E-Originals from Barley, O’Connell, and York | Xpress Reviews

Week ending January 26, 2018

Barley, A.R. Broken Protocol. Carina: Harlequin. (Smoke & Bullets, Bk. 2). Mar. 2018. 352p. ebk. ISBN 9781488080654. $3.99. M/M, LGBTQIA+ ROMANCE
In this second series entry (after On Duty), New York City firefighter Luke Parsons has always felt a bit more than he should for his older foster brother, now police officer Dante Green. When Dante sees the younger man at the local bar Smoke & Bullets, the pull toward him is undeniable even after all these years. However conflicted each feels for the other, when they stumble upon a hate crime, Luke discovers that the Dante of the past has many more layers than he realized. Dante is nursing some serious pain that keeps him from forging a commitment that will be good for both men. But passion is surfacing, and the emotions Luke has suppressed feel right as he shows Dante his world. Heat and tension, pain and fear test these men as secrets unfold.
Verdict While the foundation of the relationship between Dante and Luke is more-or-less brotherly in origin, their shared background makes it easier for them to complement each other. And once they get there, being together ends up being well worth the wait.—Frannie Strober Cassano, North Bellmore P.L., NY

O’Connell, Glenys. The Sleeping Beauty Bride. Crimson Romance: S. & S. (Wedding Bliss, Bk. 2). Jan. 2018. 272p. ebk. ISBN 9781507207932. $4.99. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
Between her job at the Wedding Bliss wedding shop and her secret career as a romance novelist, Noelia Russo is beyond busy. Nevertheless, she agrees to provide holiday cover for a friend’s volunteer shift at the local hospital, where she encounters a young coma patient the nurses have dubbed “Sleeping Beauty” and her handsome father, Dr. Nate Westbury. Nate blames his daughter’s erstwhile fiancé for the accident that put his daughter in the hospital, but Noelia has other suspicions. Meanwhile, strange occurrences plague the hospital, the shop, and their homes. Luckily, Noelia’s friend and owner of Wedding Bliss Kelly has a gift for communicating with the dead that may help reveal the truth.
Verdict The temperate courtship between Nate and Noelia takes a backseat to the mystery surrounding Sleeping Beauty’s accident and the ghost that haunts her hospital room. This is the second installment in this series (after The Bride’s Curse) of lighthearted paranormal romances that center on Wedding Bliss and its staff. Readers should begin with the first book.—Lindsay Morton, Pub. Lib. of Science, San Francisco

starred review starYork, M.K. Hard Bitten. Carina: Harlequin. Mar. 2018. NAp. ebk. ISBN 9781488028281. $4.99. LGBTQIA+ ROMANCE, LEGAL THRILLER
Public defender Mark Eliades is the new kid assigned to a DUI case that turns into a high-profile murder charge. Private investigator Lukas Nystrom jumps at the chance to work for the PD’s office for a steady paycheck, and his first assignment is with Mark. Mark’s sexuality isn’t a secret, but Lukas is still in the closet to his friends and family, although some of his pals suspect. As the two men spend time together, a mutual friendship turns into a slow-burn romance, but the increasing danger involved in the case puts their relationship in jeopardy. When clues lead to a conspiracy going much deeper into the judicial system and their personal lives, they must decide whom they can trust and who will stand with them.
Verdict York’s debut novel, Necessary Medicine, focused too much on introspection by the main character and the burn almost fizzled out. Here, York hits the right blend of building the relationship, adding in character backgrounds and issues, and wrapping it up with a bang. Recommended for all libraries looking to add to their collections.—Melanie C. Duncan, Washington Memorial Lib., Macon, GA

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