E-Originals from The Lady Authors, Auclair, Jordan, Moon, plus a Debut by Harris | Xpress Reviews

Week ending December 5, 2014

Ashe, Katherine & others. At the Billionaire’s Wedding. The Lady Authors. 2014. 373p. ebk. ISBN 9780986053917. $2.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
atthebillionaireswedding120414It’s the wedding of the year: billionaire Duke Austen and romance author Jane Sparks are trying to keep everything under wraps, but with problems and paparazzi galore, is there any way to prevent their fairy-tale wedding from becoming tabloid headlines? This novella collection follows four couples through this escapade. In Miranda Neville’s The Best Laid Planner, wedding planner Arwen Kilpatrick must deal with a change of venue, a spotty Internet, and Harry Compton, a sexy handyman with a secret. In Will You Be My Wi-Fi? by Caroline Linden, tech lawyer Archer Quinn discovers the hideaway of chef Natalie Corcoran and attempts to sample her Wi-Fi, then her baking, then her heart. West Coast librarian California Burke discovers that her mysterious benefactor is not such a mystery, but can Cali overcome her past problems with Piers Prescott in Ashe’s The Day It Rained Books? Finally, Maya Rodale’s That Moment When You Fall in Love highlights how work and play don’t always mix between online journalist Roxanna Lane and her boss Damien Knightly. With the Internet down, the cakes lost, and the police at the hen’s party, these twosomes discover that love does not always wait for the perfect happily ever after.
Verdict This collection by The Lady Authors (At the Duke’s Wedding) intertwines contemporary romance with some historical twists and nods to Jane Austen; the four stories blend effortlessly into the final pages. With humor and wit, this sexy selection will definitely please romance readers.—Kristi Chadwick, Massachusetts Lib. Syst., South Deerfield

Auclair, Colette. Branded. Pocket Star. (Aspen Valley, Bk. 3). Dec. 2014. 347p. ebk. ISBN 9781476745824. $5.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Cordelia “Cordy” Sims leaves her fiancé at the altar in Connecticut and seeks refuge in her freelance travel writing assignment at the Pinnacle Resort in Aspen, CO. Cordy throws herself into evaluating the qualities of the vacation experience until she meets Jack Cormier, a Cajun-raised retired professional pitching ace, who is playing “So in Love,” on the bar piano. Cordy offers Jack $100 and demands he stop playing her wedding song. Jack convinces Cordy to discuss her hostility over a champagne cocktail. The cocktail turns into a sexy weekend Cordy hopes never to forget. When she arrives at the Ajax Group Branding and Communications Firm on Monday for her presentation, Cordy discovers that Jack is the company president. The two struggle to maintain their professional composure after their uninhibited time together. Jack learns Cordy is a dressage rider and introduces her to his friends, movie star Grady Brunswick and his wife, Amanda (Thrown), and Finn and Beth (Jumped), all horse lovers, riders, and owners. Together they decide to use their skills and money to open an equestrian facility in Aspen. Their plans hit a few snags, though, including the arrival of Cordy’s ex-fiancé, Trent.
Verdict In the third book in the series, Auclair seamlessly combines the characters from the two previous novels, continuing the well-developed story line. Jack’s New Orleans upbringing adds a hot Louisiana Creole “cher” to the dialog, étouffée to the menu, and zydeco music to the dancing.—Joyce Sparrow, Kenneth City, FL

starred review starHarris, Edie. Blamed. Carina: Harlequin. (Blood Money, Bk. 1). 2014. ebk. ISBN 9781426899263. $3.99. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
The Faradays have long been the people the U.S. government depends on to get nasty jobs done. Beth joined the family business at 16. Now in her twenties, she is a retired assassin living as an art curator. Raleigh Vick is the man sent to kill her. Neither is who or what they seem, but that hardly matters. They have met numerous times, in many guises. They have a connection; they understand each other. Or do they? Harris’s debut is cinematic and compelling, reading like a James Bond movie, complete with betrayals, double-crosses, torture, and madness, as well as a heavy dose of romantic and sexual tension. Flashbacks unveil background in a way that avoids info-dump exposition.
Verdict Beth and Vick are flawed, layered individuals about whom readers will care. The secondary characters are fairly well developed, too, and the action ranges all over the globe. Fans of romantic suspense and thrillers will love this tautly written page-turner that leaves the door wide open for future books in the series.—Charli Osborne, Oak Park P.L., MI

Jordan, Sophie. An Heiress for All Seasons: A Debutante Files Christmas Novella. Avon Impulse. 2014. 93p. ebk. ISBN 9780062363633. $1.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Violet Howard is an American heiress, shipped to England with her mother in search of a husband with a title. At least, that’s what her mother has planned. Violet has ideas of her own until the handsome and infuriating William, Earl of Merlton, enters the picture. A reluctant bride, Violet does all she can to discourage the earl and avoid marriage. But sexual tension and steamy scenes change everything. The only question is whether money or love will win the day.
Verdict The private scenes between the two protagonists are sexy and rapturous. Once readers start this novella, it is unlikely they will want to put it down. The imagery will likely tease readers long after the story ends. A very entertaining read that left this reviewer searching for the first book in the “Debutante Files” series and eagerly awaiting the next one.—Sonnet Ireland, Univ. of New Orleans Lib.

starred review starMoon, Jeannie. The Second Chance Hero. InterMix: Penguin. (Forever Love, Bk. 4). 2014. 229p. ebk. ISBN 9780698184886. $3.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCEsecondchancehero120414
On the same day military nurse Kim Torres lost her fiancé in Afghanistan, she also learned that he had been cheating on her. Now back on Long Island, NY, Kim has withdrawn from family and friends, unable to destroy everyone’s image of Tom as their decorated hero. In fact, she left nursing altogether and is now nannying for Reliance executive Harper Poole. When Kim’s car breaks down, Harper sends her friend and boss Owen Kent to give Kim a lift. Owen was Tom’s commanding officer and is also just back from his recent tour. He knew Kim from that day in the hospital when she collapsed from grief and he was the one to catch her. There is no question that Owen is hot, smart, and charming, but Kim doesn’t feel as if she can trust another man after Tom’s betrayal. Owen is not easy to stay away from, though, and just when their lust is about to cross into love territory, a secret from their time in country rears its ugly head and might shatter any chance these two might have.
Verdict Hitting on a timely topic, Moon’s (The Wedding Secret) latest title contains just the right amount of sugar and spice. The plot has plenty of grit, and the romance is sexy without being salacious. A bona fide winner with broad appeal.—Kara Kohn, Plainfield P.L, IL