Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, December 6, 2013

Week ending December 6, 2013

Christie, Agatha. Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly. Witness Impulse: HarperCollins. 2013. 125p. ebk. ISBN 9780062334466. $2.99. MYS
This novella was written when Agatha Christie decided she wanted to purchase stained glass windows for her local church. The fund from the novella’s sale was to pay for the purchase. But she instead decided to expand the story line into a full-length novel, Dead Man’s Folly (1956). A mock murder event is staged for a village fete. And, in true Christie form, a real murder ensues that her beloved sleuth Hercule Poirot must solve.
Verdict This is standard Christie fare—well almost. Given the novella format, the plot moves at a fast pace, which does not allow Christie to develop her characters as fully as in her novels. Nonetheless, die-hard Christie aficionados will be curious about this long-lost piece. Those readers who feel cheated by the skimpy character development will benefit by reading the full novel after they finish the novella.—Janet A. Ohles, Western Connecticut State Univ. Lib., Danbury

Clements, Rory. Prince. Witness Impulse: HarperCollins. (John Shakespeare). 2013. 306p. ebk. ISBN 9780062301925. $2.99. MYS
This third installment in the “John Shakespeare” series (Martyr; Revenger) begins in 1593 when London’s Dutch community is targeted for bombing attacks. John Shakespeare, the older brother of William and a retired spy for Queen Elizabeth, is tasked with uncovering those responsible for the violence. While William does make a modest appearance, alongside fellow famed dramatists Thomas Kyd and Christopher Marlowe, most of the novel encompasses the investigative efforts of John in politically tumultuous 16th-century England.
Verdict While the real John Shakespeare was the father of William, literary fiction buffs will be disappointed if thinking this series has anything significant to do with the famed English poet and playwright. Still, Clements’s well-drawn characters successfully embody the Elizabethan age, and his fast-paced historically rich mystery, supplemented with realistic period elements and dialog and a complex plot, is a satisfying addition to the popular Tudor thriller genre. Readers of Ian Pears, Margaret Frazer, and Karen Harper’s Elizabeth I Mysteries will enjoy this title.—Carolann Curry, Mercer Univ. Lib., Macon, GA

Cornwall, Lecia. Once Upon a Highland Summer. Avon. 2013. c.384p. ebk. ISBN 9780062328434. $2.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Lady Caroline Forrester has few options. Her half-brother is pushing her to accept an offer of marriage, but the men doing the asking appeal not at all. With her choices narrowing and her freedom threatened, Caroline does the only thing she can think of—she flees. A chance encounter with a Scot on a dark London street reminds her of her grandmother’s stories about Scotland. Since Scotland is just about the last place her brother would look for her, Caroline makes her choice. Her decision leads her to Glenorne Castle and the new Earl of Glenorne, Alec McNabb. Their romance is complicated by Alec’s almost engagement to another woman, a family curse, and the ghosts trying to fix it all.
Cornwall (The Secret Life of Lady Julia) balances the deeper emotional elements of the story with a nice amount of humor and lightness in this first title in her new series. A combination that will appeal to fans of Julia Quinn and Kasey Michaels.—Jane Jorgenson, Madison P.L., WI

starred review starDawson, Delilah S. The Damsel and the Daggerman: A BLUD Novella. Pocket Star. Jan. 2014. 168p. ebk. ISBN 9781476715438. $1.99. CARNIE-PUNK, FANTASY
Criminy Stain is a Bludman carnival operator who inhabits the world of Sang (debuted in Wicked as They Come), where Bludmen (vampires) and Pinkies (humans) coexist in an uneasy economy based on blood and treasure. Enter recently widowed intrepid journalist Jacinda Harville, who is making her own way in a dangerous world where Blud creatures are always on the prowl. Jacinda is looking into the story of knife-thrower Marco Taresque—the Daggerman—who is accused of murder. As Jacinda investigates she becomes enthralled with the lithely handsome and dangerous Marco, volunteering to serve as his target in more ways than one. Through a tortuously erotic back and forth with the knifeman, Jacinda discovers that things are not as they seem. Her belief in Marco’s innocence is well founded, though in not quite the way she thought.
Verdict The sensitive and well-detailed erotic interplay leading to a full-throated symphonic crescendo sets this slim volume head and shoulders above the norm. The combination of intriguing setting and erotic charge make this carnie-punk tale set in the Blud universe a stunner that presages great things to come.—Henry Bankhead, Los Gatos Lib., CA

Gail, Stacy. Starting from Scratch. Carina: Harlequin. 2013. 95p. ebk. ISBN 9781426897474. $2.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Last Christmas, Lucy hurriedly said goodbye to her husband, Lt. Sullivan Jax, as he went on another military mission. A year later, Lucy is unwilling to celebrate the season because although her husband survived an IED attack, his damaged memory no longer includes her. Now that he’s home and feels fairly well, Sullivan can’t remember this beautiful baker whom everyone says is his wife. But the smell of her, the sweet scent of sugar cookies and gingerbread, jogs his memory and passions. Yet, no matter how hard he tries, the memories of her won’t return. His desire for her, though, increases to the point at which he can’t ignore it. Can he prove to Lucy and to himself that their love is still there even if they have to start from scratch?
Verdict This short but well-written novel offers a solid glimpse into military family life, sacrifice, and love.—Christyna Hunter, Loudoun Cty P.L., Lovettsville, VA

Quinn, Ella. The Temptation of Lady Serena. eKensington. (Marriage Game, Bk. 3). Jan. 2014. c.356p. ebk. ISBN 9781601831668. $5.50. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Lady Serena Weir has an instant attraction to someone whom she’s just met, while Viscount Robert Beaumont is on a mission to find the right woman. This sensual romance has our hero fighting against falling in love with a woman who has an independent spirit. Serena and Robert must work as a team to update their holdings. Eventually, our protagonists struggle to stay together at a time in history when most couples did not actually love each other. Quinn includes a mystery surrounding the children of both the town and the hall.
Verdict This third book in Quinn’s series (after The Seduction of Lady Phoebe and The Secret Life of Miss Anna Marsh) is an excellent choice for readers who like a little something extra from their historical romances. The mystery surrounding the children will hold the reader’s attention, while the sex scenes keep the book best recommended for readers 18 and up. The next series title, Desiring Lady Caro, is due in April 2014.—Lynn Reynolds, Westfield State Univ. Lib., MA

Annalisa Pesek About Annalisa Pesek

Annalisa Pesek (apesek@mediasourceinc.com) is Assistant Managing Editor, LJ Book Review
[photograph by John Sarsgard]


  1. Melissa Keir says:

    Great choices! :)