Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, February 15, 2013

Week ending February 15, 2013

Carr, Mari & Jayne Rylon. Winter’s Thaw. Samhain. (Compass Girls, Bk. 1). Feb. 2013. 211p. ebk. ISBN 9781619213333. EPUB $4.50. WESTERN ROMANCE
Sure of her life path since she was 15, Sienna was content knowing that she was going to marry her first and only love, Josh; work as a nurse; and continue to live in Compton Pass, WY. At age 22, she is back living on Compass Ranch, working as a nurse in her hometown, and waiting for Josh to graduate so that they can get married and start their life together as planned. Just as Sienna feels that Josh is pulling away, her father brings home a new ranch hand, former champion bull rider Daniel Lennon, and Sienna’s life plan starts to unravel. Daniel awakens feelings in Sienna that she didn’t know she had and encourages her to try living in the moment while Josh is taking a “break” from their relationship. What starts out as an experiment for Sienna into sensuality and sexuality she had not experienced with Josh becomes something more over the course of the long winter Wyoming nights. Will Sienna settle for her preplanned future, or will she take a risk and follow her heart?
Verdict A cold Wyoming winter, a hot, sexy cowboy, and Sienna’s sexual education will warm readers up in a hurry. In fiction, when it comes to business major vs. sexy cowboy, the sexy cowboy will win every time. Winter’s Thaw doesn’t disappoint. Don’t miss book two in the series, Hope Springs, coming soon. And for the backstory, check out the authors’ series “Compass Brothers.”—Lisa Jordan, Johnson Cty. Lib., Gardner Neighborhood Lib., KS

Edwards, Hailey. A Cast of Shadows. Samhain. (Araneae Nation, Bk. 2.5). Feb. 2013. c.107p. ebk. ISBN 9781619214866. EPUB $3.50. FANTASY ROMANCE
Daraja has set out down the river to find her heart, a clan tradition normally reserved for men. Yet Daraja is determined to prove to her father and eight brothers that she, too, can return with spoils and a companion to support her family. Her trip is quickly interrupted when hunters attempt to frame her in the forbidden poaching of the protected canis. A mysterious stranger, who seems to have an otherworldly connection with the animals, attempts to help her, and Daraja realizes there is more to this world—and her quest—than she suspected.
Verdict Edwards delivers in her new novella from the “Araneae Nation” series (after A Hint of Frost and A Feast of Souls). She embraces the short story format and deftly manages to pack a handful of intriguing characters, including a few of the four-legged variety, two battles, and a love story into just over 100 pages. The writing is lush and allows the reader to become immersed in the new world immediately. A Cast of Shadows will likely send readers searching for more from this series and its author.—Kellie Tilton, Univ. of Alaska Fairbanks Lib.

Gary, Codi & others. Kiss Me. Avon Impulse. Feb. 2013. c.214p. ebk. ISBN 9780062273970. EPUB $1.99. ROMANCE ANTHOLOGY
This entertaining anthology features three female protagonists who hate Valentine’s Day until they are presented with a reason to change their mind. Ryan Ashton is not looking forward to the upcoming holiday, especially since her crush doesn’t look at her as more than a friend in Gary’s “The Trouble with Sexy.” Ryan finally takes charge and, with the help of a makeover and date auction, finally gets her man. In Cheryl Harper’s “Love Me Tender,” Julie Dillon is stuck in an Elvis-themed hotel in the middle of a snowstorm with coworker Luke Pearce. She doesn’t trust that Luke’s affections go beyond using her to better his career. Can Luke convince Julie that his motivations are sincere and that he isn’t just a “hound dog”? Jaclyn Hatcher adds a bit of danger in “Love, Guns, and Heart-Shaped Chocolate” when Katie Quinn finds herself on the lam with Logan Cross, despite her plan to spend the holiday solo. A misunderstanding has them running from money-hungry killers, but love manages to find Logan and Katie, even in the direst of situations.
Verdict Readers will commiserate with the characters’ contempt for Valentine’s Day, but these three charming stories will change the hearts of even the most hardened cynics.—Kara Kohn, Plainfield P.L., IL

starred review starWine, Mary. Dream Shadow. Samhain. (Dream, Bk. 1). Feb. 2013. 237p. ebk. ISBN 9781619213753. EPUB $5.50. PARANORMAL
Dream Shadow takes paranormal romance into the fascinating realm of human psychic potential. Grace is a powerful, hard-as-nails psychic, an operative assigned to an army ranger unit. Using her talent, she can find literally anyone. The downside is that the army has abused her, treating her more like a trained dog than a person; she is isolated and despondent. Into her life walks hunky sheriff Brice Campbell, who won’t take no for an answer, piercing her walls and demanding that she face up to what she has been missing. It helps that she totally melts with desire in his presence. Their supercharged romance drives the plot, with powerful sexual sparring and ultimate bliss. Grace overcomes her demons and, with the help of her sheriff and the army rangers, breaks free of the traps that have been set for her.
Verdict This very hot romance moves hand in hand with a compelling plot, a rare and wonderful thing. The addition of a Civil War reenactment setting adds interest and corset-bustling flavor. Octavia Butler’s Mind of My Mind meets Lee Child, with a female Jack Reacher. Double-plus highly recommended; this reviewer can’t wait for the next book.—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"