Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, March 23, 2012

Week ending March 23, 2012

Luiken, Nicole. Gate to Kandrith. Carina: Harlequin. Mar. 2012. 752Kb. eISBN 9781426893476. EPUB $5.99. FANTASY ROMANCE
In this gripping tale of intrigue and magic set in a well-imagined fantasy world, Sara, daughter of the leader of the republic of Temboria, is a pawn in her father’s evil machinations. Under the spell of a powerful aphrodisiac, she is inadvertently attracted to and saved by Lance, an ambassador from Slaveland. As Sara learns more about the renegade slave republic, called Kandrith by its denizens, she begins to examine her own assumptions about her world. Unaware of all that her situation entails, Sara goes to Kandrith as a spy but is won over by its people and her experiences there. Meanwhile, her romantic attachment to Lance blooms. Lance is a healer, who sacrifices his health to help others. The theme of sacrifice looms large as Sara, ultimately, sacrifices herself to save Lance. The violent conclusion aptly sets the stage for the sequel.
Verdict Dorothy Bryant’s The Kin of Ata Are Waiting for You meets Ernest Callenbach’s Ecotopia, with a Tolkien-esque high fantasy spin. Recommended for fantasy fans as well as romance lovers.‚ Henry Bankhead, Los Gatos P.L., CA

March, Ava. Brook Street: Thief. Carina: Harlequin. Mar. 2012. 115p. eISBN 9781426893421. $3.99. REGENCY ROMANCE, LGBT
In 1822 London, Lord Benjamin Parker questions his familial responsibility to marry and produce heirs since there are several family members in line for inheritance ahead of him. He also has a secret: he’s not particularly attracted to women. As a test, he seeks a special club where he might meet a gentleman to help him test his theory that a hard chest attracts him more than an ample bosom. His gentleman turns out to be a thief in disguise, Mr. Cavin Fox, whose goal for the night is to seduce a lord and steal his money. When Cavin finds out it is Ben’s first time, however, his battered moral code won’t allow him to ruin the man’s experience, and he sneaks away with only memories. Circumstances keep pulling the men together and force Cavin to seek Ben’s help to save a boy from the man who has controlled them as part of his gang of prostitutes and thieves. Before long, Cavin needs Ben to rescue himself from his pride and give their love a chance.
Verdict March (My True Love Gave to Me in Men Under the Mistletoe) launches a new trilogy with a sexy and sweet romance to be followed by Brook Street: Fortune Hunter (Apr.) and Brook Street: Rogues (May). Thief sets up the foundation, mentions future characters, and leaves Ben and Cavin settling into their new lives. Recommended for collections where March or historical M/M is popular.‚ Melanie C. Duncan, Shurling Lib., Macon, GA

Mullins, Debra. Donovan’s Bed. Samhain. (Calhoun Sisters, Bk. 1). 2012. 314p. eISBN 9781609289829. EPUB $3.99. WESTERN ROMANCE
Donovan’s Bed is the kind of guilty pleasure that many romance readers still love, but isn’t written much anymore. Which explains why Samhain has rereleased the title (originally published by Avon in 2000) under its Retro Romance label. In a small town on the Western frontier, feisty Sarah Calhoun spends her days determined to live down her one scandal. She redefines herself as a businesswoman, running her late father’s newspaper, until a stranger comes to town. Of course, Jack Donovan has a dark past of his own. But when Donovan buys a big ranch and sets himself up as a mover and shaker in town, the newspaperwoman is determined to get to the bottom of his secrets. Jack wants a bride who will put being a rancher’s wife first, and Sarah wants to continue running the newspaper. They also want each other. Watching them fight their way to a compromise is downright fun! But there is violence in both of their pasts, and it nearly tears them apart.
Verdict Mullins (Too Wicked To Love) removes the final obstacles to happiness and brings about a much deserved happy ending. Recommended for Western romance fans. For a title labeled Retro, this one holds up surprisingly well.‚ Marlene Harris, Reading Reality LLC

Rae, Beverly. Betting the Moon. Samhain. (Cannon Pack, Bk. 4). Apr. 2012. 165p. eISBN 9781609287801. EPUB $4.50. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
Werewolf stud Tucker Manning is fairly new talent in the world of professional gambling. He meets his match in beautiful Mari Thornton at a championship poker tournament in Las Vegas, and he knows he’d better be on his game. For Mari, it was just another poker tournament‚ another opportunity to show her worth and make some money. Now, with Tucker in the picture, she finds herself smitten and struggling to hold on to her usual serene demeanor on and away from the table. As a rule, Mari never uses her magic to cheat at poker, but as an evil force starts influencing the match and affecting play, the stakes are raised, and she and Tucker must team up to defeat a dangerous foe, protect each other, and, if possible, win the game.
Verdict A good plot with effective character development, decent dialog, and multiple sexual encounters make this fun and thrilling read from Rae (Running with the Pack) ideal for romance lovers, especially those who place their bets on paranormal titles.‚ Jennifer Harris, Mercyhurst Univ. Lib., Erie, PA

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"