E-Original Romance from Burke, Fleet, Highland, and Sax, Plus a Debut Mystery | Xpress Reviews

Week ending March 13, 2015

starred review starBurke, Darcy. Yours To Hold. Avon Impulse. (Ribbon Ridge, Bk. 2). Mar. 2015. 265p. ebk. ISBN 9780062389329. $2.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
yourstohold031315Someone supplied Kyle Archer’s brother with the prescription drugs he used to commit suicide, and Kyle is driven to find out who it is. He starts with the most likely candidate, Alex’s therapist Maggie Trent, and though she wasn’t the one to hand Alex the lethal dose, she agrees to help Kyle. Maggie’s life was shattered after Alex’s suicide. In fact, she questions whether she should be providing counseling at all. Kyle is convinced that when he finds the responsible party, his father will give him the respect and trust he lost when his father had to bail him out of his gambling debts. Kyle is the kind of guy whom any woman could easily go for, and even though she realizes it isn’t entirely ethical, Maggie can’t help but fall victim to his advances. Together they make a dynamic duo, especially in the bedroom, but Maggie knows this can never be long-term, especially since she feels a sense of responsibility for Alex’s death, and Kyle understands that his family would never approve.
Verdict Burke’s (Where the Heart Is; Only in My Dreams) multilayered plot keeps readers invested in the story line, and the explicit sensuality adds to the excitement that will have readers craving the next “Ribbon Ridge” offering.—Kara Kohn, Plainfield P.L, IL

Fleet, Suki. Innocence. Dreamspinner. Mar. 2015. 210p. ebk. ISBN 9781632165619. $6.99; pap. ISBN 9781632165602. $14.99. CONTEMPORARY/NEW ADULT/M/M ROMANCE
Christopher is 18 and wants a life away from the rivers and boats and odd jobs that have made up his life for the past ten years. After his mother’s long ago disappearance, his family has consisted of his father and his brother, Jay. Landing in the town of Arlow, restless and searching for something he doesn’t even understand, Christopher meets Malachi, who seems to have information about Christopher’s mother. Malachi has given up on life and love, fixing cars and using alcohol to forget what is missing. Christopher knows that Malachi is special, but Malachi is worried because the boys are distant memories of each other’s past, and if their love unfolds, it could destroy everything Christopher believes of his world.
Verdict This story from Fleet (This Is Not a Love Story; Wild Summer) focuses more on Chris’s coming of age and self-understanding than sexual encounters; readers looking for an emotional journey in an alternative tale will find it here.—Kristi Chadwick, Massachusetts Lib. Syst., South Deerfield

Highland, Angela. Victory of the Hawk. Carina: Harlequin. (Rebels of Adalonia, Bk. 3). Apr. 2015. 170p. ebk. ISBN 9781426899690. $2.99. FANTASY
Adalonia is at war. Towns are burning to the ground, and people are being murdered by the Anreulag (who really does not care for that name). The reason for Her vengeance is unknown, except by a few people who are to blame for Her wrath. She is looked on as the Voice of the Gods and is worshipped by many. However, no one is safe from the Anreulag, and enemies must join forces to have a chance at defeating Her. Readers are once again immersed in the lives of Faanshi, Kestar, and Julian (Valor of the Healer; Vengeance of the Hunter). All three struggle to find their role in this mission as well as a place to belong. With the help of so many dynamic characters, they may just find their callings.
Verdict Somehow, Highland is able to introduce numerous characters and story lines and connect them seamlessly. Readers will be pleased at how the author ties up these plots and ends the trilogy. While romance readers may be disappointed at the lack of development concerning Faanshi and Julian’s relationship, this is definitely a great series for all those fantasy readers out there.—Jessica M. Strefling, Pepperdine Law Lib., Malibu, CA

O’Connell, Caitlin. Ivory Ghosts: A Catherine Sohon Elephant Mystery. Alibi: Penguin. Apr. 2015. 280p. ebk. ISBN 9781101883471. $2.99. MYS
[DEBUT] Eleven months after the death of her fiancé, wildlife biologist Catherine Sohon takes an undercover job as a census pilot tracking Namibia’s elephant population. Before reaching the remote location where she is to collect information about the illegal ivory trade, Catherine stumbles upon a horrific quadruple murder scene, perhaps the work of a local smuggler. As she begins to investigate, she soon discovers that there is much more going on in this small African town. Additionally, Catherine might be developing feelings for someone she can’t trust. In fact, is there anyone on her “team” whom she can trust? As the elephant death rate rises, Catherine must help bring the criminals to justice.
Verdict Making her fiction debut, elephant expert O’Connell (An Elephant’s Life; The Elephant’s Secret Sense) has written a fresh mystery thriller about the illegal ivory trade that will interest readers looking for an African safari adventure and appeal to fans of Michael Stanley’s African mysteries. The complex social, political, and natural environment O’Connell creates makes for a mostly entertaining read, although some may find the informational background on the politics of the ivory trade a bit slow going.—Michelle Gilbert, Fremont P.L., Mundelein, IL

Sax, Cynthia. Sinful Rewards 9: A Billionaires and Bikers Novella. Avon Red Impulse. Mar. 2015. 100p. ebk. ISBN 9780062354266. 99¢ CONTEMPORARY EROTIC ROMANCE
Two of the more popular tropes in contemporary erotic romance are motorcycle gangs and billionaire rescues. Sax manages to combine both elements in her “Sinful Rewards” series. By the ninth novella, Belinda “Bee” Carter has won the admiration of her billionaire business partner and the love of her motorcycle man—who doubles as a bodyguard and owns a security company. But Bee feels as if she doesn’t deserve her good fortune and keeps trying to screw herself up. She has financial worries that she hasn’t shared and is on the run from reporters and photographers. Think of this as “The Perils of Pauline” but with sexual escapades.
Verdict As this is the ninth book in an ongoing serial, readers starting with this installment will feel dropped on their heads without enough background. While this novella is not complete in itself, readers who enjoy the “rescued by a billionaire” or “alpha biker dude” themes will want to start with the first entry, Sinful Rewards 1. Bee’s life is crazy but never dull.—Marlene Harris, Reading Reality, Duluth, GA