Sunday, May 17, 2009

Gotcha!- Christie Craig

Christie Craig
Love Spell, Jun 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780505527974

Macy Tucker knows men leave. First her grandfather died when she was five years old. Then her father deserted her and their family when she was twelve years old. Finally her spouse spent time with his secretary in bed so at twenty-five Macy made him leave. Instead of men she vows to focus on law school

However, the last male in her life, her younger brother Billy gets arrested and sent to prison, but escapes. He fears for the lives of his sister and his girlfriend. Police detective Jake Baldwin is on the case of bringing Billy in and keeping the two women in the young man’s life safe. He especially is attracted to the Papa’s Pizza delivery girl Macy; she reciprocates enjoying his overbearing protective manner though also fearing once the case ends he will leave.

This amusing police procedural romance engages the audience with a strong cast especially rhe eccentric support characters and an enjoyable lighthearted mystery. Macy is the glue that holds the tale together as she worries about her brother who is the latest male to go missing. Jake has his own woes, starting with keeping his favorite pizza delivery person safe and persuading her he won’t leave. With this entertaining frolic Christi Craig will have GOTCHA!

Harriet Klausner

To Ruin the Duke-Debra Mullins

To Ruin the Duke
Debra Mullins
Avon, Jun 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061577857

Miranda Fontaine finds the aristocracy useless though she is one of them; albeit from the wrong side of the sheets as her mom was a famous actress. Her opinion of the Ton is further affirmed when her best friend Lettie dies holding her hand while giving birth to the illegitimate son of Lord Wylde. Miranda promises her dead friend she will force Duke Thornton Matherston to claim the newborn James as his.

Thornton has begun hearing rumors of his scandalous behavior as an out of control Wylde who is a womanizing, drinking, and gambling rogue. When Miranda confronts him with his son, he denies siring any offspring. She believes his insistence as evidence mounts someone is impersonating him. They begin to investigate, but as they fall in love, the truth instead of setting them free leaves them in peril.

This entertaining historical romance focuses on identity theft as someone steals the Duke of Wyldehaven’s name and destroys his reputation while seemingly having a grand old time. The story line is fast-paced once the heroine challenges the Wylde Duke and never slows down until a final confrontation. Fans will enjoy Debra Mullins delightful nineteenth century romance that showcases the twenty-first century concept of identity theft is not confined to modern day society.

Harriet Klausner

Led Astray By A Rake-Sara Bennett

Led Astray By A Rake
Sara Bennett
Avon, Jun 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061336911

In 1837 recent Miss Debenham’s Finishing School graduate Miss Lucille Monteith knows she must marry a respectable suitor, but the only man she desires is the unacceptable Lord Dominic “Wicked Nic” Lacey, who proposed to her when she was ten. Olivia swears the scandalous Wicked Nic hides his caring soul from the world, but admits to herself that she may be biased by her feelings and her childhood memories of a kindhearted friend.

Dominic conceals a horrific secret that if revealed would destroy him because his Livy would hate him; thus he avoids her as the Wicked Nic. Still as servants matchmake the pair in that subtle manipulation those under the stairs can do, they fall in love, but each risks their respective heart, she her family’s wrath if he stays true to form and he his soul if he reveals what he knows and must tell her.

The first Husband Hunters Club is a terrific early Victorian romance starring a wonderful young lady and a male rake with incredible layers of depth that only his beloved and his caring servant seem to see underneath his façade. In many ways on surface the lead couple steps out of the nineteenth century romance prototype, but deep Dominic with his secret provides the freshness to a strong opening act. Fans will not be led astray by an author with Sara Bennett’s talent that shines through in this fine historical.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Sisters & Husbands-Connie Briscoe

Sisters & Husbands
Connie Briscoe
Grand Central, Jun 2009, $24.99
ISBN: 9780446534895

In Baltimore Beverly is now thirty-nine years old and been engaged twice before, but broke it off each time. Now she prays three is the lucky charm as she and Julian plan to marry in four weeks. Her two older married sisters and her best friend believe he is the one who will exchange I do with Beverly as he is perfect and they are obviously in love.

However, the commitment phobic Beverly receives three shockers that makes her reconsider marriage. Her two forty something siblings are having marital problems with the oldest Evelyn considers divorce after pretending her spouse is perfect and Charmaine has had enough; both have kids. Her best friend is having an affair with her brother-in-law. Beverly once again doubts marriage as vows mean nothing even to people she respected like her extended family and her former BFF.

A decade in literary terms (fifteen years in real life) has passed since Beverly was a sort of schizoid mix of wanting to marry but somewhat fearful of commitment (see SISTERS AND LOVERS) though her two sisters had husbands and children. The cast is solid as each has personal issues while Beverly holds the story line together with her scrutiny of what is unraveling around her. Although not quite as intense as one would expect from a family drama that looks into marital woes, Connie Briscoe provides a wonderful sequel that her fans will enjoy catching up with Beverly.

Harriet Klausner

April & Oliver-Tess Callahan

April & Oliver
Tess Callahan
Grand Central, Jun 3 2009, $23.99
ISBN: 9780446540599

In Maine her teenage brother Buddy died in a car accident driving April’s vehicle. Despondent and blaming herself for Buddy’s death April cannot move on. Her childhood friend Oliver heard of Buddy’s death and though he has not seen either sibling he is worried about April so he seeks her out to offer sympathy and solace. He finds her crying hysterically at Bobby’s grave.

Oliver is attending law school and though engaged to someone else, he is attracted to his buddy. April feels the same, which adds to her already overwhelming feelings of guilt. April prefers rough bad boys not kind caring men like Oliver. He, in turn, has his future planned as a married lawyer. Yet the attraction between the reflective responsible Oliver and the reckless rash April cannot be ignored.

The relationship between April & Oliver changes subtly throughout this enjoyable contemporary romance yet as the attraction increases, readers remain doubtful whether this pair of opposites can find common ground yet seem fated to be together. In death as he did when they were kids, Buddy reunites the lead couple. Tess Callahan provides a profound intelligent drama that argues love is not enough so April & Oliver ponder to be or not to be together and if to be, how will their teaming truly work beyond the dysfunctional?

Harriet Klausner

A Little Light Magic-Joy Nash

A Little Light Magic
Joy Nash
Leisure, Jun 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780505526939

Victoria “Tori” Morgan has been alone for a long time; her parents are dead and recently Great-Aunt Millie Whitaker passed away. She has no one so it did not take much of a decision to move to the house she inherited from her late Great Aunt on the Jersey shore. Her plan is to convert the dilapidated “pachyderm”, at least the front, into a new age shop selling tarot cards, candles and crystals, etc. She hires contractor Nick Santangelo to renovate the edifice to state code.

Tori believes that Nick agreed to take on her job due to a magician Cajun candle given to her by a witch. Nick has enough flakes in his household without dealing with another one though he is attracted to her. His teenage daughter insists she is in forever love; his Nonna is a shoplifter; his brother works for him though they differ on the meaning of work as he wants to be a starving actor living off his brother until he gets his break; mom has menopause issues that make her a walking time bomb. Finally there is Tori who wants him to sire her baby, but does not want him.

The magic of this joyful romance is the changes in the lead couple. Initially Tori comes across as an eccentric flake with no concept of business or relationships while Nick appears as a nasty know it all; as they become acquainted with A LIGHT LITTLE MAGIC called love, they seem to blossom. Although the plot is thin, fans will enjoy this fine character driven tale as the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Harriet Klausner

McAlistair's Fortune-Alissa Johnson

McAlistair's Fortune
Alissa Johnson
Leisure, Jun 2009, $ 6.99
ISBN: 9780843962512

Miss Evie Cole knows eavesdropping is unladylike behavior, but relishes listening in to other people’s conversations anyway. However, she has overheard a discussion between her guardians that gives her the shivers; they plan to find her a spouse. Evie has vowed to never get married so she must find away to disrupt the scheme.

Her guardians take an alleged threat to her seriously by hiring former government assassin James McAlistair as Evie's bodyguard. However, she knows he is a ploy as there is no threat to her. Still she never forgot his kiss from ages ago and would not mind more from him. When the fake threat turns real with incidents made to look like accidents, James vows to keep his beloved safe; Evie feels safe with her beloved protecting her.

The follow-up to the amusing Regency romances (see AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT and TEMPTING FATE) is once again a fun frolic although with a different twist to the woman in peril saga. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing as both sing the refrain "I’m Not in Love", but cannot resist the lure of the other. Talented Alissa Johnson provides her fans with a great historical filled with jocularity and suspense.

Harriet Klausner