Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, September 13, 2013

Week ending September 13, 2013

Gibson, Rachel. Blue by You. Avon Impulse. Sept. 2013. 100p. ebk. ISBN 9780062247490. $1.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Between the family feud and getting very familiar with each other in a tree as teenagers, Blue Butler and Kasper Pennington have a long and turbulent history. It has been nearly 20 years, but when the Pennington matriarch shows up on Blue’s doorstep, Blue and Kasper find themselves together again. Can Blue and Kasper overcome their past to build a future?
Verdict Blue by You is an incredibly quick read, but, considering the length, Gibson (Rescue Me; Crazy on You) still manages to evoke the New Orleans setting as she draws the reader through Blue and Kasper’s story. Don’t be fooled by the brevity, though. Gibson has packed major heat and chemistry into these pages. The plot itself feels a bit rushed, but only because the characters and backstory seem worthy of a full-length novel.—Kellie Tilton, Univ. of Cincinnati Blue Ash

Porter, Katie. Bare Knuckle. Samhain. (Vegas Top Guns, Bk. 5). Oct. 2013. ebk. ISBN 9781619210943. $5.50. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Eric is an air force pilot who moonlights as a boxer in Vegas; he is badly scarred from a crash landing some time ago. Trish is a gorgeous, aspiring set designer who makes her living as a showgirl and a sports card girl. Both are hiding behind their physical appearances, showing tough exteriors to the world. They meet at one of his boxing events and set out for a one-night stand. They are a combustive match in bed—he is a voyeur who likes to photograph his lovers, and she loves to be watched. They decide to continue seeing each other. Trish is bisexual and invites an old girlfriend to join them for fun and photos. As they spend more time together, Trish begins to open up to Eric about her past. However, the openness isn’t necessarily reciprocated, causing a crisis in the relationship.
Verdict These characters have depth, the sex scenes are hot, and the reader will root for this pair to work out their differences and allow themselves to get past their emotional scars and be vulnerable. Coauthors Carrie Lofty and Lorelei Brown bring back many of the characters from previous books in the series (e.g., Double Down; Inside Bet) for brief but welcome appearances.—B. Allison Gray, Goleta Lib., CA

Regnery, Katy. By Proxy. Boroughs Pub. Group. (Heart of Montana). Sept. 2013. 165p. ebk. ISBN 9781938876714. $3.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Sam Kelley’s cousin Kris is stationed in Afghanistan and asks Sam to serve as proxy at his Montana wedding. Jenny Lindstrom agrees to serve as proxy for the bride, her friend Ingrid, who is stationed at an army hospital in Germany. When circumstances cause Sam and Jenny to miss the planned courthouse nuptials, the event is rescheduled for the following Monday. Sam, a handsome vice president of a financial firm who enjoys all his local Chicago nightlife, now realizes he is stuck near Yellowstone National Park for the weekend. Jenny, a high school science teacher, has plans to participate in the Christmas Stroll, her Gardiner, MT, hometown’s holiday festivities. Sam decides to tag along, and Jenny’s family, coworkers, and neighbors are sure Sam will hit and run and break Jenny’s heart.
Verdict Jenny’s Swedish heritage adds detail to this sweet love story about the big shot city guy who meets the innocent small-town girl. The novel has won awards, including the 2013 Maine Romance Writers of America (RWA) Everything but the Kitchen Sink Contest and third place in the 2013 North Texas RWA Great Expectations Contest. Four additional books in the series are planned.—Joyce Sparrow, Kenneth City, FL

starred review starSchwarz, Åsa. Nephilim. Stockholm Text. 2013. 298p. tr. from Swedish by Steven T. Murray. ebk. ISBN 9789175470191. $6.99; pap. Mar. 2014. ISBN 9789175470207. $14.95. F
Set in Stockholm, this thriller plunges us into a mystery of biblical origins but modern implications. Nova Barakel is an ecowarrior whose focus on the greenhouse effect and corporate responsibility compels her to commit vandalism. She inadvertently becomes the prime suspect when she stumbles upon the scene of a grisly murder during a politically motivated spray painting spree. In an attack on another front, her cohorts unleash a phone virus intended to cripple the next target on their Dirty Thirty list of environmentally dangerous corporations. Several more killings, shadowing the environmentalists’ gargets, implicate the ecogroup as modern Nephilim, descendants of stowaways on Noah’s Ark. Who are the Nephilim and what is their intention? Nova becomes an unwitting participant in their ancient machinations.
Verdict Already a major sensation in Europe, this is Schwarz’s first novel to be released in the United States. Schwarz is a trained security consultant whose IT background shows in the novel’s technical details. Inevitably compared to Stieg Larsson, Schwarz is sure to find her own place alongside the other Nordic suspense masters. [The ebook edition was released in August; the publication date for the trade paperback is March 2014.—Ed.]—Laura Cifelli, Fort Myers Regional Lib., FL

Soliman, Wendy. Beguiling the Barrister. Carina: Harlequin. (Forsters, Bk. 2). 2013. 396p. ebk. ISBN 9781426895661. $3.99. REGENCY ROMANCE
Lady Flick (never Felicity) Forster has a plan! She’s determined to see her second season end with a successful marriage of her choosing. The gentleman she’s selected is not a blue blood but instead young lawyer Darius Grantley, who works tirelessly for the good of the common folk in the Old Bailey’s criminal court. Darius is equally as attracted to the headstrong and intelligent Flick, but she is well above his social status and income and not a proper candidate for marriage. He might be a respected lawyer, but Darius sees a social divide between his innermost desires and what society deems right. When the opportunity to serve as King’s Counsel materializes, Darius’s every ambition seems to be at hand. Yet in exchange for the appointment, he will have to sacrifice his scruples and implicate the sons of London’s powerful figures. How much the couple will win or lose will be determined in the courtroom and on the highest battleground of all: the human heart.
Verdict As a satisfying second title in a promising series (after Compromising the Marquess), this book captures the interplay of a couple at odds with society and life’s circumstances. The author crafts an interesting tale around two strong-minded characters in a Regency London setting. As Darius confronts the adversities of social advancement, he finds himself constantly at odds between his patience and discipline and the amorous advances of the woman he loves. Lady Flick is more than an emotional sounding board; she provides the affection and spontaneity Darius has never experienced. This tale of a bachelor barrister and a high-spirited noblewoman is an excellent addition to the Regency genre.—Debra M. Dudek, Fountaindale P.L., IL

Wax, Wendy. Christmas at the Beach. InterMix: Penguin. Oct. 2013. 52p. ebk. ISBN 9781101625965. $2.99. F
In this holiday novella, Wax gathers the cast and crew of the reality-TV show DO OVER back at the first house they did over (and the place where they all began their lives over) when this disparate group of women bonded following the loss of their collective finances in a Bernie Madoff–type Ponzi scheme and found themselves left with one asset, the white elephant Florida mansion Bella Flora. This last Christmas at Bella Flora is their chance to say goodbye to the house that gave them a fresh start and to discover how far they’ve come from those very desperate days. But even though they have all survived, and even thrived, there are new challenges ahead. The TV series has become less about turning over houses and too much about picking through the continuing spectacle of their real lives, captured by the all-seeing network lens. This Christmas will reveal the next sure-to-be-dangerous location for the upcoming season, along with every other bit of family drama the cameras can uncover.
Verdict Wax’s Florida titles (Ten Beach Road and Ocean Beach) are terrific for lovers of women’s fiction and family drama, especially if you enjoy a touch of suspense and romance. Christmas at the Beach is a perfect way to jump into the series, as this novella provides just enough of an introduction to let new readers get up to speed while giving series regulars some holiday cheer.—Marlene Harris, Seattle P.L.

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"