E-Originals from Blake, Sinead, and Trentham, with two Debuts | Xpress Reviews

Week ending August 7, 2015

Blake, Liora. True Devotion. Pocket Star. (True, Bk. 2). 2015. 254p. ebk. ISBN 9781476786315. $5.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Simon has been pursuing Devon since the moment they met. While Simon is the definition of sexy and smart, Devon has done her best to keep away owing to his flirt-with-everyone personality and his work with her brother. Things come to a head at a wedding, though, and Devon slowly begins to open herself to the sweet, intense man.
Verdict Blake expands her “True” series (after True North) and continues to write sharp, deep characters that are refreshing and personable. Devon and Simon’s story is romance at its core, with an enticing edge of two strong-willed people who overcome personal histories and fears to make it all work. A great entry to the series, which grows better with this addition.—Kellie Tilton, Univ. of Cincinnati Blue Ash

Cole, Scarlett. The Strongest Steel: A Second Circle Tattoos Novel. St. Martin’s. 2015. 297p. ebk. ISBN 9781466886674. $3.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
[DEBUT] Harper Connelly has been living off the grid ever since her ex brutally beat her and scarred her for life. Though her ex is in prison, Harper still feels vulnerable and has moved across the country, changed her career, and pretty much keeps to herself. Harper’s scars are a constant reminder of the act of violence she survived, and she has been considering having them covered by a tattoo after reading an article about a tattoo artist who specializes in camouflaging scars. Trent Andrews is living the dream. After years of apprenticing in his mentor’s studio, he and best friend Cujo have opened their own shop, Second Circle Tattoos. Trent’s work is well known, and the shop is always busy. Late one night, Harper gathers her courage and seeks out Trent as he is closing the studio. Trent is struck by the depth of Harper’s resolve just in approaching him. He knows he must move slowly and carefully lest she disappear, and for some reason Trent knows that more than anything he wants Harper to stick around.
Verdict Cole has a winner in this debut novel and series opener. Harper and Trent are engaging characters, as are their group of friends. Steamy romance, body art, and a little intrigue will keep readers up well past their bedtime.—Lisa M. Jordan, Johnson Cty. Lib., Overland Park, KS

Henry, Sophia. Delayed Penalty. Loveswept: Random. (Pilots Hockey, Bk. 1). Sept. 2015. 266p. ebk. ISBN 9781101887196. $2.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
[DEBUT] Recently cut from her college soccer team, Auden Berezin is feeling discouraged. She has lost her sports scholarship and some of her pride. When she returns home to Detroit over winter break, she is relieved to be given a job as a translator, until she meets the man she will be assisting. Aleksandr Varenkov, a Russian-born minor league hockey player for the Detroit Pilots, is cocky and rude. He also speaks perfect English but chooses to feign ignorance in order to avoid talking directly with the media. Although the relationship between these two tough-minded individuals begins with friction, tensions ease as they discover their past experiences lead to common ground.
Verdict Steeped in modern Russian traditions, Henry’s debut novel evokes the image of a culture characterized by a stoic exterior, only to reveal deep love as the characters dissolve their emotional walls from the inside out. Twentysomethings looking for heartfelt romance will feel the warmth emanating from this page-turner.—Vicky Coffin, Eastern Connecticut State Univ. Lib., Willimantic

Sinead, Caitlin. Red Blooded. Carina: Harlequin. Aug. 2015. 222p. ebk. ISBN 9781459290044. $3.99. NEW ADULT, CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Peyton Arthur is used to media attention. With a father who was a best-selling author before he died and a mother in politics, Peyton is viewed as America’s sweetheart. When her mother becomes the Democratic vice presidential candidate, Peyton is ready to take on the media once again. However, the questions begin to center on whether her beloved father truly was her father, leaving Peyton unprepared and the campaign in jeopardy. To protect and control Peyton, Dylan, the campaign intern, is assigned to stay by her side for the duration. To explain his presence, a fake relationship is conjured. Is it really fake, though? Will their feelings for each other or Peyton’s need to find the truth about her father ruin her mother’s political goals?
Verdict With election time fast approaching, Sinead’s (Heartsick) novel comes just at the right moment. The author’s portrayal of a young girl’s struggle between personal need and social duty will have readers dying to know if her father was her father, if her mother will win the election, and if Dylan and Peyton are meant to be.—Jessica M. Strefling, U.S. Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit, Washington, DC

Trentham, Laura. An Indecent Invitation. Samhain. (Spies & Lovers, Bk. 1). Aug. 2015. 238p. ebk. ISBN 9781619225381. $4.50. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
an-indecent-invitation080715A spy for the Crown, Gray Masterson should be searching for his childhood friend’s missing father, not looking after a young lady during her first season. It’s been eight years since Gray has seen Lily Drummond, and he’s in for a surprise now that his friend’s awkward, annoying kid sister has become a beautiful woman who threatens to ensnare his heart just as her spirit shatters his expectations. Lily has loved Gray since they were children, but if he thinks he can command her to sit idly by while he mounts a search for her father, he will soon be disappointed. As Gray and Lily grow closer, secrets are revealed, dangerous encounters are faced, and it becomes clear that someone is playing games with them. Fear for those you love can be a powerful inspirational force or a source of thoughtless peril—which will it be for Gray and Lily?
Verdict Danger, intrigue, and passionate love—what more could a Regency romance lover want? The first in Trentham’s (Slow and Steady Rush) “Spies and Lovers” series is a well-written, engaging, and very steamy delight.—J. Harris, New Hampshire