E-Originals from Heath, Holt, Burn, Schroeder, & Sherwood | Xpress Reviews

Week ending July 4, 2014

BACK IN THE SADDLE
Heath, Lorraine. The Gunslinger. Avon Impulse. 2014. NAp. ebk. ISBN 9780062353078. $1.99. WESTERN ROMANCE
Heath’s Western romance, originally published in 1999, has a slightly retro feel and something traditional in the way it reads. Not that this is a bad thing. Chance Wilder lives by his guns, and though he wants to hang them up, he knows that the minute he does, someone will come along to make his reputation by challenging Chance. He’s been hired to run off Lillian Madison, but when her kid brother offers everything he has to save his sister from a gang of thugs, Wilder can’t resist the offer or the woman. The entire populace think that Lillian is no better than the town whore, but nothing is as it seems.
Verdict The Gunslinger is a surprisingly sweet historical Western, with a twist at the end that takes the story off the standard path. These unlikely lovers find each other through a minefield of secrets and lies, and the reveals make the happy ending that much more deserved. Recommended for Western romance fans.—Marlene Harris, Seattle P.L.

Holt, Desiree. Bare Naked. Samhain. (Naked Cowboys, Bk. 4). 2014. 106p. ebk. ISBN 9781619221857. $3.50. CONTEMPORARY WESTERN ROMANCE
barenaked070414 E Originals from Heath, Holt, Burn, Schroeder, & Sherwood | Xpress ReviewsGeorgie is the new owner of a bed-and-breakfast in Saddle Wells, TX, having left her job in the hospitality industry, cashing in her 401k, and telling her new boss what he can do with his disgusting ultimatum. Cade Hannigan has just about reached rock bottom. After having been at the top of the heap in Saddle Wells, he just burned his last bridge and now no one will give him the time of day. When Cade overhears Georgie talking about her need for a handyman, he hopes that she will be his chance to pull himself out of the downward spiral he’s been riding. Georgie has heard some unsavory talk about Cade, but when he shows up, hat in hand, looking for work, Georgie sees beyond the rumors and offers Cade the opportunity to take the first step back on the right track. Working together to get the B&B ready for its first guests fans the flames that flicker whenever Cade and Georgie find themselves in the same room. Yet just as the future is looking up for the couple, Cade’s past comes roaring in to derail their new relationship.
Verdict This title delivers a wild and passionate ride for Georgie and Cade as they work through their recent troubles and try to find a positive path. Will Georgie be able to overlook Cade’s past and continue their very passionate relationship? Or will her new friends make sure that Cade’s past is the excuse that Georgie needs to send him on his way? Bare Naked bares it all and makes way for the possibility of a second chance.—Lisa Jordan, Gardner Neighborhood Lib., KS

Burn, KC. Voodoo ‘n’ Vice. Carina: Harlequin. (Galactic Alliance, Bk. 3). 2014. 179p. ebk. ISBN 9781426898419. $2.99. SF, M/M ROMANCE
voodoo070414 189x300 E Originals from Heath, Holt, Burn, Schroeder, & Sherwood | Xpress ReviewsFor fleet captain Gideon Arcturus, the hits keep coming. After nearly starting an intergalactic war between the Galactic Alliance and the Ankylos, Gideon is exiled to the outpost on Elora Ki, where his strict adherence to the rules leads to a temporary demotion and enforced leave. With nothing better to do, Gideon heads for one of the shady nightclubs, Voodoo, where he’s transfixed by the sight of an athletic, tattooed fire dancer. Tai, a newcomer to Elora Ki, finds Gideon attractive but makes it clear he’s working as a dancer only, not as an escort. What starts out as a fling between two very different men morphs into the potential for a stronger relationship, but the drug kingpin Gideon investigates has ties to Voodoo, and unless Gideon can set aside old prejudices to work with former adversaries, Tai might pay the price.
Verdict Burn’s strong entry in “The Galactic Alliance” series (after Spice ‘n’ Solace and Alien ‘n’ Outlaw) can be read as a stand-alone title. Gideon starts out as an unsympathetic character, but his interactions with Tai lead to a realistic growth as readers learn more of his past. However, readers will also want to fill in the backstory, so libraries with a demand for sf romance, such as Amber Kell’s “Thresl Chronicles” or JL Langley’s “Sci-Regency” series, should pick up Burn’s first two books as well.—Melanie C. Duncan, Shurling Lib., Macon, GA

Schroeder, Shannyn. Catch Your Breath. eKensington. (O’Learys, Bk. 4). Jul. 2014. 358p. ISBN 9781601831859. $5.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Det. Jimmy O’Malley goes undercover to find a thief targeting the town’s rich and elite. His cover is almost blown, though, when he crosses paths with Moira O’Leary. Not only is she a reporter, she’s the annoying kid sister of one of his neighborhood buddies. Never mind that Moira has grown up well and knows how to take care of herself. Moira has ambitions of doing more than puff pieces about socialites and fundraisers. Running into the egotistical Jimmy O’Malley doesn’t brighten her day either. But she can offer him and his partner a way into high society in exchange for first dibs on their investigation story. Old animosity sizzles into passion as they work together to solve a crime but also to calm the muddied waters of each of their family’s problems. Can family rifts be healed, a thief caught, and passion maintained without Jimmy and Moira losing their sanity and the constant craving?
Verdict Although at first the enmity between the two protagonists seems too wicked to believe that it could transform into lust, Schroeder’s latest (after Something To Prove) eventually progresses well. The blend of crime-stopping and family woes both pumps and melts the heart.Christyna Hunter, Loudoun Cty P.L., Lovettsville, VA

Sherwood, Kate. Chasing the Dragon. Dreamspinner. Aug. 2014. 315p. ebk. ISBN 9781632160324. $6.99; pap. ISBN 9781632160317. $14.99. M/M ROMANCE, SUSPENSE
When Jack Hunter finished up his last contract, he wasn’t expecting to witness a back-alley blow job, especially involving a young male prostitute with gorgeous eyes. Nor does Hunter expect to save that same boy, Christian, from a botched drug deal, take him to his remote cabin (where Hunter was looking for some space), and care for him through his heroin withdrawal. In close quarters, passion kindles between the men, but as Hunter begins to fall for Christian, he is faced with a man who doesn’t know anything about love or even believe it’s possible. When Christian forces their separation, they both try to move on with their lives. But three years later, Christian has an opportunity to be close to Hunter once again, even though they’re placed in a situation that may keep them apart forever.
Verdict While the time jump gives a sense of reading two entirely separate stories, the characters hold the plot together. The “damaged leads finding love” is always a winning trope, and the action sequences will keep you rooting for Sherwood’s (Riding Tall) protagonists.—Kristi Chadwick, Massachusetts Lib. Syst., South Deerfield

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