E-Originals from Adams, Allen, Hiestand, Maher, Navarro, Rosetti, & Walker| Xpress Reviews

Week ending April 25, 2014

Adams, Lori. Forbidden. Flirt: Random. (Soulkeepers, Bk. 1). Apr. 2014. NAp. ebk. ISBN 9780345549259. $2.99. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
Sophia St. James is just hoping to blend in quietly when she first moves with her father from Los Angeles to Haven Hurst, a small town in Connecticut, during her senior year of high school. But she had not counted on meeting anyone like Michael Patronus, who along with the rest of his guardian angel family bears responsibility for the souls of inhabitants of their town and surrounding areas. As a guardian, Michael is not supposed to experience human emotions such as jealousy or passion, but he feels both with regard to Sophia, the only human he has ever known who can see into the spirit world. Sophia recognizes a strong connection with Michael, but the more he tries to suppress his human emotions, the more he pushes her at Dante, a demon knight intent on reclaiming his beloved’s soul. By oath, Michael cannot reveal Dante’s true identity—or his own—to Sophia, but he must get a handle on his passions and find a way to reach her before it is too late.
Verdict This first novel in the “Soulkeepers” series starts out strong, has some bumps along the way, and grows stranger near the end. Yet despite the overly descriptive scenes that draw out the novel at an excruciatingly slow pace at times, some cheesy characters who feel more like caricatures, and too many similarities to at least one other young adult series in the same genre—obvious in the palely drawn, quiet and strong-willed female lead and in the mysterious, godlike creatures whose frequent disappearances from school raise few eyebrows—the overall package is an enjoyable read. Fans of the “Twilight” series will enjoy the ongoing battle between angels and demons and the love triangle at the center of it all.—Natasha Grant, New York

Allen, Nancy. The Code of the Hills: An Ozarks Mystery. Witness Impulse: HarperCollins. Apr. 2014. 300p. ebk. ISBN 9780062325945. $2.99. MYS
Prosecutor Elsie Arnold lands a high-profile incest case that is sure to make headlines; just the thought of a father abusing his three young daughters ensures that she will bring the full force of the law to bear on the perpetrator. Yet in the Missouri Ozarks, what happens behind closed doors is not easily shared, and Elsie encounters problems from the start. Unreliable witnesses, hidden motives, and threats from local extremists make Elsie’s theory even more difficult to establish. Then, when her case—and her personal life—start to fall apart, Elsie must make a stand to protect the lives of the young girls involved, even if that estranges her from most of her community.
Verdict Allen brings her experience as an assistant prosecutor to the pages of her debut novel. The main plot is laid with unflinching and gritty detail, but the story lines that involve Elsie’s interpersonal relationships seem to upset the balance of the narrative at times. However, the descriptions of both the court maneuverings and the Ozark community make this an entertaining read.—Kristi Chadwick, Massachusetts Lib. Syst., South Deerfield

Hiestand, Heather. His Wicked Smile. eKensington. (Redcakes, Bk. 3). May 2014. 196p. ebk. ISBN 9781601831132. $5.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Gawain Redcake is a damaged man with lofty goals. His service to his county left him with various and painful scars, but his dearest dream is to become a peer of the realm. To do so he must marry well, but his heart and his aching body have a different plan. He meets Ann Haldene at the inn she runs while he is on a wild goose chase after women he thinks he should be wooing. Ann is of Indian descent and was taught Hindu medicine by her maharaja mother. Ann sooths Gawain’s body and his soul, but their happily ever after is a long way off, and both must learn how to navigate 1890s London as an interracial couple. This fast-paced read is both sweet and fun. It’s rare to find historical romances that feature couples who are of anything but Anglo-Saxon decent, and this one does a solid job of addressing some of these difficulties. At its heart, though, this is a standard romance and not a hard-hitting literary novel on the class and racial system of historical London—and that is just fine.
Verdict A fast read with a different view point than many novels in the genre.—Ryan A. Franklin, Mattoon P.L., IL

Maher, Rebecca Rogers. Tanya. Promised Land. Apr. 2014. 88p. ebk. ISBN 9781629210063. $1.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Jack, a returning Peace Corps volunteer, and Tanya, a recovering alcoholic, catch each other’s eye across a dive restaurant and consummate their brief encounter with lots of sex and little conversation in a seedy hotel room. Much to their surprise, the pair meet again the next day at a luxurious Catskills, NY, lodge where Tanya’s sister, Christa, is marrying Jack’s brother, Henry. What they both thought was a fierce, spontaneous fling is now a family affair. Readers soon learn that Jack, Tanya, Christa, and Henry are all broken people coping with mental illness, cancer, and addiction and are brought together to celebrate new beginnings.
Verdict The novella by Maher (The Bridge; Hurricane Lily) packs in a lot of sex, drama, anguish, and hope. The author presses plenty of emotional history into the story of a weekend wedding.—Joyce Sparrow, Kenneth City, FL

starred review starNavarro, Julia. Tell Me Who I Am. Plaza y Janés: Penguin Random Grupo Editorial España. 2014. 858p. tr. from Spanish by James Womack. ebk. ISBN 9788401343063. $6.99. F
Tell me who I am042514Guillermo, an Internet journalist, is tasked with assembling the life story of his great-grandmother Amelia, who abandoned her family and about whom nothing is known. Early in his delving, Guillermo encounters two elderly women, somehow related to Amelia, who become his benefactors, providing funds and contacts. The contacts force Guillermo to gather his information in chronological order, sending him far and wide from Buenos Aires to Jerusalem in pursuit of the story. Each account is detailed and engrossing as Amelia’s life is reassembled from her pre–Spanish Civil War youth in Navarro’s native Spain through the fall of communism in Eastern Europe. With a lens trained on this individual life, we are witness to a period of history fraught with political ideology, activism, and atrocity. The travails of this remarkable woman are both agonizing and inspiring.
Verdict Although the history presented is decidedly Eurocentric, Navarro (Brotherhood of the Holy Shroud; The Bible of Clay), a journalist by trade, uses her skills to unfold a massive Spanish-memory novel that is as captivating as it is heartbreaking.—Laura Cifelli, Fort Myers–Lee Cty. P.L., FL

Rosetti, Juliet. Tangled Thing Called Love. Loveswept: Random. (Life & Love on the Lam, Bk. 3). Apr. 2014. c.280p. ebk. ISBN 9780345549150. $2.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
The on-again, off-again relationship between Mazie and Ben is definitely off-again. Mazie has returned to Quail Hollow to help out her family, and Ben is back in L.A. But then Ben decides that the Curse of Miss Quail Hollow will make a perfect documentary, especially as Mazie has been persuaded to join the rest of the former queens in this year’s 25th-anniversary pageant. Suspicions are sure to arise when Ben and Mazie are present, but their role this time will be to find out what really happened to Fawn, the Miss Quail Hollow who disappeared without getting killed.
Verdict With humor to rival Sophie Kinsella and romance and mystery akin to Janet Evanovich, Rosetti’s title has something to appeal to most contemporary romance fans. Whether the topsy-turvy relationship between Mazie and Ben can keep readers engaged as long as Stephanie Plum and Joe Morelli remains to be seen, but at this point this series is a must-have.—Heather Lisa Maneiro, Minnesota State Univ. Lib.‚ Moorhead

Walker, Regan. Wind Raven. Boroughs Pub. Group. (Agents of the Crown, Bk. 3). 2014. 250p. ebk. ISBN 9781941260029. $3.99. REGENCY ROMANCE
American Tara McConnell finds herself making her long journey home aboard the Wind Raven, the famous ship helmed by the heroic English captain Jean Nicholas Powell. She doesn’t like the British ton or their fancy balls, she doesn’t like the British owing to the recent War of 1812 despite their new alliance, but she does like ships and sailing the ocean blue. As she dons her breeches and falls in step helping Nick’s crew with their chores, the captain admires her from afar, until the romance slowly heats up. Meanwhile, the pirate Roberto Cofresi spots Tara and wants her for his own, but he has to win her from Nick first.
Verdict With plenty of adventure and great storytelling, this third book of the “Agents of the Crown” series (after Against the Wind; Racing with the Wind) hits the mark for a quick thrill on the high seas, though perhaps tenuously held together in a slightly too convenient plot. Easily read as a stand-alone, the novel easily evokes the era; the extensive author’s note is appreciated.—Marie Burton, Rockwall, TX