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 Kovach and Lanyon, with First-Timers Morgan and Swift | Xpress Reviews

Week ending February 24, 2017

Kovach, R.S. The Last Resort. Pocket Star. Mar. 2017. 288p. ebk. ISBN 9781501145650. $1.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Twenty-nine-year-old Alejandra Barros, a successful VP of international financial initiatives for Foxhall Investments in Manhattan, falls off her horse—literally and figuratively. Ignoring doctor’s orders for bed rest, Ali returns to work and uncharacteristically begins to make mistakes, so the company sends her to the Pebble Creek Lodge rehabilitation resort near Denver for 30 days. There she meets handsome Hank Mathis, brother of the resort manager. Hank, who has his own healing challenges, helps Ali get back in the saddle—literally and figuratively. Kovach (Once upon Now) was the winner of the XOXO Connects flash fiction contest and is a Wattpad Featured Author. She lives in the Washington, DC area.
Verdict Readers will stay with the novel to find out why mysterious, handsome Hank works at the resort, while Ali fights her perfectionism to realize long hours with no social life may really be her mother’s expectations for her. The story ends with a low-impact finale but a new beginning, signaling the possibility of a series.—Joyce Sparrow, Kenneth City, FL

Lanyon, Josh. Fair Chance. Carina: Harlequin. (All’s Fair, Bk. 2). Mar. 2017. 199p. ebk. ISBN 9781426898976. $4.99. MALE/MALE ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
The serial killer known as the Sculptor will only talk to the man who caught him, former FBI agent Elliot Mills. When Elliot visits the Sculptor in prison, he learns this killer has an accomplice. Elliot’s boyfriend, Special Agent Tucker Lance, wants Elliot to put the gruesome case and his former FBI days behind him, but Elliott is determined to continue, especially after his car is vandalized and an unwelcome acquaintance hints at knowing the identity of the Sculptor’s partner in crime. Then Tucker disappears. There is no further help from the Sculptor, and the original task force members are silent about what is being done to recover Tucker. Elliot’s only ally is an abandoned collie he finds at the Sculptor’s home.
Verdict Lanyon (Fair Play) keeps the suspense taut as Elliot juggles searching for the killer and Tucker along with his work and family responsibilities. Not much backstory is covered, so readers will want to start with Fair Game, the first in the series. The ending wraps up a little too neatly, but suspense fans will love how Lanyon keeps the pages turning.—Eve Stano, Lincoln Lib., Springfield, IL

Morgan, Sophie H. Her Wish. Swerve: St. Martin’s. (Playboy Genie, Bk. 1). May 2017. 300p. ebk. ISBN 9781250129215. $3.99. PARANORMAL/FANTASY ROMANCE
herwish022417[DEBUT] Charlotte “Charlie” Donahue doesn’t understand why the modern world has gone crazy for genies. Sure, they’re immortal, incredibly good looking, and capable of granting a single wish to the lucky winner of the weekly genie lottery, but there has to be a catch—right? So when Charlie’s name is picked in the drawing after her best friend bought her a ticket, she’s appalled. She doesn’t want a wish, and gorgeous Jax Michaels isn’t going to make her wish for anything. Poor Jax doesn’t understand why Charlie isn’t throwing herself at him or rushing to wish herself prettier or richer. And the more he hangs around trying to trick her, the more he wonders if she might be the answer to a wish he never made.
Verdict Morgan’s debut takes a romance trope (plain Jane heroine/gorgeous rich hero), adds a dash of fantasy and a sprinkling of humor, and pulls the reader into the entertaining start of a new series (although it stands solidly on its own). Libraries where other types of genie romances are popular—think Dakota Cassidy’s The Accidental Genie, Thea Harrison’s Oracle’s Moon, Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Fantasy Lover, or Gena Showalter’s The Pleasure Slave and The Stone Prince—should definitely check out this title.—Melanie C. Duncan, West Bibb Lib., Macon, GA

starred review starSwift, Parker. Royal Affair. Forever Yours: Grand Central. (Royal Scandal, Bk. 1). Feb. 2017. 358p. ebk. ISBN 9781455598038. $3.99. EROTIC ROMANCE
[DEBUT] Royal love can be complicated, so falling for the first marquess to cross her path was probably not the smartest thing that Lydia Bell has ever done, but it did lead to the most explosive nights she could ever imagine. A chance meeting while working as a nanny leads to the interest of a future duke, superrich and superfamous Dylan Hale. Dylan quickly contends that he won’t do relationships, but the pair are quickly drawn into an intensely sexual and explorative affair. Secrecy cloaks their every move, as Dylan lives one life on the cover of the tabloids and another in bed with Lydia. Who is the real Dylan Hale? Readers will be left guessing as this intricate tale unfolds.
Verdict Fans of Fifty Shades of Grey should give this debut series by Swift a try. Rich on sexual exploration, with simple touches of ropes and spanking, Lydia and Dylan’s affair heats up the pages as Swift creates a couple who find passion and love in healthy doses.—Judy Taylor Garner, Strayer Univ., Glen Allen, VA

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