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.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Review: The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton

The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Historical Fiction
ISBN: 9780451490889
Release Date: June 16, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

In 1935 three women are forever changed when one of the most powerful hurricanes in history barrels toward the Florida Keys.

For the tourists traveling on Henry Flagler’s legendary Overseas Railroad, Labor Day weekend is an opportunity to forget the economic depression gripping the nation. But one person’s paradise can be another’s prison, and Key West-native Helen Berner yearns to escape.

After the Cuban Revolution of 1933 leaves Mirta Perez’s family in a precarious position, she agrees to an arranged marriage with a notorious American. Following her wedding in Havana, Mirta arrives in the Keys on her honeymoon. While she can’t deny the growing attraction to her new husband, his illicit business interests may threaten not only her relationship, but her life.

Elizabeth Preston's trip to Key West is a chance to save her once-wealthy family from their troubles after the Wall Street crash. Her quest takes her to the camps occupied by veterans of the Great War and pairs her with an unlikely ally on a treacherous hunt of his own.

Over the course of the holiday weekend, the women’s paths cross unexpectedly, and the danger swirling around them is matched only by the terrifying force of the deadly storm threatening the Keys.

Chanel Cleeton blends beauty and tragedy with The Last Train to Key West. I fell in love with Ms. Cleeton’s writing a few years ago but there’s something gorgeously romantic about her historical fiction writing in particular that never fails to captivate me.

The Last Train to Key West is the journey of three very different women set against the backdrop of one of the most powerful hurricanes in history. Elizabeth Preston is a former society girl who has been abandoned after her family lost everything in the stock market crash. She flirts as easily as breathing, but what most men miss is the spine of steel and bravery beneath the beauty. She flees an engagement she doesn’t want in New York and is headed to Key West to look for someone she hopes can save her among the veteran camps in the outlying areas. Mirta Perez’s family is in a precarious position after the Cuban Revolution of 1933. She finds herself in Key West on her honeymoon with a near-stranger who saved her family. Mirta has wealth and grace on her side, but when her husband’s dangerous business comes to light and threatens her life Mirta’s true strength comes out. And finally there’s Helen Berner, a pregnant Key West native trapped in an abusive marriage. The kindhearted waitress is in a desperate situation and has every reason to be fearful of her husband. Like Elizabeth and Mirta, Helen’s true strength comes out when she’s backed to a wall. I loved watching all three women come into their own over the course of the story.

Each woman is strong in their own way, possessing an inner fire that most don’t see. I loved each of their journeys and the men who wind up capturing their hearts. The powerful and dangerous Anthony, the steady and true John, the quick and reliable Sam… Like the women, each man has a distinctive voice and personality. However, to say too much about them would spoil the journey of discovery. I loved watching the three different storylines weave in and out of each other in the days leading up to and after the hurricane. Ms. Cleeton brings her characters’ worlds to life, blending fact and fiction beautifully. Each character’s background is well-drawn, the events of the hurricane are woven into the story perfectly, and added to that we learn about the veterans of the Great War who were sent down to the Keys and the horrible conditions of the camps. It sounds like a lot, but somehow Ms. Cleeton brings everything together perfectly and makes it all feel organic.

The Last Train to Key West is an utterly addictive read. The story is fast-paced and builds in intensity so much that by the climax I was glued to my Kindle. It takes a talented writer to deliver believable romances set against tragedy and Ms. Cleeton is more than up to the task. The Last Train to Key West is a gorgeous tale that is by turns hopeful and heartbreaking; it’s a story of love and survival that I enjoyed from beginning to end.


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 12, 2020

Review: Wrong Bed, Right Brother by Rebecca Brooks

Wrong Bed, Right Brother by Rebecca Brooks
Series: Accidental Love, Book 4
Publisher: Entangled: Brazen
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781640637528
Release Date: June 15, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Entangled

I’ve been crushing on my coworker for months. And now he’s moving… across the country. I’ve got one shot to make my move. We’re all holed up in this amazing house upstate and tonight I’m going to sneak into his room and finally Make. Something. Happen.

So I go for it. I climb into Luke’s bed and the kissing is so much better than I imagined. Why did we wait so long to feel this? I moan his name and Bam! He jumps out of bed. WTF? It isn’t Luke. It’s his twin, Noah. I don’t even like Noah. And he certainly doesn’t like me.

This will NEVER happen again...until the next day against the barn door. Why can’t I stop seeing him? It will never work. We're complete opposites. Enemies with benefits is a thing, right?

But what happens when I start to want more?

Amanda has been crushing on her coworker, Luke, for quite some time. But in six weeks Luke is going to move from New York to LA with his twin. If Amanda wants a shot with him, she’ll have to take it while on a weekend getaway with Luke and some others. But when Amanda sneaks into what she thinks is Luke’s room she finds herself in bed with Luke’s twin, Noah. Noah couldn’t be more different from his charming brother; he and Amanda are like oil and water. But Amanda’s mistake cracks something open in their antagonistic relationship and suddenly neither Amanda nor Noah can resist the pull between them. But Noah is leaving in six weeks and the two of them don’t even like each other, so nothing can happen…right?

Wrong Bed, Right Brother is a sexy and fun good time. Enemies-to-lovers isn’t my favorite trope but in this case it works oh-so-well. Amanda and Noah have seriously hot chemistry and I loved watching the sparks fly as their mutual attraction opened the door to something much deeper.

One of my favorite things about this story was watching Amanda realize how what she thought she wanted wasn’t what she really needed. Luke is a delightful fantasy: a charmer and a flirt who has a natural ease about him. He gets away with being self-centered because he’s hot and personable. Noah, by contrast, is quieter, organized, and has a more rigid personality. But there’s so much more beneath the surface. He and Amanda click from the start and the sparks that fly are fantastic to watch. But what made me really fall for Wrong Bed, Right Brother were the quieter moments, the conversations where Amanda and Noah realize that even though they’re so different they complement each other perfectly.

But just because they’re well suited doesn’t mean things are easy for Amanda and Noah. Amanda has had bad luck with men and her mother has pounded it into her head that she can’t trust them. And Noah fears that he’s Amanda’s second choice. There’s also added tension from Luke and the fact that Noah is scheduled to move across the country. A happily ever after requires risk in this story: risking your heart, risking trusting someone, depending on them. I was here for it from beginning to end. All the ups and downs were worth it because the romance just worked for me. In Wrong Bed, Right Brother Rebecca Brooks has delivered a fast-paced, wonderfully addictive, sexy as hell romance that I can’t wait to revisit.


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, June 7, 2020

Review: Alpha Night by Nalini Singh

Alpha Night by Nalini Singh
Series: Psy-Changeling Trinity, Book 4
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Paranormal Romance
ISBN: 9781984803627
Release Date: June 9, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible
Nalini Singh Reading Order

Alpha wolf Selenka Durev’s devotion to her pack is equaled only by her anger at anyone who would harm those under her care. That currently includes the empaths who’ve flowed into her city for a symposium that is a security nightmare, a powder keg just waiting for a match.

Ethan Night is an Arrow who isn’t an Arrow. Numb and disengaged from the world, he’s loyal only to himself. Assigned as part of the security force at a world-first symposium, he carries a dark agenda tied to the power-hungry and murderous Consortium. Then violence erupts and Ethan finds himself crashing into the heart and soul of an alpha wolf.

Mating at first sight is a myth, a fairytale. Yet Selenka’s wolf is resolute: Ethan Night, broken Arrow and a man capable of obsessive devotion, is the mate it has chosen. Even if the mating bond is full of static and not quite as it should be. Because Selenka’s new mate has a terrible secret, his mind surging with a power that is a creature of madness and death…

There is simply no series like Psy-Changeling/Psy-Changeling Trinity. Nalini Singh has created such a vast, complex, unique, wholly addictive world filled with memorable, endearing characters that every time I start one of the books I know I’m in for a treat. Alpha Night is no exception. I was so hooked by Selenka and Ethan’s story that I stayed up until I couldn’t keep my eyes open, only to finish the book once I woke up in the morning.

Selenka Durev is the alpha of the BlackEdge wolf pack. She’s strong, disciplined, and deeply caring in a way only an alpha can be. She was raised by loving grandparents, but carries emotional wounds from her parents’ actions. Ethan Night is an Arrow raised in darkness. Ethan was held captive by a ruthless Psy Councilor since childhood and even though he has been freed and joined the Arrow squad, he still lives in a grey fog, detached and unfeeling. That is, until he runs into Selenka and the mating bond crashes through them both almost instantly.

Mating at first sight is the stuff of fairytales and soap operas. Yet somehow it happened and Selenka is fascinated by the sexy, remote Psy who calls to her like no one else ever has. And Ethan is equally taken with the stunning and strong alpha who awakens something in him he’s been searching for. I wasn’t sure when I began the book how I’d like the concept of mating at first sight, but I never should have doubted Ms. Singh. Ethan and Selenka’s connection is electric – bold and jagged and beautiful from the start. I loved how they came together, how the instant mating played out and the reasons behind it. Selenka and Ethan were so perfectly suited and had such fantastic chemistry that I was swept away by their love story – it’s both sexy and heartwarming. Their bond helps Ethan’s true nature come out: the protector, the giver, the deeply wounded man with a kind heart. He and Selenka are lethal predators, but the balance with how warm and loving they are endeared them to me.

However, just because it’s clear Ethan and Selenka are perfect together doesn’t mean it’s smooth sailing for them. Ethan is convinced he’s damaged and there’s a surging power in him he’s holding back, a howling madness he’s sure will turn him into a destructive force of nature. I loved watching the layers of Ethan’s character and powers be revealed throughout the course of the story. The proverbial ticking time bomb in his head added intensity, as did the danger from outside BlackEdge he and Selenka faced. BlackEdge is facing a threat, but there’s another, far more deadly threat on the PsyNet. I can’t say much about either of these plotlines for fear of spoiling the story. The damage to the PsyNet is an ongoing storyline and watching beloved characters exhaust themselves and make hard choices to save the Psy both breaks my heart and has me hooked. And though Alpha Night doesn’t end on a cliffhanger in terms of the romance, the ending definitely had me on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what happens to the Psy.

Alpha Night is the fourth book in the Psy-Changeling Trinity series and fans of both this series and the original Psy-Changeling books will be delighted to revisit some of their favorite characters as well as learn more about the wonderful BlackEdge pack. Selenka and Ethan’s romance stands alone, but to fully enjoy the book I highly recommend being familiar with the world and having read the previous Psy-Changeling Trinity book, Wolf Rain, before starting this one. I loved every bit of Alpha Night. Nalini Singh continues to deliver strong, well-drawn, endearing characters and expands her world in fascinating ways. I cannot wait to see what she does 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.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Review: Bait N' Witch by Abigail Owen

Bait N' Witch by Abigail Owen
Series: Brimstone Inc., Book 3
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Genre: Paranormal Romance
ISBN: 9781682816097
Release Date: June 15, 2020
Source: Publisher/Purchased by Reviewer
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Entangled

Rowan McAuliffe has been hiding most of her life. Secretly trained in her powers by an unusual source, she'd been taught not to trust anyone. Especially other witches. However, after she was forced to perform a hateful act against her will, she now hides from the Covens Syndicate and their judgement.

Greyson Masters is the Syndicate's best hunter. On top of the danger of his job, Greyson is trying to raise his triplet daughters alone, budding new witches who display an alarming combined power no one understands. Too bad he doesn’t have a clue how to deal with them.

Until Rowan walks in and the chaos settles for the first time in...well, ever.

Little does Greyson realize that his new nanny is the very witch he is hunting, and she’s been hiding right under his nose this whole time.

*This book was previously self published but has undergone a complete re-edit. Scenes were added, things were changed, but the kissing still remains!

Every story in the Brimstone Inc. series has been wholly addictive and Bait N' Witch is no exception. The third magical outing features Rowan, a witch of incredible power who has been taught not to trust her own kind. Rowan also possesses a strong vulnerability, one that a powerful werewolf used to force her to do something horrible. Now Rowan has to hide from the judgment of the Covens Syndicate. And what better place to hide than right under the nose of the hunter sent to bring her in?

Greyson Masters may be the Syndicate’s best hunter, but he’s also a widowed father of preteen triplets who have a power no one can quite figure out. The triplets need a new nanny and Brimstone, Inc. has sent over Rowan, a witch of supposedly little power. Rowan is the first person who has been able to bring peace to Greyson’s household, but there’s something about her that makes him restless. The pull between them is strong, but what will happen when Rowan’s secrets are revealed?

As individuals, Rowan and Greyson are wonderful characters. Rowan is a powerful witch who has survived more than most could deal with and she’s retained her strength and kindness through it all. I loved watching her bond with Greyson’s daughters from the first. Preteens can be scary enough but add in magic? Yikes. Rowan is more than up to the challenge, though. She slides easily into the Masters household and into the hearts of the family itself. Greyson is the best at his job but he’s slightly in over his head in his household. He’s a loving father who is doing his best and it’s easy to adore him. As a couple, he and Rowan click from the start. I loved watching how they seamlessly became a couple, almost without realizing it. But Rowan can’t hide who she is and how powerful her magic is for forever, not from Greyson and not from the werewolves that are hunting her.

Bait N' Witch is just plain fun to read. It has romance, magic, action, and even a small mystery featuring the triplets’ abilities. I was hooked from the beginning and didn’t want to put the book down. I love how author Abigail Owen weaves together all different magical and mythical beings to create a fascinating world. If you don’t mind spoilers for the first book in the series, The Demigod Complex, then you can read Rowan and Greyson’s story as a standalone. I enjoyed everything about Bait N' Witch and I cannot wait to see what happens next in the Brimstone Inc. series.


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

Friday, May 29, 2020

Review: The Summer Deal by Jill Shalvis

The Summer Deal by Jill Shalvis
Series: Wildstone, Book 5
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9780062897916
Release Date: June 2, 2020
Source: Author
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible
Jill Shalvis Reading Order

Brynn Turner desperately wishes she had it together, but her personal life is like a ping-pong match that’s left her scared and hurt after so many attempts to get it right. In search of a place to lick her wounds and get a fresh start, she heads back home to Wildstone.

And then there’s Kinsey Davis, who after battling serious health issues her entire twenty-nine years of life, is tired of hoping for…well, anything. She's fierce, tough, and she’s keeping more than one bombshell of a secret from Brynn -- her long-time frenemy.

But then Brynn runs into Kinsey's best friend, Eli, renewing her childhood crush. The good news: he’s still easy-going and funny and sexy as hell. The bad news: when he gets her to agree to a summer-time deal to trust him to do right by her, no matter what, she never dreams it’ll result in finding a piece of herself she didn’t even know was missing. She could have real connections, possibly love, and a future—if she can only learn to let go of the past.

As the long days of summer wind down, the three of them must discover if forgiveness is enough to grasp the unconditional love that’s right in front of them.

The Summer Deal is a love note to messy, wonderful families, both the ones we make and the ones we’re born into. Jill Shalvis’s fifth Wildstone novel features the imperfect characters and bumpy roads to a heartwarming happily ever after that I’ve come to expect and enjoy from this series.

Brynn has come home to Wildstone with a bruised heart and a lack of trust in her own instincts. Brynn is kind, quirky, and somewhat of a mess at the beginning but I loved watching her learn to stand up for herself over the course of the story. The person who pushes her to do that isn’t a love interest, but rather her old summer camp frenemy (and secret half-sister), Kinsey. Kinsey claims to have a black heart but really what she is is fearful. She’s been sick most of her life and has been battling kidney transplant rejection for years. Kinsey feels like she has an expiration date and she doesn’t want to hurt others by letting them in, so she pushes them away first. She and Brynn don’t have the best history, but Ms. Shalvis shows why each of them acted the way they did as children and it makes sense. These are flawed heroines, but they’re relatable because of it and it’s easy to root for both of them.

Brynn and Kinsey’s relationship is central to The Summer Deal, but that doesn’t mean Ms. Shalvis skimped on the romance. Kinsey is clearly in love with her non-boyfriend Deck, a caring, incredibly patient nurse and father. It’s obvious from the start that Deck wants more with Kinsey, but her fear may cost them a shot at happiness. And the main love story is between Brynn and Kinsey’s lifelong best friend, Eli. Eli might just be one of my favorite Jill Shalvis heroes. He’s a sexy-as-sin marine biologist with a marshmallow heart. Eli has been rejected more than once by people who should have loved him and he’s afraid of getting hurt (a theme in this story). But Brynn has always captured his interest so she slides quite easily into his heart. Eli cares for people deeply and it shows every time he’s on the page. He’s pretty much the perfect hero and I can’t count how often he made me melt. It was easy for me to fall into his and Brynn’s romance and even though I could see the obstacles that would inevitably come their way, I was rooting for them every step of the way.

The Summer Deal is a heartwarming story of healing, family, and love. I enjoyed everything about this book and I look forward to revisiting Brynn, Kinsey, Eli, and Deck again soon.


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

Monday, May 25, 2020

Review: When You Wish Upon a Rogue by Anna Bennett

When You Wish Upon a Rogue by Anna Bennett
Series: Debutante Diaries, Book 3
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781250199508
Release Date: May 26, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Once upon a time in Anna Bennett's When You Wish Upon a Rogue, three young ladies vowed to record their first London seasons and to fill in the gaps of their educations.

She knows what she wants.

Miss Sophie Kendall is happiest arranging the secret meetings of the Debutante Underground, a group of women who come together to discuss the weekly advice column The Debutante’s Revenge. What makes Sophie most unhappy is her impending march down the aisle to a man she does not love. But her family’s finances are in increasingly dire straits.

He makes an offer she can’t refuse.
Henry Reese, Earl of Warshire, hasn’t slept in weeks. Desperate to escape his manor house and its haunting memories, he heads for one of his abandoned London properties. There he meets a beautiful, intriguing woman—trespassing. Reese is far less interested in Sophie’s search for a secret meeting spot than he is in her surprising ability to soothe his demons. So he strikes a bargain with her: his shop in exchange for spending one night a week with him.

Is this love for real—or just a dream?
Sophie never expected this to happen. But she cannot deny the fire Reese sparks in her—and soon their shared desire burns bright. Sophie is irrevocably promised to another. But maybe these two ill-fated lovers can find a way to risk it all—all the way to happily ever after…

When You Wish Upon a Rogue is incredibly sweet without ever becoming saccharine. Anna Bennett’s third Debutante Diaries installment has a gorgeous setting with some fairytale elements that easily captured my interest, so when you add in such likeable characters as Sophie and Reese it’s easy to see why I fell into this story with such ease.

By all outward appearances, Sophie Kendall is the proper society miss. She says and does what she should and without question she will protect her family’s wellbeing by marrying a marquess she doesn’t love. Underneath that, however, is a much more interesting woman. Sophie chairs a weekly meeting of women from all different classes who discuss The Debutante’s Revenge, a column Sophie secretly works on with her two best friends. Sophie has more spirit than most people would give her credit for and she’s a nurturer at heart. Her love of plants and gardening is something even a person with a black thumb like myself can enjoy reading about.

Chance brings Sophie into contact with Henry Reese, Earl of Warshire. The new earl is grieving and unable to sleep when they first meet, but something about her soothes him to the point where he’s able to rest for the first time in forever. Reese is a hero with a good heart and a troubled soul. When he and Sophie strike a bargain – she can use a property he owns to hold her meetings if she secretly meets with him once a week to help him sleep – it gives them time outside what they would ever be able to traditionally have to come to know each other. I loved their secret meetings and the almost fairytale-like setting of the manor garden Sophie and Reese bring back to life. The two of them are free to be themselves and open up in ways they never would normally, making their swift slide into love work for me.

However, sometimes love isn’t enough and that’s the case in When You Wish Upon a Rogue. The earldom Reese inherited needs a lot of help and there’s no way he can rush in and be the wealthy white knight her family requires at the moment. How things work out, I won’t spoil. I will say that the route the characters take is a bit predictable, but that didn’t bother me.

Sophie’s book is the third in the Debutante Diaries, but having not yet read First Earl I See Tonight or The Duke Is But a Dream I can safely say it reads well as a standalone. I did enjoy Sophie’s friendship with Fiona and Lily and the themes of women supporting other women were strong in this book, which I loved. With its lush background and endearing characters When You Wish Upon a Rogue is the perfect historical romance to escape with.


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: Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner

Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Female/Female Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9780593102527
Release Date: May 26, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

A showrunner and her assistant give the world something to talk about when they accidentally fuel a ridiculous rumor in this debut romance.

Hollywood powerhouse Jo is photographed making her assistant Emma laugh on the red carpet, and just like that, the tabloids declare them a couple. The so-called scandal couldn't come at a worse time—threatening Emma's promotion and Jo's new movie.

As the gossip spreads, it starts to affect all areas of their lives. Paparazzi are following them outside the office, coworkers are treating them differently, and a “source” is feeding information to the media. But their only comment is “no comment”.

With the launch of Jo’s film project fast approaching, the two women begin to spend even more time together, getting along famously. Emma seems to have a sixth sense for knowing what Jo needs. And Jo, known for being aloof and outwardly cold, opens up to Emma in a way neither of them expects. They begin to realize the rumor might not be so off base after all…but is acting on the spark between them worth fanning the gossip flames?

There are some books that make you smile just thinking about them and that’s exactly what Something to Talk About does for me. Meryl Wilsner’s debut won me over with their endearing characters and a lovely slow-burn romance that made me sigh.

Jo is one of my favorite kinds of heroines: the secret softie. Jo is a Hollywood powerhouse with brains, skill, and savvy you have to admire. But even after three decades in Hollywood and a number of Emmys to her name, as a Chinese-American woman Jo still faces racism and sexism constantly, especially now that she’s been announced as the new writer/producer for a James Bond-type franchise. Jo knows how to navigate Hollywood, but she’s had to build high walls to protect herself. Underneath those walls is a marshmallow heart and a spine of steel. Jo shows her caring in actions rather than words and she made me melt more than once. As for Emma… A bisexual Jewish cinnamon roll? Yes, please! Emma is so kind and caring, an emotionally demonstrative heroine who frequently made me smile. She’s got a strong work ethic and is a quick study, but she is unsure of herself when it comes to what direction she wants to move professionally.

As individuals, Jo and Emma are fantastic characters, well-drawn and an endearing mix of strength and vulnerability. Together their chemistry is fabulous and makes the pages of Something to Talk About fly by. The romance between Emma and Jo is extremely slow-burn. Both Jo and Emma are wary of risking their hearts by revealing their feelings. Jo is also very conscious of her position as Emma’s employer and the power disparity that results from that. Added to that she’s aware of the age gap between them and the racist and ageist blowback from some corners of Hollywood that she may face. Emma also faces comments, innuendo, and outright sexual harassment because some people think she slept her way to the top. Given the characters’ histories and the events of the story, the fact that the romance takes so much of the story to build worked for me. Jo and Emma’s love story felt solid by the end of the book, which may sound staid and boring but it’s not; I loved these two together.

Emma and Jo are the heart and soul of the book but the supporting cast rounds out the story and helps bring it to life. I loved Jo’s friendships that were depicted, both with her lifelong best friend, Evelyn, and with Emma’s sister, Avery. And Emma’s relationship with her family – complete with their teasing – warmed my heart. All in all, Something to Talk About is a book that can lift your spirits and make you smile. Jo and Emma are both strong, intelligent heroines with kind hearts that make them easy to root for. Their love story builds piece by piece in an organic way and the result is a lovely, fulfilling romance I cannot wait to enjoy 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.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Review: Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson

Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781984806505
Release Date: May 19, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

When their foster-turned-adoptive mother suddenly dies, four brothers struggle to keep open the doors of her beloved Harlem knitting shop.

Jesse Strong is known for two things: his devotion to his adoptive mom, Mama Joy, and his reputation for breaking hearts. When Mama Joy unexpectedly passes away, he and his brothers have different plans for what to do with Strong Knits, their neighborhood knitting store. Jesse wants to keep the store open. His brothers want to tie off loose ends and close shop…

Part-time shop employee Kerry Fuller has kept her crush on Jesse a secret. When she overhears his impassioned plea to his brothers to keep the knitting shop open, she volunteers to help. Unlike Jesse, Kerry knows the “knitty-gritty” of the business, and together they make plans to reinvent Strong Knits for a new generation.

But the more time they spend together, the stronger the chemistry builds between them. Kerry, knowing Jesse’s history, doesn’t believe their relationship can last longer than she can knit one, purl two. But Jesse is determined to prove to her that he can be the man for her forever and always. After all, real men knit.

Real Men Knit is a love note to family and community that would be perfect for a movie. It was oh-so-easy to fall for Kerry and the Strong family; so much so that I didn’t want to put the book down.

In the wake of his adoptive mother’s death Jesse Strong finds himself at loose ends. He’s always been seen as the brother who didn’t live up to his potential and now that Mama Joy is gone he doesn’t seem to know what to do. But when his brothers start to talk about selling their mother’s shop, Strong Knits, Jesse finds his focus. Strong Knits isn’t just important to their family – it’s a piece of the heart of their Harlem neighborhood. I loved watching Jesse find his passion, seeing him carry on his mother’s legacy but also making it his own. Jesse finds himself over the course of the story and he’s so loveable that you can’t help but be sucked into his journey.

But Jesse can’t reopen the knitting shop on his own. He needs the help of Kerry Fuller, his mother’s part-time employee and the woman who knows Strong Knits best. Kerry has just finished her degree in children’s counseling and art therapy and should be looking for a full-time job in her field, but she can’t resist helping Jesse. Kerry has always been the typical “girl next door” to the Strong brothers and sometimes that frustrates her…especially when it comes to her longtime crush, Jesse. Kerry has always been in the shadows and I enjoyed her journey over the course of Real Men Knit as she takes her place in the sun. She’s an incredibly giving person (sometimes to her own detriment) and her heart of gold plus the way she cares for everyone around her makes her a heroine you can root for.

Real Men Knit is Jesse and Kerry’s story, but author Kwana Jackson brings the world of Strong Knits alive with an endearing supporting cast. Jesse’s sometimes troubled relationship with his brothers was one of my favorite parts of the book. I desperately hope each brother gets a book of his own (especially my favorite, the sensitive Noah). All four men are so different but Mama Joy brought them together and made them a family. Mama Joy may have passed before the beginning of the book, but her presence and the impact she had on her boys’ lives and her community is felt throughout. The only downside to this is that she sounded like such a generous, strong, loving, downright incredible woman that I wish I could have “met” her.

The romance is where Real Men Knit falls short. It had the potential to be a good slow-burn love story, but it never quite hit the mark. At one point, one of Jesse’s brothers indicates that he doesn’t know if Jesse sees Kerry as a mother figure, sister, or lover and that’s part of the problem. The romance plotline doesn’t really take hold until near the end of the book and I never felt any growth or true change in their relationship, aside from giving into mutual attraction. Jesse and Kerry aren’t a bad couple – they’re far too likeable for that. Rather, there was something missing that made the romance fall flat. If this book were general fiction instead of a romance, my overall enjoyment of the book wouldn’t have really changed if they hadn’t ended up together. Ms. Jackson definitely showed that Kerry and Jesse love each other, but even by the end it didn’t feel like they were in love. That one plot issue aside, I adored Real Men Knit and I’m eager to read more about the Strong family.


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, May 11, 2020

Review: The Trouble with Hating You by Sajni Patel

The Trouble with Hating You by Sajni Patel
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781538733332
Release Date: May 12, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Strong-willed and proudly single, an engineer walks out when her parents set her up with a lawyer – but when work brings them together again, she just might give love a second chance.

Liya Thakkar is a successful biochemical engineer, takeout enthusiast, and happily single woman. The moment she realizes her parents' latest dinner party is a setup with the man they want her to marry, she's out the back door in a flash. Imagine her surprise when the same guy shows up at her office a week later -- the new lawyer hired to rescue her struggling company. What's not surprising: he's not too thrilled to see her either after that humiliating fiasco.

Jay Shah looks good on paper…and off. Especially if you like that whole gorgeous, charming lawyer-in-a-good-suit thing. He's also infuriating. As their witty office banter turns into late night chats, Liya starts to think he might be the one man who truly accepts her. But falling for each other means exposing their painful pasts. Will Liya keep running, or will she finally give love a real chance? Find out in this laugh-out-loud romantic comedy debut about first impressions, second chances, and finding the love of your life in the most unexpected way.

Enemies-to-lovers is never so entertaining as when you have strong, intelligent protagonists who don’t back down. The Trouble with Hating You is an engaging romance with well-drawn characters who bring the story to life.

Liya is a heroine with a spine of steel and a marshmallow heart – I loved her. She’s prickly when it comes to Jay and is constantly pushing him away. But when you’ve been betrayed in the worst way, sexually assaulted, constantly have gossiping aunties giving you the side-eye, and are practically shunned by your community…well, you have more than enough reason to put up walls. Liya comes from a traditional Hindu community and she’s a black sheep both by choice and because she was once made a victim by those who should have protected her. Nevertheless, she’s a brilliant, hardworking, successful biochemical engineer with a heart of gold. She’ll do anything for those she loves and I absolutely adored watching her with her three best friends, Reema, Sana, and Preeti (who I desperately hope gets a book of her own).

Jay is an equally successful lawyer, one who is tasked with trying to rescue Liya’s company. The two of them don’t hit it off at the start. Liya is ambushed by her parents trying to set her up with Jay and he has no idea why she took off at their first meeting. It isn’t exactly the meet-cute most people dream of. But Jay is made of sterner stuff. He’s a sexy, loving, caring hero who is devoted to his family. He also doesn’t put stock in gossip but gets to know people for themselves and is intrigued rather than afraid of a woman who speaks her mind and doesn’t conform to tradition for tradition’s sake. He’s a perfect match for Liya, but he’ll have to get past her walls first. Mutual attraction helps with that and I adored not only the sizzling chemistry he and Liya had, but the way Jay also stood up for what he wanted, which was not just a meaningless fling. There’s a lot of push-pull in The Trouble with Hating You and that’s normally something I tire of, but in this case it worked. Jay and Liya have to work for their happily ever after and I was rooting for them every step of the way.

Both Liya and Jay come from a more traditional background and author Sajni Patel does a great job of depicting both the positive and negative sides of this. Ms. Patel brought depth to the world she created this way and also with the depth and unique voices she gave her supporting cast (I absolutely adore Jay’s mother). The only downsides to this book for me was a side plotline that could have been fleshed out better or eliminated (Jay’s guilt over the death of his father) and that Liya was a bit too harsh in the beginning (though I love imperfect characters and her words were understandable to a point, I felt she crossed over into mean territory a few times). But overall I thoroughly enjoyed The Trouble with Hating You; it’s a strong debut and I cannot wait to see what Ms. Patel writes 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.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Review: A Duke by Any Other Name by Grace Burrowes

A Duke by Any Other Name by Grace Burrowes
Series: Rogues to Riches, Book 4
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781538700327
Release Date: April 28, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Nathaniel, Duke of Rothhaven, lives in seclusion, leaving his property only to gallop his demon-black steed across the moors by moonlight. Exasperated mamas invoke his name to frighten small children, though Nathaniel is truly a decent man -- maybe too decent for his own good. That's precisely why he must turn away the beguiling woman demanding his help.

Lady Althea Wentworth has little patience for dukes, reclusive or otherwise, but she needs Rothhaven's backing to gain entrance into Polite Society. She's asked him nicely, she's called on him politely, all to no avail -- until her prize hogs just happen to plunder the ducal orchard. He longs for privacy. She's vowed to never endure another ball as a wallflower. Yet as the two grow closer, it soon becomes clear they might both be pretending to be something they're not.

Two lonely souls find love among the Yorkshire moors in A Duke by Any Other Name. Every Rogues to Riches book I’ve read I’ve enjoyed more than the last and Althea and Nathaniel’s romance is my favorite to date.

Nathaniel is the kind of hero I adore. To all the world he’s a fierce, terrifying figure, but in reality he’s a total cinnamon roll. Nathaniel has a reason for his seclusion, for not allowing anyone near his home and frightening off anyone who would dare trespass, but to reveal why would be a spoiler. Suffice it to say he’s not doing it for kicks and giggles. But Althea isn’t one to be cowed by a fearsome reputation. Althea may be the sister of a duke, but she grew up in extreme poverty and has faced true evil, selfishness, and greed. She can see Nathaniel isn’t the horrible man he pretends to be and besides, she needs his help. Althea just about broke my heart. She survived a hellish (to put it mildly) childhood and grew up to be a strong, caring woman who does what she can to help others. All she wants is to find love and have a family but society resents her family’s wealth and title. Since they cannot take it out on her brother and sister-in-law because they are a duke and duchess, they target Althea. She’s been bullied to the point where she cannot bring herself to face another season and she hopes that as a duke and her neighbor Nathaniel can give her some tips to make her more successful on her quest to find happiness.

Althea and Nathaniel have fantastic chemistry from the start. She’s unfazed by his growling and blustering and he finds himself intrigued by her against his will. Both of them are unique, well-drawn characters who will grab your heart and not let go. Althea has a quiet dignity and an inner strength that makes her a heroine to cheer for. Nathaniel has a good heart and the mistakes he makes are because he loves so deeply. Individually, they’re fantastic characters. As a couple? They’re dynamite. I didn’t want to put A Duke by Any Other Name down because I so wanted Nathaniel and Althea to find their happily ever after. Getting there isn’t easy; the problems they face aren’t simply Yorkshire mean girls (though those are present and worthy of your loathing) but true obstacles I won’t spoil that cannot be overcome easily. But Althea and Nathaniel’s love is worth fighting for and I was captivated watching their romance unfold.

A Duke by Any Other Name is the fourth book in Grace Burrowes’s Rogues to Riches series but it can be read as a standalone. That being said, I feel that having read the first book, My One and Only Duke, gave me a better sense of the Wentworth family dynamic and made me enjoy this story even more. Althea’s siblings – in particular her intriguing, interfering younger brother – play supporting roles and add warmth and support to Althea’s journey. I love the uniqueness of this series, how harsh realities are woven into the fantasy. None of the main characters have been cardboard heroes or heroines in history, attitude, or behavior and that makes this series memorable. I loved A Duke by Any Other Name from beginning to end and I cannot wait to see what Ms. Burrowes has in store for Constance Wentworth!


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 23, 2020

Review: Heiress for Hire by Madeline Hunter

Heiress for Hire by Madeline Hunter
Series: A Duke’s Heiress, Book 1
Publisher: Zebra
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781420149975
Release Date: April 28, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Minerva Hepplewhite has learned the hard way how to take care of herself. When an intruder breaks into her home, she doesn’t swoon or simper. Instead she wallops the rogue over the head and ties him up—only to realize he is Chase Radnor, a gentleman and grandson of a lord, and a man who makes it his business to investigate suspicious matters. Now he’s insisting that Minerva has inherited a fortune from his uncle, a wealthy duke. Only one thing could surprise her more: her sudden attraction to this exasperating man…

Chase can’t decide whether Minerva is a wronged woman or a femme fatale. Either way, he’s intrigued. Maddeningly, with her unexpected inheritance, she has set up a discreet detective business to rival Chase’s own. She may be the perfect person to help him uncover the truth about his uncle’s demise. But as proximity gives way to mutual seduction, Chase realizes he craves a much deeper alliance…

Rival investigators find love in Heiress for Hire. Madeline Hunter’s Duke’s Heiress trilogy is off to a strong start with Chase and Minerva’s book. It has mystery, romance, and engaging protagonists who make it easy to fall into the story.

Minerva is an excellent heroine who is easy to root for. The survivor of an abusive marriage, Minerva has made a new life for herself with the family she has made. She has also started an inquiry service and knows how to make use of her skills and others’ in a time when people would dismiss a woman such as her as an investigator. Chase is also an investigator, though he doesn’t need to do it for money. Chase is an honorable hero who is easy to love, though he questions himself because of some ghosts in his past. His latest case is close to heart; he’s looking into the death of his uncle, the duke of Hollinburgh, who he believes was murdered. He is also trying to track down three women to whom his uncle has left a fortune. Chase’s investigation put him right in the path of the first beneficiary, Minerva.

Sparks fly from the start between them, but the romance is a slow burn one. Minerva carries scars from her brutal first husband and Chase is sensitive to her needs, fears, and always puts the choice in her hands. There’s a struggle between Chase wanting to be protective and Minerva wanting her independence, but it’s not played for false drama and these are organic bumps on the road toward happily ever after. The two of them suit each other perfectly, both in business and in bed. I enjoyed watching them open up and learn to trust one another with their pasts, secrets, and fears. Their love story builds from a foundation of mutual respect, understanding, and lust and it was a joy to watch unfold.

Heiress for Hire is the first in the Duke’s Heiress trilogy and I cannot wait to see what Ms. Hunter has in store for the next two heiresses. There are a few mysteries in this book, among them the questions of who murdered Chase’s uncle and why did Hollinburgh leave Minerva a fortune. I enjoyed watching Chase and Minerva work through the various mysteries, each in their own investigative style. The question of who murdered Hollinburgh and why looks to be a mystery that will span the trilogy, but there are very interesting suspects and the puzzle pieces laid out in this book are sure to keep me interested in the next two. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Heiress for Hire and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next in the Duke’s Heiress series.


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.