E-Originals from Barth, McNally, Macnamara, plus “The Naughty Nine” | Xpress Reviews

Week ending August 1, 2014

Barth, Christi. Up to Me. Carina: Harlequin. (Shore Secrets, Bk. 1). 2014. 271p. ebk. ISBN 9781426898518. $3.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Owner of Mayhew Manor in New York’s Finger Lakes, Ella Mayhew never wanted to be a hotel proprietor, but after the death of her parents, this became her family’s legacy she was obligated to honor. When sexy Gray Locke books a two-week stay, Ella is instantly smitten by the chemistry she feels. The two agree to “nondate,” and Gray is both enamored and perplexed by her friends and the small-town antics, and this is the first time he desires more than just a hookup. Gray, however, has been lying “by omission, as he is actually a corporate realignment specialist; in other words, his job is to determine if the manor is a good investment for his company either to take over or destroy. If Ella discovers the truth behind Gray’s visit, she will never forgive him, even though he wants nothing more than to make Ella happy and help her save the manor, which means so much to her.
Verdict The quirky small-town atmosphere of Barth’s (“Aisle Bound” series) first title in a planned trilogy delights, and the community journal where town members weigh in on dilemmas posed by others only adds to the charm. Though the outcome is predictable, the journey there is romantic and affecting.—Kara Kohn, Plainfield P.L, IL

Bruhns, Nina & others. The Naughty Nine: Where Danger and Passion Collide. INscribe Digital. 2014. 1884p. ISBN 9780990389903. 99¢. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
naughtynine080114From police and military to private eyes and possible thieves, all of the pairings in this collection of stories by nine romance writers keep the action tight and the sex hot. Not-quite-ex-lovers turn professional partners in Julie Leto’s Dirty Little Secrets, while an injured FBI agent is on the run in Karen Fenech’s Snowbound. Vulnerable heroines with spark rule Saved by Lorhainne Eckhart and Taylor Lee’s Red Rock Rises. A military guy must look after a general’s daughter in Rita Herron’s One Night To Kill. Cops are on the case in Bruhns’s Stop in the Name of Love and Dana Marton’s Deathblow. Oliver Twist brings a billionaire together with a possible book thief in Everything He Never Wanted by Mary Leo, and Patricia Mason explores ghosts and psychics in A Girl, a Guy, and a Ghost. New York Times best-selling author Jill Sanders concludes the book with her novella Secret Identity.
Verdict This compilation of nine hot romance stories will please readers looking for some fast-paced, steamy reads to suit the season. Recommended for all library ebook collections.—Kristi Chadwick, Massachusetts Lib. Syst., South Deerfield

McNally, Ruby. Singe. Samhain. (Lights & Sirens, Bk. 2). 2014. c.194p. ebk. ISBN 9781619220782. $5.50. EROTIC ROMANCE
Addie and Eli, firefighters in the same unit, don’t really want to fall in love. Both are looking for something casual, sex with no strings, but it doesn’t work out that way. Independent, hurt, and leery of dating a coworker, both would rather walk away. Still, their passion overwhelms their hesitancy. Of course, before we get to the love part, there is the hot sex—and, oh, boy, is there: sex in the firehouse while coworkers work nearby, in the car, in the shower, on Addie’s pathetic futon. The backstory about their families and firefighting information adds interest.
Verdict McNally (Crash) writes very descriptive sex scenes between appealing, caring partners, and it’s refreshing that there are no billionaires here in Armani suits, just regular people with normal problems having real physical relations. Recommended for erotic romance collections.—Judy Murray, Monroe Cty. Lib. Syst., MI

Macnamara, Ashlyn. What a Lady Craves. Loveswept: Random. (Eton Boys, Bk. 1). Aug. 2014. 288p. ebk ISBN 9780553393750. $2.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Henrietta Upperton’s betrothed, Alexander Sanford, ran off to India in order to restore his family’s fortunes following his father’s untimely death. She never imagined that eight years would pass before he returned—now a widower with two young daughters in tow. Very little is as Alexander remembers when his ship washes ashore near his aunt’s home, where Henrietta serves as companion. For one, his relationships with his two childhood best friends run from strained to hostile, and, more apparently, Henrietta, with her propensity to speak her mind and use swear words, bears little resemblance to the meek girl Alexander had once promised to wed and subsequently abandoned. Alexander is hopeful that he can still honor his promise to Henrietta, but before he can get down to the business of convincing her that he is worth a second chance, he will have to ensure her safety and that of his family by rooting out the trouble that seems to have followed him from India.
Verdict Henrietta and Alexander’s story is a lukewarm introduction to the “Eton Boys Trilogy,” with only the merest thread hinting at a connection to future installments. Some readers may be interested to discover how the childhood friendships grew to be so tense, but this reviewer hopes that Macnamara (A Most Scandalous Proposal) is able to carve out a bit more excitement in the process.—Natasha Grant, New York

Rose, Kristi. The Girl He Knows: A No Strings Attached Novel. Lyrical: Kensington. Aug. 2014. 203p. ebk. ISBN 9781616505608. $3.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
After a night of mind-blowing sex, Paisley finds herself waking up with Hank Lancaster, her best friend Gigi’s brother. This is not the way to start off her renewed dating life after a painful divorce from her cheating ex-husband. Hank comes up with a plan: they see each other casually for sex but are upfront about dating other people. Paisley has some serious doubts, especially since this means lying to Gigi, but relents because she can’t seem to say no to Hank. The plan works well enough until Paisley allows her friends to set her up, and she begins seeing bad-boy bartender Jake. She convinces herself that while Hank is comfortable, he is clearly her rebound guy, and because he is a sailor with a military schedule, no serious relationship can ever develop. Hank has loved Paisley all his life but doesn’t know if he can risk his heart forever. Paisley better have the epiphany she needs to realize Hank is the man for her before it is too late and she lives to regret it.
Verdict The issues of Paisley’s divorce coupled with her father’s untimely death provide emotional depth and galvanize her plight, and Hank is one of the more authentic male leads this reviewer has encountered of late. Rose’s lighthearted Florida-set debut with mild lovemaking has broad enough appeal to satisfy most readers.—Kara Kohn, Plainfield P.L., IL