Archive for April, 2012

Home From The Sea-Mercedes Lackey

April 28, 2012

Home From The Sea

Mercedes Lackey

Daw, Jun 5 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780756407278

 

In Edwardian England, magic has faded from the minds of most people while psychic powers are thought to be evil.  In Clogwyn, Wales, Mari Prothero’s father Daffyd does not blink when going out in storms to fish in his coracle as he always comes home regardless of the fury of the torrent with a boatload filled with the catch.

 

On her eighteenth birthday, Daffyd tells his daughter that the first Prothero made an arrangement with the clan leader of the Selch (a seal who can turn into a human and vice versa). 

 

A Selch and a Prothero would copulate and give birth to twins and the Selch and one of the twins would return to the sea. Mari is so furious she makes her own deal with the Selch clan leader leader Gethin.  He would send some Selch to court her and another to teach her to use her powers as a Master Water Elemental.  Master of Masters Lord Alberscroft sent two psychicals Nan and Sarah to help Mari from the enemies who want her dead.

 

With a nod to the Nordic tale East of the Sun and West of the Moon, the latest Elemental Masters historical fantasy (see Unnatural Issues and Reserved for the Cat) is a thrilling tale due to the brave heroine who will fight for those she cherishes and to keep what is rightfully hers.  She possesses the protection of Puck, a Power who used to be worshiped as a god.  Nan and Sarah (see Wizard of London) with their respective bonded birds enhance the tale of a world in which magic is becoming a forgotten force.

 

Harriet Klausner

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The Cottage at Glass Beach-Heather Barbieri

April 28, 2012

The Cottage at Glass Beach

Heather Barbieri

Harper, May 15 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780062107961

 

In the Boston area, forty years old Nora Cunningham knows she lives a charmed life as the wife of the youngest attorney general in state history and the mother of two precious children (seven years old Annie and twelve years old Ella).  However, the magic ends when the media hounds her over her husband’s unfaithfulness.  Nora, accompanied by her daughters, move to Burke’s Island, Maine where she lived as a little girl until her mom vanished.

 

Aunt Maire warmly welcomes her niece and grand-nieces to Glass Beach.  Nora tries to keep a happy face for the sake of the girls, but one night alone on the beach she cries.  A few days after her weeping fit, Nora finds fisherman Owen Kavanagh shipwrecked on the rocks.   Her aunt Maire’s friend Polly insists he is a selkie who was drawn by her tears.  Nora thinks he is most likely a man running from personal tsuris.  When her daughters go off on an adventure, Nora pursues them while she frets over their safety, her mom, her marriage and herself.

 

The Cottage at Glass Beach is a whimsical family drama starring a heartbroken protagonist struggling to regain her equilibrium.  The entertaining storyline gets deep inside the soul of the heroine.  Although the two children seem too mature way beyond their ages and adults treat them as emotional equals that seems implausible with things I (and I doubt anyone else) would not tell my adult child now let alone when he was a tweener or younger.  Still this is an engaging tale of emotional healing as those she loves forces Nora to move past the infidelity that rocked her Boston Brahman world.

 

Harriet Klausner

Under Fire-Catherine Mann

April 28, 2012

Under Fire

Catherine Mann

Sourcebooks, May 1 2012, $6.99

ISBN 9781402245015

 

Pararescueman Major Liam McCabe and Rachel Flores worked together in the Bahamas rescuing people during an earthquake.  For the next six months he tried to make contact with her, but she refused to respond though she is attracted to Liam.  She has a problem with his multi failed marriages somewhat but deep down she knows her fears of commitment go back to her fiancé who died on a mission.

 

On Patrick Air Force base, Florida, Liam and his team provide external security for a NASA sponsored international summit.  This is the thirty eight year old soldier’s farewell mission after a career in the military though he knows he is going out with a whimper.  Rachel finds Liam’s car and breaks into it.  Meanwhile her house is ablaze due to an explosion.  Liam is stunned to find her and one of her rescue dogs Disco inside his vehicle.  She explains a flag officer has betrayed the country and wants her dead; she trusts only Liam to help her.

 

The latest Elite Force military romantic thriller (see Cover Me) is an exciting tale starring two individuals who met during the Bahamas rescue mission (see Hot Zone).  Fast-paced and filled with action, Liam knows that if he chooses his heart, he could lose his twenty year career retirement; but if he ignores his heart he will live with regret as his unit’s mantra “that others may live” haunts him especially since Rachel is the one asking him.  Fans will enjoy Under Fire as the protagonists, assisted by his squad, team up to try to bring down a highly ranked officer.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Danger That Is Damian-Lisa Renee Jones

April 28, 2012

The Danger That Is Damian

Lisa Renee Jones

Sourcebooks, May 1 2012, $6.99

ISBN 9781402251627

 

GTECH Renegades soldier Damion Browne keeps reminding himself to remain focused on his current mission in the war against the Zodius.  Instead the woman in the bikini keeps distracting him. 

 

His assignment goes wrong, but Damion escapes with the bikini woman Lara Martin.  He takes her to his apartment where he is stunned when he realizes she is a female GTECH.  He is unaware she is one of a newly engineered super woman soldier Serenity whose mission is to end the Renegades.  Although he soothes her headaches and has her heart pumping, Lara’s customized brainwashing is to destroy her beloved who has doubts about his beloved’s loyalty.

 

Once again with a nod to Captain America, Lisa Renee Jones provides a great romantic military fantasy.  The action-packed story line grips the reader from the moment Damion’s mission fails and never slows down as readers will wonder whether love can supersede intense brainwashing.   Fans will enjoy this Project Zodius (see The Legend of Michael) as the two adversarial groups of Super Soldiers bring a deadlier female element into the war. 

 

Harriet Klausner

Kiss of the Goblin Prince-Shona Husk

April 28, 2012

Kiss of the Goblin Prince

Shona Husk

Sourcebooks, May 1 2012, $6.99

ISBN 9781402262067

 

Amanda married in a registry office.  Three months later she was a pregnant widow. Now Amanda Coulter is a single mom raising an asthmatic daughter Brigit with love. At her sister-in-law Eliza Coulter’s wedding to Roan King (see The Goblin King), Amanda and Brigit meet his brother Dai, a noted scholar.

 

Dai, like his sibling, survived his Druid millennia banishment in the Shadowlands by his compulsion for knowledge.  Now he finally has returned to the human Fixed Realm where his magical experiments over the centuries have the Birch Trustees watching him carefully.  The best man and the matron of honor are attracted to one another.  However, his actions to keep Roan and other family members safe lead him believe he is unworthy of her; while she knows Brigit comes first in her heart.

 

The second Shadowlands romantic urban fantasy is an engaging tale of two people who believe love is not enough to cement a permanent relationship.  The storyline is at its best when it stays in the present; when the scholar looks back at his deeds against Rome and in the Shadowlands, the storyline loses momentum as those segues are well written but come across as unnecessary.  Still fans will enjoy the love story of the goblin and the mom.

 

Harriet Klausner

Where There’s Smoke-Karen Kelley

April 28, 2012

Where There’s Smoke

Karen Kelley

Sourcebooks, May 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN 9781402263866

 

In 1959 Destiny Carter died and went straight to hell.  Vetis the demon informs Destiny that she must destroy the soul of a mortal in one week before she can achieve demon status; she does not want to know what failure denotes.  Vetis sends her back to earth.

 

In Fort Worth, Texas near the stockyards, Destiny enters the Stompin’ Ground bar where she chooses lonesome cowboy Chance Bellow as she assumes he is an easy mark.  Chance the nephilim has waited in the dive for the demon apprentice to arrive so he can show her what she failed to read in the fine print of her deal with Vetis.  However, from the first smoldering touch, Chance and Destiny are so hot for each other; hell seems to have frozen over.  As they fight for control, they fall in love, but there is no room for such a wasteful mortal emotion in hell.

 

This is a fast-paced urban fantasy romance starring two enticing paranormal engaged in a holy gender war.  Although the ending seems too simplistic for the protagonists’ journey, this somewhat tongue in cheek lampooning of capitalist religious dogma will have fans cheering for the rookie demon and the heavenly hybrid to light their respective fire.

 

Harriet Klausner

Two Crosses-Elizabeth Musser

April 26, 2012

Two Crosses

Elizabeth Musser

David C. Cook, Jun 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780781405003

 

In 1961, twenty-one year old Gabriella Madison arrives in Castelnau, France as part of the Franco-American exchange program at the Church of Saint Joseph.  Director Mother Griolet welcomes the forty-two young women.

 

After Mother Griolet dismisses the students, Gabriella and her housemate Stephanie rush over to their first class “Visions of Man, Past and Present” conducted in English and French by M. David Hoffmann.  The young ladies try to act mature with him as each assumed she is the perfect debutante for him which amuses the professor.  However, he is stunned by his attraction to the red haired pupil wearing the Huguenot Cross as this Gabriella reminds him of a Raphaelite angel who shocks him that she knows Alexander Pope’s “Essay on Man.”  Gabriella is attracted to her literature professor but after offering to help at the orphanage she meets the little children, mostly victims of the Algerian war for independence.  She finds herself challenging her Christian beliefs.

 

The reprint of the first Secrets of the Cross historical Christian thriller is a great opener starring a young woman who begins to question her faith as she learns more about the war and herself.  A coming of age tale, readers will relish Gabriella’s growth as a woman who cares.  With a warm regard to various religions, Elizabeth Musser provides a timely story of faith in the home front during the time of a violent war.

 

Harriet Klausner

Safe Within-Jean Reynolds Page

April 25, 2012

Safe Within

Jean Reynolds Page

Morrow, Jun 12 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780061876943

 

Professor Carson Forsyth is dying from pancreatic cancer.  He asks his wife of thirty years Elaine to take him back to her childhood home, a tree house overlooking Lake Riley, North Carolina.  She would do anything for him so they leave Chapel Hill.  Their twenty something son Mick comes down from Rhode Island to spend time with his dad and to be there for his mom.

 

Carson’s septuagenarian mom Greta hates her daughter-in-law whom she believes had an affair with Wallace Jamison, the son of her enemy.  Greta refuses to recognize Mick as her grandson as she thinks he is Wallace’s child.  When Carson dies, Greta refuses to sit with her family at the church or stand near them at the cemetery.  Meanwhile Mick learns something from his teen years that shakes the dysfunctional family further while that also fosters his need to know why his grandma rejects him as she has since his birth.

 

This is an intriguing character study that uses short flashbacks (especially by an accepting Carson) to tell the backstory.  The ensemble cast is fully developed but the insightful storyline belongs to the mother who holds a grudge that began before she met Elaine, the dying son’s only wish being reconciliation between his two beloved females for the sake of his son; and the wife who wants to continue distancing herself from her mother-in-law.  Though keeping the secret of what happened between Wallace and Elaine seems like an exorbitant loyalty price in which the innocent pay the costs, with some metaphysical elements enhancing the plot, readers will relish this entertaining look at the impact of dying and death on the loved ones.

 

Harriet Klausner

Hannah’s Joy-Marta Perry

April 25, 2012

Hannah’s Joy

Marta Perry

Berkley, May 1 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 9780425246948

 

Following the death of her husband Travis while on a military tour in Afghanistan Hannah Conroy and her twenty-month old son Jamie move to Pleasant Valley, Pennsylvania to live with her Aunt Paula Schatz.  Hannah lived in Pleasant Valley as a child until her parents left their Mennonite faith.  She works in her aunt’s bakery while wondering if staying here is good for her and her son. 

 

When Hannah and woodworker William Brand meet, they share a sense of camaraderie as both feels like outsiders; she because of her years spent in the Englisher world and he due to a stutter.  Hannah wants to help him with his speech impediment though she never completed her speech therapy program.  William’s family opposes any relationship, even as a speech teacher, between them; while Travis’ father retired officer Robert threatens a custody suit if she fails to leave a community that does not support the military.

 

The latest Pleasant Valley (see Katie’s Way and Anna’s Return) is an enjoyable Mennonite romance starring two fascinating individuals.  Each feels they do not belong in the community as Marta Perry provides a strong case that one can feel alone even within a welcoming loving family.  Both are poster children of Maslow’s Hierarchy’s third step (each recognizes their physiological and safety needs are covered); as Hannah and William feel a lack of belonging.  Though setting the key cast members takes a bit longer than usual, fans will enjoy this warm tale of love and belonging.

 

Harriet Klausner

A Place in the Country-Elizabeth Adler.

April 25, 2012

A Place in the Country

Elizabeth Adler.

St. Martin’s, Jun 19 2012, $25.99

ISBN 9780312668365

 

Following her divorce from her philandering husband, late thirty-something Caroline Evans, accompanied by her fifteen year old daughter Issy, leave cheating James in Singapore and move to Upper Amberley in Great Britain’s the Cotswold’s.  Though broke, she finds the townsfolk warmly welcome mother and daughter as Carline obtains a job as a cook at a pub while Issy enters a prep school.

 

Issy resents her mother for ending their affluent lifestyle and taking her away from her beloved father.  As Caroline begins to plan on converting a barn into a restaurant, James arrives but quickly vanishes.  While Issy makes poor dangerous decisions, a homicide in Singapore threatens Caroline’s new sense of well-being.

 

This is an exciting family drama as the two Evans’ females try to find their groove halfway around the world but Asia comes to England anyway.  The storyline takes a close look at accountability and responsibility inside of a taut romantic suspense thriller starring a mother learning how strong she really is and her confused teenage daughter. 

 

Harriet Klausner