Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, August 24, 2012

Week ending August 24, 2012

Barth, Christi. Planning for Love. Carina: Harlequin. (Aisle Bound, Bk. 1). Aug. 2012. NAp. eISBN 9781426894213. EPUB $5.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Ivy Rhodes and Bennett Westcott met under difficult circumstances. Ivy, wedding planner and owner of her wedding planning business Aisle Bound, was running a wedding when Ben and his camera crew showed up to film for their reality show Wild Wedding Smackdown. Though Ivy’s not thrilled to find out at the last minute about the TV crew, in true unflappable wedding planner fashion she takes Ben’s presence in stride and finds that they actually hit it off, which leads to an unbelievable one-night stand. The next morning, Ivy realizes that Ben doesn’t believe in love or marriage, two things that Ivy can’t imagine living without. Months later, Ivy is still disillusioned and brokenhearted over Ben, but she agrees to be in a reality TV show about wedding planners in order to finance a retail shop selling all things “romance.” Little does she know that Ben will be filming and producing the show. Will getting to know Ivy better change Ben’s mind about love and marriage? Will Ivy be able to handle spending so much time with Ben after the way he left her?
Verdict Barth (Cruising Toward Love) is off to a great start with this first installment in her “Aisle Bound” trilogy. Filled with humor, great characters, and weddings, the book will appeal to contemporary romance readers, who will be eagerly waiting for the next installment in the series.—Lisa Jordan, Gardner Neighborhood Lib., Johnson County Lib., KS

Fitzpatrick, Kelly. Pleasant Lake P.D. Medallion. Sept. 2012. c.617p. eISBN 9781605422077. EPUB $9.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
The newest tale by Fitzpatrick (Dodging Cupid) introduces Alexandria (Alex) Moreno. Alex’s rise from meter maid to detective takes an unexpected turn when the FBI enlists her to seduce Miguel Diaz, suspected of human trafficking. Perhaps even more unexpected to Alex is that after a horrible breakup with her now police partner Roman Plow, she finds herself falling for Miguel. Despite her less than stellar record in relationships, even Alex realizes that an attraction to a human sex trafficker is a line she shouldn’t cross. Maybe Miguel is innocent, and maybe Alex is just the meter maid (parking enforcement officer) who needs to prove it.
Verdict With a less than believable plot (Would the FBI really enlist a fumbling meter maid to seduce their current target?) and unlovable characters (“How many Polish cops does it take to screw every woman in Pleasant Lake?”—Roman Plow is the one), this book was nearly relegated to the did-not-finish pile. However, the author’s blog seems to have been aptly titled: Bad Girls Need Love Too. With all of their faults, Alex, Miguel, and Roman are characters you cannot help but root for and keep turning pages to find out what unbelievable scenario they will find themselves in next.—Heather Lisa Maneiro, Minnesota State Univ. Lib.‚ Moorhead

Giordano, Adrienne. Relentless Pursuit. Carina: Harlequin. (Private Protectors, Bk. 4). Aug. 2012. 265p. eISBN 9781426894206. EPUB $5.99. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
Kristen Dante, manager of her father’s billion-dollar hotel in Miami’s South Beach, is overly sensitive of her Rubenesque figure. Billy Tripp, a former Army Ranger, is working private security at the hotel, guarding a million-dollar necklace scheduled for auction. Billy sees Kristen as a strong, intelligent, beautiful woman; she sees herself as a “fat Amazon.” Multiple car thefts at the hotel and Secret Service security for the wedding of the daughter of the U.S. Senate Majority Leader extend Billy’s assignment and allow him time to woo Kristen.
Verdict Except for the bad guys actually throwing Billy to the alligators, this tender story with some bursts of strong language could take place at any megahotel in the world. The plot in this latest title in Giordano’s “Private Protectors Series” (after A Just Deception) combines Kristen’s self-image issues and Billy’s security detail with their slow, yet deliberate, romance. Giordano is cofounder of the Romance University blog and Lady Jane’s Salon-Naperville, a reading series dedicated to romantic fiction.—Joyce Sparrow, Kenneth City, FL

Grant, Donna. Dark Craving. St. Martin’s Paperbacks. (Dark Kings, Bk. 1). 2012. 105p. eISBN 9781466807433. EPUB 99¢. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
Cassandra “Cassie” Hunter travels to the Scottish Highlands to stay with her brother, but when she arrives, she finds her brother missing. After almost freezing to death, she wakes up to find she’s been rescued by one of her brother’s neighbors, Hal. Unknown to Cassie, Hal is a Dragon King, an immortal dragon gifted with the ability to shift into human form to tie him more closely to the humans the dragons were supposed to protect. After humans began hunting dragons, the Dragon Kings sent the dragons to another plane of existence but remained behind to protect the portal. As Cassie and Hal grow closer, he must decide whether to give her up or take a chance and trust a human with the truth of his existence.
Verdict Grant’s “Dark Kings” series spins off loosely from her previous series, “Dark Warriors” (Midnight’s Lover) and “Dark Sword” (Darkest Highlander). The character development and plotting are uneven, and read more like a rough draft than a finished work that skips quickly through the story introducing other characters. Cassie’s brother is missing, but she doesn’t worry for long with Hal there to distract her and then seems to forget about her brother altogether. Hal and Cassie are quick to jump into bed and undying love after only a couple of brief meetings, and though Cassie has noticed weird things happening—like Hal’s dragon tattoo moving—she’s rather blasé about it after a momentary panic. This title may appeal more to readers familiar with Grant’s earlier books, so libraries owning those series might consider for purchase. Libraries should not start with this title if they don’t own the others.—Melanie C. Duncan, Shurling Lib., Macon, GA

Harte, Marie. A Matter of Pride. Samhain. (Cougar Falls). 2012. c.150p. eISBN 9781609289683. EPUB $4.50. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
Dean Chastell and Stacey Bermin are two shape-shifting cats who define the term opposites attract. Dean is a local tour guide from Cougar Falls, MT, with a quick wit and a way with the local ladies and is known as the pride prankster. Stacey is a well-off clothing designer from Miami, FL, who is a pampered princess and likes it that way. The sexual tension mounts between them as they face an ever-pressing danger from other shape-shifters, hunters, and their inflated egos. What do you know—they do have something in common after all. Will their egos be pushed aside long enough to conquer their enemies?
Verdict Harte (Outfoxed) does it again! It doesn’t matter whether you have read any of the other “Cougar Falls” stories or not because A Matter of Pride will penetrate your desire for lust and love. The plot is not extensive, but the detailed erotic sexual encounters and the thrill of the chase propel the story along at a rather quick pace. This is a paranormal romance worth downloading and devouring over and over again.—Leslie Jean Cerkoney, Elk Grove Village, IL

Nord, Cindy. No Greater Glory. Samhain. 2012. c.303p. eISBN 9781619211889. EPUB $5.50. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Emaline McDaniels is a strong Southern widow who will literally fight to protect her home. Soon, she butts heads with Col. Reece Cutteridge, a strong Union soldier determined to lead his men, and neither is ever the same again. Initially, they fight like cats and dogs, barely hiding the obvious passion they feel toward each other. Slowly, they begin their subtle dance of seduction, moving back and forth between recognizing their feelings for each other and then denying those same feelings. This “will they/won’t they” finally culminates in a night of passion, which takes place about three years (and 28 chapters) after they first meet. And that scene is worth the patience of the reader. But all is not well for this couple. Will they live happily ever after? Or will tragedy tear one from the other?
Verdict The plot is very well done, with strong character development in a short amount of time. The near-misses between the protagonists actually add to the work, making the reader anticipate even more their eventual union. The love scenes are steamy yet tender. Recommended for anyone who enjoys historical romance, as well as those who would find appeal in a steamier Gone with the Wind.—Sonnet Ireland, Univ. of New Orleans Lib.

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"