Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, April 26, 2013

Week ending April 26, 2013

Barth, Christi. A Fine Romance. Carina: Harlequin. (Aisle Bound, Bk. 2). 2013. c.229p. ebk. ISBN 9781426895173. EPUB $2.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and Sam has certainly made an impression. First, he leaves Mira stranded at O’Hare Airport in the rain. Then just as Mira decides to give Sam another chance, he stands her up to take his mother to bingo. But Mira knows firsthand that things are often not as they first appear. She has been hiding from Sam her wealthy background and the conditions of her inheritance, so how can she judge him for his complicated relationship with his mother?
Verdict Fans of Ivy and Ben (Planning for Love, the first title in the series) may pick this book up to see what happens with this entertaining group of friends, but the second entry in the “Aisle Bound” series is disappointing. The relationship between Sam and Mira feels forced, and the story plods with repetitious language.—Heather Lisa Maneiro, Minnesota State Univ. Lib.‚ Moorhead

Davies, Kate. Cutest Couple. Carina: Harlequin. (Girls Most Likely To, Bk. 2). May 2013. c.87p. ebk. ISBN 9781426895302. EPUB $2.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Davies’s breezy novella, a follow-up to Girl Most Likely To Succeed, centers on single mom Bree, who has not seen her high school sweetheart in ten years. Although Marc and Bree were voted cutest couple, their relationship never stood a chance when Marc left for boot camp. Bree’s father died fighting for his country, so Marc’s dedication to the military became a deal breaker for Bree, one that shattered both of their hearts. Marc left before Bree knew she was pregnant, and he never responded to her letter with the news. This weekend is their ten-year high school reunion, and the bomb she drops doesn’t get them off to a smooth start. However, the chemistry they once shared comes back with a vengeance, and even though the mix of familiar and new may feel so good, can they find enough love and forgiveness in their hearts for their family to survive?
Verdict Davies’s perky novella about second chances will have readers reminiscing about old high school flames and what could have been. The final offering, Life of the Party, will be released by Carina in June.—Kara Kohn, Plainfield P.L., IL

Harrington, Kathleen. Lachlan’s Bride. Avon Impulse. (Highland Lairds Trilogy, Bk. 2). May 2013. NAp. ebk. ISBN 9780062226334. EPUB $3.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Laird Lachlan MacRath, known as the Sorcerer of the Seas, is a highly successful pirate who along with his brothers has been harassing English and Dutch ships for ten years. He is so successful that he is thought to have the powers of a wizard. Now the official Highland representative of Scotland’s King James IV, Lachlan is part of a delegation accompanying Princess Mary Tudor north to wed the Scottish king. Widowed Lady Francine Walsingham is a member of the English group on the journey. Both Francine and Lachlan are highly intelligent and multitalented, and they share an immediate attraction. Before too long, they are lovers. Plotting against them is the evil Lord Lychester, who has loved Francine since they were children and is responsible for a number of horrific plots, a rape, and a murder, all intended to make Francine his wife. There are also plans afoot to block the marriage of James and Mary for political reasons. Harrington creates intriguing characters while effortlessly incorporating historical information to add flavor. Interestingly, Francine’s main objection to committing to Lachlan stems from her belief that her feelings for him are manufactured by a spell he has cast, reminding readers that witchcraft was alive and well in the early 16th century.
Verdict A solid blend of multiple plot threads, interesting background characters, and protagonists one can invest in will leave readers looking forward to the last title in the trilogy.—B. Allison Gray, Santa Barbara P.L., Goleta Branch, CA

Khara, David. The Bleiberg Project. Le French Bk. Apr. 2013. 181p. tr. from French by Simon John. ebk. ISBN 9781939474995. EPUB $7.99. F
First published in France in 2010, winner of the Prix Blue Moon for Best Thriller, and now translated into English as an ebook exclusive, Khara’s slim thriller alternates between brief episodes in the past involving Nazi genetic experiments and four days in the present. Jay Novacek, a Wall Street trader, is ready to end it all, his dissolute life having led to a child’s death. Jay snaps out of his downward spiral when he learns that his father, whom he hated for abandoning his family years earlier, had actually worked undercover for the CIA and is now dead. When Jay receives a locket containing a key embossed with a swastika and a slip of paper with the number of a Swiss bank deposit box, he discovers a package left by his father that hints at a conspiracy that will change the fate of the world. Jay will need all his wits, the help of a petite but deadly female CIA agent, and a gigantic Mossad hit man to stop the conspiracy and survive.
Verdict Khara’s thriller, with its pared-down prose, pell-mell pace, and extreme brevity, might remind some of Ian Fleming’s Bond novels or Adam Hall’s Quiller series. Events occur in rapid succession, without much atmospheric amplification, sometimes with lighthearted humor that will seem breezy to some but mere flippancy to others. A quick read to be savored as a hurried snack rather than a leisurely French meal. [Le French Book is a new digital-first publisher specializing in French crime fiction; its titles are available for all ebook platforms, including OverDrive; this title sold more than 100,000 copies in France.—Ed.]—Ron Terpening, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson

Sharpe, Abigail. Who Wants to Marry a Cowboy? Forever Yours: Grand Central. May 2013. NAp. ebk. ISBN 9781455528790. EPUB $3.99. CONTEMPORARY WESTERN ROMANCE
Fleeing the overzealous matchmaking machinations of her mother, Ainsley Fairfax swaps vacation plans with her sister Cecelia and heads to out West while Cecelia heads out to sea with Ainsley’s intended. In Wyoming, Ainsley finds herself part of a marketing trial on the Crescent Ridge Ranch where the Pommer family is offering several women the experience of working on a sheep ranch and a chance to be chosen by the eldest Pommer sibling, Riley, in a Bachelor-type dating game. While Riley is totally opposed to this ploy, he goes along to humor his sisters and brother. However, he doesn’t count on his immediate attraction upon meeting the reserved Ainsley. With the contest in full swing, rumors and cattiness abound among the women vying for Riley’s affections. When Ainsley’s mother and her “intended” show up at the ranch, Riley refuses to believe in Ainsley’s protestations of affection. Ainsley returns to Boston heartbroken but determined not to allow her mother to dictate her life now that she has had a taste of freedom—and Riley.
Verdict Riley is quite a catch, though he’s not sure he wants to be caught. Will his heart win out, and will he choose Ainsley even though he doesn’t trust her feelings for him? Can Ainsley make Riley listen? Find out in Sharpe’s charming Western tale.—Lisa Jordan, Johnson Cty. Lib., Gardner Neighborhood Lib., KS

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"