Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, September 7, 2012

Week ending September 7, 2012

Aicher, Lynda. Stone of Ascension. Samhain. (Energen, Bk. 2). Sept. 2012. 327p. eISBN 9781609288761. EPUB $5.50. POSTAPOCALYPTIC ROMANCE
This blend of elements of various mythos, cultures, and fantasy archetypes is at the root a romance between a strong, albeit emotionally wounded, and devastatingly handsome man and a beautiful, insecure, sexually innocent woman. Explicit sex eventually ensues between Damian Aeros and Amber Morningstar, in the midst of adventures in our own and another world. In our world, Amber is a shy orphan, and Damian a powerful CEO. But they both have forceful destinies in the Energen world. Louk and Ariana from the first book in the series make a brief appearance, but this text stands on its own.
Verdict The erotic scenes are fairly well written, though phrases like “delectable bottom” seem out of place. To this reviewer, the Wiccan components of earth, air, fire, water (and spirit) powers in the Energen world and the fantasy creatures such as dragons and phoenixes work better than the Native American (Amber is a Wampanoag Indian) and Chinese mythic elements. Still, fans of fantasy and paranormal romance should enjoy this book.—Sara Tompson, Univ. of Southern California Libs., Los Angeles

Kinsey, Kate. Red. eKensington. Sept. 2012. 277p. eISBN 9781601830579. EPUB $4.99. EROTICA, ROMANCTIC SUSPENSE
Mutilated bodies turn up over the course of several weeks, and all of the victims were members of a local sex club that embraced BDSM. Det. Tom Hanson is assigned the case by his chief of police, whose close friend was the first victim. Hanson quickly learns that the grieving family members either won’t open up to someone not a member of their lifestyle, or don’t know about their loved ones’ other lives. Instead, Hanson turns to the one person he never expected to see again, his former lover and former detective Gina Larsen. Gina left the police department after her extracurricular activities as a pro-domme came to light in a politically charged sting. As the two work together, Hanson realizes his feelings for Gina are still there, but he doesn’t know if he can give Gina what she needs in a relationship. Hanson draws closer to solving the case and discovers that the killer won’t give up until he claims the last victim—Gina.
Verdict Debut novelist Kinsey explores the BDSM lifestyle she lives and introduces mainstream readers who have welcomed Fifty Shades of Grey to a larger segment of the BDSM community. While Red starts off by skipping among the viewpoints of various characters in a somewhat confusing manner, the plot quickly settles into a psychological exploration of aspects of BDSM, bound by a rather grisly thriller. Parts of the story—dubious consent, explicit language—may limit readership and scare off some vanilla readers.—Melanie C. Duncan, Shurling Lib., Macon, GA

Sandas, Amy. Rogue Countess. Samhain. 2012. 261p. ISBN 9781619210806. EPUB $5.50. REGENCY ROMANCE
Despite being abandoned by her husband, Jude Sinclair, Earl of Blackbourne, on her wedding day, Anna Locke has blossomed from a skinny, frightened child into a confident woman who commands attention whenever she enters a room. She has shed her husband’s family name and carved out an identity for herself through her skills in the horse trade. When the prodigal earl returns home to fulfill his duties and resume his rightful place in society, Anna wants nothing to do with his ploys. For his part, Jude cannot reconcile the lush, sensual, independent woman who has risen above society’s dictates with the child with the dark knowing eyes he believes trapped him into an unwanted marriage. Initially, he wants nothing more than to end their sham of a marriage, but as he and Anna match wills and he learns more about her character, Jude finds that he has great difficulty resisting his wife, nor does he particularly want to.
Verdict Sandas’s debut novel presents some unique historical romance aspects—society woman engaging in trade—rarely seen in others of its kind. But the plot is otherwise unoriginal. The love scenes are few and far between, and although there is potential for steaminess and opportunities to elevate the story line, the novel is firmly situated in the tame category. Fans of the genre may appreciate the characterization of the female lead as an honorable, independent heroine who rarely backs down from a challenge, especially given the time period, but those who prefer their romance with a bit more spice should look elsewhere.—Natasha Grant, New York

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"