E-Originals, January 11, 2019 | Xpress Reviews    

A truly heartwarming second-chance romance; Crooks’s gentle Western romance offers likable characters, sincere romantic elements, and enough friction to keep the plot moving along; this very sultry installment in the “Reapers” series does a bang-up job of settling the fate of Bran and Death; relatable characters experience the thrill and fears we all feel when we open ourselves up to another

Week ending January 11, 2019

Cole, Addison. The Corner of Heartbreak and Forever. World Literary. (Sweet with Heat: Standalone Romance Series, Bk. 1). Feb. 2019. 322p. ebk. ISBN 9781948868013. $4.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Having shaken her small-town image, Grace Montgomery is back home to teach a screenwriting class and spends her time poring over scripts. Preservation expert Reed Cross is back, too, working construction projects and trying to forget some fresh betrayals. As soon as this ideal hero is reintroduced (at night, shirtless, and on horseback), Grace’s Southern feistiness returns. Grace and Reed spend some time denying the chemistry they have felt since they were teens and secretly mutually lost their virginity. They were unable to move on, and it’s clear they were made for no one else. The banter among the Montgomery sisters gives this story a deep sense of place. Readers know the icy New York transplant veneer Grace adopted will melt away as fast as the eye-rolling at her sisters’ country sensibilities. And when the instantly resmitten Reed faces a family crisis, Grace becomes the shoulder on which he can lean. If this story sounds familiar, it’s Cole’s “Sweet with Heat” version of her steamier Embracing Her Heart, written by alter ego Melissa Foster.
VERDICT A truly heartwarming second-chance romance. Just as with Foster’s Montgomerys of Oak Falls, the Cole versions are equally unforgettable. Readers come to Cole/Foster for solid family stories with sass, that touch of steam, and a country life that completes them.—Frannie Strober Cassano, Library Consultant, East Meadow, NY

Crooks, Pam. A Cowboy and a Promise. Tule. (Blackstone Ranch, Bk. 1). Jan. 2019. 114p. ebk. ISBN 9781949707281. $3.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
On her friend’s deathbed, New York City construction manager Ava Howell promises Erin that she will complete the Texas ghost town project: to help Erin’s aunt turn the abandoned space on the Paxton property into a resort. Ava is a city girl, and things get off to a rocky start when her purse is stolen, and she isn’t expecting to be confronted by sexy cowboy Beau Paxton, Erin’s cousin, who wants to sell the land. Despite their competing goals, Ava acquiesces to Beau’s dinner proposal. Over the course of the summer, the charm of Texas, Beau, and his family grow on Ava, but she knows her time there is temporary. She’ll have to decide between returning to the Big Apple, where her job is waiting, or taking a risk on a new life with Beau in sleepy Texas.
VERDICT Crooks’s (Wanted!) gentle Western romance offers likable characters, sincere romantic elements, and enough friction to keep the plot moving along.—Kara Kohn, Plainfield P.L., IL

Grant, Donna. Dark Alpha’s Awakening. Swerve: St. Martin’s. (Reapers, Bk. 7). Feb. 2019. 352p. ebk. ISBN 9781250231710. $6.99. PARANORMAL ROMANCE
This seventh installment in the “Reapers” series resolves many outstanding issues that have been looming throughout the previous books. The story kicks off with a dramatic flashback that illustrates how Death, named Erith, the leader of the Reapers, transitioned to her current role. It also shows how Erith and Cael, the head of her first Reaper squadron, fell in love. The book goes on to reveal how Death plans to defeat Bran, her Reaper-turned-enemy, and the method by which Bran has been stealing Death’s magic. Readers also discover what evil Usaeil, the Queen of the Light, is plotting. As all these momentous events transpire, Erith and Cael finally admit to their love for each other and engage in copious carnal pleasure. As the battle is joined, will Cael and Erith be able to counteract Bran’s twisted magic to defeat him in time? Will Erith’s allies remain true to her in her struggle against Bran?
VERDICT This very sultry and satisfying installment in the “Reapers” series ( Dark Alpha’s Hunger) does a bang-up job of settling the fate of Bran and Death and explaining the reason for the Reapers’ existence; highly recommended.—Henry Bankhead, San Rafael P.L., CA

Johnson, Elana. Until Autumn Falls. Cleis. (Redwood Bay, Bk. 4). 2018. 236p. ebk. ISBN 9781627781893. $5.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
The final installment in the “Redwood Bay” series ( After Summer Ends) finds Trip Thurgood and Hilary Finnegan learning that to discover true happiness one has to be willing to be vulnerable. Trip finally has everything he’s been hoping for: his own boat and successful fishing business; a furniture-making enterprise in the off-season; and his cousins all around him. The one thing he hasn’t had in more than five years is someone with whom to share it. Hilary buys his fish every morning. She’s started her own successful business and loves being in Redwood Bay. Still, the scars she hides, both figuratively and literally, keep her at arm’s length from experiencing true love.
VERDICT Relatable characters experience the thrill and fears we all feel when we open ourselves up to another. A must-read.—Nanci Milone Hill, M.G. Parker Memorial Lib., Dracut, MA

LJ Reviews

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