Archive for February, 2011

Fly Me to Paradise-Catherine Andorka

February 28, 2011

Fly Me to Paradise

Catherine Andorka

Five Star, Apr 6 2011, $25.95

ISBN: 9781594149535

 

In Illinois, neither she nor her husband Charles wanted children, but before he underwent a vasectomy, his wife Madeline Holt persuaded him to leave sperm at the Lynwood Fertility Clinic in case they change their minds.  After he died, she decided to undergo insemination to raise a child of his.  However, a mistake occurs and she learns she is carrying the offspring of Cromwell corporate pilot Kurt Williams.

 

Both are upset‚ but she makes it clear she will not abort the fetus nor give the child up once born.  He surprises her as he agrees with her plans.  However he has one exception; Though he suffers from Hodgkin ’s disease that he prays is in remission,  he plans to be in their child’s life, as he vowed to never desert a kid of his like his dad did when he was six years old.  As they spend time together, they fall in love.  However, she keeps her distance as she feels his job is dangerous; besides which she fears heights; while he wonders why she never asked him why he donated sperm.

 

Fly Me To Paradise is an engaging contemporary romance in which a mistake serves as the matchmaker between a widow and a remission cancer victim.  Readers will empathize with Madeline’s reluctance to get involved as love hurts especially since her late husband was cautions and still died in an accident; on the other hand Kurt serves more as a role model as he learns life is precious and potentially expendable.  Although their hesitations becomes a bit repetitive, fans will enjoy this fun tale of two nice people falling in love, but each has doubts about their future except when it comes to the child she carries.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Uncoupling-Meg Wolitzer

February 27, 2011

The Uncoupling

Meg Wolitzer

Riverhead, Apr 5 2011, $25.95

ISBN: 9781594487880

At Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Stellar Plains, New Jersey, drama teacher Fran Heller chooses the Ancient Greek classic Lysistrata as the play her students will perform.  However the anti-war comedy has a strange effect on the town’s females.  Just like in Aristophanes’ drama, the adult women and teen girls refuse to have sex with their male counterparts.  Though in the Greek drama it was to end the endless Peloponnesian War; none of the Jersey women know why,

No exceptions to the sexual abstinence rule surfaces.  The guys are stunned as their seductive efforts fail miserably.  The women wonder where the passion went while the men wonder where the women went.  All are unhappy as a spell has been cast leading to the Uncoupling of couples breaking up. 

This is an intriguing sort of adult fairy tale look at female sexuality in the age of social media when people are living much longer.  The story line is character driven by the couples struggling with frustration over unfulfilled basic needs although the female side is much more complicated.  Readers will enjoy the New Jersey Housewives and other females starring in Mg Wolitzer’s modern day rendition of Lysistrata.

Harriet Klausner

Dangerous Pleasures-Fiona Zedde

February 27, 2011

Dangerous Pleasures

Fiona Zedde

Kensington, Feb 1 2011, $15.00

ISBN 9780758217400

Her Yoga students and her lovers appreciate Mayson a lesbian.  She enjoys her work as an instructor and relishes making love with various partners.  Her best friend Renee a heterosexual struggles to move on beyond a divorce from her emotionally abusive husband.  Her parents want her to date staid neighbor Grant who reflects his desire for her on his face (and other body parts), but she wants sex when she desires it with no strings.  Mayson helps Renee arrange trysts with strangers until the latter finds the man who plays her like a violin virtuoso as she wants more from him.

Kendra meets Mayson and is instantly attracted to her.  Mayson is somewhat curious about Kendra who openly displays her desire.  Kendra pursues Mayson earnestly as she wants her.  They begin a heated tryst that both enjoy.  However, as Kendra sends her gifts and tries to take up her free time exclusively, Mayson realizes her lover demands more from her than she wants to give.  While Mayson pushes back for some space, a hurt Kendra turns angry and jealous.

With a nod to the Douglas-Stone film Basic Instinct, aptly titled Dangerous Pleasures is a fabulous erotic relationship drama driven by the dysfunctional lead couple.  How Kendra acts after feeling betrayed will stun readers but seems plausible.  Though somewhat repetitive, Fiona Zedde provides an entreating contemporary cautionary tale warns the audience not to trifle with someone else’s heart.

Harriet Klausner

Blood Wicked-Sharon Page

February 27, 2011

Blood Wicked

Sharon Page

Kensington Aphrodisia, Mar 1 2011, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758250940

In 1820 Vivienne Dare knows only one way to obtain the money pay for the medicine her child needs to stay alive.  The former courtesan uses her body to bring in needed revenue.  She especially services affluent males.

When she is directed to sleep with Lord Heath Winthrop, she emphatically refuses.  She fears the Lord of Blackmoor will demand more than just a night and she will want to obey his desires.  Instead she is ignorant of what Heath wants from her; as the vampire plans to interrogate Vivienne using seduction to obtain answers from her as to what happened to his missing brother Raine.  He thinks she may have been involved or her father who made him ten years ago.

Blood Wicked is a terrific erotic Regency paranormal romance starring two individuals with similar needs and ultimately desires.  Whereas she willingly would sell her soul to save her child’s life, he understands how she feels from his human days as a father whose daughter died.  Character driven, Sharon Page provides another suspenseful Blood Deep historical romantic urban fantasy (see Blood Red and Blood Rose).

Harriet Klausner

Yours, Mine & Ours-Jennifer Greene

February 26, 2011

Yours, Mine & Ours

Jennifer Greene

Harlequin Special Edition, Mar 22 2011, $4.99

ISBN: 9780373655908

In Chicago suburb Silver Hills, recently divorced lawyer Mike Conroy and his four year old son Teddy move into their new home along with Slugger the Basset Hound.  Teddy goes over to the girlie girl next door neighbor to show her his worms when she screams at a decibel that would have won her American Idol.  A female adult version races out of the same house the girlie girl came out of.  Soon her dog and cat and his dog and cat are in a melee.  Her daughter Molly has a temper tantrum and hits Teddy.  First impressions between Mike and Amanda Scott is not what either expected. 

Mike and Amanda are attracted to one another.  Ironically they followed the same American family model: with first comes marriage; followed by the baby (and pets); next the divorce; and ended with single parent, child and pets move from Chicago to the burbs.  They seem like opposites, but share the same issues as single parents and vow no activity with the opposite sex.  As they fall in love with one another and the other’s child, they wonder if they can be a modern day mini Brady Bunch though each recognizes the kids’ needs come before their desires.

With a nod to the movie (1968 original and 2005 remake) Yours, Mine and Ours, and the Brady Bunch, readers will enjoy this warm family drama as seemingly opposites confronted with similar parenting issues fall in love.  The cast is solid especially the lead couple and their respective kids and pets as Mike finds life as a burbarian grow on him; just like it did Amanda before him.

Harriet Klausner

An Eye for Glory: The Civil War Chronicles of a Citizen Soldier

February 26, 2011

An Eye for Glory: The Civil War Chronicles of a Citizen Soldier

Karl Bacon

Zondervan, Mar 1 2011, $16.99

ISBN: 9780310322023

Although he loathed leaving his beloved wife Jesse Ann and their children back in Connecticut, Michael Palmer heeds the call of President Lincoln and enlists in 1862.  However, he quickly finds himself detesting the deaths of friends and the incompetent leadership of the political hacks in charge of the soldiers who sit in the rear sending people to their death without a thought.  Still he vows to do his duty even as his anger at the killings of his comrades has him thirsty for the slaying of Confederate soldiers. 

At Gettysburg, Michael keeps score of those he shoots until a dying enemy holds aloft his family bible.  Michael is stunned as realizes he had demonized the foe, but like him they have families praying for their return.  After he helps the soldier with his final dying breaths by reading scripture to him, Michael takes the bible with him.  When the war ends, he tells his Jesse Ann what he did to Mr. Augustus Wyatt of North Carolina.  She persuades him to find the soldier’s widow in order to return to her the bible and pray she forgives his shattered soul. 

This is an excellent historical tale with an insightful look at the 14th Connecticut Infantry through the eyes of Michael, who became immune to the death of the enemy as he no longer saw them as God’s flock. He also loses his faith in the Lord with the deaths of his comrades.  Bloody as the battlefields were and still are, the aftermath of combat in the survivors grips readers.  Perhaps those who use the war card as a first option should peruse An Eye for Glory to comprehend first hand the true cost to God’s children.

Harriet Klausner

Montecore-Jonas Hassin Khemeri

February 25, 2011

Montecore

Jonas Hassin Khemeri

Knopf, Mar 8 2011, $26.95

ISBN: 9780307270955

Abbas left Tunisia to settle in Stockholm. Over eight years ago, he vanished.  An email from Kadir of Tunisia to first time published novelist Jonas Khemiri offers an intriguing proposition.  Kadir claims to have been Abbas’ best friend at a Tunisian orphanage while Jonas is Abbas’ adult son.  The former wants to collaborate with a latter on Abbas’s biography.

Abbas came to Sweden without a krona to his name or an identity beyond orphan as he fell in love with a flight attendant.  With money lent from Kadir, Abbas follows his beloved to Stockholm, where like a Cinderfella they marry and raise a family.  However, the North African fails to adapt to life in Sweden and worse is unable to support his family as a photographer as xenophobic Swediot bigots vandalize his studio.  Frustrated in his attempts to fit in while his son taunts him, he gave up and disappeared only to become world recognized as a superstar in New York.

 

This is an excellent look at modern Swedish society’s so called melting pot in which one prime ingredient is acceptable in the stew; though this could be just about anywhere with few true international cities.  The story line is driven by Kadir and Jonas who share commentary on Abbas.  However, what makes the novel superior is the Tunisian-Swedish dialect (incredibly translated into English by Rachel Willson-Broyles) as readers will believe Abbas is a real person whose journey from frightened child to world accolades starts in Tunisia, goes to Sweden and ends in New York.

 

Harriet Klausner

Spinning-Michael Baron

February 25, 2011

Spinning

Michael Baron

The Story Plant, Apr 5 2011, $16.95

www.thestoryplant.com

ISBN: 9781611880052

Twenty-nine years old Manhattan Mason, Brand and Partners executive Dylan Hunter seems to have everything.  Women want him; his apartment is the best in New York; his work has made him the top gun and kept his plan to retire at forty viable.  A friend of his Billie works at the same firm.  She is the female Dylan, but because she is a woman society considers her a ruthless bitch who is ambitious and aggressive while applauding Dylan for the same tactics.

Dylan’s former girlfriend from his Chicago days a century ago, Diane has arrived accompanied by her three years old daughter Spring.  She explains he is all she knows in the Big Apple as she plans to start anew.  Diane asks if they can stay at his place for now; even he cannot understand why he said yes.  Spring turns his life around as she draws on his perfectly painted walls, introduces him to the animals at the zoo and dines on a gourmet macaroni and tofu with cheese.  When an accident occurs, Dylan continues to care for Spring by allowing some of the plates he spins in his previous hedonistic life to crash.  He enjoys every minute with her; as does Billie, but knows the court will soon intervene.

This is an enjoyable extended family drama as Dylan and Billie learn what life is all about from a precocious (perhaps too precocious) little girl.  The cast is solid especially the lead trio, but also those at the office, his best friend Jimbo and case worker Mrs. Eckleberg.  Readers will enjoy this poignant tale as Michael Baron provides a deep message that to lead a fulfilling life, one must spin various plates including the care and nurturing of others.

Harriet Klausner

Breaking the Rules-Suzanne Brockmann

February 25, 2011

Breaking the Rules

Suzanne Brockmann

Ballantine, Mar 22 2011, $26.00

ISBN: 9780345521224

Navy SEALs Izzy Zanella and Danny Gilman have a long standing grudge.  When the former met the latter’s sister Eden, he fell in love.  She became pregnant with someone else’s child, but he stepped to the plate and married her.  When she miscarried, she also gave up on a heartbroken Izzy.  Danny blamed Izzy for his sibling’s unhappiness

Meanwhile Danny and Izzy work a mission in Afghanistan in which the former is wounded and the latter saves his life but almost dies doing so.  After a hospital stint in Germany, they come home to learn Eden is trying to rescue her teenage younger brother Ben from their abusive stepfather Greg and his mother Ivette.  They head to Vegas along with Danny’s on again and off again girlfriend Jennilyn LeMay to help Eden.  When Ben rescues Neesha from a child prostitution ring, Eden and Izzy protect her as the mobsters come for their merchandise, but snatch Ben instead. 

The latest Troubleshooters romantic suspense is a double dose of second chance at love inside of a family affair.  The story line is action-packed in Nevada and Afghanistan, but it is the cast that makes this so much fun as the Gillman crew play first violin in a wonderful thriller.

Harriet Klausner

You Don’t Love This Man-Dan DeWeese

February 25, 2011

You Don’t Love This Man

Dan DeWeese

Harper, Mar 1 2011, $14.99

ISBN: 9780061992322

Bank manager Paul is the father of the bride as his daughter Miranda will marry his former best friend Grant.  The morning of the wedding Catherine at the bank calls Paul informing him they were robbed and the cops had arrived.  Catherine tells him to enjoy his day as everything is under control; he wonders why call him if that is so. 

When he learns Miranda is missing, Paul thinks back over two decades ago when he was with his then three years old daughter trick or treating only to lose her temporarily.  He is frustrated by his ex-wife Sandra who is unconcerned as well as her brother Bradshaw of the big vocabulary.  Paul tries to find his daughter just like he tried the first time she vanished.  Adding to his bewilderment is learning the robber was the same thief who robbed the bank over twenty years ago.

You Don’t Love This Man is a terrific character study of a person who believes his life was futile but looks back anyway.  This leads to Paul reexamining who matters and why to him and him to them.  With a nod to It’s A Wonderful Life (without Clarence), readers will empathize with the protagonist who begins to understand relationships 101; as he concludes that having someone’s number in his cellphone does not mean they will answer his call.

Harriet Klausner