Friday, November 7, 2008

Night Shadow-Cherry Adair

Night Shadow
Cherry Adair
Ballantine, Dec 2008, $23.00
ISBN: 9780345499738

Besides their employment as Terrorist Force Logistical Assault Command (T-FLAC) operatives Lexi and Alex Stone have only on thing else they share, their identical surname. Alex is an experienced operative who rarely comes in from the cold; Lexi the human works data like a wizard in the office.

The T-FLAC leaders fear super field agent Alex the wizard has joined the enemy as there is proof of his staging terrorist events. They want to confirm their suspicion but know a field pro would be outed rather easily by Alex; they send Lexi who never leaves the office to investigate under the guise of assisting him. If she finds proof she must kill him. Alex is irate with his new partner who obviously has never stepped out of the office controlled climate into the field tundra. He has no time to protect Lexi, as something chilling is occurring around the globe. However she proves useful as her data analysis skills begin to uncover a pattern of terrorist strikes .His foster brothers Lucas Fox (see NIGHT SECRETS) and Simon Blackthorne (see NIGHT FALL) try to help the stunned couple deal with an international threat.

The final T-FLAC romantic suspense espionage urban fantasy is a super thriller that teleports readers around the globe as Lexi and Alex struggle with doppelgangers and love; with the latter being more dangerous. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action as once again Cherry Adair makes her realm seem genuine, but also adds self spoofing humor with the names of her lead couple. The return of the T-FLAC heroes from the previous paranormal spy novels enhance a strong finale that will have fans clamoring for more tales in the Adair environs.
Harriet Klausner

Phantom's Touch- Julie Leto

Phantom's Touch
Julie Leto
Signet, Dec 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 0451224906

Action movie star Lauren Cole wants to be taken seriously as an actress, but is contractually trapped to perform one more thriller as Athena for her ex-husband Ross. She is especially angry with her former spouse because he refused to give her an antique sword he purchased in Germany for her. Lauren steals the weapon.

As Lauren practices with the ancient sword, she liberates warrior Aiden Forsyth from his entrapment inside the weapon. However to his disappointment he is not totally free of the curse that first incarcerated him in 1747 when he tried to rescue his sister from gypsy abduction; he remains a phantom during the day but a human able touch others at night. Neither is prepared for unknown adversaries to covet her sword and attempt to murder those in possession of it.

The second Phantom urban romantic fantasy (see PHANTOM PLEASURES) is an engaging tale in which Hollywood collides with real magic. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action as Lauren tries to prove her skills on the silver screen are genuine in real life. Readers will relish Julie Leto’s outstanding touch; especially with a bewildered Aiden. He struggles with understanding a world that makes no sense as he has seen moving pictures of Lauren in action performing incredible feats of daring do that he could never do; yet though competent she is nowhere near that super level of expertise. This is a exhilarating paranormal thriller starring a strong lead couple and a diabolically vile villain.

Harriet Klausner.

0n The Prowl-Karen MacInerney

0n The Prowl
Karen MacInerney
Ballantine, Nov 25 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780345496263

After her recent escapades with weres and proving her mom a witch was not a killer (see HOWLING THE MOON) Austin werewolf Sophie Garou plans on keeping a low profile like she used to have before her recent problems. She especially prays the powerful Houston pack ignores her solo existence in the midst of them.

Instead, the pack leadership demands Sophie come to them or else. She has no choice if she wants things to remain positive with her boyfriend Heath and at her accounting firm Withers and Young where she made partner. The Houston pack is outraged by her living inside their territory as strays are normally unacceptable, but what makes her worse in their lupine eyes is that the half-breed has been inside their turf under the werewolf radar screen for a few decades. To make amends and calm their fears of a rogue, she agrees to spy on the San Antonio pack, but quickly realizes she is not a good undercover agent and her new accounting client Southeast Airlines CEO Mark Sydney seems to be sniffing around her an awful lot making her wonder if he is ON THE PROWL with her his target.

The second Garou Texas werewolf tale is a terrific follow-up to a strong opener due to the heroine’s actions and reactions as she no longer can hide under the radar scope. Sophie cannot understand how her world has crumbled so fast. However she is strong perhaps because she is the offspring of a witch and a werewolf; so faces her issues with courage albeit reluctant bravery as she would rather hide. Fans will appreciate her howling adventures that give biting meaning to the modern day wild west.

Harriet Klausner

Words Alone-Autumn Dawn

Words Alone
Autumn Dawn
Love Spell, Dec 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780505528018

Working as a translator for the Galactic Explorers has not been fun in what should have been an uplifting experience for Lieutenant Xera Harris-d. Her captain is a boorish self-conceited macho idiot and the company he represents cares only about the bottom line. Thus she is not shocked when her vessel and that of the Scorpio race get entangled in hostilities with both crash-landing on a nearby hostile planet.

Shockingly Scorpio, Commander Ryven warns the enemy crew of the dangers and offers to escort them to safety. As the sole woman amidst testosterone-thinking thugs on both sides, Xera expects to be a victim. She especially believes her side starting with her captain is the group to fear the most from so she stays close to the Scorpio hunk as he is probably the only safe situation. When another Scorpio ship rescues everyone, Xera knows she is a POW, but her heart captured by Ryven frightens her the most.

NO WORDS ALONE is an exciting science fiction romance driven by the strong cast on both sides of the conflict. The Galactic Explorer’s crew led by the captain is cutthroat coming across as pirates in space while the Scorpio are more disciplined as a professional military unit. The Romeo and Juliet love story in outer space is well written as the audience sees the first hand cultural divides and taboos inside of the superb Autumn Dawning of a new “universe”.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Unlaced-Jaci Burton, Jasmine Haynes, Joey W. Hill and Denise Rossetti

Jaci Burton, Jasmine Haynes, Joey W. Hill and Denise Rossetti
Berkley, Dec 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425223819

“The Ties That Bind" by Jaci Burton. Divorced fifteen years ago but still in love, Lisa and Rick would not mind a second chance together.

"Undone" by Jasmine Haynes. Margo feels undone after meeting Dirk, but shocked when she learns what his vocation is.

"Controlled Response" by Joey W. Hill. Due to meeting Lucas, Cassandra knows she no longer needs to hide her deepest ardent emotions; as she can finally let it all hang out.

"Rubies and Black Velvet" by Denise Rossetti. To win the heart of Meg, John must destroy an evil sorceress’ corset.

Tongue in cheek, or perhaps corset in cheek is more apropos as that sexy garb connects these four erotic well written heated romances as the heroes understand their assignments starts with unlacing.

Harriet Klausner

What a Pirate Desires-Michelle Beattie

What a Pirate Desires
Michelle Beattie
Berkley, Dec 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425224939

In 1661 one thing drives Samantha Fine; vengeance against vicious Captain Dervish for what he did five years ago in the Caribbean. He is the reason she became pirate Captain Sam Steele, whose loyal crew know her gender but none will gossip about this factoid because they successfully raid merchant and pirate vessels. They are so good Captain Sam is the most feared person on the sea.

The only person besides her crew to know Sam’s gender is incarcerated Luke Bradley, a former member of Dervish’s cruel crew. Sam rescues Luke demanding he will lead her to Dervish. As they become acquainted with one another while arguing they fall in love, but both agree that destroying Dervish whom they each loathes comes before any future plans beyond that.

This terrific seventeenth century High Seas pirate romance works because Samantha comes across as an avenging sea-she pirate captain. Her verbal battles with Luke are amusing with word play sharper than sword play. Fans will enjoy this fine at sea cat and mouse tale while wondering whether it will be Sam, Samantha, or neither to survive the expected combat with Dervish.

Harriet Klausner

Behind the Shadows-Patricia Potter

Behind the Shadows
Patricia Potter
Berkley, Dec 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425224908

With her beloved mom Katy dying and in need of a kidney, Atlanta reporter Kira Douglas offers one of hers. However, the blood test results affirm they are not just incomparable, but it a 100% certainty that Katy is not her biological mother.

Kira carefully talks to her mom and soon concludes that Katy is unaware that they are not biological mom-daughter. She concludes that somehow a switch occurred over three decades ago. Her private investigative friend Chris Burke helps Kira find the most logical candidate, Leigh Howard, heir to the Westerfield fortune. Leigh’s attorney Max Payton fiercely protects his client as he assumes Kira is pulling a scam. However, he reconsiders his opinion re Kira when someone tries to kill her.

The concept of baby switching at birth has been done many times, but Patricia Potter provides a strong fresh entry. The story line is action-packed once Katy learns the truth, and is driven by her need to know what happened, find a kidney match with her mom’s DNA daughter and to meet her biological family as well. Her desires turn nasty starting with Max who distrusts the newcomer and worse for her besides wanting the outraged lawyer when someone stalks her. Readers will relish this fast-paced one sitting double the fun romantic suspense thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Stormy Weather-Geri Buckley

Stormy Weather
Geri Buckley
Berkley, Dec 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425219492

In the Florida Panhandle having just turned fifty and being married to the same man for thirty of them, Vonda Kay Thayer looks forward to the future with her husband as she believes they live the American dream. Vonda also fantasizes of the time when their teens move on as empty nest sounds heavenly even though her in-law will still be there. Everything changes when she catches Jerome cheating. Upset, Vonda decides to move on without him though she has two teenage daughters (Charlotte and Caroline) and a crusty mother-in-law at home.

However, before she tests her new vision, twin responsibilities leap into her lap. First her pregnant oldest daughter Amelie returns to the already insane fold followed by her ailing father-in-law. When a hurricane hammers the Panhandle, Vonda takes charge of her suddenly expanded family insuring everyone remains safe.

With a chick lit feel even without asides and the dreaded lists, STORMY WEATHER is an amusing yet poignant family drama. Vonda is a superb lead character caught in the eye of the storm even before the hurricane hits. She and the rest of the household and the “douche bag” spouse are fully developed so fans will believe in her ability to take charge during a crisis. Geri Buckley combines humor with seriousness inside an aptly named contemporary tale.

Harriet Klausner

Wicked Burn-Beth Kery

Wicked Burn
Beth Kery
Berkley, Dec 2008, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425224373

In Chicago with so many traumas in her life, no one blames Niall Chandler for hiding from the world. She has had no time to grieve the death of her child or cope with her husband locked away in an institution.

Divorced playwright Vic Savian meets Niall when he intercedes in her rejection of the unwanted advances of Evan Forrester; Vic had seen her twice before and was already attracted to her. She is ready to come out of her shell at least physically; their tryst is heaven in Vic’s mind. However when she prevents his entering her heart and soul, Vic initially thought that was fine but soon realizes that is hell as she gets inside his gut with her nightmarish cries that scream out for hugs. Vic is in love, but her demons make a relationship beyond sex seemingly impossible and then there are the two family intrusions.

This is a poignant contemporary romance starring two scarred lovers who have demons from past relationships. With so much baggage neither feels at first ready for anything more than sex, but soon mindful of the Spinners’ tune And Then Came You makes each reconsider their failed history when it comes to loved ones. Vic soon wants to change the dynamics. Beth Kery provides a deep angst laden tale filled with real characters wanting much more out of life but lessons learned have led to settling for much less.

Harriet Klausner

The Flame-Jean Johnson

The Flame
Jean Johnson
Berkley, Dec 2008, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425224052

The seventh brother Koranen is perhaps the loneliest of the siblings as his skill pyromancy means no passionate touching; he literally burns women. He knows what the prophecy says for him and bolstering his hopes that his bride is an aquamancer as predicted is the recent success of his six brothers in finding their mates. Kor believes she is finally coming to him when four aquamancers from the underwater city of Menomon come to Nightfall to examine the desalinator.

Danau is Kor’s polar opposite as her touch leads to frostbite. Although a pariah in terms of personal relationship, she is in charge of the Menomon delegation. Her icy persona hides her lonely heart, but also angers Kor who wants nothing to do with the frozen beauty. However, destiny could not care less what either thinks even as evil has creeped onto the island.

Events are reaching a climax as Johnson delivers the penultimate chapter in her magical Sons of Destiny series. Watching these characters and this new monarchy develop has been pure fun, with practical kingdom-building considerations mixing cleverly with high-risk danger. Johnson's impressive talent is on full display.

Though somewhat a set up for the grand finale tale in this terrific romantic fantasy saga, this seventh Sons of Destiny tale is kept fresh and exciting by the uniqueness of the lead couple as he is fire and she is ice. Separately they are loners as no one can touch them without being burned; together they make a perfect match. However, in spite of being destiny's darlings they must overcome their learned response that touching including passion literally burns. Jean Johnson provides a character driven enjoyable book seven.

Harriet Klausner

Undercover-Lauren Dane

Lauren Dane
Berkley, Dec 2008, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425224649

For the past decade Federation Subcommander Sera Ayers has loathed but lusted over Ash Walker who after the sex of a lifetime dumped her to settle on a First Families politically arranged marriage. She detests herself over the fact that she wants him yet also wants to kick his butt in as she has since they first met.

The brass assigns Ash, whose marriage is dead, and his friend Brandt Pela to go undercover to infiltrate Imperialist sympathizers and learn of their seditious plots. He knows he and Brandt need a cover from someone who can take care of herself. They ask Sera to join the team as their concubine. Reluctantly she agrees, never anticipating the sensual pleasure two hunks can provide a woman in heat

UNDERCOVER is a refreshing second chance at love science fiction romance with the unique twist of a ménage a trois rather than the usual two suspects coming back together. The triangule is hotter than Mercury as Sera and Ash overcome their volcanic past with Brandt adding spice to the mix. Although the undercover mission serves more as a backdrop to the trio’s tryst, sub-genre fans will enjoy visiting the torrid Dane Known Universe.

Harriet Klausner

Ecstasy-Jacquelyn Frank

Jacquelyn Frank
Zebra, Jan 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780821780701

Ashla Townsend has been in a New York devoid of people and light with no idea how she got there or what happened to the sun. She is overjoyed to see another person, but her euphoria turns to abject fear when another man arrives trying to kill the first person. Both men are shocked that Ashla can see them because only Shadowdwellers are able to see one another. Trace kills Baylor, but is mortally injured; Ashla saves his life using her healing hands.

Trace assumes that Ashla must be one of the Lost, a wraith whose body is in a coma in Realscape. As a Shadowdweller Trace cannot cope with any form of light, but to remain only in the shadows typically leads to madness. Trace is further stunned that he has feelings for Ashla as she is the first woman in a dozen years he trusts,. He escorts Ashla to his people, but neither is safe there even though the clan wars ended with the Chancellors solidifying their power; some rebels want the peace broken with Ashla and Trace being perfect targets. She risks her life to heal Trace even while a traitor plots to kill both of them.

With her Demon series over, Jacquelyn Frank begins a new romantic urban fantasy saga that fans of the author will find radically different and refreshing. Readers will love this strong provocative and evocative tale that digs deep into the Shadowdweller society. Trace is honorable and yet caring about his people with an ironic emphasis on punishing rule-breakers. The sub-genre audience will be in ECSTASY with this superb thriller and look forward to more light and dark Shadowdweller entries.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Master of Torment-Karin Tabke

Master of Torment
Karin Tabke
Pocket, Nov 25 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9781416555032

In 1067 Saxon King Harold’s niece Tarian of Dunlac believes a woman should have a say in who she should marry. Good with swords, she forces a man to marry her with her sword at his throat. Soon after her sharp nuptials, she becomes a widow.

When she is abducted by a brigand who tries to make her marry him, she refuses even under the threat of torture. Norman knight Wulfson de Trevelyn rescues her, but also knows his liege William the Conqueror has assigned him to kill all of Harold's surviving relatives. However, he cannot murder Tarian, whose courage and caustic tongue excites him. Tarian drugs Wulfson and takes him to her bed hoping to become pregnant so she can lie by claiming her child has come from her late husband’s seed and not the Norman. As they fall in love, Wulfson risks his neck to keep Tarian safe from Normans, Saxons and Welshmen, but also does not trust his beloved.

Although the theme of a Saxon royal and a Norman knight fighting and falling love is a commonly used historical premise, Karin Tabke refreshes her Conqueror romance with the twist of the pregnancy ploy. Fans will enjoy the gender war between Tarian and Wulfson as each finds their taboo love testing their natural loyalties. Ms. Tabke provides medieval fans with a strong historical romance.

Harriet Klausner

Wicked Intentions-Lydia Joyce

Wicked Intentions
Lydia Joyce
Signet, Dec 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451225672

In 1866 Emmeline Dunn has one reason for living and that is to avenge the affronts of her father's second family. She knows as Emmeline she cannot succeed as her stepbrother has the Ton on his side, but as Esmeralda the spiritualist she can achieve her objective because she can search records that Emmeline cannot.

Lady Hamilton has not recovered from the death of one of her sons. She desperately needs to speak to her late child and prays that Esmeralda can bring them into contact. The distraught mom’s other son Thomas Hyde has become angry and cold since his brother’s death except towards his mother as many suspect him of the deed. He vows to expose Esmeralda as a fraud taking advantage of a grief stricken women. However, even when he and Esmeralda are fighting, passion simmers between until it ignites into an inferno. As they fall in love, they learn perhaps too late the interconnection between their families even as someone serendipitously plans to harm both of them.

This is a fabulous historical romantic investigative tale starring two obsessed individuals falling in love at a time neither welcomes the feelings as they have other needs to take care of first. Thus Emmeline and Thomas make a great pairing as love battles deep emotional scars in a superb Victorian amateur sleuth romance.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Talk of the Town-Sherrill Bodine

Talk of the Town
Sherrill Bodine
Forever, Dec 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 0446618586

Divorcee Rebecca Covington cannot believe that she lost her position as a gossip columnist at the Chicago Daily Mail after fifteen years doing that due to a report she wrote leading to a California senator threatening to sue her and the paper as being false and thus libel. Instead she has been relegated ironically to recipe writer although she cannot boil water without burning it and thinks that a nutritious diet consists of Diet Coke and Kleenex.

Still in spite of her good intentions to be the best home and food section reporter, Rebecca decides to ask the new CEO, David Sumner why he demoted and replaced her with the ultimate insult a Women’s Page reporter Shannon Forester. However, Rebecca and David are both stunned by the instant attraction each feels for one another that leaves each questioning the true intentions of the other.

Although reporter romances have been done frequently, for instance the Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell screwball romantic comedy His Girl Friday, Sherrill Bodine provides a warm amusing gender war between the spunky reporter and her reticent boss. The story line is fast-paced and very humorous once Rebecca and David meet, fight, and kiss. Fans will enjoy TALK OF THE TOWN (ironically another Grant movie), a throwback screwball romantic comedy.

Harriet Klausner