Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, August 30, 2013

Week ending August 30, 2013

Diaz, Lena. Ashes, Ashes, They All Fall Dead. Avon Impulse. Sept. 2013. NAp. ebk. ISBN 9780062280886. $29.99. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
Tessa James is an FBI agent on the way up. The FBI has been receiving cryptic messages for the past three years, and while everyone else has let the case grow cold, there is just something it that will not let Tessa put it away. So her chief gives her seven days to come up with a lead or turn in her badge. Tessa is expected to work with Matt Buchanan, a private investigator who is six years younger than she, gorgeous, self-confident, and completely wrong as relationship material. But they will have to work together to find a killer and put a stop to this crime spree—if there even is one.
Verdict This romantic suspense novel from Diaz (Simon Says Die) is reminiscent of early Sandra Brown and Catherine Coulter, when those authors were still known as romance writers. The story here is not all about the romance yet the romance is not pushed aside as it would be in a harder-hitting mystery/suspense novel. A good selection from an author this reviewer expects to be big in the coming years.—Ryan Franklin, Mattoon P.L., IL

Drew, Libby. Bending the Iron. Carina: Harlequin. Sept. 2013. 122p. ebk. ISBN 9781426895982. $2.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE, LGBT, M/M
Michael’s hometown of Hickory, PA, is not where he wanted to end up. Trapped in this conservative burg, in a dead-end job, in the closet, Michael feels he has no choice but to stay to care for his alcoholic grandfather. But when Michael meets Eric, the new curator at the railroad museum, their mutual attraction ignites not only Michael’s passion for Eric but his dreams for the future. Yet it is hard to escape the trap Michael has constructed for himself, while Eric’s last relationship was one from which he needed to escape as well. With painful pasts and dashed hopes, can Michael and Eric find a way to keep their dreams—and their relationship—alive?
Verdict: Drew (State of Mind) gives the “small-town character with big dreams” trope a fresh look with male leads and a love of historical trains and architecture. While no new ground is broken, Michael and Eric’s romance hits the sweet spot and will keep readers turning the pages.—Kristi Chadwick, Emily Williston Memorial Lib., Easthampton, MA

starred review starHarper, Cheryl. Can’t Help Falling in Love. Avon Impulse. Sept. 2013. ebk. ISBN 9780062276384. $ 2.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Randa Whitmore shows up at the Rock’n’Rolla Hotel as a spy for her very successful hotel family. Sent by her father to scope out the competition and take control of a buyout, Randa instead meets hotel manager Tony Ortega. Not a man easily open to women, Tony is a former marine who has overcome his lack of family to build a life at the hotel. Tony immediately knows Randa is not just the Elvis tourist she claims to be, but Tony can’t help but be drawn to the beautiful and fun Randa. Escaping the fierce, ruthless nature of the Whitmore clan, Randa learns to trust her own judgment, as the hotel—and the staff—show her what love and family are really all about.
Verdict Harper’s return engagement (after Stuck on You) at the Rock’n’Rolla Hotel, known for the Elvis-themed restaurant and kitschy décor, is another fun story and will definitely leave you wishing for your own pair of blue suede shoes. Anyone who enjoys romance, Elvis, or any combination will love this story!—Judy Taylor Garner, Strayer Univ. Lib., Glen Allen, 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"


  1. Kelly Moran says:

    Thanks so much! So glad you liked The Dysfunctional Test! XO