Archive for August, 2009

The Baby Album-Roz Denny Fox

August 31, 2009

The Baby Album

Roz Denny Fox

Harlequin SuperRomance, Sep 2009, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373715862

In Round Rock, Texas her husband Dane abandons pregnant photographer Casey Sinclair.  She needs work so she applies at Wyatt Keene’s photography studio in Austin, but conceals her delicate condition as she assumes no one wants to hire someone who will go on maternity leave in a few months.  He tests her at a school and she does a great job so he hires her.

She soon learns that Wyatt’s wife died a year earlier due to an ectopic pregnancy.  Finding this out makes Casey feels guilty as she will soon reveal the truth and probably be sacked for concealing it.  As they fall in love, Casey notices how Wyatt is hesitant even before he finds out she is carrying.

This is a super second chance at love starring two individuals with differing personal issues from their previous relationships.  Casey still reels from abandonment while Wyatt grieves his loss.  Each is tentative about their attraction for good reason as she fears her heart would break if she takes a chance and he leaves while he unsure he can ever deal with a pregnancy.  Roz Denny Fox provides readers a wonderful contemporary romance.

Harriet Klausner

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Here To Stay-Margot Early

August 31, 2009

Here To Stay

Margot Early

Harlequin SuperRomance, Sep 2009, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373715893

Dog trainer Sissy Workman loves her husband Elijah but hid one truth from him for years out of fear he will leave.  Their first born is not his.  Sissy jilted someone else before marrying Elijah, but learned she was pregnant after they wed.

Now he knows he did not sire their oldest when the child needed a transfusion and his blood type is unacceptable.  He is outraged for several reasons including the omission she kept from him and he wonders what else she concealed.  As their anniversary comes up, Sissy fears her failure will end their happy family as Elijah increasingly acts distant.

Using reverse engineering, Margot Early tells the back story of the relationship between Sissy and Elijah and to a lesser degree their children.  Thus the story line is character driven as Elijah struggles with what he believes is a betrayal of their trust while he and his spouse look back over their time together.  Although the technique adds freshness, the use slows down the present day plot of vying for the Westminster Dog Show or fleeing to lick his wounds.

Harriet Klausner

Finding Their Son-Debra Salonen

August 31, 2009

Finding Their Son

Debra Salonen

Harlequin SuperRomance, Sep 2009, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373715886

His Lakota uncle sent Eli Robideaux to go out and find himself by completing Hanblecheyapi.  Instead he arrives at Char Jones’ Native American shop without a penny to his name.  Desperate, he tries to rob her so he can go home, but fails at the attempt when she recognizes him as her high school boyfriend.

When Eli learns he left Char pregnant, he feels chagrin and remorse.  He wants to find the child she gave up for adoption and persuades Char to accompany him on the search for their son.  On the trek to California, they fall in love, but she fears he will desert her again.

This fine second chance contemporary romance stars a suspicious Entrepreneur and a young man struggling with his identity.  Eli and Char are a terrific pairing whose quest is FINDING THEIR SON.  Although the ending is too perfect even for the sub-genre, fans will enjoy the trek with this likable duo as guides.

Harriet Klausner

Cowboy Christmas-Mary Connealy

August 31, 2009

Cowboy Christmas

Mary Connealy

Barbour, Sep 2009, $10.97

ISBN: 9781602601451

In 1879 in a mining camp in Missouri, Claude Leveque orders hymn singer Annette Talbot to perform in a revealing dress or watch her elderly friend Elva die.  Fearing the brute will beat Elva, Annie is shocked when her pianist gives her money for a one way ticket out of town saying she is dying from a bad heart.  Vowing to never forget her beloved friend, Annie heads to her widower father’s home in Ranger Bluff, Wyoming Territory; six years since she left him a bitter hardened man.

Elijah Walker still reels from the death of his Pa and the betrayal of his beloved Priscilla that destroyed the family ranch.  He vows to never trust a woman ever again.

Annie and Elijah meet on the stagecoach and each remembers knowing each other as children.  Although attracted to one another, he assumes a young woman traveling alone must be another Priscilla.  She thinks he is an obstinate yahoo.  As they fuss and fight they fall in love, but he seems incapable of getting past the haunting hardening of his heart.

COWBOY CHRISTMAS is a terrific western romance that grips the audience from the moment the vile Claude grips Annie’s blouse and unlike him never let’s go of the reader.  The lead couple is a wonderful pairing, but it is the strong cast even those who have short appearances make this tale work by bringing a sense of time and place to the plot.  Sub-genre fans will relish Mary Connealy’s super late nineteenth century romance (see MONTANA ROSE).

Harriet Klausner

On The Bluffs-Steven Schindler

August 30, 2009

On The Bluffs

Steven Schindler

Elevated Press, Aug 2009, $14.95

ISBN: 9780966240818

Middle aged Brian DeLouise knows where he went wrong as his stomach protrudes and his hairline recedes.  His only fun is fantasy baseball as he has not had sex with his wife Frances in over two years; and for the most part when they did have sex over their two decades or so marriage it was perfunctory as neither brought any energy to the boudoir.  Frances has found pleasure in the arms of other men.

Frances asks for divorce claiming everything as her hers just when Brian prevents a mugger from robbing a couple at a time he also lost his job as Night Hawks producer.  Depressed he looks back to the most wonderful summer of his life.  The one just before he impregnated and married Frances, who lost the child she was carrying.  That summer on Cape Cod, Brian worked summer theater where he met and fell in love with Portia Smart. With nothing to hold him in the DC area, Brian decides to find the love of his life.

This is an entertaining character study of a man who married the wrong woman though he did it for a noble reason.  The story line starts a bit slow as the audience ponders why Brian stays married to a man-eater, but picks up considerably when he meets Portia and her daughter.  Although Frances is a stereotype who ends up with everything as Brian believes it is worth the cost to get her totally out of his life, fans will enjoy this fine second chance at love if Brian and Portia take that key risk of admitting their feelings especially with her daughter nay-saying him.

Harriet Klausner

After You-Julie Buxbaum

August 30, 2009

After You

Julie Buxbaum

Dial, Sep 1 2009, $25.00

ISBN: 9780385341240

Since the death of her baby, Bostonian Ellie Lerner has had nothing that turns her on.  Neither her marriage to Phillip nor her teaching position matters.  Her only tie to the living is Lucy Stafford who moved to England where she married Greg and has a child, Ellie’s goddaughter Sophie.

When Lucy is tragically murdered by a mugger, Ellie’s apparent last tie to life dies with her.  However, something whispers to Ellie to cross the Atlantic to be there for Sophie.  While Phillip is confused and Greg is hiding his grief with indifference, Ellie comes for the funeral but stays to take care of the hurting now mute eight years old Sophie who witnessed her mom’s death.  .

This is a well written contemporary tale starring realistic characters struggling with life after a tragedy.  Ellie is terrific as she finds a reason to live in the needs of Sophie whose father has abandoned her as if she mugged and killed his American wife.  Her nurturing Sophie through their nightly ritual of reading the Secret garden together brings to her solace that she had not previously found.  Whereas the two females forge a deep relationship that helps each move on somewhat beyond their respective trauma by regaining a sense of self, the two males in their live remain bewildered.  AFTER YOU is a strong character study that focuses on regaining one’s equilibrium after a tragedy has occurred.

Harriet Klausner

Forgiven-Shelley Shepard Gray

August 30, 2009

Forgiven

Shelley Shepard Gray

Harper, Aug 2009, $12.99

ISBN: 9780061474477

The fire devastated the Lundy barn and injured Winnie Lundy when she tried to rescue trapped animals.  Her brother Jonathan (see WANTED for his tale) saves her life.  An ambulance takes the severely burned Winnie to the hospital, which is too far from her loved ones to visit her by carriage.  Family friend Eli Miller accompanies her to the hospital.  The marshal tells them cigarettes caused the inferno.

Eli arranges for his English brother Samuel Miller, who left their Amish community for the university, to visit Winnie at the hospital so she has companionship while healing away from her family.  Soon after he began seeing her, Winnie and Samuel fall in love, but though they believe in the Lord, their belief systems are different.  While they seek a common faith, Jonathan cannot turn the other cheek like he knows he should forgive the transgressor and his wife Katie encourages him to do so; instead he obsesses over who smoked the cigarettes.  Also Anna and Henry pray her mom will come around

The third Sisters of the Heart inspirational Amish romance is a terrific tale with three subplots that tie together around the theme of forgiving the FORGIVEN for their sins.  The cast is strong as an obstinate Jonathan cannot move past the fire with his sister so badly hurt; Samuel and Winnie need to forgive one another if they fail to find common ground; and Anna cannot move past her mom’s rejection of her embracing love and faith in Amish country.  Shelley Shepard Gray writes a strong inspiring tale as to err may be is human but to gracefully hug the forgiven is truly divine.

Harriet Klausner

Damas, Dramas and Ana Ruiz-Belinda Acosta

August 28, 2009

Damas, Dramas and Ana Ruiz

Belinda Acosta

Grand Central, Aug 2009, $13.99

ISBN: 9780446540513

Ana Ruiz has her hands full as her fourteen year old daughter Carmen blames her for her dad Esteban leaving them although he cheated on her and he left.  She wonders if she made a mistake hiding Esteban’s affairs from Carmen and their other older child Diego.

Regardless Ana desperately wants to regain what Esteban destroyed when he walked out: her closeness with Carmen.  She decides to throw a quinceanera gala for her daughter, but Carmen seems disinterested; preferring to punch her mom by exclusion and omission,  Ana is hurt more by Carmen’s behavior than the womanizing and abandonment by Esteban.  Diego plays intermediary between his wary mom and his acrimonious sis while his cousin Bianca takes over the role of quinceanera party planner.

This is a well written family drama that deftly focuses on the extended Ruiz brood.  Ironically the “white girl from Kansas” enhances the profound look at a Mexican-American family as she knows more about Mexican music than the Ruiz family.  Carmen is angry and but holding her mom culpable while her brother guesses at the truth.  Ana is superb as the prime player who feels as if her world has ended yet resolutely hides what Esteban did to her from her daughter.  Fans will enjoy this drama that looks into the trials and tribulations of a Mexican-American family.

Harriet Klausner

A Cousin’s Prayer-Wanda E. Brunstetter

August 28, 2009

A Cousin’s Prayer

Wanda E. Brunstetter

Barbour, Sep 2009, $10.97

ISBN:  9781602600614

Katie Miller left her Indiana Amish community to live with her grandparents in Florida after blaming herself for panicking over a bee in their vehicle heading to Hershey Park.  They were in an accident as her boyfriend Timothy’s van crashed; he, Paul and Raymond died in the crash while Wayne lost the use of his legs and Jolene her hearing.  Grieving her loss, she returns to her Hoosier State roots to attend the wedding of Loraine to Wayne.  Afterward, Katie knows she cannot go back to Florida as the sunshine died with her boyfriend.

Still grieving Katie also suffers from anxiety, panic attacks and depression.  Freeman Bontrager, who has been half in love with Katie for years, offers her solace.  Katie finds him comforting, but he also seems interested in Eunice. When rumors spread about Katie, she feels Freeman betrayed her after she trusted him with her fears and secrets.

The second Indiana Cousins relationship drama (see A COUSIN’S PROMISE) is a terrific character driven tale as Kate and others struggle with survivor guilt that even engulfs loved ones who were not in the accident.  For instance Kate’s mom feels remorse for sending her to Florida last year, but was unsure then and remains uncertain as to what to do.  Fans will enjoy this deep saga as everyone tries to move pass the tragedy through the help of God and loved ones.

Harriet Klausner

Greatest Knight: The Unsung Story of the Queen’s Champion

August 27, 2009

Greatest Knight: The Unsung Story of the Queen’s Champion

Elizabeth Chadwick

Sourcebooks, Sep 2009, $14.99

ISBN: 9781402225185

In the early thirteenth century, as the younger son of an affluent influential family, William Marshal has limited prospects.  However, he proves quite skillful with a sword.  When he performs a chivalrous act that saves the life of powerful Queen of Eleanor of Aquitaine, he earns the position of special protector.  He becomes tutors to the princes and pledges loyalty to the heir Henry out of his fealty to the lad’s mother.  He stays loyal as rebellion pits father against son and when Henry dies, Marshal swears loyalty to Henry’s brother Richard.  This placed him against his brother who pledged loyalty to Richard’s brother Prince John.  While Richard is on Crusade, John makes a bid for the throne; this puts Marshal between a rock and a hard place as he must choose between honoring his pledge or his family.  He obviously chose right as he became known as the “greatest knight” by his peers.

This is a terrific biographical fiction that fans of the era will enjoy as William served loyally and bravely to a who’s who of the period.  The cast starting with Eleanor and the succession of princes/kings/cardinals and popes enhance a strong look at a fascinating individual.

Harriet Klausner