Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, October 19, 2012

Week ending October 19, 2012

Archer, Zoë. Skies of Steel. Avon Impulse. Oct. 2012. c.439p. eISBN 9780062109156. EPUB $2.99. PARANORMAL, STEAMPUNK ROMANCE
A world where ships fly through the air is the perfect setting for a handsome, rogue captain, haunted by his past, and the fiery woman who hires him. Each has a secret that keeps them from getting too close, but both are strong, brave, intelligent, and a little stubborn. Futuristic pirates fly under steampunk captain Mikhail Denisov—part machine, part man, all exciting. Enter Daphne Carlisle, a professor and archaeologist who is willing to do whatever it takes to save her family. Through Daphne, the reader is able to enjoy the wonder of this world that has grown far too common for the likes of Denisov. She drinks up all the details, making readers feel as if they are aboard that magnificent vessel. The chemistry between Daphne and Denisov keeps readers on their toes, waiting to see if they will ever meet in the middle.
Verdict Archer (Demon’s Bride) offers an intriguing plot that grabs readers’ attention and doesn’t let go until the end. Recommended to anyone who enjoys steampunk romances, or those captivated by the steampunk take on pirates.—Sonnet Ireland, Univ. of New Orleans Lib.

Neville, Miranda. The Second Seduction of a Lady. Avon Impulse. Oct. 2012. 100p. eISBN 9780062243362. EPUB $1.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
At 30, Eleanor Hardwick is firmly on the shelf and contentedly so. She has enough money to keep herself busy visiting her far-flung relations, taking care of whoever needs taking care of. She determinedly does not think of Max Quinton, the man who broke her heart (and took her virginity in a night of ecstasy) five years ago. Max’s incredible courtship of Eleanor’s bluestocking self was all because of a cruel bet among even crueler “gentlemen,” except that Max only took the bet to keep anyone else from doing so. He really wanted Eleanor, not in spite of her intelligence and opinions but because of them. Her passion swept him away that one night, then it all went smash. Now that they’ve found each other again, Max has another chance. Meanwhile, Eleanor’s cousin Caro has fallen for Max’s ward, Robert, so Max asks Robert to encourage Caro, just a little, to allow Max a chance to court Eleanor more or less properly this time. What Max doesn’t expect is for Robert and Caro to run off to Gretna Green. Yet chasing down the young lovers gives Max and Eleanor one more opportunity to grab their own happiness.
Verdict Max and Eleanor are terrific characters, especially as neither is typical. Max has to work for his living, and Eleanor is not only a bluestocking but an independent adult. Neville’s (Confessions from an Arranged Marriage) sweetly sensual second chance at love is an absolutely delightful, whipped historic froth. Recommended for historical romance fans.—Marlene Harris, Reading Reality LLC, Atlanta

Redford, Jodi. Checking It Twice. Samhain. Nov. 2012. 232p. eISBN 9781619212640. EPUB $5.50. EROTIC CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
’Tis the season, and the only item on Jana’s list is her good friend and hunk Kevin. While Kevin is definitely hot for Jana, he has issues—issues that ruined a past relationship with his best friend Nick and that are keeping him from exploring his attraction to Jana. Now Nick has come to town on business and to look up his old buddy Kevin, and things get interesting. Nick’s business is with Jana and her lingerie and erotica shop. When Kevin walks into Jana’s shop and discovers Nick and Jana in a hot embrace, just “getting to know each other,” his jealousy kicks in, giving Nick the perfect opening to reconnect with Kevin. While Jana was hoping to unwrap Kevin under her tree, with Nick in the picture, she has to wonder if one is enough. Or with Nick’s help, can they both encourage Kevin to deal with his issues and forge a new relationship with both Jana and Nick that will check off everything on Jana’s list and then some.
Verdict Award-winning author Redford (The Naughty List) has delivered a holiday tale that will keep your fire burning throughout the season. The book is filled with humor and, of course, lots of steamy hot love scenes, so readers should heed the warning posted in the introduction as it’s voyeurs and vibrators and swings, oh my!—Lisa Jordan, Gardner Neighborhood Lib., Johnson Cty. Lib., KS

Witt, L.A. Conduct Unbecoming. Samhain. Oct. 2012. 277p. eISBN 9781619211605. EPUB $5.50. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE, EROTICA, LGBT
When Eric Randall receives orders to report to the U.S. naval base on Okinawa, he’s depressed for several reasons. One, his tour is for three years; two, he doesn’t know when he’ll get to see his teenage daughter again; and three, he’s a gay man who’s going to be stuck on a tiny, mostly military island for the length of his deployment. Even though “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) was repealed, being open about his lifestyle could still limit Eric’s career and prevent promotions. When Shane Connelly sees Eric enter Palace Habu, a gay bar off Okinawa’s beaten path, he buys him a drink, and before long Shane and Eric are experiencing one of the hottest one-night stands of their lives. However, that one-night stand ignites deeper feelings, leading the men to embark on a secret relationship. DADT may no longer pose as big a threat to their careers, but the Uniform Code of Military Justice still frowns on relations between officers and enlisted men as “conduct unbecoming.”
Verdict Witt (The Closer You Get) explores the post-DADT military and a forbidden relationship between officer/enlisted by adding depth to the characters without losing focus. Shane is twice-divorced and bisexual, with two children; Eric was married and divorced young after realizing he was gay. Both are career military nearing the end of their 20-year service. Conduct Unbecoming will appeal to fans of S.E. Jakes’s “Men of Honor” series, the most recent being Bound by Danger (2012), and Suzanne Brockmann’s “When Tony Met Adam” (2011), a short story/novella featuring a gay SEAL from her “Troubleshooters” series. Witt also writes M/F erotic romance as Lauren Gallagher.—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"