E-Originals from Arden, Castillo, Chase, and Lane and Debuter Delacroix | Xpress Reviews

Week ending August 18, 2017

Arden, Elley. The Perfect Game. Crimson Romance: S. & S. (Arlington Aces, Bk. 3). Jul. 2017. 227p. ebk. ISBN 9781507205617. $4.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Pauly Byrne will win this baseball championship with the Aces and get signed to a minor league team, even if Ian Pratt has to catch for her. Sure, he is sexy, but this is not about sexy. He has no discipline and no goals and doesn’t take the game seriously. Pauly must win and be able to support herself, and she will not let a mere attraction deter her. Ian will not let Pauly frazzle him. Baseball is fun, and he doesn’t need anything affecting his carefree life. Sure, Pauly’s a great pitcher and very appealing, but his life is not about long-term. He just needs to get through the season without her messing up his routine. Although they may not want to admit it, these two have to learn to trust each other to reach their goals, whether they like it or not. Arden (The Change Up; The Sweet Spot) wraps up her trilogy with an earnest yet fun and sexy story about two people who may not want others in their life but need them to be their best selves.
Verdict Sports romance novel lovers will truly enjoy this tale of a strong female who dominates in a male sport.—Jessica M. Strefling, U.S. Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit, Washington, DC

Castillo, Holly. Texas Desire. Tule. (Texas Legacy, Bk. 2). Aug. 2017. 160p. ebk. ISBN 9781946772701. $3.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Against the backdrop of the Alamo, Olivia Torres, known as Senorita Fria (“cold woman”) to the Mexican soldiers, is doing her part to protect her family and help the Texians, the residents of Mexican Texas. This includes the gravely injured Texian who stumbles into her house late one night, with half the Mexican army after him. Cade has his secrets and as he heals under Olivia’s care, he learns she’s anything but cold. He’s tempted to share with her those secrets—and so much more—even if it leads both of them into the clutches of the advancing troops. This second book in the series (after Texas Conquest) is fast-paced and action-packed. Castillo continues to use the setting as an engaging and living part of her world. The Torres family is a draw as well, with their story and relationships growing stronger in this entry.
Verdict The middle slows a bit, but the banter between Olivia and Cade is fun and flirty throughout, while never advancing beyond heavy petting on page.—Kellie Tilton, Univ. of Cincinnati Blue Ash

Chase, Alyson. Disciplined by the Duke. Swerve: St. Martin’s. (Lords of Discipline, Bk. 1). Aug. 2017. 300p. ebk. ISBN 9781250155252. $3.99. HISTORICAL EROTICA
The first installment in the new “Lords of Discipline” series sees author Chase taking a turn from contemporary (the “Pineville” series, written as Allyson Charles) to the Regency. In order to save her sister from the hangman, Elizabeth Wilcox must steal a letter from the Duke of Montague. Pretending to be a chambermaid, she embeds herself at his estate. A series of unlikely (but believable) events keep finding them in close proximity to each other, unable to ignore the heat between them. While the sexual tension slowly simmers over the first half of the book, Chase spends time developing a wonderful cast of characters in Liz’s fellow domestics, as well as deepening the letter plot from simple theft to possible treason. Once Liz and Montague’s passion can no longer be contained by secrets and differences in their stations, the heat erupts. Montague is cautious and respectful as he introduces Liz to the pleasures of the flesh, including spanking and light bondage.
Verdict With a strong dose of steam and a nonromantic plot, Chase offers Regency fans something a little different and very enjoyable.—Jennifer Rothschild, Arlington P.L., VA

Delacroix, Alana. Masked Possession. Lyrical: Kensington. (Masked Arcana, Bk. 1). Aug. 2017. 272p. ebk. ISBN 9781516103614. $2.99. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
[DEBUT] Caro Yeats, former reporter for the Washington Post, had thought she had left the excitement and danger of her life in journalism behind. After breaking a big story involving the extensive illegal activity of high-profile criminal Franz Iverson, she was brutally attacked by his thugs and left for dead. A year later, finding herself in a new city with a new job at Julien D’Aurant PR, she feels comfortable and safe. The clientele, nonhuman Arcana, keep her busy covering up their very existence from the human world. When Eric Kelton, the North American Hierarch of the Masquerada, an Arcana with the ability to change identities, comes to her agency with a life-threatening problem, her safety and security are at risk once again. Franz is revealed to be a common enemy to them both, and Caro and Eric will do anything to protect each other.
Verdict As both Caro and Eric overcome the fear of facing their true identities, their bond slowly cements, heating up the pages with their intimate pleasures. Fans of paranormal romance will be intrigued by the unique story line and satiated by the erotic play in this debut.—Vicky Coffin, Salem Free P.L., CT

Lane, Janet. Etti’s Intended. Dreaming Tree. (Coin Forest Gypsy Prequel). Sept. 2017. 326p. ebk. ISBN 9781945508028. $3.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
The author of the award-winning “Coin Forest Gypsy” series pens the prequel to relay the story of Etti and Rafa. Marriage options for Etti and Rafa are concerns for their individual clans. Etti’s people especially worry about who can take on such a headstrong and strange woman enchanted by animals. Remaining unmarried for Rafa is less of an issue as he has his passion for horses, and men can make this choice. Past the marrying age, Rafa becomes fascinated with Etti and speaks his intentions to her uncle, but her private dance in the courtyard also catches the attention of another, who has the leader’s favor.
Verdict Lane (Emerald Silk; Crimson Secret) does a superb job creating layers to the Gypsy culture and clans not often seen in other novels. Perhaps a victim simply of its purpose, Etti’s Intended as a stand-alone is anticlimactic. The story ties up almost too perfectly, which left this reader satisfied rather than wanting more. Fans of the series will enjoy this origin story; a must-have for libraries serving those fans.—Heather Lisa Maneiro, Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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