Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, October 18, 2013

Week ending October 18, 2013

Knox, Kim. Agamemnon Frost and the Hollow Ships. Carina: Harlequin. (Agamemnon Frost, Bk. 2). 2013. 92p. ebk. ISBN 9781426896330. $2.99. SF ROMANCE, HISTORICAL, LGBT, M/M ROMANCE
Edgar Mason has been made over into something not-quite-human by the Martian known as Pandarus. Even as he and Agamemnon Frost escape the “House of Death,” Mason realizes there is a part of him that wants to betray all those close to him. Mason and Frost pose as double agents and gain access to the enemy, but success quickly turns bitter as Pandarus takes them deep into his ships, once again planning to make them mindless automata. Even worse, Earth is on the brink of being invaded by Martian forces, and Frost’s former fiancée Theodora is not quite as dead as believed. As Mason’s mind slowly tips toward being controlled, can Frost save him once again, along with the rest of the world?
Verdict Continuing where Agamemnon Frost and the House of Death left off, this next series title sees Mason and Frost carrying on with their work for Station X in close quarters, while true closeness is denied by circumstance. Even knowing these two are more machine than man at this point, readers cannot help but root for their cause. Recommended for libraries that collect LGBT and sf romance.—Kristi Chadwick, Emily Williston Memorial Lib., Easthampton, MA

Knox, Kim. Agamemnon Frost and the Crown of Towers. Carina: Harlequin. (Agamemnon Frost, Bk. 3). Oct. 2013. 106p. ebk. ISBN 9781426896484. $1.99. SF ROMANCE, HISTORICAL, LGBT, M/M ROMANCE
After everything they have been through together, Edgar Mason and Agamemnon Frost are as close as two lovers can be. Yet with Mason’s heartbreak over Theodora’s return and Frost’s pain for his lost brother and sister-in-law, the two men are as far apart as Earth and Mars. As people begin vanishing and others are burned to cinders, Mason and Frost know that the future they saw in the hollow ships could come to pass unless Pandarus and his Martian armies are defeated. The only way to stop the invasion may be to lose each other—forever.
Verdict Knox here wraps up this intricate sf series (after Agamemnon Frost and the Hollow Ships). While sometimes getting lost in the details of their not-quite-human roles, Frost and Mason, ultimately, find that their connection proves humanity can triumph over outside forces. Recommended for collections that include M/M romance.—Kristi Chadwick, Emily Williston Memorial Lib., Easthampton, MA

Baxter, Claire. Flirting with Danger. Bliss: Entangled. 2013. 185p. ebk. ISBN 9781622661435. $2.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
In this short title from Baxter (More Than Just Pretend), firefighter Jasmine Mackinnon has always been one of the guys. When forced to shed her tomboy image for a friend’s wedding, she catches the attention of fellow crew member and notorious playboy Aaron Parkes, who sees a side of Jasmine that he finds undeniably beautiful. There is no question that Aaron is hot stuff, but knowing that romantic relationships are dangerous for firefighters, coupled with baggage from her past, has Jasmine guarding her heart very closely. She refuses to behave like the women Aaron attracts and is concerned she would be just another one of his flings. Although taking risks is common in her line of work, Jasmine isn’t quite ready to take a risk with her heart. But getting to know Jasmine brings Aaron to the realization that she is the only one he wants. Now he just has to convince her that he is willing to walk through fire to capture her heart.
Verdict Baxter deserves credit for creating a strong and independent protagonist in Jasmine, someone who is easy to support. Unfortunately, corny lines such as “others were drawn to him the way paper clips clung to the end of a magnet” and an all-too-predictable ending sour any potential this story had going.—Kara Kohn, Plainfield P.L., IL

Bruce, Alison. Cambridge Blue: A DC Gary Goodhew Mystery. Witness Impulse: HarperCollins. Oct. 2013. 272p. ebk. ISBN 9780062314185. $2.99. MYS
Gary Goodhew is a young detective in the Cambridge police force, assigned to investigate the murder of Lorna Spence. Gary takes his work very seriously, but clashes with colleagues may torpedo his otherwise promising career. As he digs deeper into the circumstances surrounding Lorna’s death, Gary discovers how her manipulative behavior affected her friends and family. Bruce is best when she focuses on the personalities of the case, especially when fleshing out Gary’s character and his relationships.
Verdict This contemporary British police procedural should appeal to fans of Susan Hill, Deborah Crombie, and the recent BBC series Broadchurch. Additional titles in the series are planned to be released by Witness Impulse in e-format over the new few months.—Laurel Bliss, San Diego State Univ. Lib.

starred review starFyfield, Frances. The Art of Drowning. Witness Impulse: HarperCollins. Oct. 2013. 244p. ebk. ISBN 9780062300935. $2.99. F
Meet Ivy and Rachel. Ivy is a vibrant and charismatic woman whose ex-husband, now a judge, had denied Ivy access to their son owing to the fatal drowning of their first child at her family’s farm. Dull and unassuming Rachel is swept away by Ivy’s life force. Total opposites, the two have become fast friends, and Rachel soon seeks justice for Ivy by confronting the judge and searching for Ivy’s son. But Rachel is unaware of Ivy’s manipulations and soon finds herself in over her head. A shocking climax reveals the deepest and darkest of secrets.
Verdict Reminiscent of the psychological thrillers of Barbara Vine and Elizabeth George, Fyfield’s (Casting the First Stone) U.S. debut superbly demonstrates why she is one of the best of the British crime writers at understanding the human psyche and what makes it evolve. Fyfied is a recipient of both the Gold and Silver Crime Writers’ Association Daggers.—Frances Thorsen, Chronicles of Crime Bookshop, Victoria, BC

Helm, Nicole. Flight Risk. Samhain. (Antiques in Flight, Bk. 1). 2013. 236p. ebk. ISBN 9781619216181. $5.50. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
In this first book in Helm’s “Antiques in Flight” series, we meet FBI agent Trevor Steele, who lives in Seattle and rarely returns to his hometown of Pilot’s Point, which is fine with him. When his mother dies, Trevor goes back home to be with his sister, Shelby, a high school senior now facing her prom, graduation, and college without her mom’s guidance. Trevor considers his stay temporary, but Shelby has different ideas and wants to keep her brother closer, if not living in Pilot’s Point. She enlists the help of former bad girl Callie Baker. Callie has never left Pilot’s Point and is trying to keep the family business, the Antiques in Flight airport, from closing. She has her own set of ghosts to contend with and has been working hard to change her bad-girl image. When Trevor begins to help around the airport, sparks ignite and neither Trevor nor Callie knows if they want to pursue them and change their lives forever.
Verdict This book has everything a good story needs: well-developed, likable characters and a solid plot and subplots that keep the story moving forward. Helm (Seven Night Stand) has done a fine job of weaving the backstories of these protagonists, with all their flaws and good points, with the situation at hand. This reviewer is eager to read more by Helm. Recommended for most romance fans.—Phyllis Goodman, Clermont Cty. P.L., OH

Witt, L.A. The United and the Divided. Samhain. (Tooth & Claw, Bk. 3). Oct. 2013. 178p. ebk. ISBN 9781619218086. $4.50. LGBT, PARANORMAL ROMANCE
After losing friends and family, Ian, a human-turned-vampire; Levi, a wolf-shifter-turned-vampire-wolf hybrid; and Darius, a vampire-turned-wolf-vampire hybrid, have been backed into a corner, with the wolf clan hunting them as they find temporary shelter among reluctant wolves on an island off the Alaska coast. They are accepted by neither the wolves nor the vampires, but owing to Levi’s and Darius’s dual nature, the two can only feed from wolves because their bites are contagious to humans. As the pair make a few tentative friends and allies among the wolves, their lives are threatened again by angry locals who hate vampires and by the wolf clan Elder who’s been tracking them for so long. The three lovers must decide whether to keep running or make a final stand.
Verdict Witt closes the “Tooth & Claw” trilogy with an action-packed finish that keeps readers guessing until the end. Recommended for libraries owning The Given and the Taken and The Healing and the Dying, or where Witt is popular. She writes contemporary erotic romance as Lauren Gallagher.—Melanie C. Duncan, Shurling Lib., Macon, GA

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"