Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, February 22, 2013

Week ending February 22, 2013

starred review starJungstedt, Mari. Killer’s Art. Stockholm Text. Feb. 2013. 324p. tr. from Swedish by Tiina Nunnally. ebk. ISBN 9789187173905. EPUB. $8.99. MYS
This is one of the best in Jungstedt’s (The Inner Circle; Unseen; Unspoken) captivating crime series featuring Swedish policeman Anders Knutas and reporter Johan Berg and set on the island of Gotland. Famed gallery owner Egon Wallin is quietly divesting himself of his old life. On the night he leaves home to run away with his lover, Wallin is murdered, and his body is hung on the historic wall surrounding Visby, the island’s capital. D.S. Knutas investigates, unraveling clues that lead to art theft, another murder, the unveiling of secret lives, and the inner, sometimes ruthless, workings of the art world. The reader also gains more insight into Berg, who gathers information, especially from Wallin’s gossipy neighbors, that is sometimes more in-depth than what the police have uncovered.
Verdict This tightly written and twisty crime novel comes together in the end with a devastating consequence for Berg, leaving series fans wanting more. It doesn’t matter if series newcomers haven’t read the previous titles; the book is so well crafted that novices can easily pick up speed. Fans of Helene Tursten or Håkan Nesser will enjoy Jungstedt! [The paperback edition of this e-original, distributed here by Consortium, will debut in fall 2013: ISBN 9789187173912. $14.95.—Ed.]—Frances Thorsen, Chronicles of Crime Bookshop, Victoria, BC

Leonard, Tina. Hotter Than Texas. Samhain. (Pecan Creek, Bk. 1). Mar. 2013. c.330p. ebk. ISBN 9781619212954. EPUB $5.50. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
A sister who just got dishonorably discharged from the military, a mother recovering from breast cancer, and a divorce of her own make Sugar realize that the Cassevechia women need a new start. Sugar finds a house and pecan orchard online for rent, packs up her family, and leaves Florida for Texas. Now mom, Maggie, just needs to remember grandma’s secret toasted pecan recipe, and hotterthanhellnuts.com will be in business. What Sugar doesn’t’ plan for, though, is hotter than…Jake Bentley, Jake’s uptight mother, his band of horny military brothers, and a dead body in her sister’s bedroom. Hell just may freeze over before Sugar can launch her enterprise.
Verdict Although the story and the characters take a while to get moving and some plotlines don’t seem to follow through, Sugar is a heroine for today’s romance reader: a strong woman who remains true to herself. This latest romance from Leonard (“Callahan Cowboys” series) makes a nice addition to a basic contemporary romance collection.—Heather Lisa Maneiro, Minnesota State Univ. Lib.‚ Moorhead

Long, Heather. Into the Spotlight. Samhain. (Soulgirls, Bk. 1). Mar. 2013. c.155p. ebk. ISBN 9781619213357. EPUB $4.50. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
At night she is Pandora, mistress of the Midnight Mystery Lounge at the Arcana Royale casino in Las Vegas, where she has been captivating audiences with her hypnotic voice and sultry moves for the past 50 years. But her otherworldly audience is unaware that behind her smiles, Jeannie Williams is doomed to perform the same song and dance routine night after night for another 100 years, and it is more than she can bear. A powerful vampire, Malcolm Reynolds arrives at the casino to unravel a sticky situation involving one of his family members, and when Jeannie first catches his gaze during one of her shows, she instantly senses that he is capable of taking her away from her life of servitude. True to his nature, Malcolm is willing to rescue Jeannie when he hears of her plight. But then he discovers her secrets, and if there is a choice between Jeannie and his family, will he make the right one?
Verdict Although the idea is a solid and unique one, and several surprises do entertain, this first book in the “Soulgirls” series suffers from limited scenery, insipid characters, and tedious dialog. The author’s attempt at mixing Old World characteristics with the shine of the modern world falls short. Not recommended.—Natasha Grant, New York

Oaksmith, Ellyn. Adventures with Max and Louise. Avon Impulse. Feb. 2013. c.321p. ebk. ISBN 9780062268105. EPUB $2.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Originally published under the title Knockers, Oaksmith’s pedestrian debut tells the story of food critic Molly Gallagher, who expects the surgery she undergoes to correct some minor scars to be routine; unfortunately, the results are anything but. Owing to a mix-up with the charts, she is mistakenly given breast implants that bring her from a tiny A to an enormous D. Until the medical board can approve another surgery, Molly is saddled with these new appendages that have some mixed side effects. She lands a date with Chas Bowerman, an old crush who would have never given her a passing glance otherwise, but soon hears voices coming from beneath her bra. “Max” and “Louise” give her advice on everything from her career to her love life, and along the way Molly learns about confidence, love, and forgiveness from the most unexpected source.
Verdict With a chick lit vibe that will placate readers of Carole Matthews’s and Jennifer Crusie’s books, Adventures displays some real heartfelt moments despite the outlandish premise, but not every reader will be charmed by talking breasts.—Kara Kohn, Plainfield P.L. Dist., IL

Soliman, Wendy. Forgotten Heiress. Samhain. Feb. 2013. 280p. ebk. ISBN 9781619213319. EPUB $5.50. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Eloise Hamilton, the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy banker, knows her place among the ton. Not being fully accepted by society allows Eloise to live life along the fringe of societal expectations. She rides horses in breeches, cleans out the stables, and spends way too much time unchaperoned with neighbor Harry Benson-Smythe. Thinking that he could never stoop low enough to marry her, Eloise freely develops a steamy friendship with Harry, even though he is betrothed to the lovely Lady Hannah. They team up to solve the disappearance of several local girls, drawing out the abductor as they discover that sometimes stories do have a happy ending.
Verdict Set in Surrey in 1820, this tale that is part mystery and part romance explores the battle between what is right and what is duty in a society entrenched in rules and confinements. Harry fights the pull of his heart to the young Eloise, protecting her and keeping her safe while losing himself in the unacceptable love. A historical love story with a pinch of suspense, Forgotten Heiress celebrates women who refuse to conform and the men who find this defiance unforgettable.—Judy Taylor Garner, Strayer Univ., Glen Allen, VA

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"