Friday, August 22, 2014

Never Mind Miss Fox-Olivia Glazebrook

Never Mind Miss Fox
Olivia Glazebrook
Little, Brown, Aug 19 2014, $25.00
ISBN: 9780316242899

Martha and Clive met while attending Oxford.  He fell in love immediately and felt fortunate when he persuaded her to join his Barkes family Easter vacation in France.  Clive’s brother Tom’s special friend Eliot Fox joined them. 

After years away from England, Eliot Fox comes home to London.  One of her students Eliza Barkes informs her parents (Clive and Martha) that her piano teacher knows both of them.  Whereas Martha relishes the coincidence, Clive panics as Eliot was his series of indiscretions over the years.  Fearing she will expose his betrayal to his wife, Clive tries to keep the piano teacher away from her; but Eliot knowing the power she has over her occasional lover refuses to back away from the Barkes.

Appealingly rotating between the present relationships and past illicit trysts, this is an absorbing character study that looks at the impact an eccentric other woman has on her former lover and his family.  The quartet is three dimensional making the cause and effect of his cheating seemingly genuine.  Although the encounters over the years come across as well written but improbable happenchance, the trouble Miss Fox’s return to England causes to the Barkes’ seemingly happy family makes for an appealing novel.

Harriet Klausner

Incense & Peppermints-Carole Bellacera

Incense & Peppermints
Carole Bellacera
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, May 2 2014, $16.00
ISBN: 9781497355637

In 2011 Memphis, sexagenarian nurse Cindy Sweet receives a Facebook message from her fiancĂ© Ryan Paul Quinlan, who allegedly died in Vietnam over four decades ago.  Stunned she thinks back to 1965 when idealistic Cindy voluntarily joined the military as a nurse assigned to the 24th Evacuation Hospital at Long Binh.  She faced death and maimed victims on her first day and every day afterward while serving in Nam.  Cindy still sees the face of her first dying soldier; a youngster from South Carolina whose last wish she could not grant.

Cindy also reflects on her first innocent love before she volunteered Gary McCartney; her passionate second in Nam with Ryan; and her calm final one with Sergeant David Ansgar whom mentored her as she adjusted to the frantic existence at the 24th.  Though encouraged by her husband David, this hesitant grandma must decide whether she wants to meet Ryan at the Vietnam Memorial Wall.

This is a reflective Vietnam War tale starring an innocent growing up rather quickly when faced immediately with dying and severely wounded young soldiers; just the title (from the Strawberry Alarm Clock song) will remind boomers of the sixties furor.  Carole Bellacera provides a gripping storyline due to the support cast (patients and staff) who bring a timely haunting message that the cost of war is not just in combat dollars, but also the impact on those fighting and their loved ones; that lingers on for decades after the last soldier came home.

Harriet Klausner

Behind Closed Doors-Debbi Rawlins

Behind Closed Doors
Debbi Rawlins
Harlequin Blaze, Aug 19 2014, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373798162

Beth Wilson wonders about her sanity when she gave up her career that enabled her to see the world to open up a boarding house in Blackfoot Falls, Montana even if she originally came from Billings.  She also tries to help her seemingly out of control teenage niece Liberty.  When Jorgenson sends her lumber order to Nathan Landers, she tries calling the rancher but he ignores her before she visits him to plead her case.  The widower delivers the lumber to her.

Liberty attends school, but also works for her aunt to make restitutions to victims of her art wall including Nathan.  As Beth and Nathan begin seeing each other and fall in love, Liberty sabotages their relationship since she has a crush on the rancher and a greater fear of abandonment.

The latest Made in Montana tale (see Need You Now, Alone With You, From This Moment On and No One Needs To Know) is an entertaining contemporary made fresh by Liberty’s issues.  Although the adult relationship is the prime plot; it takes a backseat to saving Liberty.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Grand Design-Amber Stockton

A Grand Design
Amber Stockton
Abingdon, Aug 19 2014, $13.99
ISBN: 9781426773471

On a dare from her BFF Libby, Alyssa Denham entered the Bride Magazine contest to win a romantic getaway for two on Mackinac Island, Michigan.  Home to her grandma, Alyssa used to visit the island when she was a child until an incident shattered her heart and when her dad died she never returned.  When Bride informs Alyssa she won the vacation, she struggles with whom to take with her as she has no man in her life.  She sadly muses she can’t even find a date for the June weddings she attends; so persuades Libby to join her as the contest says “two” not “couple”.

The two BFFs delight in working with Alyssa’s grandma on an heirloom quilt and enjoy the Lake Huron island immensely especially since they have access to places outsiders are banned from visiting.  Meanwhile local Scott Whitman and Alyssa are attracted to each other, but her heart must let go of what happened several years ago to her and her family on Mackinaw Island so that their love can fill the vacuum.

The latest Quilts of Love inspirational (see A Promise In Pieces by Emily T. Wierenga and A Sky Without Stars by Linda S. Clare) is a warm coming of age contemporary in a wonderful setting starring a fascinating protagonist who spent years hiding in plain sight from what happened.  Although the romance is rather straightforward, Alyssa’s rapid maturity makes for an endearing tale.

Harriet Klausner

Bittersweet-Colleen McCullough

Colleen McCullough
Simon & Schuster, Aug 19 2014, $26.00
ISBN: 9781476755410

In Corunda, New South Wales, Australia, St Mark's Church of England Reverend Thomas Latimer sires twins (Edda and Grace) with his first wife, but their mom dies in childbirth.  The church rector mourns his loss, but soon marries his stern housekeeper.  Two years after the birth of his first children, Thomas sires another set of twin girls (Heather and Katherine).

By 1926, Thomas encourages his four young adult daughters to leave their home to attend the nearby new Corunda nursing school though each has different BHAGs in mind.  Edda wants to become a doctor though she understands the bias against female physicians.  Her twin Grace’s objective is more acceptable by Australian standards as she wants to be a wife and mother.  Tufts, as Heather’s siblings call her, wants freedom mostly from the demands of her parents.  Finally Kitty wants acceptance for her brain instead of her beauty.  Now as each begins their own unique adventure in independence, the quartet knows there are two sure things in life: death and through thick and thin they can always rely on her sisters to be there when it really matters.

Bittersweet is a great family epic that provides readers with a profound absorbing glimpse at Australia especially during the twentieth century decades between the World Wars.  Each of the lead sisters is fully developed but also possesses differing personalities and diverse desires as to what they want out of life.  As their respective lives bounce back and forth between sorrow, happiness and feelings in-between, the four siblings remain steadfast in their belief that they always have each other when the going turns ugly or simply Bittersweet regardless of distance and other relationships.

Harriet Klausner

One Kick-Chelsea Cain

One Kick
Chelsea Cain
Simon & Schuster, Aug 19 2014, $25.99
ISBN: 9781476749785

When Kit “Kick” Lannigan was six years old, she became the unwanted star of an Amber Alert.  Five years after her abduction the FBI rescued the tweener from her “caring” capturer.  Over a decade since her liberation, Kick remains emotionally damaged and particularly loathes the reminders of the worst moments of her life: her mom who still uses her bestselling memoir re the kidnapping for fame and fortune, and the high internet traffic into her life.  Her only friend remains James who shared her childhood kidnapping as a fellow victim of the same adult. 

Residing in Portland, Oregon twentyish Kick obsesses over child abductions with a powerful need to rescue the kidnapped kids.  Private security agent John Bishop asks Kick to assist him find and rescue missing Adam Rice and Mia Turner.  Hesitantly she agrees; though this means for her to envision what Adam and Mia face returning to a time and place when she answered to the name of Beth.

As the dysfunctional dance partners Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell obtain a breather, Chelsea Cain begins a new suspense series starring a kick butt heroine who has cause for her damaged psyche.  The riveting taut storyline mesmerizes the audience especially the harrowing dysfunctional Stockholm Syndrome relationship between Kick and her childhood kidnapper, and an astonishing exposĂ© into child porn.  One Kick will be on the short lists as 2014 best suspense thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Must Love Fangs-Jessica Sims

Must Love Fangs
Jessica Sims
Pocket Books, Aug 27 2013, $7.99
ISBN: 9781451661828

Marie knows she is dying from the same disease that killed her mom.  Her only hope to live is for one of the supernaturals to turn her into one of them.  Since she works at Midnight Liaison, the dating service for the supernatural, Marie comes in contact with vampire and shapeshifting hunks.  Thus she thinks: Wanted: Wild Thing (next series entry) to change and save her.  Alas as with Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner, shifter, shifter everywhere but not a bite in sight since a recent bad conversion put a halt to this species performing the deed.

Thus her only hope resides with the vamps and she has two possible candidates.  However, were-cougar Joshua Russell has been attracted to Marie since he first met her at Midnight Liaison though she constantly rejected his advances offering back only polite ennui professionalism.  Josh campaigns to be her one.

This Midnight Liaisons romantic urban fantasy (see "Out with a Fang" from the Undead In My Bed anthology, Claws and Effect, Desperately Seeking Shapeshifter, and Beauty Dates The Beast) is a graveyard jocular tale starring a no-nonsense human female and an all-fun shifter male.  Whereas Marie has no time for courting, flirting or loving; Josh has plenty of time for courting, flirting and especially loving.  Though “cougars can’t laugh”, readers can and will delight in the amusing, somewhat angst, Must Love Fangs.

Harriet Klausner