Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Review: Double Take by Leslie Kelly

Double Take by Leslie Kelly
Publisher: Harlequin Blaze
Genre: Erotic Contemporary Romance Double Take Cover
ISBN: 9780373797998
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Getting under her skin...

When her research about orgasms goes viral, sex therapist Lindsey Smith needs a place to lie low. Substitute teaching on Wild Boar Island, Michigan, promises not only privacy, but an opportunity to not think about sex. Which, thanks to the town's too-tasty police chief, lasts exactly one second.

After the dangerous streets of Chicago, Mike Santori figured the island was a safe, sane place to settle down. Getting hot for the new teacher wasn't in the plan. Especially when he discovers that Lindsey is more than she claims to be. Mike decides to use every sexy trick in the book to strip Lindsey of her defenses and reveal all of her secrets. It's a wickedly sensuous journey, one that pushes both of them beyond their limits…to the heart of their desires.

Double Take is a fast-paced, sexy read with two protagonists who meet when their lives are at a crossroads. Mike’s a cop who tired of constantly putting his life on the line while working for the Chicago P.D. He’s seeing if life in the slow lane as a small town chief of police is for him, and his plans don’t involve being fiercely attracted to Wild Boar Island’s newest substitute teacher. While Mike’s a hot, protective hero who’s easy to like, it’s the subject of his desire who really makes Double Take memorable. Lindsey Smith is a sex therapist who needs to lie low after the media turns her serious research into a meme-worthy joke. I not only adored Lindsey, my heart broke for her. She’s a hardworking, intelligent woman who doesn’t deserve the ridicule heaped on her.

Unfortunately, Wild Boar Island may not be the best place for Lindsey to get a fresh start. Though I’m sure there are plenty of lovely residents in the small town, the ones highlighted in the story made me cringe and overall made the tale slightly less enjoyable. But when the story isn’t focused on Lindsey and Mike avoiding slimy men or self-righteous harridans, it sparkles with humor and steams with sexual tension. Both in bed and out, Mike and Lindsey make a great couple and it was a joy to watch them overcome their internal barriers (most of them Lindsey’s) to get the happily ever after they deserve.

Double Take is erotic, emotional, and ultimately enjoyable. Fans of author Leslie Kelly’s Santori family will be delighted by the cameos some of her past heroes and heroines make. As for me, Double Take is my first Santori tale and I’m intrigued enough by these sexy Italians to take a peek into Ms. Kelly’s Santori backlist.

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.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Review: The Collector by Nora Roberts

The Collector by Nora Roberts
Publisher: Putnam Adult
Genre: Romantic Suspense The Collector Cover
ISBN: 9780399164453
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

As a professional house-sitter and freelance writer, nothing ties Lila Emerson down – not her work, not a home, and definitely not a relationship. She spends her life moving from one job to the next, sometimes crashing at a friend’s Manhattan apartment. And though she can appreciate her clients’ extraordinary homes, their expensive collections, and their adorable pets, Lila has never longed for possessions of her own. Everything she has, including her heart, is portable.

But when she witnesses a possible murder-suicide from her current apartment-sitting job, life as Lila knows it takes a dramatic turn.

Artist Ashton Archer knows his charming, clever, and impulsive brother couldn’t have killed his girlfriend – or taken his own life. His hope of unraveling what happened lies with Lila, the only eyewitness. And even buried in grief, Ash longs to paint the woman whose deep, dark eyes seem to hold endless reserves of strength and fiery passion.

Chalking up their intense attraction to the heat of the moment, Lila agrees to help Ash in trying to find out who murdered his brother and why. From the penthouses of Manhattan to grand Italian villas, their investigation draws them into a rarefied circle where priceless antiques are bought, sold, gambled away, and stolen, where what you possess is who you are, and where what you desire becomes a deadly obsession…

Like the priceless Fabergé eggs the titular character covets, The Collector is not only gorgeous, but exquisitely crafted. The Master of Romance, Nora Roberts, has woven an engrossing tale of love, family, and the lengths some will go to possess that which they desire the most.

At the heart of The Collector are Lila and Ash. Ashton’s a famous artist from a wealthy – and incredibly large – family, but he’s no spoiled rich boy. Ash puts his heart and vision into his paintings and saves his patience for his (over a dozen) siblings. I loved the juxtaposition of soulful painter and managing brother in Ash. What was even more fun was seeing him thrown a bit off his stride by Lila. She’s a YA author with a promising career and a penchant for people-watching who finds her in a Rear Window type of situation, one which ultimately leads Ash to her. Lila is also the “do it yourself” type to the extreme. She has a way of drawing people to her, but she’ll never let herself count on anyone for anything (with the exception of her best friend, Julie) and she doesn’t have any desire to risk her heart. Ash garners her sympathy from the start because of his heartache over losing his brother, Oliver, but his take-charge attitude rubs her the wrong way even as she finds herself reluctantly attracted to him. Though it’s a tragedy that brings them together, Lila and Ash find what they never knew they needed in one another. Their romance is both lovely and fun – the banter, ups and downs, and slide into love is all classic Nora Roberts (and I mean that in the very best way).

A secondary romance between Ash and Lila’s best friends brings further charm and unexpected moments of delight to The Collector, but what really makes this a well-rounded story is the mystery of who had Oliver Archer killed and the historically significant art Ash’s quest for answers uncovers. The detail Ms. Roberts layers into The Collector brings the lost Imperial eggs to life and I found myself invested in learning the eggs’ history alongside our protagonists. And while there isn’t any heart-pounding suspense in the book, there is definitely building tension when it comes to the assassin who is hunting Lila and Ash. I won’t spoil the story by going into too much detail, but I will say that each stop on the path Ash and Lila follow makes the reader more invested in the journey and the action-packed climax of the book is well worth the buildup.

Though it may sound odd to describe a book containing murder, fanatic collectors, and ruthless assassins as a comfort read, that’s just what The Collector is to me. Reading a Nora Roberts novel is like coming home – her distinctive style and hero and heroines you’d love to have as friends make even her darker books welcoming. Fans of Ms. Roberts old and new are sure to be entertained by The Collector. I, for one, am looking forward to enjoying Lila and Ash’s story for many years to come.

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.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Review: The Heir of the Castle by Scarlet Wilson

The Heir of the Castle by Scarlet Wilson
Publisher: Harlequin Romance
Genre: Contemporary Romance The Heir of the Castle Cover
ISBN: 9780425259771
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

The surprise inheritance: a castle!

When the closest person tycoon Callan McGregor has to a father dies, it's down to him to organize the inheritance of Annick Castle. And the most suitable candidate seems to be stunning lawyer Laurie Jenkins.

Even though she makes the usually brooding Callan's pulse race, this is business—he cannot afford a distraction. But she's a bubbly breath of fresh air who shakes the castle and Callan to its foundations. This time, he's not going to walk away—from either his home or from Laurie...

An unusual potential inheritance bring together a London lawyer and a Scottish social media tycoon in The Heir of the Castle. Author Scarlet Wilson charmed me with this sweet, enjoyable romance and her two endearing protagonists.

Laurie’s a heroine who captured my interest and garnered my sympathy early on. She’s an overworked lawyer who’s stressed out and burned-out thanks to the job she never really wanted. She goes to Annick Castle looking for family and a change of environment but finds more than she bargained for. It was fun watching Laurie fall for not only Callan, but the life she could have if she inherited the castle. And speaking of Callan, he too is torn from what he knows when he learns that the man he thought of as a father didn’t leave him the castle that had long been his home. Callan is understandably wary of not only Laurie but all the potential inheritors, most of whom are money-grubbing and callous. Both Callan and Laurie come into their own over the course of The Heir of the Castle and it was lovely watching them develop both as people and as a couple. The two of them complement each other perfectly and it was easy to become invested in their story.

While the question of who will inherit Annick Castle – Laurie or one of her unknown relatives – plays through the back of the story, it’s not the driving force of the novel. The murder mystery game that’s supposed to determine who gets the castle isn’t really explored, nor are Laurie’s relatives major characters in the book. I would have liked to see a bit more of this plot thread, as it had potential and seemed like fun, but The Heir of the Castle is truly about Laurie and Callan’s journeys. As it stands, I really liked The Heir of the Castle and I’m looking forward to reading more of Ms. Wilson’s work.

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.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Review: Unleashing Mr. Darcy by Teri Wilson

Unleashing Mr. Darcy by Teri Wilson
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary Romance Unleashing Mr Darcy Cover
ISBN: 9780373778355
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman teetering on the verge of thirty must be in want of a husband.

Not true for Manhattanite Elizabeth Scott. Instead of planning a walk down the aisle, she's crossing the pond with the only companion she needs—her darling dog, Bliss. Caring for a pack of show dogs in England seems the perfect distraction from the scandal that ruined her teaching career, and her reputation, in New York. What she doesn't count on is an unstoppable attraction to billionaire dog breeder Donovan Darcy. The London tycoon's a little bit arrogant, a whole lot sexy…and the chemistry between them is disarming. When passion is finally unleashed, might Elizabeth hope to take home more than a blue ribbon?

Unleashing Mr. Darcy is pure, unadulterated fun. Teri Wilson’s retelling of Pride and Prejudice both honors the source material and puts a fresh spin on the classic tale. I’m wary of Austen-inspired stories, but Ms. Wilson has made a fan out of me.

Elizabeth Scott is an intelligent, modern woman whose experience with the rich and entitled has left her wary and slightly prejudiced against the wealthy. When she meets proud Englishman Donovan Darcy at a dog show, sparks fly even though they don’t quite like one another. What follows is a charming loves story flavored with Jane Austen and home to a host of adorable dogs. In fact, between the Cavalier King Charles spaniels and the Border terriers in the story, adorable dogs threaten to steal the show from the humans. That being said, Elizabeth is an endearing heroine and Donovan flat-out made me melt. Unlike the original, readers get to peel back the layers of Darcy’s character before Elizabeth does, and meet the thoughtful, irresistible man beneath. As a couple, Elizabeth and Donovan had great chemistry and the banter between them kept Unleashing Mr. Darcy moving at a quick clip. Add in a sweet secondary romance between Donovan’s best friend, Henry, and Elizabeth’s sister, Jenna, and it’s no wonder Unleashing Mr. Darcy left me smiling.

Unleashing Mr. Darcy is bright, fun, and utterly addictive. Pride and Prejudice fans should be charmed by this contemporary retelling, and I recommend Ms. Wilson’s book to Austenites, romance fans, and, of course, dog lovers.

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.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Author Interview: Elle Kennedy

I tend to fly my fangirl flag pretty high, so if you're a regular visitor to Wit and Sin then you probably know I'm a huge Elle Kennedy fan. Her stories range from insanely erotic to dark and gritty and everything in between. Midnight Pursuits is Ms. Kennedy's latest release and the fourth book in her Killer Instincts (romantic suspense) series. My review of Midnight Pursuits can be found here, but what's even more exciting is I got to sit down and interview Ms. Kennedy!

Scroll down and see what Ms. Kennedy has to say about the Killer Instincts series, her sexy-as-sin characters, and writing. And for US readers, Ms. Kennedy's publisher is doing a giveaway! The prize is the first three Killer Instincts novels, Midnight Rescue, Midnight Alias, and Midnight Games. To enter, simply comment on this post with your name and email address (so I can contact you for your mailing address if you win) by 11:59PM PST Friday, April 4th.

Q: The Killer Instincts series is darker and grittier than a lot of your other books. What inspired you to write the series? Midnight Pursuits Cover
A: Well, first off, I’m a big fan of romantic suspense. As a reader, I devour RS novels (Iris Johansen in particular!), and it’s always been my first love, writing wise. I knew I wanted to write a RS series, but I wanted it to be different from my light, sexy contemporaries. I love writing dark and gritty, and the Killer Instincts series fits that to a T.

Q: Every relationship in the Killer Instincts series has a different dynamic. In MIDNIGHT PURSUITS you pair up Ethan, a dangerous mercenary with a boy-next-door vibe, with Juliet, a guarded former thief on a quest for vengeance. What did you enjoy writing the most when it came to Ethan and Juliet as a pair?
A: The good guy/bad girl angle! Ethan is so darn sweet, and I knew he couldn’t end up with someone as sweet as him. When I introduced Juliet in Midnight Games, I realized she was the perfect woman for him. She’s dangerous, impulsive and sarcastic, and from the moment they were on the same page, the sparks started flying. That’s when I knew they HAD to get their own book!

Q: With each Killer Instincts book you’ve given more insight into the complex relationship between Noelle and Jim Morgan. Any hints on what’s in store for these two?
A: Well…I mean, they hate each other, so maybe one of them will finally man up and kill the other? Or maybe they’ll wind up in bed? Who knows…

Q: You’ve said that the next book, MIDNIGHT ACTION, is Noelle’s story. Which other mercenaries and chameleons/assassins do you have books planned for?
A: All of them! Derek “D” Pratt is one of my favourites, and I already have his story in mind. Sullivan and Liam are a lot of fun too, and you’ll start to see them in future sub-plots. And Noelle’s operative Bailey will be popping up soon too…

Midnight Pursuits Cover Q: Out of all your books, do you have any favorites of the characters you’ve written?
A: Oh gosh. I love them all. But if I have to play favourites…I’d say Noelle for Killer Instincts, and Dylan Wade for the Out of Uniform series. (those two couldn’t be more different! I mean, Dylan is the most charming man on the planet, and Noelle is just terrifying)

Q: What’s one thing about being an author you wish someone had told you before you were first published?
A: That it’s a JOB. Even on the days when I don’t feel like writing (and there are plenty of those) I have to sit down at my computer and force myself to work, just like any other job. It’s not all fun and games, especially when you’re drowning in deadlines and just want to take a long break!

Q: When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?
A: Read. Garden. Play with my dog. See friends. Marathon TV shows that I don’t have time to watch live. Play board games.

I’m kind of a dork, if I’m being honest.

About Midnight Pursuits:
Midnight Pursuits Cover Her job is to stay hidden.

Too bad he can’t take his eyes off her.

Soldier-for-hire Ethan Hayes is the youngest member of an elite mercenary team. While he may be affectionately nicknamed the rookie, the skills Ethan honed as a Marine make him seriously dangerous. But when a sudden distress call puts him in close quarters with a rival, he finds more than his field skills being put to the test.

Juliet Mason stands out as the master thief in a covert group of assassins and spies. Her latest mission is personal—and it’s gone horribly wrong. Juliet may prefer to work alone, but when the rookie comes to her aid in snowy Eastern Europe, she can’t deny they make a good team. But even up against a powerful enemy, their most challenging task yet may be fighting the passion between them...

My Review | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

About Elle Kennedy:
A RITA-award nominated author, Elle Kennedy grew up in the suburbs of Toronto, Ontario, and holds a B.A. in English from York University. From an early age, she knew she wanted to be a writer, and actively began pursuing that dream when she was a teenager.

Elle currently publishes with Signet Eclipse, Harlequin Romantic Suspense, and Samhain Publishing. She loves strong heroines and sexy alpha heroes, and just enough heat and danger to keep things interesting!

Don't forget about the giveaway hosted by Signet! Simply leave a comment on this post (with your email address) before 11:59PM PST Friday, April 4th and you could win the first three Killer Instincts novels (US readers only, sorry)!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: The Falconer by Elizabeth May

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

This caught my eye some time ago and today I realized we're just at a little more than a month until The Falconer comes out. The blurb intrigued me and (on a shallow note) the cover is gorgeous. I can't wait to read this one!

The Falconer Cover Title: The Falconer
Series: The Falconer, Book 1
Author: Elizabeth May
Genre: YA Historical Paranormal
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Release Date: May 6, 2014

Book Description (from Goodreads):

Edinburgh, Scotland, 1844

Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, was destined for a life carefully planned around Edinburgh’s social events – right up until a faery killed her mother.

Now it’s the 1844 winter season and Aileana slaughters faeries in secret, in between the endless round of parties, tea and balls. Armed with modified percussion pistols and explosives, she sheds her aristocratic facade every night to go hunting. She’s determined to track down the faery who murdered her mother, and to destroy any who prey on humans in the city’s many dark alleyways.

But the balance between high society and her private war is a delicate one, and as the fae infiltrate the ballroom and Aileana’s father returns home, she has decisions to make. How much is she willing to lose – and just how far will Aileana go for revenge?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Review: Thrown for a Curve by Sugar Jamison

Thrown for a Curve by Sugar Jamison
Series: Perfect Fit, Book 2
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary Romance Thrown for a Curve Cover
ISBN: 9781250032980
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

When you're a big girl

Cherri has often wished she were thin and graceful like a ballerina instead of being a six-foot-tall blonde with curves that require serious caution. Surely a charming Irishman like her new boss Colin, with his throaty brogue and to-die-for bod, would never go for someone like Cherri. Unless maybe he’s looking for the exact opposite of a delicate lass?

There’s more of you to love

When Colin hired Cherri to work in his furniture-restoration shop, he had his eyes, first and foremost, on her artistic talents. But now he can’t help but see Cherri for the lush, spirited beauty that she is…and, soon enough, he finds himself mixing business with pleasure. But Cherri turns out to be more vulnerable than she appears. Is she in need of more than Colin can give? Or could it be that a feeling stronger than lust has him thrown for a curve?

I start every book I pick up hoping to love it, but it’s a sad fact that some stories just aren’t going to be a good (never mind perfect) fit. Such was the case for me with Thrown for a Curve. I went into the second Perfect Fit novel hoping for a fun, sassy read in the vein of the first novel, Dangerous Curves Ahead, and came out disappointed.

Thrown for a Curve follows Cherri and Colin on their rocky road to happily ever after. Cherri is a young artist who wants to be a teacher, but I felt I never really got a solid grip on her personality aside from that. She’s sprightly in the beginning of the story and I enjoyed that, along with her love for her grandmother and her not-so-hidden insecurities. Unfortunately, in the second half of Thrown for a Curve Cherri does a one-eighty, devolving into someone unrecognizable and, ultimately, frustrating. Her mood swings gave me whiplash (and hormones don’t cover it, I’m sorry to say) and I really lost respect for her when she failed to simply open her mouth and talk to Colin about her problems. Not to mention my irritation with the entire plotline involving her becoming a teacher. I don’t presume to be knowledgeable about New York teaching credential programs, but one would think Cherri would have to spend at least 30 seconds in a classroom before she’s given a teaching position. As it only takes her that long to decide she hates her “dream job” and not much longer than that to quit, I really questioned her maturity, which was sad considering author Sugar Jamison had spent the whole book working to prove that Cherri was mature for her age. Colin, in turn, is a handsome Irishman (don’t worry about remembering that, it’ll be referenced multiple times per chapter) whose past has left him with issues when it comes to women. He makes mistakes with Cherri and also regresses as the book goes on, but I was able to understand where he was coming from slightly better, even if I didn’t agree with his actions and wanted to shake him.

I do want to stress that I liked Cherri and Colin for the first half of the book, even though I felt things moved incredibly slowly. Unfortunately, when the action picked up the story derailed. I won’t spoil what happened, but I will say that a lot of Colin and Cherri’s problems could have been solved if they’d simply had honest conversations with one another where each spoke and truly listened to one another. The drama felt manufactured and there were a few other seemingly random moments thrown in at the end to “test” Colin and Cherri’s relationship which didn’t help.

I finished Thrown for a Curve feeling disappointed and unsure if I want to read the third book in the series, which is a pity, as I liked both the first Perfect Fit book and the novella “Have Yourself a Curvy Little Christmas.” Fans of Dangerous Curves Ahead should be pleased that Mike and Ellis appear and are instrumental in making Cherri and Colin’s relationship work. There’s a satisfying epilogue in Thrown for a Curve which ends the book on a positive note and reminded me of what I generally like about Ms. Jamison’s writing.

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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