E-Originals, March 29, 2019 | Xpress Reviews

Through Cassie, Davids shows a person is more than the sum of their parts; Last Stand, TX, and the Delaneys definitely deserve exploring; a terrific play on the classic bodyguard romance but with a whole lot of twists—and kinks

Week ending March 29, 2019

Davids, Jennie. New Ink on Life. Carina: Harlequin. (Thorn & Thistle, Bk. 1). Jun. 2019. 328p. ebk. ISBN 9781488053818. $3.99. LGBTQIA ROMANCE
[DEBUT] After being diagnosed with breast cancer, Cassie Fletcher abandoned her successful business career to pursue her dream of becoming a tattoo artist. As the all-important five-year health milestone approaches, Cassie is determined to finish her tattoo apprenticeship under the guidance of MJ Flores, a talented tattooist who also trained with Cassie’s late mentor. MJ’s shop is struggling to regain its clientele after her former partner split, and she doesn’t have time for an apprentice, especially not one who seems too delicate to hang out with her crowd. But MJ feels an obligation their mentor, figuring Cassie will quit after a few days. Then the days turn into weeks, and the two women grow closer as they discover their differences make them stronger together. But will Cassie’s fear of the cancer returning keep her from falling in love? Debut author Davids tackles a tough subject with grace and imbues the cancer survivors with strength, even if they only appear briefly. Cassie is a survivor and uses tattoo art to cover her scars and reclaim her identity.
VERDICT Through Cassie, Davids shows a person is more than the sum of their parts and leaves readers curious to find out what will happen next at the Thorn & Thistle Tattoo Shop. Recommended for libraries where lesbian romance or cancer survivor titles are popular.—Melanie C. Duncan, Washington Memorial Lib., Macon, GA

Garbera, Katherine. Her Texas Ex. Tule. (Dangerous Delaneys, Bk. 1). Apr. 2019. 151p. ebk. ISBN 9781949707724. $3.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Amelia Corbyn has made her way back to Last Stand, TX, to face up to the reason she fled. As a teenager, Amelia found out her true paternity when she took a blood test to donate bone marrow to a brother she never knew she had. Using this perceived betrayal by her parents as leverage, Amelia embarked upon a modeling career in New York. Before taking off, Amelia slept with her high school boyfriend Cal Delaney and then left with no explanation. The Delaney family is doing well, but Cal believes they will never be free of the family curse—especially when it comes to love. Now Amelia is back in town, and Cal wants to know what happens with the one who got away. Maybe if Cal can figure out what went wrong with Amelia, he can finally reverse the curse.
Verdict Last Stand and the Delaneys definitely deserve exploring. This series opener from Garbera (One Night Gamble) is a strong introduction and readers will be anxiously awaiting the next installment.—Heather Lisa Maneiro, SILS, Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Zabo, Anna. Reverb. Carina: Harlequin. (Twisted Wishes, Bk. 3). May 2019. 317p. eISBN 9781488051265. $3.99. LGBTQ ROMANCE
Reverb bass player Mish Sullivan is the lone woman on their stage, and even though the guys she built the band with are her friends and family-of-the-heart, she’s still used to taking care of herself, along with all of them. When a stalker focuses on her, she’s unwilling to look weak or in need of protection—at least not until she meets her new bodyguard, David Altet. Their chemistry is instant, and David finds himself too focused on Mish to think he’s doing his job—no matter how much getting close to Mish is the job. He gets all the way in, both to Mish’s heart and the family of the band, only to pull away when the stalker gets near. David keeps Mish safe from her creeper but not her heartbreak. Unlike the previous books in the series (Syncopation; Counterpoint), which were decidedly M/M, this one is queer romance, as Mish is both pansexual and kinky and David is trans. It’s also far from traditional, as David is a fascinating beta hero.
VERDICT Reverb is a terrific play on the classic bodyguard romance but with a whole lot of twists—and kinks. Recommended for lovers of rock star romances and those looking for fresh takes on the genre and its protagonists.—Marlene Harris, Reading Reality, Atlanta


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