Monday, September 1, 2014

Madame Picasso-Anne Girard

Madame Picasso
Anne Girard
Mira, Aug 26 2014, $14.99
ISBN 9780778316350

In 1911, Eva Gouel rejects her family’s demand she marry Monsieur Fix.  Instead she flees for Paris where her only friend is Polish speaking Louis Vollard who changed her name to Marcelle Humbert.  To her elation, one of her goals is met when Madam Leutard hires her as a seamstress at the Moulin Rouge.  There she sees a powerful man sitting at the front of the dance hall but surprisingly no woman with him. 

Last night, after a fight with his beloved intoxicated mistress and primary model, Fernande Olivier the artist, Pablo Picasso went to the Moulin Rouge alone.  The next day, Louis and Marcelle visit the Petit Palais to see an exhibition.  Also there is the solitary man from the evening before, an up and coming Spaniard artist Pablo Picasso.  Eva becomes his insecure muse; but his Montmartre crowd prefers feisty artsy Fernande who they consider as one of them to the upstart outsider.  That same year Eva came to Paris, someone stole the Mona Lisa with Picasso considered a suspect.  A few short years later, as war explodes across Europe, Eva suffers from tuberculosis.

This is an excellent biographical fiction that brings to life mostly Paris when the City of Lights was the world’s cultural center during the years leading up to and the beginning of WWI.  Character driven by the triangular relationship between Picasso, Gouel and Olivier, subgenre fans will relish this vivid art historical.

Harriet Klausner

The Maiden Of Ireland-Susan Wiggs

The Maiden Of Ireland
Susan Wiggs
Mira, Aug 26 2014, $7.99
ISBN 9780778316466

In 1658, weeping women attend the execution of Father John the heretic.  The condemned man muses that for six years John Wesley Hawkins worked undercover as Father John to remove the usurper Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell from ruling the land and restore the rightful king to the throne, but failed.  As he is about to hang, he says his last words: “…God save Charles Stuart…”.  At the very last moment with the rope tearing into his throat, Cromwell saves his life and that of his daughter but demands in remittance John uncover the identity of the Fianna Irish rebellion or else he and his family will die. 

Wesley travels to Connemara, Ireland where Caitlin MacBride, daughter of the local chieftain, notices him walking near her home Castle Clonmuir.  His shameful scheme is simply seduce Caitlin into revealing who the Fianna chief is.  What Wesley failed to anticipate was falling in love with his target.

This “revised” version of 1993 The Mist And The Magic (don’t know how much was refreshed) is an enjoyable brisk Cromwellian romance with a unique locale; instead of the usual London, Ireland shines during the era when Parliament and the Lord Protector ruled the kingdom.  Leisurely-paced, this is an entertaining seventeenth century historical even with the lead relationship being typical of the subgenre. 

Harriet Klausner

Ultimate Sins-Lora Leigh St. Martin’s,

Ultimate Sins
Lora Leigh
St. Martin’s, Aug 26 2014, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312389109

After being away from his Colorado hometown for years Crowe Callahan returns to deal with the Corbin County attorney Wayne “Slasher” Sorenson, a diabolical serial killing rapist.  Crowe also realizes he will have to see the only woman he ever loved, Wayne’s daughter Amelia.

Wayne loathes Crowe and his Callahan kin especially the cousins Logan (see Deadly Sins and Rafer (see Midnight Sins) who he feels stole something that belongs to him.  He has an added incentive to detest Crowe when his daughter committed the Ultimate Sins, choosing to betray him by allying with his enemy.  Fearing for his beloved Amelia, Crowe expects her father to attempt to commit filicide so he risks his life to keep her safe.

The latest Callahan Sins (see Secret Sins) is an edgy over the top of the Rocky Mountains romantic suspense in which newbies will be lost and returnees need a scorecard to keep track of the Cecil B. DeMille size cast.  For Sins fans only, at times the heated sexual interludes that melt the mountaintop snow intrude on the anticipated showdown between father and lover.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Irresistible Force- D.D. Ayres

Irresistible Force
D.D. Ayres
St. Martin’s, Aug 26 2014, $7.99
ISBN: 9781250042170

One month ago, someone kidnapped Charlotte-Mecklenburg PD Officer James Cannon’s K9 partner Bogart.  James followed leads in search of his missing police dog until he sees Bogart with a woman in an isolated cabin just outside of Raleigh. 

Shayla Appleton fears her former boyfriend, outwardly charming to the world but abusive to her. Eric Coates refuses to accept it is over between them.  Thus she “adopted” dumped for death Prince from the local animal shelter where she volunteers.  James confronts her for abducting his canine Bogart, but Shay says she saved him from execution as the woman who dropped him off demanded they do.  After Shay dials 911, Chief Deputy Sheriff Ward arrives to take control of the scene.  Shay describes the woman wanting her Prince to die; James recognizes his crazy former girlfriend Jaylynn Turner.  Both already in love with Prince Bogart and with help from their dog, James and Shay deal with their respective monstrous previous significant others, her childhood and worse love.

The first K-9 Rescue police procedural romantic suspense is an exciting action-packed tale that deftly combines falling in love (due to the efforts of a matchmaking dog) with the nefarious activities of the two over the top of Mount Mitchell exes (neither have a redeeming quality).  Prince Bogart steals the show from his human partners as D.D. Ayres provides a terse opener.

Harriet Klausner

The Way You Look Tonight- Bella Andre

The Way You Look Tonight
Bella Andre
Mira, Aug 26 2014, $7.99
ISBN 9780778317302

Seven years ago Rafe Sullivan left the police to open up a private investigator firm.  His office proved very successful and many in Washington believe he runs the best in the state.  However, jaded Rafe also knows the downside as 100% of those he or his staff investigated were up to no good.

His sister Mia the realtor tells him the lake house near Seattle that they used to visit as children is on the market.  Knowing he desperately needs a getaway R&R place, Rafe buys the rundown cabin.  To his pleasant surprise, staying next door at her late grandparents’ house is no longer cute but instead beautiful Brooke Jansen, who aged perfectly.  Having left Boston, Brooke is thrilled that her childhood crush is within reach.  However, though as attracted to her as she is to him, Rafe hesitates as he has seen so many more relationships die though he admits his extended family have proven the exception.

Having left the San Francisco Sullivans in forever loving relationships, Bella Andre heads north for the first sexy Seattle Sullivans saga.  Although the location changes, the quality of the leads remains strong even if their romance starts too quickly.  Series fans will find the pleasant opening act very enjoyable and look forward to Mia who’s next on deck.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Locker Rooms-Patty Lesser

Locker Rooms
Patty Lesser
iUniverse, Dec 4 2013, $16.95
ISBN: 9781491713365

In Dundas, Canada thirty-eight year old Alida wins 10 million dollars in the lottery.  After collecting her check in nearby Toronto, Alida buys the Michael house, which is near the home where her parents live in Dundas.  When she cleans out the fireplace, Alida finds a tunnel behind it.  Stepping inside, Alida locates three rooms filled with lockers.  Opening one locker, a voice begs her to help free them from the boite.

Stunned and frightened as the voices warn her of Shad who locked them away, Alida escorts Barbara to her grave so that her soul can move on.  She takes two others to their final resting site while wondering why these good people who suffered sad deaths were locked away like sinners.  As Shad tries to kill her with a train derailment, a plane accident and a taxi’s breaks failure, and goes after her mind through her parents; Alida believes God watches over her.  Her fourth rescue Oliver asks to stay with her for a while.  As Alida and Oliver fall in love, her only hope to save these souls resides with Lucifer.

Locker Rooms is a refreshing, very creative look at the afterlife through the eyes of a courageous bi-polar (though that illness is downplayed) heroine, those victims she rescues and a devil who makes Lucifer seem heavenly.  Character-driven, readers will enjoy this leisurely-paced good, innocent and evil thriller especially as we learn a little about those souls Alida saves.  I would like to read more about those trapped inside the boite in perhaps a prequel short story collection.

Harriet Klausner

The Winter Guest-Pam Jenoff

The Winter Guest
Pam Jenoff
Mira, Aug 26 2014, $14.99
ISBN 9780778315964

In 1940 in Biekowice, Poland the Nowak patriarch died in a cart accident while the matriarch was hospitalized with severe injuries.  Though acrimonious rivals with diverse opinions about the German invasion; the oldest children, twins Helena and Ruth take charge of their younger siblings (Michal, Dorie and Karolina) even as the Nazis blitzkrieg Poland.  

Though she knows she should ignore the wounded foreigner, Helena rescues Jewish American soldier Sam Rosen.  Initially telling no one about him she hides the paratrooper as he heals.  When Helena and Sam fall in love, jealous Ruth reacts with bitterness; while opportunistic neighbors plot against the family. 

The latest Pam Jenoff WWII Poland thriller (see The Kommandant's Girl and The Diplomat’s Daughter) is another excellent historical as readers obtain a vivid sense of life during the Nazi occupation.  The strong cast makes for a powerful drama enabling us to see the deadly era through the eyes of the five Nowak siblings (especially the diverse bias of the twins) and Sam.  As the truth fails to set them free, The Winter Guest is a fantastic 1940s war novel.

Harriet Klausner