Monday, June 30, 2014

The Saint- Tiffany Reisz

The Saint
Tiffany Reisz
Mira, Jun 24 2014, $14.95
ISBN 9780778316145

When Manhattan's renowned dominatrix Nora Sutherlin was teenager Eleanor Schreiber, her life was radically different.  Her single mom worked two jobs to feed and shelter them, but also was deeply religious and demanded her daughter obey the Lord.  On the other side of the spectrum, her felonious dad ran a car theft ring and chop shop.  Elle preferred her father’s flamboyant lifestyle over her mom’s pious poverty.

When the cops catch Elle breaking the law while helping her dad pay back a large sum of money he owes, the judge chooses probation leniency rather than juvenile detention.  Thus she must perform community service under the direction of Father Marcus “Søren” Stearns.  The motorcycle-riding Jesuit priest promises young Elle much more than just working off her sentencing.

The first Original Sinners: White Years tells the enjoyable back story of how Elle became Nora under the mentoring of Father Søren.  Well-written, series fans will enjoy the teen years though no revelations are added to what we know about The Big Apple’s top dominatrix and her well-endowed priest-teacher from Original Sinners: The Red Years dark BDSM erotica (see The Mistress, The Angel, The Prince and The Siren)

Harriet Klausner

No River Too Wide-Emilie Richards

No River Too Wide
Emilie Richards
Mira, Jun 24 2014, $14.95
ISBN 9780778316343

In Topeka, Kansas, Janine Stoddard flees from her long-time abusive husband Rex while their house burns.  Although it breaks her heart, Janine knows she must not visit her daughter Harmony or her grandchild Lottie for fear of Rex pursuing her and harming them.  Still the need to see her child once more and her nine-month old granddaughter for the first time grips Janine who ignores her brain telling her not to go to Asheville, North Carolina.

Advocacy group member Taylor Martin helps Janine settle safely while also praying that the three generations of females connect as she understands their estrangement caused by a battering man.  Also new in town is Alex, who has opened up a fitness salon.  He provides self-defense training for women, which is where he meets Taylor and Janine.  However, Alex accepts that once his secret becomes known, his growing relationship with Taylor will abruptly die; while Rex and the law threaten Janine’s renaissance.

This Goddesses Anonymous broken family drama (see One Mountain Away) is an engaging contemporary due to a strong cast (especially the three lead females) who enables the audience to look deeply at the extended impact of domestic abuse.  Character driven, fans will appreciate this warm second chance at family.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Tea Shop On Lavender Lane-Sheila Roberts

The Tea Shop On Lavender Lane
Sheila Roberts
Mira, Jun 24 2014, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778316183

In West Hollywood, Bailey Sterling caters actress Samba Barrett’s party.  Everything goes perfect until Samba falls to the floor and her actor boyfriend Rory Rourke says to call 911.  Samba insists they call the Star Reporter as she claims she ate something bad.  Her dream of being caterer to the stars is nuked by this phony food poisoning claim in which the Star Reporter claims Bailey tried to kill her rival for Rory’s love. 

In shellshock, Bailey heeds the advice of her older sister Cecily’s insistence she leave Los Angeles to return home to Icicle Falls, Washington where the townsfolk started a legal fund collection.  Cecily likes marrying-kind single father Luke Goodman and sleeping with-kind tavern owner Todd Black.  However, when Todd and Bailey meet, they are attracted to each other.  Sibling rivalry seems ready to boil over before Bailey and Todd announce plans for The Tea Shop On Lavender Lane.

The latest Life in Icicle Falls contemporary (see The Cottage On Juniper Ridge, Better Than Chocolate, What She Wants and Merry Ex-Mas) is an engaging lighthearted Sterling family drama.  Series fans will enjoy the antics of the fully-developed cast as love proves complicated in the Pacific Northwest.

Harriet Klausner

Little Mercies-Heather Gudenkauf

Little Mercies
Heather Gudenkauf
Mira, Jun 24 2014, $15.95
ISBN 9780778316336

In Cedar City, Iowa, Ellen Moore struggles to be a superwoman as she and her husband Adam the teacher raise their three young kids; while as a social worker she deals with harrowing cases involving children.  On a hot summer morning, Adam says goodbye while a distracted Ellen handles a nasty case.  Several hours later, the police visit her at a restaurant when she realizes Adam told her he left their infant daughter Avery inside their van for Ellen to take the child to daycare.  Rushed to the hospital Avery is placed in ICU suffering from deadly heatstroke.  Instead of being the investigator, Ellen is charged with child endangerment.  Freed on bail, but banned from seeing her baby, Ellen hides at her widowed mother Maudene’s house.

While Ellen prays for her child’s recovery, ten year old Jenny Briard runs away from her Nebraska home following the arrest of her alcoholic father.  Maudene finds her in Cedar City and brings the tweener to her home.  Ellen soon realizes that her case files contain information on the runaway.

This is an entertaining tense family drama in which Heather Gudenkauf once again looks at the vulnerability of children (see One Breath Away).  Ironically the social worker finds herself under the microscope that she used disdainfully so many times at neglectful and abusive parents and guardians.  Both subplots are well written, but Ellen’s plight much deeper though each ends unsatisfyingly abrupt.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Beekeeper's Ball-Susan Wiggs

The Beekeeper's Ball

Susan Wiggs

Mira, Jun 24 2014, $24.95

ISBN 9780778314486

Thirtyish orphan Isabel Johansen returned home to Bella Vista, California to open up a cooking school at the family estate in Sonoma using honey from local beehives including her own as a key ingredient. As she helps plan for her recently met half-sister Tess’ wedding (see The Apple Orchard) Isabel also hopes by coming to her hometown she can move past her history especially with an abusive former lover who has made her wary of men.

Cormac O’Neill comes to Bella Vista to write a biography of Isabel’s apple orchard owning grandfather Magnus Johansen. The author too hopes his work in this town will help him move past his recent history. As Cormac and his subject’s family become aware of courageous Magnus risking his life to protect Jews including his wife from the Nazis in Denmark, the biographer and the cooking teacher fall in love; but her recent relationship leaves her doubting a relationship.

The romance is a solid contemporary, but the WII Danish resistance owns the storyline and also serves as the impetus for the heroine to take a chance on love. Readers will appreciate the powerful historical dramatic subplot of brave people defying the Nazis in 1940s Copenhagen (mindful of Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally and the Steven Spielberg film, and Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl).

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Forever an Ex-Victoria Christopher Murray

Forever an Ex

Victoria Christopher Murray

Touchstone, Jun 17 2014, $15.00

ISBN: 9781476748856


Seven years ago in Los Angeles, Sheridan Goodman, Kendall Stewart, and Asia Ingram met at a prayer group and became friends.  With the help of prayer and having each other’s back, they weathered the break-up of their marriages (see The Ex Files).  Now the exes are back so each turns to prayer and their BFFs to weather the new storm.


Basketball player Bobby tries to persuade Asia to permit their daughter Angel to attend the School of the Performing Arts in NYC.  Bobby and Asia begin a tryst that leads to his wife Caroline warning her to stay away from her husband.  When Asia ignores the cuckooed spouse’s admonition, the spiteful woman retaliates via Angel.


With her children grown and away, Sheridan and Brock love the empty nest.  Her ex-husband’s fiancée Harmony meets with her to ask her questions about Quentin’s cheating.  Sheridan informs the worried woman that she believes Quentin will be faithful to her.  Not long after that, Sheridan observes Quentin with Jeff, his lover when he was married to her.


Kendall returns to Malibu, sight of where her former husband Anthony and her sister Sabrina betrayed her.  She remains estranged from both of them and wants nothing to do with their child.  Anthony’s brother, D’Angelo, proves helpful, but hides his attraction to his one-time sister-in-law.  However when Sabrina becomes critically ill, Kendall has to decide whether to forgive their transgression.


Forever an Ex is an engaging inspirational extended family drama as the three BFFs deal with different troubles caused by the returns of the exes.  Fans will enjoy the prayers, fears and tears as Victoria Christopher Murray provides an engaging tale.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The People In The Photo-Hélène Gestern

The People In The Photo

Hélène Gestern; Emily Boyce (translator) and Ros Schwartz (translator)

Gallic Books, Jun 10 2014, $14.95

ISBN: 9781908313546


Hélène Hivert knows next to nothing about her mom who died when she was three.  Over the years, her father refuses to speak about her mom.  She becomes excited when she finds a photo of her mom taken with two men after she had won the 1971 Interlaken Amateur Tennis Tournament Ladies’ Single.  One of the men in the picture is listed as P. Crusten winner of the Men’s Single.


Hélène takes out a newspaper ad seeking info re the people in the photo.  Swiss biologist Stéphane Crusten responds to her ad by sending her a copy of his dad’s Geneva Tennis Club membership card that also contains a photo.  Excited Hélène responds and soon the pair exchange correspondences and find more photos of their respective parents.  However, the truth may not set them free as the picture begins to focus with each wondering if they were better off not knowing.


The People In The Photo is an entertaining family drama told mostly through snail mail and email.  Hélène and Stéphane are a delight to follow as their moods change throughout the engaging storyline.  Though somewhat passive, fans who appreciate something different will enjoy Hélène Gestern’s refreshing family drama.


Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Rosie Project-Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Project

Graeme Simsion

Simon & Schuster, Jun 3 2014, $15.99

ISBN: 9781476729091


Genetics Professor Don Tillman knows that that having Asperger’s syndrome causes him to think differently than the neurotypical masses; especially most of the duds in his classes who prefer astrology over DNA.  He also thinks his genetic variant provides him with advantages but also leaves him without a woman in his life; as he never gets a second date. 


Turning forty, Don applies his need for nano detail and his superior organization and focus skills to create the Wife Project.  His questionnaire is designed to eliminate those unacceptable due to an annoying trait like smoking or the wrong ice cream.  When Don and Rosie Jarman the bartender-student meet; his reaction to her is that she is pretty but way too fiery and chaotic for an Aspie like him who bone marrow deep needs repetitive order.  Rosie pleads with the professor to help her learn who her biological father is.  As the Aspie and the NT work the Father Project, he revises the Wife Project into The Rosie Project.


This is a terrific look at how wide the human tent can be with the acceptance of neurodiversity of people wired differently; as Dashiell Hamett says in The Thin Man: “The problem with putting two and two together is that sometimes you get four, and sometimes you get twenty-two.”  Having raised an Aspie son, I believe Graeme Simsion captures the essence of those with the syndrome who can drive you insane and leave you laughing in nanoseconds, but especially as they become a teen and an adult the desperate need for a significant other.  Although readers know what will happen, the journey from the mind to the heart is superb.


Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Hurricane Sisters-Dorothea Benton Frank

The Hurricane Sisters

Dorothea Benton Frank

Morrow, Jun 3 2014, $26.99

ISBN: 9780062132529


In Charleston, South Carolina, sandwiched generation Liz struggles with her family.  Her recently turned eighty mom Maisie remains the opinionated family matriarch while always disapproving of her and encouraging her grandchildren.  Liz’s apparently philandering husband Clayton prefers to stay in New York more than in Lowcountry.  Finally the lifestyles of her adult children bother her; as her oldest Ivy resides in San Francisco with his beloved mate James and her recent college grad daughter Ashley remains wistful in a cloud state of mind.  Her only satisfaction is her work at a preventing domestic violence at a not for profit. 


Liz worries most about Ashley who works at a gallery while painting.  Ashley and her BFF Mary Beth have a scheme to make money that seems doomed to fail and most likely illegal.  Her affair with State Senator Porter Galloway appears ready to implode even as the dreamer ignores her friend and her gut preferring to believe one day she will be First Lady to her lover’s POTUS.


Though somewhat disjointed while rotating perspective between the four fully-developed family members living in Lowcountry, readers obtain diverse views on the same incident as the theory of relativity filters each person’s perception.  The dysfunctional family dynamics storyline engages the audience especially the realistic older three; while Ashley acts more like a young teenybopper than a college graduate even when she emulates her mom’s acceptance of crap from the man in her life. 


Harriet Klausner

Monday, June 2, 2014

Yankee In Atlanta-Jocelyn Green

Yankee In Atlanta

Jocelyn Green

River North, Jun 1 2014, $14.99

ISBN: 9780802405784


After being injured in battle while fighting for the North in Virginia, Caitlin McKae awakens to find herself in an Atlanta hospital.  The doctor obviously knows she is a female pretending to be a man but assumes she fought for the Confederacy.  Caitlin conceals her roots to avoid being incarcerated as a Northern spy.  She becomes governess to German immigrant Noah Becker’s daughter Analiese.  While he reluctantly joins the fight of his new country though he loathes slavery, Noah depends on Caitlin to keep his beloved child safe.  Caitlin and Ana pray their beloved Noah returns safe to them at a time when Sherman begins his march through the South.


In New York City, Ruby O'Flannery struggles with the assault that tortures her soul though she tries to hide her torment from her son Aiden.  She works as a maid while belonging to a bible study group led by Chaplain Edward Goodrich.  Respect for one another soon turns to love for Ruby and Edward, but others try to keep them apart.


The third Heroines Behind The Lines Civil War drama (see Wedded to War and Widow of Gettysburg) is a deep historical that rotates focus on two women in opposite sides of the divided nation struggling to survive the horrors of war.  Each subplot is entertaining while enabling the audience to compare living in New York and Atlanta in 1864.  Although the war keeps Caitlin and Noah apart so that their relationship feels lacking in substance, readers will enjoy a Yankee In Atlanta (and New York) as Jocelyn Green once again provides her fans with a profound look at the impact of war on beleaguered civilians.


Harriet Klausner