E-Originals from Aicher and Etchison, with Debuter Lowell | Xpress Reviews

Week ending June 10, 2016

Aicher, Lynda. The Harder He Falls. Loveswept: Random. (Kick, Bk. 1). Jun. 2016. 232p. ebk. ISBN 9780425285121. $3.99. LGBT, EROTICA, BDSM
Grady Kelley worked as a whitewater adventure guide for his cousin’s company, Kick, until an accident on a trip killed one of the partners and put his cousin in a coma. While visiting his cousin in the hospital, he meets Micah Swaine, a volunteer who reads to coma patients because of his own experience with the condition. Micah has a unique disability as a reminder, and his job is his safe place, appropriate since he works at a leather bar/BDSM club. Micah invites Grady to visit him at work to answer any questions he has about what may be happening to his cousin. As each man learns the issues that are holding them back from fully pursuing life, they strengthen each other and find the courage to move forward together. Aicher’s series opener exhibits a persistent paradox appearing in more contemporary romances by which the main characters jump into unprotected sex in the heat of the moment of a first encounter, but mere chapters later they wear condoms and discuss sexual history. While Micah’s disability and handling of it are unique, the lack of personal sexual safety for two characters who are otherwise obsessed with safety is jarring.
Verdict Aicher is the author of the “Wicked Play” contemporary erotica series and the “Power Play” hockey romance trilogy, so her new series will be in demand for libraries where these books are popular. But for other libraries, this may be a pass.—Melanie C. Duncan, Shurling Lib., Macon, GA

Etchison, Cheryl. Once and for All: An American Valor Novel. Avon Impulse. May 2016. 384p. ebk. ISBN 9780062471055. $1.99. MILITARY ROMANCE
[DEBUT] In this first title in Etchison’s series, Danny MacGregor is a U.S. Army Ranger home in Myrtle Beach, SC, for required leave. Bree Dunbar is a recovering cancer patient who had been Danny’s girlfriend in college before he ran away and enlisted. After ten years, they unexpectedly meet at a grocery store. Neither has gotten over the other. Danny convinces Bree that the best thing for both of them is a marriage of convenience—allowing Bree to make a second start while the army picks up her medical expenses. The plan is for Bree to get a divorce once she is back on her feet, but as one of the characters says, “Not all things in life go according to plan.”
Verdict Solid characterization and plot development make this debut a fun, sexy read.—Susan Hayes, Chattahoochee Valley Libs., Columbus, GA

starred review starLowell, Joanna. Dark Season. Crimson Romance. Jun. 2016. 189p. ebk. ISBN 9781440599392. $4.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
darkseason061016[DEBUT] Ella Arlington flees her home when her cousin inherits and plans to commit her to an asylum because she has epilepsy. Now destitute and on the run in London, Ella attends a séance hoping to speak with her beloved father but instead has a seizure. Confusing Ella’s episode with possession by her dead daughter, Phillipa, the wealthy Mrs. Trombly takes Ella into her home to act as her private medium. During a visit to Mrs. Trombly, her daughter’s former fiancé, Viscount Isidore Blackwood, meets Ella and is furious that she has duped Phillipa’s grieving mother into hiring her services, vowing to reveal Ella as a fraud. However, Isidore’s friends are hiding terrible truths, and he will need Ella’s help to uncover what really happened the night Phillipa died. The mystery surrounding Phillipa’s death may be too predictable for some, but readers will still be enthralled, wondering if Ella’s epilepsy will be discovered and what her fate holds.
Verdict Debut author Lowell has crafted a lavish Victorian gothic romance with a rare disabled female protagonist who refuses to be a tragic victim of her time. Highly recommended for the frank portrayal of living with the stigma of a neurological disorder without sacrificing romantic tension.—Eve Stano, Lincoln Lib., Springfield, IL