Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, November 9, 2012

Week ending November 9, 2012

Austin, Lynnette. Somebody Like You. Forever Yours: Grand Central. (Maverick Junction, Bk. 1). Dec. 2012. c.256p. eISBN 9781455528370. EPUB $4.99. CONTEMPORARY WESTERN ROMANCE
Take a rich girl going incognito, a handsome rancher struggling with the mess his grandfather left behind, and a small Texas town with just enough quirky characters, and you have the solid—if unsurprising—first title in Austin’s new “Maverick Junction” series. Annelise Montjoy has come to Maverick Junction on a mission. Her beloved grandfather is ill, and Annelise hopes to find the one person who can help him. Her hopes of remaining unnoticed are immediately thwarted by Cash Hardeman. Though Cash is dealing with family problems of his own, he’s certainly willing to be distracted for a while by the beautiful Annelise. The chemistry between them is immediate, but their timing is off. The outside world is closing in, and the pair must work to reach their happy ending.
Verdict Though this small Texas town, with its charming inhabitants, can only exist within the pages of a book, fans of Robyn Carr’s “Virgin River” series will snap up this title.—Jane Jorgenson, Madison P.L., WI

Breeding, Cynthia. Rogue of the Highlands. Samhain. (Rogue, Bk. 1). 2012. 372p. eISBN 9781619210479. EPUB $6.50. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
In this enjoyable Regency romance, the Prince of Wales tells Jillian Alton that if she can successfully domesticate and make presentable to the ton wild Highlander Ian MacLeod, Prinny will give her enough money to bring out her younger sister the following Season. Jillian’s late husband had beaten her, and his heir now wants her for the same nefarious purpose. Ian is the stereotypical Highlander—broad of accent and quick to heroics. Jillian is initially shocked by his impetuosity, flirtatiousness, and language. Yet once Ian discovers that Jillian’s stepson intends to marry and abuse her, he is determined to rescue her from that fate. A hint of magic enters the story when Jillian is given a faery stone to protect her from a murderer.
Verdict The dialog sparkles, although there is some clunky phrasing here and there and several of the Scots phrases are not entirely authentic. Still, Breeding has successfully created appealing characters while merging elements of traditional Regencies, magic, and Scots brawn into an enjoyable read.—B. Allison Gray, Santa Barbara P.L. Syst., Goleta Branch, CA

Pape, Cindy Spencer. Moonlight & Mechanicals. (Gaslight Chronicles, Bk. 4). 368Kb. eISBN 9781426894527. EPUB $4.99.
Schwartz, Jenny. Courting Trouble. (Bustlepunk Chronicles, Bk. 2). 250Kb. eISBN 9781426894442. EPUB $3.99.
ea. vol: Carina: Harlequin. 2012. STEAMPUNK, PARANORMAL
These two steampunk romances might send readers rushing to upload. Schwartz’s Courting Trouble, the latest in her “Bustlepunk Chronicles” (after Wanted: One), is set in 1895 Western Australia in the Swan River Colony, on the frontier at the periphery of the known world. Suffragette Esme Smith struggles with her affections for Jed Reeve, an inventor of the curiously Australian bounding machine. Moonlight & Mechanicals, Pape’s next “Gaslight Chronicles” title (following Steam & Sorcery; Photographs & Phantoms; and Kilts & Kraken), is set in 1859 London. The magical steampunk world of Winifred “Wink” Carter Hadrian, an engineer and inventor rescued from poverty by Sir Merrick Hadrian, is captivating and richly detailed. Wink is also in love with a werewolf, Liam McCullough, whom she handily tames, which adds to the fun. Both of the books contain foiled plots against the monarchy—yes, the Prince of Wales is in danger in Trouble, and Wink and her allies defeat an army of clockwork cyborgs to save the Queen. However, Moonlight is more than twice as long as Trouble, allowing for stronger development of character and plot. Readers will see a somewhat greater independence and definition in Wink, who as an inventor in her own right is also a creator. By contrast, Esme, while an independent thinker, struggles more with her place in society.
Verdict: Courting Trouble is laudable for its originality in pushing the boundaries of the steampunk genre. Its brevity, though, detracts from its full realization. Also, one wonders at the coining of the somewhat dubious, double-edged term bustlepunk. Moonlight & Mechanicals, on the other hand, is a fully realized novel with a truly magnificent, stereotype-defying heroine on a level with Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander. It is highly recommended.—Henry Bankhead, Los Gatos Lib., CA

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"