E-Originals from Mac Nicol and Rider, plus Debuters Crichton and Dranoff | Xpress Reviews

Week ending February 3, 2017

starred review starCrichton, L.D. The Enchantment of Emma Fletcher. Pocket Star. Mar. 2017. 218p. ebk. ISBN 9781501152313. $1.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
enchantment020317[DEBUT] Emma Fletcher needs to escape her problems, but running back to Stonefall, a town filled with its own demons, is not ideal. Hopefully, her mom’s drinking hasn’t gotten worse and Emma can learn to relax just a bit. Yet when her car breaks down and Tristan Banks saves the day, keeping a low profile doesn’t seem likely. Tristan hasn’t seen Emma for a few years, ever since she stopped spending summers with her mother. She has changed, is even more beautiful, but has a sad look to her. Maybe Tristan will be able to save this girl, allowing him to make up for the one he failed. Crichton’s debut novel introduces readers to a young woman who has known tragedy but, with the support of her friends, can possibly learn to overcome her fears and reclaim her life. She just has to learn to trust again and try. The character development will draw readers into the story and have them rushing to find out what happens.
Verdict Romance readers who prefer a love story with a thriller twist will enjoy this page-turner. It’s perfect for those jumping from YA contemporary romance to more adult fiction.—Jessica M. Strefling, U.S. Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit, Washington, DC

Dranoff, Beth. Mark of the Moon. Carina: Harlequin. (Mark of the Moon, Bk. 1). Feb. 2017. 254p. ebk. ISBN 9781488020162. $3.99. URBAN FANTASY, PARANORMAL ROMANCE
[DEBUT] Dana Markovitz has been living on the edge of the supernatural community for a while, but one night with her seductive vampire lover, Jon, and a scratch from his jealous were-cat ex-lover changes everything: Did she catch the cat-shifting virus that she supposedly was immunized against? Now the demon underworld wants her dead and no one knows why. With the help of Jon, her new cat-shifting lover Sam (yeah, she can’t decide whom she wants to sleep with), and the local shifter pack, who want her to join them, she has to unravel the secret in her past and her blood. She doesn’t know whom to trust, but her claws are out for this fight…literally.
Verdict Dranoff does a good job of building a world in which supernaturals exist, but not everyone knows it, or they choose not to believe. This first book in the “Mark of the Moon” series is a good start to what could be a great paranormal romance/urban fantasy.—Colleen Sargent, Lincoln Lib., Springfield, IL

starred review starMac Nicol, Susan with Nicholas Downs. Sight Unseen. Boroughs. Jan. 2017. 137p. ebk. ISBN 9781944262556. $4.99. MALE/MALE CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Nate and Cody had been close friends since childhood, but following a summer fling at 17, Nate abruptly ended their relationship before each of them left for separate colleges. Now, years later, Nate is a successful sculptor, while Cody owns a profitable art gallery. The two rekindle their friendship even though Cody has never understood why Nate called off their youthful romance. When Nate has a terrible accident and loses his sight, Cody vows to help him adjust to living blind and will do anything to get Nate’s passion for sculpting and life back on track. The sexual longing both have kept pent up since that long-ago summer bubbles to the surface, complicating their friendship and Nate’s current relationship.
Verdict Mac Nicol (Hard Climate) sensitively portrays the fears, frustrations, and initial limitations of someone who has newly lost his sight while successfully balancing these challenges with romantic tension. The men’s craving for each other realistically builds, culminating in a well-deserved happy-ever-after. Sight Unseen would be an excellent addition to any library looking to diversify its romance collection.—Eve Stano, Lincoln Lib., Springfield, IL

Rider, Sara. Going for the Goal. Pocket Star. (Perfect Play, Bk. 3). Feb. 2017. 243p. ebk. ISBN 9781501132926. $4.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Professional sports agent Jillian Nichols has certain principles with regard to which clients she takes on, for instance, she would never work with someone she’d picture naked. NHL star and notorious bad boy Nick “the Punisher” Salinger breaks all her rules, but when he asks her to make him her client, she eventually accepts the challenge. The two had met briefly ten years ago, and her attraction to him never wavered. But Jillian is professional and can’t risk having her personal life interfere with her budding career. Nick’s goal is to keep his job and lead his team to the Stanley Cup. As the two start working together, though, their growing feelings start getting in the way of their goals, and they have to decide what their priorities are. Rider (Keeping Score) doesn’t shy away from the mistreatment of professional women within the sports field, which is a bonus.
Verdict This plot-driven romance moves at a steady, quick pace, and readers will be invested in the love story as well as in the characters’ professional achievements. The characterization, however, is sometimes lacking; the “bad” characters can feel like caricatures. Still, readers looking for an exciting sports-based romance will likely be pleased.—Jenna Friebel, Oak Park P.L., IL



  1. Thank you for the wonderful review Eve. I’m glad you enjoyed this book and Cody and Nate’s story!