Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, February 17, 2012

Week ending February 17, 2012

starred review starAdams, Dee J. Danger Zone. Carina: Harlequin. (Adrenaline Highs). Feb. 2012. 262p. eISBN 9781426893223. EPUB $5.99. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
Adams’s sequel to Dangerous Race delivers high-octane romantic suspense during the shooting of a Hollywood racing biopic. A terrible racing accident brought Tracey Bradshaw and Mac Reynolds together two years ago. Filming the movie of Tracey’s story sets Mac’s brother Quinn and stuntwoman Ellie Morgan on a collision course with a crazed killer and each other. Quinn is in L.A. for two weeks and needs to get his brother’s attention. Ellie is working on the movie stunts and doesn’t do short-term relationships. They shouldn’t even meet, yet they bump into each other on the first day and are drawn like magnets to metal. Ellie wants a second opinion, so she invites him to dinner with her roommate, Ashley, who is sure Quinn is the one for Ellie. There’s a killer on the loose who wants to make sure Quinn’s company is sold to the right firm. A killer with very poor aim, because he keeps missing Quinn and instead puts Ashley in the hospital. Ellie realizes that happy for now is better than never happy. Can they find the killer in time to have it all?
Verdict Both Ellie and Quinn have suffered tragedies that have wounded their self-esteem. Here, they really earn their happy ending. At the same time, the Reynolds brothers’ bond has a lot of layers to peel back. Highly recommended for romantic suspense fans, especially those who like stories with complex relationships.‚ Marlene Harris, Reading Reality LLC

Aicher, Lynda. The Dragon Stirs. Samhain. (Energen, Bk. 1). Feb. 2012. Samhain. Feb. 2012. NAp. eISBN 9781609287184. EPUB $3.50. POSTAPOCALYPTIC ROMANCE
The Shifters and the Energens have been locked in an endless war to control the energy, or power, that rules the world. Humans are unaware of this conflict. Airiana Draco belongs to the Shifter race and has been raised to hate the Energens. She is shocked when she feels an instant attraction to Energen Loukianos Aeros. The two are fated to be together and, between them, create something that may just save the world. The energy makes it clear that they must stay together and even indicates that they have to consummate the relationship, leading to a long and intense sex scene. This first installment of the series from first novelist Aicher introduces some intriguing concepts to the ever-growing paranormal/romance field. Unfortunately, the author chooses to write a large number of sentences containing only one word. It. Gets. Pretty annoying. If Aicher had restricted her use of this emphatic construction, the novel would have much better flow.
Verdict Readers looking for a plot-driven new series may find it here.‚ B. Allison Gray, Santa Barbara P.L. Syst., Goleta P.L., CA

Knox, Kim. Synthetic Dreams. Carina: Harlequin. Feb. 2012. 538Kb. eISBN 9781426893308. EPUB $3.99. SF ROMANCE
In a futuristic society straddling harsh reality and virtual opulence, Vyn, a bottom-feeder in the real world, is working on perfecting a way to inhabit another person’s skin virtually. The difficult task is illegal and dangerous, with offenders disappearing without a trace. After a successful, though imperfect, trial of her new technology, Vyn is shocked to find a member of the Corporation’s security team waiting with warnings of punishment and promises of escape. Vyn is forced to trust Paul as she figures out why the Corporation is so interested in her and what role she will be forced to play.
Verdict In this futuristic mind-bender, Knox (Gambit) has created a complicated and fascinating future world of corrupt business, mysterious disappearances, and body-altering technology. While the story is compelling, it would have worked better as a full-length novel to flesh out the world-building and eliminate much of the confusion of how the real and virtual world interact with each other. Romance is present but takes second place to the action-packed plot. Areas of confusion aside, this novella will appeal to readers looking for intriguing sf romance.‚ Kellie Tilton, Univ. of Alaska Fairbanks Lib.

Rogers, Moira. Hunter’s Prey. Samhain. (Bloodhounds, Bk. 2). Mar. 2012. NAp. eISBN 9781609285753. EPUB $4.50. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
Hunter, a newly turned ferocious vampire-hunting shape-shifter with an attitude, struggles against his Bloodhound nature, while Ophelia, a former hooker with a heart of gold, does her best to soothe the savage sexual beast that rises during the new moon. Readers new to the Bloodhounds series may feel a bit lost as they’re introduced to characters and situations at breakneck pace but should be able to enjoy this without being familiar with Rogers’s (Demon Bait) alternate Wild West universe. A vampire drug lord is trying to take over Iron Creek, set at the edge of the Deadlands, while the Bloodhounds mete out rough, frontier justice by gun, teeth, and claws. Hunter and Ophelia have great chemistry, both in bed and out, lending an air of credibility to their torrid romance. Fairly well-developed secondary characters provide for the possibility of further books in the series.
Verdict Despite being wreathed in clichés and tropes, Hunter’s Prey is highly readable and enjoyable. Scorching hot sex and fast-paced action make this a standout in the crowded paranormal romance field.‚ Charli Osborne, Oxford P.L., MI

Bette-Lee Fox About Bette-Lee Fox

Bette-Lee Fox (blfox@mediasourceinc.com) is Managing Editor, Library Journal.

Now in her 46th year with Library Journal, Bette-Lee also edits LJ's Video Reviews column, six times a year Romance column, and e-original Romance reviews, which post weekly as LJ Xpress Reviews. She received the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Vivian Stephens Industry Award in 2013 for having "contributed to the genre or to RWA in a significant and/or continuing manner"