Xpress Reviews: E-Orignals | First Look at New Books, October 25, 2013

Week ending October 25, 2013

Arend, Vivian. Diamond Dust. Samhain. (Takhini Wolves, Bk. 3). 2013. 272p. ebk. ISBN 9781619215566. $5.50. PARANORMAL ROMANCE, SHAPESHIFTERS
This third installment in the “Takhini Wolves” series brings in the bears, with a group of bear-shifters visiting Whitehorse, in the Yukon Territory, to hold a conclave to elect their leader. Bear-shifters have a tendency to brawl. Enter Caroline Bradley, a nonshifter human integral to the local Takhini wolf pack. She has until recently been dating their alpha, Evan. Tyler Harrison, the leader of the eponymous bear clan Harrison, discovers Caroline unconscious in his hot tub and thus the romance begins. Tyler needs Caroline in more ways than one. He requires a consort so he can be recognized as a legitimate leader by the other bear clans, and he needs a way to counter the influence of the brutal bear clan leader Ainsworth. Caroline comes through on all fronts. She sticks up for the female bears, namely Ainsworth’s abused wife Amanda, and she also stands up to Tyler, teaching him how bears ought to behave. After copious explicit canoodling, she even agrees to marry the bruin.
Verdict Diamond Dust tackles issues of domestic violence while providing a rip-roaring romance; highly recommended.—Henry Bankhead, Los Gatos Lib., CA

Charles, KJ. The Magpie Lord. Samhain. (Charm of Magpies, Bk. 1). 2013. 178p. ebk. ISBN 9781619215764. $4.50. LGBT, PARANORMAL ROMANCE, HISTORICAL ROMANCE, ALTERNATE HISTORY
Lucien Vaudrey returns to Victorian London from exile in Shanghai following the deaths of his father and older brother to become the new Lord Crane. He almost immediately begins to attempt various forms of suicide, stopped by the constant vigilance of his manservant, but Lucien feels as if someone else is taking over his body in the attempts, someone who hates him. Upon the recommendation of an acquaintance, Lucien requests the help of a local practitioner of magic, Stephen Day, but Lucien then discovers that Stephen belonged to a family victimized and destroyed by the late Lords Crane, Lucien’s sire and his sibling. Stephen is tempted to let the curse on this Lord Crane run its course, but his honor compels him to save Lucien. As a result, Stephen is also compelled to travel with Lucien to his country estate to uncover the origin of the curse. It is there that he unearths Lucien’s ties to the foundations of the magical community in England, and the men come under siege by a group of evil practitioners.
Verdict Owing to his long exile overseas, Lucien is an unusual lord, with tattoos and a merchant background. His hands-on approach to life leads to some very sexy hands-on interactions with Stephen as the two men find commonalities amid their differences. This combination of magic, mystery, and mayhem will have crossover appeal for fans of several genres; an exciting new voice in the paranormal world. Book 2, A Case of Possession, comes out in early 2014.—Melanie C. Duncan, Shurling Lib., Macon, GA

Cooper, Karina. Corroded. Carina: Harlequin. (St. Croix Chronicles, Bk. 3). 2013. 264p. ebk. ISBN 9781426896392. $3.99. STEAMPUNK ROMANCE
Cherry St. Croix has always felt herself to be trapped in a cage, and the series titles represent the state of its metal (Tarnished; Gilded; Corroded). Cherry is not merely a flawed heroine, she is downright broken, through grief and opium addiction. Corroded is the story of her attempts to collect the two bounties that have brought her to this extreme low in her life: the one on Jack the Ripper and the one Midnight Menagerie has placed on the murderer of its “sweets,” the prostitutes that the pleasure gardens employs, because he made Cherry a widow. Victorian society is also portrayed as corrosive, with London’s wealthy inhabitants having physically raised their parts of the city above its poor districts via aether science.
Verdict The first half of this book is darkly compelling, as our heroine sinks further into despair while plumbing the depths of London below. But Cherry’s perseverance never falters, and her journey through dark places will break readers’ hearts as the pages turn frantically toward a stunning conclusion. Steampunk lovers will drink this draft down eagerly.—Marlene Harris, Seattle P.L.

Mims, Emily. Solomon’s Choice. Boroughs Pub. Group. Oct. 2013. 292p. ebk. ISBN 9781938876516. $4.99. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
Dr. Caroline Stern loses both her husband and her son on one cold Christmas Day. Her husband is shot dead, and her young son, Isaac, is snatched away in the night. She thinks her nightmare is over when 16 months later investigators believe they have found her precious baby boy. What they find, however, is rancher and football coach Jack Briscoe, who refuses to give up his tiny son, Ryan. The nightmare then slowly begins to unfold: someone hates Caroline enough to kill her husband, steal her child, and trick another man into “buying” Isaac. What makes it that much worse is that Jack is Isaac’s biological father—the fertility clinic has no idea what happened. Slowly, Caroline sees that her life must begin again. She relocates, becoming the doctor in Jack’s small town and joining Jack and Ryan in forging a family. But the evil that stalks Caroline isn’t over, and not even Jack can protect his new love from the vengeance from her past.
Verdict Part suspense, part romance, Solomon’s Choice is author Mims’s 19th romance. It highlights the struggle of two parents holding onto the love of their son and the new love that binds them. It is a story about family and the strength of those tested bonds. Readers who believe in love and enjoy stories with love-triumphs-over-all scenarios will adore this novel.—Judy Taylor Garner, Strayer Univ. Lib., Glen Allen, VA

Ryan, Jennifer. Chasing Morgan. Avon Impulse. (Hunted, Bk. 4). Oct. 2013. 272p. ebk. ISBN 9780062305961. $1.99. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE, PARANORMAL ROMANCE
Forget the crystal ball and tarot cards. Morgan Standish, FBI psychic and empath, knows that her sight is so much more. Little Emma has a hard time putting a label on the new family friend using the words she knows: Witch? Ghost? Fairy? Everyone knew from the moment Tyler Reed and Morgan met briefly four years ago that they were destined for one another. What they didn’t know was why Morgan spent the intervening period keeping her distance from Tyler. The time has finally come for Morgan to take her place in the family, but in order to do so she must save a family member and herself from certain death. The Psychic Slayer is making his way through the psychics in the yellow pages, and Morgan predicts that she is his final victim.
Verdict Fans of Mary Burton and Mary Higgins Clark will enjoy this latest suspenseful entry in the “The Hunted” series (Saved by the Rancher; Lucky Like Us; The Right Bride). Easily approaching this as a stand-alone novel, readers will quickly become enamored with the Turner-Shaw-Reed clan and go back for the first three tiles. Recommended for fans of suspense and the paranormal.—Heather Lisa Maneiro, Minnesota State Univ. Lib.‚ Moorhead

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"