E-Originals from Alward, Flade, Livesay, Marcelo, and Debuter Laine | Xpress Reviews

Week ending September 29, 2017

starred review star Alward, Donna. Deck the Halls. Swerve: St. Martin’s. (Darling, VT). Oct. 2017. 128p. ebk. ISBN 9781250179333. $2.99. HOLIDAY ROMANCE
George Reilly is finally getting his life back on track. After serving in the military and doing several tours, he was not the same when he came home. The tragedy of losing his brother in arms Ian and survivor’s guilt led him to living on the streets and losing everything. Given another chance, he has a town he loves, a boss who is more of a friend, and a job he enjoys. But when Ian’s sister shows up asking questions about how her brother died, George is not sure he is emotionally ready to face his demons. Amy has spent years wanting to know what really happened, and George is the one person who can tell her. She will even take two weeks over the holidays to get those answers from a man she used to find quite attractive. After years of attempts, maybe these two, with the spirit of Christmas, will be the key to being truly healed. Alward (Somebody’s Baby) does an incredible job of incorporating the sacrifice our military personnel make every day, the kindness of others, and the magic of the Christmas season.
Verdict Romance readers who love holiday stories will be thrilled with this latest addition.—Jessica M. Strefling, U.S. Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit, Washington, DC

Flade, Becky. A Love Restrained. Tirgearr. Oct. 2017. 222p. ebk. ISBN 9781370770410. $4.99; until 10/8/17 on Amazon, 99¢. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
Kaylee Parker, the girl next door, has grown up to be a fierce cop, but what happens when she reconnects with her high school crush, bad boy–turned–drug dealer Jayson Donovan? Though she knows it’s a mistake, she can’t help falling in love with him. The novel alternates between Jayson’s and Kaylee’s points of view, but frequently slips from third-person to first-person for each, which only serves to ramp up the intensity. This story of passion, missed chances, regrets, and danger is heartrending in parts. There are a few of love scenes but more teasing that gets interrupted throughout. Can the couple make it work? Or will their different paths end their relationship or, worse, someone’s life?
Verdict This latest from Flade (Fated), with its solid plot and a few twists and turns, is a strong choice for anyone interested in an emotional love story that may break readers’ hearts.—Sonnet Ireland, St. Tammany Parish P.L., Mandeville, LA

Laine, Licie. My Fair Baron. Crimson Romance: S. & S. (Romance Remade, Bk. 1). Sept. 2017. 304p. ebk. ISBN 9781507206096. $4.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
[DEBUT] When Claire Hastings’s elder brother suddenly dies, she is eligible to inherit a vast fortune and her family home, as long as she is married to a society-approved titled gentleman by her birthday. With scarcely a month to go, Claire allows her best friend Lady Isadora to introduce her to impoverished baron William Knightley, who has recently made his living as a prostitute at Isadora’s upscale brothel. Claire’s independent, solitary lifestyle has her calculating how best to appear in love, while William struggles to remember his posh upbringing and mannerisms. Can they fool everyone into thinking they are a proper love match? Claire’s matter-of-fact attitude contrasts nicely with some of the more ridiculous scenes, but the dramatic suspense of William’s all-consuming guilt seems exaggerated. Debut author Laine’s tendency for over-the-top embellishment might try some readers’ patience, yet her playful approach to an arranged marriage ultimately pays off.
Verdict The alternating scenes showcasing the pair’s bumbling efforts in society coupled with sincere, tender displays of affection make My Fair Baron a fun and heartening read despite a few hiccups.—Eve Stano, Lincoln Lib., Springfield, IL

Livesay, Tracey. Love Will Always Remember. Avon Impulse. (Shades of Love, Bk. 3). Aug. 2017. 257p. ebk. ISBN 9780062497765. $1.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
In Livesay’s interracial romance, lobbyist Leighton Clarke is exceedingly competent at getting the job done, but a freak accident leaves her with amnesia. With her fiancé out of town, her future brother-in-law restaurateur Jonathan Moran becomes her caretaker and fake husband-to-be. For Jonathan, taking care of Leighton brings everything he feels for her front and center, while Leighton tries to piece together her past and her feelings for this man she thinks she is going to marry. Once Leighton’s memory returns, she must reconcile the woman she was with the woman she is now and how Jonathan fits into her new life. While this is part of a series, prior reading of the earlier titles (Love on My Mind; Along Came Love) is not necessary.
Verdict Livesay’s latest is recommended for libraries where contemporary titles circulate well and where diverse characters are in demand.—Sarah Sheehan, Manhattan Coll. Lib., Riverdale, NY

Marcelo, Tif. East in Paradise. Pocket Star. (Journey to the Heart, Bk. 2). Sept. 2017. 300p. ebk. ISBN 9781501169496. $5.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Bryn Aquino has a plan and the drive, knowledge, and experience to pull it off, as long as everything and everyone follow along. The future of her culinary retreat, Paraiso, depends on what she is willing to do to keep the project moving forward. Mitchell Dunford, newly retired from active duty, has returned to his childhood home to take over the running of Dunford Vineyard from his brothers. The vineyard is in need of an influx of cash, so Mitchell decides to lease his childhood home. This is where Bryn’ retreat comes in. When news of Bryn’s venture piques the interest of an Internet producer, she reluctantly agrees to allow the show to stream her renovating and preparing for the opening—as long as she can keep viewers engaged. When Mitchell unwittingly walks into a streaming session, the sparks fly and viewers are hooked. Can Bryn convince Mitchell to help her keep the audience watching so that both of their enterprises will stay afloat?
Verdict In this second series entry (after North to You), Bryn and Mitchell are genuine (well, Mitchell may be a little too good to be true!), and their feelings and struggles with business, family, reality vs. reality TV, grief, PTSD, and an intense mutual attraction are all heartfelt and true to life.—Lisa Jordan, Johnson Cty. Lib., Overland Park, KS

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