Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, November 11, 2011

Week ending November 11, 2011

Bell, Dana Marie. Artistic Vision. Samhain. (Gray Court, Bk. 3). Nov. 2011. 378KB. eISBN 9781609285531. EPUB $4.50. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
This third title in the Gray Court series (after Dare To Believe and Noble Blood) continues the story of the Dunne family composed of leprechauns, vampires, sidhe (magical fairy folk), and more. The focus here is on the romance between Akane Russo, a hybrid dragon, and Shane Dunne, a hybrid part-leprechaun artist with the ability to see the future. Factional politics and infighting between the White Court and the Black Court provide a compelling context for the action. The plot, however, devolves into a byzantine complexity that may confuse the casual reader. The growing romance between Akane and Shane, interspersed with graphic sex scenes and magical violence, provides a potent punch that resuscitates the faltering narrative. Coming somewhat abruptly, the conclusion offers little in the way of resolution, though unanswered questions linger to propel the series along its magical path.
Verdict Prime stuff for true sidhe enthusiasts and over-the-top fans of magic; a bit of an effort for normal humans. Redemption comes by dint of interesting shape-shifting sex scenes and revelations about the true function of the horns on a dragon.‚ Henry Bankhead, Los Gatos P.L., CA

A Clockwork Christmas: A Steampunk Christmas Anthology. Carina: Harlequin. Dec. 2011. c.369p. eISBN 9781426892752. EPUB $9.99. FANTASY ROMANCE
Each of the four short stories in A Clockwork Christmas combines the genre of steampunk with the holiday spirit and tosses in a pinch of spiciness for good measure; all four authors tackle the subject matter in extremely different ways. In Stacy Gail’s Crime Wave in a Corset, a thief is dealing with an unhappy man seeking retribution, whereas JK Coi’s Far from Broken presents a spy seeking to connect with a wife now made up mostly of gears and metal. The anthology also spans the globe: PG Forte sets This Winter Heart in Santa Fe, as an estranged wife prepares to unleash a hidden secret, while in Australia, the setting of Jenny Schwartz’s Wanted: One Scoundrel, a woman seeks a man to help her political party.
Verdict: All four stories are enjoyable reads. Each addresses the holidays to varying degrees, but all are full of gears, inventions, and other identifiers of the steampunk genre. Gail’s Crime Wave stands out, but each tale is a romantic escapade. A great read as the holidays draw near for anyone who likes their steampunk extra steamy.‚ Kellie Tilton, Univ. of Alaska-Fairbanks Lib.

Lawson, Corrina. Phoenix Rising. Samhain. (Phoenix Institute, Bk. 1). Nov. 2011. c.250p. eISBN 9781609285487. EPUB $5.50. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
Alec Farley is a weapon. He has trained his telekinesis and fire control as long as he can remember. Working for the reclusive entity the Resource under his adoptive father is all he knows. Now, the FBI insists on counseling from young psychologist Beth Nakamora. From the beginning, Beth knows they have a connection. One touch, and they both feel sparks; their first kiss is enough to send Alec’s powers to a new level and rekindle Beth’s latent telepathy. Beth understands that she has to show Alec there is more to the world than fighting, but how?
Verdict A touch of the X-Men with a smattering of coming-of-age legend, Phoenix Rising certainly keeps the reader’s attention. Lawson effortlessly switches points-of-view, from Alec to Beth and back again. Despite a little too much exposition and one too many endings, the strong characters keep the pages turning. The edge-of-your-seat plot keeps the story rolling along.‚ Emily Thompson, SUNY-Oswego Lib.

Walters, N.J. Love in Flames. Samhain. 2011. NAp. eISBN 9781609285432. EPUB $4.50. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
Esther has a long heritage. In her family’s distant past, there was another Esther, who lost the love of her life to Fire. James promised that no matter how long it took, he would find her again. Modern Esther can’t keep her mind off Ryan, but she refuses to date a firefighter because they all end up dying tragically. Modern Esther must overcome her fears of losing love to realize that having love is always better then doing without it.
Verdict This book tries to be both cozy and steamy but fails on both counts. It feels dated and very 1980s, and the cover art doesn’t help. Love in Flames is not the worst read, but it might fit better in the only if desperate category.‚ Ryan A. Franklin, Mattoon P.L., IL