E-Originals from Chianese, Cole, Holmes, and Wyatt & St. George | Xpress Reviews

Week ending September 8, 2017

Chianese, Gail. A Hero To Love. Lyrical: Kensington. (Changing Tides, Bk. 2). Aug. 2017. 217p. ebk. ISBN 9781516100316. $3.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Veterinarian Risa Reynolds has the near perfect life. Her boss is on a vacation that’s more a trial retirement. Her farm is about to add some miniature horses to its growing menagerie, and her parents are close by. The only thing missing is a guy, but her “no military men” rule limits her choices as she takes on more responsibility at the naval base. Her rule is tested when Chief Master at Arms Jackson “Jax” Faraday arrives at her office with his injured K-9 partner Bella. The two find themselves breaking personal and professional rules for one another, but when Bella starts acting up with other trainers and someone vandalizes Risa’s car, the romance is put on the back burner. That is until a stakeout fails to reveal the vandal but reveals so much more. The convincing characters and hot love scenes fans have come to expect from Chianese (Love Runs Deep) are still here, but the protagonists lack emotional depth outside of their attention to their four-footed friends.
Verdict Recommended for contemporary romance fans who appreciate strong female leads, handsome naval officers, and a dog playing matchmaker.—John Rodzvilla, Emerson Coll., Boston

Cole, Scarlett. Elliott Redeemed. Swerve: St. Martin’s. (Preload, Bk. 2). Aug. 2017. 212p. ebk. ISBN 9781250132451. $4.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Kendalee Walker has her hands full: her son has been sexually abused and is recovering in the hospital from severe burns after burning down their house, plus her husband is living with another woman and not believing their son about the abuse. Struggling to work and be there for her wounded child, she is taken aback when a musician shows up at the hospital and actually makes Daniel smile. Even worse, he makes her smile. Maybe it’s because he has a compulsion for fires that bonds him to the kid, but Elliott Dawson can’t get over the boy and his very striking mother. As a guitarist for Preload, he is all over the world on tour, but what he craves is the security of a real home, with a real woman to love and trust. Exploring issues of sexual abuse, pyromania, and abused children, this story offers an emotional punch. Prepare to be sucked into the world of a struggling musician and the woman who just might make him whole.
Verdict Fans of Cole will recognize the bandmates of Preload (Jordan Reclaimed). Readers unfamiliar with the series can still enjoy this stand-alone, although most will probably read the first book as well.—Judy Taylor Garner, Strayer Univ., Glen Allen, VA

Holmes, Steena. Captured by Chocolate. Tule. (Love at the Chocolate Shop, Bk. 11). Aug. 2017. 187p. ebk. ISBN 9781946772787. $2.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Globe-trotting photographer Casey Michaels and local DJ Dylan Morgan have been dating for what seems like forever. Dylan understands Casey’s wanderlust and Casey respects his decision to stay back in Marietta, MT. Only when Casey returns this time, she’s looking to stick around on a more permanent basis. Having seen her share of families torn apart by powers beyond anyone’s control, she needs a sense of belonging closer to home. But Dylan has been offered a job in New York and for the first time ponders leaving on his own adventure. A series of miscommunications threaten to shatter Dylan’s efforts with Casey and what they have started to build.
Verdict While Holmes’s (Charmed by Chocolate) latest installment in the series features much darker themes, her sentiments are explored with great care. Less about second chances than about another type of coming-of-age, this is a more grounded entry in the series.—Frannie Strober Cassano, North Bellmore P.L., NY.

Wyatt, Tara & Harper St. George. Dirty Boxing. Pocket Star. (Blood & Glory, Bk. 1). Sept. 2017. 285p. ebk. ISBN 9781501170195. $1.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Jules Darcy has no intention of getting herself entangled in a relationship, thanks to her parents’ prime example of a dysfunctional marriage. Trying to overcome the past, Jules agrees to work for her father, a legendary fighter, hoping that they can rebuild their relationship. She can anticipate her father’s moods and business decisions, but she is completely unprepared when he hires MMA (mixed martial arts) fighter Nick Giannakis to broaden the appeal of the fledgling World Fighting Championship league. Nick is the same MMA fighter whom Jules walked out on a year ago because he was getting too close to breaking down her barriers. Nick hasn’t forgotten or forgiven Jules for leaving without a word but slowly begins to believe that his match with the boss’s daughter isn’t quite over yet. St. George (A Marriage Deal with the Outlaw) and Wyatt (Necessary Work) have written a fast-paced romance filled with sizzling chemistry, which will have readers rooting for Jules and Nick to find their way back to each other.
Verdict This novel will have broad appeal for readers of sexy contemporary romance, not just those who have an interest in MMA.—Nicole J. Suarez, Frankfort P.L. Dist., IL

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