Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, May 10, 2013

Week ending May 10, 2013

Carl, William D. The School That Screamed. Necon E-books. Jun. 2013. 288p. ebk. ISBN 9781301897469. EPUB; MOBI. $4.99. HORROR
Laura Pennington is a mischievous Texas import at an English all-girls school, the last in a string of private educational institutions aimed at correcting her indiscretions. On the day of Laura’s arrival, the administration also welcomes a new teacher, Sarah Stallworth. The two newcomers soon learn that the school was once a convent and rumors abound that the building is haunted by nuns and the newborn children who were born of the teenage girls who once lived there. Laura’s roommate Allie tells her of an evil spirit she sees in the mirror of their dorm room, a blind sister with bleeding eye sockets. Before the spirit can cause further harm, Laura, Allie, and Sarah band together, determined to learn the history of the building’s supernatural inhabitants.
Verdict Despite the thinly developed characters, the somewhat clichéd setting, and the amateurish writing (with lots of distracting swearing in the dialog), Carl’s third novel (Bestial: Werewolf Apocalypse; Primeval: Werewolf Apocalypse 2) succeeds overall as a casual, fast-paced addition to contemporary horror. This short, dialog-driven read oozes all the good—and bad—of a 1970s B horror movie (think Dario Argento’s classic Italian splatterfest, Suspira). Fans of the genre may find this satisfying. [Started in 2010 as a publication arm of the Neocon convention, this ebook press has released 60 titles in the horror and sf genres; its titles are available to libraries via Baker & Taylor Blio, Baker & Taylor Axis360, and Library Direct.—Ed.]—Carolann Curry, Mercer Univ. Lib., Macon, GA

Kennedy, Jeffe. Ruby. Carina: Harlequin. (Facets of Passion, Bk. 3). May 2013. 140p. ebk. ISBN 97814626895487. EPUB $2.99. EROTIC ROMANCE
Photo editor Dani Sosna knows that New Orleans is a prime setting for indulgence, but she is determined to keep control of her appetite. This attitude has kept her going her entire life, and her dreams have finally culminated with a job at Vogue Paris. However, local chef Bobby Prejean throws her out of his restaurant instead of meeting her strict food demands, then turns the tables by taking control and fulfilling more than her culinary hungers. Dani falls into a seductive world of Mardi Gras masks and costumes, fetishes and service, giving Prejean everything of herself except her name and trading the need to control for one of submission. One night of carnal excess extends into a week celebrating the pleasure—and pain—of sexual desire, and Dani realizes that the anonymity she started with is failing to protect her identity or her heart.
Verdict The third book in Kennedy’s “Facets of Passion” series (after Sapphire) is a hot and sensual read. Dani and Bobby lead each other on a sexy chase through nights of kinky sex, dominance, and submission, and the New Orleans setting lends a steady heat to the story.—Kristi Chadwick, Emily Williston Memorial Lib., Easthampton, MA.

Meader, Kate. Feel the Heat. Forever Yours: Grand Central. (Heat in the Kitchen, Bk. 1). May 2013. NAp. ISBN 9781455599585. EPUB $2.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Lili DeLuca set aside her plans for grad school and took over managing her family’s Italian restaurant when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now that her mother has completed her treatment, Lili, bullied as a child because she was overweight, still has a hard time believing that she should pursue her photography career instead of continuing to manage the failing family eatery. When she discovers that famous chef Jack Kilroy has chosen to showcase the restaurant on his new television series, which would pit Jack against Lili’s father in a cooking contest, Lili finds things heating up in the kitchen and her emotions boiling out of control. Lili decides that what she needs is a hot and sweaty night with the tantalizing chef to boost her confidence and get her out of her rut. What she doesn’t know is that playboy Jack has had it with one-night stands and is looking for something more permanent. As Jack and Lili dance around their feelings, readers can feel the heat building between them.
Verdict Will Lili leave home to follow her dreams, or will Jack push her to accept that he wants to build something more with her? Settle down with a cool drink and find out. Due out this summer is the next installment in the DeLuca family saga, All Fired Up!—Lisa Jordan, Johnson Cty. Lib., Gardner Neighborhood Lib., KS

Walker, Regan. Against the Wind. Boroughs Pub. Group. (Agents of the Crown, Bk. 2). 2013. 311p. ebk. ISBN 9781938876462. EPUB $3.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
This meticulously well-researched historical romance illuminates a lesser-known chapter in the annals of English spycraft. Taking place during the Regency period, it features men who served their country during the Napoleonic Wars in the shadowy world of espionage. As part of his last service as a spy for the Prince Regent, Sir Martin Powell infiltrates a group of disaffected, poverty-stricken men in the north of England who plan to revolt against the crown and must determine to what extent government-backed agent-provocateurs are involved. The problem for Martin is that he has brought his brand-new wife, Kit, along, and she has no knowledge of what he is doing. Martin thinks he’s protecting her from the villain who is pursuing her, unaware that he has thrown her even deeper into harm’s way—or that she might think her husband a traitor.
Verdict This is not a traditional Regency romance, despite the time period. The romantic elements hinge on Martin and Kit keeping secrets from each other and falling in love anyway, in spite of the surprisingly sexual start to their relationship. It’s the history that makes this story stand out. Recommended for lovers of historical romance, especially those who like their history with some depth to it. Fans of Lauren Willig’s “Pink Carnation” books also might enjoy the spy angle.—Marlene Harris, Seattle P.L.

starred review starWalsh, Brighton. Plus One. Carina: Harlequin. May 2013. NAp. ebk. ISBN 9781426895555. EPUB $1.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Olivia Winters decides she’s done with dating. For a year and a half, her dating repertoire has included men who discussed cat pee at dinner or who belittled her bakery business. She now finds herself with several weddings to attend in the next few months…without a date. Ian Donnelly, her best friend’s brother, offers to help her in her time of need. Yet Olivia has no idea Ian has loved her for more than 20 years. He even relocated when she didn’t reciprocate. During each of the weddings, though, feelings and desires spark. But Olivia has sworn off men, and when Ian confesses his love, she runs. All she wanted was a date, a plus one. Ian wants to be the one.
Verdict Walsh is a wonderful writer. The steady pace moves the novel along in a satisfying way, and there’s plenty of humor to keep readers entertained. A fun-packed tale in a small bundle!—Christyna Hunter, Loudoun Cty. P.L., Lovettsville, VA

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"