Monday, March 30, 2015

The Virgin - Tiffany Reisz

The Virgin
Tiffany Reisz
Mira, Mar 31 2015, $14.95
ISBN 9780778317975

On the eve of their wedding in Scotland, dominatrix Nora Sutherlin the novelist and Father Søren, joined by Kingsley, chat about the year that changed everything.  During that pivotal period in their lives, twentyish Elle (Nora’s nee name) and Kingsley left New York; each fleeing from their heartless master Søren.

Elle stayed with her mom at the latter’s convent in Upstate New York where she soon enjoyed a sexual relationship as the dom with a sub virgin nun Kyrie that led to the emergence of the author and dominatrix.  Kingsley went to Haiti where he liberated Juliette from the French ambassador and fell in love with her.

The third Original Sinners: The White Years (see The Saint and The King) is a must read for series fans (see The Red Years) as The Virgin fills in the backstory of what happened during that critical year of change.  The delightful Kingsley-Juliet subplot adds complexity to both characters especially the female; while the Elle-Kyrie segue lacks that same level of intensity perhaps because the much more mesmerizing mother-daughter relationship overwhelms it.

Harriet Klausner

Normal - Graeme Cameron

Graeme Cameron
Mira, Mar 31 2015, $24.95
ISBN 9780778318507

He methodically prepares for teenager Sarah.  When he decides the time is right, he enters the eighteen-year-old chosen one’s house and murders her.  Once his deed is done, the killer thoroughly cleans the home to insure he left behind no evidence that he committed the lethal home invasion.  Everything went perfect until he goes to his van to leave the scene; his keys are locked inside.

Sarah’s executioner soon bumps into his victim’s friend Erica; whom he captures and incarcerates in his secret basement under the garage.  As he improves his skills with his mantra practice makes perfect, the serial killer has his first major setback when he goes to buy food for his latest and meets Rachel the grocery store clerk.  Stunned the predator knows he loves Rachel, but struggles with making the triangle work leading to errors that could end his career.

This is a dark jocular serial killer contemporary romance that amusingly satires both subgenres.  Obviously not for everyone, those who embrace the premise of a psychopath suffering from the “Normal” emotion of love will want to read Graeme Cameron’s black romantic comedy.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Closer You Come - Gena Showalter

The Closer You Come
Gena Showalter
Harlequin HQN, Mar 31 2015, $7.99
ISBN 9780373779628

In Strawberry Valley, Oklahoma, Brook Lynn Dillon has spent a lifetime getting her older sister Jessie Kay out of one trouble after another.  So she is not surprised to learn that intoxicated Jessie Kay is at the flat shared by three roommates (Jase Hollister, Lincoln West and Beck Ockley).  Without causing further problems, Brook Lynn extracts her drunken sister from the bachelors’ pad though to her astonishment she is attracted to Jase.

An ex-con who spent years behind bars for manslaughter, starting over Jase is even more amazed that he wants seemingly straight-laced Brook Lynn.  He weighs asking her out against staying single; as he begins his new life without commitments except for his vow of no criminal activity.  Rationalizing she will reject him the moment she learns of his deadly past, Jase tries but fails to ignore his feelings.

This Original Heartbreakers Sooner romance (see e-novella: The One You Want) is an appealing contemporary as the audience meets the prime series cast and the small-town when Brook Lynn crashes Jase’s residence like infantry charging the enemy with a rescue in mind.  The key to this superb second chance at life is the depth of the intermingled and somewhat mangled relationships between the protagonists, her sister and his roommates; especially to the delight of fans how love befuddles Brook Lynn and Jase.

Harriet Klausner

Part Time Cowboy - Maisey Yates

Part Time Cowboy
Maisey Yates
Harlequin HQN, Mar 31 2015, $7.99
ISBN 9780373779598

A decade ago, as an out of control teen with a record Sadie Miller left Copper Ridge, Oregon for good.  Now ten years later, Sadie returns home hoping to start over.  On her first day back in town, Sadie runs into the one person she planned to avoid at least until she settles in; Deputy Sheriff Eli Garrett, the rigid rancher who arrested her just before she fled Copper Ridge. 

Having enough tsuris to last several lifetimes from his siblings, Eli has no doubt the bad seed remain the same felonious troublemaker she was as a teen; but frustrated by his attraction to Sadie in spite of his upper head warning him not to.  Making matters more difficult on his already out of control libido is Sadie has taken over the B&B on his family ranch.  Likewise Sadie loathes her yearning for the by the book cop to kiss her.

This Copper Ridge Oregonian romance (see e-novella Should Have Been A Cowboy) is an entertaining contemporary gender war between two amiable opposites in love.  The storyline starts leisurely enabling readers to meet the key series players and the rustic locale, but once we learn who’s who, the pace accelerates into a warm humorous drama.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, March 28, 2015

African Equation - Yasmina Khadra

African Equation
Yasmina Khadra; Howard Curtis (translator)
Gallic Books, Mar 17 2015, $15.95
ISBN: 9781908313706

In Frankfurt, Dr. Kurt and Jessica Krausmann share a loving relationship.  Thus when she unexpectedly commits suicide, Kurt mourns fiercely while also paralyzed by guilt compounded by being an MD for failing to see the signs.  He is further shocked when he learns his beloved killed herself over a promotion that Jessica felt she earned, but someone with less credentials received.

Kurt’s friend Hans Makkenroth persuades the grieving widower to join him on a humanitarian mission to the Union of Comoros archipelago off East Africa.  Sailing the Mediterranean for several weeks proves healing for Kurt.  However in the Gulf of Aden, pirates violently take their vessel and incarcerate the two men and others as hostages.  Over the next few weeks the guards abuse their prisoners with Joma personally targeting Kurt until Chief Moussa intervenes saving the German’s life.  Depressed from feeling helpless Kurt struggles to keep Hans from dying from a saber wound.  Kurt’s giving up on life until he meets Bruno from Bordeaux who gives him hope while explaining the anger of Africans towards their so-called White Man’s burden benefactors.

African Equation is an intriguing look at the continent from the perspectives of the pirates whose overall attitude is the hostages are flies trapped in a spider’s web while their leaders sees a cash crop, and stunned Europeans re their harsh mistreatment except enlightened Bruno.  The storyline starts leisurely but allows the reader to understand Kurt before hyper-accelerating once the pirates capture the good sanitarians.  Although the pirates change dramatically from feral warriors to intellectual philosophers over the course of the plot, readers will relish this profound look at how different Africans and Europeans perceive their dysfunctional relationship.

Harriet Klausner

The Dead Play On - Heather Graham

The Dead Play On
Heather Graham
Mira, Mar 31 2015, $24.95
ISBN 9780778317739

After three tours in Afghanistan, saxophonist Arnie Watson returned to New Orleans as a civilian only to die of a drug overdose.  His grieving mom gave her son’s sax to his best friend musician Tyler Anderson.  Using the sax at a gig, Tyler has visions of Arnie’s fatal last night that leads him to believe his buddy was murdered.  Tyler retains Danni Cafferty to investigate Arnie’s death.

NOPD Detective Jake Larue leads the investigation into the recent deaths of musicians that strongly imply a serial killer culprit.  He asks former cop turned private investigator Michael Quinn to help with the official inquiry.  Partners Danni and Michael compare notes as each believes possession of Arnie’s sax is the motive for the murders.

The third Cafferty & Quinn urban fantasy (see Waking The Dead and Let The Dead Sleep) is an interesting paranormal whodunit anchored by a haunting atmospheric New Orleans.  The mystery entertains the audience though the paranormal is somewhat downplayed compared to the usual novel by the queen of supernatural investigations Heather Graham.  Readers cheer on the brave protagonists especially when they join the band as bait making for a taut exciting tale

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Manhunt - Tyler Anne Snell

Tyler Anne Snell
Harlequin Intrigue, Mar 17 2015, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373698295

Culpepper, Florida Police Detectives Braydon Thatcher and Tom Langdon lead the investigation into missing Amanda Alcaster, whose mom filed the missing person’s report.  Cal Green the mechanic calls the station to report his conscientious secretary Trixie Martin has not come to work in two days.  In his office, irate out-of-towner Sophia Hardwick demands Braydon find her older sister Lisa.  Sophia explains Lisa failed to visit her to celebrate her birthday and the latter’s boyfriend Richard Vega called her asking if she was with her; they believe that flighty Lisa was too happy to run away.

Braydon realizes the three females seem to share nothing in common except vanishing and that this case eerily reminds him of what happened over a decade ago.  As the cops make inquiries, Braydon makes grilled cheese for two.  However, Braydon fears for Sophia’s safety and what will happen to the vanished trio if it not too late already.

This is an exciting romantic suspense starring two wonderful protagonists whose first meeting is awesome.  Even as we know who the culprit is long before the cops do, the police procedural Manhunt grips subgenre fans from the moment the she-cat rips skin from the detective and never slows down until a terse confrontation. 

Harriet Klausner