E-Original Bondage Romance from Archer & Historical Romance from Ballance | Xpress Reviews

Week ending April 18, 2014

Archer, Gillian. Up in Knots. Carina: Harlequin. (Pleasure Code, Bk. 2). 2014. 147p. ebk. ISBN 9781426898044. $2.99. EROTIC ROMANCE, BDSM
Two years ago, gymnastics teacher Kyla Grant’s lover and Dom died. Since then, she’s avoided the kink scene, unable to face the reminders of her loss, but her dissatisfaction with her regular dates leads her to a local convention and a bondage class taught by the singularly named Sawyer, or Mr. Rope Top. In the pleasure code, a gray handkerchief signals an interest in bondage, and when Kyla sees one hanging out of Sawyer’s back pocket, she’s definitely interested. Then a mix-up has her modeling his ropes for the class. Their mutual interest in bondage and lack of desire for a committed relationship result in a fast negotiation of terms for a temporary Dom/sub agreement. When Sawyer learns about Kyla’s past, he agrees to help her face her grief and find another Dom to trust. Yet the more he comes to know Kyla, the more Sawyer realizes she may be the perfect sub he didn’t know he wanted.
Verdict Archer manages to weave a safety lecture about bondage into Sawyer’s class without losing the eroticism or artistic nature of shibari, an ancient Japanese form of rope bondage. Even though Sawyer and Kyla’s relationship reaches a hurried conclusion at odds with their initial plans, fans of the first series title, Wicked Weekend, will enjoy cameos by those characters and seeing how their relationship developed. Libraries owning Lorelei James’s Bound should also consider for purchase.—Melanie C. Duncan, Shurling Lib., Macon, GA

Ballance, Sarah. An Unexpected Sin. Scandalous: Entangled. (Sins of Salem, Bk. 2). Apr. 2014. 210p. ebk. ISBN 9781622665471. $2.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
unexpectedsin041814 199x300 E Original Bondage Romance from Archer & Historical Romance from Ballance | Xpress Reviews
Set in 17th-century Salem, MA, the second book in Ballance’s “Sins of Salem” series (after Her Wicked Sin) is full of mystery, drama, and romance. Anne Scudder, independent, pure, and still grieving the death of her brother Samuel six years ago, is content to help at her parent’s inn in Salem and wait for her father to arrange her marriage. However, when Samuel’s childhood friend Josiah Cromwell comes back to town, no longer the boy Anne remembers but now a handsome man, she will be torn between propriety and newfound passion. Josiah has harbored love for Anne since their youth and now seeks her hand in marriage. Still, how can he receive her parents blessing and Anne’s love when he holds a dark secret—one that could tear her family and his relationship with Anne apart?
Verdict Seeping with dark family suspense, scandal, and witchcraft, An Unexpected Sin will thrill historical romance lovers who appreciate drama and mystery packed with tame but warm passion.—–J. Harris, New Hampshire

Chance, Jennifer. Rock It. Loveswept: Random. (Rule Breaker, Bk. 1). 2014. 203p. ebk. ISBN 9780553390957. $2.99. CONTEMPORARY NEW ADULT ROMANCE
IMO Worldwide Media’s newest client is Dante Falcone, teen heartthrob–turned–successful lead rocker of the band Paradiso. Twenty-four-year-old junior executive Lacey Dawes has been his biggest fan since she was just a teenager and has the scrapbooks and intimate knowledge of his career and personal life to prove it. Much to the chagrin of Brenda, Lacey’s barracuda of a boss, Dante wants Lacey to be his handler on the upcoming Dream It tour. Lacey jumps at the chance that this affords her not only to further her career but also to fulfill a lifelong romantic fantasy. The chemistry between Dante and Lacey amps up the tension, but Lacey knows that she is just another notch on Dante’s bedpost. When Brenda outs her as the closeted superfan she is, Lacey takes the biggest gamble of her life, one that could cost her everything. Either way, she is already in too deep with the risk she has taken with her heart.
Verdict This mediocre series starter by debut author Chance hits all the right notes in the spice department, but the contrived plot and unsympathetic characters fall flat, and schmaltzy dialog such as, “If only you can dream it, it might come true,” doesn’t help. There are better new adult options, such as Kristen Proby’s “With Me in Seattle” series, in what is sure to be an overcrowded field.—Kara Kohn, Plainfield P.L., IL

Everly, Liz. Like Honey. eKensington. Apr. 2014. NAp. ebk. ISBN 9781601830128. $5.99. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
A contemporary romantic suspense yarn set in Scotland is elevated by the occupation of the heroine, the owner of a honey farm. Widow Jennifer D’Amico is still in mourning over the death of her detective husband, whose Scottish manor and honey business she inherited. Puzzled by how his family was able to afford to run both the house and the business, Jennifer has poured all her funds into keeping the concern going until she can sell it and return to America. Enter Grayson McGhilly, chief beekeeper and mysterious investigator. Jennifer doesn’t know it, but she is under a probe by Homeland Security for shady dealings; it seems a lot of money is being funneled through the honey business. Jennifer and Gray immediately feel heat for each other, and much sex ensues. It’s hard to get invested in the relationship, however, as both are constantly reminiscing about past lovers who frequently make appearances in the novel. Jennifer shows more honest affection for her bees.
Verdict Everly (Saffron Nights) has clearly done significant research into the practice of honey making, which adds a fascinating dimension to what otherwise might be an unconvincing romance. Unfortunately for the author, the book leaves readers with a stronger desire to investigate different kinds of honey than to read more about these wishy-washy characters.—B. Allison Gray, Goleta Lib., CA

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