Archive for January, 2013

The Closer You Get-Kristi Gold

January 30, 2013

The Closer You Get
Kristi Gold
Harlequin SuperRomance, Feb 5 2013, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373718337

Nine years ago, Brett Taylor began his ascent as a country music superstar at the same time his wife left him taking their daughter with her. Cammie Carson obtains the bus driving position on Brett’s tour. She is attracted to Brett, but realizes that he leaves broken hearts in his wake. When a band member becomes ill, Cammie is drafted as the replacement.

Brett and Cammie become an item even while she expects he will dump her very soon. Still they fall in love, but she remains consistent expecting her heart to break as she knows he has commitment trust issues having failed to move on with what happened almost a decade ago.

This is a warm second chance at love romance starring a charming angel and an emotionally scarred devil. The enjoyable storyline will have readers feeling they are on the bus touring along with Brett and his retinue; while also answering the Lovin’ Spoonful’s question “Do you believe in magic?” with only when love is “in a young girl’s heart.”

Harriet Klausner

Bending The Rules-Margaret Watson

January 29, 2013

Bending The Rules
Margaret Watson
Harlequin SuperRomance, Feb 1 2013, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373718320

Restaurant owner Nathan Devereux and Department of Children and Family Services social worker Emma Sloan meet at the teen center FreeZone, which his sister Frankie and her beloved Cal established. She notices his limp, which Frankie says came from a car hitting him. Frankie also teases Emma as she, Cal and others saw how the social worker and Nate looked at each other. Meanwhile his FBI brother Patrick asks Nate for documents related to his restaurant.

CPD Officer Trenton calls Emma to inform her that her best friend single mom Sonya Michaels died suddenly while riding a bus. Emma, licensed as a foster parent, takes in Sonya’s grieving teenage daughter Harley. Lawyer David Sanders tells Emma that Sonya named Harley’s biological father, Nathan Devereux. Having handled paternity cases for DCSF, Emma tells a stunned Nathan and a shocked Harley. Nate knows Emma wants to adopt Harley, but he wants in the life of his offspring; and for that matter her foster parent too.

Though a father not knowing he sired a child is an old theme, Margaret Watson provides an engaging family drama starring three likable lead characters struggling with what Sonya left behind and a strong support cast. A taut fresh subplot involving a menace to the extended Devereux family and anyone in their sphere enhances the contemporary with suspense; as Nate fears his presence in the lives of the two new women he just met and loves places them in danger.

Harriet Klausner

Reservations For Two-Jennifer Lohmann

January 29, 2013

Reservations For Two
Jennifer Lohmann
Harlequin SuperRomance, Feb 1 2013, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373718344

In Chicago, Chef Tilly Milek opens up Babka, a restaurant serving Polish cuisine. Her life is going great as her restaurant has had some early success and she meets Dan Meier who is attracted to her like she is to him and shares with her a love of food. However, her optimism collapses when the Eater food critic rips Babka in CarpeChicago.

As her dream along with her confidence collapses, Tilly vows to find the Eater and rip his or her guts out. That changes when she learns her Dan betrayed her as he is the anonymous Eater. Dan realizes he erred with how he handled the review as he broke protocol; he also concludes someone inside wants Tilly to fail. Knowing he lost the trust of the woman he loves and may have destroyed an excellent Polish restaurant, Dan tries to make amends.

Reservations for Two is a delightful foodie romance starring two “star-crossed” lovers as critics and chefs don’t mix. The Polish cuisine in many ways steals the show as irresistible Chicago pierogies remind me of the Bronx delis’ knishes. Readers will enjoy this scrumptious contemporary.

Harriet Klausner

That Night on Thistle Lane-Carla Neggers

January 28, 2013

That Night on Thistle Lane
Carla Neggers
Mira, Jan 29 2013, $7.99
ISBN 9780778314202

In Knights Bridge, Massachusetts, librarian Phoebe O’Dunn lends vintage dresses she found in in the library’s attic to her sister Maggie and their BFF Olivia Frost so she can attend a charity ball in Boston. Phoebe will not attend though Olivia’s fiancé, Dylan McCaffrey, invited her too.

Dylan’s BFF San Diego based NAK CEO Noah Kendrick calls Loretta Wrentham about a stalker, but she knows nothing. He goes to the ball dressed as a swashbuckler where he meets Phoebe who changed her mind. They dance and kiss though neither knows who the other is; she is his princess and he is her swashbuckler. When Noah takes a call, she leaves but overhears someone on a cell talking about her and her swashbuckler. Later Noah asks Dylan and Olivia if they know who his princess is. Instead of flying home as he planned, Noah remains in town seeking his princess. When they meet again, she realizes he is her swashbuckler and he knows she is his princess. As they and others identify who stalks him and research who left the dresses and more in the library, Phoebe and Noah fall in love.

The latest Knights Bridge tale (see Secrets of the Lost Summer) is an enjoyable romance due to the fully developed ensemble cast enabling a close look at relationships in a small New England town (and to a lesser degree Southern California). The resolution of the dress making mystery is brilliant yet simple while the stalker suspense fizzles. Contemporary fans will enjoy spending that night and much more on Thistle Lane.

Harriet Klausner

Crazy Thing Called Love-Molly O’Keefe

January 21, 2013

Crazy Thing Called Love
Molly O’Keefe
Bantam, Jan 29 2013, $7.99
ISBN: 9780345533692

Madelyn Baumgartner was excited when the hometown Pittsburgh Pit Bulls drafted her sweetheart Billy Wilkins in the second round. A couple years later, he became the team’s enforcer with a flash temper at the cost of his marriage. Fourteen years after being called up, he plays for the losing Dallas Mavericks whose coach Hornsby refuses to use Billy as the league turned away from goons due to concussions, but Billy had not altered his style. After losing a playoff spot, he coldcocks the visiting Boston team’s best player. Hornsby tells him we needed a leader not a brawler.

Madelyn Cornish hosts Am Dallas morning TV show. No one she works with knows she was once the naive wife of Billy “Brawler” so she refuses to be involved in a month makeover of her ex-husband. Billy agrees to the show as a desperate chance to win back what he lost as he still loves Madelyn. As they work closely, he sees the desire in her eyes giving him hope even with her obstinacy of no second chance between them. However, his family remains an obstacle.

The third Texas “love” story (see Can’t Buy Me Love and Can’t Hurry Love) is an engaging contemporary romance. The lead couple is a nice pairing as they fell in love when she was the playground enforcer as a tweener and remains in love though they split apart years ago. With issues of childhood abuse and neglect adding substance, fans will enjoy this second chance at love romance although the NBA especially Mark Cuban will not appreciate the Dallas Mavericks as an NHL team.

Harriet Klausner

Reunion at Red Paint Bay-George Harrar

January 21, 2013

Reunion at Red Paint Bay
George Harrar
Other Press, Jan 29 2013, $14.95
http://www.otherpress.com
ISBN 9781590515457

In Red Paint, native son Simon Howe owns and edits the Red Paint Register. As they go out to dinner leaving their son Davy alone for the first time, his wife Amy teases him about the newspaper, which carries stories from UFO sightings to terrorist landings to town hall meetings; the residents enjoy the fiction over the news.

However, Simon’s idyllic life becomes disturbed when he begins receiving postcards from someone slowly coming to Red Paint. This unknown person seems to know Simon and accuses him of wrong doing at a graduation party in which the editor was so intoxicated he barely remembers anything. Simon remains unsure who has targeted him except that the culprit apparently is a former local seeking revenge against Simon. After seeing a psychologist, using the name Paul Chambers and believing God sent him on an eye for an eye mission, the postcard writer comes to Red Paint, Maine.

The suspense grips the audience from the arrival of the ignored first postcard and never slows down as readers anticipate a final showdown between Paul and Simon at Red Paint. Part of the tautness is the contrast between the obsessively driven Paul and the serene “Friendliest Town in Maine” especially Simon’s family. The series of confrontations escalates the tension; however the key players act seemingly out of character (though one could argue under pressure changes people from their norm). Still readers will appreciate the Reunion at Red Paint Bay of Paul and Simon.

Harriet Klausner

Speaking from Among the Bones-Alan Bradley

January 20, 2013

Speaking from Among the Bones
Alan Bradley
Delacorte, Jan 29 2013, $24.00
ISBN: 9780385344036

In 1951 in Bishop’s Lacey, Great Britain, church officials are excited with the opening of the tomb of Saint Tancred on the five-hundredth anniversary of his death. However, no one is as enthused with the excavation as tweener amateur sleuth Flavia De Luce the home grown chemist. She has solved murder mysteries (see I Am Half-Sick of Shadows) but not the mysteries of her older sisters or the enigma of her mother.

The Vicar and other adults fail to keep the curious Flavia away. As she sneaks closer to the crypt, Flavia stumbles over the body of the current church organist Mr. Collicutt. Complicating her inquiry is Adam Sowerby, who insists they team up on the Collicutt investigation as Flavia works alone.

The latest fabulous Flavia 1950s amateur sleuth (see A Red Herring Without Mustard, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag) is a superb locked crypt whodunit. Flavia is her usual precocious self as she relishes chemistry, dead bodies and irritating her siblings. Fans will enjoy this exciting historical village cozy as Flavia works the murder mystery, deals with a “partner” and makes progress on her mom’s mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Proof Of Guilt-Charles Todd

January 20, 2013

Proof Of Guilt
Charles Todd
Morrow, Jan 29 2013, $25.99
ISBN: 9780062015686

In 1920 London, WWI officer turned Scotland Yard police inspector Ian Rutledge still mentally suffers from his harrowing experience in the trenches. However one incident remains the prime cause of his battle fatigue; he killed insubordinate Hamish for disobeying a direct order; Hamish “resides” inside Ian’s head.

Based on a suggestion from Metropolitan Police Constable Meadows, Scotland Yard Acting Chief Superintendent sends Rutledge to look into a hit and run accident that normally would be a local matter. Rutledge goes to Chelsea where he learns no witnesses not even the milk man have come forth. The unidentified victim possesses a valuable watch. The inspector tracks the watch to Lewis French, a missing person from a wine merchant family. His sister looks at the body and says he is not Lewis. Rutledge realizes he has two probably unrelated cases: to find a killer while identifying the deceased and to locate Lewis; but guided by Hamish and hampered by the new acting chief, Rutledge’s investigation turns even more complicated when French’s partner and cousin Matthew Traynor arrives from the Madeira office only to vanish too.

Once again team Todd’s latest exciting Inspector Ian Rutledge historical police procedural (see A Lonely Death and The Confession) combines an entertaining clever mystery with a deep look at PTSD during an era when sufferers conceal their ghosts to survive in a condemning society. Making the investigation more difficult is the protagonist’s new boss who rejects any clues that lead away from one of French’s women especially the ex-fiancée. With only Hamish (though less haunting than usual) having his back, Rutledge becomes the next target.

Harriet Klausner

Gates of Paradise-Melissa de la Cruz

January 19, 2013

Gates of Paradise
Melissa de la Cruz
Hyperion, Jan 15 2013, $16.99
ISBN: 9781423157410

As the London coven has little to celebrate the New Year, Lucifer begins his final assault on the gate of Paradise as he believes victory is now. Supporting him is the powerful sibling angels Abbadon and Azrael, respectively known as Jack and Mimi Force elsewhere, who are assigned by Lucifer to kill their loved ones.

While Lucifer continues his attack, former vampire Bliss Llewellyn and Lawson the wolf team up to liberate his people from hell; Abbadon and Azrael prepare for the right moment for a betrayal. At about the same time Schuyler Van Alen, worried about Jack who she last saw in Egypt, becomes a prisoner in Hell where she thinks the only hope for Heaven and earth resides with doing what Michel refused to do when faced with the same crisis in Ancient Rome.

The final Blue Bloods urban fantasy (see Lost In Time and Bloody Valentine) is a super climax to a strong good and evil saga as the prime subplots are tied up. The cast is powerful from the diabolical Prince of Hell to the Force angels who expect death regardless of the outcome to the heroic sacrificing Schuyler ready to die in hell for a heavenly cause.

Harriet Klausner

One Good Earl Deserves A Lover-Sarah MacLean

January 18, 2013

One Good Earl Deserves A Lover
Sarah MacLean
Avon, Jan 29 2013, $7.99
ISBN: 9780062068538

In 1824, Jasper Aresley muses over the freedom of being the spare while his older brother Owen will one day become a prisoner to the responsibility of being the earl. However, his hedonist world crumbles when his disapproving father tells him of Owen’s death by angrily stating it should have been worthless Jasper.

In 1831, fifteen days before her marriage to boring Lord Castleton, bespectacled “scientist” Lady Pippa Marbury realizes she looks forward to rusticating with Castleton while performing experiments. Before her nuptials Pippa decides to conduct live scientific “ruination” experiments on the marriage bed with a stunned Cross, the gaming hell owner of the Falling Angel as her research associate; she explains he is a legend when it comes to scandalous gaming, sprits, pugilism, but especially coitus. As they fall in love, he conceals his secret from her because he knows he is unworthy of a woman like his genius Pippa.

The second First Rule of Scoundrels historical romance (see A Rogue by Any Other Name) is a fabulous nineteenth century romance due to a strong cast starting with the brilliant lead protagonists. The storyline is fun from Pippa’s shocking early pronouncement and remains that way until a final confrontation; with Castleton proving to have surprising great depth. In some ways the tale reads like an amusing 1930s (rather than 1830s) madcap comedic romp as fans will appreciate this entertaining scientific look at love.

Harriet Klausner