Archive for May, 2010

Going in Circles-Pamela Ribon

May 31, 2010

Going in Circles

Pamela Ribon

Downtown, May 2010, $15.00

ISBN: 9781416503866

When Matthew Goodman walked out on his wife Charlotte, she was stunned as in her mind his ending their marriage came of nowhere as she thought she was his “Sunshine” even when she struggled to get out of bed in the morning. Matthew decides to come back home after a few weeks as a bachelor Charlotte struggles with his return.

Fuming with resentment as she had moved on in the phases of grief passed the denial stage to that of acceptance Charlotte walks out on a stunned Matthew.  She moves into apartment to ponder whether she wants to remain married to her husband.  However, she finds herself panicking over what she logically knows are nothings like weeping over a burrito while sitting on the curb.  With anxiety and depression ruling her, Charlotte turns to creating her Plan in order to eliminate having to choose between taco and burrito, and most important no more shocking revelations as a to do list will provide her with security.  Her family, her husband, her friends, and her co-workers demand not so subtly she must choose to be married or not to be married.  However her new office friend Francesca offers her something different to consider, physical release via roller derby for the soul.

This is an entertaining coming of age character study though the lead protagonist is a thirty year old nonentity.  Charlotte is a fascinating protagonist whose lack of confidence leads to crippling anxiety attacks.  Her husband never comes across as fully developed nor does his reasoning.  The rest of the support cast supports the heroine as she skates around the oval of life trying to learn to get up from the bumps and bruises her skinny butt suffers with every hit she takes for that’s life.

Harriet Klausner

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A Visit from the Goon Squad-Jennifer Egan

May 31, 2010

A Visit from the Goon Squad

Jennifer Egan

Knopf, Jun 8 2010, $25.95

ISBN: 9780307592835

Record-company executive Bennie Salazar wonders where the years went as he listens to another horrific band of young untalented egos that believe they belong at the top.  Divorced, he feels removed from his tweener son as if he still lives in analog and the kid is digital.  Bennie thinks back to the late 1970s in the Bay area when he was young and part of the punk band Flaming Dildos that thought they belonged at the top.

Bennie’s former assistant Sasha is a mother hiding out in the desert after a youthful life of impulsive thieving.  Her tweener daughter Alison thinks her mom is out of step with the digital world.

Meanwhile Bennie meets Alex who dated Sasha.  He later hires him to obtain the services of fifty paid “parrots” to pretend to be fans of a group performing at a concert.  His target audience he informs Alexis is the silent future majority who text rather than speak.

The key to the five decades of Bennie and others is what happens to a person when cynical age fueled by addictions and complacencies overcomes youthful rebellious fervor.  Character driven with a powerful ensemble cast who all seem fully developed, the loci points anchor the epic story line are Bennie and Sasha.  Jennifer Egan is a virtuoso as readers will relish the changes of the information age as music is a terrific milieu as the industry travels from vinyl to cassettes to CDs to DVDs; mirroring society.

Harriet Klausner

Body Rush-Anne Rainey

May 31, 2010

Body Rush

Anne Rainey

Kensington Aphrodisia, Jun 2010, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758238993

“Secret Desires”.  The three BFFs make a sexual bet.  Prim and proper legal secretary Lydia  detests the pompous suits she works for during the day.  Lydia goes to a BDSM hoping to find satisfaction here.  Three hood hunks compete for her, but one of them with his heads un-hooded is the star of her nocturnal fantasy seemingly forever.

“Turn Me On“.  Neurosurgeon Dr. Roni is smart and sexy.  Like in the OR, she dominates in the bedroom; that is until the computer guru teaches her that she does not have to always be in charge outside the hospital.

“Tasty Treats”.  The biker shows up at her coffee shop every morning.  Owner Jeanette salivates with desire, but he never makes a move.  When she notices he seems to hunger for her she decides to offer herself as a dessert menu special.

These three interrelated novellas are heated vivid BDSM erotic tales starring likable women in lust and the men lusting after them.  Although the story lines lack plausibility, readers will enjoy learning what the stakes were, who won the wager were and how the winner was decided.

Harriet Klausner

My Ultimate Sister Disaster-Jane Mendle

May 29, 2010

My Ultimate Sister Disaster

Jane Mendle

St. Martin’s Griffin, Jun 8 2010, $8.99

ISBN: 9780312369040

A year older than her sister Franny, Zooey has become a prima-ballerina performing at Lincoln Center.  Franny envies her sibling as her parents ignore her focusing somewhat on the talented offspring; though in fairness mom is doing it from Africa and dad from his boutique.  Not that Franny is a failure as she is tall, pretty, and obtaining high grades in her first year at prep school.

As Franny’s grades fall, the dynamics at least between the sisters change when Zooey suffers a broken leg that jeopardizes her career.  They begin to come together as Franny realizes how much her sister sacrifices for her love of dance.  Her desire reminds Franny of her own goal to become a journalist.  However, their burgeoning friendship has one major divider; both want a certain awesome school editor.

With a nod to the late J.D. Salinger (worth reading Franny and Zooey), young adult readers will enjoy the bond of sisters are strongest when necessity arises.  Franny and Zooey are fully developed characters as their need to be there for one another during a difficult period in which their parents are not truly there for them overwhelms their rivalry.  Fans will relish Jane Mendle’s insightful look at the disasters and triumphs of two sisters navigating Manhattan together.

Harriet Klausner

No Less Than Victory: A Novel of World War II- Jeff Shaara

May 28, 2010

No Less Than Victory: A Novel of World War II

Jeff Shaara

Ballantine, Jun 1 2010, $16.00

ISBN: 9780345497932

With the great success of the Normandy invasion, Allied Commanders all the way up to Five Star General Eisenhower feels strongly that the European theatre of Operation would soon be over.  The German army battered is in full retreat.

Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt knows the war is over unless they can somehow turn around the blitzkrieg allies who are racing across France into Germany from the west and the Russians from the east.  He decides to draw the last line in the icy mountainous Ardennes where he plans to isolate the Americans and from there seize Antwerp.  If this Hail Mary desperation fails, the Field Marshal knows it is a short matter of time before Berlin goes Russian as the Eastern front is collapsing also.

This is a terrific action-packed WWII fictional account of the end of the European part of the war starting with the last German counteroffensive at the Battle of the Bulge; for the earlier parts of the war see The Steel Wave and The Rising Tide.  Ironically real life persona like Ike never comes across as breathing especially in his case since the audience never learns how he felt knowing he sent so many to die at D Day and more to follow in the Ardennes even with a just cause.  Military fiction readers will enjoy the fall of the Third Reich, but this tale is limited mostly to the western front as if the Russians were not coming.

Harriet Klausner

Boadicea’s Legacy-Traci E. Hall

May 28, 2010

Boadicea’s Legacy

Traci E. Hall

Medallion, May 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9781605420783

In 1200 Ela Montehue the sorceress knows her paranormal healing skill comes from having Warrior Queen Boadicea of the Iceni as her ancestor.  However, Ela also knows that Boadicea placed a stipulation on her even before she was born.  To continue to be a healer, Ela must marry for love; if she settles for anything else she will lose her ability that is a deep part of her soul.

Her family wants Ela to marry affluent but odious Lord Thomas de Havel.  If she agrees her beloved family will gain wealth and power as de Havel has King John’s support; however the cost is her power as she loathes the vicious Thomas.  Ela cannot go through with the wedding to the abusive de Havel so she says no.  No one rejects Thomas so he kidnaps Ela and attacks her father and the people in his holdings.  Knight Osbert Edyvean searches for the legendary Boadicea spear, but instead liberates Ela from her captivity.  He wants to dump her on her family soonest so he can continue his quest and even more so to ignore his attraction to the feisty healer he is falling in love with.

Although somewhat similar in tone to Beauty’s Curse especially with a legendary quest, the latest Montehue historical romantic fantasy (see Love’s Magic) is an exciting fast-paced tale from start to finish.  Fans will enjoy the triangle as the two males act and react differently when it comes to Ela; both in their way want her.  Fans of the Boadicea descendents saga will relish Traci E. Hall’s engaging entry as a three way confrontation seems inevitable.

Harriet Klausner

Anna’s Return-Marta Perry

May 28, 2010

Anna’s Return

Marta Perry

Berkley, Jun 2010, $14.00

ISBN: 9780425234266

Three years ago Anna Beiler left her Amish home in Pleasant Valley, Pennsylvania to live with the English.   However, when she comes home she doesn’t return alone.  Instead she is accompanied by an under one year old baby, Gracie who she claims as her daughter.

The Plain People are stunned that unmarried Anna had a child out of wedlock and some want to shun her.  She conceals from everyone even her loved ones that the baby is not hers; she took the infant after her friend Janni, the child’s mother died, to keep the little girl safe from her abusive father Pete.  Anna prays that hiding amongst the Plain folks will keep the baby safe., but fears what she might bring upon her family as she moves in with her brother Joseph and his wife Myra and is welcomed by her father, her sister Leah (see Leah’s Choice) and her brother-in-law and his family.  Anna also finds herself attracted Joseph’s machine shop partner, Samuel Fisher, who seemed like slow learner to her as a child but now she appreciates that he is not simple but a reflective thinker.  As she feels welcomed and her baby accepted, Anna looks back at her reckless behavior praying that her community will forgive her.

The third Pleasant Valley Amish romance (see Rachel’s Garden) is an interesting look at a young woman who left but has come back apparently tainted.  Although Samuel and the lead female protagonist’s family and community play major roles and Gracie’s father a minor but key part, the title is accurate as this is clearly Anna’s Return.  She holds the well written entertaining story line together as Marta Perry provides a charming second chance at life romance with a bit of late suspense.

Harriet Klausner

Forbidden Highlander-Donna Grant

May 27, 2010

Forbidden Highlander

Donna Grant

St. Martin’s, May 25 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312381233

The McLeod brothers (Fallon, Lucan and Quinn) were descendents from a cadre of warriors created by Druids to repel the Romans from Scotland and England.  For three centuries the siblings hid from Deirdre who wants their magic.  However in 1603, Lucan meets his soulmate (see Dangerous Highlander), but Quinn was captured by their enemy.

In Edinburgh Fallon meets and falls in love with Lady Larena Monroe.  He is shocked to realize she is a warrior; the only female he ever met.  She accompanies Fallon to the McLeod estate, a haven for warriors and Druids.  As Deirdre assaults the stronghold, Fallon plans to rescue his brother, but first proposes to his beloved.  She wants to say yes, but knows she conceals from her beloved a dark secret that will turn his love to loathing.

The second McLeod brother historical fantasy is a terrific tale with a nice twist that readers will know is coming yet Donna Grant makes the spin fun to follow.  The story line is fast-paced and is more than just a middle book as Fallon’s fate is decided.  With Quinn still held captive by the obsessed Deirdre, sub-genre fans will be impatient for his Dark Sword legend as the audience anticipates his confrontation with his much stronger jailer.

Harriet Klausner

The Night She Got Lucky-Susan Donovan

May 26, 2010

The Night She Got Lucky

Susan Donovan

St. Martin’s May 25 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312366056

The elderly matchmaking widow Mrs. Needleman insists she is a psychic and informs Ginger Garrison that she will soon get lucky as the man of her dreams awaits her.  Ginger gently scoffs at the forecasting as she had one selfish mate and so is not interested in another; that is until she meets nature photographer Lucio “Lucky” Montevez; as the tea leaves said she would get Lucky.

Lucio is uninterested in any woman at the moment.  Instead he remains singularly focused on regaining his shattered career as a globetrotting photographer of the world’s wild.  When he fails to get his career back on track due to bureaucratic ineptitude, Lucio turns to painting portraits of owners with their pets because he needs to eat.  This leads him back to Ginger, her twin teen sons, her pet walking crew, her selfish former husband and the frightening Mrs. Needleman.

The aptly titled The Night She Got Lucky is a fun lighthearted contemporary wacky romance starring two individuals who share in common an attraction and a disclaimer re no permanent relationships; though their reasons differ.  Fans will enjoy the amusing plot as the wildlife photographer finds picture taking in a cement jungle with ferocious owners and their pets scarier than field work.  Susan Donovan provides a warm dog walker’s tale (see Ain’t Too Proud to Beg and take a Chance One me) with a wonderful story line that once again feels like a throwback to the 1930s madcap comedies.

Harriet Klausner

Married By Morning-Lisa Kleypas

May 26, 2010

Married By Morning

Lisa Kleypas

St. Martin’s, May 25 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312605384

In 1852 Lord Leo Hathaway is shocked when he learns he must marry and sire an heir within the year or his family will lose their home, Ramsay House.  He has only one woman in mind; his sisters’ paid companion of more than two years, the terrifyingly efficient Catherine Marks although she is far from the meek governess that one finds in novels.

Leo knows he loves getting Catherine’s gander up although he fears she loathes him.  Still he considers what life with this passionate spitfire would be like.  During there latest war of words, he kisses her.  Leo proposes, but Cat fears her past would surface making it unsafe for the Hathaway family she loves.

The latest Hathaway Victorian romance (see Seduce Me At Sunrise, Tempt Me At Twilight and Mine Till Midnight) is a wonderful historical as the governess and her employer take their two year spat to new levels to the delight of sub-genre fans.  Readers will relish the humorous bantering between the pair as her brave protector Dodger (the ferret) go up against the infamous Ramsay Curse using love in the morning, afternoon and evening as their counter weapon.

Harriet Klausner