Week ending November 1, 2013
Arden, Elley & others. Take Me Out. Crimson Romance: F+W Media. Nov. 2013. 114p. ebk. ISBN 9781440573781. $4.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE ANTHOLOGY.
In this anthology of four short stories, the intersection of baseball and romance is explored. In “Tradeoff,” Arden spins a tale about Ben and Scarlett, trying to find new passions in life as work and home become less than enjoyable. “Slugger Gone South,” by Alicia Hunter Pace, brings Yankee Marc to Alabama for a celebrity golf tournament and inadvertent run-in with his former fiancée, Bailey. Amanda is struggling to keep her family business afloat in Leslie P. Garcia’s “Safe at Home” and turns to local sports hero Josh for a celebrity endorsement. Wrapping things up is “That Ol’ Team Spirit,” by Bea Moon, where high school sweethearts reunite to right a wrong from decades earlier.
Verdict While all four stories intertwine both the national pastime and love—or former loves, in the case of three of the stories—the comparisons stop there. A varying amount of actual baseball is in each work, but never enough to turn away nonsports fans. Likewise, some of the stories put the passion behind closed doors, while one or two will make more than a few readers blush. The home run of this quartet, however, is “Slugger Gone South,” with “Tradeoff” coming in with a triple. Both make the short story format work, with compelling characters and straightforward plot lines. While baseball-loving romance readers will gravitate toward this title, anyone who appreciates variety and quick tales will appreciate this set as well.—Kellie Tilton, Univ. of Cincinnati Blue Ash
Callihan, Kristen. Entwined: A Darkest London Novella. Forever Yours: Grand Central. Nov. 2013. NAp. ebk. ISBN 9781455577774. 99¢. PARANORMAL ROMANCE, HISTORICAL ROMANCE
When Aidan Evernight receives a letter from Lady Luella Jane Moran, his new betrothed through the machinations of his father, he is less than pleased with her desire to rebel against their parents and refuse the betrothal. In the hopes of encouraging her to accept, Aidan urges his younger brother, Eamon, to write to Luella Jane, since Aidan never learned to read or write (for unnamed reasons, possibly dyslexia). E begins a correspondence with Lu and falls in love with his brother’s fiancée over the course of the three years in which they exchange letters before Lu arrives to marry Aidan. Lu doesn’t understand why her fiancé is so cold to her, or why she feels drawn to his brother, but when Aidan turns Lu’s world upside down, Eamon is there to pick up the pieces. He hopes she can forgive his deception and the supernatural abilities he hides, not realizing his love has secrets of her own.
Verdict This semi-epistolary novella with Gothic overtones is set approximately 40 years prior to and has ties to Callihan’s Winterblaze (2013). Fans of the “Darkest London” books will enjoy this story, but new readers would be better off starting with Firelight (2012). Recommended for libraries owning the series.—Melanie C. Duncan, Shurling Lib., Macon, GA
McKinley, Kate. A Duchess in the Dark. Forever Yours: Grand Central. Dec. 2013. NAp. ebk. ISBN 9781455574278. 99¢. HISTORICAL ROMANCE, EROTICA
Daphne Hayward has met the perfect man in Edward, and she plans to force him to propose by seducing him at a house party her brother-in-law and sister are hosting. Unfortunately for Daphne, she goes to the wrong room and climbs into the wrong bed with, of course, the wrong man. When she discovers her mistake after running into Edward in the hallway, she is horrified because she doesn’t know with whom she slept last night. Meanwhile, Ashton Fitzgerald, the Duke of Claymore, thinks his mistress had snuck into his room until he finds a suspicious stain on his sheets and later learns his mistress sent her regrets to the hosts. When he realizes he’s deflowered an innocent, Claymore decides to make amends. When he discovers who she is, she’s not happy, and the battle of wills begins.
Verdict The trope of forced marriage in Regency England gets a twist with Daphne doing the seducing, but while the characters are interesting, the plot is thin, unsurprising, and begs for a longer treatment. Libraries with a high demand for Regencies, however, will find the low price is right.—Melanie C. Duncan, Shurling Lib, Macon, GA
Pearce, Kate. Death Bringer. Carina: Harlequin. (Soul Justice, Bk. 2). 240p. ebk. ISBN 9781426896538. $2.99. SHAPE-SHIFTERS, PARANORMAL ROMANCE
Book two of the “Soul Justice” series (after Soul Sucker) continues the budding romance between Ella Walsh and Vadim Morosov. Ella is a powerful empath with great influence over the Fae in Otherworld. She has found a mate, Vadim—known as Death Bringer and Cygnet—a Fae swan-shifter with a dark past. She is fortunate as empaths without mates go insane. Vadim and Ella, both members of the Supernatural Branch of Law Enforcement, are called upon to solve a heinous crime: someone has been stealing people’s faces in San Francisco. As Ella and Vadim are drawn into the maelstrom this offense creates, they travel to Otherworld and end up battling for their lives. Both are ensnared in the power struggle over who will rule Otherworld.
Verdict Vadim’s and Ella’s transformation from mates that share sex to individuals who care for each other is the main thrust of the romance. Abundant and well-detailed sexual encounters in addition to an intriguing mystery help drive a very complex plot to a satisfying conclusion.—Henry Bankhead, Los Gatos Lib., CA