Fiction from Ashe, Kelly, Macomber, Ngwainmbi, plus a Starred Debut | Xpress Reviews

Week ending February 20, 2015

Ashe, Katharine. I Loved a Rogue. Avon. (Prince Catchers, Bk. 3). Mar. 2015. 365p. ISBN 9780062229854. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062229861. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
It has been 23 years since Eleanor Caulfield and her two sisters washed ashore off the English coast as the sole survivors of a shipwreck, and their adopted father, Martin Caulfield, the vicar of Petroc, is finally remarrying after a lengthy widowerhood. Her sisters are happily married, too, leaving Eleanor, the eldest, at sixes and sevens. It doesn’t help that also at the wedding is Taliesin Wolfe, the Rom boy whom her father had tutored and encouraged and who devastated the 16-year-old Eleanor when he left without a word. Getting the two to reconcile will take work, so Eleanor’s sister Arabella asks Tali to accompany Eleanor to the scene of the wreck in order to discover the truth behind a gypsy fortune: marry a prince and find your real parents.
Verdict The conclusion to Ashe’s trilogy (after I Married a Duke and I Adored a Lord) answers the many questions about the women’s and Taliesin’s origins. Ashe’s rich characterizations meet head on with West Indies revolutionary history, a mystery, and some nefarious goings-on. Unfortunately, the ramshackle courtroom denouement hits a tone incongruous to the story as a whole. Still, romance fans will want to see the final Caulfield sibling find her happiness.—Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal

starred review starHamilton, Glen Erik. Past Crimes: A Van Shaw Novel. Morrow. Mar. 2015. 336p. ISBN 9780062344557. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062344571. F
[DEBUT] Iraq War veteran Army Ranger Van Shaw, recuperating from wounds received while pastcrimes022015serving in Afghanistan, receives a letter from his grandfather Dono, with whom Van has not communicated for many years, asking Van to come home. He dutifully does so, but only moments after his grandfather has been shot—he finds Dono bleeding profusely on the kitchen floor, barely alive. Dono has lived a larcenous life of mostly genteel, nonconfrontational crime, but things have taken a suddenly dangerous, possibly fatal turn. Van gets the unconscious Dono to the hospital and sets out to discover who shot him and why. Armed with his military training (and some criminal skills taught him as a boy by Dono), Van follows a trail that leads deeper into his grandfather’s life—and closer to uncovering what drove Dono to reach out after years of silence.
Verdict In his outstanding debut, Hamilton has created a tough and intriguing character in Van Shaw, one that will appeal to fans of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series.—Vicki Gregory, Sch. of Information, Univ. of South Florida, Tampa

Kelly, Mary Louise. The Bullet. Gallery. Mar. 2015. 368p. ISBN 9781476769813. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781476769844. F
Caroline Cashion, a successful professor at Georgetown University, has a great life and family until a visit to the doctor to address her wrist problem reveals that her nerve pain is the result of a dormant bullet in her skull. In rapid succession, Caroline learns that she was adopted at the age of three, after her parents were murdered, and a bullet from that event has been lodged in her head for more than 30 years. Within the week, Caroline travels to Atlanta to learn about her parents, finds herself in need of urgent surgery to remove the bullet, and begins to fall for her handsome primary care physician.
Verdict As the title suggests, former NPR correspondent Kelly’s (Anonymous Sources) latest thriller is a fast-moving narrative. Though not especially well written (Caroline engages in sporadic, colloquial first-person statements to the reader), the plot is engaging and the characters interesting. Fans of the author, Pamela Thomas-Graham, and Tess Gerritsen will spend a couple of enjoyable hours reading this.—Nicole A. Cooke, GSLIS, Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Macomber, Debbie. Last One Home. Ballantine. Mar. 2015. 320p. ISBN 9780553391886. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780553391893. F
In the 12 years since she left her childhood home in Spokane at age 18, Cassie has lost touch with her sisters Karen (older) and Nichole (younger) and her now-deceased parents—she didn’t leave on the best of terms. She paid dearly for this youthful mistake, because the man she ran away with gave her a life that was more of a nightmare than a fairy tale. Eventually, she became strong enough to escape her abusive marriage and move with her young daughter to Seattle, but her sisters did not welcome her with open arms. After a few years back in her home state, Cassie turned her life around; she even met a man who might be the antidote to her disastrous first romantic endeavor. The only thing missing in her life is her sisters, but will they ever be able to forgive her for leaving them and their parents behind?
Verdict Fans of best-selling author Macomber (“Cedar Cove” series) will not be disappointed by this compelling stand-alone novel. Also for readers who enjoy women’s fiction centering on the sisterly bond and/or the psychology surrounding the victims of domestic violence. [See Prepub Alert, 10/5/14.]—Karen Core, Detroit P.L.

Ngwainmbi, Emmanuel K. Leap in the Dark: A Trans-Continental Romance. Köehler. Mar. 2015. c.260p. ISBN 9781940192697. pap. $17.95; ebk. ISBN 9781633930407. MULTICULTURAL ROMANCE
Tito has studied hard and is thrilled to get a chance to get his master’s degree at an American university. But Jackson, MS, in the late Sixties is a far cry from what he’s used to in his African home country of Bishuana. He comes to the states thinking he will be lauded for his educational accomplishments, but instead he faces the racism of the Jim Crow South. While he struggles to make sense of his new, challenging circumstances, Tito strikes up a friendship (that becomes more) with Margie, a white woman who not only is older than Tito but is his professor. Their relationship is taboo on many levels, and while they grow closer, the danger of being caught is ever present. Violence against them is an all too real threat, but equally real is the conflict Tito feels, torn between his new life, including his relationship with Margie, and his desire to return home to help to improve things there.
Verdict Though Ngwainmbi’s (Bo Aku, King of the Forest and Other Stories) novel is touted as a romance, it could more aptly be described as fiction with a romantic plot thread, as Tito’s journey and his emotional progression are more central to the story.—Jane Jorgenson, Madison P.L., WI