E-Originals, March 22, 2019 | Xpress Reviews

While later books might have a clearer path, this opener from Connolly is a bumpy start; fans of the series will enjoy the truly heroic compromises Tom makes to be with the woman he loves; the likable protagonists add heart to the larger, more serious theme of ethical journalism

Week ending March 22, 2019

Connolly, L.M. Racing Hearts. Tule. (Hearts on Fire, Bk. 1). May 2019. 180p. ebk ISBN 9781949707960. $3.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Ronan Miller has patiently waited for decades to enact revenge on his father for causing his mother’s death. All that’s left is to reveal the betrayal and win over his father’s intended lover Georgia Trent—an easy task, in Ronan’s mind. Georgia, though, has her own priorities. The first and preferred role is as backup driver for the Trent racing team, while the second is to schmooze for sponsorships to help keep Team Trent afloat. She must succeed at the latter if she’s ever going to get the chance to excel at the former. When both Ronan’s and Georgia’s plans go awry, their instant chemistry boils over into one night of passion. And that one night will have lasting effects. This first book in the “Hearts on Fire” series serves as the introduction not only to the characters and setting but also to the mystery that will link the remaining books. Unfortunately, neither these threads nor the character arcs are cohesive enough to hold reader interest.
VERDICT Characters change wildly from chapter to chapter, and the mystery is presented so early it loses any possible suspense. While later books might have a clearer path, this opener from Connolly (Thunderfire) is a bumpy start.—Kellie Tilton, Univ. of Cincinnati Blue Ash

Matthews, Mimi. A Modest Independence. Perfectly Proper. (Parish Orphans of Devon, Bk. 2). Apr. 2019. 476p. ebk. ISBN 9780999036488. $4.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Jenny Holloway is looking for adventure abroad now that she has financial means. Her only obstacle is in obtaining that money from her solicitor. Tom Finchley still cares for Jenny despite their previous falling out, and to ensure she is safe, he takes over organizing her travel plans. Suddenly, Tom decides to abandon London and go with Jenny to India. Along the way, they rekindle their passion for each other, but Jenny’s determination to live overseas is in conflict with Tom’s desire to stay close to home. Matthews immerses readers in the intricate descriptions of exotic locales and the difficulties of Victorian travel, slowing the pace in the first half of the novel. Tom, the embodiment of an antihero, is neither aristocratic nor wealthy but rather an ordinary man with a morally ambiguous character. He desperately cares for Jenny, but his overbearing control of the journey highlights his manipulative nature, with Jenny’s independence suffering as a result.
VERDICT Fans of the series will enjoy exploring secondary characters’ lives and the truly heroic compromises Tom makes to be with the woman he loves. Those new to the series should start with the first title, The Matrimonial Advertisement.—Eve Stano, Ball State Univ. Lib., Muncie, IN

redstarWeaver, Amanda. The One I Love To Hate. Carina: Harlequin. (Romano Sisters, Bk. 1). Mar. 2019. 315p. ebk. ISBN 9781488051210. $3.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Fresh out of journalism school and determined to light the newspaper world on fire, Jess Romano is a force to be reckoned with at the Brooklyn Daily Post. But as a lowly junior staffer, she’s stuck running the paper’s Twitter feed and engaging in a social media feud with ClickNews, the online news site run by Jess’s old college rival Alex Drake—the same Alex who seems to turn up everywhere she goes. He might be as handsome as he is annoying, but no way does Alex have the journalistic integrity of Jess’s anonymous online friend Peabody. As far as Jess is concerned, Peabody is her dream man, and the only thing standing in the way of their relationship is her growing, frustrating attraction to Alex.
VERDICT Weaver’s (This Book Will Change Your Life) delightful reimagining of You’ve Got Mail is a satisfying treat for fans of enemies-to-lovers romance such as Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game. The likable protagonists add heart to the larger, more serious theme of ethical journalism in an era of clickbait and fake news.—Kathryn Howe, Saint John Free P.L., NB

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