E-Originals, September 14, 2018 | Xpress Reviews

Charming and sexy, with plenty of lingering glances and tingling will-they/won’t-they moments; for readers into well-plotted insta-love tropes, feisty STEM/STEAM heroines, and athletes with a heart of gold; this fun Christmas tale will get readers in the holiday spirit

Week ending September 14, 2018

James, Syrie. Summer of Scandal. Avon Impulse. (Dare To Defy, Bk. 2). Sept. 2018. 384p. ebk. ISBN 9780062849687. $3.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
James’s “Dare To Defy” series follows the wealthy and educated Atherton sisters, American heiresses searching for husbands among the English peerage. This second installment (after Runaway Heiress) opens as middle daughter Madeleine Atherton arrives in Cornwall, hoping that an impromptu visit to her married elder sister will help her evaluate a recent proposal without pressure from their overbearing mother. When she finds to her dismay that the family is away and the roads are impassable, a neighbor invites her to stay at his estate. Charles Grayson, Earl of Saunders, is a charming man and the heir to a fortune and substantial titles, but he has a reputation Madeleine cannot respect. As a guest in his family home, Madeleine gradually realizes that rumor hasn’t told the whole story about Lord Saunders. During the weeks of the summer, the two become friends, bonding over their creative pursuits (she is a writer, he an inventor) while trying to minimize their mutual attraction. Neither is entirely free—Lord Saunders is all but promised to his sweet cousin Sophie, whom his parents have intended him to marry since babyhood, and Madeleine has a decision to make about her future.
VERDICT Charming and sexy, with plenty of lingering glances and tingling will-they/won’t-they moments, James’s latest makes a perfect beach read.—Lindsay Morton, P.L. of Science, San Francisco

Lincoln, Liz. Swagger. Loveswept: Random. (Milwaukee Dragons, Bk. 2). Sept. 2018. 275p. ebk. ISBN 9780525619833. $4.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE, SPORTS, STEM/STEAM
Marcus is an injured NFL superstar, and Bree is a PhD candidate in physics. Back at school, he is trying to finish his degree while recuperating, and he is one of Bree’s students—she tries super-hard to keep her secret celebrity crush on him at bay. But Bree captivates him, and he is eager to get to know who she truly is. Bree and Marcus have a literal fall into their journey to love. They are variously “STEAM”y and geeky and have a certain, well, swagger in all the right ways. It’s a world in which women have to fight extra hard in a male-dominated field, so Bree has much to prove. Marcus’s path is also toward his future livelihood, so they bond over things rooted in the expectations of others. Yet Bree is no damsel in distress, and while there is defensiveness there, readers will overlook it when Marcus tries to push her too far. Lincoln makes quick work of a tender and significantly supportive relationship. Their attraction-into-love should be off limits, and for the most part they adhere to those rules, but readers will be there at the finish. Lincoln’s ( On the Line) secondary characters strengthen the narrative, while the campus setting reflects relevant and timely topics.
VERDICT For readers into well-plotted insta-love tropes, feisty STEM/STEAM heroines, and athletes with a heart of gold.—Frannie Strober Cassano, North Bellmore P.L., NY

Newell, Kaylie. Luke’s Gift. Tule. (Harlow Brothers, Bk. 2). Nov. 2018. 113p. ebk. ISBN 9781949068917. $2.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Mary Best loves being a journalist. She loves the idea of working in New York, but she also loves living at home in Marietta, MT. But is there enough news here to keep her fulfilled? Luke Harlow, a veteran and now a Marietta police officer, is trying to settle into civilian life back home after several tours of duty. His goal is to do good and keep a low profile. When a certain reporter wants to write a hometown hero piece on him, he is drawn to her. Then excitement stirs in Marietta as a Secret Santa starts leaving gifts, and people wake up to find the perfect present on their doorstep. While Mary tries to unmask Santa for a story, Luke struggles to keep his secret from the woman he is falling for. How will she react when she finds out the truth?
VERDICT This fun Christmas tale from Newell (Tanner’s Promise) will get readers in the holiday spirit. The main characters are lovable as are the all the folks in Marietta.—Jessica M. Perovich, U.S. Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit, Washington, DC

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