Archive for November, 2010

Journal of a UFO Investigator-David Halperin

November 30, 2010

Journal of a UFO Investigator

David Halperin

Viking, Feb 3 2011, $25.95

ISBN 9780670022458

In 1966 in Philadelphia sixteen years old Jewish Danny Shapiro worries about his dying mom but finds solace in UFOs as he cannot turn to his hostile father for solace.  Over three years earlier, he saw his first UFO, which was not a shocker to him as he had been a UFO investigator for two weeks.  His fascination leads to a split from his long time school buddies who find the study of UFOs inane, weird and extremely tedious.  Danny is indifferent to being ostracized as he meets new friends who share his interest.

Danny and his cronies investigate UFO phenomena. He soon finds himself in unbelievable adventures as the three Men in Black interrogate him; he disappears in middle earth and soars to the moon.  Before he can come home to see how mom is doing he finds himself as an out-patient in an alien operating room and falling in love with an ET thief.  Stunned by all he encounters, Danny becomes guardian to a hybrid ET-earthling, who is the golden child expected to simply save the planet.

This is a strange yet profound coming of age tale starring a teen isolated from his friends due to his obsession that makes him different in an environ that demands fit to standardization; as variance need not apply.  Danny is a sympathetic protagonist who seems lost with no hope to the reader as he creates a world where he is a superhero unlike his Philadelphia neighborhood where he is a scorned pariah.  David Halperin provides a discerning psychological tale that uses science fiction elements to tell the story of a lost soul who dreams of great things in his fantasies to escape his realities.

Harriet Klausner

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Under the Mercy Trees-Heather Newton

November 30, 2010

Under the Mercy Trees

Heather Newton

Harper, Jan 18 2011, $13.99

ISBN: 9780062001344

In 1986 in Willoby County, North Carolina, Leon Owenby disappears without a trace.  His younger brother wannabe writer Martin leaves New York City to come home to help in the search for Leon.  Martin leaves behind in Manhattan his former lover Dennis and their dying friends as the AIDS epidemic has devastated the New York gay community like a modern day Black Plague.

In North Carolina, Martin resents being back in the closet as he has always hid his sexual preference from family and friends.  He even had a girlfriend in high school, who still loves him.  Months pass with no progress in finding the missing Leon, but so many family secrets have been revealed; yet perhaps because of his previous self-protective training growing up as a closet gay, no one knows about Martin’s New York lifestyle or at least no one will openly raise it.

Told mostly by Martin although there are other perspectives with each containing their own personality, fans will enjoy this interesting “historical” family drama in which the Reagan era feels like ancient history with its pre Information/Communication age.  The premise for the family gathering in Willoby is strong, but their remaining in the county over several months turns the storyline somewhat weak.  Still readers will appreciate this enticing tale of secrets revealed by an ensemble cast with diverse emotional needs wearing family masks to conceal those personal issues assumed would lead to excommunication of that person.

Harriet Klausner

Because of Jane-Lenora Worth

November 30, 2010

Because of Jane

Lenora Worth

Harlequin SuperRomance, Jan 12, 2011, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373716845

Former NFL quarterback Lenny Paxton mentally loses it at a press conference.  Instead of seeking help and apologizing for his breakdown, he leaves.  Lenny retreats from the public spotlight by returning to the farm of his grandparents where he grew up as a child raised by them.

A magazine hires psychologist Jane Harper to write an article on Lenny.  She arrives at the farm uninvited.  There she hopes to write an article on the retired football player, but also wants to help him regroup after his mental sacking and hold on to an endorsement deal he is not interested in doing anymore.  However, his attraction to Jane keeps him from punting her off the farm; while she feels the same way about throwing a pass at him, even if it is a Hail Mary.

This is a warm contemporary romance starring a fascinating former football hero turned goat and a caring professional.  After meeting the sacked QB her agenda changes as she tries to help him move on but also falls in love with him.  Readers will enjoy Lenny’s rehabilitation brought about Because of Jane.

Harriet Klausner

Her Great Expectations-Joan Kilby

November 30, 2010

Her Great Expectations

Joan Kilby

Harlequin SuperRomance, Jan 12, 2011, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373716814

Widower Jack Thatcher has failed to move passed the death of his wife who died in a plane crash. This is ironic as he owned an air-charter at the time she passed on.  Since his spouse died, Jack has given up on life as he no longer owns that air-charter and simply avoids entanglements with people.

Jack’s broken world is shook to the core when he meets Dr. Sienna Maxwell.  She reciprocates his immediate attraction although she has doubts too.  However, what sells her on the depressed Jack is how super he relates with her son.  Sienna tries to encourage Jack to join the living especially with her and her child.  Initially he remains recalcitrant, but soon figures out that he can’t have Sienna and remain a misanthrope.

Although the theme of love helping someone move on with the grieving process has been used a lot in literature, Joan Kilby keeps her insightful story line fresh due to the unique protagonists.  Sienna is a wonderful caring person who also has doubts about a relationship as her prime need is raising her son yet has great expectations so she takes a chance on Jack.  He, on the other hand, prefers being a hermit because love does not just hurt; it cripples the soul when it expires.  Readers will appreciate this deep contemporary second chance at love tale.

Harriet Klausner

A Little Texas-Liz Talley

November 30, 2010

A Little Texas

Liz Talley

Harlequin SuperRomance, Jan 12, 2011, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373716807

Kate Newman is stunned when she learns her partner spent business funds on personal items.  This leaves the business in trouble as they owe taxes to the IRS.  Desperate she tries to extort money from her affluent father, Justus Mitchell who has never recognized her existence.

Mitchell shocks his daughter when he agrees to give her the money but on the stipulation she spends two weeks with him.  She accepts his terms.  Mitchell asks his former assistant Rick Mendez, to escort his daughter to him.  Kate and Rick are attracted to each other immediately, but he seeks redemption for nasty things he did by opening up rehab center for gang members.  Thus he refuses to acknowledge he desires kissable Kate.

The key to A Little Texas is the lead couple, as each has realistic issues and needs that at the minimum seem to defer a relationship but more liker deter any connection between them.  Liz Talley provides a well-written interesting tale of two people falling in love at the wrong time, but the inconvenient truth for both is that there probably will not ever be a better time.

Harriet Klausner

Call Me Irresistible-Susan Elizabeth Phillips

November 30, 2010

Call Me Irresistible

Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Morrow, Jan 18 2011, $25.99

ISBN: 9780061351525

Since leaving the professional links former PGA star Ted Beaudine has become mayor of Wynette, Texas.  He and the daughter of a former president Lucy Jorik are engaged.  However, Lucy’s BFF Meg Koranda, in town for the wedding, realizes her buddy has humongous doubts.  So with a little persuasion on Meg’s part, Lucy breaks it off as she feels she deserves a passionate lover and not a guy always stoically putting.

Meg’s parents have cut off her financial backing before her arrival in Texas.  With Lucy running away, Meg is stranded in Wynette with no way to pay her bills.  The townsfolk who worship Teddy loathe her as a Hollywood snob who interfered with the happiness of the popular local guy.  They take it out on Meg who tries to make it while also helping a raging Ted find his heart. 

This amusing romance stars two antagonists who were secondary characters in previous tales (see Fancy Pants and Glitter Baby).  Although readers will need to accept the implausible nasty reaction by townsfolk who hold Meg culpable for Lucy leaving; as she is the runaway bride’s best friend and her arrival led to doubts.  She also remains stranded in Wynette as a handy target to revenge the hole in one in Ted’s psyche.  Fans will enjoy her learning that good intentions pave the road to hell in Wynette as she takes a beating but keeps on ticking until Ted and his supporters realize she should be his bride.

Harriet Klausner

Chasing the Sun-Kaki Warner

November 30, 2010

Chasing the Sun

Kaki Warner

Berkley, Jan 4 2011, $15.00

ISBN: 9780425238615

In 1870 Jack Wilkins failed to persuade his beloved Maria Elena Ramirez to marry him; she rejected him after she suffered crippling injuries to her hip. She also had previous doubts before she got hurt and was unsure of her feelings towards him but was aware he would not settle down on a ranch.  Heartbroken he leaves his family New Mexico Territory ranch.

Three years later, Jack returns home as Sister Maria Elena Ramirez plans to take her vows to become a nun.  He wants her to marry him.  Singer Daisy Etheridge arrives at the Wilkins’ ranch with her 2-year-old daughter Kate whose bounder of a father went west of San Francisco.  She insists Jack is Kate’s father.  Jack accepts the child as his although he can not recall sleeping with Daisy or for that matter know who she is.  Still Jack does the honorable thing as he believes a child needs a father and proposes to Daisy.  She rejects his offer as she knows he loves Maria.  At the same time the Wilkins’ ownership of the ranch is in jeopardy.

This is a complicated wonderful climax to the delightful Blood Rose trilogy (See Pieces of Sky and Open Country) summed up perfectly by older brother Brady when he informs his siblings: “We got lucky”.  Western romance fans will enjoy reading how each of the warring Wilkins brothers got lucky as these are super tales.

Harriet Klausner

Master of Smoke-Angela Knight

November 30, 2010

Master of Smoke

Angela Knight

Berkley, Jan 4 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425239162

Five years ago, the dire wolf attacked Eva Roman.  She survived but was never the same.  Instead she taught herself to shapeshift and successfully concealed her condition from her parents and everyone else.

That anonymity ends when the comic bookstore employee saves a man from the assault of giant white dire wolf Warlock.  The person she rescues suffers from amnesia as a consequence of Warlock using a spell to steal the victim’s magical power by splitting him into three essences.  She names him David; neither is aware he is Smoke the demigod Sidhe warrior.  If David fails to reunite his parts into Smoke, Warlock will prove too powerful to stop.  Ergo were-hitmen try to kill David and Eva as the former struggles to regain his memory and the latter wonders how to have sex with the hunk without murderous chaperones interfering.

The latest Mageverse romantic urban fantasy (see Master of Fire) is a great entry that, in spite of its January release, will be considered one of the best sub-genre books of the year.  The story line is loaded with action as hostilities grow and all out war between and even within species seem imminent.  While the world teeters on the brink, Eva makes the tale as she brings a sort of New York shtick to the mix with her acerbic humorous asides and in your face commentary.  With warlocks, were-mobsters, vampires, witches, and Camelot, fans will appreciate the comic bookstore employee who only blinks in bed with her amnesiac as she insists she has faced much worse with customers.

Harriet Klausner

Undertow-Cherry Adair

November 29, 2010

Undertow

Cherry Adair

St. Martin’s, Dec 28 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312371920

Zane “Casanova of the Caribbean” Cutter believes he knows where a Dutch frigate filled with precious metals and gems sunk in 1622.  He needs a master mechanic to accompany him when he begins the latest Cutter Salvage operation.  He asks Teal Williams, who recently joined his family firm to be closer to her dying father, to accompany him to sea.  She agrees as he offers her a cut of the booty as long as he also understands no sex.  He accepts the stipulation though he admits to himself her is turned on by his shipmate who he knew when she was a skinny child.

Their trip turns harrowing when a storm blows them off course.  Adding to their plight are deadly sea thieves willing to kill to steal the treasure.  However, neither is quite as dangerous as their attraction as he needs to prove his worthiness on treasure hunts and she was burned by a philandering hunk.

This under and on the surface watery romantic suspense thriller grips readers from the moment the storm blows the ship off course and never slows down as the protagonists struggle with perils including to their hearts with every nautical mile they sail.  Fast-paced, Cherry Adair opens her Cutter Salvage series with a strong sea saga.

Harriet Klausner

True Colors-Joyce Lamb

November 29, 2010

True Colors

Joyce Lamb

Berkley, Jan 4 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425240359

In Lake Avalon, Florida, photojournalist Alex Trudeau had thought her life was great due to her beloved dogs and her profession; but now believes her life is perfect since Detective John Logan came to town.  However, she takes a bullet while protecting her sister Lake Avalon Gazette reporter Charlie Trudeau (see True Vision for her thriller).  The shot somehow enhances her already strong psychic skills as now a touch provides her vivid nasty memories the other person prefers forgotten.

Logan came to town to escape his past and believes he has done so with his relationship with Alex.  However, his past returns to haunt him when an avenging serial killer abducts his beloved Alex so she can be used as the bait to murder Logan.  Although she uses her skills to leave him clues, Logan knows when the confrontation comes he will risk death to insure she lives.

The second Trudeau sibling romantic suspense is truly a delightful thriller starring two likable but flawed lead characters trying to work together from a distance to thwart a psychopath from murdering either of them.  Fast-paced with a clever contrast between the warm romance and the dark suspense, the sub-genre audience will appreciate Joyce Lamb’s second Lake Avalon thriller.

Harriet Klausner