Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, January 4, 2013

Week ending January 4, 2013

starred review starBurton, Jaci & others. Romancing the Holiday. Carina: Harlequin. 2012. 272p. ebk. ISBN 9781426894701. EPUB $7.99. HOLIDAY ROMANCE ANTHOLOGY
Recently divorced Lila Payne is hoping to turn over a new leaf when she inherits her uncle’s dilapidated resort in HelenKay Dimon’s cheerful “We’ll Be Home for Christmas.” The furthest thing from her mind is a run-in with Spence Thomas, a man she had an incredible three-night stand with but was never going to see again. Spence, on the other hand, has plans to mend more than just Lila’s cabins. Chicago’s magical skyline is the perfect backdrop for Christi Barth’s “Ask Her at Christmas.” Caitlin McIntyre is shocked that her best friend (and secret crush) Kyle Lockhart intends to propose to his girlfriend of only six months and enlists Caitlin’s help in the process. This proposal comes with a business merger that will finally grant Kyle the respect of his dying father. How can Caitlin refuse, even if it is at the expense of her own heart? Burton’s characters from her “Kent Brothers” series provide a dash of welcomed spice in “The Best Thing.” An unexpected (but much-desired) kiss at last year’s company Christmas party between Tori and her love-’em-and-leave-’em boss, Brody Kent, has left her uneasy. Brody is intent on fixing their relationship, but Tori isn’t sure that she can trust him. Fortunately, Christmas is rolling around again, and this may be the right time for him to get past his commitment issues and win Tori’s heart once and for all.
Verdict This feel-good anthology provides three perfectly suited stories that will warm the hearts of all readers.—Kara Kohn, Plainfield P.L., IL

Calhoun, Anne & others. Red Hot Holiday. Carina: Harlequin. 2012. 262p. ebk. ISBN 9781426894749. EPUB $7.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE, EROTICA, BDSM, LGBT
Carina’s third annual collection of holiday-themed novellas starts with “Wish List” by K.A. Mitchell (“The Christmas Proposition” in Men Under the Mistletoe). Jonah panics when he finds a set of wedding bands in his boyfriend’s desk. He loves Evan but isn’t sure he’s ready for total commitment when he has a lengthy list of sexual experiences he hasn’t tried, primarily of the bondage and submission variety. Evan discovers Jonah’s list and realizes Jonah may be more willing to accept Evan’s hidden Dominant side. But the secrets the men keep from each other may tear them apart first. In “I Need You for Christmas” by Leah Braemel (“Hauberk Protection” series), lovers Ryan, a sculptor, and Megan, a Mountie, have been kept apart for years by family and career demands, meeting every few months to keep their love strong. Megan’s public assertiveness bends to Ryan’s dominance in private, and the two enact a modern version of O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi” to bring their worlds together at last. In “Breath on Embers,” the award-winning Calhoun (Liberating Lacey) introduces Thea, whose grief over her late husband keeps her emotionally distant from her lover, Ronan, a firefighter. But Ronan plans to use the holiday spirit and Thea’s adventurous nature to wake her up, even if he has to add another man to their relationship for one night.
Verdict Carina offers another solid collection to meet the demand for Christmas-themed collections, with spicier fare to appeal to the recent surge in interest in erotica.—Melanie C. Duncan, Shurling Lib., Macon, GA

starred review starCarney, Dee. Once Burned. Samhain. (Close to the Heat, Bk. 1). 2012. 107p. ebk. ISBN 9781619213173. EPUB $3.50. MULTICULTURAL ROMANCE
Pepper Joseph is a no-nonsense type of girl who knows what she wants and goes for it. A chef and owner of her own food truck, she is on her way to better days if she can win a certain cooking competition. The grand prize is $10,000, and Pepper is determined to be victorious. The only snag in Pepper’s plans is her rival chef and food truck owner Darien Priest. Darien is not only hot and sexy, but he is also her ex-boyfriend—the ex-boyfriend who broke her heart. While Pepper doesn’t know what to do with the attraction that pulls her to this man, Darien sets out to prove to Pepper that he made a mistake all those years ago and that, together, they are a perfect match!
Verdict This first installment in Carney’s (Open Door Invitation) new “Close to the Heat” series is full of food and sex and unforgettable attraction, which make for a perfect recipe! A quick and easy read, Once Burned will have readers rooting for the scorned and strong Pepper, while still hoping for the sexy, bad-boy chef to prove that some matches are meant to last.—Judy Garner, Strayer Univ., Glen Allen, VA

Rogers, Moira. Haunted Sanctuary. Samhain. (Green Pines, Bk. 1). Jan. 2013. 191p. ebk. ISBN 9781619212206. EPUB $5.50. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
This first book in the promising “Green Pines” series from Rogers (Impulse) focuses on shape-shifting werewolves. Librarian Eden Green is bitten by a hostile werewolf and turns werewolf herself. Readers are introduced to werewolf culture as Eden is rapidly educated in her new life. Her secret love, Sheriff Jay Ancheta, also a werewolf, becomes her official guide and mentor. A massive buildup in erotic tension ensues as Jay and Eden must wait to consummate their bond. The surrounding action focuses on Eden’s cousin Zack, the leader of a broken and tortured pack. Zack, fleeing rampaging alpha wolves in Memphis, brings his pack to Green Pines Farm, his former home. The farm offers sanctuary but also contains a ghostly presence. Jay and Eden finally get together just before all hell breaks loose as the Memphis pack, bent on revenge, attacks.
Verdict A focus on domestic violence and post-traumatic stress syndrome, including suicide, makes this paranormal tale a humane statement on personal healing as well as an engaging romance.—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"