Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, August 10, 2012

Week ending August 10, 2012

Cade, Cathryn. Rolling in the Deep. Samhain. (Hawaiian Heroes, Bk. 2). 2012. 796p. eISBN 9781619211032. EPUB. $5.50. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Soon to be college graduate Claire Hunter arrives in Kona, HI, for her best friend’s wedding. Daniel Ho’omalu, brother of the groom, meets Claire at the airport. In spite of Daniel’s rough, mean personality, Claire sees a huge muscular body, golden sheen, and long ebony hair. And so the tension begins. The story has all the strong graphic language expected when loving an overpowering, gorgeous man with a pocket full of condoms. The story is lush with Hawaiian atmosphere, customs, and traditions; though Cade (Walking in Fire) admits that she has taken some liberties with the traditional lore of Pele, the guardian of volcanoes, and Kanaloa, the god of the underworld, who both play a role in Daniel’s quest to protect the island from drug runners.
Verdict The abundance of Hawaiian terms and phrases may charm or irk readers, but the romance pounds like waves on the white sandy shore.—Joyce Sparrow, Kenneth City, FL

Gallagher, Lauren. Who’s Your Daddy? Samhain. Aug. 2012. 356p. eISBN 9781619211612. EPUB $5.50. EROTIC ROMANCE, LGBT
Like many women, Carmen James finds herself pregnant and unwed. Carmen’s dilemma, however, is shockingly unique: Which one of her gay friends is the father and how can she tell them that they may be having a baby? Her one night of experimentation with Donovan and Isaac has lasting consequences and not in the way that any of them could have predicted. Don and Isaac both learn that their homosexual relationship has left certain yearnings unfulfilled, and Carmen finds herself drawn to each man in unexpected ways. This polyamorous relationship tests all of the families of those involved, as they struggle to define their new life while preparing for the birth of their child. (And if you don’t know what the word polyamorous means, you will by the end of the book.)
Verdict While shockingly explicit, Who’s Your Daddy? is a tale of fighting conventions and societal expectations to do what makes you whole and complete. It explores the depth of pain that is forced on those who can never quite live up to the person their parents (or children) wish them to be. A perfect escape for those who question their sexuality, or for those who are already quite happy with love outside conventional boundaries. Not for those who are easily offended, this modern romance is hot, hot, hot! Author Gallagher also writes under the pen name L.A. Witt (Conduct Unbecoming).—Judy Garner, ECPI Univ. Lib., Glen Allen, VA

Merrow, JL. Pressure Head. Samhain. Sept. 2012. 253p. $5.50. eISBN 9781619212589. EPUB $5.50. LGBT, PARANORMAL ROMANCE
St. Albans plumber Tom Paretski keeps busy with not only his own business but with side work for the police. Having a sixth sense for finding things can definitely come in handy, but when it comes to finding a missing woman, Tom wishes that his life were a little more normal. Normal is not even close when the case reunites him with Phil Morrison. A private investigator on the case, Phil was both Tom’s school bully and crush—and is now openly gay himself. Paired off to prove that their former school chum did not kill his girlfriend, Tom must face his old feelings for Phil and wonders if Phil’s increasing interest is really for him or for his special abilities. Can Tom trust the man who hurt him so many years ago? Will their relationship even matter with a murderer on their trail?
Verdict Merrow (Hard Tail) has a way with words, but the amount of narrative doesn’t mask a slim plot. A slow-moving first half of the book interferes with any relationship buildup, and the momentum in the second half isn’t enough to sustain interest in the mystery. Constant British colloquialisms might make it hard for American readers to access an already pallid story. Not recommended.—Kristi Chadwick, Emily Williston Memorial Lib., Easthampton, MA

Novak, Brenda. When We Touch: A Whiskey Creek Novella. Mira: Harlequin. (Whiskey Creek, No. 0.5). Aug. 2012. 102p. eISBN 9781426875793. EPUB Free. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Wedding planner Olivia Arnold is on her way home to plan her sister’s wedding when she pulls off to the side of the road to have a crying fit—and with good reason. Her scheming witch of a sister is marrying Olivia’s ex-boyfriend. Noelle stole Kyle and made darn sure to get pregnant. Not only is Kyle plenty guilty, but Olivia’s parents expect that she will plan her sister’s wedding! Olivia’s one saving grace in this totally dysfunctional family train-wreck is Kyle’s stepbrother Brandon. Olivia and Kyle were together for more than a year, but Olivia and Brandon had one date way back in high school, and neither has ever forgotten. Too bad that Brandon is the black sheep of the family. But maybe a black sheep is just what Olivia needs to rescue her when all the supposedly “good” choices are going so very, very wrong.
Verdict As the introduction to Novak’s new “Whiskey Creek” contemporary series, When We Touch does get the job done. But standing on its own, the story is a bit too short, relying on clichés—the jealous sister stealing her sibling’s man, the children of divorce willing to do their duty to their children at any ruinous cost—even when it makes no sense. Kyle and Olivia didn’t make much sense, while Olivia and Brandon heat up the pages. Novak fans will want to start the series from the beginning. [See the review of Bk. 1, When Lightning Strikes, LJ 8/12.—Ed.]—Marlene Harris, Reading Reality LLC. Atlanta

Thorne, Jennifer. A Road Not Taken. Samhain. Sept. 2012. 116p. eISBN 9781619212831. EPUB $3.50. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE, LGBT
As Jascha drove home, he saw a car parked by the side of the road with a lone driver in it. He stopped to help, hoping his appearance with long, red dreadlocks wouldn’t frighten the man, but the driver seemed oblivious to his surroundings until Jascha tapped on the window. Even then, the man didn’t seem lost, but something about his demeanor compelled Jascha to drag him home with him. All Peter wanted was a deserted road where he could muster up the energy to use the gun stashed in his car. He hated his job, he was terrified to tell his family the truth about himself, and he didn’t see any other way out. Then he met a wild-looking, ecofriendly builder who wouldn’t go away, and while Peter couldn’t go back to his previous life, he wasn’t sure how to build a future.
Verdict Jascha and Peter are an odd couple who mesh awkwardly before finding common ground, other than sex, in the last few pages. The background of an ecofriendly community adds an uncommon twist, but Peter is forced to dabble superficially in a natural “hippie” lifestyle without really seeming to understand it. His sudden change to “green” at the end seems more a ploy to achieve “happily ever after” than a true conversion experience. Recommended only for comprehensive LGBT collections.—Melanie C. Duncan, Shurling Lib., Macon, GA

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"