Hello, and welcome back! As I write this, the snow is falling lightly outside my office window--adding to the five or so inches that fell overnight, and making the scene outside look like it belongs on a greeting card. Makes me think of roaring fireplaces and sexy romance heroes trapped with their heroines in a remote cabin. Hm, not a bad thing when Valentine's Day is a week away.
Of the three contemporary books I have to share with you this week, one inspired my title this week: Jessica Hall, aka Gena Hale. I have her new book The Deepest Edge (Signet), and I've been wondering why the name change. The press release lists the book as being written by Gena Hale, yet the book does not, so the average person going into their local bookstore to shop isn't going to know, which makes me think that unless a reader is very well-informed, this author is going to have to start all over again in gaining a readership. I know there are instances of authors changing publishers and having to use a new pseudonym, or starting fresh with a new name because of lackluster sales, but as far as I know, the latter doesn't apply here, and the first definitely doesn't. Even more curious, this book contains characters Ms. Hall/Hale used in her previous trilogy.
Anyway, on to the story: Valence St. Charles is determined to convince T'ang Jian-Shan to let her borrow his sword collection for the museum where she works. But she's unprepared for the way her tenuous connection to Jian gets her into all sorts of trouble--life and death trouble. While I have to admire Val's tenacity, I had to wonder sometimes at her willful blindness. And Jian is difficult to get to know and harder to fall in love with. The suspense in the story is nicely done, but the romance wasn't as convincing to me. Of Cupid's five arrows, I'm borrowing three and a half. There is an excerpt in this book of the next one, and honestly, I'm really looking forward to that one. There were serious sparks between those two characters in this book.
Next up is Kathryn Shay's Trust in Me (Berkley), which was the biggest disappointment for me of this week's books since I'd really enjoyed her last one. This tale involves six teenage friends who called themselves the Outlaws--Linc and Margo, Beth and Danny, Joe and Annie, couples and friends. Now, there are only five and nothing is the same. I think part of my problem with this book is that there are so many main characters that this isn't a traditional romance, with one main heroine and hero to cheer for, and frankly, I found myself not wanting to cheer for some of them. The couple I liked best was Annie and Joe, because they had the most to overcome, but there simply wasn't enough space in the book to delve as deeply as I'd have liked into their issues. Linc and Margo were my least favorites--Linc is now a minister and spends more time chatting with God than Margo, who's still rebelling against the religion that made her younger life so miserable, so their resolution felt a little too neat for me. I'm only giving this one two arrows.
Finally, we have Merline Lovelace's After Midnight (Onyx). Jessica Blackwell has come home to the small Florida town she and her mother had left many years ago, and almost upon her arrival, people start dying. Sheriff Steve Paxton finds the coincidence a little odd, but he also finds the Lieutenant Colonel Blackwell very attractive, which makes it difficult to think of her a suspect. Almost as surprising as finding herself a murder suspect are the things she learns about her mother's life before they left, and that she herself has become a target. While military stories aren't my favorite, I liked the interplay between these two characters. Steve is persistent, and Jessica is understandably cautious. I figured out the whodunit before the end, but that wasn't a big disappointment for me. I'm giving this one four arrows.
Until next time, happy reading!