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

Week ending March 21, 2014

Becker, Anne Marie. Dark Deeds. Carina: Harlequin. (Mindhunters, Bk. 4). Mar. 2014. 243p. ebk. ISBN 9781426898051. $3.99. ROMANCE SUSPENSE
Becca Haney is a security specialist with SSAM, a group that specializes in finding violent criminals whom traditional law enforcement has been unable to catch. While investigating a sex trafficking group called the Circle, she runs into Det. Diego Sandoval, with whom she’d had a two-week affair. He appears to now be a dirty NYPD cop, which is hard for her to handle. They both end up investigating an obsessed fan who wants to be Becca’s partner and fancies himself her equal in every way. As “the Fan” escalates his penchant for killing in a twisted attempt to help Becca, it puts her and everyone around her in danger. It takes a while for the heat to build between the characters, although they had a relationship in a previous series title (Only Fear). However, the reader eventually begins to feel invested in the relationship and the characters. On the downside, the Fan is a bit of a caricature; “Mother” is an enabler to his killings; and the pay per view Internet finale is silly. Still, the story is genuinely creepy at times.
Verdict Fans of the series will want to read this as it moves the romantic relationship forward, but newbies may find themselves underwhelmed.—B. Allison Gray, Goleta Lib., CA

Drewry, Laura. Plain Jayne. Loveswept: Random. Apr. 2014. 244p. ebk. ISBN 9780804177733. $2.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Jayne and Nick have been friends since kindergarten, but the last time Jayne saw Nick, he was kicking her out of his wife’s funeral. Staying away after that humiliation was easy, but when Gran dies and leaves her the old bookstore, Jayne must return to Newport Ridge. What she finds is a mess of a business, a very unhappy welcome from Nick’s girlfriend, and an unmistakable attraction to her platonic friend. Nick can’t stop himself from helping Jayne with her shop, and the more he’s around her, the more he wants to stay around her. Nick and Jayne discover that being friends may be fun, but being lovers is even better.
Verdict Drewry’s (Charming Joe) latest is the story of two friends who work hard to stay friends when all they really want to do is throw themselves at each other. This romance is a tale told well—without being overly steamy—and romance readers will find themselves awake well into the night, rooting for Nick and Jayne. Can boys and girls ever be just friends? Not when they feel like this!—Judy Taylor Garner, Strayer Univ., Glen Allen, VA

Fyfield, Frances. Shadows on the Mirror: A Sarah Fortune Mystery. Witness Impulse: HarperCollins. 2014. 100p. ebk. ISBN 9780062303950. 99¢. MYS
Sarah Fortune is a successful solicitor whose husband’s death in a car accident revealed that he was not all that honest. When she finally begins “dating” again, Sarah chooses men whom she refuses to become emotionally attached to, yet she decides to offer them what they desire. However, Charles Tysall, a wealthy client with Sarah’s firm, has his eye on her as a possible replacement for his long-missing wife. As a suitor, he is controlling and extremely dark. When a body is discovered, suspicion falls on him and on Sarah.
Verdict Fyfield delves well into the different characters’ psyche and ambitions, and readers who appreciate psychological mysteries such as those penned by Barbara Vine/Ruth Rendell or Minette Walters will enjoy this series. British crime writer Fyfield wrote this novel in 1989, and it was released in the United States in 1991. But as the hardcover edition has been long out of print, this ebook reissue will be a welcome substitute.—Frances Thorsen, Chronicles of Crime Bookshop, Victoria, BC

starred review starPatrick, Marie. Mischief and Magnolias. Crimson Romance: F+W/Adams Media. Mar. 2014. 197p. ebk. ISBN 9781440575716. $4.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
mischiefmagnolias032114It’s the middle of the Civil War in 1863 Natchez, MS, and Union Army major Remington Harte has declared the home and steamboats of Shaelyn Cavanaugh as the new base for his men. Shaelyn has already given up so much for the war, including her brother and her fiancé, whose whereabouts are still unknown. Sacrificing the beloved property Shae and her mother have worked so hard to maintain is the last straw. The spunky Shae’s devious actions to rattle Harte only make him find her all the more endearing, and she eventually gives into the lust that has plagued her since his arrival. When a Union steamer is attacked, costing the lives of many of the troops, Quartermaster Vince Davenport suspects Shae might be behind it, especially since no one else knew of their mission. Harte doesn’t want to believe the doubts Davenport has now planted in his mind. Has Shae been duping him all along in an effort to sabotage the North’s efforts?
Verdict Patrick (A Treasure Worth Keeping) infuses her story with a cunning female protagonist who will do whatever it takes to save the man she loves. Plenty of intrigue, romance, and an unforeseen plot twist will captivate the audience of this spirited tale; enthusiastically recommended.—Kara Kohn, Plainfield P.L., IL

Stacey, Shannon. Taken with You. Carina: Harlequin. (Kowalskis, Bk. 8). Mar. 2014. 331p. ebk. ISBN 9780373002283. $4.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
In the eighth book in the Kowalski family series, Stacey turns away from the eponymous clan to focus on other romantic entanglements happening in the town of Whitford, ME. Taken with You is the story of Hailey Genest, town librarian and friend of Paige Sullivan, and Matt Barnett, the hunky new game warden who has just moved next door to Hailey. From the moment Matt saves Hailey from an ill-planned hiking trip, the two cannot stop thinking about each other. Matt, a true outdoorsman, and Hailey, who prefers fancy restaurants to campfires, prove how strong the attraction can be between opposites.
Verdict Stacey (All He Ever Dreamed; Love a Little Sideways) is a best-selling author, and the Kowalski books have an established fan base; this move away from the core clan to spotlight supporting characters stays true to the series. Readers will find the well-written, small-town romance with ATV trail riding they have come to expect.—John Rodzvilla, Emerson Coll. Lib., Boston