Friday, January 29, 2010

Venus Guy Trap-Shannon McKelden

Venus Guy Trap
Shannon McKelden
Forge, Feb 2 2010, $13.99
ISBN: 9780765323354

Venus “Aphrodite” Cronus may be the Goddess of Love and daughter of Zeus, but she is slaving on earth as a matchmaker. In Bander, Oregon she finds a sigma in a bookstore window that is her target for a love life makeover. Her name is Haydee Miller, whose parents she matched over three decades ago.

Haydee has been going out lately with losers and fears she will fail at the next step on her list; getting married at thirty-three. The list is sacred to her as it gave her comfort when her mom died when she was sixteen. Any deviation has been disastrous. She has six weeks plus to find her mate.

Venus introduces herself and for some unknown reason Haydee hires her and allows her to move into her home. Venus insists she is the Goddess of Love. Two days later Venus says Prince Charming is entering the store. Haydee has a convulsion as anyone but Derek Reed is acceptable. He deserted her to become a world famous photographer. Haydee tells Venus she stinks at matchmaking. They met soon after her mom died and he blew a knee ending his football ambition; they became an entry until he left abruptly. Haydee asks Derek why he is back. He says he missed her. Venus knows her mission is more than matching soulmates with a history; as she also needs to reconcile father and daughter while eluding men who want her and women jealous with Venus Envy.

The cast is extremely well drawn, Aphrodite owns the show as the matchmaker Goddess of Love insists the one man the lead female hates is her true love while she also deals with every male wanting her at a time she wants to go home. The rotation of lead between Venus and Haydee provides a wider perspective to this fun lighthearted urban romantic fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Emerald Embrace-Shannon Drake

Emerald Embrace
Shannon Drake
Medallion, Feb 1 2010, $7.95
ISBN: 9781605420820

In 1865, upon learning of the death of her friend Mary, Lady Creeghan, Martise St. James travels from war torn Virginia to Scotland on a mission. She plans to investigate Mary’s death and search for the St. James emerald that she sent to her late friend for safekeeping while the Civil War had marauders from both sides stealing from civilians.

To obtain entrance to Castle Creeghan in the Highlands, she informs the widower Lord Bruce Creeghan that she is Mary's sister. Although she believes her host killed his wife, Martise finds she desires him. As she investigates the castle’s secrets, Martise learns that most inside the keep believe murder occurred and the laird is the suspect. Although they fall in love in between arguments, he vows never again will someone he cares for be a victim while she fears being victim number two.

With engaging illustrations by Yevgeniya Yeretskaya that enhance the strong gothic plot, fans will enjoy this entertaining historical romantic suspense. The lead couple is a terrific pairing of a brave amateur sleuth and the prime suspect as she tries serendipitously to investigate the murder and the missing emerald while he tries to keep her safe. With a strong support cast, readers will relish this solid Victorian era romantic whodunit romance.

Harriet Klausner

Moon Craving-Lucy Monroe

Moon Craving
Lucy Monroe
Berkley, Feb 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425233047

The Romans called them Picts, but the Chrechte realized they had to adapt or become extinct as the human race multiplied much more rapidly. They became Highlander clan leaders, but were betrayed by the Scottish king. Their survivors took control of Celtic clans but these shapeshifters hide their animal nature from the humans they lead.

Scottish King David arranges a new bride for clan leader Tulorc, who rejected the last English one, Emily Hamilton. Tulorc agrees, but insists the marriage occurs in Scotland. When Tulorc and his fiancée Abigail meet she hides her deafness from him. She assumes once he learns she is imperfect he will send her to her beloved sister Emily. They exchange vows Chrechte style, but Tulorc says they will make love when they reach clan land. When they make love, he hides his wolf from her while she conceals her deafness. They make love again and he is shocked as he hears Abigail shout his name in mindspeak; she hears him too. He knows she is his true mate but when he learns of her affliction, he angrily howls betrayal like his stepmother did while his fiercest supporters insist Abigail is a warrior hiding her weakness.

The historical werewolf spin that is the underlying premise of the Children of the Moon saga is cleverly designed so that the readers will believe in the Chrechte. The return of the lead characters from Moon Awakening in critical support roles is a welcome addition, but the tale belongs to a strong heroine who as Barr the warrior says compensates for her deafness like a great soldier should. Although the lack of a strong villain limits the tension to hiding secrets between the lead couple, fans will enjoy this fine medieval romantic fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Red Wolf-Linda Thomas-Sundstrom

Red Wolf
Linda Thomas-Sundstrom
Silhouette Nocturne, Feb 2010, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373618286

In Miami Tory McKidd stalks the park where her brother Mark’s body was found six months ago as she obsessively seeks to bring justice to his murderer; were-style. Night after night she impatiently waits while dreaming of torturing the culprit like her sibling received from a rogue shifter, but no clue surfaces though she knows a werewolf pack is near.

Miami Police Detective Adam Scott investigates the park homicide and is following leads to the culprit. When he meets the amateur sleuth sister of the victim, they are instantly attracted to one another as she knows he is her mate. However, she also realizes the killer of her brother targets her soulmate for death.

This is an action-packed romantic urban fantasy in which from the onset, when Tory stalks Miami while Adam wonders who the mystery woman is and why she walks with purpose at night in dangerous areas, grips the reader to know whodunit. Fast-paced with an engaging lead couple though the plot is a bit thin, fans will enjoy this pleasant paranormal police procedural.

Harriet Klausner

The Hellhound King-Lori Devoti

The Hellhound King
Lori Devoti
Silhouette Nocturne, Feb 2010, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373618293

Half-elf, half-witch Marina Adal does not want to return to her home realm Alfheim because she knows her uncle will take away her freedom and besides in Gunngar everyone hates her including Amma the witch she freed from a needle trap who now resides trapped inside her. She assumes even her former lover loathes her though she believes he betrayed her. Thus the Fairy princess works as a chambermaid while concealing her background.

However her former lover Raf Dolg the hellhound arrives to take her back to her uncle. The Svartalfar dark elves also want to capture the princess. In Alfheim, Raf tries to keep her safe, uncover who wants her dead and why, and who murdered his family.

This is an exhilarating romantic fantasy that grips the audience from the opening scene when Raf arrives to collect his bounty on the treacherous elf who he believes deceived him. The cast is solid and intrigue re the throne is superb especially with a terrific ironic twist. Lori Devoti provides a strong “fairy” tale in which love may not be enough to even keep the hellhound and the elf alive.

Harriet Klausner

Some Like It Kilted-Allie MacKay

Some Like It Kilted
Allie MacKay
Signet, Feb 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451228932

MacNeil’s Folly is a medieval castle that was moved one stone at a time from Scotland to New Hope, Pennsylvania. Accompanying the relocation from the Isle of Barra are irate family ghosts who want MacNeil’s Tower back in the Hebrides and not as some fool of a descendant’s placing it in America.

Mindy Menlove lives in this mausoleum, which explains why thermal underwear is a big seller in Scotland. She plans to sell the castle that she inherited from her late cheating fiancé over the objection of her sister. However, Mindy fears she is losing her mind when ghosts appear extorting her to return the castle to Scotland; except one the MacNeil Chieftain, Bran of Barra, who warns her to stay away from his homeland. Instead Mindy travels to Barra only to find enchantment and love with Bran who reciprocates, but also knows time will never heal their seven century displacement.

This is a fun romantic ghost story in which the spirits live a spirited lifestyle. The cast makes the tale entertaining as the ghosts play matchmakers as does her sibling. Bran knows she is his eternal love, but accepts nothing on earth can bring them together forever. Mindy wants nothing to do with cold Scottish islands until she arrives to find her heart warming and toes curling. Fans will enjoy this fun frolic as the ghost and the mortal find love in their mausoleum.

Harriet Klausner