E-Originals from Allen, Helm, Tate, and Zanetti | Xpress Reviews

For readers wanting an erotic romance that is very hot but also features emotional ups and downs and a happy ever after; fans of Helm's previous book, which features Cole, will be disappointed; Tate’s latest is a good bet for readers who want more explicitness; blends elements of Dominance and submission with some spicy romantic interplay

Week ending May 4, 2018


starred review starAllen, Rebecca Grace. Her Claim. Rebecca Grace Allen Enterprises. (Legally Bound, Bk. 2). Apr. 2018. 342p. ebk. ISBN 9780997879278. $5.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE/EROTICA

On the one hand, this second title in the series (after The Duality Principle) reads like a love story for the 21st century, with its focus on trust and consent and its biracial, body-positive heroine. At the same time, it’s an erotic and downright kinky romance, whereby the protagonists explore areas of edge-play that make them realize that the most important thing in any relationship is trust—something with which neither has a whole lot of experience. What they do have, however, is a fair number of battle scars. Publishing mogul Patrick Dunham is in his mid-40s, while lawyer Cassie Allbright is 39 and facing all the decisions that come with that milestone. Readers will relate to her dilemmas, both personal and professional. These are frenemies who come at everything and each other from opposite perspectives, so when “fight or flight” kicks in, she chooses fight, while he chooses flight every time.

Verdict This romance combining sex-into-love with enemies-into-lovers is highly recommended for fans of either of these tropes. Readers wanting an erotic romance that is very hot but also features emotional ups and downs and a happy ever after will also be satisfied.—Marlene Harris, Reading Reality, Duluth, GA


Helm, Nicole. Bride for Keeps. Tule. (Big Sky Brides, Bk. 2). Apr. 2018. 212p. ebk. ISBN 9781948342391. $3.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

Doctor Carter McArthur is the eldest son of a wealthy family. His father always strove for perfection and expected the same of his children: Carter, Cole, and Lina. Carter has toed that line, but the one thing he did for himself was to marry wild child Sierra Shuller. When Carter’s parents reveal a family secret, Carter doesn’t know how to react. Instead of opening up to Sierra and sharing his worries with her, he withdraws. Sierra tries everything to save her marriage, including a night of passion, but when she wakes up the next morning, Carter is gone. Out of ideas, she decides to ask him for a divorce. Still, will another twist of fate bring Carter around?

Verdict Romance readers want flawed but still strong heroes and heroines. Unfortunately, Helm fails to give them that in this second entry in the “Big Sky Brides” series (after Bride by Mistake) as both Carter and Sierra are weak and insecure. Fans of the previous book, which features Cole, will be disappointed.—Nanci Milone Hill, M.G. Parker Memorial Lib., Dracut, MA


Tate, Sofia. His Beauty. Forever Yours: Grand Central. (Grayson & Lily, Bk. 1). May 2018. 171p. ebk. ISBN 9781455565818. $3.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

In this modern take on Beauty and the Beast, ESL teacher Lily Moore is forced to get a second job as a cleaner for a mysterious recluse. While working in the large crumbling house, Lily discovers that her secluded boss is artist Grayson Shaw. Grayson is the creator of a sculpture Lily visits when she needs solace and peace—something she’s been doing more frequently as her relationship with her long-term boyfriend sours. As much as he admires Lily’s combination of backbone and innocence, Grayson feels unworthy owing to his facial scars and agoraphobia. Told in alternating first-person viewpoints, Tate’s (Forever with Him) latest combines a distinct voice for each character with a strong supporting cast. Lily dominates the narrative, and readers are sure to connect with her ability to handle setbacks. The first in a duology, the story stands alone, but fans will be happy to have more Lily and Grayson to look forward to.

Verdict With a concise and focused story line, a villainous ex, and a broody-yet-vulnerable alpha male, Tate’s latest is a good bet for readers who want more explicitness than what’s offered in Harlequin’s Dare and Present lines.—Jennifer Rothschild, Arlington P.L., VA


Zanetti, Rebecca. Vampire’s Faith. Lyrical: Kensington. (Dark Protectors, Bk. 8). Jun. 2018. 290p. ebk. ISBN 9781516107452. $5.99. PARANORMAL ROMANCE

Ronan Kayrs is a vampire-demon hybrid, and Dr. Faith Cooper is a specialist working with coma patients. After waking from a seven-year coma, with Faith’s help, Ronan tells Faith she is his mate because he dreamed of her while unconscious. He is one of “the Seven,” vampires who have formed a pact to keep the evil Ulric trapped in a prison dimension. Faith thinks Ronan is delusional, and the narrative lapses into comedy as he tries to convince her otherwise. He does succeed, and the two develop a strong sexual attraction. On repeated occasions they start to get physical, only to be interrupted: partly because Faith is unwilling to submit to Ronan’s will and partly because they are trying to stay alive. Evil Kurjans, vampire-like paranormal beings and allies of Ulric, want to kill or capture Faith and her sister Grace. Faith’s sister, though in a coma, is also enhanced. Will Faith submit to Ronan and become his mate? Will Ronan be able to keep Faith safe?

Verdict A strongly erotic installment in the ongoing series, this blends elements of Dominance and submission with some spicy romantic interplay; highly recommended.—Henry Bankhead, San Rafael P.L., CA

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