Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, January 11, 2013

Week ending January 11, 2013

Anna, Vivi. The League of Illusion: Legacy. Carina: Harlequin. Jan. 2013. 145p. ebk. ISBN 9781426894855. EPUB $4.99. FANTASY ROMANCE/STEAMPUNK
The head of the League of Illusion is dying, and Jovan Davenport, former thief and definitely not prodigal son material, must heed his father’s call for help. Jovan’s eldest brother, Sebastian, has to be located in order to prevent the Hawthorne family from taking over the council, and Jovan promises to make peace with his other brother, Rhys, so they can find their missing sibling. Aided by Druid tracker Skylar Vanguard, Jovan leaves London to discover Sebastian’s whereabouts. Yet working together is no easy task, as Skylar and Jovan have a romantic history, but his betrayal cost them their relationship. Embers of the past don’t always stay buried, however, and Skylar and Jovan find their love rekindling. As the search continues, the threat of conspiracies and clockwork machinations may destroy everything Skylar and Jovan are seeking.
Verdict Anna’s (A Wolf’s Heart) steampunk series debut hits all the high notes of serial romance. Strong characters, a deepening story line, and fast action make this a page turner. Stay tuned for the story of the next Davenport brother’s romantic entanglement.—Kristi Chadwick, Emily Williston Memorial Lib., Easthampton, MA

Bernard, Jennifer. One Fine Fireman: A Bachelor Firemen Novella. Avon Impulse. 2012. NAp. ebk. ISBN 9780062257956. EPUB $1.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Kirk, aka “Thor” for his handsome, Nordic looks, is one of the bachelor firemen of San Gabriel who regularly breakfast at the diner where Maribel waitresses. Amusingly described as “hand grenades of testosterone rolling in the door,” the guys are all charming, but Maribel is attracted to Kirk, who can barely speak in her presence. He and her son, Pete, hit it off when they take care of a stray dog and bond over their dislike of Maribel’s obnoxious fiancé of six years. The plot moves quickly with our confused heroine juggling a bad case of the hots for Thor, the breakdown of her engagement, and her son’s disappearance and consequent endangerment.
Verdict With appealing firemen heroes, this novella from Bernard’s series (The Fireman Who Loved Me) is sweet, sexy, and funny.—B. Allison Gray, Santa Barbara P.L., Goleta Library, CA

Cade, Cathryn. Blooming in the Wild. Samhain. (Hawaiian Heroes, Bk. 3). 2012. 322p. ebk. ISBN 9781619213708. EPUB $5.50. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
It was supposed to be a simple photo shoot. Bella had a couple of hot models, a buxom makeup artist, and Joel, the aggravating star of his own adventure show. All she needed were a few shots showing off the new equipment line. She didn’t count on troubles with the photographer, or finding Joel so frustrating, much less starting to feel as if the island was trying to tell her something. Bella is a strong, somewhat uptight character, and it’s a lot of fun to watch her transform into a heroine.
Verdict The plot of this latest from Cade (Rolling in the Deep) has more twists and turns than a jungle vine—which leads to an extra ending or two—but overall it’s worth the trip. The tropical locale, zippy plotting, and floral creativity really warm up a cold winter’s day.—Emily Thompson, SUNY at Oswego Lib.

starred review starKnox, Ruthie. Along Came Trouble. Loveswept: Random. (Camelot, Bk. 2). Mar. 2013. 350p. ebk. ISBN 9780345541611. EPUB $2.99.
starred review starKnox, Ruthie. How To Misbehave. Loveswept: Random. (Camelot, Bk. 1). Feb. 2013. 96p. ebk. ISBN 9780345545305. EPUB 99¢. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
These titles are the first two stories in Knox’s “Camelot” series, which is set in a small town in central Ohio and focuses on the love lives of the Clark siblings. Amber Clark in How To Misbehave is the too good girl who wants to find a way to be just a woman but doesn’t know how to break out of her shell. Tony Mazzara is the former bad boy who can’t forgive himself for one terrible mistake—a mistake he has spent every day making up for ever since. A tornado traps the pair together in the dark, allowing them both finally to reach out for what they really want, instead of what they think they ought to have. Along Came Trouble includes two stories in one. Jamie Callahan is a singing sensation à la Justin Timberlake. His sister, Ellen, lives in Camelot, along with his nephew. Jamie fell in love with Ellen’s next-door-neighbor Carly and then broke up with her. Paparazzi madness ensued. Caleb Clark, the bodyguard Jamie sends to protect Ellen, turns out to be more of a threat to the boundary issues left over from her ex-husband than any of the photographers staking out her lawn. Then her brother comes back to town to reromance Carly, and Caleb is suddenly the best ally Ellen ever had, the only man besides her brother who has been on her side.
Verdict How To Misbehave is short, sweet, and sexy. Along Came Trouble is a terrific read for anyone with a soft spot for bodyguard romances. Both books are delightful examples of the kind of contemporary that Knox has made her own. Highly recommended to fans of contemporary and small-town romances and readers who like stories with family dynamics. Those who are drawn to titles by Shannon Stacey will love this series.—Marlene Harris, Seattle P.L.

Soliman, Wendy. Compromising the Marquess. Carina: Harlequin. (Forsters, Bk. 1). 2012. c.241p. ebk. ISBN 9781426894824. EPUB $5.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Soliman’s latest (the first in her “Forsters” series) is a solid if not groundbreaking Regency historical. Sisters Leah and Bethany Elliot have been forced into near-poverty following the death of their parents. After illness further decimates their finances, Leah jumps at the chance to leave London for less expensive country living in their uncle’s gatehouse. Yet Leah still hopes to make enough money selling society gossip to a newspaper to be able to finance some kind of future for Bethany. She thinks she’s hit the mother lode with Hal Forster, Marquess of Denby. Leah suspects that Hal is somehow involved in the mysterious goings-on at the local tavern. If she can find out what he’s up to, it just may be her sought-after payday. What she doesn’t count on is the instant attraction she feels for the mysterious marquess.
Verdict Soliman occasionally zigged when this reviewer thought she would zag, but this is, for the most part, a standard wallpaper historical. Readers of Victoria Alexander’s and Suzanne Enoch’s titles will enjoy it.—Jane Jorgenson, Madison P.L., WI

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"