E-Originals from Collins, Knox, Parker, and Star | Xpress Reviews

Week ending February 17, 2017

Collins, Margo Bond. Bloodborne. Boroughs. (Night Shift, Bk. 2). Feb. 2017. 126p. ebk. ISBN 9781944262587. $3.99. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
When Lili Banta was a girl, a mysterious pathogen afflicted the children of Houston, TX. Twenty years later, Lili, now an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control, is called home to help investigate a new outbreak. Also assisting are Detective Iverson of the Paranormal Victims Unit in Dallas and his colleague Scott Chandler, an agent on leave from the FBI’s vampire squad. As new cases surface around the city, Lili’s prophetic nightmares and Scott’s boots-on-the-ground probe point to the same troubling conclusion: this disease is paranormal in nature. An urban fantasy with police procedural overtones in which the romance feels more like a central plot point than the driving force.
Verdict Rapid pacing delivers a quick read but leaves little room for tension, suspense, or character development. Readers should begin with the first book in the series, Sanguinary.—Lindsay Morton, Pub. Lib. of Science

starred review starKnox, Ruthie. Madly. Loveswept: Random. (New York Trilogy, Bk. 2). Mar. 2017. 238p. ebk. ISBN 9780345545275. $2.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
In this follow-up to earlier Knox titles, readers go on a whirlwind tour of New York City as Allie, the seemingly irresponsible sister of her heroine from Truly, and Winston, the brother of the banker-turned-artist hero in About Last Night, meet cute in a Wisconsin-themed bar, when Allie inveigles Winston into helping her spy on her runaway mother. Allie pulls him into her scheme by claiming that she might be the most interesting person he’s ever met—and she’s right. A buttoned-up investment banker hiding a formerly free soul, Winston needs Allie to shake up his life, and Allie, a free-spirit concealing a successful and savvy businesswoman, needs Winston to see her as she really is.
Verdict A lovely story about unlikely lovers and family responsibilities and the secrets that families keep and those that nearly tear them apart. The secondary characters have their chance to shine and contribute to the happy ending. Highly recommended for all romance readers looking to be swept away.—Marlene Harris, Reading Reality, Atlanta

Parker, Lucy. Pretty Face. Carina: Harlequin. (London Celebrities, Bk. 2). Feb. 2017. 264p. ebk. ISBN 9781488020131. $3.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Twenty-six-year-old Lily Lamprey is a British soap opera actor with the voice of an asthmatic Marilyn Monroe impersonator. She is auditioning on short notice as a replacement in a West End production. Enter 40-year-old businessman Luc Savage, whose frequent migraines are brought on by theater renovation delays and media obsessions. While Lily’s Marilyn Monroe face and body are ideal for the theater, her voice is not. Luc introduces Lily to the wise, experienced vocal specialist Jocasta Moore, who remedies Lily’s challenges but also sees a romantic future for Luc and Lily. Family emergencies run interference during the play’s premier and reveal that Luc and Lily are not as self-centered as they initially appeared. Parker (Act Like It) lives in New Zealand.
Verdict The superficial preoccupation with media gossip is tempered when family becomes the focus. These plotlines give structure to the story and provide meaning to a novel that initially focuses on a whiny, rich suit and a budding actor building her stage success.—Joyce Sparrow, Kenneth City, FL

starred review starStar, Jessie L. The Do-Gooder. Pocket Star. Feb. 2017. 360p. ebk. ISBN 9781501161575. $1.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
dogooder021717Lara Montgomery is trying to atone for a mistake she made three years ago. In an attempt to erase what she sees as bad karma from high school, she is willing to do one good deed for anyone at her university who asks. Unfortunately, the institution is filled with classmates from her past, and her reputation precedes her. Fletcher Townsend was Lara’s mistake, having ditched his girlfriend at a party for a few minutes with Lara, and while they were hooking up, his best friend and Lara’s brother, Donny, lost his fight with cancer. Fletcher has spent the last three years watching Lara struggle with the fallout from Donny’s death. When Lara pushes herself a little too far after they rekindle their relationship, she finally confronts the feelings she’s repressed through deeds both good and bad. The Do-Gooder is filled with the humor and pop culture references that fans of Star have come to expect (So Much To Learn; Lighthouse Charlie). New readers will find a story filled with complex characters learning to fix what’s broken in order to fall in love.
Verdict Romance readers who prefer a dollop of snark will enjoy this story of one woman’s attempt at redemption.—John Rodzvilla, Emerson Coll., Boston