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

Week ending March 14, 2014

Brand, O.A. High and Wild. Pocket Star eBooks. (Bush Riders, Bk. 1). Apr. 2014. 289p. ebk. ISBN 9781476730110. $5.99. WESTERN, EROTICA
Brand, O.A. Wild to the Bone. Pocket Star eBooks. (Bush Riders, Bk. 2). May 2014. 311p. ebk. ISBN 9781476730127. $5.99. WESTERN, EROTICA
highandwild031414Meet Bear Haskell, Texan, veteran of the Union Army, Pinkerton agent, and lover of women of all shapes and sizes. In High and Wild, Bear is especially attracted to fellow Pinkerton agent Raven York, a New York socialite who has defied her parents, eschewing the finer things in life, and run off to work for Mr. Pinkerton solving crimes. While Pinkerton has a strict policy of no fraternization between agents, neither Bear nor Raven can resist the animal attraction that burns whenever they are together. However, while overwhelmingly drawn to each other, Bear and Raven are not mutually exclusive, leaving each to explore sexual attractions with others they encounter while investigating a case. Bear, especially, is not averse to using his vast sexual prowess and appetites to elicit information. Raven, while not opposed to showing a bit of cleavage and acting the part of a “lady of the evening” to gather clues from the unsuspecting, is less free with her favors. While each keeps an eye on the other during intel gathering, they work together to complete their mission.
In Wild to the Bone, the Pinkerton Agency brings together again agents Haskell and York in an effort to find and stop the gang of bandits robbing stage coaches. Raven is unenthusiastic about working with the randy and ornery Bear again. She just can’t control herself and her sexual urges where he’s concerned, and Bear’s certainly not about to try to maintain the Pinkerton agency’s policy against agents having a relationship. Nevertheless, charged with bringing down this gang led by two women, the agents head out with the intention of remaining professional. While that only lasts until the first campfire is lit, once they reach their destination, they go their separate ways in an effort to find out who these bandits are and stop them. Bear uses his brawn and his sexuality to suss out clues, while Raven turns on the charm and feminine wiles. Both end up at one point on the wrong end of a shotgun.
Verdict Series opener High and Wild sets the stage for Bear and Raven to work together on Pinkerton business. Will they be able to resist the sexual pull and adhere to Mr. Pinkerton’s rule, or will their attraction overwhelm them as they travel the Wild West solving crime? Wild to the Bone is a rollicking, wanton, raunchy good time with a side of mystery, danger, and intrigue thrown in for good measure. Not for the faint of heart.—Lisa Jordan, Gardner Neighborhood Lib., Johnson Cty. Lib., KS

Cooper, Karina. Tempered. Carina: Harlequin. (St. Croix Chronicles, Bk. 4). 2014. NAp. ebk. ISBN 9781426897924. $3.99. STEAMPUNK ROMANCE
Cherry St. Croix is a collector who hunts criminals in an alternative steampunk Regency London. She’s a flawed, three-dimensional character, and the darkness in her life is reflected in her opium addiction. Her guardian, Oliver Ashmore, takes her from London to a country home called Siristine to help her to recover. As Cherry struggles, she’s not sure if the things she begins to see and hear are real or brought on by the detox, or if she should trust Ashmore and his alchemical lessons. Events unfold at a leisurely pace, allowing the reader to sink into Cherry’s first-person point of view and the book’s lavish, detailed prose about family secrets and history, alchemy and science, and the desperation of romance and addiction. The end is left wide open with a return to the circus Midnight Menagerie and Cherry’s hope of reuniting with Hawke, its ringmaster.
Verdict Tempered is not for readers new to Cooper’s (Corroded) series—vague references to earlier events don’t illuminate but confuse—but Cooper’s creepy gothic sensibility and shots of self-deprecating humor will thrill those familiar with Cherry and her circumstances.—Charli Osborne, Oxford Public Library, MI

Force, Marie. Fatal Jeopardy. Carina: Harlequin. (Fatal, Bk. 7). Mar. 2014. NAp. ebk. ISBN 9781426898075. $4.99. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
DC Police lieutenant Sam Holland is immersed in a horrible investigation in which nine teens were brutally murdered and her niece drugged and raped. Meanwhile, her U.S. Senator husband, Nick, is being avidly courted to replace the ailing vice president. Sam and Nick are in the midst of adopting a 12-year-old boy, the very endearing Scotty. Add life-threatening surgery for Sam’s dad, and she has her hands full. Fortunately, she and Nick make a truly supportive team, even when they disagree.
Verdict Sam is a fun, strong character about whom readers will want to know more. Her relationship with Nick is spicy and realistic. The mystery is well constructed and forms a solid base around which all the other events revolve. Readers are given enough information to understand events in the previous books in the series (e.g., Fatal Deception; Fatal Mistake), so there is little confusion about past episodes or characters. Readers new to the series will find it easy to jump right in.—B. Allison Gray, Goleta Lib., CA

Voinov, Aleksandr & L.A. Witt. If It Drives. Riptide. Mar. 2014. 221p. ebk. ISBN 9781626491083. $6.99. LGBT, BDSM, EROTICA
Callum works as chauffeur for high-powered banker James Harcourt. One of his duties is to drive his employer every couple of weeks to Market Garden, an expensive gay brothel in London. When James leaves the brothel without securing the services of a rentboy for the evening, Cal gives in to his feelings and indulges in a one-night stand that turns awkward the next morning. Cal is determined to make James turn to him instead of the rentboys, so he goes to Market Garden to discover exactly what attracts James. And that revelation leads to some soul-searching as to how far he’s willing to go for the man he loves.
Verdict Erotica takes the stage front and center in this edgy tale of role reversal from popular authors Voinov and Witt. While part of the Market Garden universe, this title can stand alone. Still, owing to the appearance here of Nick and Spencer from If It Flies and If It Fornicates (Voinov and Witt were honored with Best LGBT Erotica in 2013 from the Rainbow Awards for these two novels), and Nick’s role in If It Drives, this title is recommended for readers who have enjoyed the earlier works.—Melanie C. Duncan, Shurling Lib., Macon, GA