Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, January 3, 2014

Week ending January 3, 2014

Goodger, Jane. When a Lord Needs a Lady. eKensington. Feb. 2014. 234p. ebk. ISBN 9781601831620. $5.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
It’s the late 1870s in England when young American socialite Katherine visits the seaside town of Brighton. Feeling stifled by propriety and by her mother, Katherine disguises herself as a maid so that she can sightsee and finally have some fun. When she meets Graham Spencer, she has no idea that he is actually the sought-after Lord Avonleigh. Hijinks ensue as miscommunication and misunderstanding abound while the two fall in love. Graham is being forced to marry a very wealthy heiress in order to save his crumbling estate. He has never given into romantic notions until he met Katherine, and he considers perhaps making the maid his mistress to be the answer to his prayers.
Verdict A heartwarming and amusing romance from Goodger (If I Wait for You), with steamy scenes and believable tension to keep the reader hoping that there could be a happy ending after all. The supporting characters have stories of their own, which helps to flesh out the main plot. Though a quick read, this title still feels worthy of a reader’s time as the hero in Graham gives us all hope.—Marie Burton, Rockwall, TX

Heath, Lorraine. The Last Wicked Scoundrel: A Scoundrels of St. James Novella. Avon Impulse. Jan. 2014. NAp. ebk. ISBN 9780062317155. $1.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Dr. William Graves, featured in Heath’s series “The Scoundrels of St. James” (Midnight Pleasures with a Scoundrel) is finally the focus of his own story. After having spent most of his childhood as a thief and mudlark, he was fostered by the aristocratic father of a long-lost heir and fellow thief. William and his friends the Earl and Countess of Claybourne share a secret pertaining to Winifred, the widowed Duchess of Avendale. After her brutal husband had beaten her nearly to death, William and his friends helped her to recover. Three years after her husband’s accidental death, Winifred fears she is either going insane or being haunted by her husband’s malevolent spirit. William helps her investigate her supposed lapses in memory, and they give in to the feelings they’ve long held for each other. Past terrors are revisited, and the two find themselves in grave danger.
Verdict Heath doesn’t have much room here to develop her characters but is able to give the reader a bit of William’s strong sense of courage, dedication to his profession, and overwhelming feelings of guilt about his past. Winifred learns she is stronger than she ever thought. While readers new to the series will invest little in the secondary characters, those who have read the previous books will be glad to see William get the peace he deserves.—B. Allison Gray, Goleta Lib., CA

Kagawa, Julie & Sara Gundell (text) & Lidia Chan (illus.). The Iron King. Issues 1 & 2. Bluewater Comics. (Iron Fey). 2013. ea. issue: 24p. $1.99. Available for download from ComiXology, iTunes, OverDrive, iVerse, Wowio, Kobo, and more. COMICS/SUPERNATURAL ROMANCE
Meghan Chase’s 16th birthday takes a bizarre turn when she learns that her friend Robbie is actually the faery Puck and her little brother Ethan has been replaced with a changeling. After Puck helps Meghan to enter Faeryland to search for the real Ethan, she reaches King Oberon and Queen Titania’s court, where she discovers that she’s the king’s illegitimate daughter. Queen Titania angrily sends her to work in the kitchens to prepare for a visit from Queen Mab, a visit that is interrupted by a Chimera attack. Taking advantage of the chaos, Meghan decides to run off and look for Ethan in Mab’s territory.
Verdict Beginning a new digital comics series based on the first of Kagawa’s best-selling “Iron Fey” novels, this story thus far feels like a cross between Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight and Jim Henson’s Labyrinth but could become something all its own. The translation to the graphic format is awkward at times, with a couple of scenes unclear as to what is happening. However, Chan’s manga-style artwork is enjoyable. Recommended to fans of Kagawa’s novels or of paranormal romance. [The graphic novel version of this series is forthcoming.—Ed.]—Heather Williams, Whatcom Community Coll., Bellingham, WA

Roblin, Teresa. Now You See It…. Teresa Roblin. 2013. NAp. ebk. ISBN 9780992101718. $2.99. EROTIC/FANTASY/COMEDY ROMANCE
nowyouseeit10314Sarah and Anthony used to be an item. In fact, she had thought he was “the one.” However, as Anthony worked hard to build his company, Sarah often felt that she came in a distant second to Anthony’s work. Refusing to take a backseat any longer, Sarah ends the relationship and in the process builds emotional walls to ensure that she is never hurt like that again. Anthony finally notices that he misses Sarah and puts into motion a plan to get her back. He convinces his Aunt Emily and Sarah’s Aunt Lilly to go on a cruise knowing that Sarah wouldn’t be able to let the elderly ladies go alone. Then Anthony joins the group at the last minute. Emily and Lilly are in on the ruse, and for a little insurance, Lilly, who dabbles in magic, puts a spell on Sarah so that when she resists her feelings for Anthony, her clothes disappear, often at the most inopportune times. While Sarah struggles to keep her clothes where they belong, Anthony moves closer to convincing her to give him another chance.
Verdict What could be more fun: a little magic, a European cruise, a hunky guy, and clothes that disappear at the worst moment? And don’t forget the sprightly aunts who are always getting into trouble and speaking their minds. Roblin’s (Hocus Pocus) lighthearted read is full of laughs, longing, and disappearing lingerie. For most romance readers.—Lisa Jordan, Gardner Neighborhood Lib., Johnson Cty. Lib., KS

Rodale, Maya. The Bad Boy Billionaire’s Wicked Arrangement. Avon Impulse. 100p. ekb. ISBN 9780062230829. 99¢. ROMANCE NOVELLA
This metanovella introduces Jane Sparks—a librarian who wants to write romance novels and in fact ends up writing The Wicked Wallflower (a historical romance in Rodale’s “Bad Boys & Wallflowers” series)—and billionaire Duke Austen. Jane is still recovering from the loss of her longtime boyfriend and is trying to force herself to relax and have some fun at a party. The fun leads her into an accidental engagement with dot-com billionaire Duke. When their engagement is announced on Facebook, Jane is appalled, but Duke is thrilled. His bad-boy reputation is threatening his latest attempt at going public with a technology company. Potential investors are put off by his partying lifestyle and the impact it has on his productivity. Getting engaged to “good girl” Jane will prove that Duke is settling down and get him the venture capital he needs.
This is truly an introduction to Jane and Duke, whose story will continue in another print volume, but Rodale uses the short form well in setting up their romance.—Jane Jorgenson, Madison P.L., WI.

Wainscott, Tina. Wild Hearts. Loveswept: Random. (Justiss Alliance, Bk. 0.5). Jan. 2014. c.72p. ebk. ISBN 9780553390803. 99¢. MILITARY ROMANCE
This novella teaser for Wainscott’s newest series introduces readers to the Justiss Alliance team. These former Navy SEALs decide to sign on with Chase Justiss because they have no other real options. They had all successfully escaped their screwed-up lives and families to succeed as SEALS, but that was before their colorfully coined defuckle—the mission of which the U.S. government disavows any knowledge.
Verdict After departing romantic suspense to write paranormal romance as Jaime Rush, Wainscott (Until the Day You Die) is back with this solid story. In this compressed format, the heat and romance lose out to character development and suspense buildup; however, the glimpses into the future of the series indicate this is a must-have for romance and suspense lovers alike.—Heather Lisa Maneiro, Minnesota State Univ. Lib.‚ Moorhead