E-Originals from Alexander & Co., Benefiel, Layne, and Debuter Johanna | Xpress Reviews

Week ending November 18, 2016

starred review starAlexander, Kianna & others. Daughters of a Nation: A Black Suffragette Historical Romance Anthology. Maroon Ash. Nov. 2016. 393p. ebk. ISBN 9781941885338. $4.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
daughtersnation111816Four romance authors have taken a different point of view in these stories, set between 1866 and 1917. Each tale features strong female heroines, with romance lending flavor to the captivating historical basics. In Lena Hart’s “In the Morning Sun,” Madeline Asher is trying to educate the black people of Nebraska to enable them to vote when her former love, whom she thought was lost in the Civil War, reappears. In Piper Huguley’s “The Washerwomen’s War,” college educated Mamie Harper is working with washerwomen in Atlanta when her eye is caught by a preacher man. Sarah Webster, a pastry chef in Wyoming and a suffragette, comes home to Fayetteville, NC, for a party and falls for the local carpenter in Alexander’s “A Radiant Soul.” Bertha Hines, the protagonist of Alyssa Cole’s “Let Us Dream,” owns a cabaret in New York’s Harlem and is intent on winning the vote for women when her chef has her thinking about other things.
Verdict All four stories are exceptional in describing the time period. The plots are compelling, as are the romances. For all romance and historical fiction collections.—Susan Hayes, Chattahoochee Valley Libs., Columbus, GA

Benefiel, Diane. Solitary Man. Boroughs. Nov. 2016. 198p. ebk. ISBN 9781944262396. $3.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
When Brenna McMurtrey’s husband was killed while serving overseas, she didn’t think she would ever get over losing him. Nearly a year and a half later, she’s just beginning to move past her grief, but a series of suspicious events that look like attempts on her life force her to accept the help of her rude and silent neighbor Ryder Bronson. Ryder wants to stay as far away from Brenna as he can. While they were overseas together, he promised her husband that he’d look out for her, but he’s determined to keep his distance as his desire for her wars with the regret over his role in her husband’s death. As the threats against Brenna continue, Ryder has no choice but to protect her as much as she’ll allow and try to deny his feelings. Danger and mutual attraction drives them closer together, but they’ll both need to come to terms with their guilt before it’s too late—both for their love and her life.
Verdict Realistic characters, mystery, and danger are a great combination in this mostly tame book by Benefiel (Shot Through the Heart); fans of contemporary romance will enjoy.—J. Harris, New Hampshire

Johanna, Cecilia. Underground. Crimson Romance. Nov. 2016. 172p. ebk. ISBN 9781507201848. $4.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
[DEBUT]Dr. Andrew Alexander is a first-year resident in Chrystal Valley. A young woman comes into the hospital with a deep gash and signs of old and still-healing injuries. Robyn Monroe is not being abused as Andrew first believes, but, rather, she is Valkyrie, one of the town’s underground street fighters. Andrew, captivated by Robyn, is determined to help her get out of that life and bring down the organization behind it. The men in charge, though, have no desire to watch their empire—or their Valkyrie—fall, and they will do whatever it takes to keep the fights going.
Verdict Readers looking for an edge to a star-crossed-lovers story will enjoy this debut as the violence of the corrupt street fighting world is front and center. Those unable to suspend disbelief about illogical plot and character decisions, or those looking for more steam, will be less satisfied.—Kellie Tilton, Univ. of Cincinnati Blue Ash

starred review starLayne, Lauren. Someone Like You. Loveswept: Random. (Oxford, Bk. 3) Dec. 2016. 228p. ebk. ISBN 9781101884867. $3.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Daisy Sinclair is the divorcee maid of honor at her sister’s wedding, and playboy Lincoln Mathis is the best man. When the two meet, they recognize a fellow soul holding secrets. Both are used to acting a part, but with each other, there’s nowhere to hide. When they ditch the wedding and a drunken night ensues, readers may expect a hookup or a night of regrets. Instead, a real friendship blossoms. As time passes, their relationship grows, with the sexual tension between them escalating as well. Still, their pasts have a hold on them, and they are unable to move forward until they can heal themselves and each other.
Verdict Fans of Layne’s series (Irresistibly Yours; I Wish You Were Mine) who have been anxious for Lincoln’s story won’t be disappointed, while newcomers will be motivated to dive into the author’s backlist and read the stories of this group of friends. Lincoln and Daisy’s tale is expertly crafted, full of wit and heart. Layne is equally adept at writing heartbreaking portrayals of grief and scenes of steamy passion that will get hearts racing. Exemplary contemporary romance.—Jenna Friebel, Oak Park P.L., IL