Archive for August, 2010

The Queen’s Captive-Barbara Kyle

August 31, 2010

The Queen’s Captive

Barbara Kyle

Kensington, Sep 1 2020, $15.00

ISBN: 9780758238559

The recent Wyatt rebellion was put down harshly by Queen Mary’s supporters.  However, the monarch believes her younger half-sister Princess Elizabeth was the impetus for the revolt.  Angry, Mary imprisons her sibling.

Learning in Antwerp what has happened to Elizabeth, Honor and Richard Thornleigh and their son Adam return to London to aid the beleaguered princess and to keep her from acting rash at a time indiscretion is the only means of surviving her older sister.  .  Honor takes a position as a laundress in Elizabeth’s household to help the young impetuous princess stay in control of herself.  At the same time, her husband and her son work serendipitously but diligently to further the Protestant cause while Bloody Mary pushes the country deeper into a religious civil war.  While Elizabeth and Adam are attracted to one another, Honor risks her life to save her family, her princess and her nation from disaster.

The thriller Thornleigh historical fiction saga (see The Queen’s Lady and The King’s Daughter) continues with Bloody Mary’s reaction to the failed Wyatt rebellion.  In spite of the period having been done a zillion times (see the works of Carolyn Erickson and Alison Weir, for instance), Barbara Kyle keeps her account fresh and manages to throw a few terrific spins including the attraction between the Princess and Adam.  Fast-paced yet loaded with descriptors that take the audience to mid sixteenth century England during the internal religious conflict, fans who cannot get enough Elizabethan will appreciate this strong tale of the future queen locked away by her step sister; the irony being she does likewise years later with another Mary.

Harriet Klausner

Almost Heaven-Chris Fabry

August 29, 2010

Almost Heaven

Chris Fabry

Tyndale, Oct 1 2010, $13.99

ISBN 9781414319575

In Dogwood, West Virginia Billy Allman is considered a genius as well as an incredible mandolin player.  However, as brilliant as he is with an IQ that would be in the troposphere, Billy lacks common sense when it comes to social interaction with people.

Still Billy who is very pious works diligently on making a successful radio station from his home using discarded spare parts as he lacks funding.  Over the years he remains dedicated to his dream and diligent in his reverence of his Creator though he has been taken aback by the angry spiritual adversarial assaults on his soul and the ridicule by others that he wastes his gifts.  Malachi the angel becomes a silent observer and soon an avid fan of Billy who has spent his lifetime choosing faith over materialism.

This is an interesting character study of a deeply religious person who chooses to honor God in his way through music though he faces all sorts of hardship and isolation with his endeavor and a belief that whatever he does ultimately turns into failure.  Billy is a fascinating individual with a brilliance that the townsfolk feel should take him far, but he prefers scrounging for parts to create his radio station so that the West Virginia hills are alive with the sound of music dedicated to the Lord. 

Harriet Klausner

Violence 101-Denis Wright

August 29, 2010

Violence 101

Denis Wright

Putnam, Oct 14 2010, $16.99

ISBN: 9780399254932

In New Zealand, fourteen year old Hamish Graham is brilliant but believes the easiest best solution to any problem is attack.  He does so logically not out of impulse or temper and knows the consequences of being caught as well as right and wrong.  His heroes are those who comprehend what violence can do; for instance Alexander the Great understood the basics of Violence 101 when he conquered the world as the Conqueror overwhelmed the opponents with force and guile while also making examples of these losers.  Hamish uses Alexander’s philosophy as his own though he adapted it to modern times.

His latest violent act leads to Hamish being locked up at the Manukau New Horizons Boys’ Institute.  The facility’s manager Helen Greenville directs Hamish to write a journal focusing on his life.  He picks a fight with the inmates top dog Victor, earning respect for challenging the champ and for busting his opponent’s nose with a fork.  Hamish’s journal looks deep at his three idols Alexander the Great, New Zealand Captain Charles Upham and Maori warrior Te Rauparaha.  He surprises himself when he begins to respect Terry the counselor and not shocking himself with his admiration of Toko the PE instructor who understands violence in sports.  However, as he begins to comprehend his obsession, Hamish needs to be careful because others want to become the lead dog.

This is an amusing profound hyperbole that condemns society which encourages winning at all costs (steroids comes to mind) in sports, but also condemns those who take it beyond what is “acceptable”, which conveniently changes to defend an end justifying the mean.  Told mostly through Hamish’s journals, readers will be spellbound by his belief in violence as this places H. Rap’s Brown’s commentary “Violence is as American (though in this case new Zealand) as cherry pie” with a nod to Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange.

Harriet Klausner

Russell Wiley is Out To Lunch-Richard Hine

August 28, 2010

Russell Wiley is Out To Lunch

Richard Hine

Amazon Encore, Oct 12 2010, $14.95

ISBN: 9781935597148

The Daily Business Chronicle Assistant Sales Director Russell Wiley wonders which will collapse first.  He ponders whether the near bankrupt newspaper will file before his even more bankrupt marriage to Sam is filed.  Making him unhappy at work is the new owner of the mega media company that includes the Daily Business Chronicle shopping cart magnate Larry Ghosh plans to shut down the failing paper.

Russell ponders how he will survive amidst the sharks who devour the unconfident for lunch.  He knows the consultant needs scalps to prove his value and his attraction to a peer Erica who leaves him speechless (except below the waistline) whenever she is near.  Worst of all is Cindy the survivor superstar at getting all the credit for success and Teflon for failure while doing nothing more than paint her nails.  Deciding if need be to wear rubber underwear, Russell decides if he goes down it will be with a fight.

With a nod to the zany Office Space and the song Backstabber by the O’Jays, readers will enjoy Russell Wiley’s efforts to save his career; he has pretty much given up on his marriage.  Filled with interoffice relationships, some of which feel forced, but most will remind the audience of a place where they have worked.  Readers will root for Alan as he follows the advice of Playboy magazine that to hit a home run you need to swing the bat though that also could mean a strike out. 

Harriet Klausner

The Lady in Red: An Eighteenth-Century Tale of Sex, Scandal, and Divorce-Hallie Rubenhold

August 27, 2010

The Lady in Red: An Eighteenth-Century Tale of Sex, Scandal, and Divorce

Hallie Rubenhold

St. Martin’s Griffin, Aug 17 2010, $16.99

ISBN: 9780312624163

In 1782 Baronet Sir Richard Worsley sues his wife’s lover Maurice George Bisset for damages to his property when his friend in debauchery eloped with his wife.  Richard demands an excessive amount in punitive money for what the man did to his “property”, his spouse with “criminal conversation”.   Forced to testify under oath though ironically the two males in her life treat her like an object and knowing she will be further ridiculed, Lady Seymour Worsley decides to ruin the reputations of her lover and her husband at the hearing.

This is a terrific historical that provides an incredible look at late eighteenth century English society as gossip and innuendos add fervor to the trial.  Hallie Rubenhold explains that this case was so gripping that in spite of the American Revolutionary War still on-going, colonists like General Washington were spellbound with each new revelation and several artists including renowned portraitist Sir Joshua Reynolds lampooned the participants as three fools.  Feeling like it could occur today with how society wants more scandalous dirty on celebrities (Tiger Woods comes to mind), readers will rethink their notions of the Georgian aristocracy as this is a great account.

Harriet Klausner

Pearl in the Sand-Tessa Afshar

August 27, 2010

Pearl in the Sand

Tessa Afshar

Moody, Sep 1 2010, $13.99

ISBN: 9780802458810

In Jericho, Canaan Rahab grows up as a contented girl until her family becomes destitute.  Though ashamed and humiliated by his actions, her desperate father turns innocent fifteen year old Rahab into a prostitute in order to feed the family.  Rahab vows to face her harlot duty with valor and select those who can use her services. She is very successful at her vocation with plenty of wealthy patrons.  In fact she is so good, she buys an inn abut to the city walls as her place of business.

When Rahab rescues two Israelite spies, they thank her for saving their lives by informing her that the Israelite army will attack Jericho and that God has told them how to breach the wall.  In gratitude, the operatives direct her to place a red ribbon above her family door so that she and her kin are saved from the onslaught.  The assault leaves the entire city dead except for Rahab and her family who seek to join the conquerors.  Judah military leader Salmone is irate the spies made a deal with a prostitute because he fears she and her family will bring trouble and idolatry worship.  However, Rahab shows her love for the Israeli God and soon the warrior realizes he loves and wants her as his wife.  She loves him, but fears he will always reject her as a pagan prostitute.

This is an entertaining biblical romantic work of biographical fiction starring two wonderful lead protagonists (from the Book of Joshua) whose cross-starred love seems doomed.  Their relationship starts rocky and continues to remain troubled even though they fall in love and marry.  The pace is leisurely, but fits nicely in the tone of the story line and its strong message that it is not your birth but your actions in regard to God that redeems the soul as further accentuated (though not in this novelization) by the Old Testament story of their more famous daughter-in-law.

Harriet Klausner

Falcon’s Captive-Vonna Harper

August 27, 2010

Falcon’s Captive

Vonna Harper

Kensington Aphrodisia, Aug 2010, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758229472

Jola the falcon shapeshifter loathes the Ekewoko warriors who killed her mate.  When she turns human, Nakos the Ekewoko captures her naked.  She is humiliated as she thirsted for vengeance but instead became the enemy’s prisoner.

Ekewoko is stunned by his desire for his captive while he keeps her tied in bondage.  Jola begins to fall in love with her guard while he begins to surrender to her beauty.  However, it is Jola who pleads to his dominating her into his submissive.  As their game of bondage turns into more than desire, neither is prepared for an ugly plot that leaves both their lives in danger.

This is a terrific BDSM romantic fantasy as the dominant Nakos uses his ropes to bond Jola as his submissive; yet ironically he begins to feel as if he is her captive.  Fast-paced, the key that makes this erotic tale works is the otherworldly elements like shapeshifting come across genuine, which enhances the heated gender war between the Ekewoko warrior and the falcon shapeshifter.

Harriet Klausner

The Bite Before Christmas-Heidi Betts

August 27, 2010

The Bite Before Christmas

Heidi Betts

Kensington Brava, Sep 28 2010, $14.00

ISBN 9780758247612

 

 “A Vampire in Her Stocking”.  Matchmaker Angelina Ricci gives a special yuletide present to vampire in love Vivian Harrison when she changes dying Nick into an unenthusiastic Undead.

“All I Vant for Christmas”.  His friend Angelina knows wealthy vampire Connor loves Christmas so she hires human party planner Jillian to decorate his mansion for the holidays.

“It’s a Wonderful Bite”.   After eight decades of heavenly bliss, Angelina wants her Undead boyfriend Sergio to marry her so she goes all out to jump his bones at every opportunity especially after a dose of It’s A Wonderful Life.

These are three fun heated Beantown Yuletide vampire romances.  Especially strong are the first two entries; whereas the last one is well written but the ghost of Jimmy Stewart has been used too much in movies and books.

Harriet Klausner

She’s Gone Country-Jane Porter

August 25, 2010

She’s Gone Country

Jane Porter

5 Spot, Aug 23 2010, $13.99

ISBN: 9780446509411

In New York City, as she nears forty, former model Shey Darcy believes she lives a terrific life with her photographer husband and their three teen sons.  However, her idyll family ends when her spouse announce he loves someone else and leaves her and the kids for this man.

Shey takes her distraught adolescent children back to the Texas ranch she grew up on.  Her controlling siblings welcome her and the boys though each want to protect their sister and their nephews.  Soon after coming home, Shey finds work as a catalogue model.  However, her mom demands the quartet scrub sinful Manhattan from their souls as she is a strict Southern Baptist who expects others to be as pious as she is.  Her offspring struggle with adjusting to going country and the betrayal each perceives of their father; especially depressed is Bo.  Finally, her first love former pro bull rider Dane Kelly wants back in her life.

Although She’s Gone Country lacks the emotional intricacy of the previous thirty-something tale (see Easy on the Eyes), this is an entertaining contemporary second chance at love tale.  Shey is a wonderful lead with her can do attitude, which includes tying up in knots the former bull rider and ignoring her mother and siblings.  Though much of the cast especially her family is stereotyped detracting from the potential interrelation poignant strife, fans will enjoy Shey’s coming home.

Harriet Klausner

The Viking Takes A Knight-Sandra Hill

August 25, 2010

The Viking Takes A Knight

Sandra Hill

Avon, Aug 31 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9780061673504

In 970 Northumbria Princess Ingrith Sigrundottir proudly runs a local orphanage Rainstead.  However, when brutal Saxon Commander Leo Loncaster visits her orphanage demanding she turn over King Edgar’s illegitimate son Henry she disobeys the beast.  Instead she flees with her children including Henry to Lord John Graves’s home Hawk’s Lair where she demands sanctuary for her, Ubbi her elderly guard, and thirty youngsters.

John is attracted to Ingrith, but knows she is off limits to him as the daughter of the king.  Ingrith is attracted to her host but cannot get him away from his studies of honey.  When Loncaster angrily burns down the orphanage, John sets off to get the king to intercede while directing the princess to remain safe inside his walls.  Ingrith rejects his orders and instead follows him to her father’s court.  In love, they argue before he leaves the court to return to his honeybees while Thorvold announces his daughter will marry soon.  John decides he will be her husband, but must persuade his beloved he is her man for eternity.

This is a fun lighthearted Dark Ages romp in which Sandra Hill uses humor to make the case that the tenth century was an enlightened period with researchers along side berserkers as warriors.  The story line is fast-paced while Ms. Hill provides fascinating ways to use honey that the experimenters amongst readers will want to test with their significant other.  The lead couple is a terrific pairing as each is fully developed so the audience will understand the motives and flaws of both as the almost aptly titled The Viking Takes a Knight as her honey.

Harriet Klausner