Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, November 8, 2013

Week ending November 8, 2013

Auclair, Colette. Thrown. Pocket Star. Dec. 2013. 348p. ebk. ISBN 9781476745800. $1.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
A recent riding accident has convinced 32-year-old Floridian Amanda Vogel to put her Olympic dreams on hold and leave the competitive circuit, which is why she finds herself in the gargantuan Aspen Creek log home of handsome Grady Brunswick, an Emmy Award–winning action hero. She has been hired as a summer riding instructor to train Grady’s two undisciplined preteen daughters in dressage and maintain the horse barn on their sprawling estate. Grady, an overly protective single father, is learning how to be a parent. Hollywood starlets, riding mishaps, and a visit from Grady’s opinionated mother provide complications. Luckily, Amanda earns the support of Grady’s people, his personal chef Harris and his secretary Jacqueline.
Verdict Grady is a confused man who struggles to be a father, employer, and Hollywood star. Amanda is his unrealized stability who focuses on her job. There is enough tension among all the forces at play to keep the pages turning. Debut novelist Auclair is a 2012 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Finalist, winner of the 2011 Winter Rose Contest, and a finalist in the 2011 Cleveland Rocks Romance Contest. Recommended for most romance fans.—Joyce Sparrow, Kenneth City, FL

Lin, Amber. Chance of Rain. Carina: Harlequin. Nov. 2013. 130p. ebk. ISBN 9781426897320. $1.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Although relieved by the news that his deadbeat dad is dead, Sawyer Nolan is back in his hometown of Dearling, TX, which holds responsibilities for him and memories of his high school girlfriend, Natalie Bouchard. Despite the passing years, Natalie still runs her grandmother’s diner and remembers the pain of Sawyer leaving town and her without a word. But her belly does flip-flops when he visits her diner again. Despite a body toned by Navy SEAL training, Sawyer appears to Natalie as the battered boy he used to be. Taking it upon herself to help him with his father’s dilapidated farm, Natalie ends up stranded there for days during a vicious Texas storm. While winds outside the house whip the world about, passion does the same inside for Sawyer and Natalie. But can the passion continue when there’s no longer a chance of rain?
Verdict Be prepared for some steaminess to warm your fall nights with this stormy tale.—Christyna Hunter, Loudoun Cty P.L., Lovettsville, VA

Mac Nicol, Susan. Saving Alexander. Boroughs Pub. Group. 2013. 194p. ebk. ISBN 9781938876448. $4.99. CONTEMPORARY, M/M ROMANCE
Best-selling author Alexander Montgomery has a dark past, one that he feels he will never escape, despite therapy sessions at the exclusive S&M club Study in Scarlet. As he prepares to adapt his latest novel for television, Alex meets Christopher Sage. Not only is Sage the perfect man to play the lead in his show, but Alex finds himself wondering if Sage could be the perfect man for him. Alex struggles with the decision to let Sage into his damaged life, especially when there is already another man who offers the punishments Alex thinks may lead him out of his personal darkness. As Alex’s past comes to light, he and Sage will have to discover whether they have the strength to hold on and find the future they both want with each other.
Verdict Mac Nicol (Stripped Bare) shows the darker side of S&M, as both the physical and emotional punishment Alex inflicts upon himself present a twisted view of redemption. The relationship and steamy scenes between Alex and Sage are saving graces, but there are just too many twists in this plot, leaving readers wondering how much of this could reasonably happen to the characters.—Kristi Chadwick, Emily Williston Memorial Lib., Easthampton, MA

Nantus, Sheryl. Battle Scars. Carina: Harlequin. (Blood of the Pride, Bk. 4). 2013. 352Kb. ebk. ISBN 9781426896552. $3.99. PARANORMAL ROMANCE, SHAPE-SHIFTERS, URBAN FANTASY
This latest series installment (after Family Pride) continues to test the resiliency of the steamy relationship between PI cat-shifter-who-can’t-shift Rebecca (Reb) Desjardin and her human lover Brandon Hanover. Reb and Bran are drawn into Toronto’s grim underworld of teenage runaways and homeless shelters in search of a pair of teen Felis (cat-shifters). Evan Middleston and Lisa Chandler, both 17, have deserted their feuding families to live out their love on the streets. When Reb tries to find them she discovers a whole lot of trouble, including a beautiful blonde intent on bedding Bran and a couple of violent Felis enforcers. With the help of a rogue cat-shifter Reb befriends in a homeless encampment, she keeps the teens safe and sets the stage for a dangerous reconciliation between the families. Danger has the positive effect of bringing out some of Reb’s hidden powers, though she and Bran narrowly escape death.
Verdict This snappy entry in the series spotlights urban homelessness as well as increases our understanding of Felis culture and Reb’s true shifting potential; highly recommended.—Henry Bankhead, Los Gatos Lib., CA

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"