Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, March 28, 2014

Week ending March 28, 2014

Christensen, Lorenda. Dancing with Dragons. Carina: Harlequin. Mar. 2014. 184p. ebk. ISBN 9781426897382. $3.99. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
This is the second book in Christensen’s dragon series set in a future where a cancer-curing experiment gone awry has produced dragons that rule the earth. The story continues through the point of view of fashion consultant Carol Jenski, whom we first meet under traumatic circumstances, as Carol is dripping blood from a head wound after a sudden dragon attack at her hotel in Budapest. When she wakes after being unconscious for weeks, Carol is shocked to learn she has been framed for a bomb attack in Tulsa that killed 11 dragons. With the aid of pesky journalist Daniel Wallent, she barely manages to escape from the hospital. Posing as newlyweds, Carol and Daniel flee to India to avoid apprehension by the authorities. Amid the role-play, Carol feels a spark with Daniel that ignites into off-screen passion. With Daniel at her side, Carol returns to Tulsa to face charges, but can he help to clear her name?
Verdict Christensen’s (Never Deal with Dragons) latest features adrenaline-fueled action, unlikely romance, and humorous interludes. The charming and intriguing plot motors along in style; highly recommended.—Henry Bankhead, Los Gatos Lib., CA

Hackett, Anna. At Star’s End. Carina: Harlequin. Mar. 2014. 137p. ebk. ISBN 9781426898105. $2.99. ACTION ROMANCE
Dr. Eos Rai is an astroarchaeologist in search of the last remaining piece of da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. The painting has been lost in space since Earth was rendered into a nuclear wasteland. When Eos finally discovers a clue to the location of the artwork, her employer is unwilling to support the expedition. Instead, she is forced to turn to a band of brothers who are well-known treasure hunters. Their leader Dathan Phoenix, with a sixth sense about relics, is immediately drawn to Eos, even if he doesn’t believe her story. At Star’s End takes the reader on a journey to the edges of civilization on the hunt for a lost masterpiece. Along the way, Eos and Dathan find something more attractive than forgotten relics: each other.
Verdict In this action romance, Hackett has created a strong female protagonist who holds her own in battle and in bed. Readers who like their romance with a healthy dose of action and space flight will enjoy this quest.—John Rodzvilla, Emerson Coll., Boston

Layne, Lauren. Just One Night. Loveswept: Random. (Sex, Love & Stiletto, Bk. 3). Apr. 2014. 204p. ebk. ISBN 9780345547279. $2.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Boy meets best friend’s sister. Boy promises never to touch best friend’s sister. Ten years later, boy and best friend’s sister are both miserable, denying their chemistry. Best friend’s sister becomes sex columnist?!? Indeed, Riley’s job as Stiletto magazine’s sex expert is something any good Irish Catholic family would blush at, although most of the McKennas have figured out the truth: Riley’s articles are based on book learning, no hands-on experience involved. But the jig is almost up. Riley’s editor Camille has insisted that the anniversary issue be personal. Riley decides that with her brother Liam out of the country, now is the perfect time to proposition Sam Compton using the article as an excuse. Just one night of meaningless sex, crossing the line with a lifetime friend, will make the perfect article, even if it breaks Riley’s heart in the process.
Verdict Riley and her reactions to men are certainly not endearing, and the similarities to the film How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days are a bit off-putting. In the end, though, Riley wins readers’ hearts, and the supporting cast of girlfriends provide the necessary comedic relief. Recommended for most romance collections.—Heather Lisa Maneiro, Minnesota State Univ. Lib.‚ Moorhead

Ryan, Jennifer. Falling for Owen. Avon Impulse. (McBrides, Bk. 2). Apr. 2014. 384p. ISBN 9780062306081. $2.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
fallingforowen032814In book two of her “McBrides” series (after The Return of Brody McBride), Ryan opens with a bang. Claire Walsh is awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of someone outside her house. Before she can call 911, an angry drunk has thrown a patio chair through her window. When she tries to get his license plate number, Claire is run down by his truck, and that brings Owen McBride to her doorstep. Now that he’s there, Owen intends to stay. Not only does he feel responsible for the attack on Claire—it was his client’s ex-husband at the wheel—he’s realizing that Claire just may be the one woman for him. Claire is equally attracted, if a little leery.
Verdict All the elements are here: alpha hero and a plucky heroine—each with some baggage—a little suspense, and enough supporting players to set the scene in this small-town romance. Fans of Lori Foster and Kat Martin will find plenty to enjoy here.—Jane Jorgenson, Madison P.L., WI