Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, June 7, 2013

Week ending June 7, 2013

Belleau, Heidi. Apple Polisher. Riptide. (Rear Entrance Video, Bk. 1). Jul. 2013. 230p. ebk. ISBN 9781626490345. $6.99; print. Aug. 2013. ISBN 9781626490352. $16.99; combo $23.98. LGBT ROMANCE
Jamaican-born Christian Blake dreams of teaching, but his college in Vancouver demands strict adherence to rules guiding personal and professional behavior. Christian interprets those rules to mean giving up all his vices, including an attraction to his sexy, mysterious new roommate Max. Max of the tattoos, bedroom eyes, and unknown source of income is everything Christian needs to avoid but can’t. At the same time, Christian’s aunt is hospitalized with cancer and needs help running her store to stay in business. Unfortunately for Christian, the store, Rear Entrance Video, caters to adults only, and his decision to help her could cost him his dream.
Verdict Belleau introduces interesting characters who will people further series titles, but Christian’s indecision about his life makes for a slow start, even if the setting in a porn shop is unique. Recommended for libraries where demand for books about college boys, like Carol Lynne’s “Campus Cravings” series and Daisy Harris’s “Holsum College” books, is high.—Melanie C. Duncan, Shurling Lib., Macon, GA

Christensen, Lorenda. Never Deal with Dragons. Carina: Harlequin. Jul. 2013. 384p. ebk. ISBN 9781426895869. EPUB $3.99. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
This series opener describes a fully imagined world of humans and their dragon overlords. Dragons have appeared on Earth as a byproduct of a genetic experiment starting a world war and reconfiguring society. Dragons rule the world, occupying the globe in an uneasy peace with humans. Myrna Banks works for DRACIM: Dragon Relations, Arbitration and Cooperative Interspecies Mediation and is one of the few humans who speaks dragon. The opening scene is priceless as we meet Myrna covered in dragon vomit, calming a pregnant dragon and a weeping farmer. Myrna’s former boyfriend Trian then reappears, adding to her troubles. Trian inexplicably misappropriated DRACIM property and almost got Myrna fired. Myrna then becomes enmeshed in international dragon mediation, and readers begin to discover Trian’s secret. Trian’s new boss, dragon Lord Relobu, needs help negotiating with the Chinese dragon Hian-Puo. Trian and Myrna travel to China and Budapest, reignite their passion, and almost die uncovering a plot and a traitor.
Verdict The many twists and turns of this intriguing story keep it exciting and set the stage for the series. [This title won for Christensen a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart award in 2012 for Best Paranormal Romance Manuscript.—Ed.]—Henry Bankhead, Los Gatos Lib., CA

Cooper, Téa. Passionfruit and Poetry. Crimson Romance: F+W. Jun. 113p. ebk. ISBN 9781440567889. EPUB $14.95. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Café Cinematique just outside of Sydney, Australia, is where fashion photog Xander Fitzgerald takes the picture that will change the course of his life and that of Café Cinematique’s barista Jeanie. Jeanie is tasked with getting coffee and water for Xander and his crew of slim (read: emaciated) models. Jeanie’s rounded, voluptuous figure is more reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe than the typical fashion model, and no wonder as she is surrounded at the café by her grandmother’s pastries and pies as well as by her grandmother, who firmly believes that sweets solve most any problem. However, when Xander gets a look at Jeanie, he is compelled to take her picture as he sees in her something that he feels has been missing in his photography. After much cajoling, Jeanie agrees to the photograph. Returning to his office in Sydney, Xander submits the photo to a contest and wins. Now Jeanie will have to submit to a weeklong photo shoot and a spread in a prestigious magazine. During her week in Sydney, Jeanie discovers not only her long-lost self-confidence but also that there is more to Xander than meets the eye.
Verdict Owing to the story’s brevity, Jeanie’s transformation from shy, backwater barista to confident model practically overnight is somewhat unbelievable. Still, a sweet, Cinderella-esque tale.—Lisa Jordan, Johnson Cty. Lib., Gardner Neighborhood Lib., KS

starred review starHall, Alexis. Glitterland. Riptide. Aug. 2013. 248p. ebk. ISBN 9781626490246. $6.99; print ISBN 9781626490253. $16.99; combo $23.98. LGBT ROMANCE
Ash Winters suffers from bipolar disorder. His illness has channeled his life away from being the literary darling of London into a more noirish life as a crime novelist; he rarely leaves home without suffering anxiety attacks. While struggling with his anxiety at a bachelor party for a friend, Ash meets the most ridiculous man he’s ever seen, with overly styled hair, orange spray tan, an obsession with fashion, and an exuberant personality. Essex boy Darian Taylor is pursuing a modeling career and enjoys his hookup with Ash until Ash sneaks out in the middle of the night. When the two men meet again at a book autographing event, Ash realizes he hasn’t been able to forget his “glitter pirate” and struggles to keep Darian in his life without exposing his illness. But Darian, while not Ash’s intellectual equal by his own admission, is years ahead of Ash in understanding himself and demanding respect. Darian is willing to support Ash but not at the cost to his self-respect.
Verdict Think Savile Row meets Jersey Shore. Hall’s debut novel captures the roller-coaster ride of bipolar disorder through Ash, a man not always easy to like but one readers can understand. Writing short, focused paragraphs denoting depression and disinterest and longer, disjointed paragraphs denoting mania and obsession, Hall provides a view of bipolar disorder from the inside. In addition, Darian’s character is a joy, with his simple albeit humorously shallow outlook on life. By turns laugh-out-loud funny and tragically sad, Hall’s novel draws readers into this wonderful glitter-ball of a world. Highly recommended.—Melanie C. Duncan, Shurling Lib., Macon, GA

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"