Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Home To Chicory Lane-Deborah Raney

Home To Chicory Lane
Deborah Raney
Abington, Aug 19 2014, $14.99
ISBN: 9781426769696

In Langhorne, Missouri, since their five children have left the nest empty, compulsive Audrey Whitman persuades her retired husband Grant to convert their home into a B&B though their adult offspring have doubts just like their dad has.  The children dislike the idea of strangers in their home and their father worries over their lack of experience and the long hours to run the place. 

On the day they open up Chicory Inn for business, their spoiled youngest daughter Landyn Spencer arrives with a U-Haul trailer attached to her car.  Landyn explains she left her husband of a few months Chase the artist for making unilateral decisions without consulting her.  She further explains to her parents she will stay at the family home and help by marketing the inn.  Meanwhile in New York, unsure what to do Chase remains mentally paralyzed that his wife left him without a word.

The grand opening of the Chicory Inn series is an enjoyable family drama with the Landyn and Chase relationship as the prime plot.  Though I doubt Grant would acquiesce to renovating their home to run an inn and would prefer more insight into the operational side of preparing, managing and operating the business, this is a warm second chance (if New York and Missouri communicate) Christian tale.

Harriet Klausner

Season Of The Dragonflies-Sarah Creech

Season Of The Dragonflies
Sarah Creech
Morrow, Aug 12 2014, $25.99
ISBN: 9780062307521

Serena Lenore found a rare flower overseas that she brought back to the Blue Ridge Mountains.  For decades since Lenore women have created an extremely expensive rare perfume from that flower to sell to selective clients though many want to be their customer.  This magical perfume they produce enables the chosen ones to succeed in whatever vocation they desire.  However, Lenore, Inc. may be in trouble as the key ingredient, that special flower, is nearing extinction and a troublesome individual begins an extortion scheme.

Additionally, current president Willow recently has shown her age as she suffers from amnesiac gaps.  Her daughter Mya, whose ambition has been to run the family company, begins to think the time for her to take charge is now; but hesitates as she does not want to hurt her mom.  Her opportunity becomes threatened when her only rival her sister Lucia, who never displayed the special Lenore talent, returns to the Blue Ridge Mountains after being away for years.  If the siblings compete, the firm dies; if they merge their skills the firm survives (for now) and may even thrive.

Season of The Dragonflies is a pleasant female family fantasy.  The women are three dimensional even with their special skills; as their troubled relationships and the impact on the firm is the prime storyline ingredient.  Though the perfume, its special potent flower and the chosen beneficiaries (with one notorious exception) are under-featured (suggest an anthology starring customers), this is an appealing drama.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Splintered Kingdom-James Aitcheson

The Splintered Kingdom
James Aitcheson
Sourcebooks Landmark, Aug 5 2014, $24.99
ISBN: 9781402286193

Tancred the Dinan Breton knight loyally fought for William of Normandy when he defeated Harold Godwineson at Hastings.  In spite of the victory, rebellion continued and in 1069 Tancred barely survived an ambush that left his Lord Robert de Commines dead.  Not long afterward his heroics earned him a title and land on the tumultuous Welsh border, and knights reporting to him (see Sworn Sword).

One year later, the land remains dangerous as English, Welsh and Viking foes of William forge an uneasy alliance to rid the land of the Normans.  Like his monarch, Tancred faces problems defending his recent gains especially from the marauding border Welsh.  Unlike the Conqueror, Tancred also has Norman “allies” who consider him an ambitious upstart needing to be destroyed before they fear he amasses more power including usurping theirs.  Thus he is sent to lead a suicide mission across the in Wales ostensive to put down Welsh raids and Saxon rebellion while conflicts explode in other parts of the kingdom.

The second terrific Tancred Conqueror era historical is a great thriller that brings to life the eleventh century bitter hostilities that remain heated several years after Hastings; war continues seemingly everywhere and the Normans were not undefeated in these battles.  Unlike most portrayals of the Conqueror’s knights being chivalrous and caring, the protagonist and his equally ambitious competitor for the same promotions Berengar seem genuine as their respective BHAGs realistically lead them to disregard second order effects especially innocent collateral damage. 

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Secrets Of The Lighthouse-Santa Montefiore

Secrets Of The Lighthouse
Santa Montefiore
Simon & Schuster, Aug 5 2014, $25.99
ISBN 9781476735375

Londoner Ellen Trawton feels choked by her lifestyle especially her pending marriage that she doubts she wants to happen.  With an obsessive need to flee her troubles and in search of a muse, the wannabe writer travels to her mom’s hometown Connemara, Ireland to stay with her Aunt Peg, whom she never met before this visit.  Ellen also meets the rest of her maternal family for the first time too.  She enjoys the quaint Irish town and begins to learn secrets about her mom including why she fled the picturesque coast and the rest of her Irish kin. 

Her strongest attachment is to the lighthouse that seems to call to her in spite of a death several years ago.  That is until Ellen meets reticent widower Conor Macausland; who mostly stays away from the town or hides in his castle to avoid the villagers as they believe he murdered his wife Caitlin.  As Ellen falls in love, she and Conor begin to see each other; but a jealous Caitlin cannot let go of her spouse.

Secrets of the Lighthouse is a fascinating paranormal family drama with an intriguing relationship triangle.  The cast is solid and the vivid location enhances the entertaining plot.  In many ways Caitlin steals the storyline from her mate and her rival as she tells the audience her tale of woe.  Although the climax seems too obvious, readers will remain spellbound throughout.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, August 11, 2014

Cancel The Wedding-Carolyn T. Dingman

Cancel The Wedding
Carolyn T. Dingman
Harper PS, Aug 5 2014, $15.99
ISBN: 9780062276728

Three years ago around the time her father died, Leo asked Olivia to marry him.  Last year around the time her mother died from cancer, they bought a house and moved in together, but delayed the wedding.  Now at dinner, Leo announces to Livie, her older sister Georgia, her brother-in-law and niece that he booked their wedding site and date.

Needing to escape and think whether she wants to marry Leo, Livie decides to fulfill her late mom’s wishes.  Her sibling refuses to go with her; so accompanied by her fourteen year old niece Logan, Livie drives to northern Georgia to scatter part of her mom’s ashes in the man-made Lake Huntley and the rest for burial in Huntley Memorial Gardens.  When Georgia calls to tell Livie she left her engagement ring behind; she stuns Gigi by telling her to hold onto it rather than ship it to her.  Reaching their destination, aunt and niece find the town of Huntley under the TVA created lake so Olivia turns to nearby Tillman seeking to learn and understand her mom’s secret life in the south but finds the official records under water too.  She obtains help from local newspaper owner Elliot and other residents while also wondering if she wants to marry Leo.

Cancel The Wedding is a fascinating Roots saga as the TVA buried the written records under the man-made lakes impeding the research done by Olivia.  Although Leo is an unnecessary throwaway excuse for the quest; the shocking revelations discovered by the heroine, her niece, and Elliot from several locals who either lived or had family residing in Huntley enhance an intriguing family drama.

Harriet Klausner

Kiss The Ring: An Urban Tale-Meesha Mink

Kiss The Ring: An Urban Tale
Meesha Mink.
S&S/Touchstone, Aug 5 2014, $14.99
ISBN 9781476755304

An out of control hellion as a teen on the streets of Newark; as an adult Naeema Cole has become a law abiding model citizen working at a neighborhood barbershop.  However, Naeema learns that four gangbangers hunted down like a rabies dog and murdered her fourteen year old son Brandon Mack who had been part of a bank robbing gang.  Filled with guilt as she gave him up for adoption knowing that as a wild unsweetened sixteen with no prospects she could not raise a child nor wanted too; she simply vows vengeance.

Naeema needs to get inside the gang, but cannot do so as her responsible adult self.  She needs to return to who she was just after her parents died when she was a wild tweener and teen, but a mature adult version.  Thus she becomes siren “Queen” stalking her child’s killers and, though attracted to the brutal chieftain, wants his head too.

The key to Meesha Mink’s powerful gritty urban thriller (see the author’s Real Wifeys series) is the protagonist who will remind readers of a modern day Scarlet Pimpernel as the heroine smartly struggles with good motives to keep the lifestyles of Naeema and Queen apart.  The gripping storyline is filled with depth due to each of the gangbangers boasting to the sexy seductress on what went down.  Kiss The Ring is a strong street lit avenging mama drama.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Last Conception-Gabriel Constans

The Last Conception
Gabriel Constans
Melange Books, Jun 21 2014, $12.95
ISBN: 9781612358765

Davidia and Mira Sikand pressure their single daughter Savarna to have a child because the spiritual progeny from their late founding cult leader must not die out and she is the last survivor able to conceive.  Savarna has no male prospects to sire a baby with her since unknown by her parents she is gay and thus has romantic relationships with females only. 

As the embryologist looks into the instinct for the strong need to belong to a family including procreating and what a family connotes, Savarna realizes she wants a monogamous relationship with Charley who reciprocates her love; they agree on raising a child that Savarna will birth.  Thus she tells her family she is gay and plans a life with a woman.  Her India-American parents accept Charley, but remain adamant that they need a biological grandchild.  Desperate, her grandmother arrives from India to persuade Savarna that she must give birth or thousands of years of heritage will expire with her.  When artificial insemination fails, the female couple decides to adopt, which alienates Savarna with her family who demand she keep trying.

This is a fascinating look at what a family is and why people need to belong and feel accepted by caring social groups (Maslow’s Hierarchy’s third tier).  Though why the intelligent Savarna knows so little about her family’s cult lineage until the demands begin is unsatisfactory explained, she drives the intriguing storyline as she tries to please her extended family (including the cult members), her mate and ultimately herself. 

Harriet Klausner