Xpress Reviews: Fiction | First Look at New Books, April 12, 2013

Week ending April 12, 2013

James, Julie. Love Irresistibly. Berkley Sensation: Penguin Group (USA). (FBI/U.S. Attorney). Apr. 2013. 274p. ISBN 9780425251195. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9781101617410. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Brooke Parker is general counsel for Sterling Restaurants, a large Chicago firm that is moving beyond eateries into national sports franchise food service. Brooke loves her job, even if her latest boyfriend doesn’t see her as a “big picture” girl. So what could Assistant U.S. Attorney Cade Morgan want when he shows up unannounced in Brooke’s office with two FBI agents? Brooke is intrigued by Cade and happy to assist in a sting to snag a crooked politician. Yet once the agents get their man, Brooke finds she can’t stop thinking about the very attractive Cade. And the feeling is mutual, but as both of our protagonists have had less than successful previous relationships, they decide that playing it cool is the best option. Still, the glimpses of vulnerability and concern from both parties only heighten the interest, rather than tempering it. With the appearance of an unknown half-brother in Cade’s life and a lucrative job offer for Brooke, can our high-powered couple find room for something deeper?
Verdict James (About That Night) introduces another pair of tough-minded professionals who need each other as a reminder of the value in a life well lived along with a career well earned. Sexy, yes, but also warm and funny. Too many lawyers? Never.—Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal

Lochen, Andrea. The Repeat Year. Berkley: Penguin Group (USA). May 2013. 400p. ISBN 9780425263136. pap. $16. F
Lochen’s debut novel takes déjà vu to an extreme as 26-year-old Olive Watson wakes up on New Year’s Day to find herself a year younger, still in bed with her ex-boyfriend, and faced with the sudden realization that she is being forced to take a second stab at the year 2011. Armed with a promiscuous best friend, a kindhearted (yet slightly jaded) boyfriend, and a freshly engaged mother, Olive must maneuver through the situations and decisions that led to 2011 being a complete disaster the first time around. But when she meets Sherry Witan, a fellow repeater, Olive finds herself fixing more than just her own mistakes as their friendship develops in the most unlikely of places.
Verdict While this title is similar to the time loop phenomenon of the film Groundhog Day and a handful of sf titles (Ken Grimwood’s Replay; Richard Lupoff’s 12:01 PM), Lochen’s twist on the theme, with relationships taking center stage, makes this a perfect light summer read for chick lit lovers and book clubs.—Chelsie Harris, San Diego Cty. Lib.

starred review starMosley, Walter. Little Green: An Easy Rawlins Mystery. Doubleday. May 2013. 304p. ISBN 9780385535984. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385535991. MYS
Evander “Little Green” Noon has gone missing, and Easy Rawlins is pulled into the mystery by sidekick Raymond “Mouse” Alexander. The African American PI, who knows the Los Angeles streets, is the go-to guy to find Evander, but a violent car accident leaves him incapacitated. Local shaman Mama Jo hands Easy a weird concoction called Gator’s Blood that provides miraculous strength. Easy then calls on his acute street smarts and embarks on his mission to find Evander. Following the 1967 Watts riots, the City of Angels is flush with hippies and racial tension, making it a challenge for Easy to get straight answers. He learns that finding a lost person is just the beginning of a complicated puzzle that will challenge his deep sense of loyalty.
Verdict Mosley’s latest addition to this series (after Blonde Faith) is a must-have for hard-boiled mystery fans as Easy and Mouse give the late Robert B. Parker’s Spenser and Hawk a run for their money. Street lit staples of betrayal, drug use, and abusive cops are part of this taut tale that rises above other mysteries through its strong African American protagonist. I want Easy Rawlins watching my back. [An eight-city tour.]—Rollie Welch, Cleveland P.L.

Wolf, Jack. The Tale of Raw Head & Bloody Bones. Penguin. Apr. 2013. 549p. ISBN 9780143123828. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781101614631. F
Wolf has resisted the temptation to make the task of writing a first novel easier by sticking to a simple, manageable topic or scope. Instead, he has produced a historical novel that ranges across such diverse themes as the rise of science and medicine, enlightenment philosophy, the nature of love and sex, the existence of fairies and monsters, and the contrasting worlds of the country estate and London in mid-eighth-century England. The plot centers on young Tristan Hart, a brilliant young man seemingly destined for greatness. He has only one problem: he is a sadist obsessed with the nature of pain, in particular of doling it out. Early in the book he has an epiphany, realizing that “I was a young man, I was strong, I was something over six feet tall and, seemingly, I was quite mad.” His desire to understand his madness undoubtedly drives his ambition to achieve greatness in the field of medicine. He travels to London to apprentice with the renowned Dr. William Hunter.
Verdict The struggle within Hart between the contrasting impulses of rationality and madness helps to drive the narrative forward, and the final chapters of the book provide plenty of suspense and unexpected plot twists. But some scenes, particularly those involving torture, require readers have strong stomachs. But historical fiction fans will find plenty to chew on here.—Douglas Southard, CRA International, Boston

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"