Archive for July, 2011

Pretty-Jillian Lauren

July 31, 2011

Pretty

Jillian Lauren

Plume, Aug 30 2011, $15.00

ISBN 9780452297340

 

Beth “Bebe” Baker worked at Rudy’s in Toledo when Aaron the horn player on tour with jazz star Billy Coyote enters the dive.  He had three things going for him and one negative.  The positives are the horn like Bebe’s pop, his being very tall like she is, and his kiss.  However, he also seems tentative as if he cannot play the final note.  Bebe hops on the tour bus as it leaves Toledo.

 

In Los Angeles the band becomes marooned.  Bebe becomes a stripper while Aaron’s drug use increasingly gets out of control until he dies in a car crash that leaves her physically scarred and emotionally damaged.  Over the next year Bebe goes to rehab vocational facility while attending beauty school.  As she tries to reinvent herself by staying clean and grieve her hero, Bebe also sees schizophrenic Jake.

 

This is an intriguing character study of a woman who makes bad choices on her life as she seems to repeat her errors.  Bebe is a fascinating protagonist who though she goes to school and sees another man, has not moved passed her loss of Aaron.  Besides some sympathy over his death, readers will not empathize with Bebe as every time she takes a big leap forward, she follows up with gigantic leaps backward.  Readers will appreciate Jillian Lauren’s look at a complicated individual who believes graduation will prove her savior.

 

Harriet Klausner

Repeat It Today With Tears-Anne Peile

July 30, 2011

Repeat It Today With Tears

Anne Peile

Serpent’s Tail, Aug 16 2011, $14.95

ISBN: 9781846687471

 

In 1972 London, Susanna is a disaffected teen who cares about nothing.  Her pathetic mother and acrimonious older sister ridicule Susanna while her friends are not true BFFs.  School is no escape for her as it is boring though she is intelligent having taken the Oxford exam early.  Her only attachment is her obsession over her absent Welsh dad John ap Rhys Owen of whom she never met.

 

Susanna finds out that her dad fiftyish Jack the artist lives in Chelsea.  She visits him and kisses him on the lips while failing to inform the immediately besotted Jack who she is.  They begin an affair not worrying about what will happen if the truth of their filial connection becomes known to anyone including Jack.

 

This is a stunning character driven incestuous drama in which the first part of what Susanna does will shock the reader who knows what Jack does not.  However, the second half seems even darker as the outside world begins to penetrate the incest world of father and daughter.  Not an easy read as the subject is taboo; fans will appreciate the well written Repeat It Today With Tears.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

Secrets to Seducing a Scot-Michelle Marcos

July 30, 2011

Secrets to Seducing a Scot

Michelle Marcos

St. Martin’s, Aug 2 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312381783

 

In 1819, the Prince Regent assigns Earlington Marsh as a diplomat whose mission is to settle the Scottish rebellion from turning into a war.  Marsh decides his independent daughter Serena will accompany him so he can keep her safe.  Serena prefers London where she writes the witty Rage Page column for the Town crier, but her dad says no.

 

In Scotland Earlington retains mercenary Malcolm Slayer, whose family was massacred two decades ago which left him growing up without a clan, to protect his feisty offspring when rebels threaten her to get at the mediator.  As the barbaric soldier of fortune and the cutting columnist fall in love, he is her only hope to rescue her abducted father from rebels. 

 

This is an entertaining Highland Regency romance starring a strong support cast and a delightful pairing of seemingly opposites who readers will root for a Wickedly Ever After ending.  The story line is fast-paced whether the protagonists argue or kiss, and when they mount a rescue attempt or go to the fair.  Sub-genre fans will enjoy the tale of Rage Page and the clan-less for hire warrior falling in love.

 

Harriet Klausner

Midnight Sins-Lora Leigh

July 30, 2011

Midnight Sins

Lora Leigh

St. Martin’s, Aug 2 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312389086

In Corbin County, Widow Jami Flannigan Kramer misses her late soul mate Ty; so much so she has a fling with Tye’s blood brother Rafer Callahan as the next best thing.  Jami also notices how her thirteen year old younger sister Cambria looks at Rafe with adulation.  However, everything ends when someone kills Jami and the townsfolk of the county seat Sweetrock blame Rafe and his two cousins.  They are exonerated but he leaves town as he joined the military.

Now twenty-one years old, Cami still wants Rafe, who returned to town as a rancher.  However, a series of homicides rocks the sweet town with the residents once again blaming the Callahan cousins.  Rafe recalls his death bed pledge to Jami, a vow to keep Cami safe.  As they fall in love, Cami wonders if Rafe is the killer.

This is an exciting edgy romantic suspense that grips the reader from the opening murder of Jami and never slows down.  The fast-paced story line is extremely dark as a serial killer haunts the county.  Although the cliffhanging climax leaves little closure while setting up a cousin’s tale, readers will appreciate this taut thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Deep Disclosure-Dee Davis

July 30, 2011

Deep Disclosure

Dee Davis

Forever, Sep 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780446582926

 

Thirteen years ago in Walsenberg, Colorado, the fire at their home left Alexis Markham’s parents dead.  Her father’s friend George placed her in hiding to keep her safe as he knew her dad’s work on a top secret biochemical weapon formula led to his murder and she would be next by whoever betrayed Markham.

 

 George is dead from an explosion in which former San Mateo undercover prisoner Tucker Flynn saw first hand while on the phone with his brother.  The CIA A-TAC operative obtains the position of Alexis’ bodyguard to keep her safe and learn what the secret is she conceals.  He knows she conceals something that he needs to know.  As they fall in love, he realizes he willingly would die for Alexis and she feels likewise for Tucker but she refuses to reveal what she hides.

 

The latest A-Tac romantic suspense (see Desperate Deeds, Dangerous Desires and Dark Deceptions) is a deadly delightful CIA thriller in which the heroine’s secret as well as who wants her dead make for a compelling tale.  The story line is action-packed from the first fire until the fiery finish as the engaging romance supports the intrigue.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

Don’t Mess with Texas-Christie Craig

July 30, 2011

Don’t Mess with Texas

Christie Craig

Forever, Sep 1 2011, $5.99

ISBN: 9780446582841

 

He manta being “It’s the right thing” to persuade her not to bolt, Nikki Hunt meets her former husband Brian and Sterns lawyer Jack Leon for dinner at expensive Venny’s Restaurant after he pleaded with her that he made some mistakes.  The gallery owner knows she is short paying bills like her Nana’s cable and her BFF assistant Ellen’s salary.  This is why she is unhappy when Jack leaves her with the exorbitant tab.  Mumbling she will kill him, Nikki goes to her car to find Jack dead in her trunk.

 

The police suspect Nikki killed her spouse.  Former cop Dallas O’Conner empathizes with the beleaguered Nikki as he worked at Glencoe PD before being accused unjustly of a crime; now he works as a private investigator.  He bet against her innocence until he saw her dinner is now the puke on the victim’s suit.  . Since he was once falsely convicted of a crime, he tends to be very sympathetic to those who find themselves in the same position. While his homicide detective brother Tony works to solve the murder while dealing with his broken marriage to LeAnn, Dallas also looks into the killing and that of a related injured victim while dealing with his attraction to the prime suspect.

 

This is a fun Texas investigative romance that in some ways feels like a throwback to the madcap comedies of the 1930s.  The story line is fast-paced from the moment the heroine vomits and never slows down as her knight in shining armor tries to prove her innocence while falling in love with “Leon’s leftover”.  Fans will appreciate this terrific Texas two-step.

 

Harriet Klausner

Foolish Games-Karen Wiesner

July 29, 2011

Foolish Games

Karen Wiesner

Whiskey Creek, 2011, $17.95

ISBN: 978161160155

 

One year ago on New Year’s Eve Lydia Samuels died from a brain tumor.  She left behind her grieving husband Peter and their two children (thirteen year old James and eleven year old Brenna).  The single dad struggles to raise their kids alone while wondering how God could allow such a bad thing to happen to such a good person as his wife.

 

Kimberly Wolfe works for Peter at the Christian bookstore he owns.  She has loved him for years and he considers her family beyond the connection of his sister married to her brother.  Lydia tried to hook Kimberly up with good Christian men, but never forgot how her martinet father used the bible to destroy her mother with his God gave man the right philosophy.  Besides which none were Peter though she hid her feelings from both of them while envying their relationship.  On New Year’s Eve, Peter and Lydia share a kiss.  He realizes he is attracted to Kimberly but wonders whether he can risk his heart again.  Kimberly wants to a take a chance but distrusts men though she tries to forgive her unrepentant father.

 

The latest Family Heirlooms Christian drama (see Glass Angels) stars a terrific lead couple and a strong (not all kind) support cast.  Kimberly and Peter have different issues to overcome before they can consider becoming a couple.  Peter especially is a great protagonist as readers will empathize with him.  Sub-genre readers will cherish this fine tale with an inspiring final coda from Kim leaving no one’s eyes dry.

 

Harriet Klausner

Naomi’s Gift: An Amish Christmas Story-Amy Clipston

July 29, 2011

Naomi’s Gift: An Amish Christmas Story

Amy Clipston

Zondervan, Sep 12 2011, $14.99

ISBN: 9780310327356

 

Widower Caleb Schmucker accompanied by his eight year old daughter Susie leaves Ohio to spend time with his sister Sadie Kauffman and her family in Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania on the anniversary of his wife Barbara’s death in a horrid accident.  His daughter asks him to stop at a farmer’s market so they can pick up a pie for her Aenti Sadie.  Inside the market, Susie vanishes from Caleb’s sight giving him a heart attack until he finds her discussing quilts with Naomi King.  He likes how kind the woman is with his daughter whose late mom was into quilting.

 

His family and friends want the buggy maker to stay.  His sibling tries to hook him up with Irene Wagler whose father owns Wagler’s Buggies in Intercourse.  However, he is attracted to Naomi whose reputation for chasing after men (Timothy Kauffman in A Place of Peace) and Luke Troyer in A Promise of Hope) makes her unacceptable to his sister.  However, it is the way Naomi treats Susie that has him willing to take a second chance on love.

 

With ties through the secondary characters to the Kauffman Amish Bakery series, Naomi’s Gift is a warm second and third chance at love Amish romance.  The secondary characters are critical to the delightful story line with Sadie interfering, Susie “choosing” and Irene uninterested in the daughter.  Readers will enjoy this Amish Christmas Story as the way to a widower’s heart is through loving his daughter too.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Captive Trail-Susan Page Davis

July 29, 2011

The Captive Trail

Susan Page Davis

Moody, Sep 1 2011, $14.99

ISBN: 9780802405845

 

As a little child she was abducted from her family and forced to become a Numinu Comanche or starve.  Years later in 1857 North Central Texas, Peca offers the insultingly low six horses to her adopted parents to make Taabe Waipu his squaw.  Taabe fears Peca so instead flees hoping to find her white family.  Instead she falls when her horse stepped into a hole.

 

Butterfield Overland Mail Company owner driver Ned Bright sees the body of a Comanche female who is clearly white.  With two Sisters on board, he still stops to pick her up and take her to Fort Chadbourne.  The two nuns take Taabe to their mission where she heals from dehydration and a broken ankle.  As she relearns to speak English, Taabe and Ned fall in love, but he feels he owes her finding out who her family is even as the Comanche attack the Ursuline Mission.

 

The second Morgan family Americana tale (see Darlene Franklin’s opener, The Lone Star Trail) is a wonderful romantic suspense starring a strong cast that brings to life Antebellum Texas.  Character driven, still the story line is loaded with action.  However, although Ned is too heroic, the heroine owns the tale as her struggles to readapt are skillfully described as a key element in a warm Texas romance.

 

Harriet Klausner

Stand in Wife-Karina Bliss

July 29, 2011

Stand in Wife

Karina Bliss

Harlequin SuperRomance, Aug 2 2011, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373717224

 

While interviewing on a job out of town, Merry Coltrane breaks her leg.  She pleads with her twin sister Vivienne Jansen to pretend to be her like they did as kids so her estranged husband Charlie who walked out on her and their three kids will not know as he sues for visitation rights.  Flying in from New York, the theater costume designer arrives in Auckland, New Zealand to temporarily masquerade as Merry when the latter’s mother-in-law Linda dies with the former in the house in Hamilton.

 

Vivi as Merry helps arrange the funeral while caring for her sister’s children and keeping her brother-in-law at a distance as Merry’s husband seeks a reconciliation.  Although overwhelmed Vivi handles all this with aplomb until Charlie’s brother Ross (support role in Here Comes the Groom), the injured Special Forces operative, comes home.  Ross finds himself inexplicably attracted to his sister-in-law; while Vivi reciprocates but as Merry has to hide her feelings.

 

Twins switching is an old theme, but Karina Bliss makes it refreshing with a zany madcap romance.  The support cast is a delight as they add madness to the wild comedic New Zealander comedy.  Still the bottom line is the romantic subplot as Ross and Vivi fall in love in a wonderful example of chaos theory at work.

 

Harriet Klausner