Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, February 8, 2013

Week ending February 8, 2013

Conn, Phoebe. Fierce Pride. Samhain. Feb. 2013. 400p. ebk. ISBN 9781619213869. EPUB $6.50. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
Conn’s next offering after Fierce Love brings readers back to Barcelona, a city known for culture and passion and where Libby Gunderson arrives for her half-sister’s wedding. The plan is to talk Maggie out of marrying a man their family hardly knows, but Maggie’s half-brother, famous matador Santos Aragon, proves to be too much of a distraction. There is no question that Libby and Santos are hot for each other, and fortunately their short-lived romance has the opportunity to last the summer when Santos, who was injured in the ring after a fan held up a mirror that momentarily blinded him, hires Libby as his physical therapist. But whoever has a grievance against Santos escalates the threats that endanger the whole family, and Santos might do whatever it takes to protect Libby, even if it breaks her heart.
Verdict It will take a moment for readers to wrap their brain around Libby and Santos not being related, even though they share a half-sister. Once they get past that, they will be drawn into a story that is both sexy and big on family relationships. Conn’s characters are brilliantly developed, and the plot is layered enough to keep readers in its grip.—Kara Kohn, Plainfield P.L., IL

Donahue, Tina. Shameless Desire. Samhain. (Outlawed Realm, Bk. 3). Apr. 2013. c.247p. ebk. ISBN 9781619215382. EPUB $5.50. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
The blurb on Donahue’s third title in her “Outlawed Realm” series (after Illicit Desire) promises “out-of-this-world sex and a romance to die for.” The author certainly delivers on the first of those promises, if not the second. In this urban fantasy/sf sphere, the earth has five dimensions or layers or something. Earth as we know it is E1. The hero, Kuma, is from E4 and has come through a portal to E1 to hunt the guards (subhumans) who murdered his mate. Once here, he realizes that the guards are kidnapping E1 women and taking them back to E4 to the Pleasure Palace to serve as sex slaves. When Kuma sees a guard attempting to kidnap Gwen, a nurse heading home from her job at the hospital, he steps in to save her and takes her home. And that’s all she wrote. Gwen sees Kuma through a drug-induced haze and is instantly hot for him; Kuma returns her lust. From then on they are pretty much thinking about or having sex all while trying to hunt guards and keep Gwen safe. Assisting them in their quest are characters from the earlier books in the series who also spend their time either thinking about or having sex—in all its variations.
While there is an attempt at world-building here, most of the backdrop feels like just that, a backdrop, barely supporting thinly drawn characters who never seem real. Not recommended.—Jane Jorgenson, Madison P.L., WI

Jameson, Becca. Rescue in the Smokies. Samhain. (Durham Wolves, Bk. 1). Mar. 2013. 189p. ebk. ISBN 9781619214637. EPUB $4.50. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
Book 1 of the “Durham Wolves” series takes readers deep into the Smoky Mountains where shape-shifter Sergius Durham lives a quiet life with his brothers raising thoroughbreds. Using his heightened wolf senses to help the local sheriff to find hikers lost in the mountains is par for the course, but things get extra-dangerous when Sergius senses a vampire in the area stalking a very lost, very special woman—his mate. Juliana Polanski is usually an adept hiker, but when she becomes hopelessly lost, she knows it will take more than a compass to find her way out of these woods. What she doesn’t know is that rescue comes in the form of tall, dark, and handsome.
Verdict Jameson writes a simple but effective plot that doesn’t distract from the romance in this fun, flirty story. Paranormal romance fans will appreciate the interesting story line, solid world-building, and likable characters but should be mindful that this novel includes numerous graphic bedroom encounters featuring domination, light bondage, and lots of dirty talk.—Jennifer Harris, Mercyhurst Univ. Lib., Erie, PA

Jamieson, Kelly. With Strings Attached. Samhain. (San Amaro Singles, Bk. 1). 2013. 329p. ebk. ISBN 9781619214651. EPUB $5.50. EROTIC ROMANCE
Corey Fenwick, an up-and-coming chocolatier, and Matt Ferber, a successful microbrewer, are friends with benefits. The benefits improve when Matt’s friend surfing champ Dylan Schell arrives to recuperate from a broken foot. The trio decide they can all be FWB, at the same time, in the same bed. Tension builds when Dylan thinks he may quit competitive surfing and stay on with Corey and Matt. The plot also addresses Corey’s growing chocolate business and the arrival of her father, whom she hasn’t seen in years. Jamieson is the author of numerous romantic suspense and erotic romance novels.
Verdict Bold and graphic, this first title in the “San Amaro Singles” series has sizzling appeal.—Joyce Sparrow, Kenneth City, FL

Perez, Marlene. Strange Fates. Orbit: Hachette. (Nyx Fortuna, Bk. 1). Mar. 2013. 318p. ebk. ISBN 9780316233545. EPUB $4.99. FANTASY
Nyx Fortuna, a brooding, leather-jacketed young man, has finally tracked down his mother’s killers to Minneapolis, and he is determined to avenge her death. As the forbidden son of Fortuna, the fourth Fate, however, Nyx is much older than he seems and his enemies are none other than his aunts, the Three Fates. A chance encounter with a mysterious young woman named Elizabeth Abernathy signals a new direction in his search for vengeance—and for control of the missing thread of his life, the loss of which has trapped him forever as an ageless, deathless youth.
Verdict The author of the “Dead Is” series (Dead Is the New Black; Dead Is a State of Mind) launches a new series featuring a young man caught between his human desires and his boredom with his immortality. The Midwestern setting is a welcome departure from the usual metropolitan backdrop and should result in regional as well as genre interest. Nyx is a likable hero and provides a refreshing change from the usual urban fantasy fare.—Jackie Cassada, formerly with Asheville Buncombe Lib. Syst., NC

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"