E-Romance from Gay, McKenna, Owens, & Trent, plus Something New from Quinn | Xpress Reviews

Week ending June 6, 2014

Gay, Gloria. Scandal at Almack’s: A Regency Romance Novella. Boroughs Pub. Group. 2014. 89p. ebk. ISBN 9781941260159. $2.99. REGENCY/HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Jenny Longtree travels to London for the unexpected treat of a season of balls sponsored by her uncle (in spite of her miserly aunt’s misgivings). Upon meeting the dashing Lord Corville at the exclusive Almack’s Assembly Rooms, Jenny’s otherwise dim future immediately brightens—if only she can wiggle her way out of another man’s grasp.
Verdict As a novella, the story is forced to cut corners, such as eliminating possible love scenes, but this helps the appeal as well. The intriguing characters combined with a witty writing style by Gay (Lovely Little Liar) make up for a somewhat predictable plot, while the historical setting is portrayed very well. This reviewer would have enjoyed these characters in a full-length novel, with some added romantic nuances, but overall Gay’s latest is a charming rags to riches tale, generously infused with true tones of the Regency era.—Marie Burton, Rockwall, TX

McKenna, Cara. Hard Time. InterMix: Penguin. 2014. NAp. ebk. ISBN 9781101622018. $3.99. EROTIC ROMANCE
Annie Goodhouse goes to the Cousins Detention Facility as the outreach librarian in charge of helping with the inmates’ writing and research needs. What she doesn’t expect is one particular inmate with smoldering eyes that follow her every move. While Annie knows that encouraging him is wrong, she can’t seem to deny that Eric Collier is the man of her fantasies. Exploring this attraction through letters, Annie and Eric discover that they both have found freedom in their complicated relationship. When Eric is suddenly paroled, these two unlikely lovers find that what was once wrong is now oh-so-right!
Verdict McKenna’s (Her Best Laid Plans) first-person account of Annie’s struggle and capitulation with desire is a story of the wrong type of man who finds the best kind of girl and fights to win her heart. Explosive and tumultuous, this title will have readers rooting in the end for the convict finally to be set free.—Judy Garner, Strayer Univ., Glen Allen, VA

Owens, Lisa M. Worth the Seeing Through. Dreamspinner. (Love’s Value, Bk. 2). 2014. 260p. ebk. ISBN 9781627988827. $6.99; pap. ISBN 9781627988810. $16.99. M/M CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Police officer Connor Maclean leaves his job with the LAPD to move to Montana and pursue a relationship with Guy, a highly regarded contemporary Western painter with whom he shared one wild and passionate week. Initially, Guy pulls away from a relationship, but the two are brought together after a break-in at Guy’s art gallery leaves him seriously injured and needing a caretaker. Connor takes on this task as a way to get closer to Guy, who now feels physically and emotionally vulnerable and must face the reality that he might never paint again. Guy acts out by throwing fits and kissing his old college roommate. He thinks he isn’t good enough to be Connor’s man, but Connor disagrees.
Verdict In this second installment in Owens’s “Love’s Value” series (after Worth the Coming Home), Connor knows that it’s hard to be dedicated to one person through ups and downs, but with Guy he learns that it’s worth the effort. Despite the novel’s slow start, the character development and sweet love story will keep readers engaged through the last page.–Lizzy Klinnert, Barrington Area Lib., IL

Quinn, Tara Taylor. The Friendship Pact. Mira: Harlequin. Jun. 2014. 247p. ebk. ISBN 9781459256163. $3.99. F
friendshippact060614Bailey Watters and Koralynn Mitchell grew up as “sisters of the soul.” Friends through it all, they promised each other kidneys and forged an unbreakable bond of trust. Kora is married to a wonderful husband whom she loves and who loves her, yet Bailey is the sister of her heart. When Bailey decides to use Kora’s husband as her sperm donor—and keeps the secret from Kora—that bond of trust is tested. Should Kora forgive her husband for “having a baby” with her best friend? Life continues to probe this friendship, as the meaning of family and unity culminates in unexpected ways.
Verdict Not a typical Quinn novel and unlike its romance kin (In Plain Sight; Hidden), The Friendship Pact focuses on the ties between women and how important those relationships are throughout life. Marriage is only the subplot here as readers follow Kora and Bailey through heartache and heartbreak, yet the women are always able to find their way back to each other. Be warned romance readers: this celebratory tale reveals an ending with some unexpected twists. Get ready!—Judy Garner, Strayer Univ., Glen Allen, VA

Trent, Holley. Seeing Red. Lyrical: Kensington. (Hearts & Minds, Bk. 3). Jun. 2014. 163p. ebk. ISBN 9781616505462. $4.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Meg Coffman is freshly divorced from her deadbeat, rock star husband and newly crowned “Poor Meg” in the tabloids. Trying to create a normal life for the sake of her son and her sanity, Meg agrees to a harebrained plot of a quick—and fake—marriage to hot, Russian astrophysicist Sergei. Sergei has been attracted to Meg for years and, with some guidance from friends, is hoping to turn this sham into something real.
Verdict In Trent’s third outing in the “Hearts and Minds” series (Saint and Scholar; Calculated Exposure), the gang is back for Sergei and Meg’s ruse of a wedding. Meg is not particularly likable from the start, which is fine, but it is hard to cheer for her when she walks all over the sweet, immensely attractive, and clearly in love Sergei. She is conflicted throughout about her crazy idea of marrying a stranger, but Sergei and Meg had known each other—at least in social circles—for some time. And while activities in the bedroom show a connection, the turnaround of Meg’s opinion of her sham marriage comes incredibly fast and with little personal growth evident. While the premise is interesting, the nuts and bolts of this romance don’t gel.—Kellie Tilton, Univ. of Cincinnati, Blue Ash