Archive for August, 2012

The Other Half of Me-Morgan McCarthy

August 31, 2012

The Other Half of Me

Morgan McCarthy

Free Press, Sep 4 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9781451668230

In 1988 the Anthony siblings (seven year old Jonathan and his six years old sister Theo) are best friends as they live in Evendon Manor in Wales.  Both know their mom Alicia and their nanny Miss Black dislike and for the most part ignore them.  Still they have each other as they explore the estate especially the secret garden with its mysterious pool.

Brother and sister know their family has many secrets, but this pair cares about one in particular; what happened to their father.  When their alcoholic mom collapses, their maternal grandmother Eve arrives.  Eve insists their father died years ago, but Theo thinks she lies to them.  Over the years Jonathan worries about his sibling.  Theo seems to behave increasingly mentally ephemeral as slowly she is losing her grip on reality. 

The Other Half of Me is a dark character driven family drama as the past haunts the present in vivid rustic Wales.  Effortlessly rotating between 1988 and 2008, the storyline grips the reader who needs to know what happened to each member of the extended Anthony family. 

Harriet Klausner

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Out of Bounds-Ellen Hartman

August 31, 2012

Out of Bounds

Ellen Hartman

Harlequin SuperRomance, Sep 4 2012, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373718016

 

Madrid Pirates basketball player Wes Fallon is shocked when he learns he was traded to the Serbian team.  When he sees a dog running in traffic, he goes to help only to have a beer truck clip his hip.  His brother Deacon arrives at the hospital to tell him his basketball career is over as he reinjured the shoulder in the accident.  Worried about Wes’ mental state, Deacon hires his sibling to work the Hand to Hand project for their Fallon Foundation he runs with his wife Julia.  Wes agrees just before he goes back to sleep.

 

After leaving the hospital, Wes heads back to New York to join the Foundation.  Deacon tells him we have a problem in Kirkland, New York.  Blogger Chloe Chastain called with a concern over a missing $65,000 that she and local business owner Trish Jones raised under the Fallon Foundation.  He arrives in Kirkland where he meets Trish’s daughter Posy who he knows conceals something involving the transaction from him.  As Wes investigates and Posy remains elusive, they fall in love but he feels caught between loyalty to his beloved brother who has always been there for him and his woman.

 

This engaging Fallon contemporary romance (see The Long Shot) stars two delightful protagonists in a fun tale.  The support cast is strong especially little Angel the canine practitioner of chaos theory and Julia whose betting prowess keeps Barry Manilow’s career alive.  .  Fans will enjoy Out of Bounds as Wes and Posy need to start over but will they do it together since the money intrudes on their love.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Truth About Tara-Darlene Gardner

August 31, 2012

The Truth About Tara

Darlene Gardner

Harlequin SuperRomance, Sep 4 2012, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373718030

 

Coming from Kentucky, injured minor leagues baseball pitcher Jack DiMarco arrives in Wawpaney on Chesapeake Bay’s Virginia Eastern Shore seeking to speak with physical education elementary school teacher Tara Greer.  He gives her a computer generated age progression picture of Haley Cooper who looks exactly like Tara.  Jack explains his sister is the private investigator looking into the case of a missing child who vanished in Louisville twenty-eight years ago.

 

Tara denies she is that girl as she says she has lived here all her life.  Jack believes her assertion and tells his sibling Maria by cellphone that she is not the one.  While Jack visits a nearby orthopedic surgeon about his apparent career ending injury, Tara begins to reconsider what her mom has told her about her past.  She begins to believe she may be that missing child even as Jack is back to help her with her identity crisis.

 

Supported by a solid secondary cast, the lead trio makes for a strong romantic family drama as readers wonder whether the truth will set mom and daughter free.  Fast-paced with a fabulous late twist, fans will want to know The Truth About Tara.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Woman He Knows-Margaret Watson

August 31, 2012

The Woman He Knows

Margaret Watson

Harlequin SuperRomance, Sep 4 2012, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373718047

 

Darcy Gordon hides in Chicago from her abusive former husband Tim knowing she will never go back to Milwaukee alive.  She works at Mama’s Place run by Nathan Devereux.  While closing, a car crashes through the restaurant window hitting Nathan before driving away.  A horrified Darcy assumes she was the target while her boss lies in a hospital.  She would flee if she could, but knows she must remain where she is for now.

 

Nathan’s brother Patrick, an FBI agent in Detroit, comes to Chicago to run the restaurant and learn who and why.  As they fall in love, he knows she hides something that paralyzes her with fear and she knows she must leave before she brings more harm to the kind Devereux family.

 

The latest Devereux family romantic suspense (see A Safe Place) is an engaging thriller starring two stubborn strong protagonists and a vile villain.  The storyline is straightforward but enjoyable as Darcy trusts no one not even the Fed she loves while fearing what her presence will do to the Devereux family.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Haven-Suzanne Woods Fisher

August 29, 2012

The Haven

Suzanne Woods Fisher

Revell, Aug 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780800719883

 

Lancaster County Game Warden intern Will Stolz arrives at Stoney Ridge to protect two endangered Peregrine falcons and their eggs.  Will stays at the farm of widower Amos Lapp whose daughter Sadie has just come home accompanied by a baby after visiting her older married sister Julia and her sibling’s husband Roman in Ohio.  Amos’ youngest daughter Mary Kate and their housekeeper Fern Graber also reside on the family farm.

 

Sadie expects her reputation torn asunder due to the infant given to her at a bus station.  Meanwhile, Twin Creeks’ teacher Gideon Smucker loves Sadie, but has been shy about courting her.  When he learns of her baby, he fears he waited too long while Will makes it clear that he is attracted to her.

 

The second Stoney Ridge Seasons Amish family drama (See The Keeper) is an exciting tale starring a strong cast as readers will enjoy the interactions between the caring heroine, whining Will, gossipy M.K., helpless Gid, wise father and the common sense housekeeper.  Although the ending feels rushed, readers will enjoy Sadie’s saga.

 

Harriet Klausner

A Place Beyond Courage-Elizabeth Chadwick

August 28, 2012

A Place Beyond Courage

Elizabeth Chadwick

Sourcebooks, Sep 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN 9781402271083

Though only in his twenties, John FitzGilbert is the Marshal to King Henry I.  He is loyal to His Highness and brave as he controls access to the monarch as well as living arrangements at court.  Deciding it is time to marry; John weds fearful Aline and has two sons with his frightened spouse.

When King Henry dies, John must decide whether to support the successor claim of the royal daughter Mathilda or nephew Stephen.  H swears fealty to King Stephen, but quickly realizes the nephew is a loser so he switches to Empress Matilda and her son Prince Henry.  Taking advantage of the division, he obtains an annulment of his marriage to Aline and quickly weds Sybilla, sister of an enemy the Earl of Salisbury.  Sybilla and John are happy together as they raise two sons while he holds on to what he gained until Stephen abducts his child William (see The Greatest Knight for his tale).

This is a terrific biographical fiction that fans of the era will enjoy as John the Marshal proves able, brave and opportunistic in a world filled with intrigue, but is truly tested when his favorite offspring is snatched.  The cast starting with Henry I, those at court, John’s two families and the civil war combatants enhance a deep look at a fascinating twelfth century powerful “chief of staff”.

Harriet Klausner

A Place Beyond Courage-

August 28, 2012

A Place Beyond Courage

Elizabeth Chadwick

Sourcebooks, Sep 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN 9781402271083

 

Though only in his twenties, John FitzGilbert is the Marshal to King Henry I.  He is loyal to His Highness and brave as he controls access to the monarch as well as living arrangements at court.  Deciding it is time to marry; John weds fearful Aline and has two sons with his frightened spouse.

 

When King Henry dies, John must decide whether to support the successor claim of the royal daughter Mathilda or nephew Stephen.  H swears fealty to King Stephen, but quickly realizes the nephew is a loser so he switches to Empress Matilda and her son Prince Henry.  Taking advantage of the division, he obtains an annulment of his marriage to Aline and quickly weds Sybilla, sister of an enemy the Earl of Salisbury.  Sybilla and John are happy together as they raise two sons while he holds on to what he gained until Stephen abducts his child William (see The Greatest Knight for his tale).

 

This is a terrific biographical fiction that fans of the era will enjoy as John the Marshal proves able, brave and opportunistic in a world filled with intrigue, but is truly tested when his favorite offspring is snatched.  The cast starting with Henry I, those at court, John’s two families and the civil war combatants enhance a deep look at a fascinating twelfth century powerful “chief of staff”.

 

Harriet Klausner

-Loving Lady Marcia-Kieran Kramer

August 26, 2012

 Loving Lady Marcia

Kieran Kramer

St. Martin’s, Aug 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781250009883

 

In 1814, fifteen year old Lady Marcia Sherwood meets the Lattimore brothers when they travel together to Liverpool.  She is attracted to one of the siblings, but Finn breaks her heart leaving for the States the morning after her sixteenth birthday.

 

In 1819, the other brother Duncan sees her and knows he remains attracted to her as he learns she teaches school.  When Marcia comes home, she finds Duncan there.  He tries to court her but Marcia ignores his efforts though Duncan is unsure why.  Marcia has rejected romance ever since Finn rejected her.  At the same time an unscrupulous rival goes after her school while Finn is back from America.  Duncan knows he has his work cut out to win the heart of the woman he loves.

 

This Regency romantic version of the Brady Bunch is an amusing historical with not so subtle references to the TV show; for instance, the names of the cast including Alice the housekeeper.  Readers will enjoy this jocular jaunt while looking forward to more episodes from the Brady Bunch.

 

Harriet Klausner

How To Capture A Countess-Karen Hawkins

August 26, 2012

How To Capture A Countess

Karen Hawkins

Pocket, Sep 18 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451685176

 

In 1806 seventeen year old Miss Rose Balfour believes she loves Lord Alton “Lord Sin” Sinclair.  She goes for a kiss from the seemingly aloof Lord Sin, but suddenly shows her age when she becomes frightened and pushes him into a fountain.  Rose flees while Alton sits in a lily pond with everyone laughing at him.

 

For six years, Sin patiently has waited for an opportunity to embarrass the chit who made him look foolish.  He persuades his aunt the Duchess of Roxburghe to invite the Balfour family to a party she hosts.  However, his plan to humiliate Rose takes a hit when Alton sees her.  She is no longer an inane schoolgirl, but instead an intelligent beautiful woman.  As they match wits, they fall in love.

 

The first Duchess Diaries Regency romance is a fun historical gender war starring two likable wary adversaries and a strong support cast especially the Duchess who swears to not get involved though she is already considering her next matchmaking endeavor.  Fast-paced, readers will enjoy this jocular tale as a Rose and a Sin fight, fuss and fall in love.

 

Harriet Klausner

Three and a Half Virgins-John Blumenthal

August 23, 2012

Three and a Half Virgins

John Blumenthal

Farmer Street Press, Dec 22 2011, $8.99

http://isbndb.com/d/publisher/farmer_street_press.html

ISBN: 9780967944418

 

As her husband turns forty with the middle age bulge beginning to show, Deirdre wishes her spouse Jimmy Hendricks (“No relation”) a happy birthday by informing him she is divorcing him.  Stunned as if he is trapped in a Purple Haze and feeling almost as alone as he felt when he and Deirdre were allegedly happy over the last few years, Jimmy recognizes that he is a recovering idiot.  He muses about what could have been if he was not an idiot when he attended high school and college and dreams of a reunion with any or all of his ex-girlfriends. 

 

He decides to visit them to ask them to forgive his stupid troglodyte behavior though he also hopes for a heated tryst or three too.  His best friend Morris the Orthodox Jew accompanies Jimmy on his redemption tour.  Jimmy starts with the minister’s daughter Laura Beasley of Rimbaldi High School.  Next up is Samantha Jane Conrad at Fryman College.  Third at bat is Molly Martinez also at Fryman College.  Then there was Christine while Molly was away at a family funeral.

 

With a nod to Denis Leary’s Bad Boy movie, Three and a Half Virgins is an amusing character study of a man looking back at his transgressions towards women.  Each female owns a chapter so that the audience knows how they felt about Jimmy during and after.  Although the storyline is thin, readers will enjoy Jimmy Hendricks’ forty years old idiot gig.

 

Harriet Klausner