E-Originals from Adams, Addams, Alden, Evers, Pengelley, & Walter Mosley | Xpress Reviews

Week ending August 15, 2015

Adams, Lori. Awaken. Flirt: Random. (Soulkeepers, Bk. 2). 2014. 288p. ebk. ISBN 9780804178860. $2.99. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
Awaken, the second installment in the “Soulkeepers” series (after Forbidden), continues the story of Sophia, potential spirit walker in love with an angel but being pursued by a demon. The angel is Michael the demon fighter. He and Sophia have a special bond of shared heartbeats. He also has a powerful effect on Sophia—his kiss can literally kill her. Another admirer, Dante the Demon Knight, wants to steal Sophia’s soul and take her to hell. Sophia, meanwhile, is in the process of “awakening” to her powers as a spirit walker to help the newly dead move into the light. The ascended master Rama, an amusing surfer dude, becomes her guide. Sophia takes a great risk by making a copy of herself to solve her problems. However, it looks like this strategy may backfire.
Verdict Dual plotlines of good and evil provide a well-rounded universe; Hell never seemed so charming. The essential fairness of the evil demon knight contrasts greatly with the ultimate depravity of extreme evil. The emphasis on literally divided loyalties in the romance, rather than sex, makes this a G-rated offering.—Henry Bankhead, Los Gatos Lib., CA

Addams, Angela. Cursed. Samhain. (Order of the Wolf, Bk. 1). Aug. 2014. 95p. ebk. ISBN 97814619220225. $3.50. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
Witch Darcy Wells has an unusual career as a Vengeance Dealer. Her latest job: seduce and curse Raven Glock, womanizing love-’em-and-leave-’em bassist for the band Riot. The plot setup allows for practically instantaneous sex and that sex is scorching hot and detailed. After a mind-blowing night, Darcy curses Raven just as the sun rises, binding him to her even as the curse blinds him to her presence. The curse blows back at her big time as Raven is no ordinary man. He’s a werewolf, and now he and his pack are hunting for Darcy, believing she is his mate. Darcy and Raven are both somewhat shallow, deeply flawed characters who gain depth as the story progresses, which allows for some interesting pangs of conscience. The worldbuilding and ending are wide open for further stories in this universe.
Verdict Lots and lots of hot and heavy sexual activity and a fairly interesting premise help to give this superquick read just enough plot and characterization to make it worthwhile for fans of paranormal romance.—Charli Osborne, Oxford P.L., MI

Alden, Elise. Hate To Love You. Carina: Harlequin. 2014. 273p. ebk. ISBN 9781426898433. $3.99. NEW ADULT ROMANCE
With a past fraught with abuse, for which she blames her sister, 18-year-old Paisley turned to drugs and alcohol to ease her pain. When her sister’s fiancé spends the night, Paisley in the dark poses as Caroline and has a night of the most erotic lovemaking with uppity attorney James Scott-Thomas. On the evening of Caroline’s wedding, Paisley reveals to all that James is the father of her baby, even though she knew she was already pregnant prior to their tryst. Once the baby is born, Paisley gives up all parental rights to James, thinking she would be unfit to raise her son. Paisley escapes to Spain to drown her sorrows and subsequently sober up. After seven years, she returns to reclaim her child and come clean to James in hopes of fixing the lives she destroyed all those years ago.
Verdict Despite Alden’s attempt to elicit sympathy via Paisley’s screwed-up childhood, it is hard to feel any compassion for such a self-destructive character, one who doesn’t really grow up, even though she says otherwise. Alden’s debut adds a paranormal element by giving Paisley the ability to read minds, but even that tactic can’t revive this unconvincing story.—Kara Kohn, Plainfield P.L, IL

Evers, Shoshanna. The Tycoon’s Convenient Bride…and Baby. Entangled Indulgence. 2014. 205p. ebk. ISBN 9781622667840. $3.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Lauren Peters is pleasantly surprised to find her twin brother’s sexy business partner Mack Hansen at the door, if only the circumstances were different: Lauren’s brother, Joe, and his wife are missing. As far as Lauren knows, they are supposed to be away on their yacht working on their marriage, which is why Lauren is looking after their baby, Callie. Mack, however, believes that some shady dealings Joe accidentally became involved in are forcing him to hide out. Either way, Joe’s will stipulates that Lauren or Mack can be Callie’s legal guardian but only if either one is married. Since both of them are single, Mack’s solution is for them to marry each other to keep Callie out of the foster system until Joe and Marisol’s return. Mack finds Lauren too irresistible to stay celibate and plans to consummate their “marriage.” Lauren is afraid that she will fall too deep, even though the union is a sham. In order to provide her niece with the family her brother dreamed of, Lauren will have to keep her heart off limits no matter what the expense.
Verdict Although readers can be certain of the outcome of the prolific Evers’s (“Pulse” and “Enslaved” trilogies) sexily “Evers” after titles, getting to know her characters and watching their chemistry sizzle in sensual fashion make for a pleasurable ride that is an added touch to this contemporary romance.—Kara Kohn, Plainfield P.L., IL

OrangeReviewStar E Originals from Adams, Addams, Alden, Evers, Pengelley, & Walter Mosley | Xpress ReviewsMosley, Walter. Jack Strong: A Story of Life After Life. Open Road. Aug. 2014. 52p. ebk. ISBN 9781480489141. $3.99. SF
jackstrong081514 194x300 E Originals from Adams, Addams, Alden, Evers, Pengelley, & Walter Mosley | Xpress ReviewsJack Strong awakens in a Las Vegas hotel room confused and with the echo of other people’s voices and stories ringing in his head. His body is a patchwork of other people’s bodies, a black man’s finger on his left hand, a white woman’s pinky on his right, eyes of different colors, and everywhere, scars. He remembers nothing. Quickly, Jack becomes aware that the voices are the souls of dead men and woman, and possibly a wolf, who have unfinished business in this life. Perhaps Jack is intended to help them solve their leftover problems, or perhaps he is there to help them find redemption. Only the unknown men in the black van seem to know. Jack is determined to figure out the puzzle but on his own terms and in his own time.
Verdict The only disappointment to be found in a novella by acclaimed author Mosley (Blue Light; Futureland) is that it ends too soon. A lively and deep foray into sf in a compact package that fans of Mosley’s speculative fiction will enjoy.—Jennifer Beach, Cumberland Cty. P.L., VA

OrangeReviewStar E Originals from Adams, Addams, Alden, Evers, Pengelley, & Walter Mosley | Xpress ReviewsPengelley, Nick. Ryder: An Ayesha Ryder Novel. Alibi: Random. Oct. 2014. 208p. ebk. ISBN 9780553393835. $2.99. F
First published in Canada as Traitors’ Praise, Pengelley’s suspenseful series debut introduces scholar and Scotland Yard consultant Ayesha Ryder. Ryder is a Palestinian who escaped her violent past via Oxford University and is now called in to solve the brutal murder of a pro-Palestinian Israeli, who had once been her lover. Ryder recognizes the torturers’ marks as matching her own (received when she was captured by the Israelis in her youth). Following the clues, she uncovers a century-old secret between Winston Churchill and T.E. Lawrence that groups on both sides of the Palestinian-Israeli issue are desperate to keep hidden while hoping to disrupt the peace talks taking place in London. Ryder and a cast of international dignitaries scramble to solve the mystery and stop the killers, hoping to achieve no less than peace in the Middle East.
Verdict Archival scavenger hunts and historical what-ifs are well-traveled ground, but Pengelley sets an unconventional story loose on and below the streets of London. With his unusual heroine, the author rejects the clichés of action-adventure thrillers and delivers a surprisingly entertaining read.—Catherine Lantz, Univ. of Illinois at Chicago Lib.

Priestley, Sabine. Alien Attachments. Lyrical: Kensington. (Alien Attachments, Bk. 1). Aug. 2014. 147p. ebk. ISBN 9781616505660. $3.99. SF ROMANCE
For more than 200 years, the Cavacent family of Sandaria protected Earth from incursions by other alien species by claiming the planet since it had no native psi population. They also have been mining Earth’s precious metal carnium used in faster-than-light space travel. Ian Cavacent is the leader of the current group of special forces using psi abilities to protect humans. Ian’s fascination with human Dani Standich is unprecedented owing to the Sandarian obsession with pure bloodlines, but something about the clumsy Dani and her miraculous ability to win any mixed fighting match she enters intrigues him. When Ian subtly uses his psi to heal Dani after one of her bouts, he discovers she has tremendous untapped psi potential. That knowledge will threaten to bond them together while also stealing the Cavacent claim on Earth’s carnium if it is discovered that a human has psi. When enemies of Ian’s family attack Dani on Earth, Ian has no choice but to take her to Sandaria, where they will face together the consequences of her having psi, or fall as the Empire begins to collapse around them.
Verdict Debut author Priestley takes the idea of aliens among us to another level in this fast-paced series launch. Her characterizations are atypical as Dani isn’t thrilled to be the soul mate of an alien, but this uncertainty makes the plot more interesting. While some of the concepts here may seem right out of Star Trek—holographic rooms, teleportation portals, laser pistols—Priestley gives them her own unique twist and will have readers eagerly awaiting the next installment. Recommended for libraries owning Linnea Sinclair’s The Down Home Zombie Blues, Pauline Baird Jones’s “Project Universe” series, or Monette Michaels’s “Prime Chronicles” titles.—Melanie C. Duncan, Shurling Lib., Macon, GA

Shawver, Thomas. Left Turn at Paradise: A Rare Book Mystery. Alibi: Random. Sept. 2014. 208p. ebk. ISBN 9780804179287. $2.99. MYS
Michael Bevan is an ordinary Kansas City antiquarian bookseller who uncovers a rare 18th-century journal written by a British marine who sailed on the Endeavor with Capt. James Cook in 1768. The discovery of this historically significant work promises a tidy profit that will enable Bevan to keep his store afloat. Attending a rare books convention in San Francisco, Bevan serendipitously connects with two London dealers who own a second journal penned by the same author. Later that day, the two journals are stolen, and Bevan’s quest to find them leads him on an adventure halfway around the world to the remote mountains of New Zealand.
Verdict This second series installment (after The Dirty Book Murder) offers readers an entertaining and action-packed adventure reminiscent of Indiana Jones, delicately seasoned with the allure of rare old books. Bibliophiles and mystery/adventure lovers will be mesmerized by this epic tale.—Mary Todd Chesnut, Northern Kentucky Univ. Lib., Highland Heights

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