Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, May 4, 2012

Week ending May 4, 2012

Drake, Ella. Desert Blade. Carina: Harlequin. 2012. 85p. eISBN 9781426893674. EPUB $2.99. SF ROMANCE
After a genetically engineered crop makes food scarce, a virus ravages much of the population, and riots destroy much of what civilization is left, a small group of humans struggle for survival in the desert that remains. Dr. Lidia Sullivan has helped this community thrive, using her medical knowledge to earn a spot in the relative safety of the small outpost. Until Derek Covington, a former patient from Before, shows up demanding help in another community across the desert. Lidia is ripped from the safety of her new home and thrust into the dangerous and alluring world Derek inhabits.
Verdict Drake (Silver Bound) dives right into this postapocalyptic world and never stops. It takes a few pages to determine which way is up, but once the history is settled, the plot is allowed free rein. It’s easy to invest in Lidia and Derek‚ both have unique personalities, and they share simmering chemistry‚ and cheer for them as the story evolves. Most important, Drake has put great thought into the struggling society and how humans would seek survival in the harsh conditions. A great read for anyone into dystopian romance.‚ Kellie Tilton, Univ. of Alaska Fairbanks Lib.

Everett, Alyssa. Ruined by Rumor. Carina: Harlequin. May 2012. 254p. eISBN 9781426893780. EPUB $5.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Everett’s (A Tryst with Trouble) newest romance, set in early 19th-century Derbyshire, is the story of Roxana Langley, a spirited and passionate young woman who has waited five years to marry the man of her dreams. But when she’s suddenly rejected, she finds unlikely comfort from the handsome but aloof Earl of Ayersley, whose sense of duty and crippling shyness are the only things holding him back from announcing his longtime love for Roxana. Scandal strikes when they’re caught in an ill-conceived kiss, and a marriage of convenience to the earl is all that can save Roxana’s reputation. Although the marriage is a dream come true for the earl, she’s still in love with the man who jilted her. Can he help her learn to love him?
Verdict Delightfully frustrating miscommunication, gossip, social intrigue, and light sexual content make this an ideal read for historical and Regency romance lovers. Wonderfully human characters, appropriate dialog, and thorough world-building mark Everett as an author to keep on a list of must-reads.‚ Jennifer Harris, Mercyhurst Univ. Lib., Erie, PA

Hawkeye, Lauren. My Wicked Gladiators. Avon Red. May 2012. NAp. eISBN 9780062196897. EPUB $3.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
If you liked Russell Crowe’s movie Gladiator but thought it could use some more heat, then you have found the right book. Alba is a Domina, a high position in society, but still under the command of her husband, Lucius. They have never had children, but to gain a business partner Alba must produce an heir. Her husband commands that she mate with his chosen gladiator, and they will pass the resulting child off as their own. As Lucius’s cruelty expands, Alba falls deeper in love with both Marcus and Caius, the top two gladiators in their household.
Verdict This title is from Avon’s Red label, so expect graphic sex, and while those scenes are many in number, they are not repetitive, which makes this a thoroughly enjoyable read. A must have for erotic novel collections.‚ Ryan A. Franklin, Mattoon P.L., IL

Hope, Anne. Soul Bound. Samhain. (Dark Souls, Bk. 1). Jun. 2012. 414p. eISBN 9781609289485. EPUB $6.50. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
Jace Cutler always figured he would die young, although he wasn’t expecting to be knifed in a bar. Lia Benson kept to her physician’s oath to try to save him, though he had broken her sister’s heart, but Jace died in the emergency room. At least Lia would swear that he did, despite Jace’s apparent survival. Jace is plagued by memory loss, and soon Lia begins to dream things that are not of her life but memories from Jace’s past. Jace finds that strange things begin to happen around him, and he craves a light that everyone else seems to carry‚ everyone but himself. After Lia is kidnapped, Jace discovers that he is being pursued by not one but two groups, neither of which is human. But, then, neither is Jace. As Jace uses his power to protect the one woman who means the most to him, he knows that same power could also destroy her.
Verdict Hope (Broken Angels) creates the epitome of soul mates in Jace and Lia. While their initial bad boy/good girl images flirt with a tired trope, the intriguing story line and depth of supporting characters will leave readers ready for the next in the series.

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"