Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, December 14, 2012

Week ending December 14, 2012

Aicher, Lynda. Bonds of Trust. Carina: Harlequin. (Wicked Play, Bk. 1). 2012. 210p. ebk. ISBN 9781426894695. EPUB $1.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE, EROTICA, BDSM
When her marriage of 22 years ends, Cali Reynolds is left alone and seeking answers to explain the failure of her marriage. She conducts her research at the Den, an exclusive BDSM club, where she hopes to explore her submissive fantasies and learn if she truly is submissive in her sexual desires. At the Den, Cali encounters Jake McCallister, a professional Dom and part owner of the club. Jake thinks Cali is a frustrated cougar seeking validation of her sexual appeal after being dumped by her husband. When he meets Cali, Jake realizes she genuinely wants to know about herself and is determined to be the Dom she explores in her fantasies. As Cali discovers self-acceptance of her submissive tendencies, Jake discovers Cali may be the sub he didn’t even realize he was looking for. She’s not a perfect sub, but she’s perfect for Jake.
Verdict Cali’s character is more fully realized than Jake’s, but the two are explosive together as they draw the reader deeper into their story. Their relationship quickly moves from a business transaction into a deep, emotional connection, which makes Aicher’s first contemporary erotic romance appealing to readers bridging the gap between mainstream romance and Fifty Shades of Grey. Aicher is the author of the paranormal “Energen” series (The Dragon Stirs; Stone of Ascension); this title will appeal to fans of the works of Lora Leigh, Maya Banks, or Sylvia Day.—Melanie C. Duncan, Shurling Lib., Macon, GA

Arend, Vivian. Rocky Mountain Angel. Samhain. (Six Pack Ranch, Bk. 4). 2012. 294p. ebk. ISBN 9781619211216. EPUB $5.50. CONTEMPORARY WESTERN ROMANCE
Gabe Coleman returned home to Rocky Mountain to help run the family ranch and perhaps help it turn a profit by converting it into an organic farm. Allison Parker, an old friend of Gabe’s and an expert on organic farming and organic produce, needs to fabricate a reason for her return to Rocky Mountain that her mom will believe. Allison knows her mom is dying and wants to be with her during her final days. So Allison proposes to Gabe that in exchange for her help with making his ranch a profitable organic ranch, he will pretend to be her fiancé, thus giving credence to her appearance that her mom not only will believe but will thrill her. Gabe agrees because he’s an agreeable sort and is interested in anything that will get the ranch moving toward financial security. Of course, living in such close proximity makes it easy for Gabe and Allison to forget that their engagement is a charade, and soon things begin to heat up on Rocky Mountain.
Verdict With this fourth book in the “Six Pack Ranch” series, New York Times best-selling author Arend has a solid, well-rounded story encompassing family conflict, a dying parent, wayward cousins, romance, and enough steamy cowboy loving to heat up a cool fall evening. Rocky Mountain Angel and the rest of the series will warm your autumn nights as you follow the romantic adventures of the Coleman men.—Lisa Jordan, Johnson Cty. Lib., Gardner Neighborhood Lib., KS

Carmack, Cora. Losing It. Morrow. Dec. 2012. 204p. ebk. ISBN 9780988393509. EPUB $3.79. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Bliss Edwards wants to turn in her V-Card before she graduates college. The only problem is that no guy has ever interested her enough to make it worth the bother. Enter Garrick, stage right. He’s sitting in a bar, reading Shakespeare, and theater major Bliss is smitten. Garrick is gorgeous and witty, and he makes her stop overthinking everything—sort of. Eventually, she can’t go through with it, panicking her way out. Cue most awkward morning after ever, when Garrick turns out to be her new theater professor. In spite of the way she left him the night before, their chemistry is still alive and well, even though any relationship is definitely forbidden, at least until the end of the semester. It doesn’t mean that they both don’t want to figure out exactly what they have between them—like their whole future.
Verdict Losing It is part of the “new adult” trend. Bliss is 22 and trying to figure out what to do postgraduation: play it safe with stage design or go for broke and try acting. Her relationship with Garrick is also part of “trying her wings,” revolving as it does around the virginity angle and the whole “forbidden fruit” thing. This new subgenre is one to watch. Losing It is recommended to readers who enjoy young adult romance.—Marlene Harris, Seattle P.L.

Rowe, Julie. Saving the Rifleman. Carina: Harlequin. 2012. NAp. ebk. ISBN 9781426893490. EPUB $3.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Maria Hunt is a British nurse in German-occupied Brussels, Belgium, during World War I, caring for all of the injured, including British soldiers, and helping those who can to escape. When Lt. John Bennet arrives with a serious leg injury, he rescues Maria from an overly affectionate German soldier. Then, together, they must flee. Romance is expected and certainly occurs. They consummate their relationship, but what seems to be the major focus here is their difference in station: Bennet is upper-class British, and Maria is working class. The distinction was more important in 1914 (just check out Downton Abbey), but it gets a little wearing in 2012.
Verdict The rarity of the 1914 time frame makes this romance novel stand out. A well-written, sweet, though predictable story, it is impressive in its historical detail.—Susan Hayes, Chattahoochee Valley Libs., Columbus, 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"