E-Originals from Grant, Michaels, and Persell | Xpress Reviews

Week ending February 9, 2018

Grant, Donna. Dark Alpha’s Night. Swerve: St. Martin’s. (Reapers, Bk. 5). Mar. 2018. 180p. ebk. ISBN 9781250138125. $1.99. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
This fifth installment in the Reapers series (following Dark Alpha’s Lover) revolves around Ettie O’Byrne. She is a Halfling, which is half-human and half-Fae or “Fairy.” Ettie and her sisters, Carrie and Jamie, are caught up in the conflict between Bran and the rest of the Reapers. These Reapers, both Light and Dark Fae, serve Death by harvesting souls. Bran is a former Reaper bent on revenge and seeks to steal Death’s power and upset the natural order. Ettie is flattered by Bran but rebuffs his attentions. Meanwhile, she meets Daire, a Reaper who has discovered that Ettie and her family are Bran’s descendants. Ettie and Daire are instantly attracted to each other, and Daire vows to protect Ettie from Bran and his henchmen. Daire also helps Ettie discover her secret weapon. After a torrid night of lovemaking, Ettie is confronted by Bran, who kidnaps her sisters and thwarts Daire’s rescue efforts. Will Ettie be able to counteract Bran’s sinister influence and free her sisters?
Verdict This solid addition to the series features a very satisfying conclusion as well as stimulating action and red-hot attraction. Multiple backstories converge with the main plotline to create a rich tapestry of paranormal romantic interplay; highly recommended.—Henry Bankhead, San Rafael P.L., CA

Michaels, Charis. Any Groom Will Do. Avon Impulse. (Brides of Belgravia, Bk. 1). Feb. 2018. 384p. ebk. ISBN 9780062685797. $3.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Lady Willow Hunnicut is desperate to escape her restrictive existence in rural Surrey. Unfortunately, the traditional path to independence for a woman in Georgian England isn’t open to her. Left barren after a childhood illness, Willow cannot honorably marry into her own class, where insuring the succession is a wife’s first duty. Determined to build a fulfilling new life on her own terms—and to extricate her lifelong friends Tessa and Sabine from their own pressing difficulties—Lady Willow conceives a daring plot. She will advertise as an international investor. When the right entrepreneurs come along, the women will trade their substantial dowries for the freedoms enjoyed by married women, while their pro forma husbands pursue business interests abroad. When the impoverished Brent Caulder, the Earl of Cassin, arrives with a Caribbean mining scheme and a couple of handsome business partners, everything seems to be falling into place—but the undeniable attraction between Brent and Willow threatens to upset all of her careful plans.
Verdict With a talented and charming heroine and a wealth of scenic detail, this smart, breezy romance gives the classic fake marriage theme a new shine. Michaels (One for the Rogue) also includes some fun Easter eggs for fans of her previous works. Should be a hit with readers of historical romance.—Lindsay Morton, P.L. of Science, San Francisco

Persell, Micah. Stiff Competition. Crimson Romance: S. & S. (Sin City Gigolos, Bk. 2). Feb. 2018. 256p. ebk. ISBN 9781507207109. $4.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
In this second series installment (after Hard Work), Gage Adams often sees his gaming neighbor through their facing windows, and he has been meaning to introduce himself for some time. When he gets caught viewing her in a compromising position, he decides to cut the tension by stopping by her place. Cassidy Hastings, a video game developer, is not looking for a boyfriend, so when her gorgeous neighbor visits and the attraction is mutual, it is a win-win for a no-strings sexual relationship. In fact, Gage’s profession as a gigolo provides Cassidy with an idea for a unique story line to pitch to her gaming company for its next product development. All is fine until feelings begin to develop, and Cassidy starts to wonder if she is betraying Gage by revealing too many details about his lifestyle through her game.
Verdict Although the plot progression is somewhat predictable, Gage and Cassidy are very likable characters whose chemistry is palpable. Fans of video game culture and strong female protagonists will enjoy this hot, sensual read that works well as a stand-alone, too.—Vicky Coffin, Salem Free P.L., CT

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