Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, February 21, 2014

Week ending February 21, 2014

Baker, Miranda. Girl Trouble. Samhain. (Come Again, Bk. 4). Mar. 2014. 95p. ebk. ISBN 9781619220829. $3.50. EROTIC ROMANCE
Kat St. James is a major celebrity, a high-profile actress living life with fame, fans, and plenty of fun. Underneath the glamour, though, is a wounded soul—a soul that yearns for the one person society would not allow her to have: Bonita Pritchard. Her high school best friend–turned–lover and obsession is a secret that Kat hides to maintain her celebrity status, but the love and sex are too powerful to resist. Bonita is her true submissive; each finds completion in the other’s desires. Together they explore each other’s bodies, as they realize that they are perfect halves to a complete whole.
Verdict Fans of Baker’s may recognize the sex shop—Come Again—as we return in this fourth installment in the series (after Hook Up). This tale follows sex shop owner Bonita and her longtime love Kat as they eschew fame and fortune for true love. Kinky and red hot, this tale is for those who want their romance explosive and explicit!—Judy Taylor Garner, Strayer Univ. Lib., Glen Allen, VA

Kelley, Inez. The Place I Belong. Carina: Harlequin. (Country Roads, Bk. 2). Feb. 2014. 162p. ebk. ISBN 9781426898006. $2.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Zury Castellano is determined to protect Black Cherry Falls and the surrounding canyon from any type of destruction, even after Hawkins Hardwood, a lumber company, legally acquires part of the canyon from the state. Hawkins’s PR guy Jonah Alcott is the lucky man left to deal with the fallout of Zury’s protests, editorials, and campaigns against the firm. After Jonah tries to see Zury’s point of view and show her the company’s goodwill, the two slowly begin to compromise and realize other benefits of working together. But Zury’s desperation to keep her home pristine may have already set tragic plans in motion.
Verdict The Place I Belong has well-developed characters, an interesting and timely plot, and a good pace to keep readers on edge throughout. While it is the middle book of author Kelley’s “Country Roads” trilogy, it is more of a companion to Take Me Home than a sequel, with familiar characters appearing for a few pages but nothing more. Kelley keeps the romance hot, while not letting it overshadow the strengths of the characters. A certain mistake on Zury’s part might upset and dismay readers, but it does appear to play into the upcoming final title of the trilogy, helping to connect the books further. A fun read revolving around an interesting issue.—Kellie Tilton, Univ. of Cincinnati Blue Ash

Kennedy, Elle. As Hot as It Gets. Samhain. (Out of Uniform, Bk. 10). Feb. 2014. 271p. ebk. ISBN 9781619221338. $5.50. EROTIC ROMANCE
Navy SEAL Jackson Ramsey has seen every one of his buddies find the woman of their dreams (including teammate Dylan’s happy ménage). Jackson has discovered that he’s tired of watching his friends’ happiness and is ready to find some of his own. When he meets Mia Weldrick, he’s sure he’s found the right woman for him. Mia is intelligent and intriguing, and she challenges him at every turn—and she turns him on. The only problem is that Mia is way too busy with her gardening career and her guardianship of her teenage brother even to think about dating. And since her sexual experiences have been blah so far, she doesn’t think she’s missing much, until she meets Jackson, and her libido suddenly lights up like a Christmas tree. Jackson has to find a way to woo Mia, not just into bed but into a realization that relationships can work and that she and he belong together. After watching her mother marry (and divorce) ten times, Mia needs a lot of convincing, but Jackson is definitely up to the task.
Verdict As Hot as It Gets lives up to its erotic romance categorization. This “sex into love” romance includes hot, kinky sex but doesn’t neglect the romance. For those who have read all “Out of Uniform” titles (e.g., The Heat Is On; Hotter Than Ever), it provides a glimpse into the lives of the couples featured in earlier entries but also works well as an introduction to the series. Recommended for those who like their romances on the “extra-steamy” side.—Marlene Harris, Seattle P.L.

Lin, Jeannie. The Jade Temptress. HQN: Harlequin. (Lotus Palace, Bk. 2). Mar. 2014. c.384p. ISBN 9781460327081. $4.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
jadetemptress022114When Lady Mingyu, one of the most sought-after elite literary courtesans in the Lotus Palace, is summoned by powerful General Deng to his residence, her worst fears are that he will want to “redeem” her to become his concubine. But when she finds him brutally murdered and knows she’ll be considered a suspect, she has no choice but to seek out Wu Kaifeng, the one man who can help her but who has every reason to distrust her. Caught up in a nightmare of unbridled ambition and political intrigue, Mingyu and Kaifeng struggle to unravel the mystery, pinpoint the killer, and stay alive as they come to terms with their growing passions in this cleverly plotted, deliciously romantic story.
Verdict The Tang Dynasty and the shadowy world of the pleasure district of Changan come to life in a story that is sure to enchant. With insight, colorful descriptions, and a plot twist that most readers won’t expect, Lin’s latest takes fans on another fascinating foray into the exotic world first introduced in The Lotus Palace. Another compelling, memorable, well-researched tale; highly recommended.—Kristin Ramsdell, emerita, California State Univ.–East Bay

Packard, Alison. Catching Heat. Carina: Harlequin. (Feeling the Heat, Bk. 3). Feb. 2014. 267p. ebk. ISBN 9781426897788. $3.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Angela works in the front office for the Sacramento Blaze baseball team, but she’s determined to stay far away from the players. Her father, who played professional baseball, broke her mother’s heart and taught Angela that athletes are not to be trusted. But there is one player whom she just can’t resist. J.T. has had his eye on Angela since he met her, but she has always given him the cold shoulder. Then one passionate night, Angela can no longer resist him—and she winds up pregnant. As J.T. works on proving to Angela that not all athletes are irresponsible cheaters, Angela begins to learn that the rewards of love are greater than the risk of being hurt.
Verdict Packard has created a nice cast of secondary characters, the stars of which are J.T.’s large and loving family. They provide some comic relief and are integral to Angela’s journey to trust J.T. Packard (Love in the Afternoon; The Winning Season) will keep readers returning to her series to see which other characters are paired off next. A solid purchase.—Lizzy Klinnert, Barrington Area Lib., IL