E-Originals from Barnard, Castillo, McGoldrick, and Walsh | Xpress Reviews

Week ending November 3, 2017

Barnard, Jules. Daring Wes. Jules Barnard. (Cade Brothers, Bk. 2). Sept. 2017. 243p. ebk. ISBN 9781942230847. $3.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
When Wes Cade lays eyes upon ex-girlfriend Kaylee Evans, he is enraged. How dare she show up at Club Tahoe, the resort he owns with his brothers, after she broke his heart four years ago? Even worse, he soon discovers she plans to hold her wedding there in less than two months. Although he initially balks at the idea, he soon realizes that giving Kaylee golfing lessons at her fiancé’s request may be the key to unlocking the mystery behind her sudden exit from his life. If he can get her to tell him what went wrong, then maybe he can move forward. As Wes discovers that his love for Kaylee never died and his career as a professional golfer takes off, he must decide if a life with Kaylee is worth giving up some of his other dreams.
Verdict The second book in the series (after Tempting Levi) is a slow-burn that reads well as a stand-alone. The story line is rather predictable, but the characters are likable, and the plot moves along steadily. Readers who love romantic, sexy series will be eager to continue reading about Wes’s brothers and their hot adventures.—Vicky Coffin, Salem Free P.L., CT

Castillo, Holly. Texas Christmas. Tule. (Texas Legacy, Bk. 4). Oct. 2017. 210p. ebk. ISBN 9781947636286. $3.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
It’s Gabby Torres’s favorite time of the year—Christmas—and there’s nothing she loves more than returning to San Antonio to celebrate the holidays with her extended family. As a midwife and healer, she’s also ready to assist with her cousin’s impending delivery. When she steps in to see her patient for the first time, she’s shocked to discover a man already examining her cousin. Dr. Luke Davenport has arrived in Texas direct from London, ready to take on the role of San Antonio’s resident doctor. The duo are at odds from the start—sparring about everything from healing theories to holiday celebrations—but seem slowly to embrace each other’s differing philosophies. A great partnership seems to be budding, but Gabby and Luke have secrets that may prevent a happy holiday ending.
Verdict Castillo’s latest in the “Texas Legacy” series (Texas Conquest; Texas Desire; Texas Heat) continues to place headstrong characters with secrets to hide against the backdrop of the historic Lone Star State. The Christmas atmosphere permeates throughout and helps to soften some of the sudden reveals in Gabby’s and Luke’s backstories.—Kellie Tilton, Univ. of Cincinnati Blue Ash

McGoldrick, May. Romancing the Scot. Swerve: St. Martin’s. (Pennington Family, Bk. 1). Nov. 2017. 284p. ebk. ISBN 9781250166906. $3.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
In this first entry in a new series, the McGoldricks (spouses Nikoo and James) introduce readers to the Penningtons of Scotland. Hugh Pennington, Viscount Greysteil, is a Lord Justice of the Scottish courts and takes his job very seriously. While he is succeeding professionally, he still struggles with the loss of his wife and young son while he was fighting Napoleon’s army. Because of their deaths, he has no fondness for the French or the Scottish Jacobites who supported them, a fact readily apparent to Grace Ware when she lands on Hugh’s doorstep in Scotland after her father, a commander in Napoleon’s army, is attacked in Belgium. She quickly gleans Hugh’s politics and feigns amnesia until she can decide what her options are. As Grace comes to realize how honorable and generous Hugh and his family are, she regrets her deception and must figure a way out, especially as her feelings for Hugh (and his for her) have deepened all too quickly.
Hugh and Grace are a well-matched pair, and the authors (Tempest in the Highlands) give their relationship ample, and realistic, room to grow. The plot does lose some momentum in the latter third of the book, but this is a series, and readers will be happy to follow into the next installment. Recommended.—Jane Jorgenson, Madison P.L., WI

Walsh, T.F. Cloaked in Sorcery. Crimson Romance: S. & S. (Wulfkin Legacy, Bk. 6). Nov. 2017. 109p. ebk. ISBN 9781507207017. 99¢. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
This sixth installment in the series (after Cloaked in Christmas) features wolf-shifters Axe Vuk and Kalin Asen, who are stuck on opposite sides of a brutal conflict over Wulfkin (wolf-shifter) territory. Axe is part of the Russian pack, controlled by the Varlac Tsar, a brutal leader. He and the witch Natalya are tasked with infiltrating a Halloween party in Romania to claim ownership of Bran castle; the penalty for their failure is death. Kalin and her pal Lenuta are Romanian Wulfkin fortune tellers at the party. Kalin senses the presence of the Russians and sends an alarm out to her pack. When she meets Axe, however, she is inexplicably enthralled and aroused. Could it be that he is her soulmate? Or is it the inhibition-releasing spell that Natalya has cast over the entire gathering? Spell or not, Axe and Kalin are consumed by their erotic longings just as the party descends into chaos. Will Axe be able to escape the wrath of the Varlac Tsar for failing his mission? Will Kalin’s pack allow Axe to live?
Verdict This novella mixes fast-paced action with torrid romance set against a ruthless backdrop of internecine violence; highly recommended.—Henry Bankhead, San Rafael P.L., CA

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