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 Court, Farrell, Moran, and Walker | Xpress Reviews

Week ending February 10, 2017

Court, Jules. Hot in the City. Carina: Harlequin. (Hot in the City, Bk. 1). Mar. 2017. 112p. ebk. ISBN 9781488024528. $2.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
hotinthecity021017Priya is a young doctor, driven to succeed in her career in hopes of making her parents proud and making up for her biggest mistake. Brian is a young detective equally devoted to his work. They meet in her Boston ER when he needs patching up after a case. But they connect over Brian’s determination to find Priya’s cousin Sara, who has always played the family bad girl to Priya’s good one. Sara witnessed a gangland murder, and Brian must get her into protective custody before she gets herself killed. But as much as he knows he shouldn’t get involved with Priya, he can’t resist. Not even if it jeopardizes his investigation, his career, or both. This latest title from Court (Guarding Her Heart) is hot, sexy, and a whole lot of fun.
Verdict Both the hero and heroine are career driven, slightly unsure of themselves, and well aware that any relationship between them is in serious trouble. Priya is of Indian descent and therefore stands out from the usual run of heroines, yet the family pressures she drowns in will be familiar to women of any background. Recommended for readers of contemporary romance, particularly, but not limited to, those looking for diverse heroines.—Marlene Harris, Reading Reality, Atlanta

Farrell, Jamie. Her Rebel Heart. Jamie Farrell. (Officers’ Ex-Wives Club, Bk. 1). Mar. 2017. 280p. ebk. ISBN 9781940517186. $4.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Georgia college physics professor Kaci Boudreaux eyes military pilot Lance Wheeler alone at a bar and convinces him to kiss her in order to prove to her ex-husband that they are truly over. Lance likes the spirit of this sassy blonde but walks away mid-kiss: he was just left at the altar by his fiancée. Kaci next sees Lance as a member of the winning team at the pumpkin chucking contest at which her students have rigged a pretty sweet catapult. After an unfortunate pumpkin incident, Lance wants to get to know this spirited, potato gun–wielding woman. He discovers she has an upcoming presentation in Germany along with a fear of flying, and he is determined to help. Kaci finds herself falling for this military man, but when she learns that he will be deploying soon, she might crash and burn their romance.
Verdict With the recent women’s marches across the nation, Farrell’s feisty protagonist who works in a male-dominated field will be an inspiration to readers. Some of the romantic scenes could use a little work (“he wanted to feel the skin on her elbows”) and hopefully will improve in future books. According to the author, although Her Rebel Heart is the latest series offering, it takes place before the action in Southern Fried Blues and Moonshine & Magnolias and should be read first.—Kara Kohn, Plainfield P.L., IL

Moran, Kelly. Tracking You. Lyrical: Kensington. (Redwood Ridge, Bk. 2). May 2017. 219p. ebk. ISBN 9781516102747. $3.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Gabby Cosette is the sweetest girl in the small town of Redwood Ridge, OR. She has plenty of friends, but guys don’t seem to have much interest in a nice girl. Except—all of a sudden—for Flynn O’Grady, Gabby’s oldest and dearest friend and her boss at Animal Instincts, his family’s veterinary clinic, where she works as a vet tech. Born deaf, Flynn has always felt isolated from people outside his immediate family and Gabby; the two have been inseparable since kindergarten. Her friendship and her support at the clinic are indispensable, which is why he has suppressed the attraction he feels for her. Recently, though, he can’t seem to help himself.
Verdict The second installment in the “Redwood Ridge” stories (after Puppy Love) delivers a steamy romance. The interchange of sign language and verbal speech adds interest and dimension to an otherwise thin plot; however, some odd turns of phrase may prove jarring for readers. The main conflict in the relationship (Flynn’s concern that Gabby has sublimated her own wants and needs to accommodate his) rings a little too true for comfort.—Lindsay Morton, Pub. Lib. of Science

Walker, Ann Marie. Black Tie Optional. Swerve: St. Martin’s. (Wild Wedding). May 2017. 274p. ebk. ISBN 9781250120021. $3.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Do opposites attract? It seems so for billionaire Coleman Grant III and animal rights activist Olivia Ramsey, who can’t seem to keep away from each other despite their divergent views on basically everything. When they find themselves in Las Vegas for the same bachelor/bachelorette party weekend, inhibitions are loosened, and Cole and Olivia find themselves waking up together after a night of getting to know each other better. Sadly for Cole, Olivia still can’t stand him, especially now. Yet she might be the perfect person to help him fight his grandmother’s bid to wrest away control of his company. He promises Olivia he’ll create a foundation to support her animal rights concerns, and she agrees! Can these two show a united front, or will their natural animosity give them away?
Verdict Olivia and Cole are great characters and prove that opposites do attract. Sweet, funny, steamy, and at times laugh-out-loud funny, this latest from Walker (coauthor of the “Chasing Fire” series) is an entertaining and fun read—a sort of Fifty Shades of Grey–lite.—Lisa Jordan, Johnson Cty. Lib., Overland Park, KS

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