Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, November 15, 2013

Week ending November 15, 2013

Desrochers, Lisa. A Little Too Much. Avon Impulse. (A Little Too Far, Bk. 2). Nov. 2013. 416p. ebk. ISBN 9780062299024. $2.99. NEW ADULT ROMANCE
Aspiring singer Hilary McIntyre hopes to catch her big break on Broadway, and her live-in boyfriend, theater’s new hot “it” guy, might be her ticket. Her life comes to an abrupt stop when on her apartment steps she discovers Alessandro Moretti, a ghost from her troubled past who left an unforgettable memory in his wake. Hilary hasn’t seen Alessandro, her only solace from a childhood of despair, since he left their group home eight years ago. Her anger slowly melts as she learns that Alessandro’s struggles and determination to make amends for his transgressions reveal the sweet soul that she has always known him to be. The two make a pact to show each other the undiscovered parts of the city every week, and while they easily fall back into comfortable companionship, floating just below the surface is a secret Hilary harbors that will change the course of their future.
Verdict Although Hilary is tough on the outside, her honest narration leaves her raw and exposed to the reader, which makes her plight all the more substantial. Desrochers’s (A Little Too Far) story offers the genre hallmarks (a young woman in the midst of self-discovery navigating her career and a tension-laden romance), but it is important to note that this new adult offering has a much more serious tone that its cohorts.—Kara Kohn, Plainfield P.L., IL

Griffin, Jodie. Matzoh and Mistletoe. Carina: Harlequin. Nov. 2013. 107p. ebk. ISBN 9781426897450. $2.99. HOLIDAY ROMANCE
There’s more mistletoe than matzoh in this holiday romance about Rebeccah Rickman, a Jewish woman who regularly volunteers at her local police station on Christmas and Easter so that more people can be at home with their family. After all, she doesn’t celebrate these occasions, and it’s considered a good deed, a mitzvah, to help others. Rebeccah’s good deed is not entirely selfless; she has always been attracted to Officer Jeremy Kohler, but until this Christmas, she was married. Now that Rebeccah can act on her feelings, she has no clue whether they might be returned. During the course of one single Christmas ride-along in their small town, Rebeccah and Jeremy uncover the secrets that they have kept during their previous two-day-a-year friendship: Rebeccah’s abuse at the hands of her ex-husband and Jeremy’s need for sexual dominance. Although they want to find a future together, the two may not be able to find a way through.
Verdict In spite of the heavy themes that permeate the story, Matzoh and Mistletoe turns out to be a sexy holiday romance with a side of kink—and a pretty darn enjoyable one at that.—Marlene Harris, Seattle P.L.

Porter, Jane. Take Me Cowboy. Montana Born: Tule Pub. (Copper Mountain Rodeo, Bk. 4). 2013. 130p. ebk. ISBN 9781940296012. $2.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Growing up on the wrong side of town, Jenny Wright has been determined to provide for her future family in a way her family could not. So Jenny is proud and happy as her beautiful wedding day to her wealthy boss arrives at home in Marietta, MT. But things immediately go pear-shaped when her fiancé calls off the wedding and accuses Jenny of being a gold digger. Adding to Jenny’s shame, Colton Thorpe, her high school crush and town rodeo star, chances upon her as her future falls apart. At the lowest of the low and unsure of how to rebuild her life, Jenny must rely on family, friends, and maybe even former crushes to pick herself up and remember how to dream again.
Verdict Porter (Mrs. Perfect) brings the drama and the heat in this short story about love, families, and cowboys. Jenny’s character arc is interesting, as she evolves from a practical, almost cold woman into one with dreams for her future. Most important, this book will evoke numerous reactions from readers, as good reads tend to do.—Kellie Tilton, Univ. of Cincinnati Blue Ash.

Thomas, Kay. Hard Target. Avon Impulse. (Elite Ops, Bk. 1). Nov. 2013. 380p. ebk. ISBN 9780062290847. $2.99. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
In this first entry in Thomas’s new series, readers go on a wild ride that checks off nearly every box in the romantic suspense book of tricks. Anna Mercado is separated from her slimy husband, Max “the Tequila King” Mercado, but Max is up to his neck in the Mexican drug cartels. He’s made a truly nefarious deal to protect his honor and has sold Anna’s life to save his son, who desperately needs a heart transplant. As if that wasn’t enough angst, the first attempt at kidnapping the boy is witnessed by a DEA agent on the skids who rushes in to save the day. This should be the end of the story, but the boy gets kidnapped after all. (The cartels never give up.) Anna goes rushing into cartel country in Mexico with the ransom money, guarded by white-knight DEA agent Leland Hollis, only to discover that this isn’t about the kid or the kidnapping, it’s all about her husband’s bad deal with the cartels and that she’s the one in jeopardy.
Verdict Hard Target is a bodyguard/ex-military/romantic suspense/mother’s ultimate sacrifice/drug cartel busting/knight in tarnished armor–type romance. The story pulls out all the stops and tries to tug at every heartstring as it trips along from one improbable plot point to another. The question isn’t just how much will one woman sacrifice to save her son’s life but whether readers can suspend disbelief long enough to travel along for the soap opera ride. Fans of over-the-top romance will love it.—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"