Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, May 24, 2013

Week ending May 24, 2013

McAdams, Molly. Stealing Harper. Avon Impulse. Jun. 2013. 157p. ebk. ISBN 9780062292117. EPUB $1.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Chase Grayson is a womanizer, tattoo artist, and college senior who is willing to have sex with every woman who catches his eye, but he never allows any of them into his bedroom. This holds true until he meets grey-eyed, petite Harper, his sister’s 18-year-old San Diego State University roommate. Chase and Harper develop a complicated push me, pull you relationship. Innocent Harper becomes a “fierce kitten” who has her first taste of freedom, and Chase is repeatedly clenching his fists, willing to fight off any other guy who is interested in her, even his best friend. Chase and Harper are both character extremes: Chase is a hard-nosed party guy who doesn’t realize he is searching for a secure relationship; Harper is a sheltered young woman who is finally on her own after being raised by her single father on a marine base.
Verdict New York Times and USA Today best-selling author McAdams here relates Harper’s tale (Taking Chances) now from Chase’s point of view. The building complications in Chase and Harper’s romance convolute the story. How much can go wrong when two college students from different backgrounds try to become a couple?—Joyce Sparrow, Kenneth City, FL

Panzera, Darlene. The Cupcake Diaries: Sweet on You. (Cupcake Diaries, Bk. 1). c.110p. ebk. ISBN 9780062242662.
Panzera, Darlene. The Cupcake Diaries: Recipe for Love. (Cupcake Diaries, Bk. 2). c.100p. ebk. ISBN 9780062242686.
ea. vol: Avon Impulse. May 2013. EPUB $1.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
This bland set by Panzera (Bet You’ll Marry Me) centers on best friends in their small town of Astoria, OR. In Sweet on You, Andi, Rachel, and Kim are celebrating a birthday but don’t have their customary cupcake to split. Fortunately, there is an attractive gentleman at the next table who has just the cupcake they desire, so Andi sweet talks him into sharing. Like her friends, Andi has financial woes and doesn’t know how she will make this month’s rent or support her daughter. She has always loved baking cupcakes—and eating them even more—so with the financial backing of Jake, the hunky man they sat next to in the bar, the three girls open their own shop, Creative Cupcakes. Jake shows he is interested in more than being just Andi’s business partner, but when she discovers a healthy-eating group sabotaging her business, she may not have the time or courage to take a chance on love.
In Recipe for Love, fiery redhead and Creative Cupcakes’ marketing rep Rachel has enacted a strict two-date limit rule so a guy can never get a glimpse of her true self. Mike the Magnificent, a magician for a party hosted at the shop, sets Rachel’s heart aflutter, but she is afraid he won’t like her if he got to know her. Worried about finding the money to pay for her grandfather’s medical treatments, Rachel is determined to come up with the perfect plan to boost business and outsell their competition, a snooty French pastry shop around the corner. Mike has an idea that will help, but Rachel needs to keep him at a distance or risk breaking her two-date rule and, ultimately, her heart.
Verdict In addition to recycling the same plot, these series titles feature heroines who are lifeless and romantic elements that don’t display real emotion. “The Cupcake Diaries” trilogy has about as much substance as one of Creative Cupcakes’ sugary confections. The Cupcake Diaries: Taste of Romance (Kim’s story) will be released later this month.—Kara Kohn, Plainfield P.L. Dist., IL

Robert, Katee. Chasing Mrs. Right. Entangled Pub. (Come Undone, Bk. 2). 2013. 263p. ebk. ISBN 9781622667871. EPUB $2.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Ian and Roxanne have serious issues and amazingly combustible chemistry. Chemistry wins, so their relationship starts with a one-night stand. Can these two people get past their respective damage to turn something mega-hot into something real? Roxanne is afraid to commit because all men leave, and Ian suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. They should both be too messed up to make this work, especially since his family members are continually working against them. But Roxanne and Ian want and need each other too much not to keep trying.
Verdict The sex-into-love trope makes for a sizzling-hot story from the very first page. Having the woman as the commitment-phobe instead of the guy is a nice reversal. Readers who enjoy sex-first, love-second stories, or who read the first book in the series, Wrong Bed, Right Guy, will enjoy this one, too.—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"