Archive for May, 2012

Seating Arrangements-Maggie Shipstead

May 31, 2012

Seating Arrangements

Maggie Shipstead

Knopf, Jun 12 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780307599469

 

The two extended families gather together for the marriage of seven months pregnant Daphne Van Meter and Greyson Duff at the former’s exclusive Waskeke Island summer home.  Daphne’s Boston Brahmin banker father Winn hits on Agatha the bridesmaid while his wife Biddy runs the wedding events like a General with her mantra to insure no scandals occur though she would prefer her daughter marry for love unlike what she did.  Their other daughter Livia remains heartbroken over Teddy Fenn dumping her, but considers a weekend tryst with one of Greyson’s brothers while rejecting another of the groom’s siblings who openly shows interest in her.  In between imbibing Daphne’s maternal Aunt Celeste looks over the male attendees like a shark seeking her next “marital” meal.

 

This lampooning of the American family is a jocular look at two clans merging into one during a marriage ceremony.  The ensemble cast comes across as fragile with each trying to hide their flaws with varying forms of bravado.  Mindful of Meredith Goldstein’s The Singles, although over the three day weekend very little happens beyond satirizing the sanctity of family, fans will enjoy this “Meet the” Van Meters and Duffs.

 

Harriet Klausner


Gold-Chris Cleave

May 31, 2012

Gold

Chris Cleave

Simon & Schuster, Jul 3 2012, $27.00

ISBN 9781451672725

 

At the Manchester Velodrome, nineteen year old Zoe Castle and Kate Meadows meet when each tries out for a spot on the Elite Prospects Programme for British Cycling.  Coach Tom Voss selects who he wants to train. Both teens are attracted to racer Jack Argall, but though Zoe hooks him first, Kate wins that competition as she marries him.

 

Thirteen years later, Zoe and Kate have remained friends but now compete for the sole British female cycling slot at the 2012 London Olympic Games and with their age it should be their last ride.  Kate, who gave up two previous games over the health of her eight years old daughter Sophie, ailing with leukemia; while Zoe is known as a serial sex fiend who plays hard in everything she does.  The thirtyish rivals will soon compete in a winner goes to the Games and the loser stays home.

 

This is an exciting look at the highest level of competitive cycling between two women tied together from the moment they met.  Their personalities are different as Kate is a dedicated mom while Zoe has the track only.  Jack is a cross between the two ladies as he is driven to win almost to the degree of Zoe but also knows his only important gold medal is his family.  Although Kate is too forgiving especially of Zoe who has relationship issues, this is an engaging read that takes readers behind the scenes and around the oval.

 

Harriet Klausner

Spring Fever-Mary Kay Andrews

May 30, 2012

Spring Fever

Mary Kay Andrews

St. Martin’s, Jun 5 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312642716

 

In Passcoe, North Carolina, even as a teen Annajane Hudgens loved Mason Bayless, the brother of her BFF Pokey.  The Bayless family owns the Quixie Beverage Company where Annajane works.  Annajane and Mason eventually wed but their marriage fizzles out though several years after their divorce she continues to work in marketing for his family firm.

 

Mason’s brother Davis hires consultant Celia Wakefield.  Celia becomes engaged to Mason.  Before she leaves for Atlanta to start over, as a gesture to her stepdaughter Sophie, Annajane attends the wedding of her ex to the ‘phony” as Pokey calls Celia.  However, as Sophie walks down the aisle, she suddenly falls and shouts to her daddy it hurts.  While Davis takes Celia and his mama to the country club, Mason, Poppy and Annajane accompany Sophie to the hospital.  As Annajane delays leaving town because of her love of Sophie, the child and her Aunt Pokey plot to bring the divorcees back together while the other brother and the fiancé have a scheme going too.

 

Spring Fever is an entertaining North Carolina family drama that uses a mom and pop operation as the backdrop to an engaging regional intrigue.  The storyline rotates between the present “crisis” and the married past of the protagonists as surprising secrets are revealed.  Although there is a good, bad and ugly classification to the cast, fans will enjoy drinking cherry pop in Passcoe, North Carolina.

 

Harriet Klausner

Desire Becomes Her-Shirlee Busbee

May 30, 2012

Desire Becomes Her

Shirlee Busbee

Zebra, Jun 26 2012, $15.00

ISBN 9781420118445

 

He escaped Madame Guillotine thanks to Emily who married his half-brother Barnaby and her smugglers (see Rapture Becomes Her).  So when Emily’s obnoxious cousin Jeffery Townsend begins fleecing an intoxicated Harlan Broadfoot, Lucian Joslyn decides to intercede on the foolish lad’s behalf.  Unable to resist the challenge of beating “Lucifer” as Luc is known in gambling holes, Jeffery accepts a game of hazard.  He wins back the boy’s losses and takes him home without telling anyone who actually won the game.

 

Luc comes across a broken phaeton with injured Silas Ordway stranded there.  He helps get the elderly man to safety.  A few days late, Luc visits Silas to see how he is doing.  There he meets Silas’ niece Widow Gillian Dashwood, who allegedly killed her gambling odious husband.  Also at Silas’ home are Gillian’s brother Stanley and his friend Lord George Canfield who blackmails Gillian.  As Luc and Gillian fall in love, they are forced to marry when caught in a compromising position, but he knows she conceals something from him that he fears could cost her life at a time when Emily and Barnaby need his help against angry avenging smugglers.

 

The latest “Becomes Her” historical romance (see Passion Becomes Her) is an engaging late eighteenth century tale due to a strong support cast including returnees and the mutual dichotomous distrust and attraction between the protagonists.  The storyline is action-packed as the two subplots come together nicely though the romance between the lead couple follows too closely a traditional “path” even with the freshness brought by their interfering families including some nasty ones.  Fans will enjoy the tale of the gambler and the Widow falling in love before learning to trust.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

Breakfast in Stilettos-Liz Kingswood

May 30, 2012

Breakfast in Stilettos

Liz Kingswood

Camel Press, Jul 15 2012, $13.95

ISBN: 9781603818780

 

Seattle Sun Times Senior Editor Kenner assigns thirtyish Lifestyles Editor Emily Royce to cover the city’s “slutterati” community.  Emily does some research and chats with her ex Seattle Zealot columnist Frank Trager who ended their relationship abruptly for no apparent reason.  When she has no one to go with her, prudish Emily agrees to allow Frank, who has been there, to escort her to the Slutterati Salon.

 

Emily meets six foot plus fetish friendly sex therapist Dr. Rachel Steiner and sub Pixie Caldwell as part of her research.  On line subs beg her to spank them.  As Emily waits on line for Frank to arrive so they can enter the salon together, she meets programmer Joe Stratton.  Inside, Emily is shocked yet excited by what is going on though Frank dumps her while Joe escorts her.  She begins to learn more about herself and Frank over a glass of wine.

 

Not for everyone, Breakfast In Stilettos is an intriguing unique BDSM second chance at love tale.  The magnificent Em makes the storyline work as her metamorphosis rings true albeit perhaps her acceptance is too fast; after she spent too much of the early plot moaning about losing Frank while everyone else groans too frequently he is a loser.  Fans will enjoy visiting the Slutterati Salon with Liz Kingswood as out escort.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

 

Spring Fever-Mary Kay Andrews

May 30, 2012

Spring Fever

Mary Kay Andrews

St. Martin’s, Jun 5 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312642716

 

In Passcoe, North Carolina, even as a teen Annajane Hudgens loved Mason Bayless, the brother of her BFF Pokey.  The Bayless family owns the Quixie Beverage Company where Annajane works.  Annajane and Mason eventually wed but their marriage fizzles out though several years after their divorce she continues to work in marketing for his family firm.

 

Mason’s brother Davis hires consultant Celia Wakefield.  Celia becomes engaged to Mason.  Before she leaves for Atlanta to start over, as a gesture to her stepdaughter Sophie, Annajane attends the wedding of her ex to the ‘phony” as Pokey calls Celia.  However, as Sophie walks down the aisle, she suddenly falls and shouts to her daddy it hurts.  While Davis takes Celia and his mama to the country club, Mason, Poppy and Annajane accompany Sophie to the hospital.  As Annajane delays leaving town because of her love of Sophie, the child and her Aunt Pokey plot to bring the divorcees back together while the other brother and the fiancé have a scheme going too.

 

Spring Fever is an entertaining North Carolina family drama that uses a mom and pop operation as the backdrop to an engaging regional intrigue.  The storyline rotates between the present “crisis” and the married past of the protagonists as surprising secrets are revealed.  Although there is a good, bad and ugly classification to the cast, fans will enjoy drinking cherry pop in Passcoe, North Carolina.

 

Harriet Klausner

Desire Becomes Her-Shirlee Busbee

May 30, 2012

Desire Becomes Her

Shirlee Busbee

Zebra, Jun 26 2012, $15.00

ISBN 9781420118445

 

He escaped Madame Guillotine thanks to Emily who married his half-brother Barnaby and her smugglers (see Rapture Becomes Her).  So when Emily’s obnoxious cousin Jeffery Townsend begins fleecing an intoxicated Harlan Broadfoot, Lucian Joslyn decides to intercede on the foolish lad’s behalf.  Unable to resist the challenge of beating “Lucifer” as Luc is known in gambling holes, Jeffery accepts a game of hazard.  He wins back the boy’s losses and takes him home without telling anyone who actually won the game.

 

Luc comes across a broken phaeton with injured Silas Ordway stranded there.  He helps get the elderly man to safety.  A few days late, Luc visits Silas to see how he is doing.  There he meets Silas’ niece Widow Gillian Dashwood, who allegedly killed her gambling odious husband.  Also at Silas’ home are Gillian’s brother Stanley and his friend Lord George Canfield who blackmails Gillian.  As Luc and Gillian fall in love, they are forced to marry when caught in a compromising position, but he knows she conceals something from him that he fears could cost her life at a time when Emily and Barnaby need his help against angry avenging smugglers.

 

The latest “Becomes Her” historical romance (see Passion Becomes Her) is an engaging late eighteenth century tale due to a strong support cast including returnees and the mutual dichotomous distrust and attraction between the protagonists.  The storyline is action-packed as the two subplots come together nicely though the romance between the lead couple follows too closely a traditional “path” even with the freshness brought by their interfering families including some nasty ones.  Fans will enjoy the tale of the gambler and the Widow falling in love before learning to trust.

 

Harriet Klausner

Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow-Juliet Grey

May 29, 2012

Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow

Juliet Grey

Ballantine, May 15 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780345523884

 

In 1774 when King Louis XV dies, his grandson becomes King Louis XVI.  The new Majesty’s Austrian wife eighteen year old Marie Antoinette vows to be different from her late pious predecessor who was overshadowed by the royal mistresses like Madame du Barry.  Over the next few years in Versailles, behind a façade of silk, Marie fears for her personal safety and the Bourbon dynasty as she senses trouble coming especially with what happened in American colonies.  She is surrounded by those who want the foreigner off the throne even if she is the mother of the heir who becomes part of the gossip as many insist his father is Swedish military officer Axel von Fersen who Marie had an affair with that left her feeling guilty.  Marie’s reputation is destroyed by the Affair of the Diamond Necklace in which she rejected the present that the former king commissioned for his last mistress, but a diabolical pair persuades Cardinal de Rohan that Her Majesty loves him.  The people blame Marie Antoinette for the Affair as the common belief fostered by xenophobes in the court is that the Queen blamed the Cardinal for her avarice.  The sharks emboldened by public opinion grow bolder.

 

The insightful and entertaining second Marie Antoinette biographical fiction (see Becoming Marie Antoinette) focuses on the royal years through the eyes of the Queen.  Though the key support cast like the Cardinal, the con artist and her Swedish lover are not as fully fleshed out as one would want, this historical is a deep look at the Queen culminating with to stay or not to stay as the question.

 

Harriet Klausner

Her Highness, the Traitor- Susan Higginbotham

May 29, 2012

Her Highness, the Traitor

Susan Higginbotham

Sourcebooks, Jun 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781402265587

 

With the death of King Henry VIII, his only male offspring becomes King Edward VI in 1547.  However, since King Edward is only nine years old, a Regency Council (selected by the late ruler before his death) forms led by his maternal uncle Edward Seymour.  Meanwhile men from three families (Seymour, Grey and Dudley) greedily compete for power.  John Dudley’s son Jack and Edward Seymour’s daughter Anne marry, and another of his sons Guildford weds Henry Grey’s daughter Jane.  .  Dudley becomes a favorite of King Edward especially after the death of Seymour. When King Edward becomes deathly ill, he selects Jane Grey as his successor instead of either of his half-sisters.  However, when Edward dies, Princess Mary, backed by the Regency Council’ makes a bid for the throne; while the Dudley and Grey families know what is at stake so they push Jane Grey. 

 

Using the premise that behind every great man is a woman, this entertaining Tudor historical focuses on the manipulations by the crafty wives of John Dudley, Jane, and Henry Grey, Frances as they team up to place Lady Jane Grey on the throne.  Fans of the era will enjoy this engaging entry filled with plenty of tidbits from the period between the two Tudor ruling giants though neither of the behind the scenes female powerbrokers come across as fully developed.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Reluctant Matchmaker-Shobhan Bantwal

May 29, 2012

The Reluctant Matchmaker

Shobhan Bantwal

Kensington, Jun 26 2012, $15.00

ISBN 9780758258854

 

In Princeton Junction, New Jersey, pint-sized marketing and public relations manager Meena Shenoy is excited over her upcoming first meeting with her boss Prajay Nayak, the CEO and president of Rathnaya, Inc.  Eighty-five pounds when dripping wet Meena never expected to meet her employer when they collide.  She sprains her ankle as her body felt like a truck ran over it.  However, it is her mind that is discombobulated as she now understands what her mom means in her native language Konkani when she says nasheeba kheloo (destiny’s game).

 

Prajay tells Meena that at thirty-nine his family expects him to marry as his siblings are married with kids; they wonder if he might be gay; a thought that Meena had too.  Meena commiserates as her family wants her to wed soonest and is upset over who her brother is seeing.  He asks Meena to write an ad in the matrimonial columns of a few select India-American newspapers and websites with a key requirement that she be at least six feet tall educated Hindu with a sense of humor. Stunned, as she wants to be the chosen one, Meena works on finding her boss a spouse though she wished he would look down to her.

 

The Reluctant Matchmaker is a fabulous fun frolic starring two likable protagonists while providing readers with a close look at the Indian-American culture, which mingles tradition from the old country with modern technology and the ways of the new country.  The storyline reads like a 1930s madcap comedy in a Bollywood-New Jersey setting as Shobhan Bantwal provides an enjoyable contemporary romance

 

Harriet Klausner