Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, September 27, 2013

Week ending September 27, 2013

Crowley, Rebecca. The Striker’s Chance. Carina: Harlequin. Sept. 2013. 149p. ebk. ISBN 9781426896255. $2.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Sports PR specialist Holly Taylor attempts to remake soccer player Kepler “Killer” de Klerk’s off-the-field image from that of hard-partying playboy into respectable community leader. Kepler is looking for a place to play the sport he loves for a few more years—his last couple of years. He’s 30, and the car accident that booted him out of Europe nearly finished his career. He wants to go out playing. Then he starts to fall in love, not just with Holly but with the idea of putting down roots and finding a place to call home. It’s just too bad that the owners of his North Carolina team have other plans and that Holly’s dreams just might take her in another direction altogether. Or maybe the man he’s become can change her mind.
Verdict This solid contemporary sports romance builds in several unusual twists by featuring soccer over the more familiar football or baseball tropes; being set in North Carolina and not featuring NASCAR; and introducing an unapologetic and unrepentant career woman as the heroine. While the chemistry here isn’t off the charts, it exists in a very plausible way, and the romance develops naturally without treating readers to unrealistic insta-anything. The growth of Kepler’s character from selfish and self-absorbed to a real leader and coach is particularly well done. Recommended for sports romance fans.—Marlene Harris, Seattle P.L.

Seasons, Jennifer. Throwing Heat. Avon Impulse. (Diamonds & Dugouts, Bk. 3). Oct. 2013. c.227p. ebk. ISBN 9780062271488. $1.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Leslie Cutter is not where she was heading (nor where she had hoped to be) at this point in her life—all thanks to her horrible choice in men. Even when Leslie tried to play it safe, starting a relationship with her accountant, he ended up embezzling all of her tax money and ditching her. Just barely beating a fraud conviction, Leslie celebrates and falls into the arms of Peter Kowalski, her brother’s Denver Rush teammate. Three years later, Peter, star-pitcher, is coming to grips with an eye disease that is destined to end his baseball career. Peter is still haunted by the night with Leslie, when he was unable to perform because he was worried about the consequences of falling in love with her. Peter decides to make a wager with Leslie and plans to be the victor no matter the outcome.
Verdict Fans of great team dynamics as portrayed in Jami Davenport’s “Seattle Lumberjacks” series will love the camaraderie and family atmosphere of the Denver Rush in Seasons’s “Diamonds & Dugouts” series (Stealing Home; Playing the Field). The steam level may be a bit aggressive for some readers, but otherwise this is recommended for sports lovers and romance fans in general.—Heather Lisa Maneiro, Minnesota State Univ. Lib.‚ Moorhead

Ashenden, Jackie. Taking Him. Samhain. (Lies We Tell, Bk. 1). Nov. 2013. 211p. ebk. ISBN 9781619218215. $5.50. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Ellie Fox is a graphic computer game designer in New Zealand, with a new job in Tokyo. Hunter Chase was Ellie’s brother’s best friend and the man whom Ellie has had a crush on since she was a child. Both had less than ideal childhoods, but Hunter’s left him decidedly bent, sexually. He had to remain in control and did not like people touching him. Could Ellie convince him to look at her as a woman instead of a child? Could Hunter overcome his need to shut others out of his life?
Verdict With characters you care about and some scenes that will make you sweat, this title is definitely sexy and some might say kinky. Ashenden is a New Zealand author who writes light romances for Entangled and dark, quirky stories for Samhain. She has just signed a three-book deal with St. Martin’s, a sign that she is obviously gaining in popularity and is an author to watch.—Susan Hayes, Chattahoochee Valley Libs., Columbus, GA

Harrison, Dakota. Breathless. Samhain. Oct. 2013. 196p. ebk. ISBN 9781619216525. $4.50. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Emma left her home in Australia and has settled in Jefferson’s Crossing, CO, where she is trying to start over. But while she hopes to live as unobtrusively as possible in her new home, the residents of this small town are fascinated by her arrival. It isn’t often that an attractive, single young woman moves in, and now everyone is talking and placing bets. Who will be the first to get her to accept a date? Odds are good it will be Gabe Jameson, though he is fighting his attraction to Emma every step of the way. And those feelings are mutual. The question is can they both get past their emotional baggage and accept happiness when they find it?
While the characterizations and plot are a bit thin, the small-town setting with its colorful denizens and slow, easy style will appeal to fans of Robyn Carr’s and Sherryl Woods’s romances.—Jane Jorgenson, Madison P.L., WI

March, Tracy. Tempted in the Tropics. Bliss: Entangled. (Suddenly Smitten, Bk. 2). 2013. 200p. ebk ISBN 9781622661626. $2.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Paige Ellerbee has a good thing going with the elderly who dominate her small Maryland town. After her mother’s death, Paige moved back home to take care of the only family she has left. Besides looking after Dad, she manages Sweet Bee’s, the bakery where she makes “magical” treats that seem to help the ailments of her customers. Leaving behind scandal and a cheating fiancée in Texas, Lane Anderson is the new doctor in Maple Creek, but he is unwilling to provide Paige with the his patients’ medical information. Without these crucial details to make the right recipes, her business will fail. Lane might be the hottest guy in Maple Creek, but Paige can’t see any redeeming qualities in the uptight doctor, beyond his swoon-worthy looks. If ruining Paige’s business isn’t bad enough, Lane is attending their mutual friend’s destination wedding in St. Lucia. Fortunately, a truce and a tropical fling might be just what the doctor ordered.
Verdict March’s (The Practice Proposal) uninspired contemporary doesn’t really break any new ground here to make it particularly memorable. Still, the tropical locale is a good backdrop for romance, and the love scenes are tame enough for those who like their sex on the light side.—Kara Kohn, Plainfield P.L., IL

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"