LJ Best Books 2016

A jury of our peers discussed, debated, disagreed, and finally declared LJ’s annual Top Ten Best Books of the year, selected by our editors, as well as Top Five lists for genre fiction, nonfiction, poetry, graphic novels, and SELF-e titles. VISIT THE WEBSITE

E-Originals from Arthur, Lynn, and Stewart | Xpress Reviews

Week ending January 6, 2017

Arthur, A.M. As I Am. Carina: Harlequin. (All Saints, Bk. 3). Feb. 2017. 368p. ebk. ISBN 9781460397534. $4.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE, LGBT
Will Madden deals with panic attacks and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of physical and sexual abuse suffered at the hands of his mother’s drug dealers when he was a teen. Thomas “Taz” Zachary suffers with panic episodes and PTSD as a result of an acid attack by a teammate in college when he came out as bisexual. When Will and Taz meet in an online chat room, they feel safe to open up to each other and find a kindred spirit who understands the daily struggle just to live. Soon chatting isn’t enough, and the two decide to meet, which sets in motion a chain of events dragging Will’s past into his present on a collision course with Taz’s family and how their lives intertwined before they met. Together, they are stronger, but will they break before they find the strength in each other? Arthur concludes the “All Saints” trilogy (Come What May; Say It Right) with an emotionally wrenching story of two young men who underwent different types of abuse but found salvation together. Characters from the author’s “The Restoration Trilogy” and “The Belonging Trilogy” make appearances, but readers unfamiliar with those books won’t be left hanging.
Verdict Required for libraries owning Arthur; libraries looking to pick up complete sets should get them all.—Melanie C. Duncan, West Bibb Lib., Macon, GA

Lynn, Cherrie. Raw Deal. Swerve: St. Martin’s. (Larson Brothers, Bk. 1). Jan. 2017. 239p. ebk. ISBN 9781250126368. $1.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
rawdeal010617Lynn’s new “Larson Brothers” series is off at the sound of the bell. We meet Mike “Red Reaper” Larson shortly after his most recent MMA (mixed martial arts) fight, which ended in his opponent’s accidental death. Feeling the need to attend the funeral but not wanting to upset the family, he watches from afar. When he sees the widow and sister of the fighter step away, he is compelled to offer his condolences, knowing they may not welcome him. It’s all Savannah can do to hold things together and comfort her brother’s wife. When Mike Larson approaches, she is shocked at how drawn to him she is despite what happened to her brother. Agreeing to meet with him just once seems the best way to get his side of the story and to put to rest her connection with the MMA world. Little does Savannah realize that their attraction can’t be set aside so easily. Can she be with someone who will get back into the ring and fight another day?
Verdict Lynn (Leave Me Breathless) handles the emotions behind MMA fighting with compassion and explores the feelings on both sides of the ropes. A brief introduction to the other Larsons proves that their stories will be just as intriguing.—Lisa Jordan, Johnson Cty. Lib., Overland Park, KS

Stewart, JM. Claiming the Billionaire. Forever Yours: Grand Central. (Seattle Bachelors, Bk. 4). Jan. 2017. 166p. ebk. ISBN 9781455592272. $3.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
After losing her brother in combat and her mother in an accident, Cassie knows she can’t say goodbye to any more loved ones. So when Tyler, also a military man, proposes to her, she rejects him and claims she was only using him for sex. After being deployed to Iraq, he went missing and was assumed to have died. Now, three years later, Cassie learns that Tyler is indeed alive and shocks her with his bid to be her date at a charity auction. Despite her misgivings, she can’t resist the sexual chemistry that drew them together in the first place. And even if Cassie is able to let Tyler back in her heart, there is a chance she’ll lose him all over again if he leaves on a second tour. For Tyler, struggling with PTSD, his issues might pose a danger to any woman he loves.
Verdict While Stewart’s (Bargaining for the Billionaire) fourth outing is timely and filled with hot, sexual chemistry, the end is tied up a little too neatly. For readers who want a happy ever after, though, Stewart delivers.—Kara Kohn, Plainfield P.L., IL

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