Archive for March, 2010

Sweet Tea at Sunrise-Sherryl Woods

March 31, 2010

Sweet Tea at Sunrise

Sherryl Woods

Mira, May 2010, $7.99

ISBN 9780778328452

Knowing his baseball career is over; skirt chasing player Travis McDonald arrives in Serenity, South Carolina.  He likes the small town atmosphere and decides to stay there.  Travis buys a local radio station.

When he meets his neighbor single mom of two Sarah Price, Travis enjoys her light banter except for the self-deprecating comments.  He hires the waitress to work his morning show as the DJ though she has no on the air experiences.  As she works diligently at her new position, Sarah struggles to overcome the constant put downs of her verbally abusive former husband Walter while also falling in love with her new boss; who she knows stole her heart even if he is out of her league.

The romance remains mostly in the bleachers as the return to Serenity focuses on the stars of the previous books.  Still this is an entertaining tale as Travis is a wonderful individual trying to figure out what to do with the rest of his life as he is young but retired.  Sarah in many ways is the more fascinating protagonist with her doubts after years of being assailed as a loser; although her epitome feels false, fans of the series will enjoy catching up with the lives of those who previously starred in the Carolina saga.

Harriet Klausner

The Ex-Mrs. Hedgefund-Jill Kargman

March 31, 2010

The Ex-Mrs. Hedgefund

Jill Kargman

Plume, Apr 16 2010, $15.00

ISBN: 9780452295940

In 2006 thirty-four years old Holly Talbott believes she has a happy marriage to Tim, a Wall St. hedge fund dealer and a wonderful son Miles.  Although his family objects, Holly periodically meets with her best friend Kiki, a Jew from Brooklyn, who divorced Tim’s brother.

However, on one of their clandestine get-togethers, Holly and Kiki observe Tim hugging tightly another woman.  Instead of Tim being ostracized for cheating by his family and the community during the divorce, Holly is the one treated with contempt; as she comes from the wrong side of the tracks.  The pre-nuptial agreement affirmed that perspective.  Whether it is taking Miles to school or booted from a charity fundraiser, the Wall St. Hedge Fund wives and mothers treat Holly as a leper.  Only Kiki still remains her friend.  While Kiki dates a seemingly normal nice guy, Holly finds a series of losers.

This is an amusing witty contemporary tale that misses the bite of a satirical look at the financial meltdown as the timing seems off, but will entertain readers with the two BFFs seeking a nicer class of men.  With a jocular story line, readers will enjoy this lighthearted romp of the rich and the kicked out of the wealthy club, but also believe The Ex-Mrs. Hedgefund misses an opportunity to lampoon the affluent financial crowd for their egotistical excesses.

Harriet Klausner

Hannah’s List-Debbie Macomber

March 31, 2010

Hannah’s List

Debbie Macomber

Mira, May 2010, $24.95

ISBN 9780778327806

In Seattle thirty-six year old Hannah Everett dies from ovarian cancer after a long battle.  She leaves behind a letter to her beloved pediatrician husband, Michael that he is to open one year after her death.

On the first anniversary of Hannah’s death, Michael reads her note to him.  She pleads with him to get on with his life as he has grieved long enough.  She wants him to actively seek a new wife.  Hannah suggests he consider three candidates for his second spouse: her cousin Chef Winter Adams; her oncologist nurse Leanne Lancaster or eccentric artist Macy Roth.  Michael goes out with each of the women but each quickly recognizes that his heart is buried with his late spouse.

Although some readers will question how fast Michael acts on his beloved deceased wife’s final request, fans will enjoy this strong look at grieving as the lead protagonist tries to move on as his spouse requested with the three women she suggested.  Michael is fully developed so that the audience understands his concerns and fears while Hannah is only seen through his eyes and the letter.  The tree candidates are developed to different degrees, which makes it easy to know the ending relatively early on.  Michael hooks the readers throughout as he struggles with choosing from Hannah’s List because he is unsure if he can.

Harriet Klausner

Nose Down, Eyes Up-Merrill Markoe

March 31, 2010

Nose Down, Eyes Up

Merrill Markoe

Villard, Apr 20 2010, $15.00

ISBN:  9780345500212

Forty something Gil works as a handyman at an elderly couples’ vacation home where he also resides for free. His girlfriend Sara works as an animal communication expert, which has enabled Gil to understand what his four dogs want.

He is taken aback when he realizes the top canine in his pack Jimmy the alpha is providing lessons and lectures to the neighborhood dogs on a variety of surviving with human topics.  Jimmy teaches the other dogs how to properly beg especially for treats and the merits of indoor vs. outside peeing in nasty weather.

When Gil meets up with his former wife, she offers him work remodeling her guesthouse.  He accepts, but Jimmy persuades him to take him with him.  As he ignores Jimmy for time with his remarried former wife, Gil makes it clear to his four legged BFF that he is not his companion’s biological father.  Upset to know he is adopted Jimmy seeks out his biological parents especially his mother; not realizing how nearby she is.

This is a terrific pooch lit parable that focuses on what makes a family without being overly too cute.  Jimmy and Gil are a wonderful pairing as Jimmy assumes the man who raised him is his daddy until he learns the shattering truth.  His observations on family, love, and loyalty will obviously provide dog lovers with a charmer, but other readers will appreciate the wisdom of Jimmy’s teachings starting with the title.

Harriet Klausner

Straight Up-Deirdre Martin

March 31, 2010

Straight Up

Deirdre Martin

Berkley, May 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425234662

When her fiancé jilted farmer Aislinn McCafferty, she vowed no more men in her life unless they are sheep.  Soon afterward her parents died in a car accident.  Grieving and angry she wants to be left alone with her flock though her sister is visiting her and her elderly loyal employee remains on her sheep farm.

Fleeing the New York Irish mob, Liam O’Brien hides in Ballycraig, Ireland.  When he meets the acrimonious Aislinn, he wants her but she rejects him.  Cocky, he makes a bet with the local pub owner that he will get her to go out with him.  However, as Liam gets to know Aislinn, he wishes he never made that stupid wager as he is falling in love even as the doubting Aislinn begins to reconsider the charm of four legs vs. two and a half legs.  Still refuses him; as she expects him to return across the Atlantic back to the big city.

Straight Up is an enjoyable romance starring two initially unlikable lead characters who grow on the reader.  Liam has an ego larger than the Atlantic while Aislinn has had her esteem shattered.  Although the thin plot is mindful of Doc Hollywood and filled with an eccentric secondary cast who like fans take bets on the outcome as Deidre Martin provides an amusing tale of love.

Harriet Klausner

Seducing the Highlander- Emma Wildes

March 31, 2010

Seducing the Highlander

Emma Wildes

Signet, May 2010, $14.00

ISBN: 9780451229823

“Seducing Ian”.  Wanting to force the hand of his enemy to drop false charges brought against a clan relative, Laird Ian McCray kidnaps the adversary’s betrothed Leanna Arlington.  However, he wants her and she him, but her intended will not go away gracefully.

“Seducing Robbie”.  Julia Cameron offers Robbie McCray a large dowry if he marries and protects her.  However, as he is ready to agree, both wants much more in their relationship as each feels the heat of desire.

“Seducing Aidan”.  When his betrothal abruptly ended, Adain Cameron feels depressed and lost; that is until he rescues Gillian Lorin from highwaymen who accosted her on her way to her meeting her vicious betrothed.  However, instead of escorting her to her intended husband, he takes her to his clan where she asks for sanctuary and he offers much more knowing the threat to his people.

These three interrelated Highlander romances are fun tales of kick butt heroes, feisty heroines, and vile villains who come together to make an entertaining historical romantic anthology.

Harriet Klausner

A Cast-off Coven-Juliet Blackwell

March 31, 2010

A Cast-off Coven

Juliet Blackwell

Obsidian, Jun 2010, $6.99

ISBN: 9780451230492

Lily Ivory is a bona fide powerful witch who has made a home for herself in San Francisco as the owner of Aunt Cora’s Closet where she sells vintage clothing.  She is promised a trunk full of clothing if she exorcises what is scaring the students. They hear ghostly noises and movements at the San Francisco School of Fine Arts.  The students and faculty also hear moans and footsteps that a ghost can’t make, but nobody sees anyone walking.

She enters the building believing she is dealing with a ghost and in a sense she is right because someone committed murder at the school decades ago.  When she goes to the bell tower she finds the dead body of billionaire businessman Jerry Becker.  After the police rope off the murder scene and finish questioning everyone who was in the area, Lily enters the closet where the trunk is.  She sees and hears something that makes her realize someone called up a demon but didn’t bind it.  With each new day, the demon grows stronger.  While the police investigate the homicide, the demon targets humans with no defense against its assaults; only Lily stands in the way.

This awesome paranormal mystery stars a terrific heroine who for the first time in her solitary life has friends, a home, a job she loves, and a responsible boyfriend who does not belittle or assault her.  The supernatural subplot does not overwhelm the whodunit because there are several human suspects who could be the killer and have summoned the demon.  Lily has to figure out if she is dealing with one or two antagonists as either scenario is plausible.

Harriet Klausner

The Tulip Virus-Danielle Hermans

March 31, 2010

The Tulip Virus

Danielle Hermans

Minotaur, Apr 27 2010, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312577865

In 2007 in London Frank Schoeller calls his nephew British painter Alec with a plea for help.  Dropping everything, Alec rushes over to his beloved uncle’s house.  There he finds Uncle Frank brutally battered and near death.  Frank tells Alec not to call the police, get out of the house and take a four century old book on tulips with him.

Alec calls the cops, but insists he found his Uncle Frank dead.  He needs to know why his relative was tortured and murdered. To do that he needs to know what is the value of a book focused on the 1636 Tulip War in Holland that his uncle gave him on his deathbed..   Obtaining the help of his Dutch friend Amsterdam antiques dealer Damien Vanlint, he investigates learning more than he wants about 1636 Holland and about the danger they now face due to their inquiry.

Although somewhat a standard exciting thriller, the tulip connection to seventeenth century Holland adds a fresh spin.  Fast-paced throughout, fans will root for the amateur sleuths to survive the ordeal as several adversaries, unconcerned with collateral damage or using hostages, will kill again to keep a secret concealed.

Harriet Klausner

Lean on Pete-Willy Vlautin

March 30, 2010

Lean on Pete

Willy Vlautin

Harper, Apr 13 2010, $13.99

ISBN:  9780061456534

When his dad decides to start over for the zillionth time, fifteen year old Charley Thompson relocates with him from Spokane, Washington.  However, shortly after moving to Portland, Oregon, Charley’s irresponsible father deserts him to move in with a married woman.  Soon afterward the woman’s husband kills Charley’s dad.

Charley obtains a job working for Del Montgomery at Delta Park racetrack.  However, watching what Del does to the thoroughbreds upsets Charley more than his dad’s death especially when he learns his employer plans to sell his only friend Pete to people who will kill the horse.  Deciding nothing is there to keep him in Portland, Charley steals Pete to keep him safe.  Together they flee the Pacific Northwest.

Although Charley seems to have incredible luck on his trek with people helping him and Pete providing money, food and shelter without asking questions of why a young teen was .on his own; when no one is there shelter still is easily available.  Putting aside the realism probability (Vegas would take Charley and Pete off the board), fans will enjoy his plight and flight as readers will cheer the lad on while knowing all he wants is to be part of a loving family.

Harriet Klausner

Good to a Fault-Marina Endicott

March 30, 2010

Good to a Fault

Marina Endicott

Harper, Mar 2010, $25.99

ISBN: 9780061825897

Forty-three years old divorcee Clara Purdy works as an insurance claims adjuster while living in the house she grew up in inherited after her parents died.  Rushing to the bank so she can get back to work on time, Clara crashes into the car driven by Clayton Gage.  No one is injured seriously from the fender bender, but the mother of three Lorraine learns while at the hospital she has cancer in its late stage.

Clayton vanishes, so feeling responsible while Lorraine remains hospitalized; Clara invites the woman’s nasty mother and her three children to live with her.  Clara also allows Lorraine’s alcoholic brother to move in too.  While everyone in town wonders why Clara is suddenly acting like Mother Teresa, others also help especially Minster Paul whose wife left him; he is attracted to Clara.  When Lorraine recovers after receiving radical treatment and Clayton returns, Clara feels alone as the three kids go back to live with their parents.  Deciding to return to her sterile life before the accident, a changed Clara dumps Paul, but will being alone be enough after having family with her.

This is an entertaining character study that mostly looks at Clara who goes from being alone to having a de facto adoption of a family to being alone again but with a new attitude.  Although the profound look at how much Clara changes is a two edged sword as the plot moves at times very slowly, readers will root for the heroine as she begins to leave her self imposed shell seeking her relationship groove.

Harriet Klausner