Thrown

Title: Thrown

Author: Colette Auclair. This is her first novel.

Genre: Romance, Chick Lit

Readers: Daycare teacher EMarie, policy wonk BakingSuit, at-home parents Sarah L., Shawna and Megan V.

Summary: Professional trainer Amanda Vogel dreams of riding jumpers in the Olympics, but after seeing her best friend die in a riding accident, she’s so traumatized she can’t show. Broke and desperate, she takes a summer job in Aspen teaching some big-shot widowed movie star’s spoiled daughters to ride—even though she hates teaching kids. She braces herself for three miserable months. But by Labor Day, she has to choose between capturing a gold medal…and the man who has captured her heart.

Our Take: A solid romance novel that’s an easy and fast read. Sure, it’s nothing groundbreaking but it’ll pass the time nicely.

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Real

Title: Real

Author: Katy Evans.  This is the first novel in her Real series, which were originally self-published and are now being distributed by Gallery Books.

Genre: Romance

Readers: Editor Lori, bookkeeper Tykira, small business owner Samantha, professor Michal and at-home parent Dana.

Summary: Remington Tate has a bad-boy rep in and out of the ring, a granite-hard body, and a raw, animal power that sends his female fans into a frenzy. But from the moment their eyes lock, the only woman he wants is Brooke Dumas. His desire is pure, all-consuming, and REAL.

Hired to keep his perfect body working like a machine, Brooke finally has the lucrative sports therapy job she’s been dreaming of. But as she tours the dangerous underground fighting circuit with Remy and his team, Brooke’s own body becomes alive with the most primal of hungers. If what happens between Brooke and Remy is ever as light as a flirtation, it quickly becomes an erotic obsession for them both, and promises so much more.

But their white-hot lust has a dark side—and when Remy’s deepest secret comes to light and Brooke’s familial duties demand action, will the pair be able to hang on, or will everything that once seemed so real suddenly fade away like an illusion?

Our Take: We wanted a little more spark and a little more flavor out of this bad-boy romance novel that didn’t do enough to break out of its formula.

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Beautiful Player

Title: Beautiful Player

Author: Christina Lauren. This is the third book in her Beautiful Bastard series.

Genre: Romance

Readers: Day care teacher EMarie, retiree Nancy, teacher Ninian, attorney Rochelle and at-home parent Colleen B.

Summary: When Hanna Bergstrom receives a lecture from her overprotective brother about neglecting her social life and burying herself in grad school, she’s determined to tackle his implied assignment: get out, make friends, start dating. And who better to turn her into the sultry siren every man wants than her brother’s gorgeous best friend, Will Sumner, venture capitalist and unapologetic playboy?

Will takes risks for a living, but he’s skeptical about this challenge of Hanna’s…until the wild night his innocently seductive pupil tempts him into bed- and teaches him a thing or two about being with a woman he can’t forget. Now that Hanna’s discovered the power of her own sex appeal, it’s up to Will to prove he’s the only man she’ll ever need.

Our Take: It’s a split. Romance readers EMarie gives it a big thumbs up as does newbie Rochelle. But Fifty Shades lover Nancy thought it was derivative, as did Ninian, also new to romance novels. But everyone seems to agree that the male/female double narration is a great device.

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Prodigal Son

Title: Prodigal Son

Author: Debra Mullins. She is the author of several historical romance novels, including A Necessary Husband.

Genre: Romance, Fantasy

Readers: Stay at home moms Shawna and Sarah L., developmental editor Aryooki.

Summary: Bounty hunter Rafe Montana is a Seer, descended from the fabled Atlanteans. He uses his inherited power to “see” criminals across the globe and track them down, and he’s just started on a new case. Danny Cangialosi is accused of disappearing with a stolen car…but for the first time in his life, when Rafe goes looking, he is unable to “see” him. Instead, his search leads him to Danny’s stubborn, meddling, and verycute stepsister, Cara McGaffigan.

Cara is looking for Danny, too, but not to turn him in. He is her brother, after all, and she’s convinced he has a good heart. If she can just find him before the cops do, she’ll figure out a way to get him out of this. But Cara didn’t count on a scorching-hot bounty hunter getting in her way.

Despite instant chemistry, Rafe and Cara know they’re never going to see eye-to-eye when it comes to Danny. What they don’t know is that Danny didn’t just steal a car—he stole a precious stone, a stone right out of the legends of Atlantis. It holds powers they can only dream of…and its owner wants it back.

Our Take: So it’s not the best writing in the world, our readers agree that they wanted a stronger narrative. And it’s definitely coming from a romance writer, so you should be prepared for out-of-nowhere sex scenes. But our readers thought the concept was good and 2 out of 3 are up for the rest of the books in the series.

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The Girl You Left Behind

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo MoyesTitle: The Girl You Left Behind

Author: Jojo Moyes. She is the author of several novels, including the recent bestseller Me Before You.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Readers: Communications director Barbara, editor Kristina, attorney Elizabeth H., stay-at-home mom Dana and victim advocate MJ.

Summary: In 1916 French artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his wife Sophie to fight at the Front. When her town falls into German hands, his portrait of Sophie stirs the heart of the local Kommandant and causes her to risk everything – her family, reputation and life – in the hope of seeing her true love one last time.

Nearly a century later and Sophie’s portrait is given to Liv by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. Its beauty speaks of their short life together, but when the painting’s dark and passion-torn history is revealed, Liv discovers that the first spark of love she has felt since she lost him is threatened…

Our Take: This two-time-frame novel of love and loss enraptured our readers. Elizabeth H., our one reviewer with a few qualms, found the characters a bit too perfect but still gave it a positive grade.

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