Posthumous ebook from Butler, plus e-originals from Moon, Regnery, Schmidt, & Stone | Xpress Reviews

Week ending May 9, 2014

Butler, Octavia. Unexpected Stories. Open Road. Jun. 2014. 95p. ebk. ISBN 9781497601376. $3.99. SF
Two previously unreleased stories from the late African American sf author (Parable of the Sower; Kindred), recently discovered by her agent, have been given new life in this ebook original. In the novella “A Necessary Being,” Butler gives us a primitive alien society in which communities are hierarchically arranged in a system that prizes certain colors over all others. The Hao rule owing to purported greater strength and wisdom but also because of the pure blue coloring they alone possess. When a small desert community catches a traveling Hao in its territory, the female leader must find a way to keep him for her people without resorting to violence. The second shorter piece, “Childfinder,” concerns a woman with the talent for identifying children who could develop psi abilities. She has chosen to leave the organization that controls those with psi powers to protect the underprivileged and vulnerable children of her poor neighborhood.
Verdict Both stories deal in their own way with the issues of race and gender that informed much of Butler’s work. While posthumous publications (Butler died in 2006) can be a mixed bag, these stories, with an introduction by Walter Mosley, will be a joy for Butler’s many readers.—Megan M. McArdle, San Diego

Moon, Jeannie. The Wedding Secret. InterMix: Penguin. (Forever Love). May 2014. 222p. ebk. ISBN 9781101625637. $3.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
weddingsecret050914Kevin Rossi and Harper Poole’s relationship begins with sex in a wine cellar at his sister’s wedding and ends only a short month later when he is traded to another team. As a major league baseball player, Kevin has always hinted that relationships and baseball don’t mix, so fiercely independent Harper cuts off communication to avoid heartbreak. Fast-forward one year: Harper is a single mom to Anna and still the successful director of operations at Reliance Software; Kevin, now a free agent, is back in New York and hopes to start up with Harper where they left off. When they run into each other at a Reliance client event where Kevin is making an appearance (he happens also to be brother-in-law of Harper’s boss), Harper realizes she can’t keep Anna a secret anymore and will have to tell Kevin about their daughter. She is unsure if Kevin or his family will ever forgive her, which could cost Harper her job as well. Kevin wants to be much more to Harper than just the doting father to their baby, but he gets the vibe that there is something else Harper might be hiding. If they are going to make it, Harper will need to let Kevin in and reveal the past she has worked so hard to conceal.
Verdict Moon (Unexpectedly Yours) offers a frothy concoction starring an irresistible athlete and a strong female whose story of love and family is sure to win the hearts of readers. Warm but not hot love scenes make this a good choice for fans of Susan Mallery and Carly Phillips.—Kara Kohn, Plainfield P.L., IL

Regnery, Katy. See Jane Fall. Boroughs Pub. Group. (Heart of Montana Romance). 2014. 377p. ebk. ISBN 9781941260135. $3.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Regnery (By Proxy) continues her “Heart of Montana” series with Lars and Jane’s story. When tour operators Lindstrom & Sons are contracted to coordinate a Yellowstone photo shoot for famous model Samara Amaya, Lars has to squire the “talent” around. While at first it’s not his most desired assignment, as he’d rather be in the park, Lars finds himself very attracted to Samara’s “plain Jane” assistant. Her sultry voice and wisecracking sense of humor turn him on in a way none of the gorgeous “park” girls ever did. But there are obstacles. Jane knows Lars will be blown away by beautiful but nasty Samara when she arrives, so she won’t let herself care too much or trust him—Jane has been hurt too many times. Will true love prevail, or will lust get in the way? You know the answer.
Verdict Predictable? Yes, but contemporary romance readers who appreciate tasteful sex between loving partners will enjoy this sweet story about a woman who learns to value and trust herself.—Judy Murray, Monroe Cty. Lib. Syst., MI

Russell, Leigh. Cold Sacrifice. Witness Impulse: HarperCollins. May 2014. 308p. ebk. ISBN 9780062325716. $2.99. MYS
DS Ian Peterson has appeared previously in Russell’s Geraldine Steel series (Death Bed; Stop Dead)) and now stars in his own book. Steel has moved on from the small English town of Woolmarsh to a new job in London, and Peterson, hopeful for a promotion, is working on three murders: of a wife, a prostitute, and one other (also a prostitute). Police wonder if the crimes may be connected. Peterson’s wife, who figures as a main character to provide some angst in Peterson’s relationships, is annoying. The two have known each other for years and although newly wed, she continually complains about his work relationships, his job, and more, leading readers to question why the couple married.
Verdict Newbie mystery readers might enjoy this British police procedural, but seasoned crime readers will easily solve the plot. The characters, excluding Peterson, are not as fully formed and therefore seem one-dimensional and unrealistic. Part way through, a cult is introduced, which doesn’t fully get explored but opens doors for another Peterson mystery to follow.—Frances Thorsen, Chronicles of Crime Bookshop, Victoria, BC

Schmidt, Jamie K. Heat. Loveswept: Random. (Club Inferno, Bk. 1). Jun. 2014. 230p. ebk. ISBN 9780345549761. $2.99. EROTICA
Mallory, an ER doctor, leaves everything behind and takes shelter at her sister’s luxe resort when Mallory’s fiancé becomes abusive. Half of Couture is a fashion spot for the rich and famous, the other half is a sex scene catering to all and providing classes and erotic parties. Mallory’s sister assigns Max, a Dom and martial arts teacher, to look after Mallory and soon sparks fly. The classes (both erotic and vanilla) and the members at Couture help Mallory build her confidence enough to go back to work and confront her ex-fiancé. There is a nice balance of relationship development and love scenes here, but it would have been nice if Mallory had resolved her issues with her ex before getting involved with Max.
Verdict Schmidt (Undercover Lover) has a talent for writing realistic and enjoyable dialog, and that dialog along with some steamy love scenes among the club members carry the book while Mallory and Max’s relationship is still developing. Heat is the first installment in a planned series that will center on Couture. The strong cast of supporting characters and excellent discourse will have readers returning to these stories.—Lizzy Klinnert, Barrington Area Lib., IL

Stone, Sara Jane. Full Exposure. Avon Impulse. (Independence Falls, Bk. 1). Jul. 2014. 206p. ebk. ISBN 9780062337573. $2.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Returning from war has left Georgia looking for her next big thrill, whether it’s jumping out of an airplane or enjoying the hot touch of a man. Working as a live-in nanny for her brother’s best friend Eric leaves both Georgia and Eric struggling with desires in close quarters. They soon share one sensual experience that has both of them closing doors on each other—and their feelings. Eric knows that Georgia is hiding from her emotions and as his employee should be off-limits. His troubled childhood means his number one focus is raising his nephew right, but the thought of Georgia wanting to experience life without him is almost as difficult to bear. Will Eric and Georgia be able to let down those walls enough to let each other in, or will their pasts overshadow any hope for the future?
Verdict Stone (Command Performance) doesn’t dive too deeply into the PTSD aspects of Georgia’s character, but she does offer enough of a nod and follow-through that they are not just a triviality in the story. The steamy side of this couple will definitely keep readers turning the pages. Recommended for all romance collections.—Kristi Chadwick, Massachusetts Lib. Syst., South Deerfield