E-Originals from Arthur, Zabo, Greyson, Wainscott, & Zanetti | Xpress Reviews

Week ending July 10, 2015

Arthur, A.M. Finding Their Way. Carina: Harlequin. (Restoration, Bk. 2). Jul. 2015. 231p. ebk. ISBN 9781426899904. $4.99. MALE/MALE, CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
findingtheirway071015After growing up with an abusive, alcoholic father, Riley McCage finally has some stability: a good job as a bartender, nice roommates, and a gorgeous boyfriend, Brett. Unfortunately, Brett is not so pretty on the inside—he drugs Riley at a sex party. Another partygoer, Boxer, notices that Riley is incapacitated and intervenes, taking him home to sleep off the drugs and booze. Suspicious of such compassion, Riley tries to determine Boxer’s ulterior motive. Despite this initial mistrust, the two quickly become friends, even rescuing a stray dog together, and Riley begins to see that Boxer is genuinely kind. Boxer’s honesty has Riley’s admiration turning into something more, and with Boxer’s encouragement, Riley might just be able to embrace his true sexual self. But Riley has been keeping secrets—in fact, he isn’t Riley at all. Can he trust Boxer enough to let him in on who he really is?
Verdict Riley works to overcome his emotional and physical abuse as a child to emerge as an assertive, confident adult, while Boxer is almost too good to be true. But even Boxer has a lot of baggage, making these characters flawed yet sympathetic and realistically complex. Although Arthur (Getting It Right) doesn’t shy away from such tough issues as abuse and addiction, the plot is quickly paced and has plenty of dramatic content to keep readers engaged. Fans of the series will find another winner; newcomers can dive right in without feeling lost.—Eve Stano, Lincoln Lib., Springfield, IL

Zabo, Anna. Just Business. InterMix: Penguin. (Takeover, Bk. 2). 2015. 253p. ebk. ISBN 9780698182141. $4.99. MALE/MALE, CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Eli Ovadia rarely breaks his icy, severe image as the CFO for Anderson Consulting, but he can’t seem to keep his cool around Justin White, the coffee shop server–turned–office assistant. Justin needs to keep his new job if he’s going to break into the business world and make use of the MBA he’s finishing up, but Eli’s overwhelming presence is all that Justin can focus on now. The two quickly come to realize they are a great match, if only their past demons will just let them be. Justin is terrified of losing control of his life and his future to another dominant relationship, while Eli is too willing to believe himself the deviant his conservative parents claimed. The two are determined to be civil at work even if they are falling apart on the inside…after all, it’s just business.
Verdict Zabo (Takeover) piles on the tension and sexual energy between the two protagonists early on, and it only gets more intense as the plot develops. Both Eli and Justin are immensely sympathetic characters, wounded by the people who are supposed to love them. Readers will be well rewarded by an investment in this series.—Eve Stano, Lincoln Lib., Springfield, IL

Greyson, Maeve. My Highland Bride. Loveswept: Random. (Highland Hearts, Bk. 2). Aug. 2015. 251p. ebk. ISBN 9780553395082. $2.99. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
Kenna Sinclair’s female family members are time runners, able to travel back and forth in time whenever they wish. Twenty-year-old Kenna gets a message from her older sister and Granny that it’s her turn to leave 21st-century Kentucky for the 13th-century Scottish Highlands. There, she meets Colum Garrison, a bit of a hedonist, whom she immediately pegs as the clan gigolo and “Mr. Muscle.” He instantly falls in love; she’s not far behind. His pride won’t allow him to marry her until he has something to offer in terms of property and wealth. She thinks he’s being ridiculous. Their often hilarious fights are interrupted when Kenna is kidnapped and she must make a terrible choice to save Colum’s life. It looks as though they’ll never see a happy-ever-after.
Verdict Readers of Greyson’s latest series title (after My Highland Lover) will get a kick out of the repartee between Kenna and Colum—two equally stubborn characters—and root for them to make their romance work. The incongruity of Kenna’s modern-day language and behavior leads to plenty of laughs, while the serious content has emotional heft.—B. Allison Gray, Goleta Lib., CA

starred review starWainscott, Tina. Falling Fast. Loveswept: Random. (Falling Fast, Bk. 1). 2015. c.207p. ebk. ISBN 9781101885789. $2.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
fallingfast071015Wainscott’s newest series focuses on couples struggling to find love after shaky pasts. Mia Wentworth, a childhood cancer survivor, has just experienced the one summer when she truly felt alive. The summer of first love and passion when she turned 17 ended in a near-tragic car accident. Mia thus went from cancer survivor to burn victim. Her visible scars are just a surface reflection of her inside struggles despite her passion for her new job as a burn victim nurse. Raleigh West was that boy—the one from the wrong side of the tracks. He loves cars and making them go fast, but after the accident that resulted in Mia’s injuries, his conviction, and the end of their love, he has given up driving. Of course, with his past and job as a “grease monkey” he never really gets the chance his kind and loving heart deserves. When Mia’s grandmother dies, leaving her Florida home to Raleigh and Mia, the two must come together to settle the estate and get the home ready for sale. The will implies that this is for closure, but grandma’s letters indicate a different reason. Can Raleigh and Mia recover the love that made them both truly live?
Wainscott (Wild Ways) comes back to her roots, after her foray into military suspense and the paranormal as Jaime Rush. Her early fans will be happy here with the suspense and mystery that play into secondary plots, but romance is the primary vein in this novel. This first title in a promising new series will have readers anxiously awaiting the next entries.—Heather Lisa Maneiro, SILS, Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Zanetti, Rebecca. Wicked Ride. Lyrical: Kensington. (Realm Enforcers, Bk. 1). 2015. 279p. ebk. ISBN 9781601834133. $5.99. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
Alexandra “Lex” Monzelle is an undercover detective trying to crack down on illegal drugs in Seattle. During a dicey encounter with a user of a new drug, she is rescued by Kellach “Kell” Dunne. Kell is a witch enforcer with a mission to discover the source of this new drug, Apollo, which can bestow on humans supernatural powers but can kill witches. As part of his cover, Kell is a member of a local biker gang called Titans of Fire, which is appropriate because one of his powers is the ability to project fire. The instant attraction between Kell and Lex seems innocuous until they eventually have sex, and, presto, Lex is supernaturally mated with Kell owing to her latent powers as an empath. This means Lex will also become immortal—bonus! Sparks fly, however, when Lex refuses to submit to Kell’s authority. Will Lex be able to accept being mated for life with a witch and still accomplish her mission as a police officer?
Verdict Zanetti’s (Blind Faith) fast-paced romance builds a very compelling plotline involving witches, demons, shape-shifters, and vampires. Complex characters and shifting alliances keep readers guessing, while well-described sex spices up the action. Highly recommended.—Henry Bankhead, Los Gatos Lib., CA