Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, February 14, 2014

Week ending February 14, 2014

Wilde, Lori. The Valentine’s Day Disaster: A Twilight, Texas Novella. Avon Impulse. Feb. 2014. 111p. ebk. ISBN 9780062311511. $1.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
valentinesday021414This year, Sesty Snow would rather be doing anything other than what she’s doing…organizing the annual Twilight, TX, Valentine’s Day celebration “Hunks-in-the-Hood” bachelor auction, even if it does raise funds for Holly’s House benefiting Hood County families in need. Sesty has totally lost her Valentine’s spirit this year owing to recently being dumped by her boyfriend for the local barista—and now the auction is one bachelor short. Things are heading down hill quickly when in walks Josh Langtree to save the day. Not only is Josh a NASCAR hero and Twilight native, he is Sesty’s high school boyfriend and first true love. Injured in a racing accident, Josh has returned to Twilight to finish his recovery and to serve out a community service sentence by helping with the auction. While no other man has ever been able to capture her heart the way Josh once did, Sesty is reluctant to open up to him and the possibility of a new, mature relationship. Josh vows to use his 40 hours of community service to convince Sesty that Valentine’s Day is still her favorite holiday and that he’s prepared to be her one and only Valentine.
Verdict A short, sweet, and fun Valentine’s Day tale about rekindling old flames, letting go, and taking chances. The Valentine’s Day Disaster is a great installment in the “Twilight, Texas” series by award-winning author Wilde (Somebody To Love). Sesty and Josh will put you in the mood to celebrate.—Lisa Jordan, Gardner Neighborhood Lib., Johnson County Library, KS

Ashenden, Jackie. Having Her. Samhain. (Lies We Tell, Bk. 2). Feb. 2014. 263p. ebk. ISBN 9781619218000. $5.50. BDSM, ROMANCE, EROTICA
Book two of the “Lies We Tell” series (after Taking Him) explores the backstory of Ellie’s friend Kara. Distressed to be a virgin at the ripe old age of 25, Kara seeks help from Ellie’s overprotective brother Vin when her solution, a one-night stand, turns dangerous. Vin’s rescue includes a dose of criticism of Kara’s behavior. After a brief standoff, Kara and Vin develop a kinky relationship that meets both their needs. They experience a series of high-voltage encounters before they discover there is more to their relationship than sex. The duo share with each other their dark pasts: about Vin’s mentally ill mother and Kara’s scarred wrists. Now Kara finds she is pregnant and realizes that she deserves to be loved.
Verdict This very accessible BDSM erotic romance illustrates the healing powers of sexual role play and engages readers with issues of mental health in a straightforward and realistic fashion. The New Zealand setting and the well-depicted no-holds-barred sex scenes make for a high-interest read. Highly recommended.—Henry Bankhead, Los Gatos Lib., CA

Carver, Cassi. If You Need Me. Samhain. (Ashford Legacy, Bk. 1). Mar. 2014. c.99p. ebk. ISBN 9781619220430. $2.99. EROTIC ROMANCE
This serviceable novella explores the relationship between erotica writer Rayna Sommers and all-around good guy Kyle Ashford. Kyle is a fan of Rayna’s writing, and they develop a virtual relationship as she suffers from agoraphobia and has difficulty leaving her apartment. In addition, Kyle lives on the East Coast while Rayna lives on the West. Nor does he tell her he’s a multimillionaire. Cleverly, Kyle develops simple challenges for Rayna to help her get out in the world, such as walk outside until you find a lost coin. He rewards her for completing these tasks with virtual sexual favors. Meanwhile, incredibly, Rayna keeps a pet chicken, Bratty, in her apartment. When Bratty becomes seriously ill, Kyle is compelled to visit. Everything comes to a head when he arrives and Rayna finds out who he really is. She also discovers that he wants a genuine relationship—one that includes walks to the nearby beach.
Verdict The plot is unique, and erotica fans will enjoy the detailed sex between loving partners. Yet to sustain interest in the series, Carver has to flesh out her characters. The reader doesn’t get to know them well enough to care. An optional purchase.—Judy Murray, Monroe Cty. Lib. Syst., MI

D’Alba, Cynthia. Texas Fandango. Samhain. (Texas Montgomery Mavericks, Bk. 3). Feb. 2014. 108p. ebk. ISBN 9781619220577. $3.50. EROTIC NOVELLA
texasfandango021414Attorney KC Montgomery has loved family friend Drake Gentry ever since they were kids, but she never seemed to be on his radar. Drake is now divorced from her cousin Olivia and more recently dumped by his girlfriend, so the two tickets he has to the Sand Castle Resort in the Caribbean present the perfect opportunity for KC to make her move. She offers him a deal that would be hard for any man to refuse: two weeks of nothing but sand, sun, and sex, with no strings attached. The vacation more than fulfills KC’s wildest fantasies of Drake, but not following her heart once the trip is over will be harder than she knows. Drake falls for the woman who is all kinds of right for him, but how can he renege on their original deal, especially when she makes it clear she wants nothing more?
Verdict While enjoying the sensual fun in the sun, the only fault readers will find with this work is that it’s not a full-length novel. Though it’s over too quickly, this latest offering from D’Alba (Texas Two Step) gives readers a sexy escape and a reason to seek out her earlier titles.—Kara Kohn, Plainfield P.L., IL

Russell, Leigh. Death Bed: A Detective Geraldine Steel Mystery. Witness Impulse: HarperCollins. Feb. 2014. 366p. ebk. ISBN 9780062325655. $2.99. MYS
DI Geraldine Steel has just transferred to London in this follow-up to Dead End and is immediately tasked with a difficult case. The body of a young black woman has been found. It’s clear that she was tortured before she was killed, and when another young black woman goes missing, the pressure is on to find the killer before the press erupts. Complicating matters for Geraldine are an overeager new partner and a boss who isn’t backing her up. As she pursues her professional investigation, she also works on a personal quest to find her birth mother.
Verdict The author dwells a bit too much on the point of view of the killer with his victims at the expense of the new supporting characters in Geraldine’s professional life who never feel quite real. Still, fans of British police procedurals will find the detailed investigation of interest.—Jane Jorgenson, Madison P.L., WI

Wilkins, Kelli A. Dangerous Indenture. Medallion. May 2014. 282p. ebk. ISBN 9781605427157. $9.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Shauna thought being an indentured servant would be a simple way to escape heartache in Ireland. Little did she know she was signing away five years of her life to an owner who lost servants on a regular basis under mysterious circumstances. It doesn’t help that her master’s prodigal son, Ashton, is also irresistibly attractive. Combining mystery with romance, this novel keeps the pages turning as the reader wonders if Shauna and Ashton can keep their budding romance alive, or if obstacles will tear them apart, possibly costing Shauna her life.
Verdict While the mystery here is fairly easy to solve, Shauna and Ashton are well-developed characters readers can root for. Overall, a great beach read.—Emily Thompson SUNY-Oswego