Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, October 4, 2013

Week ending October 4, 2013

starred review starHayman, James. Darkness First: A McCabe and Savage Thriller. Witness Impulse: HarperCollins. Oct. 2013. 306p. ebk. ISBN 9780062301697. $2.99. F
Hayman’s terrific third thriller (after The Cutting and The Chill of Night)—and the lead title in HarperCollins’s new digital-first imprint—pits two Portland, ME, detectives (introduced in the first two books) against a ruthless killer who murders with impunity and then vanishes without a trace. A young woman arrives on the doorstep of a doctor and asks for an abortion. The doctor pushes for more information, causing her client to flee. Soon the woman is dead and the doctor lies in a ditch after being struck by a car. Det. Maggie Savage sees her friend almost killed in the same incident and gets permission to work outside her jurisdiction to find the culprit. She teams up with Det. Michael McCabe, and their chemistry threatens to jeopardize their partnership. Assuming the killer doesn’t take them out first.
Verdict A deplorable villain, tantalizing characters, and a hint of romance mix with the twists. What more could a reader ask for? The Maine landscape also plays a key role in making this novel stand out from the deluge of thrillers in the marketplace. One hopes that Hayman will continue this gripping series, whether online or in print. [For more on the Witness imprint, see Francine Fialkoff’s “HarperCollins Expands Digital First,” PubCrawl, ow.ly/pomjt.—Ed.]—Jeff Ayers, Seattle P.L.

Hope, Anne. Soul Chase. Samhain. (Dark Souls, Bk. 3). Nov. 2013. c.296p. ebk. ISBN 9781619218901. $5.50. SF/PARANORMAL ROMANCE
Soulless but gorgeous Adrian returns in the third book in the “Dark Souls” series. Set in Arizona, the world is populated by humans, hybrids, watchers, and, yes, kleptopsychs, who are as evil as they sound—fallen angels who feed at will on human souls. Beautiful Emma, marked as one of the four saviors of humankind, has been hunted from the time of her birth for her soul. As Adrian comes into Emma’s life, he seems strangely familiar. He tries to protect her and slowly helps her to remember her past life as Angie and reclaim her own special powers. Abandoned by their friends, Adrian advises Emma to run once again, but she decides to make her stand beside him against the forces of evil.
Verdict Notwithstanding the violent battles, this is really a sweet love story, with a unique twist that binds Emma/Angie and Adrian together forever. The sex is graphic but not gratuitous. Recommended for fans of the genre.—Judy Murray, Monroe Cty. Lib. Syst., MI

Landon, Sydney. Fighting for You. InterMix: Penguin. (Danvers, Bk. 4). Oct. 2013. c.199p. ebk. ISBN 9780698152144. $7.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Raised in an ultraconservative home, Ella Webber has nearly reached 30, with little experience in life as the rest of the world knows it. Finally out on her own, Ella is learning the guilty pleasures of Justin Timberlake music and action movies. She is now resolute about enter the dating world as well and has her eyes on Declan Stone. Declan is enjoying Ella’s company, but faithfulness and commitment have never been in his wheelhouse. Declan is still haunted by all he saw in Afghanistan and is certain that Ella deserves more than the baggage he brings to a relationship. But Ella is determined, and she has the rest of the Danvers girls on her side.
Verdict Ella’s overly judgmental, hidebound mother is one-dimensional, with no redeeming qualities. Also, everything ties up a bit too cleanly in the end. Still, the interplay among the girls of Danvers International (Weekends Required; Not Planning on You; Fall for Me) is entertaining and will have readers seeking out other entries in the series that they have missed.—Heather Lisa Maneiro, Minnesota State Univ. Lib.‚ Moorhead

starred review starLee, Sami. Unforgettable Summer. Samhain. (Wild Crush, Bk. 1). Nov. 2013. 194p. ISBN 9781619217591. $5.50. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Champion surfer Ty Butler’s back in town to celebrate his parents’ anniversary. Ten years away from Leyton’s Headland has allowed Ty time to prove his athletic skills but not forget his first, young love, Summer Campbell. Going against her father’s wishes to be a real doctor—and to stay married to the wrong man—Summer now runs her own naturopathy business. When Summer confirms firsthand that Ty is back home, she fights the sensuality they still produce. A decade apart has only allowed the heat to simmer just below the surface. Now, they make sexy memories together until he has to move on to his next competition. Because those heated moments can’t make a lasting relationship, can they?
Verdict This first book in the “Wild Crush” series is sure to warm up any reader’s chilly fall evening. Both the passion and the emotion here are stellar!–Christyna Hunter, Loudoun Cty. P.L., Lovettsville, VA

Mews, Roxy. A Love Worth Biting For. Samhain. (Hart Clan Hybrids, Bk. 1). Oct. 2013. 157p. ebk. ISBN 9781619217560. $4.50. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
Werewolf Amber Paulson is minding her own business, working her way through another college education while her Pack settles in Indiana. The last thing she needs is to find her mate, and the irresistible attraction their bond brings, working it on the quad. Jake Meyers isn’t your typical vampire—he’s a hybrid: half vamp, half werewolf—and when his suppressed werewolf side smells his mate, he’s powerless to stay away. Amber and Jake find it’s not easy bringing vampires and werewolves together, especially when dark family secrets threaten not just their relationship but their lives.
Verdict The first title in Mews’s “Hart Clan Hybrids” series tries very hard but fails to build an emotional connection between the reader and its alternately preachy, obnoxious, and vapid characters. Although the world-building is solid and the plot adequate, the narration suffers from an off-putting amount of snark, complete with predictably shallow dialog. Despite its shortcomings, the book features several highly charged sex scenes and a healthy dose of the supernatural that might attract and entertain paranormal romance lovers.—–Jennifer Harris, Mercyhurst Univ. Lib., Erie, PA

Scott, Veronica. Warrior of the Nile. Carina: Harlequin. (Gods of Egypt, Bk. 2). 2013. NAp. ebk. ISBN 9781426896354. $1.99. HISTORICAL PARANORMAL ROMANCE
The goddess Nephthys demands that Lady Tiya, who is bound to the goddess’s service, sacrifice herself as part of an elaborate plan to stop a neighboring king from unleashing a horrible demon. Accompanying Tiya on this fateful journey is Khenet, a warrior adopted into Pharaoh’s family but willing to serve his king and brother to the death. Traveling down the Nile, the two find themselves drawn to each other, but time is not on their side. Without their sacrifice, all of Egypt will be at risk, yet how can Tiya and Khenet go to their deaths after finally finding a love to live for?
Verdict The second of Scott’s “Gods of Egypt” titles (after 2012’s Priestess of the Nile) brings another “gods interfering with mortals” tale. Khenet’s stern demeanor is balanced by Tiya’s strong will, and the rich details of a boat ride down the Nile provide a perfect setting for romance. While a few modern colloquialisms may overshadow the historical setting, this tale of love, sacrifice, and gods will please historical romance readers.—Kristi Chadwick, Emily Williston Memorial Lib., Easthampton, MA

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"