Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, August 9, 2013

Week ending August 9, 2013

Cameron, Stella. Cold: Introducing Alex Duggins. easyepublish. Sept. 2013. 254p. ebk. ISBN 9781621810858. $5.99. MYS
Much to her horror, Cotswolds village pub owner Alex Duggins discovers a dead man—killed by a playing dart—when his dog leads her into the snowy woods. The murder weapon came from her pub, and it isn’t long before more darts turn up in bad places. Alex turns to her old friend veterinarian Tony for an ally, since the investigating detectives don’t appear to trust her. Turns out the mysterious victim, garbed in monk’s clothing, had long-ago ties to the village of Folly-on-Weir; once his identity is revealed, all hell breaks loose. Racing against a maniac’s schedule, the investigating detectives dig deeper, uncovering secrets that the killer will do anything to smother. Trouble is, Alex and Tony are amateur sleuthing, and the darts are still flying.
Verdict Popular romance and romantic suspense author Cameron (Glass Houses) returns to her British roots with a true village mystery. While not breaking new ground with motive or plot, she excels at assembling an intriguing cast of characters laden with dark histories. A thrilling conclusion, combined with cliffhanger chapter endings, guarantees readers will be flipping the pages late into the night.—Teresa Jacobsen, Fairfield, CA

Navarre, Laura. Midsummer Magick. Carina: Harlequin. (Magick Trilogy, Bk. 2). Aug. 2013. c.283p. ebk. ISBN 9781426895951. $3.99. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
Tragedy and scandal seem to follow Lady Linnet Norwood wherever she goes. Finally free from the convent after a scary break with reality trapped in the Faerie realm, Lady Linnet, the new Countess of Glencross, heads to the coronation of Elizabeth Tudor. She hopes the queen will give counsel on a suitable husband for her, one who can look past the scandals. Lady Linnet indicates to the queen that she seeks a man who has “a reputation for virtue, diligence, frugality and piety.” None of these qualities could be used to describe Lord Zamiel of Briah. In fact, Lord Zamiel is not even human but rather the son of Lucifer in human form as punishment for saving Lady Linnet from certain death her first day at court. Although lust between the angel and the faerie quickly sparks, can a love develop to make the relationship worth his fall from heaven and the certain displeasure of the court?
Verdict Unfortunately, when compared to the works of Philippa Gregory and Marion Zimmer Bradley, this retelling of Tudor history and Arthurian legend cannot compare. Although Navarre offers a new perspective, her characters are not particularly likable or engaging and the romance feels forced. Fans of the first book in the series, Magick by Moonrise, may seek this title out; otherwise, not recommended for basic romance collections.—Heather Lisa Maneiro, Minnesota State Univ. Lib.‚ Moorhead

Santana, Lily. Unexpectedly You. Carina: Harlequin. Aug. 2013. 168p. ebk. ISBN 9781426896019. $2.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Mitch McKenna just wanted to have a successful business deal with the quaint town of Bella Del Mar. Instead, he ends up with a brash neighbor who has ensured him that more than half the town hates him. But behind Emma LeFleur’s fierceness is a widowed mother just trying to save her business. Mitch’s initial heavy ego and cold heart brush Emma the wrong way, until this hunky devil offers her a deal to save her dwindling bank account. With her other financial options eliminated, Emma’s only choice is to accept Mitch’s proposition. All she has to do is convince the town—and herself—that he’s not so bad after all.
Verdict Santana’s debut is an entertaining ride. This reviewer was a bit unsure of Mitch’s harshness at first, but he evolved nicely. A great beach read.—Christyna Hunter, Loudoun Cty. P.L., Lovettsville, VA

starred review starTristan, John. The Adorned. Carina: Harlequin. Sept. 2013. 314p. ebk. ISBN 9781426895968. $2.99. FANTASY ROMANCE; LGBT; M/M
Orphaned and destitute, Etan Dairan travels to Peretim, the capital city of Kered, hoping to start a new life. Instead he is beaten and robbed, giving him no choice but to become an indentured servant. Etan finds himself in good hands, though—those of Roberd Tallisk, the famed tattoo artist whose enchanted designs decorate the bodies of the Adorned. These living canvases are displayed for the pleasure of the nobles, and Etan knows that even becoming a plaything of the ruling class would be a better life than he could have on his own. As Roberd applies inks and needles to his body, Etan realizes that there is no place he would rather be than in Roberd’s hands—always. Yet this opportunity could be swept away as revolution rises in Kered, threatening to ruin everything that Etan has found.
Verdict Tristan (A Stranger in Skoria) hits all the right notes in this well-crafted romantic fantasy. The interplay of characters throughout the story creates a vibrant tale of intrigue, passion, and love. A layered plot and romantic twists make this title highly recommended for romance and LGBT collections.—Kristi Chadwick, Emily Williston Memorial Lib., Easthampton, MA

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"