Review: One Taste of Scandal by Heather Hiestand

Sunday, May 22, 2016

One Taste of Scandal by Heather Hiestand
Series: Redcakes, Book 2
Publisher: eKensington
Genre: Historical Romance One Taste of Scandal Cover
ISBN: 9781601831385
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

A cup of sugar…a dash of cream…and a craving for a cake decorator that won't be denied…

When Captain Judah Shield learns he is more bastard than noble born, he goes in search of his true lineage. Determined not to lean on his family's wealth, he accepts a job managing Redcake's Tea Shop. Despite the flurry of excitement a single soldier creates among the staff, Judah clearly has no time for a wife. Though what man doesn't have time for a delectable beauty like lovely Magdalene Cross?...

He has the bearing of an English gentleman and the fiery touch of a true rake. Which is precisely why Magdalene must avoid Judah if she hopes to escape her family's reputation for scandal. Surely no good can come from a man whose kiss leaves her hungry for more. Certainly not the kind of marriage that could restore her social status. Still, Magdalene cannot help imagining what an incredible wedding night it would be—and when fate steps in, she may not have to imagine after all…

Delicious confections, unique characters, and a slow-burn romance are a great combination in One Taste of Scandal. For the most part, author Heather Hiestand eschews the usual ballroom and boudoir in favor of a working tea shop and the less-than-glamorous homes of the lower levels of the aristocracy. The change of pace works well and makes the story feel fresh.

Judah Shield has returned home from India with the knowledge that he isn’t the son of the late Marquess of Hatbrook. In fact, he has no idea who his real father is and though his brother (the current marquess) wants him to leave well enough alone, Judah must have answers. He also doesn’t want to live off his brother and needs employment, so he accepts a job managing Redcake’s, his sister-in-law’s tea shop. Judah is a likeable, interesting hero. He’s a hard worker with good business sense, but he isn’t perfect and isn’t afraid to acknowledge that he’s learning as he goes. Learning of his illegitimacy has made him question his place in the world, and it was nice to see him find where he belongs. Finding love is, of course, part of his journey, and what better heroine could there be for a (potentially) scandalous hero than a member of the Scandalous Cross family?

Magdalene Cross was born and raised to be a society girl, but instead she’s working herself to the bone caring for her dying sister-in-law and trying to manage her brother’s household. When Judah offers her employment, Magdalene is both grateful and ashamed. I actually liked that Magdalene isn’t proud of her employment – it would be incredibly unrealistic for the times and the way she was raised if she were. Magdalene is torn between two worlds just as Judah is, and she’s far less accepting of it. This leads to a bit of push-pull and slows down the romance aspect of the story. I liked that Judah and Magdalene took things slowly and fell in love as they got to know each other, but there was a bit of spark missing from their romance. Judah and Magdalene make a good couple, and it their story was enjoyable, but there’s no snappiness to their dialogue, and the chemistry is a little underwhelming. With a bit more liveliness to the tale, One Taste of Scandal would shine. As it stands, Magdalene and Judah’s book is solidly entertaining and I finished it looking forward to reading more Redcakes stories.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Rock Chick Reckoning by Kristen Ashley

Friday, May 20, 2016

Rock Chick Reckoning by Kristen Ashley
Series: Rock Chick, Book 6
Publisher: Kristen Ashley
Genre: Contemporary Romance Rock Chick Reckoning Cover
ISBN: 9780615781600
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Audible

Stella’s the lead singer and lead guitarist of The Blue Moon Gypsies and Stella used to be Mace’s girl. Mace broke up with her, though, and the loss of him rocked her world. But Stella gets a call, late at night (again) from one of the members of her crazy band. She has to go play clean up (again) and runs into Mace and a shed load of police, and ends up getting shot.

Mace finds he doesn’t like it much that his ex-girlfriend got shot right in front of him but it’s worse. A very bad man has thrown down the gauntlet and all the Rock Chicks are in the firing line. Stella doesn’t want Mace to be the one to keep her alive, but she has no choice. Mainly because Mace isn’t giving her one.

I. Loved. This. Book. I loved it so much, I’m pretty sure miniature hearts and flowers were popping up around my head as I listened to it. Rock Chick Reckoning is not only my favorite Rock Chick book to date (not an easy feat considering my love for Rock Chick and Rock Chick Redemption), it’s my favorite out of all the Kristen Ashley books I’ve read so far. Rock Chick Reckoning has absolutely everything I’ve come to love about the Rock Chick series – a sassy heroine, a hot, protective hero, a compelling romance, danger, humor, and a boatload of fun moments with the Rock Chicks – and it’s all wrapped up in a fast-paced, vibrant, emotional, highly addictive story.

Stella is the premier Rock Chick. She’s the lead singer and guitarist for the Blue Moon Gypsies and she has the pure talent and stage presence to make it big. However, she mostly spends her time trying to keep her band members out of trouble, something that could be a full-time occupation in and of itself. Keeping busy prevents Stella from thinking too much the broken heart she has courtesy of Kai “Mace” Mason. Mace made her world shine, but when he walked away from her, it crushed her. She’s moved on in the year since the breakup, but when she gets a panicked call from one of her band members in the middle of the night, Stella winds up running into Mace…right before she’s shot. Mace, the police, and the entire Nightingale Investigations team are out to bring down a drug dealer, and the bad guy isn’t about to go quietly into the night. He has targeted the Rock Chicks, and even though she and Mace are no longer together, Stella is in the line of fire. Stella doesn’t want to let Mace back in her life, but if she wants to keep breathing, she has no choice. Close quarters and an undeniable attraction mean it’s not long before Stella and Mace hook up. But if they want to make things work, they’re both going to have to open up, listen, and face the past in order to have a future.

I absolutely loved Mace and Stella together. The two of them have excellent chemistry in bed and out, and it’s easy to see they’re made for one another. But loving each other isn’t their problem. Stella has been hurt badly in the past and Mace… Mace has suffered a loss so devastating that it changed his life forever. Both of them guard their hearts and don’t like to let their shields down. It takes a lot of strength for them to open up, and Stella really has to fight for Mace. I loved that she stepped up to the plate and did so with a vengeance. Their love story isn’t an easy one. Both Mace and Stella accidentally hurt one another in an effort to protect themselves, but they own up to their mistakes, learn from them, and grow stronger because of it. Ms. Ashley puts them through the emotional wringer, but every demon they fight, every battle they face is worth it, because their relationship isn’t just sexy, sassy, and sweet. It’s strong. I absolutely loved watching them heal each other and find the rockin’ happily ever after they so deserved.

While Rock Chick Reckoning has darker elements than a lot of the Rock Chick books, that doesn’t mean the story itself is dark. The Rock Chicks, Hot Bunch, and their friends are all strong supporting players in this book. The fact that all the Rock Chicks are in danger in this story makes the book all the more compelling and really brings everyone together in an organic way. This is one of the rare Rock Chick books with multiple points of view, and readers get updates on all the previous heroes and heroines. I won’t spoil the story by revealing what happens, but trust me, fans of the series are in for one heck of a treat. Ms. Ashley lets each of her characters shine in Rock Chick Reckoning, but Mace and Stella are still the heart and soul of the book.

Rock Chick Reckoning is truly an exciting story with heart, depth, steam, and sass. I listened to the story on audiobook and Susannah Jones does an absolutely fantastic job. Usually I find that narrators detract a bit from a story, but Ms. Jones is the rare exception of a narrator who makes a great book come even more fully life. I loved every minute of Rock Chick Reckoning and I cannot wait to listen to Mace and Stella’s story again!

FTC Disclosure: This book was purchased by me. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Waiting on Wednesday: Apprentice in Death by J.D. Robb

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine which spotlights eagerly anticipated upcoming releases!

If you've visited Wit and Sin a time or two, then you likely know that my absolute favorite series is J.D. Robb's In Death series. There have been 53 In Death stories (including novellas) so far and I am still incredibly excited for each and every adventure with Eve and Roarke. That's why it's no surprise that my Waiting on Wednesday pick this week is the upcoming Apprentice in Death :)

Apprentice in Death Cover Title: Apprentice in Death
Series: In Death, Book 43
Author: J.D. Robb
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: September 6, 2016
J.D. Robb Reading Order

Book Description (from Amazon):

Nature versus nurture...

The shots came quickly, silently, and with deadly accuracy. Within seconds, three people were dead at Central Park’s ice-skating rink. The victims: a talented young skater, a doctor, and a teacher. As random as random can be.

Eve Dallas has seen a lot of killers during her time with the NYPSD but never one like this. A review of the security videos reveals that the victims were killed with a tactical laser rifle fired by a sniper, who could have been miles away when the trigger was pulled. And though the list of locations where the shooter could have set up seems endless, the number of people with that particular skill set is finite: police, military, professional killer.

Eve’s husband, Roarke, has unlimited resources—and genius—at his disposal. And when his computer program leads Eve to the location of the sniper, she learns a shocking fact: There were two—one older, one younger. Someone is being trained by an expert in the science of killing, and they have an agenda. Central Park was just a warm-up. And as another sniper attack shakes the city to its core, Eve realizes that though we’re all shaped by the people around us, there are those who are just born evil...

Review: Wish upon a Wedding by LuAnn McLane

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Wish upon a Wedding by LuAnn McLane
Series: Cricket Creek, Book 10
Publisher: Signet
Genre: Contemporary Romance Wish upon a Wedding Cover
ISBN: 9781101989807
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Heartbroken handyman Avery Dean can’t get away from his ex—who just happens to be the maid of honor in his sister’s upcoming wedding. As the best man, Avery has to grin and bear his sister’s misguided attempts to get them back together, until the perfect excuse presents itself in a pretty out-of-towner.

With her time in Cricket Creek, Kentucky, coming to an end, hair stylist Sophia Gordon can’t deny the town’s charms, or her attraction to Avery Dean. That’s why she finds herself saying yes to dinner, and then, a wedding date.

Sophia agrees to be Avery’s pretend girlfriend until the big day is over, but when their make-believe fling shows signs of real passion, Sophia starts to wonder if staying in Cricket Creek could make all her wishes come true.

Return to the lovely small town of Cricket Creek, Kentucky with Wish upon a Wedding. LuAnn McLane’s tenth Cricket Creek novel doesn’t lack charm, but it also doesn’t meet its full potential.

Sophia and Avery make an adorable couple. They both obviously like one another, but between Sophia not wanting to open herself up and face potential rejection and Avery having been burned by love once before, the two have been constantly dancing around each other. A pretend relationship that should put a stop to Avery’s sister’s attempts to get Avery back with his ex is the much-needed push for Sophia and Avery to realize their attraction is mutual. Fake relationships becoming real is a fun romance trope I always enjoy, and I was looking forward to seeing how it worked out in this book. Unfortunately, I felt like Ms. McLane fell into the trap of telling instead of showing. To me, there was very little on-page development for Sophia and Avery, and this was such a pity, for they had good chemistry and their love story could have been excellent.

All of the Cricket Creek novels that I’ve read have featured a secondary romance, and Wish upon a Wedding is no exception. Avery’s uncle, Easton, and Sophia’s friend, Carrie Ann, are an endearing couple with a far more realized storyline than the supposed primary couple of the tale. Despite the book’s blurb, Carrie Ann and Easton seemed like the main couple of this book, and theirs was a delightful love story with the message that it’s never too late to face your fears, take a risk, and find your own happily ever after.

Wish upon a Wedding is a case of missed opportunity, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad book. I still liked it as fluffy entertainment, but this really wasn’t the strong installment of the Cricket Creek series. I really wanted to love Wish upon a Wedding, but I was a bit frustrated we only skimmed the surface of Avery and Sophia’s relationship. Even with this disappointment, I’m still looking forward to the next Cricket Creek novel.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Waiting on Wednesday: Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine which spotlights eagerly anticipated upcoming releases!

Rachel Caine's first Great Library book, Ink and Bone, was one of my absolute favorite reads of 2015. It's exciting, engaging, and wonderfully imaginative and I cannot wait to see what happens next in my WOW pick this week, Paper and Fire!

Paper and Fire Cover Title: Paper and Fire
Series: The Great Library, Book 2
Author: Rachel Caine
Genre: YA Fantasy/Futuristic
Publisher: NAL
Release Date: July 5, 2016

Book Description (from Amazon):

In Ink and Bone, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine introduced a world where knowledge is power, and power corrupts absolutely. Now, she continues the story of those who dare to defy the Great Library—and rewrite history...

With an iron fist, The Great Library controls the knowledge of the world, ruthlessly stamping out all rebellion, forbidding the personal ownership of books in the name of the greater good.

Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but serving in its army is nothing like he envisioned. His life and the lives of those he cares for have been altered forever. His best friend is lost, and Morgan, the girl he loves, is locked away in the Iron Tower and doomed to a life apart.

Embarking on a mission to save one of their own, Jess and his band of allies make one wrong move and suddenly find themselves hunted by the Library’s deadly automata and forced to flee Alexandria, all the way to London.

But Jess’s home isn't safe anymore. The Welsh army is coming, London is burning, and soon, Jess must choose between his friends, his family, or the Library willing to sacrifice anything and anyone in the search for ultimate control...

Sunday in Review

Sunday, May 1, 2016

It’s update time again! I've had the pleasure of reading and reviewing some fabulous April and May releases that I highly recommend :)

Below are the newest reviews I’ve written for Wit and Sin and Joyfully Reviewed. The master list and categorical lists on the right-hand side are updated as well.

Reviews for upcoming releases:
- The Untamed Earl (Playful Brides, Book 5) by Valerie Bowman (available 5/3/16)
- Fly with Me (Wild Aces, Book 1) by Chanel Cleeton (available 5/3/16)

All other new reviews:
- Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, Book 1) by Ilona Andrews
- Truly, Madly, Sweetly (Sweet Love, Book 1) by Kira Archer
- I Married the Duke (The Prince Catchers, Book 1) by Katharine Ashe
- Ain’t She Sweet (Green Mountain, Book 6) by Marie Force
- Arena (Arena, Book 1) by Holly Jennings
- No Good Duke Goes Unpunished (The Rules of Scoundrels, Book 3) by Sarah MacLean
- Seattle Wolf Pack Boxed Set (Seattle Wolf Pack, Books 1-3) by Kristin Miller
- 'Til Death Do Us Part by Amanda Quick
- Festive in Death (In Death, Book 39) by J.D. Robb
- The Obsession by Nora Roberts
- Nobody But You (Cedar Ridge, Book 3) by Jill Shalvis
- The Perfect Fit (Riley O’Brien & Co., Book 2.5) by Jenna Sutton

Upcoming reviews:
- The Conquering Dark (Crown & Key, Book 3) by Clay and Susan Griffith
- Skies of Steel (The Ether Chronicles, Book 3) by Zoƫ Archer
- The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie (Mackenzies & McBrides, Book 6) by Jennifer Ashley
- Wild Man (Dream Man, Book 2) by Kristen Ashley
- Down for the Count (Dare Me, Book 1) by Christine Bell
- Down and Dirty (Dare Me, Book 2) by Christine Bell
- Paper and Fire (The Great Library, Book 2) by Rachel Caine
- Into the Blue (Wild Aces, Book 2) by Chanel Cleeton
- The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library, Book 1) by Genevieve Cogman
- The Professional: Part 2 by Kresley Cole
- The Professional: Part 3 by Kresley Cole
- Wicked Ever After (Blud, Book 4) by Delilah S. Dawson
- Filthy Rich by Virna DePaul
- How to Ravish a Rake (How to Series, Book 3) by Vicky Dreiling
- Finding Fraser by kc dyer
- Soul Weaver by Hailey Edwards
- Air Bound (Sea Haven, Book 3) by Christine Feehan
- Earth Bound (Sea Haven, Book 4) by Christine Feehan
- Fire Bound (Sea Haven, Book 5) by Christine Feehan
- His Game, Her Rules by Charlene Groome
- Captured (Fallen Siren, Book 0.5) by S.J. Harper
- Reckoning (Fallen Siren, Book 2) by S.J. Harper
- One Taste of Scandal (Redcakes, Book 2) by Heather Hiestand
- Kosher USA by Roger Horowitz
- Duke of Sin (Maiden Lane, Book 10) by Elizabeth Hoyt
- Base Instincts (Demonica) by Larissa Ione
- The Volatile Amazon (Alliance of the Amazons, Book 4) by Sandy James
- Breathe (In Vino Veritas, Book 2) by Lauren Jameson
- Linger (In Vino Veritas, Book 3) by Lauren Jameson
- When the Rogue Returns (The Duke’s Men, Book 2) by Sabrina Jeffries
- If the Viscount Falls (The Duke’s Men, Book 4) by Sabrina Jeffries
- The Art of Sinning (Sinful Suitors, Book 1) by Sabrina Jeffries
- A Gift for Guile (The Thief-takers, Book 2) by Alissa Johnson
- Archer (Hard Body, Book 1) by Debra Kayn
- Addicted (outlaws, Book 2) by Elle Kennedy
- Before You Break (Between Breaths, Book 2) by Christina Lee
- There You Stand (Between Breaths, Book 5) by Christina Lee
- Heat it Up (Off the Ice, Book 1) by Stina Lindenblatt
- Caught Up in You (Loving on the Edge, Book 4) by Roni Loren
- Yours All Along (Loving on the Edge, Book 6.5) by Roni Loren
- Break Me Down (Loving on the Edge, Book 8.5) by Roni Loren
- Wish Upon a Wedding (Cricket Creek, Book 10) by LuAnn McLane
- Kiss of Steel (London Steampunk, Book 1) by Bec McMaster
- Keeping Secrets in Seattle by Brooke Moss
- While You Were Writing (Watkins Pond, Book 2) by Virginia Nelson
- Captive Prince (Captive Prince, Book 1) by C.S. Pacat
- Prince’s Gambit (Captive Prince, Book 2) by C.S. Pacat
- Kings Rising (Captive Prince, Book 3) by C.S. Pacat
- Raw Desire by Kate Pearce
- Soul Sucker by Kate Pearce
- The Fifth Favor by Shelby Reed
- Laugh (Burnside, Book 2) by Mary Ann Rivers
- Bay of Sighs (Guardians Trilogy, Book 2) by Nora Roberts
- Beauty’s Kingdom (Sleeping Beauty, Book 4) by A. N. Roquelaure
- Allegiance of Honor (Psy-Changeling, Book 15) by Nalini Singh
- Rock Addiction (Rock Kiss, Book 1) by Nalini Singh
- Fighting the Fall (Beyond the Cage, Book 2) by Jennifer Snow
- The Bourbon Kings (The Bourbon Kings, Book 1) by J.R. Ward
- A Common Scandal (The Grantham Girls, Book 2) by Amanda Weaver
- Takeover by Anna Zabo

Review: Fly with Me by Chanel Cleeton

Fly with Me by Chanel Cleeton
Series: Wild Aces, Book 1
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance Fly with Me Cover
ISBN: 9781101986967
Release Date: May 3, 2016
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

U.S. Air Force fighter pilot Noah Miller—call sign Burn—loves nothing more than flying hard and fast. When he meets a gorgeous and sassy woman while partying in Las Vegas, he immediately locks on to her.

Jordan Callahan owns a thriving clothing boutique, but her love life is far less successful. Her luck changes when six feet, two inches of sexy swagger asks her to dance and turns her world upside down.

One scorching weekend becomes an undeniable chemistry that they can’t leave in Vegas. But the long distance relationship and their different lives threaten to ground their romance. And when the dangers of Noah’s job become all too real, Jordan learns being with a fighter pilot means risking it all for a shot at love…

Fly with Me is a story that starts out with flashy fun and red-hot eroticism and then turns into something deeper and heart-wrenching. Chanel Cleeton takes readers on one hell of a journey in this first Wild Aces book and I loved every bit of it.

When sassy boutique owner Jordan meets cocky fighter pilot Noah during her sister’s bachelorette weekend in Vegas, she thinks she’s got his number. The attraction between them burns bright, but there’s a playfulness to their initial encounters that drew me in from the start. Jordan is confident, clever, and I absolutely loved the way she owns her attitude. Noah is sexy-as-sin and completely in love with flying F-16s. They only planned on a weekend fling, but what happens in Vegas can’t stay in Vegas, because – much to the shock of both Jordan and Noah – they want more. Even after tearing up the sheets, they can’t seem to let go of one another. Though Noah is a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot currently stationed in Oklahoma and Jordan owns her own clothing boutique in Florida, the two decide they’re going to see where their connection takes them and try for a long-distance relationship.

What really made me fall in love with Fly with Me is that there is no false drama – the obstacles Jordan and Noah face are painfully realistic. Falling in love may be easy for them, but that doesn’t ensure they’ll get a happily ever after. Ms. Cleeton does and incredible job of showing how difficult making a life can be when the one you love is in the military. Sure, Noah and his fellow fighter pilots are all drop-dead gorgeous and have the sexy swagger of a fantasy military hero. But Ms. Cleeton doesn’t shy away from showing both the rewards and the incredibly high cost of being and loving a fighter pilot. Noah and Jordan’s burgeoning relationship is tested by separation, schedules, curveballs, and the possibility of heartbreak. What Jordan and Noah deal with, separately and as a couple, makes me respect them and their love story all the more. This is a romance that takes work, and I absolutely loved the reality mixed in with the fantasy.

Fly with Me is truly an exceptional blend of sensual fun and gripping emotion. I found myself falling deeper in love with the story the more Jordan’s life became entwined with that of Noah and his military family. Ms. Cleeton takes Jordan and Noah on a rocky road to happily ever after, one with ups and downs that will keep you turning the pages of Fly with Me late into the night. By the end of the book, I was so invested in the world of the Wild Aces that I wanted to drop everything and dive right into the next book, Into the Blue. Fly with Me is by turns sexy, sassy, and soulful, and it’s a story that will stay with me for a very long time.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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