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

Week ending March 22, 2013

starred review starCullinan, Heidi & Marie Sexton. Family Man. Samhain. Mar. 2013. 262p. ebk. ISBN 9781619214668. EPUB $5.50. LGBT ROMANCE
Vincent Fierro has spent his life trying to be the good Catholic boy his large Italian family expects him to be, but, at age 38, with three divorces behind him, he wonders if he’ll ever find a special someone. On a routine plumbing job for a gay couple, Vince realizes he wants the emotional connection the two men have but not with a guy, because he’s not gay. Well, maybe. Vince confides in his sister Rachel about his attraction to men, and she encourages him to visit a few Chicago gay bars to see how it feels. Vince feels nothing except his age until he runs into a familiar face. College student Trey Giles is more than ten years younger than Vince but is older than most of his fellow students since he takes fewer classes while working two jobs. Trey is out to his friends and quickly realizes Vince is still closeted, but he suggests a “not date” at a jazz club, and the two end up slow dancing the evening away. Vince’s insecurity about coming out to his family and Trey’s own insecurity relating to his alcoholic mother make their relationship rocky until they each face their problems head on and find the strength to reach out to each other.
Verdict Cullinan and Sexton’s second collaboration (after Second Hand) takes the traditional romantic trope of older experienced man/younger inexperienced woman and turns it on its ear. However, they capture the beauty of developing a relationship based on mutual interest without resorting to immediate gratuitous sex (although the eventual sex is steamy) in an homage to the old-fashioned romance. They don’t gloss over the problems the two men face, but tackling them realistically makes their book stronger. Highly recommended for all libraries.—Melanie C. Duncan, Shurling Lib., Macon, GA

Frampton, Megan. Hero of My Heart. Loveswept: Random. Apr. 2013. c.264p. ebk. ISBN 9780345542021. EPUB $2.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Less than a month after her vicar father passes and she learns that her mother still lives, Mary Smith finds herself (and her virginity) up for public auction in a seedy pub by her stepbrother, Matthew. With no choice in the matter, Mary resigns herself to accept whatever fate brings. Mary certainly doesn’t anticipate a hasty marriage to Alasdair, the marquess who rescued her that evening. Mary also doesn’t anticipate that the marquess will need her comfort and love to rescue him from his nightmarish past and opium addiction as much as she needed his rescue. The final question then becomes, Can true love blossom when neither party feels there is a choice in the relationship? After all, “Alasdair wasn’t going to fall in love with her. Just save her.”
Verdict The point of view transitions between Mary and Alasdair are at times abrupt and confusing. However, the language used by Frampton (A Singular Lady) to close each chapter is engaging and quotable. Mary and Alasdair’s budding love affair and their internal conflicts with their sense of love versus duty make this romance a page-turner; recommended for most romance collections.—Heather Lisa Maneiro, Minnesota State Univ. Lib.‚ Moorhead

Jordan, Sophie. The Earl in My Bed: A Forgotten Princesses Valentine Novella. Avon Impulse. 2013. 120p. ebk. ISBN 9780062222466. EPUB $4.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
When Jamie, the heir to the Earl of Winningham, comes home from the wars in India, Paget Ellsworth is certainly not going to welcome him back. Paget had grown up with two of the earl’s sons but felt nothing but animosity toward the third. With one brother dead, one in India, and the heir back in England, Paget and Jamie fight a growing attraction. Their anger and childhood resentment divide them, but they share a concern for a brother and friend who has yet to return home safely. The village may have assumed Paget was meant for brother Owen, but it’s Jamie who inspires passion and love. How can she love one man and let go of another?
Verdict This stand-alone and woefully short novella offers readers a quick but engrossing read. Jordan (Lessons from a Scandalous Bride) strikes the match of romance quickly between two characters who, for all their antagonism, eventually find a way to create a life together. A well-written and satisfying read, this title will have readers eagerly awaiting the next book in the series.Debra M. Dudek, Fountaindale P.L. Dist., Bolingbrook, IL

starred review starLaRoche, Catherine. Master of Love. Pocket Star. 2012. 282p. ebk. ISBN 9781476709437. EPUB $1.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Never judge a book or a person by her cover. Callista Higginbotham is used to the whispers and the subtle jabs to her reputation. As a gentlewoman in reduced circumstances, Callista strives to support her family as a librarian and rare-book dealer while holding herself upright in London’s socially conscious hierarchy. Financial salvation arrives with a commission to organize the sizable personal library of Dominick Avery, Viscount Rexton. Blessed with serious seductive skills and exceedingly good looks, Dominick devotes himself to the pleasures of the flesh while hiding his brilliant philosophical mind. Intrigued with the librarian in his home, Dominick finds himself at odds with his conscience and his long-neglected heart. As the couple form a deeper attachment, danger threatens them both, and Dominick finds himself questioning the life he’s always led and the desire to be the man he never knew he could be.
Verdict Wonderfully rich and displaying depth of characterization, debut novel Master of Love is a gorgeous historical romance. Stalwart heroine Callista shows an unexpected strength and depth of emotion, given her precarious position, while ardent seducer Dominick satisfyingly kindles sparks of affection into a full-blown flame. A potent mix of history, charm, and romance, this book is an excellent recommendation for romance fans.—Debra M. Dudek, Fountaindale P.L. Dist., Bolingbrook, IL

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"