Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, May 25, 2012

Week ending May 25, 2012

starred review starBlue, Ally. Graceland. Samhain. Jul. 2012. 185p. eISBN 9781609288273. EPUB $5.50. LGBT, MULTICULTURAL ROMANCE
Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis is in the house. At least, Elvis impersonator Owen Hicks is. Tall, shaggy-haired, slightly paunchy Owen isn’t the best looking impersonator nursing student Kevin Fraser has ever seen, but when he belts out Love Me Tender, he’s mesmerizing. When Owen is admitted to the emergency room where Kevin works, Kevin seizes the opportunity to befriend the big man and help him face his new life as an insulin-dependent diabetic battling the disease that killed his mother. The two men come from different backgrounds, which creates problems as their friendship deepens into love. Owen is Cherokee from a poor family, while Kevin is black from wealthy parents. Both families expect the men to disappoint each other and break each other’s hearts, but both men plan to prove them wrong.
Verdict Blue, author of the Bay City Paranormal Investigations series (e.g., Oleander House) and the Mother Earth postapocalyptic series (e.g., Dragon’s Kiss), provides a bittersweet romance that further cements her nickname as the Popess of Gay Angst. Angst is plentiful and skillfully interwoven here as Owen learns to deal with his diabetes while following his dream of being an Elvis impersonator, and as Kevin learns about the Cherokee Freedmen and the controversial relationship between the tribe and its African descendants. The covert and overt racism experienced by Owen and Kevin from each other’s families and the ostracism they face as gay men from intolerant members of society add timeliness and depth to an already emotional tale. Highly recommended for all collections.‚ Melanie C. Duncan, Shurling Lib, Macon, GA

Dee, Jess. Colors of Love. Samhain. (Speed, Bk. 2). Jul. 2012. c.158p. eISBN 9781609289300. EPUB $4.50. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
In book two of her rock band Speed series (after See You in My Dreams), Dee focuses on guitarist Seth Pace. Seth is in love with band manager Luke Struthers and can’t understand why Luke won’t admit to his own feelings and commit to their relationship. Luke is feeling the pressure. He does love Seth, but Luke has an abusive past and fears that he could someday hurt his partner. To keep Seth at bay, Luke devises a plan. Since he and Seth sometimes include a woman in their sexual relationship, why not find a woman who can join in and eventually take Luke’s place in Seth’s affections. The woman in question is Karen Kaz Flaherty. Kaz is willing to be a little wild with the rock star and his manager, but in the end she knows the two men belong with each other.
Verdict Though the author has to take some shortcuts with the pacing and backstory‚ considering how much page space is given to the very strong sexual content (including m/m, m/f/m situations)‚ Colors of Love has a strong emotional core and surprising heart.‚ Jane Jorgenson, Madison P.L., WI

Elsborg, Barbara. Worlds Apart. Samhain. May 2012. 306p. eISBN 9781609288303. EPUB $6.50. EROTIC, PARANORMAL ROMANCE
Private investigator Taylor has returned to his ancestral home outside Leeds, a home haunted by the tragedy of the long-ago disappearance of his kid sister. Enter Niall, the mysterious gardener who has been taking care of the place. As Taylor begins to notice the attractions of hunky Niall, we meet the wacky and endearing Roo, dressed in a chicken outfit. She lands a job as Taylor’s PA. Both Niall and Taylor then develop an attraction to Roo as well as consummating their mutual lust-cum-love, eventually including Roo in the fun. The focus here is on love rather than sexual identity. Thickening the plot is Roo’s and Niall’s involvement in Taylor’s undercover investigations as well as the late-breaking revelation that Niall is actually a faery visiting from another world. Numerous escalating shenanigans in the faery world ensue.
Verdict This love triangle that morphs into mutual polyamory has numerous hooks, not the least of which is the playful tone, quotes from Teddy Roosevelt, and interesting sex sandwich situations including all orifices. A satisfying conclusion lays all fears to rest.‚ Henry Bankhead, Los Gatos P.L., CA

Mady, Elyse. The White Swan Affair. Carina: Harlequin. May 2012. 259p. eISBN 9781426893797. EPUB $5.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
In 1810 London, Hester Aspinall has already lost her intended husband and a baby. Her brother, Robert, a tailor, is her sole support, their parents already dead. When Robert is arrested in a police raid at a suspected gay club, the White Swan, he is tossed into Newgate prison to stand trial for sodomy, punishable by death. Hester is turned away by Robert’s now former fiancée when she asks for help and is saved by the generosity of Robert’s landlord, Mr. Thomas Ramsey. Hester finds it difficult to focus on securing her brother’s freedom after she accepts Thomas’s offer to live with him and be scandalously kept until the trial. Emotions run high, high enough to heat up under the pressure of Robert’s possible hanging for his alleged crimes.
Verdict This is a well-written love story, complete with danger and suspense. The portrayal of the treatment of gay characters is not for the overly sensitive as it was a dangerous time in society to come out or, rather, be found out. The romance between both straight and gay couples is satisfying and gently described. The most interesting aspect of the story is delivered in the author’s note, in which Mady (Something So Right; The Debutante’s Dilemma) reveals that many of the characters were real people and the White Swan raid actually happened. The trial is constructed from courtroom documents, and readers will keep the pages turning to find out if Robert will face death. A good choice for fans of romance, history, and the gay and lesbian experience in British history.‚ Rebecca Stine, Ferguson Lib., Stamford, CT

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"