Fiction from Cassidy, Scotch, and Wright | Xpress Reviews

Week ending November 10, 2017

Cassidy, Nat. Steal the Stars. Tor. Nov. 2017. 416p. ISBN 9781250172624. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250172631. SF
This novelization of the Tor Labs podcast of the same title fits neatly into two well-known categories of sf. Much of the story takes place in a very-near-future of our world where government functions have been completely privatized and run by corporations. The setting is a research lab funded by one of these megagovernment companies, which is studying the first alien known to have landed on Earth; the action begins when one of the lab’s team members decides to make one last reach for freedom—for herself, her lover, and the alien who is about to be vivisected. However, the flight from corporate greed turns into a very different story in which humans discover that everything they have thought about the aliens they have been studying has been utterly and radically wrong.
Verdict Recommended for sf fans who enjoy stories in which the protagonists fight against seemingly impossible odds and/or readers who appreciate upside-down plot twists.—Marlene Harris, Reading Reality, LLC, Duluth, GA

Scotch, Allison Winn. Between Me and You. Lake Union. Jan. 2018. 364p. ISBN 9781503941229. pap. $14.95. F
On the surface, Ben and Tatum seem like the quintessential Hollywood couple: an actress and a screenwriter forging names for themselves in a brutal industry. But then Tatum’s career takes off while Ben’s begins to falter, all while the couple deal with family members falling prey to addiction and death. Their single bright spot is their son, Joey, and a handful of fond memories from their early days. New York Times best-selling author Scotch (Time of My Life) tells the story from both characters’ perspectives, with chapters that bounce back and forth between years while detailing the vagaries of love and life. Can they find their way back to the bright-eyed college students they were when they fell in love, or has fame forced them too far apart?
Verdict The plot is extremely reminiscent of the movie La La Land, with Tatum’s success mounting while Ben’s wanes. There are so many deaths and personal crises that it starts feeling overdone, and there is a lot of repetition of words and phrases. Given Scotch’s popularity among chick lit readers, this title will be popular despite its shortcomings.—Chelsie Harris, San Diego Cty. Lib.

Wright, Julie. Lies Jane Austen Told Me. Shadow Mountain. (Proper Romance). Nov. 2017. 312p. ISBN 9781629723426. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9781629735580. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Emma Pierce is the chief marketing officer at Kinetics, an upscale, all-inclusive health spa and fitness experience in Los Angeles. She is also a devoted Jane Austen fan, but she has doubts about Austen’s advice on love after belatedly taking her boyfriend Blake up on his invitation to visit him at his parents’ San Diego home. She thought a proposal might be in the offing, yet once inside the gated manse, Emma seems to have surprised Blake, another woman is there for dinner, and the folks are out of town. Back at work, Emma is told to expect a new consultant with some East Coast perspective related to opening new Kinetics locations. And who is it but Lucas Hampton, Blake’s brother, who has a compelling backstory of his own.
Verdict Wright’s (Victoria’s Promise) latest is a cute play on the world of Jane Austen and those who love her. The romance is sweet as sugar and takes a while to resolve, allowing for a bit of will she or won’t she (or he, for that matter). Despite a minor gaffe in the spelling of “Bennet” (which this reviewer has been assured will be corrected for the next printing), this title is recommended where gentle romances have pride of place.—Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal

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