Archive for June, 2011

Happy Birthday-Danielle Steel

June 30, 2011

Happy Birthday

Danielle Steel

Delacorte, Jul 19 2011, $28.00

ISBN: 9780385340304

 

Valerie Wyatt is the leader of home decoration.  She has a popular television show and several bestselling books.  Everyone in the media wants her as a guest or interviewee. 

 

Her daughter April works as diligently as her mom.  April is a master chef and owner of a popular trendy Manhattan restaurant.  She is pregnant carrying Mike Steinman’s child, but is unsure whether to tell her lover or not.  Besides the successful pair working extremely hard, they share in common the encroachment of an undesirable milestone birthday.

 

Jack Adams is a former NFL quarterback but retired a dozen years ago to become a diligent successful TV sports analyst.  Women still want him, but as he turns fifty he feels his age after a night like none before leaves him in pain as if blindsided by a middle linebacker.  He and Valerie meet and are attracted to one another.

 

Happy Birthday is an entertaining contemporary romance that fans of Danielle Steele will enjoy due to the two couples who garner reader empathy especially aging boomers.  Although the story line is thin, readers will relish the birthday presents as two pairs of relationships are forged, but surviving in tact for the next milestone birthday remains to be seen as each person’s idiosyncrasies places some doubts on this occurring.

 

Harriet Klausner

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Last Dog on the Hill: The Extraordinary Life of Lou-Steve Duno

June 29, 2011

Last Dog on the Hill: The Extraordinary Life of Lou

Steve Duno

St. Martin’s Griffin, Jun 22 2011, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312600495

 

In 1989 in Mendocino County, California, Steve Duno and Nancy Banks saw the wild Rottweiler puppies who were obviously the offspring of marijuana farm guard dogs.  Out of the pack of feral canines came one dog who decided to change his life.  Steve was prepared to leave the pup at the side of the road, but Nancy interceded.  They took Lou as they named him with them.  However, on that day in 1989 Steve was unprepared for how much Lou changed his life and that of so many others, dogs and humans alike.  Starting with the Alzheimer’s elderly woman and next the yarn of the thread, Lou quickly won over the senior citizens.  For sixteen years Steve and Lou were BFFs.  With a nod to John Grogan’s Marley and Me, Last Dog on the Hill: The Extraordinary Life of Lou is a fascinating memoir that explores the special bond between a dog and their owner.  Well written and filled with pathos and humor, as Steve understands he was Indian Jones’ sidekick; who leaves animal lovers musing that Lou’s writing his memoir First Human Chosen: The Extraordinary Life of My Pet Steve.

 

Harriet Klausner

Burnt Mountain-Anne Rivers Siddons

June 29, 2011

Burnt Mountain

Anne Rivers Siddons

Grand Central, Jul 19 2011, $25.99

ISBN: 9780446527897

 

In Atlanta, seventeen year old Thayer Wentworth is pregnant, but prenatal tests show that her unborn is severely malformed.  Though she is heartbroken, she chooses an abortion.  Thayer goes on to college where she meets and is attracted to extroverted storyteller Dr. Aengus O’Neill.  They marry.

 

When Thayer’s affluent grandmother dies, she inherits her incredible Atlanta home not far from Burnt Mountain’s Camp Edgewood where her father died in a car accident.  She and Aengus take up residence in the luxurious mansion.   However, he begins to recall upsetting memories from his childhood in Ireland that disturbs Thayer who fears her husband is losing his mind.  At the same time she looks into has past at her mom and her first love Nick Abrams who broke her heart at Camp Sherwood Forest in North Carolina.

 

Burnt Mountain is an entertaining southern drama that fans of the author will enjoy.  Thayer is an intriguing individual facing relationship issues.  The story line is at its best when the focus is entirely on the heroine’s inner turmoil although too many subplots are left dangling.  Still she has decisions to make even if happenchance assists her on the most critical.  Although not Anne Rivers Siddons’s best work, readers will still appreciate touring the North Carolina Mountains with Thayer as their guide.

 

Harriet Klausner

Redeeming Love-Francine Rivers

June 29, 2011

Redeeming Love

Francine Rivers

Multnomah, May 9 2005, $14.99

ISBN: 9781590525135

 

In 1835 eight year old Sarah became an orphan when mama died; she was sold into sexual slavery to an affluent citizen the Big Man who preferred little girls.  He changed her name to Angel, but by the time she could escape she only know how to use her body to make a living.

 

In 1850 the prostitute arrives in California where she joins the stable of the infamous Duchess.  Each night she is auctioned to the highest bidder as the most popular Cyprian.  Michael Hosea the farmer heeds God’s words to redeem the whore.  He spends his money to talk to Angel in hopes of persuading her to give up hooking. At first he fails on his mission, but Angel begins to slowly find self esteem and basks in God’s unconditional love that has her believing she can be more than a hooker.

 

This is reprint of a groundbreaking inspirational historical romance that uses real issues of pedophile, other depravities and prostitution to tell the heroine’s story of redemption.  Angel makes the tale work as she is sold into prostitution but at the first opportunity becomes her own woman so she sets the foundation for her later belief in God and the love of Hosea.  Although her repetitive running to and from Hosea makes sense for this doubting Thomasina soiled dove, these reiterations slow down the pace.  Still, based on the Prophet Hosea’s relationship with Gomer the prostitute who God had him marry and show unconditional love for her even if she sleeps with other men, Redeeming Love remains an entertaining tale of the healing power of the Lord encouraging love.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Last Letter from Your Lover-Jojo Moyes

June 28, 2011

The Last Letter from Your Lover

Jojo Moyes

Viking, Jul 7 2011, $26.95

ISBN: 9780670022809

 

In 1960, following a car accident that hospitalized her in a comatose sate, twenty-seven years old Jennifer Stirling wakes up.  However, her injury leaves her with amnesia; she does not recall the accident that left her in her current condition or anything else.

 

Her Husband visits her almost every night and Jennifer knows in her heart she does not love this wealthy man who has made a fortune exploiting mining operations in the war ravaged Congo.  When she finds a passionate haunting love letter from a “B” Jennifer knows the unknown author is her beloved.  Still, she also struggles with what is acceptable behavior amongst her English social class in London.

 

In 2003, English journalist Ellie Haworth researches a story in her newspaper’s morgue when she finds a B letter to Jennifer.  Feeling the love “B” had for his Jennifer, Ellie looks deep inside her heart to her grand passion as she tries to learn whether “B” and “J” had a happy ever after.

 

This is a charming relationship drama starring an incredible cast especially the two letter writers and the reporter who investigates their tale.  Character driven, fans will relish this bittersweet romance as love proves not enough yet lasts forever in spite of time and place separation.  Jojo Moyes provides a wonderful story that romanticists will relish.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb-Melanie Benjamin

June 28, 2011

The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb

Melanie Benjamin

Delacorte, Jul 26 2011, $25.00

ISBN: 9780385344159

 

Her family encouraged dwarf Mercy Lavinia “Vinnie” Bump to stay out of the public’s eye so as to avoid the stares and other rude behavior.   Unlike her beloved also dwarf sister Minnie who preferred to a reclusive life, Vinnie decided to prove an adult woman in a body under three feet tall could thrive.  She joined P. T. Barnum’s freak show and married her dwarf peer General Tom Thumb in the wedding of the nineteenth century so covered that the Civil War took a back seat to the gala.  This enable both to leave the troupe as the celebrity power couple toured the world meeting monarchs and presidents and other leaders.   However, the cost of her being extroverted is the impact on her introverted sister.

 

This is an enjoyable biographical fiction tale that focuses on the “perfect woman in miniature” who becomes a superstar while belonging to the elite of New York high society.  The best aspects of the tale are the triangle relationships between the General, Vinnie and Barnum although that limits insight into the title character’s global escapades and ignores her last four decades of life even with Vinnie’s superego being stratospheric.  Still Vinnie’s lust for life makes for an engaging historical story as she tells her story with the world as her oyster.

 

Harriet Klausner

How to Seduce a Scoundrel-Vicky Dreiling

June 28, 2011

How to Seduce a Scoundrel

Vicky Dreiling

Forever, Jun 28 2011, $7.99

ISBN:  9780446565387

 

In 1817 a rake of the first order the Earl of Hawkfield is shocked when his best friend the Duke of Shelbourne Tristan Gatewick asks a favor of him.  Marc Darcett would do almost anything for Tristan, but he feels put out when requested to serve as guardian to the Duke’s sister for the season.  Tristan explains that his mother will be with him while caring for his bed-ridden pregnant wife Tessa (see How to Marry a Duke) and the females in Marc’s family are with his Grandmamma who suffers from heart palpitations.

 

Lady Julianne Gatewick is attracted to Hawk, but assumes her regard is unrequited until he dances a waltz with her during the opening ball of the season.  However, he busted her bubble when he simply walked away from her; making her the target of the whisperers.   Julianne abetted by bodacious Lady Hester writes the outrageous A Lady’s Guide to Enticing Unrepentant Rakes.  She heeds her own advice to trap Hawk who arrogantly tells the rookies to stay away from her.  As her temporary guardian he escorts her around town and sets the rules for her season’s behavior, but she laughs at him except when he kisses her.  SAs hawk falls in love but one dark secret keeps him from handing in his guardian hat to replace it with adoring husband hat.

 

This is a fun How To … Regency romance as a scoundrel’s code of conduct is broken once he dances a waltz with his friend’s sister.  The story line is fast-paced from the moment Shelbourne asks Hawk for a favor and never looks back.  A subplot involving a young lad adds poignancy to an entertaining historical.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Secret Mistress-Mary Balogh

June 28, 2011

The Secret Mistress

Mary Balogh

Delacorte, Jul 12 2011, $24.00

ISBN:  9780385343312

 

Sister to the Duke of Tresham Jocelyn, Lady Angeline Dudley wants a prim and proper gentleman as her husband after being surrounded by rakes.  As she waits impatiently for Jocelyn to arrive, fiendish rake Lord Windrow assaults her; Earl Edward Ailsbury rescues her.  His family thinks Lady Angeline is the perfect match for him; she agrees with their assessment.

 

No one asked Edward for his opinion.  If they did he would reveal his secret love for Eunice Goddard.  However Hurricane Angeline refuses to back away from her choice although she hides her doubts.  He proposes but she demands passion and feels once she jumps his bones he will not be able to resist.  As Angeline brings out the love and beast in her man, Edward brings out the need and desire in his woman.

 

The latest marvelous Mistress Regency romance (see A Secret Affair) is an amusing coupling of a rationalist with a romanticist.  Edward cannot understand why logic fails to work in his dealings with emotional women while ardent Angeline cannot understand why her beloved remains prim with her.  His behavior amplifies her insecurities.  Fans will enjoy this comedy of errors as the proper noble and the spirited lady fall in love.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

Mistress of the Storm-Terri Brisbin

June 27, 2011

Mistress of the Storm

Terri Brisbin

Kensington Brava, Jul 1 2011, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758235206

 

In Scotland, Sigurd covets power; there is nothing this avaricouse individual would not do to gain more affluence.  He even sells his stepdaughter Isabel to lairds or with connections willing to buy.  She acquiesces to Sigurd’s pimping her in return keeping her sister Thora safe from this abomination and his family business.

 

Sigurd’s latest mark is Duncan a healer with ties to the king.  Isabel stuns Duncan with her touch as he can feel it, which goes contrary to his otherworldly skills that always have diminished his senses.  Duncan takes the whore to his holding to learn about the woman.  She fears his kindness as men are nice when they want something.  Watching him tenderly heal and seeing the aftermath of how much is taken out of her host, Isabel feels trapped as she is falling in love but must protect Thora even at the cost of her heart.

 

The fourth Storm paranormal medieval romance (see A Storm of Pleasure) is a terrific tale of good and evil; yet the key is the impact on innocent pawns.  Action-packed in and out of the boudoir, fans will enjoy the war for Isabel’s heart soul between the kind healer who she loves and the malevolent stepfather who she loathes as her sibling is the bait.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Bells-Richard Harvell

June 26, 2011

The Bells

Richard Harvell

Broadway, Jun 28 2011, $14.00

ISBN: 9780307590534

 

In the Uri Valley in the Swiss Alps, Moses Froben was born in the belfry of a church.  His deaf mom Adelheid rang the three loud bells that she could not hear.  He was raised in that belfry with love and learned to listen to people by the sounds they make.  The heartbeat of his mute mom would rise when she was excited.  Moses listens while he wandered the village but all thought he was as crazy, deaf and mute as his mom.  When Moses saves a life but reveals he can hear, Father Karl Victor assaults him and tosses the child into the River Russ.

 

Monks Nicolai and Remus rescue Moses and take him to the Abbey of St. Gaul.  The choirmaster Ulrich realizes the lad has extraordinary talents and nurtures the voice by castrating the lad.  The castrato meets heiress Amalia Duft.  They fall in love, but though she remains his life inspiration, they have little hope of being together.  His two monk friends enable Moses to become the toast of Vienna and the rest of Europe as a musico soprano Lo Suizzero.

 

This is an engaging historical “biographical” fiction as told by Moses’ “son” that life in late eighteenth century is a cruel place for the less fortunate.  Though much darker the first act of the Bells reminds me of the modern day Oliver Twist movie August Rush; while the other two acts remain grim yet inspirational as Moses’ magically makes music.  Although at times especially in act one the story line seems an overly emoting melodrama, readers will ring accolades to Richard Harvell who captures the tone of the good, the bad and the ugly of Europe.

 

Harriet Klausner