Week ending August 30, 2013
Diaz, Lena. Ashes, Ashes, They All Fall Dead. Avon Impulse. Sept. 2013. NAp. ebk. ISBN 9780062280886. $29.99. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
Tessa James is an FBI agent on the way up. The FBI has been receiving cryptic messages for the past three years, and while everyone else has let the case grow cold, there is just something it that will not let Tessa put it away. So her chief gives her seven days to come up with a lead or turn in her badge. Tessa is expected to work with Matt Buchanan, a private investigator who is six years younger than she, gorgeous, self-confident, and completely wrong as relationship material. But they will have to work together to find a killer and put a stop to this crime spree—if there even is one.
Verdict This romantic suspense novel from Diaz (Simon Says Die) is reminiscent of early Sandra Brown and Catherine Coulter, when those authors were still known as romance writers. The story here is not all about the romance yet the romance is not pushed aside as it would be in a harder-hitting mystery/suspense novel. A good selection from an author this reviewer expects to be big in the coming years.—Ryan Franklin, Mattoon P.L., IL
Drew, Libby. Bending the Iron. Carina: Harlequin. Sept. 2013. 122p. ebk. ISBN 9781426895982. $2.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE, LGBT, M/M
Michael’s hometown of Hickory, PA, is not where he wanted to end up. Trapped in this conservative burg, in a dead-end job, in the closet, Michael feels he has no choice but to stay to care for his alcoholic grandfather. But when Michael meets Eric, the new curator at the railroad museum, their mutual attraction ignites not only Michael’s passion for Eric but his dreams for the future. Yet it is hard to escape the trap Michael has constructed for himself, while Eric’s last relationship was one from which he needed to escape as well. With painful pasts and dashed hopes, can Michael and Eric find a way to keep their dreams—and their relationship—alive?
Verdict: Drew (State of Mind) gives the “small-town character with big dreams” trope a fresh look with male leads and a love of historical trains and architecture. While no new ground is broken, Michael and Eric’s romance hits the sweet spot and will keep readers turning the pages.—Kristi Chadwick, Emily Williston Memorial Lib., Easthampton, MA
Harper, Cheryl. Can’t Help Falling in Love. Avon Impulse. Sept. 2013. ebk. ISBN 9780062276384. $ 2.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Randa Whitmore shows up at the Rock’n’Rolla Hotel as a spy for her very successful hotel family. Sent by her father to scope out the competition and take control of a buyout, Randa instead meets hotel manager Tony Ortega. Not a man easily open to women, Tony is a former marine who has overcome his lack of family to build a life at the hotel. Tony immediately knows Randa is not just the Elvis tourist she claims to be, but Tony can’t help but be drawn to the beautiful and fun Randa. Escaping the fierce, ruthless nature of the Whitmore clan, Randa learns to trust her own judgment, as the hotel—and the staff—show her what love and family are really all about.
Verdict Harper’s return engagement (after Stuck on You) at the Rock’n’Rolla Hotel, known for the Elvis-themed restaurant and kitschy décor, is another fun story and will definitely leave you wishing for your own pair of blue suede shoes. Anyone who enjoys romance, Elvis, or any combination will love this story!—Judy Taylor Garner, Strayer Univ. Lib., Glen Allen, VA
Lowe, Fiona. Picture Perfect Wedding. Carina: Harlequin. (Wedding Fever, Bk. 2). Aug. 2013. c.276p. ebk. ISBN 9781426895944. $3.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Wedding photographer and bona fide city girl Erin Davis is totally out of her element when she finds herself scoping out a sunflower field for a photo op in rural Whitetail, WI. Farmer Luke Anderson, the land’s owner, wants nothing to do with her or the wedding, but this photo could win for Erin the award that would boost her career. She soon learns that under Luke’s stubborn exterior is a man with a big heart, who happens to light her fire. Erin is open to a summer fling, but falling in love is out of the question; too bad Luke has other plans for her. Befriending Erin is single mom Nicole Lindquist, Whitetail’s wedding planner, who has a thing for the new fire chief, Tony Lascio. Unfortunately, the town doesn’t take too kindly to Tony replacing Nicole’s deceased husband, a decorated war hero. Will their best intentions come at the expense of Nicole’s happiness and a second chance at love?
Verdict RITA Award winner Lowe (Boomerang Bride; Saved by the Bride) pens a thoughtful romance featuring dual story lines that will hold readers’ attention until the very end. Readers will become as invested in charming Whitetail as they will in the love lives of these characters.—Kara Kohn, Plainfield P.L., IL
Moran, Kelly. The Dysfunctional Test. Samhain. Sept. 2013. 260p. ebk. ISBN 9781619216624. $5.50. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Camryn Covic is the yet-to-be-married daughter in a tight-knit Serbian family. In one day, right before her younger sister’s wedding, Camryn loses her marketing job, is evicted from her apartment, and is dumped by her boyfriend. Camryn dreads the family questions about why she isn’t bringing a man to the wedding, so she hatches a plot to announce that she has been dating Troy, her brother’s lifelong best friend. Troy goes along with the scam, and he, Camryn, and the relatives fly from Wisconsin to Colorado for the weeklong prewedding hurrah. Camryn pretends she and Troy are lovers but soon realizes their hot and steamy make-believe is just lovely.
Verdict Moran’s third novel (after The Drake House and Summer’s Road) humorously captures the challenges of living within a large, extended family, for examply, Emily, the precocious three-year-old niece, is quick to identify every four-letter word she overhears during adult conversations. In addition, each chapter begins with witty Life Lessons According to Camryn, such as on the day she was fired: “Some people are like Slinkies. They’re only good for a smile when you push them down the stairs.” Great escape reading.—Joyce Sparrow, Kenneth City, FL