Xpress Reviews: Fiction | First Look at New Books, November 9, 2012

Week ending November 9, 2012

Butcher, Jim. Cold Days: A Novel of the Dresden Files. Roc: NAL. Nov. 2012. 496p. ISBN 9780451464408. $27.95. FANTASY
Harry Dresden is alive! But despite being returned from death, things aren’t looking up for Dresden. He is now the Winter Knight at the beck-and-call of Mab, faerie Queen of Air and Darkness, and she wants him to do the impossible: kill an immortal. Secondly, Demonreach, Harry’s getaway island, is under siege from some powerful outside forces and is keeping a dark secret Harry must protect. Fighting enemies new and old, with problems building and time running out, our hero must also battle within himself to keep the Winter mantel from consuming his soul and turning him into a merciless and evil killer.
Verdict Butcher’s latest installment (after Ghost Story) in the “Dresden Files” series will keep readers invested from start to finish with lots of action and an ending that will have them craving the next title. With a colorful cast and laughs throughout, this series will appeal to readers interested in urban fantasy or Kim Harrison’s work. Though Butcher’s loyal fans will be craving this one, it is relatively easy for anyone to pick up and start the series with this book.—Brooke Bolton, N. Manchester P.L., IN

Forrester, James. Sacred Treason. Sourcebooks Landmark. 2012. 480p. ISBN 9781402272660. pap. $14.99. F
Forrester (pen name of historian Ian Mortimer, The Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England) centers this cloak-and-dagger tale on William Harley, a gentleman who has achieved the high rank of Clarenceux King of Arms and whose acquaintances include Sir William Cecil. It is a more lowly acquaintance, though, who comes knocking on Clarenceux’s door on a stormy night in December 1563. Henry Machyn has come to Clarenceux because in addition to being an officer of the Queen, the herald is also a secret Catholic. Machyn presses on Clarenceux a chronicle that will prove to be the key to a conspiracy involving a group who call themselves the Knights of the Round Table. He then departs into the storm, never to be seen again for he has been watched by agents of Francis Walsingham. Clarenceux must rely on his wits, his 20-year-old soldiering skills, and the widow Machyn to survive this plot.
Verdict Fans of Elizabethan fiction are legion, and they won’t be disappointed by the fierce action and plot twists of this historical thriller, the first volume in a new trilogy.—Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Lib., Wisconsin Rapids

Hull, Linda Joffe. The Big Bang. Tyrus. Nov. 2012. 304p. ISBN 9781440544156. pap. $15.95. F
Things are not quite as perfect as they seem at Melody Mountain Ranch. While residents and homes are outwardly beautiful, gossiping neighbors whisper about eating disorders, cold marriages, and teen witchcraft. They also focus on gorgeous Hope Jordan, who has been desperately trying to get pregnant. When she isn’t welcoming her husband home in lingerie, Hope finds friendship in three men who have more than a few lustful thoughts. Will Pierce-Cohn is a friendly, stay-at-home dad married to a politician, handsome Tim Trautman has recently moved to the subdivision with his growing family, and Frank Griffin is the homeowners’ pious board president also eyeing land for his dream church. After many twists, turns, and a particularly inebriated block party, Hope is pregnant, and the paternity possibilities cast a wider net than her husband.
Verdict This debut novel is a fun, sexy suburban soap opera with a touch of mystery. A wide cast of interesting characters adds more than one subplot, but they are all absolutely entertaining and make this a worthwhile read.—Madeline Solien, Deerfield P.L., IL

Lovelace, Sharla. Before and Ever Since. Berkley Sensation: Penguin Group (USA). Nov. 2012. 315p. ISBN 9780425253052. pap. $15; eISBN 9781101612286. F
Emily Lattimer and Ben Landry were best friends until her 21st birthday, when they crossed the line from friendship to something more. Now, realtor Emily, long divorced from her philandering husband, Kevin, learns that her mother is planning to sell her childhood home through a rival real estate agent. Mrs. Lattimer has also hired a carpenter to do necessary repairs. Any guesses on whom that might be? After a separation of more than two decades, how do Emily and Ben broach the past? It seems the past is taking steps of its own, though, by stealing through Emily’s consciousness and revealing to her events about which she was unaware—like the reason Ben left town 21 years ago. Of course, Emily has her own secret, one that will affect her daughter, Cassidy, and perhaps her second chance with Ben.
Verdict Lovelace (The Reason Is You) writes with a snappy twang about youthful mistakes that lead to grown-up regret. Unfortunately, smart-mouthed Emily’s first-person narration seems a bit too cutesy when Cassidy has a serious accident, and the ending is, well, predictable, though the paranormal element adds a dash of unconventionality. For fans who enjoy reading about gals who survive on their own terms and finally come to accept the consequences.—Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal

Wilde, Lori. A Cowboy for Christmas. Avon. (Jubilee, Texas, Bk. 3). Nov. 2012. 334p. ISBN 9780062047809. pap. $7.99; eISBN 9780062047816. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Lissette Moncrief is a young widow living in Jubilee, TX, following her husband Jake’s transformation from cowboy to soldier and his death in Afghanistan. Now her two-year-old son, Kyle, has been diagnosed with progressive deafness, and she just backed into another truck in the grocery store parking lot. The girl known in her family as the peacemaker is ready to explode. Rafferty Jones is as surprised as Lissy is to find that the woman he just met over their slightly dented vehicles is the woman he came from California to see, his half-brother Jake’s widow. Rafferty wants to give her the insurance money Jake left to him, but his sister-in-law has as much pride as he does, and something about her situation is calling out to Rafferty’s need to take care of others.
Verdict In Wilde’s third installment in the “Jubilee, Texas” series (after The Cowboy and the Princess and The Cowboy Takes a Bride), our baker heroine struggles with her son’s deafness while trying not to depend too much on the gorgeous cowpoke who seems to possess the tenderness that was sorely lacking in her now dead husband. With recipes and perspectives into the deaf community, this sweet romance is a holiday treat. For all collections.—Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal

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"