E-Originals from Charles, Dane, and Moran | Xpress Reviews

Week ending January 27, 2017

Charles, Natalie. Seeking Mr. Wrong. Pocket Star. Feb. 2017. 361p. ebk. ISBN 9781501164545. $5.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Lettie Osbourne has had an awful summer. Teaching kindergarten should be a breeze after being dumped two days before her wedding by her now gay fiancé. Before she can focus on school, though, she has to meet with her editor about her next book, but the publishing house has been sold, and the new owners aren’t interested in her children’s story. The company is only going to publish erotica and wants Lettie to fulfill her contract with such a novel. With her limited sexual history, can she pull this off? She needs a Mr. Wrong to show her about erotica and wake up those feelings but with no strings attached. Eric Clayman is starting in a new position, moving from middle school history to the elementary school as assistant principal. Not realizing what a hornet’s nest he’s been dropped into, he’s intrigued by the pretty kindergarten teacher and wants to get to know her better. Will Eric be the Mr. Wrong to teach Lettie what she needs to know?
Verdict Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Charles (The Coffee Girl) offers up a delightful and entertaining romance with some spice on the side.—Lisa Jordan, Johnson Cty. Lib., Overland Park, KS

starred review starDane, Laura. Diablo Lake: Protected. Carina: Harlequin. (Diablo Lake, Bk. 2). Jan. 2017. 352p. ebk. ISBN 9781459290471. $4.99. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
diablolake012717This second installment in the “Diablo Lake” series (after Diablo Lake: Moonstruck) features the empathic witch Aimee Benton and her romance with Macrae (Mac) Pembry, the up-and-coming leader of the Pembry wolf-shifter clan. The problem is that the Tennessee community of Diablo Lake, where wolf- and cat-shifters live in harmony with witches, has been disrupted by infighting. The Pembry wolves, lacking discipline, have been causing trouble with the Dooley wolf-shifters, making the town unsafe and unpleasant for everyone. As Aimee falls for Mac, she is drawn into the incipient conflict. When she challenges Mac’s father, Dwayne, for the position of mayor, the tension escalates. Will Mac and Aimee’s bond be able to withstand dirty politics and slander?
Verdict In this uniquely positive paradigm of paranormal beings working together, the sympathetic interplay of powers between wolf and witch is exciting and adds to the well-described sexual magic. The romance is inspiring in its explicitly forthright depiction of erotic domestic bliss built on contrasting strengths; highly recommended.—Henry Bankhead, San Rafael P.L., CA

starred review starMoran, Kelly. Counterbalance. Kelly Moran. Mar. 2017. 156p. ebk. ISBN 9781370806980. $3.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Twenty-nine-year-old Xavier Gaines earns a fast track to success when he sells a software application he created in his college dorm room. He now leads Gaines Industries, a Fortune 500 company based in San Francisco. In spite of his wealth, Xavier has an arctic reputation with staff and the business world. He hires Peyton Smoke, a former high school study buddy, as his internal PR specialist. Peyton immediately begins to shake hands, learn names, and recognize faces. She helps Xavier connect with his employees and create a return on social investment by organizing fundraising events to support returning soldiers. As Xavier and Peyton work their way to the bedroom, subplots abound concerning a jealous secretary and well-meaning parents who have their own ideas about Xavier and Peyton as a couple.
Verdict This stand-alone novel from Moran (Exposure; “Phantom Trilogy”) is a well-written story about two high school friends who succeed personally and professionally. The author keeps readers turning the pages through strong characters, an intriguing plot and subplots, and solid writing. An entertaining playbook on how to win at love and work.—Joyce Sparrow, Kenneth City, FL