Archive for January, 2014

My Sweetest Escape-Chelsea M. Cameron

January 31, 2014

My Sweetest Escape
Chelsea M. Cameron
Harlequin HQN, Jan 28 2014, $11.95
ISBN 9780373778539

Eighteen-year-old Joscelyn Archer was proud of being the second sibling to receive a high school diploma and going to college. When her life at the University of New Hampshire collapses, her parents force her to transfer to Maine where her older sister Renee attends and serve as her warden.

University of Maine student Dustin Sharp vowed to behave after a recent incident. However, he also wants his new choir boy persona enlivened with Jos. She feels the same way, but her prison guard vigilantly watches her and a trauma makes her hesitant. Dusty remains persistent in pursuit of the coed he loves.

Though there is a déjà vu feeling (see My Favorite Mistake), readers will enjoy this New England campus romance. The lead characters are a fascinating pairing of two souls struggling to behave. In spite of the life changing incidents each protagonist diligently conceals something not worthy of hiding especially from the person they love. Still fans will enjoy touring the U of Maine with this couple.

Harriet Klausner

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Protector-Diana Palmer

January 31, 2014

Protector
Diana Palmer
Harlequin HQN, Jan 28 2014
ISBN: 9780373778546

In seven years as Jacobs County Sheriff, Hayes Carson has been shot twice and only one prisoner, El Jefe the Mexican drug lord, escaped. He hates Jacobsville Times’ publisher Minette Rayner who he holds culpable for the death of his brother because she gave him the drugs that killed him. Hayes also knows something about her father that he promised his dad he would not reveal to anyone especially Minette. Hayes personally pledged to himself to lock up El Jefe and to deliver justice to Minette.

When he is shot for the third time while at home, the injury requires special attention and therapy; but no one volunteers to move into his home mostly because of his roommate Andy the six foot iguana. Minette offers Hayes a room in her abode shared with her family. Like him she hides a secret, but his proves dangerous to the woman he vows to be her loving Protector.

This reprint of a Long, Tall Texans romance (see Dangerous) is an entertaining entry as close quarters turns loathing into loving. The human cast adds complexity as morality proves multifaceted and convoluted while Andy being Andy steals scenes. Although there is too many flashbacks delaying the romance and the present day police procedural action, fans of the series will enjoy the sheriff and the publisher starting to fall in love; that is if they live long enough to fully cherish one another.

Harriet Klausner

A Well-Tempered Heart-Jan Philipp Sendker

January 30, 2014

A Well-Tempered Heart
Jan Philipp Sendker
Other Press, Jan 21 2014, $15.95
ISBN: 9781590516409

Several years after Julia Win’s father Tin gave up his New York legal practice to return to his homeland Burma, she followed him to learn why he abandoned her and her mom. There she learned of Tin’s beloved soul mate Mi Mi in which true love never dies in spite of fifty years and thousands of miles apart, and met her brother Monk U Ba (see The Art of Hearing Heartbeats). After returning to the States, Julia became a successful but dissatisfied lawyer practicing in Manhattan.

A decade since her Asian roots trip, Julia and her boyfriend end their relationship, which adds malaise to her overall depression that there is more to life. While at an important work meeting, a female voice begins talking to her inside her head. Stunned, she walks out without a word to the other attendees, but the persistent voice keeps asking her thought-provoking questions re Julia’s unhappiness. After consulting with her sister Amy, Julia decides to return to her father’s homeland to see her other sibling. U Ba welcomes her and introduces Julia to Nu Nu; who tells the dispirited American about how her sons were drafted as expendable child soldiers.

Win’s second trip to her paternal roots is a wonderful spiritual journey that once again provides readers with historical perspective this time through Nu Nu’s tale. Though it lacks the incredible passionate romance of the first adventures; a strong support cast, a winning locale and a lost soul seeking something she is unsure of what make for a delightful sequel.

Harriet Klausner

Worthy Brown’s Daughter-Phillip Margolin

January 30, 2014

Worthy Brown’s Daughter
Phillip Margolin
Harper, Jan 21 2014, $26.99
ISBN 9780062195340

Rachel Perry was happy living in Ohio with her husband Matthew the lawyer and surrounded by their families. However, he had the wanderlust so they left the Buckeye State for Oregon. Nearing their destination, Matthew watches his wife crossing a raging river in the McCormack wagon as Rachel gives comfort to pregnant Mary; to his horror he helplessly sees his beloved spouse die.

In Portland, the grieving widower opens up a legal practice. Freeman Worthy Brown retains Matthew to liberate his teenage Roxanne from their former slave owner, prominent attorney Caleb Barbour. Not long afterward, witnesses find Worthy standing over Caleb’s murdered corpse. Matthew defends his client in front of hanging Judge Jed Tyler, who is distracted by his attraction to Sharon Hill. When affluent Benjamin Gillette dies, Sharon shows their marriage contract that has Tyler wonder whether the woman he craves killed the businessman and if she truly is the deceased’s widow.

Worthy Brown’s Daughter is an intriguing historical that looks closely at life in Portland just after Oregon becomes a state. Matthew is terrific as he struggles with the true meaning of justice between the law and what he believes is morally right; while Worthy seems genuine with his genuflecting deference to white leaders after decades as a slave. Although Barbour, Tyler and Hill are over the top of the Cascades as stereotypes of western baddies, fans will enjoy visiting Oregon circa 1860 especially the courtroom.

Harriet Klausner

The Unwelcome Child-V.C. Andrews

January 30, 2014

The Unwelcome Child
V.C. Andrews
Pocket, Jan 21 2014, $7.99
ISBN: 9781451650891

In Lake Hurley, New York, Elle Edwards was born in sin; at least that was the proclamation of her religious zealot Grandmother. Her wicked Mother abandoned Elle after one quick glimpse at her newborn in order to escape the wrath of her Mother; who had raised her to believe pain kept away sin; but obviously failed. Her crusading Grandmother supported by her husband keeps their soulless grandchild occupied with hard labor and strict religious teachings as a solitary confined prisoner they vigilantly guard to prevent Elle’s evil spreading to others.

However, in spite of their religious fervor to isolate the devil’s offspring, Elle meets twins Mason and Claudine who befriend her and begins to get her to believe she is not Satan’s child. They also encourage her to pursue her art as she has a gift. However, she knows Grandmother will never allow evil Elle to go out into the world.

The Unwelcome Child is an exciting psychological horror as V.C. Andrews uses religious fanaticism to make a case that the abused child (rationalized by Elle tormentors as holy means to contain evil) becomes the abused adult without caring intervention. Although the “godly” extremism by the grandparents is over the top of the Adirondacks, readers will enjoy this fascinating look at good and evil through the eyes of the sinful victim and her devout family.

Harriet Klausner

Texas Outlaws: Billy-Kimberly Raye

January 29, 2014

Texas Outlaws: Billy
Kimberly Raye
Harlequin Blaze, Jan 21 2014, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373797882

Sabrina Collins comes to Lost Gun, Texas because the town hosts a big famous rodeo. She is not there as a fan but to persuade cowboys to sign onto her new online dating service. At a dance, Sabrina and rodeo rider Billy Chisholm meet and begin a no strings tryst that both agrees ends when the rodeo leaves town.

However, to her shock Sabrina likes the townsfolk who welcome her as one of them. Even more stunning to her, Sabrina begins to fall in love with Billy. Although astonished by his feelings for Sabrina, Billy believes his childhood makes him unworthy of her.

The latest Texas Outlaws romance (see Jesse) is an enjoyable contemporary starring two protagonists struggling with the inconvenience of love entering their heated affair. Although the relationship conflict comes across as weak; readers will enjoy Kimberly Raye’s titillating Texas tale starting with these “Strangers in the night; … Love was just a glance away, a warm embracing dance away” (Sinatra).

Harriet Klausner

Game On-Nancy Warren

January 28, 2014

Game On
Nancy Warren
Harlequin Blaze, Jan 21 2014, $5.50
ISBN: 978 0373797899

Max Varo asks performance coach Serena Long, who helped him several years ago, for a favor. He tells her that his thirtyish childhood friend Adam Shawnigan is the best player on their amateur hockey team, but always chokes during the playoffs. She says she knows nothing about hockey, but his explanation leads her to believe Adam suffers from performance anxiety. After being assured by Max that Adam wants help, Serena agrees to work with him.

However, as Serena works with reluctant Adam to overcome his fear of failure, someone threatens the coach. A cop Adam insists on protecting Serena from her stalker while she objects over his persistence. As they enjoy sex, they fall in love.

The first Last Bachelor Standing (Max and their other pal Dylan to follow) is a thrilling contemporary romantic suspense as Adam and Serena help each other in and out of the boudoir. Readers will enjoy the best buddy camaraderie between the three amigos, but it is the heat generated by the lead couple that could melt the ice at the NHL’s 2014 Winter Classics (in Dodger Stadium, Yankee Stadium, Soldier Field and Vancouver’s’ BC Place) that make this a wonderful first period.

Harriet Klausner

Rocky Mountain Revenge-Cindi Myers

January 27, 2014

Rocky Mountain Revenge
Cindi Myers
Harlequin Intrigue, Jan 21 2014, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373697427

Socialite Elizabeth Giardino lived a pampered life while ignoring how her father Sam made his money as head of a crime family in which her brother Sammy is the heir apparent. When Elizabeth met undercover FBI agent Jake Westmoreland, she no longer could be the princess who kept her head in the sand re her dad’s activities so she testified against him.

Now she is Anne Gardener in the Witness Protection Program as Elizabeth Giardino died one year ago on Valentine’s Day. She is unaware that her father escaped from prison with plans to kill his beloved betrayer while her sibling plots to take over the mob. Jake, who fell in love with Elizabeth, fears for her life so he searches for her. When he finds her in the Rocky Mountains, she is stunned because she thought he died in the Valentine Day’s massacre while also knowing if he located her than her father and his thugs will too.

Rocky Mountain Revenge is an exhilarating WPP thriller starring two strong characters dealing with trust issues as well as her lethal family problems. Fast-paced with a powerful sense of foreboding in a pristine remote locale, readers will appreciate Cindi Myers’s suspenseful tale though the lead antagonists are underdeveloped stereotypical avenging mobsters.

Harriet Klausner

Blood on Copperhead Trail-Paula Graves

January 27, 2014

Blood on Copperhead Trail
Paula Graves
Harlequin Intrigue, Jan 21 2014, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373697403

Ridge County Public Integrity Officer Laney Hanvey is assigned to investigate how deep the corruption within the Bitterwood Police Department is after the late former Chief of Detectives Rayburn was exposed for being on the payroll of Wayne Cortland. Part of her inquiry is to recommend whether BPD be folded inside of the county’s Office of the Sherif or left independent run by newcomer Doyle Massey.

The murdered body of Missy Adderly is found on Copperhead Trail. Shocked Laney knew the deceased but fears for her younger sister Janelle who went hiking with the Adderly siblings. Leaving his detectives to work the homicide, Doyle accompanies Laney as she begins a search and she prays rescue mission for missing teens as a storm and human danger threaten their effort.

The fourth Bitterwood P.D. romantic police procedural (see Murder in the Smokies, The Smoky Mountain Mist and Smoky Ridge Curse) is an exciting S&R drama that contains a strong storyline yet also moves forward the overarching theme as more of Cortland’s empire is revealed. The harrowing suspenseful rescue effort supersedes the attraction with saving the heroine’s sister and surviving the storm and miscreants in the Smokies coming before the protagonists’ desires.

Harriet Klausner

Scraps Of Evidence-Barbara Cameron

January 26, 2014

Scraps Of Evidence
Barbara Cameron
Abington, Jan 21 2014, $12.95
ISBN: 9781426752780

Following the still cold case homicide of her best friend Samantha Marshall on the night of their high school prom, Tess Villanova dedicated her life to becoming a cop just like her Uncle Gordon, St. Augustine’s second in command and currently in charge with the Chief ill. While Gordon’s wife, yarn shop owner Kathy, recovers from a concussion in the hospital, now a detective Tess worries about her aunt who insists she tripped over her spoiled Persian Prissy. Tess also fears something is wrong between her uncle and aunt.

Tess meets her new partner ex-Chicago Police Department hot shot and now ASPD lead detective Logan McMillan. Though homicides are infrequent in the Florida city, the detectives investigate the murder of twenty-one year old legal assistant Antonia Sanchez. When Tess sees a mark on the nape of the corpse that is similar to what was on Sam’s neck and two other victims, she and the M.E. know he is back. When her aunt returns to the hospital, Tess sadly believes her role model may be a spouse abuser and that Kathy has clues sewn into her life quilts and scraps supporting that contention and who knows what else.

The latest Quilts of Love inspirational romance (see Aloha Rose by Lisa Carter and Tempest’s Course by Lynette Sowell) is an engaging police procedural in which the case comes before the love subplot. In spite of identifying the killer rather early, readers will enjoy this wonderful whodunit as the Quilts of Love serve as keys to the investigation, the romance and renewed faith in the Lord.

Harriet Klausner