Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, April 4, 2014

Week ending April 4, 2014

Collins, Kathleen. Death’s Daughter. Carina: Harlequin. (Realm Walker, Bk. 2). Apr. 2014. 176p. ebk. ISBN 9781426898112. $3.99. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
In this second installment in the series (after Realm Walker), Juliana Norris is called upon to solve a spate of kidnappings of altered children, children having some magical ability. She is a “realm walker”: she can identify any paranormal creature and see magic. She works for the Agency to solve crimes involving magic. She is also hiding that she is psychically united with the powerful vampire Thomas Kendrick. Thomas is a challenging mate, and their relationship is on the rocks. But who is using wild magic to kidnap and then kill altered children and why? As Juliana finds out more, she runs into danger on many fronts, including pursuit by the evil vampire Raoul whom Thomas is hunting without her knowledge. As Juliana closes in on the killer, all hell breaks loose.
Verdict This police procedural employs great writing to create a paranormal page-turner. The focus on communication in relationships, rather than sex, makes for a uniquely satisfying romance. A must-read for paranormal fans.—Henry Bankhead, Los Gatos Lib., CA

starred review starCross, Julie. Third Degree. Flirt: Random. 2014. 240p. ebk. ISBN 9780553390346. $2.99. NEW ADULT, CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
thirddegree040414Medical prodigy Isabel (Izzy) Jenkins is 18 and can find a diagnosis out of the most complex of symptoms. Flying high on her career accomplishments, Izzy is stumped when denied residency at her preferred hospital. Sure, Izzy can diagnose and treat, but she can’t feel for her patients. She’s so lacking in emotional maturity that she’s sent back to college to learn how to be human again. Nicely built RA Marshall Collins is intrigued and impressed by his newest resident. Marshall is so enamored that he bargains with Izzy: she tutors him in academics in exchange for Izzy learning social and emotional skills from him. The lessons go well as Izzy realizes how amazing Marshall really is. The real test, though, is when Marshall’s medical secret is revealed. Can Izzy put newly learned emotional skills to work, or will her training take over to the point that she leaves her emotions behind for good?
Verdict Cross’s (Whatever Life Throws at You) character development is beautiful and a pleasure to read in this medical romance!Christyna Hunter, Loudoun Cty P.L., Lovettsville, VA

Everett, Alyssa. An Heir of Uncertainty. Carina: Harlequin. 2014. 224p. ebk. ISBN 9781426898068. $3.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE, REGENCY
Everett here crafts an intriguing tale of romance and suspense set against a deceivingly quaint Yorkshire estate. Lady Radbourne’s young husband passes away while she is still with child, and her future depends on whether it is a boy or a girl. If it’s a girl, the estate passes to Win Vaughn, who never imagined he could achieve the title of Lord Radbourne. The title would be a boon owing to his failing estate and also would help provide for his family members. When Lady Radbourne and Win meet, they realize they are kindred spirits as both are after the same thing: to survive long enough to discover who is out to harm the two potential Radbourne owners.
Verdict Both character and plot driven, this historical romance has a lot going on. It offers enough clever twists and misdirection that readers can only guess at the villain’s identity, while the climax is well done. Speaking of climax, there is a large dose of sexual passion in one particular episode and just a few other “added for emphasis” romantic scenes, but the overall story kept this reviewer turning the pages. Everett (A Tryst with Trouble) has drawn a very likable set of characters, especially Win’s apparently ADHD brother.—Marie Burton, Rockwall, TX

Kayn, Debra. Surprisingly. Crimson Romance: F+W/Adams Media. (Playing for Hearts, Bk. 5). Apr. 2014. 96p. ebk. ISBN 9781440566561. $4.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Bruce and Crista are best friends and athletes at the top of their respective fields. The constant focus on career and training leads to great success but hinders any real chance for long-lasting relationships. When Bruce comes to town—crashing on Crista’s couch—his initial inclination is to jump into bed with her supermodel neighbor. But when his seemingly solid plan goes sideways, the two best friends find themselves in a rather compromising position.
Verdict While the writing is choppy in the beginning and character motivations are, at times, inconsistent, this latest novella in the “Playing for Hearts” series packs some serious heat. It also showcases a female protagonist in an atypical romance role, as Crista trains for the Ironman competition throughout the story. As with any late addition to a series, those who’ve read the previous four books (starting with Wildly) will delight in the reappearance of many earlier characters. They will also be happy to discover the ending to Bruce and Crista’s story—and will be more likely to forgive Bruce’s rather brutish regard of both Crista and her neighbor at the book’s opening.—Kellie Tilton, Univ. of Cincinnati Blue Ash Lib.