E-Originals from Dranoff, Meredith, Porter, and Zanetti | Xpress Reviews

Week ending July 14, 2017

Dranoff, Beth. Betrayed by Blood. Carina: Harlequin. (Mark of the Moon, Bk. 2). Jul. 2017. 330p. ebk. ISBN 9781488020209. $3.99. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
In this second installment in Dranoff’s series (after Mark of the Moon), bartender Dana Markovitz returns in a rollicking tale of demon battles, mystery, sex, and romance. Dana is a forthright cat-shifter with a lot of thorny issues: she is sleeping with cat-shifter Sam and also is a “friend with benefits” to bisexual vampire Jon. A strange purple octopus from another dimension named Frank is stalking her, and an angry female demon is trying to kill her. Into this mess walks her former lover Owain, with clues to her father’s disappearance and a contract to locate a demon who is her boss’s brother. Dana’s multiple problems come to a head during Toronto’s Pride weekend, when she realizes whom she truly loves and makes additional progress on understanding her father’s absence. A love triangle verging on a quadrangle; a gripping first-person narrative; and tastefully described sex contrasting with orgiastic public intercourse make this a well-rounded paranormal tale.
Verdict This charming tale of vampires, demons, and multiple animal-shifters intersecting with characters of various sexual orientations, set in a harmonious local bar, reflects a powerful urban fantasy that rings true to life. Highly recommended.—Henry Bankhead, San Rafael P.L., CA

Meredith, MK. Love on the Cape. MK Meredith. (On the Cape). Jun. 2017. 205p. ebk. ISBN 9780999085400. $3.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
The grief and devastation of losing a child have left Larkin Sinclair raw and emotionless. Her only solace has been revisiting Cape Van Buren, ME, ripe with happy memories of her beloved Asher. Although Larkin is not ready to move on, the cape is about to change drastically. Maxine, the local matriarch, has sold her home to her grandson Ryker. Ryker’s memories of the cape recall the pain and fear of his childhood, hiding from the violence of his war-damaged father. Larkin and Ryder’s encounter his first day back smolders, yet they put aside their passion to pursue their very different views of what the future of the cape should be.
Verdict The animosity between Larkin and Ryker makes for steamy love scenes, but the sentiments seen forced toward the end, with their happily ever compromise feeling staged. The naked emotions surrounding grief and abuse, though, are revealing, making the damaged couple richer characters.—Heather Lisa Maneiro, Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Porter, Jane. Married in Montana. Tule. (Paradise Valley Ranch, Bk. 2). Jun. 2017. 192p. ebk. ISBN 9781946772305. $3.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
In the second installment of her “Paradise Valley Ranch” series (after Away in Montana), Porter centers the story on a marriage of convenience. In 1890s Montana, Ellie Burnett needs to marry before her terminally ill father dies. She’s due to inherit his large ranch and a lot of money, and her father is concerned that she will be at the mercy of unscrupulous men once he’s gone. To make him happy and because she wants to hang onto the ranch, Ellie has been actively looking for a potential spouse. Her father thinks Thomas Sheenan is a likely candidate—though he is not wealthy, he has been a hard worker and seems honorable. Ellie isn’t thrilled at the idea—she and Thomas have mostly traded barbs until now—but she is desperate. Thus, a marriage is born.
Verdict Though Ellie is at times unlikable and unevenly drawn, the romance is nicely done here and builds to an emotionally satisfying conclusion. Fans of Western romance will want to read this one.—Jane Jorgenson, Madison P.L., WI

Zanetti, Rebecca. Wicked Kiss. Lyrical: Kensington. (Realm Enforcers, Bk. 4). Jul. 2017. 304p. ebk. ISBN 9781601835178. $5.99. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
The fourth book in Zanetti’s “Realm Enforcers” series is a fast-paced ride full of drama, peril, and sexual tension. Tori Monzelle is an informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). When she is pursued by the witch-led Council of Nine, Adam Dunne, their enforcer, steps in to protect her. The only problem is Tori doesn’t think she needs protecting. She’s especially put off when Adam offers to marry her in order to save her from execution. Tori is sassy and brassy and needs no man to get her out of a jam. Adam, however, will do anything to keep her safe, even becoming a traitor to his own nation. Adam had always planned to settle with another witch, having never had an interest in humans…until Tori. The two make an explosive combination, with Adam being rigid and distant, and Tori feisty and unpredictable. They seem like complete opposites, but when you have an explosion, there’s sure to be fire, with Zanetti providing plenty of heat.
Verdict Though this story is thoroughly enjoyable on its own, it takes up where Wicked Burn leaves off. Without having experienced the previous books, readers might feel at a loss as to who all of the players are. They should probably start with Wicked Ride, the first title.—Nanci Milone Hill, M.G. Parker Memorial Lib., Dracut, MA

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