Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, August 16, 2013

Week ending August 16, 2013

Browning, Kelsey. Personal Assets. Carina: Harlequin. (Texas Nights, Bk. 1). Aug. 2013. 249p. ebk. ISBN 9781426896002. $3.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Allie Shelby recently returned to her small Texas hometown to establish her sex therapy and counseling practice. When Allie challenges her therapy group to create a project to push them outside of their sexual comfort zone, the group challenges Allie to do the same. Enter hunky former bad boy Cameron Wright, who has just moved back to town to open an auto repair and body shop. Cameron has no idea that he has been targeted by Allie as an essential part of her project to uncover her wild side. Years ago, Allie was out of his league, and he didn’t figure anything had changed. Now suddenly Allie turns up at his garage and propositions him for an all sex, no emotions relationship. Cameron had hoped to find someone to settle down with, but in the meantime who could refuse an offer like that? As Allie and Cameron start to think there could be more to this “no strings attached” arrangement, business, family, and the past threaten to come between them.
Verdict Bright, smart, funny, and engaging, Allie is a woman who knows what she wants and isn’t going to settle for anything less. Cameron is what she wants, if she can bring him around to her way of thinking. Browning’s “Texas Nights” series if off to a great start!—Lisa Jordan, Gardner Neighborhood Lib., Johnson Cty. Lib., KS

Kwan, Coleen. Darke London. Samhain. (Uncanny Chronicles, Bk. 1). Sept. 2013. 202p. ebk. ISBN 9781619215573. $4.50. HISTORICAL ROMANCE/STEAMPUNK
It is indeed the underbelly of London, where the greedy rich folk collide with the poor of the darkest streets and where Nellie is set upon by a murderer, only to be rescued by handsome doctor Julian Darke. Scarred for life and presumed dead, Nellie doesn’t let that stop her from learning the truth behind her vicious attack. Julian is linked to Nellie during their search for justice, and despite the amazing odds against them and a path fraught with difficulties, the two share a passion that is undeniable.
Verdict The limited cast of characters gives this short novel a sharp focus on the mysterious events occurring around Julian and Nellie, allowing the fast-paced, gothic-tinged story to take hold of the reader. A dash of steampunk with a taste of lust makes this an intriguing tale, perfect for historical romance readers. The romance is sexy but not overbearing or crude; a perfect weekend read for the thrill-seeker.—Marie Burton, Rockwall, TX

Macdonald, Ellie. The Governess Club: Claire. Avon Impulse. (Governess Club, Bk. 1). Sept. 2013. ebk. ISBN 9780062292179. 99¢. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
In order to preserve her honor when her father dies and leaves her penniless, Claire Bannister elects to become a governess to four children in a country home. Through her employment, she meets three other young ladies who also were born into comfortable existences and ultimately cast out to make their own way. Together, Claire and the other governesses make a pact to save their collective wages in order to purchase Claire’s former home and start a tutoring business, but they are several years from their goal. Seemingly unspoiled by her changed circumstances, Claire is prepared to while away quietly the time in her role as governess, but things quickly go awry with the arrival of the new tutor, Jacob Knightly. With his lack of deference to others above his station and his air of expectancy that is more in line with his true identity as the Earl of Rimmel, Jacob is no ordinary tutor, and Claire is immediately intrigued. Through a whirlwind courtship, the pair fall blissfully into love, but that may change when Claire discovers Jacob’s secret and learns why he is hiding out in the country.
Verdict Although Claire’s story is typical of the historical romance genre—the romance between the protagonists develops quickly, secrets threaten their happiness, and the ensuing conflict is fraught with misunderstandings but resolved in short order—it is also sweet and heartwarming. More important, it introduces us to the other ladies in the “Governess Club” series. This reviewer is eager to see how their individual stories unfold. Recommended.—Natasha Grant, New York

starred review starMorgan, Tamara. The Derby Girl. Carina: Harlequin. (Getting Physical, Bk. 2). Aug. 2013. 246p. ISBN 9781426896248. $2.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Heavily tattooed, tough-as-nails barista Gretchen Badgerton is easily dismissed by many, including Jared Fine, a plastic surgeon and international hero. But when she helps him change a flat tire on a dirt road one night, he takes a second look. All those tattoos end up in places that make a man pleasantly weep but also hide the pain of a family that doesn’t accept her for who she really is. And despite Jared’s outrageous doctor’s ego, Gretchen finds he’s just as vulnerable to relatives’ demands as she is. But when family pressure pushes him to do better than the little town of Pleasant Park, Jared will have to choose between his inherent ego and the inked, hometown Derby Girl.
Verdict This is the second installment in Morgan’s “Getting Physical” series. It should be added to any library’s collection, along with the first book, The Rebound Girl. This series promises to be a hit!–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"