Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Book Reviews: Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Below is a master list of my sci-fi and fantasy/urban fantasy reviews. Though these books may contain romantic elements, they are not primarily romance novels.

Note: The review links will open up in a new tab/window.


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New Reviews

Reviews for Upcoming Releases

Anthologies/Multiple Authors (alphabetized by title)

Alphabetized by Author:
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |


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Anthologies/Multiple Authors (alphabetized by title)


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- Magic Shifts (Kate Daniels, Book 8) by Ilona Andrews
- Magic Binds (Kate Daniels, Book 9) by Ilona Andrews
- Magic Triumphs (Kate Daniels, Book 10) by Ilona Andrews

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- Burn Bright (Alpha & Omega, Book 5) by Patricia Briggs

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- Lipstick Voodoo (Kincaid Strange, Book 2) by Kristi Charish
- The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library, Book 1) by Genevieve Cogman
- The Burning Page (The Invisible Library, Book 3) by Genevieve Cogman

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- Arena (Arena, Book 1) by Holly Jennings
- Gauntlet (Arena, Book 2) by Holly Jennings
- Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen

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- Heroine Complex (Heroine Complex, Book 1) by Sarah Kuhn
- Heroine Worship (Heroine Complex, Book 2) by Sarah Kuhn
- Heroine’s Journey (Heroine Complex, Book 3) by Sarah Kuhn
- Unsung Heroine (Heroine Complex, Book 3.5) by Sarah Kuhn

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- The Last Quarrel: Episode One by Duncan Lay

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- Den of Wolves (Blackthorn & Grim, Book 3) by Juliet Marillier
- The Harp of Kings (Warrior Bards, Book 1) by Juliet Marillier

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Disclosure Notice: In accordance with FTC Guidelines, I would like everyone to know that while I do purchase my own books quite frequently, you should assume that each book reviewed here at Wit and Sin was provided to the reviewer by the publisher or the author for free.

Book Reviews: Mystery and Thriller

Below is a master list of my mystery and thriller reviews. Though these books may contain romantic elements, they are not primarily romance novels.

Note: The review links will open up in a new tab/window.


Click to jump to a particular section:

New Reviews

Reviews for Upcoming Releases

Anthologies/Multiple Authors (alphabetized by title)

Alphabetized by Author:
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |


New Reviews


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Reviews for Upcoming Releases


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Anthologies/Multiple Authors (alphabetized by title)

- Wicked Charms (Lizzy and Diesel, Book 3) by Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton

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- Death Below Stairs (Kat Holloway Mysteries, Book 1) by Jennifer Ashley
- Scandal Above Stairs (Kat Holloway Mysteries, Book 2) by Jennifer Ashley

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- Murder at Pirate’s Cove (Secrets and Scrabble, Book 1) by Josh Lanyon
- A Geek Girl’s Guide to Arsenic (Geek Girl Mysteries, Book 2) by Julie Anne Lindsey

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- New York to Dallas (In Death, Book 33) by J.D. Robb
- Celebrity in Death (In Death, Book 34) by J.D. Robb
- Delusion in Death (In Death, Book 35) by J.D. Robb
- Calculated in Death (In Death, Book 36) by J.D. Robb
- Thankless in Death (In Death, Book 37) by J.D. Robb
- Concealed in Death (In Death, Book 38) by J.D. Robb
- Festive in Death (In Death, Book 39) by J.D. Robb
- Obsession in Death (In Death, Book 40) by J.D. Robb
- Devoted in Death (In Death, Book 41) by J.D. Robb
- Brotherhood in Death (In Death, Book 42) by J.D. Robb

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- A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh

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- The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

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Disclosure Notice: In accordance with FTC Guidelines, I would like everyone to know that while I do purchase my own books quite frequently, you should assume that each book reviewed here at Wit and Sin was provided to the reviewer by the publisher or the author for free.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Review: The Lost Diary of Venice by Margaux DeRoux

The Lost Diary of Venice by Margaux DeRoux
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Historical/Contemporary Fiction
ISBN: 9781984819482
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Two impossible love stories are fatefully connected by one artistic legacy in a stunning debut that leaps between the mysteries of late-Renaissance Venice and the dramas of present-day America.

In the wake of her father’s death, Rose Newlin finds solace in her work as a book restorer. Then, one rainy Connecticut afternoon, a struggling painter appears at her door. William Lomazzo brings with him a sixteenth-century treatise on art, which Rose quickly identifies as a palimpsest: a document written over a hidden diary that had purposely been scraped away. Yet the restoration sparks an unforeseen challenge when William—a married man—and Rose experience an instant, unspoken attraction.

Five centuries earlier, Renaissance-era Venetians find themselves at the mercy of an encroaching Ottoman fleet preparing for a bloody war. Giovanni Lomazzo, a portrait artist grappling with tragedy, discovers that his vision is fading with each passing day. Facing the possibility of a completely dark world, Gio begins to document his every encounter, including what may be his final artistic feat: a commission to paint the enchanting courtesan of one of Venice’s most powerful military commanders. Soon, however, Gio finds himself enraptured by a magnificent forbidden love.

Spellbound by Gio’s revelations, Rose and William are soon forced to confront the reality of their own mystifying connection.

A richly detailed page-turner shadowed by one of history’s darkest times, The Lost Diary of Venice weaves a heartbreakingly vivid portrait of two vastly different worlds—and two tales of entrancing, unrelenting love.

Rose Newlin is a book restorer in a small college town whose life has been in stasis after the death of her father. But when William Lomazzo, an artist who Rose is instantly attracted to, brings in a sixteenth century palimpsest for restoration Rose finds her spark again. The treatise on art that’s the primary text is fascinating in its own right, but it’s the sketches and writings that had been scraped away underneath that truly capture William and Rose’s attention. As Rose works on the book, she and William are drawn to one another. But William is married and struggling with his troubled marriage. Past and present start to bleed together as they uncover a tale of forbidden love…

In the sixteenth century, Giovanni Lomazzo has already lost his wife and son. Now he’s losing his sight and despair is taking hold of him. He’s been tasked with one last commission: a portrait of a courtesan who takes his breath away. There’s more to Chiara than meets the eye and as she and Gio are drawn toward each other, the threat of what happens if they are discovered becomes more and more of a possibility…

The Lost Diary of Venice is a bittersweet tale. Margaux DeRoux weaves together two love stories, one set in the present and one set in a sixteenth century Venice on the cusp of war with the Ottoman empire.

Ms. DeRoux brings Venice to life quite well. The gorgeous clothing and scenery we like to envision is there, but also the darker elements. Antisemitism, sexism, religious zealotry, harsh conditions, and more aren’t overlooked and are, in fact, major elements of the story. Gio is the most well-drawn of all the main characters; an artist on the cusp of losing his sight who finds love when he’s close to giving up hope. I wish his relationships with secondary characters had been better fleshed out because it would have made the world stronger and the story richer. And I desperately wish we’d had more than brief moments in Chiara’s point of view. She’s hands-down the most fascinating character in the book, lovely and intelligent, bold and secretive. She’s a mystery in many ways throughout the book and as the pieces come together I wish we got to see her inner thoughts and feelings more. It’s a case of missed opportunity, for as Chiara’s past is revealed I found I could read a whole book just about her. The love story between Chiara and Gio is one of stolen moments and it’s beautiful and sad. Perhaps if the book were solely set in the sixteenth century the characters and the background scenes involving the battle over control of Cyprus would have had more depth, making the story go from good to great.

The modern-day storyline is where I struggled the most with The Lost Diary of Venice. I enjoyed the bits of the story where Rose was working on the restoration of the palimpsest and found those interesting. But the attraction between Rose and William never lived up to its potential, and not just because William was married. William and Rose’s love story is set up as a parallel of Gio and Chiara’s and it just doesn’t work. Rose and William aren’t as well drawn as their historical counterparts and their parts of the book felt flat to me. I couldn’t get emotionally invested in the modern day storyline so the book dragged in parts because of that. Still, though The Lost Diary of Venice takes a while to build steam, once it does it’s an engaging read. I had mixed feelings when I finished the book but the potential was there and I would be interested in reading more of Ms. DeRoux’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.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Review: Hometown Hero by Liza Kendall

Hometown Hero by Liza Kendall
Series: Silverlake Ranch, Book 3
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9780593098042
Release Date: July 7, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

A charming new contemporary romance set in Silverlake, Texas, where love throws old rivals a curveball…

Andrew “Ace” Braddock is a player in every sense of the word. The center fielder for the Austin Lone Stars, he’s also been at the center of numerous sports scandals involving beer, bars, and baseball bunnies. But when he takes the fall for a teammate, Ace wakes up in the hospital, injured and in serious trouble. He’s sent to lie low and recover at his family ranch in Silverlake, Texas, where he’s saddled with his worst nightmare: his high school nemesis—a beautiful nurse who refuses to play doctor with him.

Mia Adams has no time to fool around. The daughter of Silverlake’s high school baseball coach has three jobs and a pile of debt left behind by her missing ex. The very last thing she wants is to spend her time indulging hometown hero Easy Ace Braddock. If she didn’t need the money, she’d have nothing to do with the guy from her past who stole her dad’s time, attention, and love away from her before leaving for the major leagues.

As Mia does her best to corral the irrepressible Ace, keep a sense of humor, and fight her unwelcome attraction to him, he charms, sidesteps, and outmaneuvers her. Will the onetime enemies find love at home base, right in the town where they grew up?

A baseball star with a reckless streak meets his match with a nurse who can’t be swayed by his charm in Hometown Hero. Mia Adams cannot catch a break. She’s working multiple jobs to try to pay off the debt her scumbag ex left in her name before skipping town. She’s a nurse, takes care of so many with compassion and kindness, and has a side business she’s trying to expand on top of it all. She doesn’t have time for Ace’s attitude, but she definitely could use the money his team is paying her to be his babysitter. Andrew “Easy Ace” Braddock works hard and plays harder. But his luck and bad boy charm can’t get him out of the latest pickle he finds himself in. Injured and laying low in Silverlake while he heals, Ace basks in being the hometown hero at first, which makes him a bit hard to like. He’s overly impressed with himself and doesn’t see past his own nose more often than not, which is frustrating, especially when you see how hard his actions have been on Mia and his brother Declan. Fortunately, around the halfway point Ace has a breakthrough. I enjoyed watching him become a better man. He screws up – a lot – but when he does it in the second half of the book it comes from a good (if misguided) place. Ace has a lot of lessons to learn in Hometown Hero but once he starts to grow his journey is one worth reading.

Attraction sparks immediately between Mia and Ace, but that doesn’t mean the romance is an easy one. Mia is at the end of her rope and I wanted her to not only find love but find someone she can depend on, can lean on in the hard times. I liked that she didn’t just fall all over herself with Ace. Part of that is due to her own issues with him stemming from her father ignoring her and focusing on Ace, the son he never had, when they were growing up. Mia takes a lot of hits in this book that just tug on your heartstrings. But watching her find support and love with Ace just warmed my heart.

Hometown Hero is the third book in the Silverlake Ranch series, but it can be read as a standalone. I loved Mia’s friendship with the Braddock siblings and I enjoyed watching the strained relationship between Ace and his brother Declan start to heal. And speaking of the eldest Braddock… Man, I hope author duo Liza Kendall have a book in store for Declan. The often stoic rancher grabbed my heart in the first Silverlake Ranch book and hasn’t let go since. So while I finished Mia and Ace’s book a satisfied reader, I am seriously on the edge of my seat, hoping Declan gets a book.


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.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Review: About a Rogue by Caroline Linden

About a Rogue by Caroline Linden
Series: Desperately Seeking Duke, Book 1
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9780062913623
Release Date: June 30, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

It’s no love match…
Bianca Tate is horrified when her sister Cathy is obliged to accept an offer of marriage from Maximilian St. James, notorious rake. Defiantly she helps Cathy elope with her true love, and takes her sister’s place at the altar.

It’s not even the match that was made…
Perched on the lowest branch of his family tree, Max has relied on charm and cunning to survive. But an unexpected stroke of luck gives him an outside chance at a dukedom—and which Tate sister he weds hardly seems to matter.

But could it be the perfect match?
Married or not, Bianca is determined to protect her family’s prosperous ceramics business, even when Max shows an affinity for it—not to mention a dangerous ability to intrigue and tempt Bianca herself. And when Max realizes how beautiful and intelligent and desirable Bianca is, he’ll have to prove he’s no rogue, but the passionately devoted husband she craves…

Bianca Tate loves two things: her family and Perusia, her family’s ceramics business. When her father agrees to let a rogue with some paper-thin connection to a duke marry Bianca’s sister, Cathy, and have a quarter share in Perusia, Bianca is furious. Not only is Cathy in love with another, how dare her father give away a piece of her inheritance to a stranger known for his gambling? In a fury, Bianca helps Cathy elope with her beloved…only to find that she herself has to take Cathy’s place at the altar. She may have to marry Maximilian St. James, but she’s determined he won’t interfere in her life or her family’s business. Only Max turns out to be quite different than she imagined. Slowly Bianca finds herself thawing to the stranger she married as she learns that perhaps there may be more to the charming rogue than she first thought.

About a Rogue is so much fun to read! Max and Bianca have excellent chemistry and I loved watching Bianca in particular go from loathing her husband and all she believes him to be to falling for the real man beneath the rogue.

Max grabbed my heart from the first. He’s got a good heart, sharp business sense, and has had a difficult life. Learning that he’s possibly in line for a dukedom is the first stroke of luck he’s had in a long time. It’s not the possibility of a title, but rather the money promised if he becomes respectable that gives Max the leg up he needs to find the security he so craves. Perusia isn’t just a means to an end for him and I loved watching Max’s business acumen at work as he comes up with new ideas. He’s the perfect addition to the Tate family, whether Bianca wants to admit it or not. As for Bianca, there are a few Taming of the Shrew elements in the beginning of About a Rogue as she resists her father’s plans and Max’s charms. I understood why she was so angry, though because I had more insight to Max than she, I felt sorry for him. However, Max stays one step ahead of Bianca in often funny ways and I loved the sparks that flew between them. Bianca is fiercely loving in addition to incredibly talented and once she begins to see the true Max the story really takes flight. They are a dynamite pair and I loved watching their relationship develop.

About a Rogue is the first book in the Desperately Seeking Duke series and I cannot wait to see what Caroline Linden has in store for the other Carlyle heirs. Each story promises to be quite different and in this one I loved the backdrop of the ceramics business. From the artistry of it to Max’s ideas for expanding the business to Bianca’s gift for glazes and knowledge of chemistry, the Perusia part of the story not only added depth to the world and story, it was fascinating in its own right. I truly adored About a Rogue and will happily revisit Max and Bianca again and again.


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.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Review: Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory

Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory
Series: The Wedding Date, Book 5
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9780593100820
Release Date: June 23, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

A chance meeting with a handsome stranger turns into a whirlwind affair that gets everyone talking.

Dating is the last thing on Olivia Monroe’s mind when she moves to LA to start her own law firm. But when she meets a gorgeous man at a hotel bar and they spend the entire night flirting, she discovers too late that he is none other than hotshot junior senator Max Powell. Olivia has zero interest in dating a politician, but when a cake arrives at her office with the cutest message, she can’t resist—it is chocolate cake, after all.

Olivia is surprised to find that Max is sweet, funny, and noble—not just some privileged white politician she assumed him to be. Because of Max’s high-profile job, they start seeing each other secretly, which leads to clandestine dates and silly disguises. But when they finally go public, the intense media scrutiny means people are now digging up her rocky past and criticizing her job, even her suitability as a trophy girlfriend. Olivia knows what she has with Max is something special, but is it strong enough to survive the heat of the spotlight?

Jasmine Guillory delivers some of the best meet-cutes and Olivia and Max’s in Party of Two is no exception. Olivia has just moved from New York to L.A. to start her own law firm when she meets a handsome stranger in a hotel bar. After a night of cocktails, cookies, and flirting/dessert debates, she’s surprised to discover that the vaguely familiar-looking hottie is none other than Senator Max Powell. And when they run into each other again a few weeks later and he sends her a cake… Well, despite not wanting to get involved with a politician, how can she resist?

Olivia is an intelligent, hardworking, and driven heroine who is easy to like. She doesn’t like to jump into things, which makes her the polar opposite of the impetuous Max. Max is a sweetheart who is thoughtful and kind, and is also mostly aware of his privileged status as a wealthy, white, male senator. Max’s heart is always in the right place, but he does screw up. He can sometimes be selfish without realizing it and he jumps headfirst into things over and over. For that reason alone, he and Olivia shouldn’t work. And yet they balance one another and they’re not complete opposites. Both want to make the world a better place in their own way and they’re willing to fight for it.

The question of whether or not love is enough when you’re involved with someone in the public eye in the current political climate is a logical one. I loved watching Olivia and Max work through things in between numerous scenes featuring cakes and pies. Sometimes it’s a rocky road for them, especially once their relationship goes public and the press gets involved. As a Black woman, Olivia deals with enough racism and sexism in her normal field of work without adding on the media violating her privacy and digging into her past, shading what they find with more racism and blasting it out to the world. My heart broke for her, and as much as I wanted to see her and Max together I liked that the internal and external problems they faced as a couple weren’t easily brushed aside.

Party of Two is the fifth book in the Wedding Date series, but it can easily be read as a standalone. Fans of the first book in the series will be happy they get to visit Olivia’s sister, Alexa. And if you’re familiar with Ms. Guillory’s work then you know to expect copious amounts of food. It’s a bit over the top and can get repetitive, but after five books I’ve grown used to it so whether this will be a positive or a negative is really up to personal preference. And it would be remiss of me to talk about Party of Two and not mention some of my favorite things about the book: that both Olivia and Max are in their later thirties, are in high-pressure careers that demand long hours, and both unequivocally support one another. Neither even thinks of asking the other to slow down or cut back, which I really appreciated. This is just as much a signature of Ms. Guillory’s work as the enormous amounts of food and I absolutely love it. I finished Party of Two a happily satisfied reader and I’m looking forward to seeing what Ms. Guillory comes up with next.


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: Two Rogues Make a Right by Cat Sebastian

Two Rogues Make a Right by Cat Sebastian
Series: Seducing the Sedgwicks, Book 3
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Genre: Male/Male Historical Romance
ISBN: 9780062821591
Release Date: June 23, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Will Sedgwick can’t believe that after months of searching for his oldest friend, Martin Easterbrook is found hiding in an attic like a gothic nightmare. Intent on nursing Martin back to health, Will kindly kidnaps him and takes him to the countryside to recover, well away from the world.

Martin doesn’t much care where he is or even how he got there. He’s much more concerned that the man he’s loved his entire life is currently waiting on him hand and foot, feeding him soup and making him tea. Martin knows he’s a lost cause, one he doesn’t want Will to waste his life on.

As a lifetime of love transforms into a tender passion both men always desired but neither expected, can they envision a life free from the restrictions of the past, a life with each other?

Two Rogues Make a Right is a tender, emotionally honest romance. Cat Sebastian doesn’t deliver sweeping drama, but rather quiet moments that have a hefty emotional impact.

Friends-to-lovers is a trope I adore when done well and Ms. Sebastian does it exceptionally well. Will and Martin are lifelong best friends and neither will hesitate to drop everything to come to the other’s aid. At the beginning of this story it’s Martin, who suffers from chronic illness made worse by the poor London air, who is nearly on death’s door. Will sweeps him off to the country to heal and close quarters becomes the catalyst for them to take a chance on becoming something more than friends.

Martin is a grumpy hero with a hidden soft side. His father was a monster whose actions have had a strong impact on Martin. After his father’s death, Martin lost everything and when combined with his chronic illness he often feels helpless and it’s understandably frustrating. He doesn’t want to be dependent on others but the life he was raised in left him ill-equipped to survive. I loved watching Martin evolve over the course of the story, to learn what he can do and to accept that it’s ok to ask for help. He carries deep guilt that drags him down and I loved to watch him learn, heal, and grow. Most of all, I wanted him to get his happily ever after with Will.

And oh, Will. The middle Sedgwick is sweetness to the core and wears his heart on his sleeve. He cares deeply, especially when it comes to Martin. Will was raised by a neglectful father and suffers PTSD from his time in the navy. Will is a recovering addict with issues of his own but he’s finding his way. The obstacles in the way of the romance are mostly internal, but nevertheless I was sucked into Will and Martin’s story. Every bump in the road to happily ever after felt organic to these heroes and their histories. I also love that this story features a bisexual (Will) and demisexual (Martin) hero and that consent and dialogue were key parts to the love scenes. Every aspect of this romance worked for me and thinking about the book a day after I finished it, I realized how much the small gestures in this story – a touch here, fixing an article of clothing there – made such a big impact and really make Two Rogues Make a Right stand out from the crowd.

Two Rogues Make a Right is the third book in the Seducing the Sedgwicks series. Since I haven’t yet read the first two books I did feel like I was missing a bit of background information, but not so much that the story was impacted. All in all, I loved Martin and Will’s story. It’s a romance with heart featuring well-drawn characters whose needs and desires are complex and interesting. I cannot wait to catch up on the Seducing the Sedgwicks series as well as Ms. Sebastian’s other works.


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.