Archive for June, 2009

Bound by Love-Rosemary Rogers

June 30, 2009

Bound by Love

Rosemary Rogers

Harlequin HQN, Aug 2009, $7.99

ISBN: 9780373773961

In 1821 Leonida Karkoff arrives as a welcome guest of Lord Edmond and his wife Brianna (see SCANDALOUS DECEPTION).   However, Leonida finds herself attracted to her shock to her host’s twin brother Stefan, the Duke of Huntley.  Stefan distrusts Leonida, who as the illegitimate daughter of Czar Alexander has no reason to be in England unless she has some diabolical plot to harm the Russian ruler.

However, Stefan is more upset with himself for wanting a woman he distrusts.  Leonida feels guilt as she is pulled in two directions as her mother sent her to retrieve letters that will hurt the czar if exposed and her desire perhaps even love for Stefan.  He seduces her, but soon afterward she vanishes with the letters to the content with him in pursuit.  In St. Petersburg, Stefan catches up with his Leonida, who has fled his bed for fear her heart will die if she remains with her beloved.

The St. Petersburg setting refreshes a wonderful Regency romance sequel starring two beloved enemies.  Besides the enticing Russian backdrop, Leonida is a refreshing protagonist pulled by her mother in one direction and yanked in the opposite by her love for Stefan.  Fans will enjoy this brisk tale as Rosemary Rogers shows why she is consistently one of the historical romance sub-genre sure things.

Harriet Klausner

The Undoing of a Lady-Nicola Cornick

June 30, 2009

The Undoing of a Lady

Nicola Cornick

Harlequin HQN, Aug 2009, $7.99

ISBN: 9780373773954

In 1810 Lady Elizabeth “Lizzie” Scarlett is concerned that her childhood friend Lord Nathaniel Waterhouse is marrying someone he does not love out of a sense of duty.  She knows Nat has always been there for her so she decides to be there for him even if he does not appreciate what she does.  She kidnaps him to keep him from marrying Miss Flora Minchin of Fortune’s Folly as this is no love match with his title in exchange for her money.

Lizzie’s attempts to seduce Nat lead to their being compromised.  Nat breaks off his engagement, but needs money to pay off a blackmailer.  His solution is to marry wealthy Lizzie, which he does.  However, though both feel a deep desire for the other and passion blazes between them, neither trusts the other any longer and pride leaves bot hiding their love out of fear of rejection.

Although similar in tone to the previous Brides of Fortune series (see THE CONFESSIONS OF A DUCHESS and THE SCANDALS OF THE INNOCENT) especially the lead characters, fans will enjoy this charming regency romance.   The amusing story line starts off with a terrific opening abduction by an innocent woman who is seduced by her angry captive leading to THE UNDOING OF A LADY now in love.  Fans will enjoy the gender war as neither seems to have the guts to tell the other how they feel.

Harriet Klausner

Bridegroom-Linda Lael Miller

June 30, 2009

Bridegroom

Linda Lael Miller

Harlequin HQN, Aug 2009, $7.99

ISBN: 9780373773886

In 1915 Arizona Lydia Fairmont finds her options near zero as she either marries the local banker or lose her property to the local banker; she fears losing the spread because of where will her sexagenarian kind spinster aunts go.  Her childhood friend Gideon Yarbro learns Lydia is caught between a rock and a hard place as the cold aloof banker Mr. Fitch offers her no other option; so the undercover agent decides to save her in spite of her acceptance of the inevitable.

Gideon abducts Lydia taking her to his home in Stone Creek.  He forces her to marry him vowing to protect and cherish her while she assumes they will have a platonic marriage of convenience although she is unsure what he gets from their matrimony.  However, when someone tries to kill Gideon, Lydia realizes she loves her friend.  Meanwhile Gideon struggles between a nasty squabble between the miners and the mine owners that is turning dangerous even as he fears for the safety of his beloved Lydia from the assassin trying to kill him.

The latest Stone Creek early twentieth century romance (see Gideon’s older brothers’ tales; Wyatt as THE RUSTLER and Rowdy as A WANTED MAN) is a charming tale starring two likable protagonists.  However, though he coerces her to say I do, he is caught off guard by the tigress he marries.   He planned to keep her safe but did not expect his new bride trying to keep her BRIDEGROOM safe even if he objects.  Fans will enjoy this fun Arizona tale as the honeymoon includes party crashers who want Gideon dead for different reasons.

Dark Lover-Brenda Joyce

June 30, 2009

Dark Lover

Brenda Joyce

Harlequin HQN, Aug 2009, $7.99

ISBN: 9780373773701

In New York City, Center for Demonic Activity, Historical Crimes Unit demon slaying witch Samantha Rose misses her sister Tabitha (see DARK VICTORY) and her cousin Brianna (see DARK EMBRACE) as her fellow agents married Highlanders and live several centuries in the past.  She focuses even more on her work with her latest assignment to retrieve the Duisean, a valuable Celtic manuscript owned by Rubert Hemmer.

International art thief Ian Maclean is known for being able to obtain any masterpiece for his clients.  He and Sam had a run in when they met in Scotland that left her humiliated and furious.  They meet again as he is seducing the wife of Rupert to foster his plan to steal the Duisean in order to sell to the highest bidder.  Sam and Ian team up to try to steal the valuable artifact though neither wants that teaming.  Worse they are attracted to one another and begin to depend on one another although both fear the directions their respective feelings are taking them.

The latest Masters of Time romantic urban fantasy is a super complex tale as the kick butt adversaries must unite but both have doubts distrusting the other and even more their hearts.  He uses a suave uncaring demeanor to hide his darkest secret that the demons once imprisoned and tortured him for seemingly eternity; she has never forgotten or gotten over his rejection in Scotland.  However, they have no choice if they are to prevent an ancient dark one from arising; time is of the essence as they plunge into his worse nightmare that of his own past.

Harriet Klausner

Shadow of Betrayal-Brett Battles

June 30, 2009

Shadow of Betrayal

Brett Battles

Delacorte, Jul 7 2009, $25.00

ISBN: 9780385341585

The Cleaner Jonathan Quinn, his girlfriend-partner Orlando, and his protégé Nick travel to Ireland to monitor an information exchange.  However a sniper insures something goes wrong, leaving four dead and Jonathan forced to use his cleaning skills to make sure no clues of the homicides remain behind in the church meeting locale.   His agent orders Quinn to forget Ireland and instead fulfill the agreed upon three jobs with no questions.  He is to locate a missing U.N. worker Marion Dupuis; she has vanished without a trace.  Others search for her too.

Jonathan and company head to Africa, the last known place Marion was seen.  At an orphanage where she helped, the owner says she ran away with a Down Syndrome child Iris, who rebels want though he is not sure why.  Marion and Iris flee to Montreal, but are captured and taken to California as Jonathan follows the convoluted trail.

This is a terrific complicated Quinn globetrotting tale (see THE DECEIVED and THE CLEANER) as he goes from the Europe to Africa to Canada and finally the States on the chase.  The story line is fast-paced and filled with plenty of bloody action on three continents as Quinn knows his deal haunts his soul as he does jobs he loathes performing.  Although somewhat similar in theme to THE DECEIVED, Quinn is at his best undergoing tasks that eat at his gut.

Harriet Klausner

Sentinels: Lion Heart-Doranna Durgin

June 30, 2009

Sentinels: Lion Heart

Doranna Durgin

Silhouette Nocturne, Aug 2009, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373618170

Ocelot shapeshifter Lyn Maines is assigned to investigate whether a Sentinel is betraying the cause.  She heads to the Arizona mountains Dook’o’osliid to determine if mountain-lion shifter Joe Ryan has gone to the dark evil Atrum Core while also hunting the retreating regional Drozhar (prince) after his side lost a battle recently.  Based on what she knows about the case, she assumes Joe is a traitor.

After a few days with Joe, Lyn begins to reassess her opinion.  She believes he is either an Oscar Award level actor or innocent.  As she falls in love with Joe, she fears her heart is rose coloring her eyes or someone diabolically clever is framing him.  Now she needs his help to deal with the Atrum Core Drozhar using the mountain’s power to restore his own, but all the evidence affirms Joe is betraying their cause.

Although the plot feels a bit emaciated at first, the latest Sentinels Arizonan urban fantasy romance (see JAGUAR NIGHT) picks up momentum and turns into a wonderful entry due to the suspicion by Lyn and the Sentinels that Joe is the traitor.  Thus their relationship starts off on the wrong foot, but as they fall in love, Lyn refuses to believe her beloved whose obvious love of the mountains would sell out to someone destroying his revered snowy peaks.  LION HEART is a solid entry with a bit of a mystery to enhance the fun plot.

Harriet Klausner

Time Raiders: The Seeker-Lindsay McKenna

June 30, 2009

Time Raiders: The Seeker

Lindsay McKenna

Silhouette Nocturne, Aug 2009, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373618163

Time raiders Delia Sebastian and Jake Tyler are assigned to work together in finding the first piece of an alien artifact the Karanovo Bronze Seal in ancient Rome during the time of Julius Caesar.  Delia does not want to go with Jake as her partner as she has a past with him that left her hurt.  On the other hand, Jake looks forward to spending time with her.

Their Italian vacation posing as Grecian mercenaries proves dangerous as Caesar’s mistress Servilia has an agenda of her own yet the artifact is in her Pompeii villa.  Worse, an alien seeks the artifact and is using the body of the scribe to hide inside.  As the peril mounts, Delia and Jake must cover each other’s back if they are to survive the mission and have any hope of successfully accomplishing it.

This is the opening act of a new romantic science fiction series in which different authors over the next few months will provide novels.  THE SEEKER is a fine tale starring two leads who battle one another and two insidious enemies.  The story line starts slow as the key background information is provided, but once the protagonists (some might say antagonists) go back in time to 44 BC, the action turns fast-paced and the lead couple’s attraction could ignite Ancient Rome.  Fans will enjoy Lindsay McKenna’s solid thriller as Ancient Rome comes alive and the table is set for Cindy Dees in September to go after the next segment of the Karanovo Bronze Seal.

Harriet Klausner

Retribution-Jeanne C. Stein

June 30, 2009

Retribution

Jeanne C. Stein

Ace, Sep 2009, $7.99

ISBN: 9780441017737

She has been fighting a losing battle to hold onto her humanity, but months old vampire Anne Strong doubts she can much longer.  Her parents are sent by Anna’s nemesis to a winery in France with their “grand-daughter” so they cannot be used as hostages by those coming for Anna.  She has few friends, but one of them is shapeshifting Culebra who owns a bar in Beso de la Muerte where vampires can feed on willing hosts.  He meets her in Mexico her and asks not to visit the bar because he is on vacation and his substitute Sandre wants nothing to do with her.  Unable to believe what he is saying, Anna goes to see herbut meets Warren Williams, the former San Diego chief of police and now the chief officer of the supernatural community.

He warns her that six young vampire corpses have been found drained of their blood. Soon after that meaning Sandra summons her to come to the bar because Culebra is ill and may be dying.  Before Culebra lost consciousness he mentioned Belinda Burke, an enemy of his, Anna and William.  She cast a spell on him and the only way to save his life is to find the witch and kill her.  Anna fears she and Culebra will die if she fails to locate the witch.  Tracing the path of her enemy, Anna finds more drained dead vampires and a person close to her who is helping Culebra stay alive through magic spells is now near death.  Killing Belinda becomes the only sensible RETRIBUTION.

This is a strong vampire urban fantasy entry in a great series (see THE WATCHER, LEGACY, and BLOOD DRIVE) due to the lead professional who has distanced herself for obvious reasons from her family and has joined the supernatural community.  Anna continues to explore her new powers as she also treks the dangerous dark world in which beauty is only skin deep is a mantra as the monsters inside are deadly.  The world of Jeanne C. Stein is dark, deadly and dangerous; but most critical to readers is her species (vampires, witches, and shapeshifters) seem genuine.

Harriet Klausner

Henry’s Sisters-Cathy Lamb

June 29, 2009

Henry’s Sisters

Cathy Lamb

Kensington, Aug 2009, $15.00

ISBN 9780758229540

Globetrotting photographer Isabelle, kindergarten teacher Celia and author Janie find out their mom River is going to have open heart surgery through the usual pink slip notes she has sent each of them everyday even when they lived in the same house with her.  Reluctantly the Bommarito sisters come home to Trillium River, Oregon though they would prefer to ignore their mother.  The trio is close in spite of their geography and vocations, and all are looking forward to spending time with their mentally disabled brother Henry who seems to love everyone.

As they take care of their healing mom and watch over their demented grandmother so she does not fly away and Henry, the sisters who fled their hometown all find some unexpected solace here in trying to save the family bakery where their brother works.  Isabelle beings to understand why she preferred short term relationships; Janie begins to understand she suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder; and widow Cecilia is finally overcoming her grief over her husband’s death that sent her into doing dangerous stupid things.

This is an interesting family drama filled with pathos and humor as HENRY’S SISTERS realize they are unhappy while their mentally disturbed brother is very contented.  Initially writing his happiness off as ignorance of not knowing better; each soon learns he understands much more than they realized.  Each of the sisters begins to look inside as they start to come to grips on the personal demons that disturb them.  Well written, readers will relish Cathy Lamb’s enjoyable poignant character study that affirms contentment and despondency are personal though it takes loved ones to help someone maintain a degree of happiness and satisfaction in life.

Harriet Klausner

Labor Day-Joyce Maynard

June 29, 2009

Labor Day

Joyce Maynard

Morrow, Jul 28 2009, $24.99

ISBN: 9780061843402

On the Labor day weekend in 1987, thirteen year old Henry persuades his single mother Adele to leave their dump for a trip to the nearby PriceMart.  He is ecstatic when she agrees as she never leaves their home except if she absolutely has to since his dad left her and remarried.

They meet Frank, who bullies them into picking him up.  An escaped convict, Frank needs a place to hide from the law so he coerces the mother and son to take him into their home or else.  However, as he holds them prisoner in their home, the trio forges a relationship with him in charge.  He tenderly ties Adele to a chair using her silk scarves as gentle ropes; while feeding her.  He teaches Henry, who hates sports as he stinks at them, to throw a baseball.  He soon finds he wants more from the mom as they fall in love and consider fleeing together, and with her son who fears desertion from his mom and his surrogate father.

This is a super character study that focuses on the changing relations between three protagonists over the Labor Day weekend.  A Stockholm syndrome effect occurs as each grows closer to one another.  Henry is the glue that keeps the story line focused as he admires Frank’s courage and mentoring skills while also fears he will take his mom with him leaving her son behind when he goes on the lam.  Fans will relish three seemingly losers finding something special during the long weekend together even as each anticipates no happy ending (the Sword of Damocles always lurking during the holiday) ;instead they expect to pay a steep price for six days and five nights of a fairy tale.

Harriet Klausner