Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, April 19, 2013

Week ending April 19, 2013

Dare, Tessa. Beauty and the Blacksmith: A Spindle Cove Novella. Avon Impulse. Apr. 2013. 184p. ebk. ISBN 9780062238849. EPUB $1.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Blacksmith Aaron Dawes never forgot the day he laid eyes on Miss Diana Highwood. But would this aristocratic, elegant, and easily most beautiful woman in the county be courted by a village smithy? For two years, Aaron and Diana observe the social proprieties while fighting the slow burn of mutual attraction. Marriage out their respective classes is unthinkable. Diana’s mother is holding out for a duke for her daughter, and Aaron needs a woman who can be a helpmate in his trade. Is it a love to last a lifetime or will practicality rule the day?
Verdict This classic story of love across the social divide matches two characters who are strong and compassionate in their love for each other. The intricacies of village life coupled with a lively group of supporting characters make for an engrossing read. A great title for Regency romance readers.—Debra M. Dudek, Fountaindale P.L. Dist., Bolingbrook, IL

Kimberling, Nicole. Heir of Starlight. Samhain. (Sea of Stars, Bk. 2). Jun. 2013. 249p. ebk. ISBN 9781619213852. EPUB $5.50. LGBT, FANTASY, ALTERNATE WORLD
The sequel to Ghost Star Night (2009) picks up seven years after the attempted coup by the late primary palace magician in this world where magic and technology mix and souls are a commodity to be sold or traded—and soulless bodies stolen. Lord Adam Wexley and Grand Magician Zachary Drake live separate lives, torn apart by the deceptions of the West Court, Adam’s former home. But when chauffeur Karl Alton asks his boss Adam for help, Adam knows Zachary is their best hope to recover Karl’s original body. As a teenager, Karl had leased his human body and indentured his soul in the body of an orangutan to support his family. Now his indenture is up, but the agency has lost his human body. As Drake and Adam pursue leads to Karl’s missing body, the apprentice guardian of the city, Tom Gantry, has visions of Karl’s human body being used for unknown purposes as a deep sea diver and his intuition says something disastrous is going to happen to his city again as a deep political and military game comes to light.
Verdict Kimberling has a knack for creating worlds and characters that stand out, as evidenced by her offbeat sf Happy Snak (2009) and her 2008 Lambda Literary Award–winning novel Turnskin (2007). While the “Sea of Stars” series isn’t as overtly explicit as some other male/male novels, the relationships explored within it have depth and flaws that will appeal to readers seeking new frontiers. And while Heir of Starlight stands on its own merits, it’s best read in series order and is recommended for libraries owning/purchasing Ghost Star Night.—Melanie C. Duncan, Shurling Lib., Macon, GA

McKenna, Cara. After Hours. InterMix: Penguin Group (USA). Apr. 2013. c.292p. ebk. ISBN 9781101621981. EPUB $3.99. EROTIC ROMANCE
Starting a new job to be close to her reckless sister, Erin Coffey is the newest licensed practical nurse at Larkhaven’s psychiatric ward, the mental illness unit of a Michigan hospital. Among the staff is orderly Kelly Robak, a hulking muscle of a man whose brute strength coupled with persistent calm keep the staff and patients safe. Kelly is interested in Erin, but she is leery to start a relationship with a coworker, especially when she learns that what is on the table is not a relationship at all but a few days of mind-blowing sex. And what Kelly desires requires his having all the control while Erin becomes his submissive. Erin has had a preview of what’s in store but has always played it safe. She may be able to give up control for a weekend but worries about what it will cost her heart in the long run.
Verdict Since the Fifty Shades phenomenon, there has been an abundance of substandard erotica diluting the genre, but McKenna’s (Exposure) After Hours stands out for its depth of characterization. The complexities, story line, and pulsating heat will keep readers immersed.—Kara Kohn, Plainfield P.L. Dist., IL

Ryan, Jennifer. Lucky Like Us. Avon Impulse. (Hunted, Bk. 2). Apr. 2013. 100p. ebk. ISBN 9780062271327. EPUB $1.99. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
In this second entry in Ryan’s “Hunted” series (after Saved by the Rancher), our heroine is also being stalked by her creepy ex. However, judge’s daughter Elizabeth Hamilton starts out by saving FBI agent Sam Turner from a serial killer. It’s a terrific role reversal. And her ex was never her boyfriend. Elizabeth is a heroine who may spend part of the story in a hospital bed, but she doesn’t need rescue. She and Sam are equals who help and save each other, every step of the way. The suspense in this story—and there’s plenty of it—comes from an evil killer who is after them both. There’s also a romance that starts out sweet and gets steamier as the two protagonists recover from their various injuries, both physical and emotional.
Verdict Recommended for lovers of romantic suspense.—Marlene Harris, Seattle P.L.

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"