E-Originals from Baxter, Dooley, LaRoche, McKenzie, & Soliman | Xpress Reviews

Week ending June 13, 2014

Baxter, Marilyn. Better as a Memory. Boroughs Pub. Group. 2014. 73p. ebk. ISBN 9781941260173. $2.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Victoria Sharpe has been hired as an image consultant for her college boyfriend, Max Brown. Needing the money to keep her fledgling business afloat, Victoria is determined to remain professional and push back her emotions about their unresolved ending. As the two continue to work together, feelings begin to resurface, but Victoria has a feeling she may be left in the same precarious position she was seven years ago.
Verdict In her most recent novella, Baxter (Tea for Two) explores the always tension-filled reuniting of former lovers. While much is implied about Victoria and Max’s prior time between the sheets, most of the lust is kept locked down on the page. More emphasis on their former relationship—not just their sex life—would have added a better understanding of the two succeeding as a couple and led to more investment in them. Their rather sharp interactions do bring about a moment where it seems maybe the two are meant to head in separate directions, which is refreshing and unexpected, making the ending that much sweeter.—Kellie Tilton, Univ. of Cincinnati Lib., Blue Ash

Cao, Irene. I Watch You. RCS Libri: Open Road Integrated Media. (Italian Pleasures, Bk. 1). Jun. 2014. 298p. tr. by Emily Kate Price. ebk. ISBN 9781480442764. $9.99. CONTEMPORARY/EROTIC ROMANCE
Elena favors solitude in her job restoring the fresco on an Italian count’s Venetian estate. She has her best friend Gaia and maybe-more-than-a-friend Filippo and needs little else in her life—or so she believes. When Elena is faced with having to work around renowned chef Leonardo, who is launching a new restaurant in Venice, both her business and personal life are disrupted. After Filippo leaves town, Leonardo ramps up his pursuit of Elena, seducing her senses—and her body—though he warns her not to fall in love with him. Taken down a road of erotic experience that challenges her perceptions of self, will Elena even know who she is at the end, or whom she values most?
Verdict This first volume of a trilogy (and Cao’s first novel) accentuates the European culture, setting, and characters, introducing a sensual story in translation. While a somewhat abrupt ending simplifies this tale, it is recommended for erotic romance collections.—Kristi Chadwick, Massachusetts Lib. Syst., South Deerfield

Dooley, Diane. Zipless. Lyrical: Kensington. Jul. 2014. 63p. ebk. ISBN 9781616505370. $1.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
An erroneous first impression leads Chris to think that he’s being chased by a Scottish groupie who gives him her name as Maggie May. Lou allows him to keep his belief and decides to go for a zipless (or for those who don’t remember their Erica Jong, no-strings-attached) encounter and nicknames him Zippy, not recognizing him for the famous musician Chris is. They quickly run into each other again when Lou’s band needs a session musician for a possible record contract audition. However, her band implodes, and she’s left alone with broken dreams. Or is she?
Verdict Unfortunately, the title and cover art will lead readers to expect some zipless action within; said readers will be sadly disappointed. There are essentially no sex scenes here, as if the writer is uncomfortable with them and just glosses over them entirely. Dooley (Blue Galaxy) does spend a lot of time for a novella on character development, so the reader becomes involved in Lou’s dilemmas and in the romance. An altogether mixed bag.—B. Allison Gray, Goleta Lib., CA

LaRoche, Catherine. Knight of Love. Pocket Star. Jun. 2014. c.386p. ebk. ISBN 9781476710136. $1.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
LaRoche’s second historical (after Master of Love) is set in 1848 Germany, which makes for a nice change from the great majority of European-set romances. Lady Lenora has come to a German principality for an arranged marriage to the local prince. But because of the civil unrest beginning to plague the area, her parents have departed before the wedding, and Lenora now knows that her prospective groom is terribly abusive. She escapes his castle but ends up in the hands of Wolfram von Wolfsbach, who fancies himself a knight errant meant to save his lady love, Lenora. His solution? Marriage. But Lenora doesn’t trust him and fights him at every turn.
Verdict LaRoche does a good job with her history and setting, but the pacing is a bit uneven and sometimes bogs down even though there are some great ideas expressed here. Readers who want some place other than England as a historical backdrop might find this title of interest.—Jane Jorgenson, Madison P.L., WI

McKenzie, Grant. The Fear in Her Eyes. Polis. Jun. 2014. 304p. ebk. ISBN 9781940610092. $4.99. F
Ian Quinn spends his day working with deadbeat moms and dads while overseeing court-appointed custodial visitations. He hopes that he can save the children from becoming like their parents. In his personal life, he’s on the verge of divorce; his young daughter was killed by a drunk driver, and the resulting grief shattered his marriage. Then Ian receives an envelope containing a prison pass with a note indicating that his daughter’s death was no accident, and one of the children under his care vanishes.
Verdict McKenzie (Switch; No Cry for Help; K.A.R.M.A) tells a tight and suspenseful story that fans of James Patterson will find enjoyable. The resolution is a bit of a letdown, but that is a minor nitpick and compensated for by a terrific sympathetic lead and a baffling scenario.—Jeff Ayers, Seattle P.L.

Soliman, Wendy. Romancing the Runaway. Carina: Harlequin. (Forsters, Bk. 4). 2014. NAp. ebk. ISBN 9781426898181. $3.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
romancingtherunaway061314Miranda Cantrell escapes her cruel guardian’s cold entrapment only almost to freeze to death in a neighbor’s barn. Lord Gabriel Forster has fled London and the ton for a quiet reprise in the country only to find an exquisite vixen hiding among his bales of hay. While nursing this woman back to health, Gabriel discovers she is on the run from a forced marriage, a thieving guardian, and a shifty, untrustworthy lawyer in charge of her inheritance. Together, these two solve the mystery of her planned capture and venture to her ancestral home to fight against Miranda’s kidnappers. Miranda and Lord Gabriel’s attraction only grows as they endure obstacles to win each other’s heart.
Verdict Fans of the author and her “Forsters” series will welcome this final installment in the quartet, in which Lord Gabriel finds that love really can happen when we least expect it. Typical of Soliman (Finessing the Contessa) is the historical setting and a return to the gorgeous men—and women—of the Forster family. A sexy end to a hot series, this book will leave Soliman fans wanting more.—Judy Taylor Garner, Strayer Univ., Glen Allen, VA