Archive for October, 2010

An Object of Beauty-Steve Martin

October 31, 2010

An Object of Beauty

Steve Martin

Grand Central, Nov 23 2010, $26.99

ISBN: 9780446573641

Art writer Daniel Frank of the Stockbridge, Massachusetts Franks is bone marrow weary of his 24/7 thoughts about his amoral former lover Lacey Yeager.  He knows she will sleep with anyone to get a head.  In hopes of purging her from his blood, he writes down his thoughts about the rise and rise of Lacey Yeager in the upscale Manhattan art world.

In the Clintonian Era, twenty-three years old beautiful Lacey Yeager obtains an entry level job as a Sotheby staffer.  The intelligent and ambitious Lacey quickly rises up in rank in the company’s normally glacial pace.  As she did at Sothby’s to obtain promotions, Lacey uses her body and brain to obtain a position at exclusive Barton Talley’s gallery of “Very Expensive Paintings”; ethics is for the hogs and legalities is for the frightened losers.  Finally she achieves her objective of opening up the Lacey Yeager gallery in Chelsea and even 9/11 fails to prevent her meteoric rise to the troposphere of the high priced art universe.

As a microcosm of the greed that led to the crash, An Object of Beauty is a terrific look at the ultra rich in which avarice with a need for more is a way of life as Steve Martin eloquently states that America has an aristocratic class with no moral ties to the country.  The addition of pictures of paintings adds a fine art touch to the story line.  However, this is Lacey’s tale as she is a fascinating prototype as seen through the eyes of her whining former lover who exposes much of himself having a brain with one icon imprinted on it even as he exposes the woman he loathes and cherishes.  Although the ending feels off kilter, Mr. Martin provides a profound condemnation of wealth without morality is worthless.

Harriet Klausner

When Harry Met Molly-Kieran Kramer

October 31, 2010

When Harry Met Molly

Kieran Kramer

St. Martin’s, Nov 2 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312611644

In 1808 thirteen year old Molly writes a love rectangle to her beloved Lord Roderick that in spite of changing the names accuses his fiancée her sister Penelope and his brother nineteen year old Harry of a tryst.  Their families are outraged with Harry the spare exiled into the army for disloyalty to his family and Molly sent to Yorkshire to learn to behave at the Providence School for Wayward Girls.

In 1816, Harry is back enjoying high society when the Prince Regent names him and others as “Impossible Bachelors” and places a wager on who of these rakes has the most delicious mistress.  On her way to Gretna Green to marry milksop Cedric Alliston, Molly meets Harry at a seedy inn with piss poor beer.  Both are stunned to watch his lightskirt Aphrodite leave with her fiancé.  Desperate as his sure shot win at the Most Impossible Bachelor competition left in a coach, Harry suggests to the enemy whose mouth left him in army for five years that she replace Aphrodite as his pretend mistress.  She agrees reluctantly but as remittance he must find her a suitable loving husband.  He agrees to her stipulation as he muses let the games begin to see who survives the single the royal contest.

This over the top of Big Ben (even with the clock not constructed for several decades to come) is a wild amusing Regency romance starring two likable protagonists who holds the other culpable for their exile.  The story line is ultra fast-paced with the audience laughing at the gender war and the competition.  With villains causing further humorous havoc, historical fans will relish this jocular look at who will be the last rake surviving the island.

Harriet Klausner 

When Harry Met Molly

Kieran Kramer

St. Martin’s, Nov 2 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312611644

 

In 1808 thirteen year old Molly writes a love rectangle to her beloved Lord Roderick that in spite of changing the names accuses his fiancée her sister Penelope and his brother nineteen year old Harry of a tryst.  Their families are outraged with Harry the spare exiled into the army for disloyalty to his family and Molly sent to Yorkshire to learn to behave at the Providence School for Wayward Girls.

 

In 1816, Harry is back enjoying high society when the Prince Regent names him and others as “Impossible Bachelors” and places a wager on who of these rakes has the most delicious mistress.  On her way to Gretna Green to marry milksop Cedric Alliston, Molly meets Harry at a seedy inn with piss poor beer.  Both are stunned to watch his lightskirt Aphrodite leave with her fiancé.  Desperate as his sure shot win at the Most Impossible Bachelor competition left in a coach, Harry suggests to the enemy whose mouth left him in army for five years that she replace Aphrodite as his pretend mistress.  She agrees reluctantly but as remittance he must find her a suitable loving husband.  He agrees to her stipulation as he muses let the games begin to see who survives the single the royal contest.

 

This over the top of Big Ben (even with the clock not constructed for several decades to come) is a wild amusing Regency romance starring two likable protagonists who holds the other culpable for their exile.  The story line is ultra fast-paced with the audience laughing at the gender war and the competition.  With villains causing further humorous havoc, historical fans will relish this jocular look at who will be the last rake surviving the island.

 

Harriet Klausner

The 4th Victim-Tara Taylor Quinn

October 31, 2010

The 4th Victim

Tara Taylor Quinn

Mira, Dec 1 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9780778328353

In Chandler, Ohio psychologist Kelly Chapman keeps her distance from everyone including her patients though she diligently tries to help them and the community, which is why she is called the “Fix-it lady”.  Still even she is surprised when she agrees to be a foster parent to fourteen year old troubled Maggie Winston.  While musing about being a loner who cares, Kelly exercises by in-line skating when a car thumps her.

Because Dr. Chapman has been an expert witness on numerous trials, the FBI investigates her disappearance.  A loner like Kelly, Missing Persons Special Agent Clay Thatcher leads the inquiry.  The more he digs into the life of Dr. Chapman the more he sees the female version of himself.  Diligently working the case, he fears the woman he never met but who he is attracted to has become the 4th Victim of a serial killer.

The key to the super fourth Chapman Files thriller (see The 1st Wife, the 2nd Lie and The 3rd Secret) is that the potential romance between the lead couple is treated throughout the suspenseful story line like the early part of the movie Laura.  Different in tone from the previous files but action-packed from the moment that the in-line skating shrink is snatched.  Fans will relish this entertaining entry as Kelly is the victim and the frantic Fed knows this case has turned personal as he likes what he knows of Dr. Chapman, but fears she is dead.

Harriet Klausner

Murder In Plain Sight-Marta Perry

October 31, 2010

Murder In Plain Sight

Marta Perry

Harlequin HQN, Dec 1 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9780373774722

In Springville, Pennsylvania, the police arrest nineteen year old Amish Thomas Esch for the murder of twenty-four year old “Englischer” Cherry Wilson.  Philadelphia based law firm Henderson, Dawes and Henderson sends junior associate lawyer Jessica Langdon to plea bargain for a lighter sentence for the Amish teen in Lancaster County.

After getting lost while seeking the woman who hired her firm Mrs. Geneva Morgan, she meets the woman’s son Trey who tells her they changed their mind.  Geneva arrives and thanks Jessica as she wants her to defend Thomas over Trey’s objection.  Although unfairly in trouble with her legal firm’s partners over the Clements and Altmiller cases and knowing defending the teen will add to her job tsuris, Jessica decides to defend Thomas in court after meeting Mrs. Morgan, the teen and his family.  Trey is irate as he wants his mother to stay out of the brutal homicide case and firmly believes Thomas murdered Cherry.  Jessica diligently works the defense while studying the Amish culture.  However, someone wants the case resolved with Thomas locked away and that adversary begins a dangerous assault on the Philadelphia lawyer with Tey still dealing with his dad’s suicide at her side.

Murder In Plain Sight is an engaging Amish legal romantic suspense tale that readers will enjoy.  The Amish background anchors the locale while the romance between the lawyer and her critic is slowly developed.  Although the ending feels rushed and incomplete with an odd late motivation for the Wilson murder, Marta Perry provides a delightful thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Songs of Love and Death: All-Original Tales of Star-Crossed Love

October 31, 2010

Songs of Love and Death: All-Original Tales of Star-Crossed Love

George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois (Editors)

Gallery (Pocket), Nov 16 2010, $26.00

ISBN: 9781439150146

Songs of Love contains seventeen winning well written entries that explore the area where fantasy, science fiction, and romance converge as portrayed in a Venn Diagram with three overlapping circles.  The compilation opens up with Dresden battling a nasty foe and his heart in “Love Hurts” (Nazareth is right).  Following the fantasy master is historical romance guru Jo Beverly contributing a Georgian thriller with the courtship being love or death.  In “The Thing About Cassandra,” Neil Gaiman shows what happens in a second chance at love with an old girlfriend yet Stuart begins to wonder if he ever met her the first time.  Fans of Diana Gabaldon will appreciate her time traveling RAF pilot Jerry to the Outlander era, but his family is back in the WWII period.  Melinda M. Snodgrass writes “The Wayfarer’s Advice” in which love arrives in deep space and Peter S. Beagle provides love in the laptop age with “Kaskia” and Martin.  The compilation is excellent as all authors provide tales of “Star Crossed Love” in various realms (and sub-genres) to the delight of fans who will relish the amalgam zone where fantasy, science fiction, and romance converge.

Harriet Klausner

Songs of Love and Death: All-Original Tales of Star-Crossed Love

October 31, 2010

Songs of Love and Death: All-Original Tales of Star-Crossed Love

George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois (Editors)

Gallery (Pocket), Nov 16 2010, $26.00

ISBN: 9781439150146

Songs of Love contains seventeen winning well written entries that explore the area where fantasy, science fiction, and romance converge as portrayed in a Venn Diagram with three overlapping circles.  The compilation opens up with Dresden battling a nasty foe and his heart in “Love Hurts” (Nazareth is right).  Following the fantasy master is historical romance guru Jo Beverly contributing a Georgian thriller with the courtship being love or death.  In “The Thing About Cassandra,” Neil Gaiman shows what happens in a second chance at love with an old girlfriend yet Stuart begins to wonder if he ever met her the first time.  Fans of Diana Gabaldon will appreciate her time traveling RAF pilot Jerry to the Outlander era, but his family is back in the WWII period.  Melinda M. Snodgrass writes “The Wayfarer’s Advice” in which love arrives in deep space and Peter S. Beagle provides love in the laptop age with “Kaskia” and Martin.  The compilation is excellent as all authors provide tales of “Star Crossed Love” in various realms (and sub-genres) to the delight of fans who will relish the amalgam zone where fantasy, science fiction, and romance converge.

Harriet Klausner

Prince Charming Doesn’t Live Here-Christine Warren

October 31, 2010

Prince Charming Doesn’t Live Here

Christine Warren

St. Martin’s, Nov 2 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312947941

In Manhattan the firm’s most senior partner octogenarian Matthew Yorke IV directs attorney Danice Carter to find his granddaughter Rosemary Addison and persuade her to file a paternity suit.  He blames Rosemary’s pregnancy on the girl’s father Tom who had nothing to do with his daughter.  Rosemary’s need for love led her to a low life who ditched her when she became pregnant.  Danice wants nothing to do with the personal matter, but refusing is not an option unless she wants her career to end so she is expected to file a palimony suit in Connecticut.

She heads to new Canaan to meet Rosemary, but when she arrives she finds the woman missing in spite of their telephonic discussion just prior to her drive. Soon afterward her inquiry leads half-Fae-human private investigator Mac Callahan to Danice as he is also searching for Rosemary.  His purebred Faerie client has been silent as to why a human is sought.  Mac decides to return to Faerie, a place he left as a baby, to learn the motive.  Danice insists she accompany him though he fears the trip will prove dangerous as he wonders if the treacherous Unseelie Court is the instigator.

The latest Others romantic fantasy (see Born to be Wild and Big Bad Wolf) takes a refreshing brisk twist by cleverly adding a new paranormal species into the overarching theme.  The lead couple is a perfect pairing to enable the stunning spin to deftly occur.  Neither trusts one another nor appreciates the attraction they feel towards each other.  Fans will want to join the adventures of half Fae and the lawyer as they go to court with the Unseelie as their judge, jury, and executioner.

Harriet Klausner

Marked by the Moon-Lori Handeland

October 31, 2010

Marked by the Moon

Lori Handeland

St. Martin’s, Nov 2 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312389345

Werewolves killed Alexandra Trevalyn’s parents when she was a little girl.  The Jager-Sucher raise her and she becomes a dedicated hunter; suicidal in many ways as she is willing to die in her efforts to kill the beasts.

Werewolf Julian Barlow stalks Alex who killed his mate.  When he defeats her, she looks forward to his killing her.  Instead he obtains his revenge differently.  He changes her into a werewolf so she can learn to stop stereotyping his species as brainless monsters, as not all werewolves were created by the Mengele experiments; he has been one centuries before the Nazi did his dastardly conversions.  Julian takes a stunned forlorn Alex to his Alaskan pack where she will either adapt or obtain her wish.  Neither realized that an evil predator is killing for sport targeting the pack.

The latest Nightcreature saga (See Thunder Moon) is a fabulous entry in a strong series as the Twilight Zone twist of changing a predator into one your kind is deftly handled mostly by how Alex reacts over the course of a strong story line.  The sporting killer segue adds suspense that serves as a key catalyst in moving forward the plot, but clearly this is Alexandra’s tale.  With a stark Alaskan backdrop to augment the tale of revenge turns bitter, fans of Lori Handeland’ s romantic fantasy will appreciate Julian’s efforts to change the behavior of his soulmate as he wants to wake up with her in his bed and no knife protruding from his ribs.

Harriet Klausner

Echo City-Tim Lebbon

October 31, 2010

Echo City

Tim Lebbon

Spectra (Ballantine), Oct 26 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9780553593228

Echo City is a theocracy in which the Church is the government with both run by the Marcellan family with an iron fist.  Political opposition is forbidden with dissenters punished by exile or death. 

Peer Nadawa is caught speaking against the leadership so is sent to reside with criminals living in Skulk Canton; she will not be allowed back as she knows too much.  Bordering the Skulk is a poisoned desert The Boneyard.  There Peer observes a man crossing the forbidden waste; she believes it is a sign that the end of days for Echo City is upon us.  She tells the sickly stranger that his coming has been expected.  Additionally Peer finds her former lover Gorham who betrayed her leading a rebel force.  She puts aside her personal feelings to go with the newcomer to meet the genetic scientist Nadielle underneath the city where her lab experiments are conducted.  However, Peer knows an ancient essence is rising from way under the city; this beast must be stopped before it destroys Echo City as this legend has been passed down throughout history.

Tim Lebbon is knows for his ability to merge elements of fantasy and horror together inside of riveting thrillers (see The Chamber of Ten).  His current amalgam story line is action-packed from the beginning even as Mr. Lebbon establishes the critical realistic Echo City’s culture especially the rules of order.  The characters are fully developed particularly the heroine, her betrayer, the geneticist and an odd person at the top of the spires; the stranger is kept as an enigma purposely adding to the suspense and sense of foreboding.  Readers will appreciate this strong tale.

Harriet Klausner

Thieves Like Us-Starr Ambrose

October 30, 2010

Thieves Like Us

Starr Ambrose

Pocket, Nov 30 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9781439181294

With her divorce from her criminal spouse Westfield final, Janet Aims looks forward to her new life as a single.  Part of moving on, though somewhat symbolic, is to pawn the jewelry he gave her.  However, her plan goes awry right away as she is accused of being a jewel thief since one of her items she tried to sell is a necklace belonging to the stolen Pellini Collection.

Her hope for proving her innocence resides with former jewel thief convict Rocky Hernandez who she has avoided even though she is attracted to him as she does not need another felon in her life.  Rocky agrees to help her because he loves Janet, but has taken it slow waiting for her to move past her divorce.  Cops and robbers are after her as her car and condo are ransacked and only Rocky stands in their way especially when he goes back to his thieving roots to find the missing loot.

The sequel to Lie to Me is a fast-paced enjoyable romantic crime caper starring a likable lead couple caught in a frantic scenario as everyone except Rocky assumes Janet has the jewels when her aim is to start over.  Although the support cast at times overwhelms the plot with so much going on, readers will enjoy Thieves Like Us as Janet just wants move on while Rocky wants her to move on with him, but the world intrudes.

Harriet Klausner