Archive for January, 2011

Keep a Little Secret-Dorothy Garlock

January 31, 2011

Keep a Little Secret

Dorothy Garlock

Grand Central, Mar 21 2011, $13.99

ISBN: 9780446540148

Charlotte Tucker grew up in her Aunt Louise’s boarding house in Carlson, Minnesota with no one her age.  By 1939 with dreams of seeing the world, Charlotte moves to Sawyer, Oklahoma to run her own schoolhouse.  She will live on the ranch owned by John Grant.  Excited over the prospect of independence, Charlotte adjusts rather easily with becoming a Sooner.

However, questionable accidents start occurring at Grant’s ranch.  The prime suspect is Charlotte’s friend Owen Wallace who accompanied by his sister came from Colorado after their mother’s death; he has a grudge against Grant.  After their mom died, Owen and his twin sister Hannah searched for their father.  They believe that man who raped their mom is Grant.  As the war overseas beckons and the weather worsens, Charlotte refuses to believe Owen would attack Grant and remains convinced she is right when someone assaults her.

The sequel to Stay a Little Longer continues the adventures of Charlotte who has relocated to Oklahoma.  The story line contains a fully developed cast of characters inside of an exciting suspenseful historical plot.  However, it is rural Oklahoma coming out of the Great Depression just before America’s entry into WWII that makes this a winner as readers will “know we belong to the land; and the land we belong to is grand” (“Oklahoma” by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II).

Harriet Klausner

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Harvest Moon-Robyn Carr

January 31, 2011

Harvest Moon

Robyn Carr

Mira, Feb 22 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778329428

In San Francisco Kelly Matlock has a breakdown of sorts as she is unable to handle the stress of working as a sous chef nor deal any long with her relationship with internationally renowned boss Luciano Brazzi when his wife Olivia demands she not sleep with her husband; Kelly says she is not sleeping with Luca though she admits to herself she is in love with her boss.  Olivia says Luca sent her to clean up his latest mess.  Unable to cope she has an anxiety attack that has her rushed to the emergency room.  After being released and suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and flattened molars made worse by a broken heart and by her immediate boss Durant, Kelly flees to hide and heal at her sister Jillian’s home in Virgin River.

Though she knows better, Kelly still under the influence of Valium stops at Jack’s for a courage drink though she knows better than to mix alcohol and medicine.  Widower Leif Holbrook the screenwriter rescues her from herself; having practice with his stepdaughter Courtney.  Kelly and Leif are attracted to one another, but she remains hurt from her previous relationship and he is fathering a rebel with one cause of no other woman in their home.

The latest trip to Virgin River is an engaging contemporary romance that in spite of a plot used many times feels brisk and fresh due to the strong cast as each of the lead trio has belonging issues.  Character driven, readers will enjoy the return to Virgin River as different types of love blossoms in the gardens under a Harvest Moon.

Harriet Klausner

Who Is My Shelter?-Neta Jackson

January 30, 2011

Who Is My Shelter?

Neta Jackson

Thomas Nelson, Mar 1 2011, $14.9

ISBN: 9781595548634

In Chicago, Philip Fairbanks changed the locks on their penthouse kicking his wife Gabby to the street and sending their two children P.J. and Paul away; with her mother and a dog, she moved into the Manna House where she worked (see Where Do I Go? and Who Do I Talked To?). Gabby got her act together and now she, mom, the dog and her children live in a small apartment (see Who Do I Lean On?) together.

Meanwhile Philip recovers in a hospital after receiving a beating for non payment of his exorbitant gambling debt.  His business partner is irate with him and his father disappointed with him.  However, the biggest hammer to his gut is when Gabby and the kids visit him.  Philip meets Will Nisson whose grandma is at the hospital.  Will tells him that his grandma has been looking for her older sister for six decades, but has not given up hope.  Philip misses Gabby and realizes how much he truly lost when he kicked her out.  He wants her back, but she has moved on with a purpose at the House of Hope shelter for homeless mothers and kids.

The fourth Yada Yada House of Hope inspirational series is a wonderful tale in which Philip and Gabby ride separate escalators going in different directions, as she never lost faith even when he kicked her to the street and he never had faith even before he dumped her.  Fans of the series will appreciate this fabulous story line as other subplots involving Will and his grandma, and Harry the cop, etc. add depth to a terrific entry.  Perhaps the only caveat is that newcomers read the previous novels to understand how far Philip and Gabby have come.

Harriet Klausner

A Watershed Year-Susan Schoenberger

January 30, 2011

A Watershed Year

Susan Schoenberger

Guideposts, Mar 1 2011, $14.99

www.guideposts.org

ISBN: 9780824948566

Lucy is stunned when her best friend thirty-three year old Harlan dies from cancer even knowing he would die soon.  She thinks he will come out of his bedroom any moment to greet her as thirty-three years olds do not die from cancer.  She struggles to move on but cannot accept his death especially when he seemed to get better but abruptly ended his experimental treatments in spite of her begging him not to quit.  Her biggest regret was never telling him she loved him. 

E-mails from Harlan that he arranged to be sent after he died begins to encourage Lucy; especially the one in which he insists she is perfect to raise a child.  She ponders motherhood and decides out of homage to her cherished best friend to adopt.  Lucy travels to Russia where she meets equally lonely physically and emotionally scarred four years old Mat.  She adopts him and brings him back to America.  Although he initially is extremely reticent and frightened, Mat and Lucy slowly form a caring bond as each heals emotionally due to the loving codependence on each other that they forge.  However, Mat’s father Vasily arrives from Russia to bring his son home.

A Watershed Year is a warm inspirational character study in which the key players (including Harlan through his e-mails, a tape, and his beloved’s memories) seem real.  Lucy is a terrific protagonist who holds the entertaining enlightening story line together as she grows from dependency on Harlan (even after he died) to a mothering dependency on Mat to finally becoming a mother when Vasily arrives.  With a strong support cast, readers will appreciate this profound look at the convolution and metamorphosis of relationships.

Harriet Klausner

Pleasure Me-Monica Burns

January 29, 2011

Pleasure Me

Monica Burns

Berkley, Mar 1 2011, $15.00

ISBN: 9780425238790

In 1897 London, Marston kindly tells his mistress forty-one years old Lady Ruth Attwood that he has formed a tender with Ernestina Fitzgerald.  Ruth knows he is being kind as the tendre is because Ernestine is much younger than her until she asks for the money he promised her.  He becomes a sanctimonious pig telling her to sell the jewelry he gave her; she knows that will bring in a paltry sum considering her loyal servants Simmons and Dolores and the orphans at St. Agnes she funds.  She knows her career as a prime choice courtesan is over.

Considered a stud Baron Garrick Stratfield learns like the rest of the Ton that Marston cut off Ruth.  Being the son of a mother who abandoned him and his sister and a father who committed suicide masculine Garrick is extremely discreet.  However even after bashing in a lord who insulted his sister, he has a secret that has left him a virgin.  Garrick hires Ruth to teach him how to make love with a woman.  As they begin their tryst, they shockingly begin to fall in love though he is so much younger than she.  However, a serpent wanting to blackmail one of them and bury the other begins using insider knowledge to tell lies.

Pleasure Me is a refreshing late Victorian erotic romance starring two unlikely lovers in a May-September relationship.  Ruth is a rare protagonist as an experienced woman “passed” her prime falling in love; Garrick is as rare male lead as a virgin.  Although the villain’s actions detract from a profound gender bending character study, historical romance readers will appreciate the love story of the older courtesan and the very virile virgin.

Harriet Klausner

Wicked Seduction-Jade Lee

January 29, 2011

 Wicked Seduction

Jade Lee

Berkley, Mar 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425240151

Due to a betrayal, Kit Frazier spent seven years enslaved on a pirate ship.  All that kept him going was simply a soul-burning need to avenge the atrocity inflicted on him.  Thus when he finally escapes and makes it back to England, Kit immediately deploys his vengeance plan that he worked on in his head for those seven horrific years.

However, the best laid plans of mice and men go astray when a woman gets involved.  Kit and Madeline Wilson meet and his perfectly laid out scheme is put on hold by their attraction.  Maddie needs a good match, which the uncivilized boorish Kit is not.  However, she sees passed his beastly demeanor to the tortured soul that she wants to heal with her love.  Kit has a new goal to make himself into the man his beloved believes he is.  As they help each other, a fresh betrayal threatens their relationship.

The sequel to Wicked Surrender stars a fresh male protagonist and the woman who brings him out of his mental hell with her love.  The support cast is solid whether they are villain or good guys while the story is fast-paced from the start to the final climax.  Readers will appreciate Jade Lee’s strong late Victorian romance as the problems faced by the lead couple seem unmanageable and eternal without love bonding people.

Harriet Klausner

Sweet as the Devil-Susan Johnson

January 29, 2011

Sweet as the Devil

Susan Johnson

Berkley, Mar 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425240410

In 1893, Scottish Baron James Blackwood is a lover of renown, but takes his day job seriously as a guard protecting the Duchy of Dalmia Prince Ernst.  When someone assassinates the heir to Dalmia, Prince Rupert, James swears he will find the traitor who killed his friend.

Instead Ernst asks him to keep safe his other offspring, Sofia Eastleigh.  James recently met Sofia during one of his trysts, but resisted the temptation of seducing her; which now that he knows who she is he is grateful for his self control.  However, Sofia and James are shocked by their desire for one another as both have always controlled their passions.  As they fall in love during several gender skirmishes, a predator stalks Ernst’s offspring.

The latest “as” heated Victorian romance (see Gorgeous as Sin and Sexy as Hell) is a fun erotic thriller.  The boudoir scenes are scintillating; slow and steamy while overwhelming the prime plot of exposing the killer.  Still fans of Susan Johnson will appreciate the escapades of the devil and the daughter especially in the bedroom (and a few other places).

Harriet Klausner

Pleasure Me-Monica Burns

January 29, 2011

Pleasure Me

Monica Burns

Berkley, Mar 1 2011, $15.00

ISBN: 9780425238790

In 1897 London, Marston kindly tells his mistress forty-one years old Lady Ruth Attwood that he has formed a tender with Ernestina Fitzgerald.  Ruth knows he is being kind as the tendre is because Ernestine is much younger than her until she asks for the money he promised her.  He becomes a sanctimonious pig telling her to sell the jewelry he gave her; she knows that will bring in a paltry sum considering her loyal servants Simmons and Dolores and the orphans at St. Agnes she funds.  She knows her career as a prime choice courtesan is over.

Considered a stud Baron Garrick Stratfield learns like the rest of the Ton that Marston cut off Ruth.  Being the son of a mother who abandoned him and his sister and a father who committed suicide masculine Garrick is extremely discreet.  However even after bashing in a lord who insulted his sister, he has a secret that has left him a virgin.  Garrick hires Ruth to teach him how to make love with a woman.  As they begin their tryst, they shockingly begin to fall in love though he is so much younger than she.  However, a serpent wanting to blackmail one of them and bury the other begins using insider knowledge to tell lies.

Pleasure Me is a refreshing late Victorian erotic romance starring two unlikely lovers in a May-September relationship.  Ruth is a rare protagonist as an experienced woman “passed” her prime falling in love; Garrick is as rare male lead as a virgin.  Although the villain’s actions detract from a profound gender bending character study, historical romance readers will appreciate the love story of the older courtesan and the very virile virgin.

Harriet Klausner

An Unlikely Countess-Jo Beverley

January 28, 2011

An Unlikely Countess

Jo Beverley

Signet, Mar 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN 9780451232717

In 1765 in Yorkshire, Prudence Youlgrave lives in poverty.  She knows her only hope to escape is to marry wealth above her social level.  However, meeting someone with money is difficult for someone in her economic straits.

Catesby Burgoyne rescues Prudence from robbers.  Shocking himself though he knows his intoxicated state keeps him from remaining logical, he asks her to marry him; shocking herself she accepts.  When sober he regrets his fight with his brother the Earl of Malzrad and not because he has no money being cut off.  Resigning from the military, he and Prudence are further shocked with what fate spins next.  Cate’s older brother dies unexpectedly, which makes the remorseful spare an Earl and his wife Prudence the Countess.  As they fall in love, her former fiancé arrives to stake a prior claim on Prudence.

The class distinctions come across very powerful in this super Georgian romance as the support cast of aristocrats could make or break the new Countess.  Although the ending with Prudence’s ratty fiancé seems unnecessary and a bit weak, this fast-paced tale will thrill fans of Jo Beverly’s Malloren saga as the engaging historical romance contains combat on two fronts: gender and class warfare.

Harriet Klausner

Playing for Keeps-Playing for Keeps

January 28, 2011

Playing for Keeps

LuAnn McLane

Signet, Mar 1 2011, $6.99

ISBN 9780451232762

Former Major League baseball pitcher Noah Falcon turned actor has been fired from the soap opera he performed on.  Decided a respite is in order Noah goes back to his old Kentucky home after two decades away.

Olivia Lawson attended Cricket Creek High School with Noah; she never forgot that the star athlete ignored the bookworm except when she tutored him.  He does not want to ignore her now as he thinks the schoolteacher is beautiful and her voice sexy, but she knows from the tabloids he is a playboy.  As their attraction grows, they perform together on stage in a local production where she realizes he cares about the play, the people and the town.  The audience can see that love flows between them, but she still she fears his rejection once he goes back to Hollywood.

This Cricket Creek contemporary romance is a fun tale due to the brisk banter between the lead couple.  With a strong secondary cast mostly the townsfolk who encourage the protagonists as they fuss, fight and fall in love, fans will enjoy LuAnn McLane’s mantra that “There’s no place like home.”

Harriet Klausner