E-Originals from Ashenden, Galen, Holt, and Reyne | Xpress Reviews

Week ending August 4, 2017

Ashenden, Jackie. The Billionaire’s Intern. Swerve: St. Martin’s. (Billionaire Fairy Tale, Bk. 3). Aug. 2017. 200p. ebk. ISBN 9781250136763. $1.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
This quick-paced stand-alone novella in Ashenden’s “Billionaire” universe (after The Billionaire’s Virgin and The Billionaire Beast) is very loosely based on Sleeping Beauty, but more the A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice) version than Charles Perrault’s. Lorenzo de Santis is a ruthless, controlling, alpha male businessman. His new intern Kira Constantin is an ethereally beautiful woman with a party girl reputation who has suffered from ADD all her life. Lorenzo is certain that Kira was put in his path by his father, who is quite probably embezzling from the family firm. Is she part of it? Yet their sexual chemistry is explosive, and they can’t keep their hands to themselves. The cat and mouse power games they play could end with both Kira and Lorenzo losing everything.
Verdict Call it Fifty Shades of Grey lite, the no punishment version. Very flawed characters, plenty of “hold me down so I have no choice” sex, and a paper-thin plot don’t really matter, because the ride is a lot of fun. Readers who enjoy quick, steamy, sexy books should like this one.—Charli Osborne, Oak Park P.L., MI

Galen, Shana. Traitor in Her Arms. Loveswept: Random. (Scarlet Chronicles, Bk. 1). Aug. 2017. 288p. ebk. ISBN 9780399179105. $4.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
This intense riff on the Scarlet Pimpernel tale takes place over the course of a month during the height of the French Revolution. Beautiful, brave Lady Gabrielle McCullough is on her way to her death via Madame Guillotine when she flashes back to three weeks earlier in London. Ramsey Barnes, the Earl of Sedgwick, and she were at a ball, vying to steal a valuable necklace belonging to a duchess. Gabrielle’s late husband, Ramsey’s best friend, left her with mountains of gambling debts. Constantly harassed by loan sharks, she must steal in order to pay them off. Meanwhile, Ramsey is being blackmailed over his deepest, darkest secret. As they compete over aristocrats’ baubles, the two find their dislike changing to attraction. Then the elusive Scarlet Pimpernel promises to void Gabrielle’s debt if she will undertake a mission to France to steal a famous bracelet from one of the most terrifying Revolutionaries. Morally compromised characters make for interesting reading in this grim, historically accurate novel.
Verdict Galen (I Kissed a Rogue) keeps the suspense high and outcomes in doubt in this gritty romance. Fans of intrigue and complicated protagonists will thrill to the best-selling author’s latest historical romance.—B. Allison Gray, Goleta Lib., CA

Holt, Debra. Beware the Ranger. Tule. (In the Long Arms of the Lawman, Bk. 1). Jun. 2017. 220p. ebk. ISBN 9781946772626. $3.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Kaitlyn Russell left behind McKenna Springs, TX, for Broadway, hoping to see her name in lights. She also left behind her grandmother, Clay Morgan, and her dream of becoming Mrs. Clay Morgan and living in the house she and Clay designed. That was 12 years ago, and Kaitlyn hasn’t been back since, though her name has been up in lights on the Great White Way. She now finds herself unexpectedly back in McKenna Springs, staying in the home of Texas Ranger Clay Morgan owing to her grandmother’s sudden attack of conscience. Letting Kaitlyn walk away to find her fame was the hardest thing Clay had ever done, but he couldn’t have held her back from realizing her dreams. Now Clay is a widower and a single father, but Kaitlyn doesn’t know the whole story. And maybe becoming a star wasn’t fulfilling her true desires.
Verdict Will the truth about Grandma’s meddling change Kaitlyn’s mind about Clay and McKenna Springs? Can she put the past behind her and find her future with the delicious Ranger she had loved since high school? Don’t miss this first installment in Holt’s (Love Beneath the Blue Texas Sky) new series.—Lisa Jordan, Johnson Cty. Lib., Overland Park, KS

starred review starReyne, Layla. Barrel Proof. Carina: Harlequin. (Agents Irish & Whiskey, Bk. 3). Aug. 2017. 189p. ebk. ISBN 9781488024405. $3.99. ROMANTIC SUSPENSE, LGBTQ
Picking up where Cask Strength leaves off, this final installment in Reyne’s romantic suspense series reads like a movie script, with fast-paced action and sharp dialog. FBI agents Jamie Walker and Aidan Talley are on the trail of terrorist Pierre Renaud when he escapes through a literal smoke screen. Jamie has a near brush with death but not before he utters a truth he has been keeping about Aidan’s late husband in addition to others in their circle. Fueled by betrayal, Aidan goes undercover alone to heal emotionally, which puts him at the center of the havoc Renaud will try to unleash. And Jamie will stop at nothing to support his partner—and the man he loves—even if it puts his life on the line again. Jamie and Aidan’s relationship is simultaneously super-hot and tender. Readers will feel the torture of the treachery and their bittersweet love. At its heart, this is a novel about second chances, cloaked in a superb, high-stakes plot.
Verdict Readers looking for M/M titles or romantic suspense that focuses on an FBI partnership as well as a central love affair will be rewarded with delicious, angst-filled energy. Reyne (Single Malt) delivers. Note: The titles are best read in series order.—Frannie Strober Cassano, North Bellmore P.L., NY

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