism for Accountants-Rosy Barnes

May 31, 2009

Sadomasochism for Accountants

Rosy Barnes

Marion Boyars, May 2009, $14.95

ISBN: 9780714531816

Her boyfriend Alan dumped thirty-eight year old accountant Paula insisting she was boring after spending eight years together.  By May, he has moved on becoming engaged to corporate take no prisoners climber Belinda whose only goal in life is to see her surname added to Smith, Smith-Brown and Smith.  Paula insists she is not stalking Alan when she regularly drives fifty miles to his neighborhood to shop although the calls have Belinda calling her a “crazy cow”.

Paula’s mom and therapist suggest she find an exciting diversion as her life seems dull to them.  Desperate to prove she is not just another tedious number cruncher, Paula joins Club Liscious.  The members know at first look that Paula does not belong there; they put a different spin to the thrill of the sex hunt.  Luda the transvestite assumes this newcomer won’t last more than a night. Thus she is shocked when the persistent Paula, used to grinding away looking for a missing pound or two in the ledger, keeps coming back.  Soon, Luda, Gretchen the kindhearted dominatrix, and domineering SlaveBoy decide to help her hogtie Alan who has woes with aggressive Belinda’s demands on his layback career.  Belinda is even aggressively uglier than usual as she is at war against a competitor who has the unfair advantages of being paraplegic for the step up the ladder.

This humorous satire lampoons sex, genders, and accountants through the actions of a purposely hyperbolic cast although told by Paula in a chick lit style.  The story line is very thin, but entertaining as Paula sets out to prove she is not boring by getting a “life” and Alan with it.  Fans will enjoy the antics of her support team and the bellicose reactions of Belinda as Alan is caught in the middle of a female surge.  SADOMASOCHISM FOR ACCOUNTANTS is a fun tale that does not worry about the bottom line.

Harriet Klausner

Good Things I Wish You-A. Manette Ansay

May 31, 2009

Good Things I Wish You

A. Manette Ansay

Harper, Jun 30 2009, $25.99

ISBN: 9780061239960

Recently divorced, forty-two years old Floridian Jeanette Hochmann is struggling with balance.  She works at the university, is raising her four years old child virtually alone, and is writing her novelization of the four decade relationship between nineteenth century German pianist Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms, her spouse Robert’s protégé as composers.  Jeannette, a child prodigy classical pianist, hopes to bring freshness to the legendary triangle, but instead feels lethargic and despondent following her acrimonious divorce war.

Through an agency Jeanette meets slightly older entrepreneur Hart, the first man she dates in nineteent years.  He coincidently comes from Clara’s hometown Leipzig, Germany.  Hart kindly helps her with translations of her research from German to English though they seem to have nothing in common except they are attracted to one another.  In fact she realizes his ten year old daughter, a musical prodigy, is much more like her than Hart is.  As they travel Germany and Switzerland together, their relationship heats up yet increasingly seems to emulate that of Clara and Johannes.

This is a fascinating look at the legendary triangle between the Schumann duo and Brahms in which the nineteenth century subplot with original photos and letters is extremely gripping; but in turn makes the modern day entry seem intrusive.  The cast in both centuries are fully developed, however once again the historical persona steal the show.  Although GOOD THINGS I WISH FOR YOU might have been better as an exclusive look at the historical relationship, fans will enjoy A. Manette Ansay’s fine tale of how convoluted life is then and now.

Harriet Klausner

The Art of Racing in the Rain-Garth Stein

May 31, 2009

The Art of Racing in the Rain

Garth Stein

Harper, Jun 9 2009, $14.99

ISBN: 9780061537967

In Seattle Enzo the mixed breed dog believes he is different from most if not all other canines as he knows he has a human soul and looks forward to his reincarnation as a man.  He adores his human companion Denny and loves their bachelor existences.  Denny works at an auto repair shop trying to obtain the capital needed to become a racing driver.  Enzo supports the dream by watching racing on TV especially tapes involving his best friend and has become an expert on the subject, but is frustrated with his inability to communicate with his two legged buddy.

Denny meets and falls in love with Eve.  They marry but the woman and the dog mistrust one another.  Denny is away racing when Eve goes into labor; she turns to Enzo as her coach.  Enzo loves the new baby, Zoe, but also fears for the mom as her “odor” smells rancid.  Eve becomes ill and dies.  Her parents who loathe Denny sue for custody of Zoe although they know they have no chance of winning.  Instead they arrange for their fifteen years old niece to seduce Enzo, but he rejects the teen.  Still she screams rape and now his case is weak.  With Enzo still riding shotgun, Denny keeps fighting.

Told by Enzo, THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN is an engaging inspirational tale that encourages people to go after your dreams.  The story line is filled with metaphors especially comparing life to race car driving on an oval track.  Although the in-laws’ shenanigans seem unreal particularly compared with a dog thinking like a human, fans will enjoy this fine uplifting anthropomorphic saga of life as seen through the personification of a thinking person’s dog.

Harriet Klausner

The Devil Is a Lie-ReShonda Tate Billingsley

May 31, 2009

The Devil Is a Lie

ReShonda Tate Billingsley

Pocket, Jul 7 2009, $14.00

ISBN 9781416578048

In Houston, Nina Lawson is euphoric when she learns that her six selected numbers were called in the lottery, which means she has won the eight million dollars prize.  Her elation quickly turns to rancor and outrage when everyone including strangers and family members she has not heard from in seemingly centuries demand a piece of the action.  However, the worst betrayal is her fiancé Rick Henderson, who is spending the money even before she has officially received the check.

Soon afterward, she learns that she is still married to Todd; his girlfriend Pam spent the divorce filing fee on a Fendi bag.  Pam feels it is destiny and insists Todd demand his share of the loot; he agrees, but hides his reason from his shallow lover; he needs money to pay for a heart transplant for his Grams.

This is a lighthearted amusing contemporary romance starring a wonderful caring protagonist who finds winning the lottery is not as life simplifying as she expected with people coming out of the woodwork like roaches demanding their share.  Rick and Pam are stereotypes of avaricious users while Nina and Todd are compassionate souls.  Fans will enjoy Nina’s plight as winning seems more like losing but with love and God she can overcome the devils blighting her life with their greedy burden.

Harriet Klausner

Suddenly One Summer-Barbara Freethy

May 31, 2009

Suddenly One Summer

Barbara Freethy

Pocket, Jul 2009, $7.99

ISBN 9781439101568

What makes Angel’s Bay different than the rest of California is a belief that angels exist.  There is proof as a video of sightings has gotten around, but reporter Reid Tanner assumes a clever fraud by the townsfolk.  He plans to prove the whole thing is a fake.

Tanner meets another newcomer Jenna Davies who saved a pregnant girl from suicide.  He is attracted to her because she avoids the publicity her rescue warrants.  Meanwhile, enigmatic etchings appear on a cliff that is nearly impossible to climb let alone stop to carve symbols.  Soon Tanner begins to wonder if the legends are true as someone unseen seems to help people there and glimpses of what appears to be previous lives occur.  Either that or someone is pulling off quite a fraud with no obvious motive.

The premise is intriguing as the townsfolk fully believe angels reside with them leading to a fun paranormal romance between the ultimate skeptic seeking the scam and the somewhat doubting but hopeful other newcomer.  They are a solid lead couple as each separately and together struggle to navigate the nuances of Angel’s Bay although the numerous appearances of the zillion townsfolk at times overwhelms their prime plot.  Still this is a warm lighthearted romp that fans will enjoy and look forward to apparently future angelic sagas.

Harriet Klausner

Bound by Your Touch-Meredith Duran

May 31, 2009

Bound by Your Touch

Meredith Duran

Pocket, Jul 2009, $6.99

ISBN 9781416592631

Lydia Boyce is a chip off the old block as a scholar; her dad is noted Egyptologist Henry Boyce.  However, some of the artifacts her dad sends from Egypt are fakes.  She investigates expecting her father to be exonerated and to affirm her theory that rakish Lord James Durham is the villain.

On first contact, each loathes the other as she assumes he is a shallow womanizer and he believes she is a phony intellectual snob.  Still they realize they need each other to uncover the real con artist.  As Lydia and James team up in a distrusting alliance, they search for the legendary Tears of Idihet and the forger.

This is an entertaining nineteenth century romantic romp starring two likable seemingly opposites.  The story line is fast-paced as the intelligent obstinate Lydia sets out to prove her father’s innocence when she confronts Durham.  He initially comes across as a typical rake, but also typical of the sib-genre demonstrates to her he is much more than just a drunken womanizer.  Fans will enjoy their escapades though there is too much descripton of the era that at times detracts from an otherwise fun historical Romancing the Stone like adventure.

Harriet Klausner

Rude Awakenings Of A Jane Austen Addict-Laurie Viera Rigler

May 31, 2009

Rude Awakenings Of A Jane Austen Addict

Laurie Viera Rigler

Dutton, Jun 25 2009, $25.95

ISBN: 9780525950769

Jane Mansfield dreamed of escaping the confines of the Regency era aristocracy.  So when she hears strange noises and wonders why Barnes the Butler has not silenced the source, she is shocked because she went to bed in 1813 and now finds herself in some place she never heard of: Los Angeles, California.  Besides the eerie red digits, she looks into a mirror but what she sees reflected is not her.  Worse Jane finds her abode is a dumpy apartment instead of gardens and servants.

She explores the tiny box of a home and realizes the “occupant” Courtney Stone, like her, is (or is that was or will be) a Jane Austen fan.  So far that is the only connection Jane can find.  Jane is a bit frightened and knows she is spoiled but likes the music, the in door lighting and plumbing, the variety of cold and icy food , the freedom of loose clothing and especially the container holding tiny actors portraying Pride and Prejudice.  She is taken aback with her attraction to Courtney Stone’s friend Wes and the woman’s former fiancé Frank.  The biggest stunner is sex does not mean compromise and marriage so with Austen’s novel to assist her in making it in this weird L.A., Jane Mansfield tries to figure out how to fit in modern American society.

This is the opposite direction of that of CONFESSIONS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT, in which an Internet era Southern California woman went to Austen’s Regency period. RUDE AWAKENINGS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT is a fun tale of “survival”.  The reactions of Courtney’s friends to Jane’s behavior including her diction makes the tale fun to read starting when she arrogantly informs Wes that her name is Jane Mansfield and he retorts in disbelief referring to the acting legend.  Fans of Ms. Austen will enjoy the second switch as an early nineteenth century aristocratic transplant tries to make it in Los Angeles.

Harriet Klausner

Happiness Key-Emilie Richards

May 30, 2009

Happiness Key

Emilie Richards

Mira, Jul 2009, $13.95

ISBN 9780778326601

Following the incarceration of her former spouse in a federal pen Tracy Deloche takes over managing his property Happiness Key.  However, she is shocked to find the five Gold Coast acres contains five dilapidated shacks with a tenant in four of the beach cottages; she moves into the vacant one.  Her renters are an eccentric group of seemingly losers.  Still she tries to be nice to the oddball runaways who pay to lease a dump from her.  Wanda Gray is fleeing a broken marriage; Janya Kapur is fleeing an arranged family marriage before she must wed; Alice Brooks is a widow who is becoming increasingly forgetful but does not want her son-in-law and granddaughter living with her; and the only male is hermit Herb Krause.

When Herb dies, Tracy leads the other three women in search of his family so they will know and if they want to arrange his funeral.  As the four seemingly different women forge friendships on their mission, they begin to help one another.

This is an interesting character study focusing on four diverse females who come togetehr when the fifth person in their tiny community dies.  The storyline is well written but the plot extremely thin.  Still Emilie Richards enables the audience to get inside the fearsome foursome females enabling us to understand what motivates them to “hide” at dumpy Happiness Key  and yet turn these five single dumps into a community.

Harriet Klausner

The Mist-Carla Neggers

May 30, 2009

The Mist

Carla Neggers

Mira, Jul 2009, $24.95

ISBN 9780778326243

Billionaire Norman Estabrook is charged with money laundering and abetting drug traffickers but his wealth allows him house arrest on his Montana ranch.  Used to doing whatever he wants, Estabrook targets a killing list of those who interfered with his lifestyle.  At the top are FBI director John March and Agent Simon Cahill; he also wants to murder the not so anonymous snitch, hotel owner Lizzie Rush and Cahill’s lover Kiera Sullivan as well as other loved ones.

Rush believes Estabrook is a deadly predator who will hunt down his adversaries in a thrill seeker equivalent of the Deadliest Game.  She goes to Ireland to warn Sullivan and meets SIS Agent Lord Will Davenport.  In Boston, March’s daughter Abigail Browning vanishes following a bombing of the house she lives in with her fiancé.  The Feds know Estabrook arranged the hit, but are unaware that the wealthy psychopath has begun his contest using mercenaries.

The latest Carla Neggers FBI romantic suspense thriller (see THE WIDOW, ABANDON and especially THE ANGEL) is an enjoyable tale filled with a gloomy atmosphere as the audience and the heroes expect the worse.  The story line is fast-paced but does not spin far away from Richard Connell’s The Most Dangerous Game but fans of Ms. Neggers will enjoy the hunt.

Harriet Klausner