Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, March 30, 2012

Week ending March 30, 2012

Archer, Zoë. Skies of Fire. Avon Impulse. (Ether Chronicles, Bk. 1). Apr. 2012. 224p. eISBN 9780062109149. EPUB $1.99. STEAMPUNK ROMANCE
Capt. Christopher Redmond of HMS Demeter leads his crew in battle in the skies over Europe as a Man O’War, a soldier surgically adapted with telumium implants to be faster and stronger than the average man. The energy created by the amalgamation of man and metal fuels the ship and keeps it aloft as the British Navy wars with the encroaching Habsburg Empire. But however physically fit Redmond is, his heart still aches over the loss of his lover, Louisa Shaw, who left him without a reason way back when he was still an ordinary man. During a battle in which they are outnumbered, outgunned, and behind enemy lines, Redmond and his crew witness a gun battle in a nearby town and receive a signal for assistance from a British Naval Intelligence officer on the ground. During the assault to rescue the officer, Redmond discovers his errant lover, Louisa, who carries information that has the potential to cut years off the war‚ if she survives to act upon it.
Verdict The RITA Award‚ nominated Archer skillfully weaves adventure and romance into the first of a new steampunk series reminiscent of her Blades of the Rose books (Warrior; Scoundrel; Rebel; Stranger). Fans of The Blades of the Rose and of Meljean Brook’s The Iron Duke will devour the latest from this rising star in the romance industry.‚ Melanie C. Duncan, Shurling Lib., Macon, GA

Cade, Cathryn. Walking in Fire. Samhain. (Hawaiian Heroes, Bk. 1). Apr. 2012. 408Kb. eISBN 9781609288372. EPUB $5.50. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
In this first book of the Hawaiian Heroes series, Melia Carson is an assistant chef on vacation and trying to forget her troubles. She has an instant attraction to someone whom she’s just met. David Malu Ho’omalu is on a mission to save his people. Malu’s island has healing powers for him as he is one of the protectors of Hawaii. The dreams of Malu and Melia become intertwined as the sexual tension between them builds.
Verdict Cade (Deep Indigo) shows respect for the legends that surround the Kilauea Volcano. Malu has been a protector of Hawaii for quite some time and recognizes questionable activity on his island when he sees it. Cade has created a very sensual tale in a current setting, with paranormal undertones. Her fans will not be disappointed.‚ Lynn Reynolds, Westfield State Univ. Lib., MA

Diaz, Lena. Simon Says Die. Avon Impulse. Mar. 2012. NAp. eISBN 9780062136329. EPUB $3.99. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
Madison McKinley is an amateur sleuth surrounded by her brother Logan, a police chief, and his friend, FBI Special Agent Pierce Buchanan. Since Logan is on his honeymoon, he asks Pierce to keep an eye on Madison, who is sure she is being stalked by her dead husband, Damon. The Savannah Police Department is weary with Madison’s complaints about the sightings because they have a much more serious case on their hands involving a serial killer. Madison is quick to overreact when she sees the mysterious man in the hoodie watching her but slow to reveal crucial background details to help with the investigation, which now includes her husband’s alleged death in a single-car accident. Another complication: Madison actually married Damon after refusing an engagement ring from Pierce.
Verdict Madison’s tendency to withhold her backstory tests the reader’s patience, but she is a fun, strong-willed woman. This latest from Diaz (He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not) is a good sunny-day-in-the-lawn-chair read.‚ Joyce Sparrow, Kenneth City, FL

Harper, Kaje. The Rebuilding Year. Samhain. Mar. 2012. 215p. eISBN 9781609288327. EPUB $5.50. M/M ROMANCE
Ryan didn’t expect to be heading back to college, but with his firefighting career ended by injury, he needs to start over. John is struggling to stay connected to his two kids after his wife moves them cross-country, distracting himself with his job as the college landscaper. After a chance meeting on campus, then again during the strange death of a student, the two men become roommates and develop an easy camaraderie. Friendship turns to something deeper, and both Ryan and John struggle with a love (and hot sex life) they never thought to find with another man. When John’s son appears on their doorstep, followed by John’s ex, and another student is found dead on campus, Ryan and John discover they have a lot more than their own hearts to worry about.
Verdict Harper (Life Lessons) creates a winning tale of self-discovery and love, although some may find the mystery subplot unnecessary. If readers can suspend disbelief for the latter, the former is an emotional coming-out story that engages the mind and the heart.‚ Kristi Chadwick, Emily Williston Memorial Lib., Easthampton, MA

Harte, Marie. Outfoxed. Samhain. (Cougar Falls). Mar. 2012. c.129p. eISBN 9781609289676. EPUB $3.50. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
Grady Chastell of the Ac-taw pride will pounce on any chance to mate with Gabby Easton, the most sought-after shape-shifter in Cougar Falls, MT. Gabby is a sexy redheaded fox who also happens to be a playful cat. This is a very unusual trait, being able to shift into not only one animal spirit but two. Gabby refuses to give the cocky cat Grady the time of day until she is outsmarted by a very conniving lie that spirals out of control. Some uninvited guests arrive, and trouble follows close behind. Will Gabby give in to her basic animal desires for Grady, or will she cry wolf‚ or cat?
Verdict Outfoxed is a dramatic soap opera mixed with pure animal magnetism. Add in some heavy petting, and your pulse will elevate and your mouth water for more lusty bedside banter between Gabby and Grady. If you enjoyed Vivian Arend’s Black Gold, then you will also go for this steamy bath-time read by Harte (Closing the Deal).‚ Leslie Jean Cerkoney, Elk Grove Village, IL

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"